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An Interview with James Rewucki, Director of Tempus Tormentum

by Mike Haberfelner

February 2017

Films directed by James Rewucki on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Tempus Tormentum - in a few words, what is it about?


A drifter passing through a small town that is drugged and tormented by 3 masked psychopaths.


What were your inspirations when writing Tempus Tormentum?


It all started with a single visual I had in my head of three dudes in scary masks driving by in slow motion, that shot you see in the trailer is exactly how I saw it in my head, the story just grew out of that one image. I was also thinking about that 80s classic The Warriors while I was developing the ideas for the script - that whole idea of a long chase.


Tempus Tormentum follows a rather dreamlike logic - so how easy or hard was it to not lose your story in the process?


It was not too difficult, at itís core it is just a long pursuit, so I just kept it moving from scene to scene, location to location - the consistency comes from the music / sound design and the 4 main characters moving throughout this hallucinatory landscape.


You have to talk about the masks in your movie for a bit, the meaning behind them, and to what extent were you involved in their design?


I had them done locally by Chris Hadley who worked on my first film Aegri Somnia, he already had the design that I liked for the clown mask, then I sent him some photos of a variety of other masks I had found online and he mimicked them while putting his own slant on the design. As far as the meaning goes, well thatís subjective and I donít really want to push my ideas of the symbolism on the viewer, Iíd rather they form their own opinion. Perhaps theyíre just trippy and intimidating and thatís why the characters chose them, or maybe thereís something deeper?


Tempus Tormentum does feature its fair share of violence - so do talk about those scenes for a bit, and was there ever a line you refused to cross?


It seems pretty violent, but most of the violence is implied or looming, it was more about the threat of violence, that unease you feel when violence is imminent. I didnít want a bunch of gratuitous gore and we had a very low budget so we had to get creative with how we handled that aspect of the film.


What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?


It was a really hands-on, indie, improvisational approach. Every location we had for only a short time and we had a lot of setups to do, so I would just walk around the location with the actors and crew, weíd block things out, set up our lights, pick some frames for the camera and then hammer away at each scene. Some things were re-written for the location on the day, some things were improvised, other stuff was note for note right from the script.


Do talk about your cast, and why exactly these people?


Essentially the entire cast was made up of friends, some were trained actors from the local scene, others were first time actors with no training. The 4 lead roles of Mr Mouse and the three masked psychopaths were written specifically for those people, Tyhr Trubiak (Mr Mouse) was the only trained actor of the 4 leads, the 3 psychos were myself (clown) and my two buddies (Devil, Slashmouth). I wanted to bang out a fun film with my friends, so I wrote parts that I was certain they could handle, we all have a little experience hamming it up for the camera so it all worked out okay I think.


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


For the most part it was a blast - a lot of hard work, a lot of stressful moments trying to get things done on a shoestring with a very small crew - but we made a lot of good memories and had a lot of laughs. Even on the hard nights where it seemed like everything was going wrong, we still have fond memories of all that stuff, because in the end, youíre in an abandoned air force base with your buddies at 2 a.m. and itís creepy as hell and you know the average person is not experiencing what youíre experiencing in that moment and thatís a pretty cool vibe.


The $64-question of course, when and where will the movie be released on the general public?


Release date is still up in the air - we want to do a festival run, try and build up a grassroots fan base for the film, maybe do a small tour of special theatrical screenings. So it may be as late as the fall of 2017, really hard to say at this point, depends a lot on the early reaction to screenings and press.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Tempus Tormentum yet?


We only completed the film 2 weeks ago and did not release it to reviewers until just last week, at this point we have only 3 reviews, but they are all very positive and very encouraging. As far as the audience goes, only a handful of friends have even seen the film, but when the teaser trailer hit it spread around pretty well, 13,000 views in the first two days and people seem to be really interested in seeing it.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Iím all about promoting this one and getting the deliverables finished right now - I have several scripts in various stages of development, some are fully fleshed out, others are just rough ideas, but it really depends on the success of this film, I canít start production on another feature until I have some support from the right people and thatís going to take a certain level of success from this movie.


What got you into making movies in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I was just a big movie fan in high school, so I started messing around with a VHS camcorder and the obsession grew from there, I am completely self taught, I got to know some people who got me a few small gigs on Ďrealí film sets, so I learned a bit from that, but mostly it was books and buying gear and just making videos with my friends - on this film I got to get back to those roots a little bit, which was a blast.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


Dark, existentially uneasy, with a twisted sense of humour and maybe a touch of poetry (Iím sure that sounds a bit pretentious, but I donít really give a fuck, ha ha).


Filmmakers who inspire you?


David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Kubrick, The Quay Brothers, Lars von Trier, Werner Herzog, Andre Tarkovsky, Ridley Scott, Adrian Lyne, Scorcese ... I could go on and on, thereís so many filmmakers that have inspired me, how do you make a list?


Your favourite movies ... and of course, films your eally deplore?


Blade Runner, Apocalypse Now, Eraserhead, The Shining, Altered States, Alien, Jacobís Ladder, Street of Crocodiles, The Hourglass Sanatorium, Raging Bull, Stalker, thereís so many, how do I pick a favourite Herzog film? Or Von Trier? Or Lynch? I wonít mention the films I deplore because I just like to forget about those.


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Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


William S Burroughs, one of the genius writers of the 20th century and a huge influence on the way I think about writing and art and life in general.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
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and your Ex wants
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... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD