We have talked about your upcoming film Manifestation quite a
bit before [click here] -
still, can you bring us up to speed what it's going to be about?
Manifestation is about a
couple whose marriage disintegrates following the death of their young
son. The emotional anguish they experience not only destroys their
marriage but is so powerful that it manifests itself into a physical
entity. I was describing Manifestation as Whoís Afraid of Virginia
Woolf as written by H.P. Lovecraft. But as the script has developed, the
story has moved into even dark realms. I now describe it as Andrzej Żuławskiís
Posssession meets Lars von Trierís Antichrist by way of Catherine Breillatís
Anatomy of Hell.
A very dark and troubling film.
project has run into a bit of trouble lately - would you care to
About four years ago I plead
guilty to a charge of embezzlement. I was sentenced to six and five, which
means I did six months in prison and was given five years probation. I did
four months and am now in year three of my probation. Because I am on
probation I canít say much more about this. Since I got out I work, I
support my family, I do my monthly probation meeting, I pay my agreed upon
restitution and I walk the straight and narrow.
Now there are certain
who apparently believe they are the moral backbone of this area and have
decided they do not want me making films. They have gone so far as to call
Michael Berrymanís agent and from what I have been told, whoever made
the call identified themselves only as a ďBuffalo filmmakerĒ, and
whatever they told her about me so scared her, and that was the phrase
used, ďscared herĒ, that she withdrew Michaelís name from the
project. At this point in time Joe Hollow [Joe
Hollow interview - click here], Wolfgang, and Debra Lamb [Debra
Lamb interview - click here] have
all dropped out of the project. I harbor no ill will toward them. They did
what they believed they had to do. I do know that all three were contacted
by this person or persons and told whatever they were told.
Looking back at the whole embezzlement
affair: You've done the crime, you've done the time - so how would you
rate your actions in retrospect, and lessons learned from the whole thing?
Because I am still on
probation I have to be careful about what I say. I regret all the pain and
embarrassment I caused my family, especially my wife. Iíve learned that
nothing is more important than my family and her love.
calling any names please, do you have any idea who's so adamant to
sabotage your movie project, and why?
people who feel I have wronged them in one way or the other. Most I have
worked with on various films and in one way or the other, they failed to
deliver. They over-promised and under-delivered or failed to deliver at
all. And I called them on it. And they donít like that. Some Iíve
fired. Theyíll tell you I didnít. But I did.
some of the things that are being said.
thing that is going around is that there are a ďtons
of writers in the Horror Writers Associations who sold stories to Red
Scream Magazine and never got paid for themĒ.
Scream was a magazine I published a number of years back. It was sort of a
mashup between Fangoria or Rue Morgue and Film Comment. I believe we paid
2-3 cents a word and/or copies. This is standard small press practices.
The magazine lasted for about a year and a half, maybe two years. We had
distribution issues from the beginning. Our covers were considered too
graphic - which still puzzles me as I donít believe they were, they
were striking covers thatís for, sure but graphic? I think not. And
advertisers were slow to come. So eventually we realized it just wasnít
going to happen and shut it down. Magazines fold all the time. It happens.
But anyone who was published got paid. They were either paid money or in
copies or both. Any writer who cares to dispute this, Iíd love to hear
from them. This is a good example of the sort of broad swipe allegations
being made against. Tons of writers? Really? Name one and prove it.
are people associated with a certain film of mine who are saying that I
screwed them. I believe what they mean by screwed them is they have not
seen any money from the movie. They havenít seen any money from the
movie because I have not seen any money because the film hasnít made any
money. It hasnít made any money because it's really not that good a film.
Now as the producer, director and writer I have to take responsibility for
that. But if these people really want to point fingers then letís talk
about why it isnít a good movie.
start with the FX - the FX team had somewhere between 3-5 months to get
ready for the shoot. On the first day of production they had literally
nothing ready, and because of their lack of preparedness, it pushed the
schedule back continually. What I mean is, rather than a standard 12 hour
day, we were looking at 18 hour days as the rest of the cast and crew
waited for the FX team to get their work ready. Hereís an example, one
day we shot a day and half worth of non-FX material while waiting for the FX
team to ready a single very simple effect. That effect by the way was
virtually unusable and in the final film shows up for about a second. I
cannot say that nothing they did was of value, but their lack of
preparedness and the number of FX I had to cut around resulted in longer
days, which affects performance as the actors are drained, and it hurts the
film as the rest of the crew, already operating on very little sleep, gets
even less. And when you are building a scene around a single effect and
that effect doesnít workÖ thereís little you can do to save that
real problem was the DoP - we were shooting with three cameras. The idea
was to shoot the establishing shot with one camera, medium shot with the
second and have the third camera focus on close-ups and more importantly,
move about. This was discussed endlessly in preproduction and on the set.
