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An Interview with Jeremiah Kipp, Director, and Joe Fiorillo, Writer of The Minions

by Mike Haberfelner

October 2013

Films directed by Jeremiah Kipp on (re)Search my Trash

Films written by Joe Fiorillo on (re)Search my Trash


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Your upcoming movie The Minions - in a few words, what is it about?


JEREMIAH KIPP: It’s a dark urban tale about a man’s walk home one autumn night, and he decides to walk down The Witch’s Path. He almost makes it past safely, but then two drunken girls appear…and they’re the minions. What happens next is not very nice…


How did the project fall together in the first place?


KIPP: I had previously worked with screenwriter Joe Fiorillo and producer Lauren Rayner on The Days God Slept, which was a greatly satisfying experience for me both personally and professionally [The Days God Slept interview - click here]. It was very daring of Joe to put such an experimental phantasmagoric film out there. We were looking for something to do next and he’d told me the story of The Minions. We soon realized this would be perfect for us to make next, since it was so different from our previous film but fitting with the mysterious world of Joe’s writing and my macabre body of work.


JOE FIORILLO: Jeremiah knew the story and suggested trying to adapt it for a short film. The first draft was done fairly quickly and we kind of knew we had something that we could have a lot of fun with. Unlike many other scripts, The Minions didn’t change all that much from the first pass. There was still a lot of work to be done of course, but the main story elements were already there.


I've read somewhere that The Minions is based on a true incident - would you care to elaborate, and any other sources of inspiration for the movie?


KIPP: Nathaniel Hawthorne is a favorite writer of mine; sometimes his characters seem to be falling under the spell of a powerful force that is beyond them, which hits against their own repressed nature. I also re-read Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which pits an ordinary man against an unstoppable supernatural force.


FIORILLO:  Much of the script was taken directly from a real incident. The main action of the film is the very simple attempt of one person to help someone that they don’t know. There’s a lot of balancing between trust and fear. It was easy to imagine how the real incident could turn badly if the wrong person was involved. I think I had something like Gogol’s Diary of a Madman or Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground in mind when creating the lead character.


What can you tell us about the intended look and feel of your movie?


The Days God Slept

KIPP: After the hyper-stylized look of The Days God Slept, we wanted to go in a more gritty nocturnal direction. Hopefully, we can catch the feeling of isolation and dread one gets at night in certain parts of New York.


FIORILLO: When writing it, I think I was envisioning a kind of "lost in the woods" feel. But instead of the woods, it’s the streets of the city. Something very strange happens at night in the city when the streets are empty. Jeremiah has a great sense of taking the feel of what’s on the page and then multiplying it. It was really fun shooting the trailer and then seeing the results.


Do talk about your main cast for a bit, and why exactly these people?


KIPP: I’ve worked with Lukas Hassel [Lukas Hassel interview - click here] a few times now; he’s an actor whose work I greatly admire. He’s usually cast as romantic leads, but Joe and I also know him as a successful writer of edgy and artistic material that has gained some acclaim (he’s the 2012 CineStory Grand Prize Winner, for example). He has a great capacity for finding the unpredictable, whether it’s the scary side of a benevolent character or the unremitting honesty of what we might consider a villain. It was important that the character of William be drawn into the nightmare of our story because it has some level of fascination with him. He’s testing himself. Developing this character with him has been one of the great joys of putting together The Minions. I also have wanted to work with Cristina Doikas for years. She’s one of those daring performers who are not afraid to push to the limit. In the role of Sarah, she’s a fantastic counter-balance to William. I look forward to seeing the intensity of their struggle.


FIORILLO: Lukas and Cristina are both assets to a production beyond their performance. As Jeremiah noted, Lukas is a very smart and talented writer. He’s been involved with this script since the beginning of the development process. He brings all that knowledge to his performance in the nuances of character. Lukas is always very captivating on screen and watching him work on the character, William, is just a lot of fun. I’ve had a chance to see Cristina work a lot and she’s read for me before in developmental workshops. Even when reading cold, she has the intuition to find the character’s intentions and hit the right beats. She’s very smart and had a really strong grasp of the character Sarah and the script. I’m really excited to have both her and Lukas on this project.


As far as I know, the film's still in its fundraising stages - so what can you tell us about your fundraising campaign?


KIPP: Once again, we’re working with our producer Lauren Rayner, who was instrumental in designing the campaign. Since this is an eerie tale of witchcraft and night terrors, it felt appropriate to make a Halloween-themed fundraiser. It’s entirely appropriate to our autumnal story. To my surprise, some of my old friends from Rhode Island have been supportive of this campaign. I used to make zombie and vampire movies with them in the backyard when we were in high school. This campaign has, in some ways, been a small reunion for me.


FIORILLO: It’s been really great to see the reaction to the trailer. That’s been the fun part so far as people respond really well to it. You’re able to start to get additional insight about how people will respond to the film, so it’s been exciting. I’ve been energized by the response.


Once your funds are raised, what's the tentative schedule, and any idea when and where The Minions might be released yet?


KIPP: We’re hoping to film in November, shortly before Thanksgiving, while the autumn leaves are still in the street, the trees are bare and there’s that slight chill in the atmosphere. The perfect time of year for making an eerie little fable.


Any future projects beyond TThe Minions?


KIPP: Joe and I have been developing new material. Right now he has something that’s just as eerie as The Minions, but going in an entirely different direction. It’s been a rewarding collaboration and we’d like to continue building a track record of unique genre offerings, movies that are off the beaten path, that challenge and fascinate the viewer.


FIORILLO: I think the goal is to give the audience something a little different than what they’re used to seeing. I’m happy that we already have another project in the works for after The Minions is complete.


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We are asking genre fans, friends and familiars to please contribute whatever they can. Literally, any amount at all will help us on this journey. And the donations are fully tax-deductible via our producer's not-for-profit fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas.


Our Facebook page is here:

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Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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