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An Interview with Mason Rey, Director and Star of Lamp Light

by Mike Haberfelner

July 2019

Mason Rey on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Lamp Light - in a few words, what is it about?

 

It's about a guy that has a ton of personal guilt he's been avoiding but eventually can't dodge it anymore when he gets stuck in a tunnel collapse. He's trapped in his car and has to face his mortality and the mistakes he's made. 

 

What were your sources of inspiration when writing Lamp Light, and without wanting to get too personal, is Don in any form or way based on yourself?

 

It's a deeply personal story. I think everyone has been in a dead-end job, in a dead-end part of their life with no real “light at the end of the tunnel”, and we tend to never want to confront those ideas. A lot of Lamp Light comes from my own personal struggles with religion, death, and my own mortality. To talk about it more might give away some of the big themes in the film but there is a lot of religious imagery in Lamp Light and how a person deals with losing one's faith. It's a deeply anti-theist film.

 

The majority of Lamp Light takes place in a car buried under rocks - so how did you go about filming this from a technical point of view?

 

Well, fake rocks are expensive. So, I got real ones. Turns out, people that have large sums of broken and useless concrete are usually not too keen to hold on to it. My producer, Nathan Goss, is a magician at making needed things appear, so I was lucky enough to have him produce about 2-3 tons of real metal and concrete for the film. The detritus was all attached to heavy duty tables that could be rolled in and out as needed for the cameras. The car itself had to be heavily cut, glued, shattered, and crushed for the purposes of the film. By the end of filming, there wasn't much left that could be called a car.

 

Being limited to one (very narrow) location mostly, how hard was it to keep things interesting visually throughout?

 

Very. It was a constant worry in my mind. “Who's going to want to watch a fat guy sit in a car and complain for 90 minutes?” That was always at the front of my mind when I was writing and shooting it so I purposefully placed moments of levity, action, and set pieces whenever I felt the pacing was getting too heavy or predictable. As simple as the film is, there's a lot of tricks going on to keep the viewer engaged.

 

What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

I've always loved minimalism and shadow in film. I think the modern trend in filmmaking is to have everything bright and neon, which after two hours becomes a fatiguing visual slog. I wanted Lamp Light to be heavy with shadow. This fit thematically also but I think it gives the film a lot more depth than if I lit it like a 90's sitcom with everything visible. It adds to the claustrophobia and dread. There's a lot of Murnau's Nosferatu in Lamp Light.

 

You also play the lead in Lamp Light - so what did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and have you written Don with yourself in mind from the get-go? And since you're the only on-screen character for most of the film's running time, what kind of a strain was it for you as an actor to carry the film on your shoulders alone?

 

Let me be clear, I DID NOT want to be in the film. I shot Lamp Light over five years and late at night after my day job. I really couldn't ask another actor to do that. I couldn't ask someone to be that available. I knew that when I started writing it, but I'm not an actor. The film's saving grace is that I owned all the camera gear and I was the director so I could shoot a thousand takes and ONE of them would make me look like I knew what I was doing. I'm my own harshest critic so there were MANY nights of filming that were completely scrapped because I felt the quality wasn't there. It was extremely stressful and doubt plagues you the whole time. Luckily, I had an extremely supportive wife and ten tons of personal dedication to help drag me through it.

 

What can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?

 

The wife character is played by my college chum Kelly Hager. She's a really supportive and eager actress, not to mention drop dead gorgeous so it was a no brainer to cast her as the wife of a pudgy schlub like Don Gos. Lol. Joel King was one of the hardest people to find. The voice of Gym had to be soothing but somewhat maniacal. He had to play God and the Devil in many ways, so finding someone to ride that line was a massive relief.

 

A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

It's a film about isolation. You never, but once, see Don and another character in the same frame. Shooting it was just as lonely and emotionally derelict as actually being entombed in a car... mostly because when shooting, I was literally entombed in that real concrete and steel. Shooting it felt authentic because it was. That's real glass on the seats and real iron sticking out from the windows. Shooting the film caused real physical harm and I've got more than a few scars from that damn makeshift backseat tunnel. I would highly recommend using fake rocks/glass when making tunnel collapse movies. Lol.

 

The $64-question, where can your movie be seen?

 

Lamp Light will be available on DVD and digital stores July 30th.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Lamp Light yet?

 

At the 2018 Atlanta Film Festival, Lamp Light received overwhelmingly positive reviews from everyone I spoke to and the panels I sat on afterwards. After half a decade of blood, sweat, tears, sleepless night, and countless bottles of Tums, it's nice to see the film appreciated.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

I've got a fantastic genre script ready to go and about three treatments waiting to be fleshed out but unfortunately, I haven't run into any Saudi Princes with blank checks yet. Fingers crossed.

 

What got you into the filmworld to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

I saw Blade Runner when I was 11, and from that moment on, being a movie director was all I ever wanted to be. I went to Georgia State University and graduated summa in Film and Television Production, but that was largely a waste of time. I learned more in a week of filming Lamp Light than four years of film school.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Lamp Light?

 

Mostly just industrial videos, personal video experiments, student films, and local commercials.

 

Making movies, you wear many hats, both in front of and behind the camera - so what do you enjoy the most, what could you do without?

 

Editing is where the magic happens. That's the real power of filmmaking. The director is just the monkey that makes the raw mess and brings it to the editor. It's the editor’s job to turn it into art. I loved editing. It's amazing how a simple single frame or two can completely change the feeling of a scene. But you can keep coloring. Color artists are warlocks that use unholy magic. I don't know how they do what they do. It's hard and you never feel done. I never want to do film coloring again.

 

Filmmakers, actors, writers who inspire you?

 

Film is art but it's also a business. I like directors that straddle that line. David Lynch doesn't give a shit about the business of filmmaking, and Michael Bay doesn't even know that films can be art. But in the middle, you have directors like Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve that really give you the best of both worlds. Crowd pleasers that make you feel and make you in awe of what you're seeing. Spike Jonze is pretty great too.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Blade Runner is the best movie, but my favorite movie is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. You make a film like that, you don't ever need to make another. You've made a statement that will echo through time.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

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Find Mason Rey
at the amazons ...

USA  amazon.com

Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)  amazon.co.uk

Germany (East AND West)  amazon.de

Looking for imports ?
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Thailand  eThaiCD.com
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I'd rather be locked in a cage with a drunk and horny gorilla than ever see another Transformers film.

 

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

 

https://www.facebook.com/LampLightMovie/

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

If anyone sees my film and feels ANYTHING, I've done my job. I want to hear about it. Reach out and let me know. That's all my job is as a filmmaker is to make the viewer feel something. Fear, joy, hate, whatever. If I'm able to get one person to feel something, then all this work was worth it.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
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