It was made very very clear. Because we were so behind time there was no
time for me to view dailies, so I didnít see any footage till I sat down
with the editor. Scene after scene, all three cameras gave me establishing
shots. You cannot build a scene with nothing but establishing shots.
Actually you can if you plan for it. But these scenes were planned with
the idea of being able to cut from wide shot to close up to medium shot, etc. I had nothing but establishing shots. I had nothing to cut to.
If an actor flubbed a line or there was some technical issue, I had
nothing to cut to. I had to find a scene that was without error start to
end. You canít build a scene that way. It wasnít planned that way. It
took three editors nearly two years to put together a version of the film
that I could even think about shopping around to distributors. And even
then - it just wasnít enough.
anyone who wants to point a finger at me and say, he screwed us. No. They
screwed themselves. Again as the producer, director and writer I had to
take full responsibility. But these people need to man up and take their
also been told that thereís a filmmaker out there whose film I was
involved in distributing and she claims she had to threaten legal action
to get the rights back to her film. What happened here was, we picked up
the film for distribution. We ran some ads. We shopped it to some
sub-distributors. Nothing. Absolutely no interest whatsoever. I was
frustrated and I believe made some unkind comments for which I apologized.
Apparently that wasnít good enough and this filmmaker had one of her
friends draw up some paper threatening legal action if we didnít give
her back all rights to her film. Since the contract was written so that if
anyone wanted to end the contract for whatever reason, thatís all she
had to do. But you know, these people love drama. Itís the big fish
little pond syndrome. We gave her back her film and wished her well. There
was no drama, only the drama she wanted to create.
Look, Iím not trying to paint myself as a victim
here. I am anything but that. I take full responsibility for my actions.
But donít present half truths and complete lies and do it in the dark,
behind my back. Grow a pair and confront me face to face. But of course
people like this donít do that.
As far as I know,
the whole affair has caused a few changes in Manifestation's cast
and crew - care to elaborate who's gone, who's new, who's still on and the
As I said, Joe, Wolfgang and
Debra are gone. I believe Bob Bozek is also gone but he has yet to contact
me about that. Melantha Blackthrone [Melantha
Blackthorne interview - click here] is still very much involved although
she has been repeatedly pressured to drop out. Pat Tantalo and Roy Knyrim
are both still involved. I have a new DoP along with a soundperson and
editor. Iím leaving casting till we are ready to move forward.
According to my information, you've pulled your
Kickstarter campaign once the scandal broke. So how are you planning to
raise funds now?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I think the word scandal
makes this sound bigger than it is. Itís not. Itís Buffalo.
Itís big fish in a really small pond doing what big fish do to make
themselves look big to their acolytes. In terms of funding, Iíve got
some feelers out, Pat and Roy have some feelers out - but it's like any
project. If it happens it happens. If not, then not. Iíve got a file of
projects in various stages of development. Itís a great script and a
fantastic role for Melantha. I hope it happens just for her sake alone.
But if it doesnít happen, well, it doesnít affect me. I still get up
in the morning, let the dogs out, let the cats in, get the kids ready for
school, go to workÖ life goes on you know.
So what's the tentative schedule for Manifestation
as far as you know - and what keeps you so keen to bring the project to an
end after all of this hardship?
Itís a great script and
would make a very dark and troubling film.
Any future projects
beyond Manifestation? And maybe even more pressing in the light of
events, are you planning to continue shooting in Buffalo or do you plan to move
location for future projects?
Right now plans are to shoot
Buffalo. In terms of future projects have several other projects in various
stages of development but itís far too early to even mention those and
Iím kind of waiting to see what Scarlet Samurai does and looking forward
to finally getting Cleric out the door.