Your new movie Blood
Punch - in a few words, what is it about?
Punch is about three very different characters who go to an isolated
cabin to pull off a lucrative drug score.
But once there, they discover that they are trapped in a
supernatural cycle of blood and violence that seems to have no end... and
did the project fall together in the first place?
project has a whole story behind it that is so ridiculous, it’s hard to
everyone involved in Blood
Punch, including the director (Madellaine
Paxson) and the writer (Eddie Guzelian), have a long history of working in
children’s programming and animation for studios like Disney and
Nickelodeon. We first met and
worked with the three young actors who star in the movie when we cast them
in a season of Power Rangers, which
was owned by Disney
at the time.
We had all kept in touch, and decided to make a movie together.
may seem like an incredibly unlikely group of people that came together to
make this rather demented and twisted little movie—but if you had spent
years writing Winnie The Pooh, I think you’d understand that it actually
makes perfect sense. We
clearly had a lot of pent-up aggression and other issues we needed to work
what were your inspirations when writing Blood
always been a huge fan of film noir and I really wanted to take some of
the very classic and traditional elements from that genre and then spin
them off in a direction towards one of my other great love—low-budget
horror movies. Within
film noir, there exists a very prominent sub-genre that involves a
dangerous love triangle that turns deadly, classic stuff like Double
Indemnity, The Lady From Shanghai, The
Postman Always Rings Twice—or more recently, Body Heat or Blood Simple.
idea behind Blood
Punch was to introduce one of these classic love
triangles as the basis of the movie. It’s
the ‘regular guy,’ the ‘femme fatale’, the ‘psycho
boyfriend’—it’s a story that feels very familiar, you’ve seen it a
million times and you think you know where it’s going. But
then we wanted to take that set up and spin it off into something
else—too take those classic and familiar characters and throw them into
the middle of something that is so much more shocking and twisted than the
simple murders and betrayals you were expecting (though plenty of those
Honestly how much fun was it to come up
with quite that many ways to kill one and the same character?
was challenging, because we didn’t want the deaths to become repetitive
and boring. Every death had to
be entertaining! We shot even more deaths than are shown in the
movie, and they didn’t get used for one reason or another… but
they’re included on the DVD special features, and if you pre-order the
movie on iTunes (or using an American iTunes account), we will send you
these special features!
what can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at
it simple, classical, and invisible;
I chose to let the actors carry the story, instead of distracting the
audience with flashy directing tricks like shaky-cam, etc.
Also, use as many practical effects as possible, as opposed to CGI,
including muzzle flashes on the guns.
As far as I know, you two worked pretty closely
together on Blood Punch,
from conception to production, to a point where the line between writer
and director became somewhat blurred - so what can you tell us about your
collaboration on Blood Punch?
And how did you two first meet even, what can you tell us about your past
met at Walt Disney TV Animation (WDTVA)
as low-level assistants.
We both became writers on the cartoons that WDTVA had in
production. We have worked in
both children’s cartoons and children’s live-action programming.
When Eddie got a job producing Power
Rangers RPM, Madellaine assisted in the casting and writing.
When we decided to make Blood Punch, the very actors that were cast for Power
were the actors we most wanted to work with.
That’s when our kids’ TV world collided with our horror movie
world and created a bloody mess!
From what I know (and I might be wrong
here), Blood Punch
is the feature film debut for the both of you after doing tons of TV and
animation - so why did you exactly choose this story, and how does making
a feature compare to doing TV and animation?
chose the actors before we came up with the story… but once we knew we
had a trio, 2 men and 1 woman, that was instantly a love triangle.
One of our favorite genres is film noir, which often features a
deadly love triangle, so we went down that road, while adding elements
from other genres we like, such as a supernatural element, a horror
element, and dark comedy.
are many differences between writing cartoons and making a feature, but
honestly, at the end of the day they are both storytelling.
A feature is just telling it in a longer form than a cartoon. The
biggest difference between making Blood Punch
and writing cartoons,
for us personally, was that we had full control over the project; we
didn’t have any studio executives telling us what to do.
We were allowed to do anything we wanted, and were also responsible
for everything. Which also
means that anything that’s wrong with it is our fault.
worked with all three of your leads, Milo Cawthorne, Olivia Tennet and Ari
Boyland, previously on Power Rangers R.P.M. - so what made them the
perfect cast for Blood Punch?
actually backwards, Blood Punch
came after we decided to make a movie with these
fantastic actors. Besides
being incredibly talented, they are all very, very experienced, which made
everything easier on us as first-time filmmakers.
