Your new movie Cyrus is currently in post-production. Can you
tell us in a few phrases what the film is about?
me, the film is really a psychological portrait of a serial killer names
Cyrus. An insight into what makes him tick and how his
life path created the character whose story we see on screen.
as I know, the film is based on true events. What can you tell us about
the case(s) the movie is based on, and how close did you stick to actual
is really a composite of a few serial killers. I really
wanted the movie to give a real look at a serial killer’s life so I took
those portions of these killers lives that we could document and combined
them into a single life. The main plot line comes from
a German serial killer from the 1900s named Fritz
Haarman. And I stayed pretty close to his killing
pattern. But Haarman usually killed young children,
which I thought would be to repulsive for an audience and distance them
from the story – so I changed certain elements to, hopefully, let the
audience stay involved with the story.
Are serialkillers a personal interest of yours?
always had an interest in the abnormal psyche … so I’d have to
from real life serialkillers, what were your main inspirations for Cyrus?
initial inspiration for the story came while I was doing a road trip from
Chicago to Minneapolis. I drove past a pretty creepy
farm house in Northern Wisconsin and there was a dead deer on the side of
the road, which a few cars had to swerve past to avoid hitting.Then the idea just came to me, wouldn’t it be messed up if the
person who owned that house released a trapped deer into the road to
create an accident so he could snag the people from the passing cars – I
started the script pretty shortly thereafter – the deer turned into
people – and that’s pretty much how the movie started.
explicit is the film going to be in terms of gore and violence?
gore and violence is definitely present and pretty disturbing, but I
don’t feel that any of it is gratuitous or over the top. In
test screenings, you sit in the back row and hear the audience go
“damn” or groan – so sometimes you question did I push it too far,
but each instance in the movie really is there for a very specific reason.
So I think we struck a pretty good balance. But
I wouldn’t suggest eating a burger during the movie.
lead is played by Brian Krause. How did that collaboration come into
being, and a few words about working with him?
rocked. He went above and beyond with his own research
and just did an exceptional job at capturing the character – no pun
intended. As a side note, Brian also came on the
picture as my second unit director and did a great job with those scenes.
of your cast is quite stellar as well, including fan favourites Lance
Henriksen, Rae Dawn Chong and Tiffany Shepis [Tiffany
Shepis interview - click here]. A few words about these
three and any of the other actors you'd like to mention?
where to start with that one? Lance was just brilliant
- he brings this almost hypnotic quality to his telling of the story.
Just a great actor to work with.
Rae Dawn really
hit the nail on the head when she portrayed a survivor of a serial killer
attack – while we were shooting the scene, she had some questions about
the interview and dialogue of her character. When I
told her it was based on a European girl who had been held captive by
a serial killer for three weeks – she instantly got it.
She had picked up that the girl didn’t really “speak” like an
American. I thought that was amazingly insightful.
Tiffany was also great to work with – she has a real gift for
being able to walk on set and BAM turn her character on and become that
character. You call “cut” – and there’s Tiff
again. She plays Cyrus’ mother in various flash backs
– and her performance really adds layers of understanding to the
character of the adult Cyrus we see.
All the actors
were really great – and I really mean everyone of them - Danielle
Harris, Doug Jones, Kim Rhodes, Patricia Belcher, Shawna Waldron all did a
film's website/mySpace/whatever else?
When and where
will the film be coming out?
now we are scheduled to be done – done with the movie mid-August. Moonstone has the foreign rights and we’re in talks about a
Let's leave the present
behind for the moment and move ahead to the past!
made movies, you were a theatre director. What can you tell us about your
life in theatre, and in what ways does directing for the stage differ from
directing for the screen?
will probably always be my first love – I grew up experiencing it. And while I love movies too, they always seemed very distant as a
real goal. Theatre was happening right in Chicago and
movies were made in LA. So theatre just seemed like a
better career course. I originally wanted to be a stage
actor and then a small company in Chicago that I had acted with offered me
the opportunity to direct and I jumped at it. The
artistic director of the company (who had also directed me in a play) saw
the show and told me “Mark, in the last thirty years in the business
I’ve seen a lot of actors and directors – and you happen to be one of
the best directors I’ve seen … and one of the most mediocre actors. So
you pick what you think you should do.” So directing
it was. I think the main difference is for film,
the director is dealing with a lot more technical people and you need to
keep up with the technical aspects of the project. On
stage, you’re really trying to focus on performance and getting your
actor to that point and making the various performances jell in the
moment. For film, you’re still trying to get that
performance, but you’re acutely concerned with how you capture it and
how those captured moments will jell in the post procedure.
Besides directing you have
also written a few plays for the stage. What can you tell us about these?
bulk of my writing used to be for stage - which tends
to be dialogue and description. On stage the character
describes how the character feels with dialogue, that way people in the
back row can know what’s going on - in film the character needs to show
how they feel because there are no “cheap seats”. I’ve
been told in America we make moving pictures and in Europe, they
make talking pictures. I like to think I find a
happy medium between both.
2006, you made your move to film-directing with The Thirsting
starring Tina Krause [Tina
Krause interview - click here]. What can you tell us about that movie, and what
prompted your jump from stage to screen?
film was based on the Lilith mythos. I’m an armchair
Jungian so archetypal myth has always been of interest to me. The
jump really came at the suggestion of an investor. He
had come to see a play I directed and asked if I’d be interested in
directing a film version of the play. As a first time
film director, I had a pretty limited budget offered and didn’t think we
could make a film out of the play on that budget, so he suggested we do a
horror movie … and away we went.
A few words
about The Desertion, the film you've only recently produced and
also had a part in?
had met one of the producers of Desertion at AFM and we began to talk
about their project and they brought me on as a producer to do the movie
in Chicago. We had originally hired a name actor – who shall remain nameless - to play the part of Thomas Bonds (which I
ended up playing). Unfortunately, the actor never
showed up in Chicago – so I played the part so we could keep on
Any future projects lined up?
have three films lined up for the end of 2009/2010. One
is a drama (writer/director), one horror (director) and one
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
films all seem to have a horror theme. Is horror a genre especially dear
The genre has been very kind to me (with the exception of some critics) and
the fans are great so yes horror is dear to me.
Your favourite films?
Favorite Year, Princess Bride, M,
Lion in the Winter, Rear Window, The
Exorcist, Orson Welles’ Macbeth, and Witness for the
Prosecution. I know they are all over the place genre-wise – but all great
stories and told brilliantly.
films you really deplored?
Directors who have influenced
a tough one because there are so many … but I’ll go with Sir Peter
Brook, Orson Welles and Bertold Brecht – and Samuel Beckett’s writing
has had a strong influence on me.
Anything else you are dying to tell us and I've
completely forgotten to ask?
favorite color is black.
Thanks for the interview!