Your new movie Mailer
Daemon - in a few words, what is it about?
Daemon takes place in a world where emails are handled by demonic
creatures, rather than basic computing functions. We follow one mailer
daemon, Todd, as he seeks a chance for appreciation when he intercepts
an email from a troubled teenage girl.
Daemon is based on a story by Seth Di Salvo - so how did you
happen upon the story, and to what extent was Mr. Di Salvo involved in the
making of the movie (if at all), and how much artistic license did you
take with the material?
Seth and I were good friends and collaborators in college. After
college, I went on to aid Seth in producing content for ad agencies. He
approached me with the idea, and the first draft of
the summer of '16, which I immediately fell in love with. From there,
he and I embarked on a journey to see it to fruition. Eventually, we
started moving in separate directions, and once I had saved enough money
to produce the movie, Seth decided to step away from the project, and so
I made the film with some colleagues that I had met in the film
business. The film itself is my own, but I always maintain that Seth was
the originator of the idea. We still maintain a rapport today.
What can you tell us about your
sources of inspiration when scripting Mailer
I can't say in regards to what sources of inspiration I pulled from
when writing the script. I had countless drafts of the script all the
way up to and during the actual shooting. During the writing of the
film, I learned of the three act structure in script writing, and how
most films adhere to having five major plot points. I would read well
regarded scripts to study their structure, and see if I could apply it
Daemon's script. I'd say we mostly achieved that.
To what extent can you actually identify
with Mailer Daemon's
lead character Todd, the lowly office worker?
As I mentioned before, Seth was the originator of the character Todd,
and I remember the time period in which he conceived the idea. So I
would say that Seth could probably identify with Todd's character more
than I could. But once I learned of the character, I looked for ways to
connect his plight with my own at the time. I can say that there have
been times while working, even in the business that I love, where you
feel like your work is going unnoticed, and it was those moments and
experiences that helped me to find a common ground with Todd. Also, I
think I can say that our star of the film, Mr. Joey Harmon, found much
communality with the Todd character. It was one of the reasons why he
was able to bring so much naturalism to the role.
very old fashioned office - now how much fun and what kind of a challenge
was it to furnish the place?
I'd say the office was what gave me most anxiety about the film. We
were set to shoot it in an office at UNO, but we would have to adhere to
strict hours. Once we started constructing the flats for the office at
my house, we realized just how much of a dilemma it would have been to
shoot in a place with limited access. That's when I had the idea that we
would just build the set in my dad's garage. Luckily, he was okay with
the idea, and he played a huge role in the actual construction of the
set. So the office that you actually see was built within my dad's
garage. Our incredible production designer, Elena Bueso, decorated the
set with all sorts of finds from garage sales, as well as from my
cousin's storage workhouse, and our terrific art director, Paul
Matthews, built all of the wonderful moving pieces featured in the
With being limited to just
one set for the entire film, what were some of your techniques to keep
things visually interesting?
Keeping the entire film to one set was a choice I made during the
writing process. We tried many things to show the passage of time, like
the amount of cigarette's in Todd's ash tray, and the number of of
emails delivered that day. It became more of a challenge to stick to
only one location, especially during the reshoots, but I'm glad that we
were able to stick to it. And of course, just trying to keep the pacing
brisk was a must.
What can you tell us about
your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
Overall directorial approach -
this was easily the biggest thing I had
ever taken on. Luckily, I had some truly amazing people on board to help
me make this possible. Most of the men and women involved had much more
filmmaking experience than I had at the time, so I knew going in that I
would be doing quite a bit of learning during the whole process. I think
that by not trying to wear too many hats at once, and adopting a team
sport mentality, while having as much fun as possible, was what got us
to the finish line.
talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
Love this question! The cast was incredible! Not just the key
cast, but everybody that had a part in front of the camera. Everyone was
so professional, and so passionate about the project! We had may
people self tape auditions, as well as come in for auditions. I remember
when Joey Harmon came in, he was the last person we saw that day, and I just
really loved his natural quirky energy. I thought it lent itself so well
to what I was envisioning for Todd. His personality alone is what holds
this film together. And we fell in love with Annette Watson as soon as she
walked into the room. So much fun, nervous, hilarious energy about her.
Truly engaging person. Rain Scott-Catoire was instantly my choice for Kelley, and she
was beyond prepared for the role. And I remember watching Dave Tiefen's reel.
