Your movie Cleric
- in a few words, what is it about?
High concept, Cleric
is Blade Runner meets Apocalypse Now without either film's budget. It
takes place in a dystopic future society ruled by a corporate theocracy...
much like what we have in the United States now. Simply, the
Ministry of Control uses genetically enhanced males known as Heretics to
fight off-world wars. Heretics are not allowed to come to Earth but
sometimes they do. When that happens, the Ministry employs Clerics - female warriors who have the ability to see into the
future and manipulate reality so that they are guaranteed the best outcome
in any battle. When the film starts, Samara, one of the best of the
Clerics who has gone into retirement is brought back to track down a
renegade Heretic named Jah who may also posses the ability to see into the
future. That's about as short as I can make it.
What were your
inspirations when writing Cleric?
And with a fictional world as complex as Cleric,
how easy or hard was it keeping track of the main narrative?
and I were shopping around a script titled Iron Halo that was
sort of a cross between Gibson's Neuromancer and Lovecraft's Old Ones-tales.
We had some money people in Thailand interested and even had
our passports ready, but that fell through at the last minute. We didn't
have the budget to do Iron Halo but we still wanted to do
something cyberpunky. I'm not sure who came up with the original idea but
I'm usually the high concept guy, so maybe it was me. But regardless the
concept as said was "Blade Runner meets Apocalypse Now". I
believe Sean came up with an outline that ran to about twelve pages. I
added a few bits and off we went. Although what was on the page was
actually very slight in terms of background and explaining this world
itself, we ourselves had a strong idea on how we wanted this world to look
and to work. And I believe we successfully imparted that vision to our
cast who completely brought it to life and sold it. Keeping it all
straight wasn't that hard as we just followed the outline - and because
Clerics have the ability to alter reality, we didn't need to worry too
much about continuity - we'd just chalk it up to Samara tweaking time to
achieve the optimum outcome.
can you tell us about your co-writer/co-director/star Sean-Michael Argo [Sean
Michael Argo interview - click here],
and what was your collaboration like?
Sean and I work very
well together. I think as we both very much shared the same vision for
this film, there was no conflict I can think of. For the most part Sean
directed the action scenes while I focused more on the drama. But I don't
believe that unless you know who directed what, looking at the film as a
whole, you can tell where Sean ends and I begin.
features quite a few quite elaborate action sequences - so how were they
Slowly and carefully. Most action scenes were
shot multiple times from multiple angles so as to give the editor as much
material as possible. All fight scenes were choreographed by Sean and we'd
break those down step by step so basically... Jah does this... cut... then
Samara does this... cut... back to Jah... cut... back to Samara... etc.
Carefully because we had no stunt doubles for the main actors. So in some
cases, particularly with the sword and knife fight between Gia and Jah, we
actually had them fighting in slow motion knowing we would then be able to
speed up the footage and put it together with jump cuts to give the action
that kinetic feel it has.
You of course have to talk about your key
location for a bit, and how hard was it to create the
"Below"-feeling there - and what were the advantages and
challenges of filming there?
The Below was actually two
locations. One was an old grain mill in South Buffalo. The fight scene
between Samara and Jah was shot there as was the scene between Samara and
the Rat Shaman. The rest was shot at an old warehouse owned by Bryan Lohr
who was good enough to let us shoot there after we got kicked out of the
mill because the guy who was supposed to get us permission to access that
space... well it turned out he didn't. Both were awesome locations, really
million dollar sets you'd be hard pressed to recreate on a sound stage.
Filming in places like that... there's a sense of desolation and despair,
or time long gone and forgotten corners. You've got layers and layers of
time. You can't build that digitally. You can't achieve that feel, that
aesthetic on a stage. It makes the film more real.
Do talk about your key cast
for a bit, and why exactly these people?
It's been a while,
but Seregon O'Dassey [Seregon
D'Assey interview - click here] plays Samara the Cleric. I did meet with her in New
York where we attended a party at the Explorer's Club so that was cool. I
don't remember exactly how we first hooked up, but getting to know her
this way prior to the shoot was a joy. She understood the character
immediately and took full ownership of Samara. Seregon is Samara. There's
both a toughness and a tenderness she brought to the character that shines
through, especially her scenes with Gia.
Sean I'd known since shooting Red
Scream Vampyres and we really enjoy working together. He made the perfect
Jah and like Seregon, he embraced the role and made it his.
is a wonderful local actor. He wrote most of his own dialogue and worked
closely with Seregon on their scenes together. There's a real power in
those scenes. You can tell that Samara, who basically fears nothing nor
has any reason to, is clearly terrified of Sholokov, and that he, knowing
he is in full control, relishes her fear. I like that basically we know
nothing about Sholokov, and yet, we know everything about him. We know he
is to be feared.
What can you
tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
was fun. We were a bunch of sci-fi nerds playing post-apocalyptic cosplay
in the most wonderfully decrepit surroundings with all these marvelous
toys... steampunk inspired revolvers and chainsaws fused with alien
what I know, Cleric has
actually been shot about 5 or so years ago - so why the delay?
know, at this point, there's no point in pointing fingers and naming
names. Sean did what he could with the resources he had and then passed
the film to me this year to finish. I did what I could with my resources
and, well, it is what it is. Could it be better? Sure it could, but I
don't have another six months of time to invest in it. I think it works.
You certainly liked it. That meant a lot.
and where will the film be released onto the general public then?
is currently reviewing the files. Assuming all goes well Cleric
available for VOD and on DVD by end of August or
future projects you'd like to share?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
goes before the cameras in I believe September. I wrote the script and get
a producer credit. I will also be heading up the marketing. Shawn Anthony
is directing with Jessica Felice in the lead. We're targeting the film
festival circuit first. If we get a decent distribution deal we might go
that route or we can distribute ourselves and keep control. I'm just
starting work on a new script that may or may not morph into Red Scream
Vampyres: Levana, which would be a sort of sequel to Red Scream
Vampyres - this to also star Jessica. Too early to tell where my writing will take me
this time. I'm also doing some post production work on Sean's film
Sineaters with Melantha Blackthorne [Melantha
Blackthorne interview - click here] and Tim O'Hearn. In between I run my
own online marketing company and help raise my family.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
Anything else you are
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
think we covered it all. I really appreciate your interest in our work.
Best wishes as always.
for the interview!