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An Interview with Kristian Day, Director of Is This Heaven

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2012

Kristian Day on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Is This Heaven? - in a few words, what is it about?


Frank Meeink is a former skinhead turned civil rights activist. All his life he has been a Christian (even during his skinhead years). In the last year, he has been very conflicted about what his beliefs really are. There has been a lot of hate talk in politics against the gay communities around the United States. The words "The way God intended" have been used a lot. There was also the shooting in Wisconsin of a Sikh Temple that was done by a neo Nazi. These beliefs have been focused around Christianity and so we are going on a road trip through Iowa to see what else is out there.


What were your initial inspirations for making the movie - and your take on religion and spirituality?


Well I think that there is extremism in everything. You have far right and you have far right. I don't believe that hate comes from any religion. Religion is a way to unify people spiritually and give them some type of support system that they can always count on. I am an atheist personally, but I am not an angry atheist like many are. I found inner peace from walking away from all of that and living my life from that perspective. I have a lot of respect for those who are spiritual and have faith. If they find peace in a specific belief or ideology then they should stick with it.


I love Iowa. This state is so unique and diverse that I think the locals some times forget what we really have and I am not 100% sure if people outside the state are aware of what we have. We have the oldest standing Mosque in the United States. It's called Mother Mosque and it is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We also have the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was The Beatles' personal guru. The town itself is like the central gathering for people who practice transcendental meditation. David Lynch has his television studios and foundation located there. There are so many places like this in Iowa. This film is giving me a chance to show these locations to the rest of the world.


What can you tell us about the central character of Is This Heaven?, Frank Meeink: How did you two meet, what kind of a person is he, what was your collaboration like, and what caught your interest in exactly his life's journey in the first place?


Frank is a wonderful man. Frank and I worked on my unreleased film, Vessel, on his first day of shooting we shot an acid trip nightmare and covered him in blood :) He is a good sport. Frank and I have been good friends for almost four years. We double date a lot. On my birthday last year the four of us went to Zombie Burger and before that we attended their End of the World-party, where, as my girlfriend and I say, "We got Meeinked" - they throw one hell of a party. Frank doesn't drink and has been sober for over ten years. He is one of the best guys to work with. We have an agreement that a "No" from either of us overrides a "Yes" from anyone. We have always wanted to make something together. He was involved with a TV pilot for AMC for almost two years and during that time he used to tell me "Wouldn't it be cool if we just stayed here and made movies together?" - and this past April his show got axed at the top tier of executives. We were in production a week later.


Frank Meeink has, shall we say, a dark past. To what extent does this factor in your film?


A lot of the Christian Right rhetoric that we hear today is exactly the same as the propaganda he heard back in the Neo Nazi movement. The whole "This is about love and not about hate" or "We are not racists, we are racialists" - it's all the same. Frank can smell hate from a mile away. He is able to see the very deep details of a situation.


How would you describe your directorial approach to your subject at hand?


I have already put a rough cut of the film in my mind. We are never showing who the villan is. You are going to hear stories and hear hate speeches that have been used by politicians/religious leaders. But we are never saying by who. The fact of the matter is hate is not created in politics or religion. Both hate and love is created by individuals who use politics and religion as a vehicle. If people learn how to hear hate and smell hate, there might be chance to fight it. The moment you label someone as Republican, Democrat, Catholic, Muslim, Jew, etc, you are going to get an instant judgement. So by not naming or labeling these people we can connect with a much larger audience. These people don't just live in Iowa, they live in every state and every country.


How would you compare/put Is This Heaven? in relation to the other films of your Made in Iowa-series of documentary movies?


This is more like Hybrid Pioneer in a way as I am capturing this as life happens. Capone's Whiskey was a historical piece. I even have a part in this film, which is why you see me in the trailer. Frank and I have two different perspectives on things. Frank is a spiritual guy and I am not. I just don't think like that. I am more analytical which I think makes us a perfect team. I will say that I feel very consumed by this movie in comparison to my past films.


The $64-question of course, when and where will Is This Heaven? be released onto the general public?


We want this done in two months - so late October. It will hit theaters after that and follow with Video On Demand.


Any future projects beyond Is This Heaven?


I have a few things in mind. I have been wanting to work with a local producer named Sam Tuomi who has done some amazing work. He produces the 48 Hour Film Project here in Des Moines. I have also been talking with actor Jeremy Ray Smolik. He is the young farmer guy in the reenactment scenes of the Templeton Rye project. Both these guys have been on my list for awhile. A little piece of trivia, Frank Meeink was in the movie The Experiment starring Adrien Brody. Jeremy was Frank's stand-in on that.


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A few words about your production/distribution company Modern American Cinema?


We just picked up two films for distribution that I am very excited about: Kung Fu Graffiti and My Name Is A by anonymous. Which to be honest, I couldn't have picked two more opposite films. Both films are coming out in October and will tour for about a year. We have already booked both films in theaters in Iowa and Oregon (we just made them available yesterday). We are still looking for new releases for theatrical distribution so any filmmakers out there with movies should send an email to


My company is also sponsoring the Home Movie Day Des Moines celebration on October 20th at the Iowa State Historical Building. People will bring in there 8mm, Super 8, and 16mm film reels and we will screen for the public. It will be a great event. For more info on Home Movie Day DSM please visit: or view the commercial online:


Your/your movie's/your company's website, Facebook, whatever else?


My company's website is

... or find me on Twitter: @kristianmday


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

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
to the weirdly romantic,
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
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... 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