He showed some really impressive range. I knew he would be a perfect fit
for the Jeff role, and he knocked it out of the park! I'll always
appreciate my stellar cast for what they did for the movie.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Thankfully, we made the right choice to shoot the whole thing in my
dad's garage. That alone made things so much more tranquil, as I was
literally playing on my home turf. Had we tried to pull it off at UNO,
jeez, my stomach turns just thinking about it. My awesome family was
present for the whole thing, to help out as needed and to make sure
everything ran smoothly. I was surrounded by support every step of the
way, which made it easier, and more fun.
$64-question of course, where can Mailer
Daemon be seen?
We are just now embarking on our festival run, so currently,
Daemon is not open to the public. I believe that once we've exhausted
our festival ambitions, say maybe in a year or so, I will make the Vimeo
link to the film public, for everyone to check out.
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of Mailer
So far, we've received some pretty positive reviews from different
sites and what not. I think the only criticism we've received is
that it wraps up rather abruptly. That was a decision we made during the
reshoots, and I think that decision resonates our whole theme of instant
gratification, or rather, how true self worth comes from within, not
from others. Audience reception has been fairly positive. Most people
just really love the design and cinematography aspects, so I'll take
that in regards to my terrific crew. I'm honestly just waiting for
someone to shit all over this thing. Pardon my French, you can edit that
however you desire.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
I am always working towards the future. I have a short script that I
am very excited about that I hope to get off the ground sometime this
summer. It's honestly a complete 180 from Mailer
Daemon. Just a very
simplistic story about a man and his son trying to connect on a fishing
trip. Sounds boring I know! Other than that I am working on a feature
that centers around my time working at an apartment complex during
college. And there might be a little psycho horror sprinkled in to that.
Anyways that's pretty much all I feel like sharing currently.
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
I've always enjoyed telling stories, even from a young age. As I
got older, I started appreciating movies more, and once I got to
college, I started taking script writing courses. That's when I really
grew a passion for writing, and just the desire to one day write a
really good screenplay. And then by watching movies, I developed a
similar desire to convey messages in fun and unusual ways, visually.
These are the things that excite me about continuing to make movies.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Mailer
Prior to Mailer
Daemon, I had only one other project that I submitted
to festivals. Called The Cover Up, it's a no budget short that I shot
at the house I lived at in college with my two other roommates. Some of
my LSU film friends helped me produce it, including Seth, and we had a
really good time making that one. After that was when I became a
production assistant on NCIS, which taught me a lot about how a big
budget production runs. So that was pretty much the extent of my film
experience before Mailer
How would you describe yourself as a
This is a tough question. I think right now, while I'm still gaining
experience, I really just try to be a people's person, a team player, and
I try to promote a space where nobody feels like they are overstepping
when they suggest ideas. Obviously the hardest thing about
directing is getting in front of everybody and saying, "Okay guys,
this is how we're gonna do this," so I do a great deal of
storyboarding so that everyone has an idea of what we're looking to
capture before we even get on set. I think you can't be over prepared
for this type of thing, but I definitely try to be.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coens, Park Chan
Wook has been one of late. Also, I do a lot of digging into young
directors' backgrounds, to see what their approach was to breaking in,
even if I'm not the biggest fan of their work. Ari Aster is a young
director right now who made a slew of shorts before getting the chance
to do a feature. He and the Safdi brothers are definitely in a place
that I want to find myself in a few years down the road.
This is way tougher of a question than most would believe. I try to
watch a wide variety of films, so my tastes jump all over all the time. Dark comedies are always a favorite, movies like
Raising Arizona. Also a
big fan of The Graduate. Parasite has got to be my favorite movie I've
seen so far this year, followed closely by Uncut Gems. I need to really
sit down and come up with legitimate answers to this question soon.
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Oh man, movies I despise. I'm not going to get into this too much. I
will say that I have a digital pile of movies on my phone that I need to
see but can't bring myself to watch solely due to their ridiculous run
times. I can't think of a movie that I utterly despise. I will say that
I am a part of the party who thought Joker was an overrated film. And
I'll just stop with that.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Here is a link to my film's page:
https://www.facebook.com/mailerdaemon1/ - please
give us a follow!
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
I can't say so. These questions have been great, and many of them have
jogged my memory!
Thanks for the interview!