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An Interview with James Ricardo, Director and Writer of Guillotine Guys

by Mike Haberfelner

October 2010

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You got a new short out, Guillotine Guys. In a few words, what is it about?

 

Guillotine Guys is a comedy thriller about loss and attachment.

 

The central (plot) device, the titular guillotine, is quite simply a hilarious (if macabre) idea. How did you come up with it, and were you ever tempted to go further with this invention, blood-and-guts-wise?

 

The screenplay for Guillotine Guys was written in about fifteen minutes completely on impulse. The idea came to me and I put it down on paper one afternoon. I then looked at what I'd written and thought this is an interesting idea but wasn't sure anything would really come of it. You could always up the blood, guts and gore ante on any macabre cinematic invention I'd wager. For example, director Tom Six said the sequel to The Human Centipede would make the first film look like My Little Pony.

 

What were your inspirations for the story as such?

 

Inspirations were Stephen Chow's film Kung-Fu Hustle and Tzi Ma's character The General in the Coen Brothers' remake of the Ealing Studios film The Ladykillers. The original title was Shanghai Hustle but that didn't seem descriptive enough so I brainstormed before filming began and decided on Guillotine Guys. Tzi Ma's role in The Ladykillers was the genesis for the liquor store owner character Elmer in Guillotine Guys. I added a special thanks shout out to Stephen Chow and Tzi Ma in the end credits. Another inspiration was actor Paul McCrane's gas station robbery scene in Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop.

 

A few words concerning the audience reaction to Guillotine Guys?

 

Guillotine Guys was an official selection at the 2010 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival in Bucheon, Korea as well as major film festivals such as L.A. Shorts Fest and Dances With Films in Los Angeles. Audience response has been consistently outstanding.

 

Guillotine Guys has a twist-ending worthy of a classic short story. Is this a literary genre you enjoy?

 

Absolutely. Writers like O. Henry and Guy de Maupassant were famous for their twist endings. A badass twist at the end is always a good way to leave an audience enthralled.

 


After your directorial debut Opie Gets Laid, I guess pretty much everybody would have expected another (un-)romantic comedy from you. What made you enter thriller territory (in a very broad sense of the word) instead?

 

Wanted to go in a new direction. Plus I'm a big fan of thrillers be they action thrillers, suspense thrillers, horror thrillers or comedy thrillers like Guillotine Guys. Thrillers force you to be creative and come up with much more dynamic stories, settings, characters and cinematography.

 

Russ Kingston

A few words about your cast:

What can you tell us about Russ Kingston as the glue-sniffing clerk ...?

 

Russ Kingston is a terrific actor who began as a filmmaker and transitioned into acting. The cat's pretty much a walking Wikipedia of film knowledge. I watched some of his online acting reels and knew he was ideal for the role of Elmer, the glue-sniffing clerk.

 

Mark Wood

... Mark Wood as the young punk ...?

 

Mark Wood and I had worked together previously. I generally don't care for the casting process so it's just easier to bring back someone you've worked with before. Plus I knew he'd be cool in the role.

 

J.C. Maçek III

... and of course J.C. Maçek III as the surgeon?

 

J.C. Maçek III runs a popular crazy, cult website called WorldsGreatestCritic.com. We began a correspondence some years back after I read a review he'd written of The Godfather of Gore Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2 [Lucio Fulci bio - click here]. I knew he'd acted in theater and we'd talked about him doing a cameo for some time and by the sheer luck of the cards it turned out to be Guillotine Guys.

 

You also have a bit of a track record as an actor. Why did you decide to limit yourself to writing and directing on Guillotine Guys?

 

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DVD Talk wrote in a review, "Directors like Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood make acting in their own movies look easy, but it is actually incredibly difficult. Ricardo's deadpan performance as Opie is serviceable, but at times there is a self-conscious stiffness to it that should have been caught by the director."

 

I'd say they had me dead to rights. In retrospect I'd have been better off staying behind the camera or limiting myself to a Hitchcockian cameo.

 

How would you compare writing and directing a short to writing and directing a feature film, and which do you enjoy more?

 

Writing is easier in some respects since it's just you and the computer you're dealing with. Directing is like an orgy, it's a group effort. Writing is like masturbation, it's a solo performance. So they both have their pluses and minuses.

 

Any future projects you'd like to talk about?

 

I'll be directing another comedy short I've penned and then move onto the next feature film I've written, an action horror thriller with a simple yet badass premise.

 

Your website, Facebook, MySpace, whatever else?

 

www.facebook.com/people/James-Ricardo/703058684

 

Anything else you are dying to mention that I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

That about covers it, brother.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

No sweat. Keep it kooky.

 

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner

 

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