And instead of just being actors to order around on a set,
they were true collaborators.
can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
Adelaide Kane (currently the star of Reign), who plays Nabiki,
was the villain on Power Rangers RPM,
and she makes a great villain.
Holloway is a New Zealand actor (currently in What We Do in the
Shadows) that we met through our mostly-Kiwi cast; he had starred in a
fantastic independent Western called Good
For Nothing, which we saw at a film festival in Santa Barbara.
Cohen attended the festival, and when we met him, we knew we wanted
to work with him.
Punch was filmed primarily in and around a cabin in the woods - so
what can you tell us about your actual location, and what was it like
had shot test footage at a completely different cabin the year before, and
had wanted to shoot there for principal photography as well, but at the
very last minute the cabin became unavailable, and we had to scramble to
find a new location! What we
found is the cabin you see in the movie.
the town in which we filmed, is a beautiful little mountain community, and
we were told it rarely snows in November (when principal photography
began). So of course we had a
huge snowstorm on the first day of production, making our camera truck
unable to drive up the winding mountain roads. But
when the snow abated, the vistas were spectacular; we tried to capture
that as much as possible, since the characters are supposed to be all
alone in a very remote location.
What can you tell us about the shoot as
such, and the on-set atmosphere?
production is difficult, and our shoot was no exception.
We had one problem after another, from ice storms on the first day
of production, to sand storms in the desert, to a bomb scare, to one of
our actors ending up in the hospital for several days… it became a
running joke: “Blood Punch, the movie God didn’t want to see get
made.” But somehow, we made
With the movie only
about to be released onto the general public - what can you tell us about
audience and critical reception of Blood
Punch so far?
have been surprised and humbled by the amazing audience response.
There’s nothing like watching your movie in a theater with other
people, and seeing them respond with so much enthusiasm.
It’s one reason we did the festival circuit for a year, and went
to as many of the screenings as we could possibly attend.
It was incredibly satisfying.
response has been overwhelmingly positive as well; we were worried that
seeing it with an audience is a much more satisfying experience, and if
reviewers watched it alone, they would think less of it.
So far, that has been quite rare, and the reviews have been great!
Any future projects you'd like to
trying to put together a horror TV series, a sort of
Misfits meets John Dies at the End.
What got you into the filmworld into the first
place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
deeply loved movies since childhood, (basically, seeing Star Wars) I
went to film school. Though I
directed many shorts, I also studied writing, and chose to follow that
path. Until Blood Punch that is.
up through high school and junior high, I worked as an usher in a movie
theater. This gave me the
opportunity to watch movies over and over and I became very interested in
figuring out the specific things that made some movies work and others
fail. I also had the
opportunity to watch these movies with live audiences and learned a lot
about how they would react and what it would take to really engage their
interest and sweep them away. In
college, I received a dual major in writing for television, radio, and
film and literature.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Blood
than short films I made for school, I have zero film work.
Other than watching lots and lots of movies.
done some work in animation and children’s entertainment, but have had a
life-long love affair with low-budget genre filmmaking and really wanted
to tap into that for my first real feature.
whoever else who inspire you?
MP: Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick, John Carpenter,
Sidney Lumet, the Coen Brothers, Tarantino
EG: Bill Lancaster (screenwriter), John Carpenter,
Sergio Leone, Park Chan-Wook, Joon-Ho Bong, David Lynch—and yeah, the
Coen Brothers, for sure.
Your favourite movies?
MP: Robocop, Aliens, Empire
Carpenter’s The Thing, Raiders
Of The Lost Ark, Videodrome, Straw
Wicker Man (original), Unbreakable.
and of course, films you really deplored?
it’s hard for me to really hate movies, because you can learn a lot from
even bad movies… but if I really had to choose films I truly hated, it
would be mainly because of how they ruined movies that I loved.
Final answer: all the Star Wars prequels.
I watch movies, I’m really pulling and rooting for them—it’s hard
for me to hate on any movie. Mostly,
I just feel bad and sorry for them.
here’s a few that do spring to mind:
Jack and Jill, Elysium, Die
Hard 2 (which sucks even compared to the franchise’s other bad sequels).
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movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
star Milo Cawthorne is starring in another great indie horror movie made
in New Zealand, Deathgasm, which will have a US theatrical release October 1st.
for the interview!