Your upcoming movie Ghost Dance - in a few words, what is it
Ghost Dance is a western short film with supernatural overtones about a
wandering stranger who meets an Indian Spirit Talker and tells him the
tale of his lost wife and daughter, his journey into the west, and a
showdown at high noon with a notorious gang of thugs.
With Ghost Dance being a supernatural
Western - could you elaborate on that in more detail, and what fascinates
you about the genre as such?
When David T. Krupicz [David
T. Krupicz interview - click here] approached me about
the idea, something clicked almost immediately. The films weíve worked
on previously have all been situated within the sci-fi realm, with
concepts that have been way out there as science fiction should be. Ghost
Dance was simple and straightforward and I liked that idea of
mixing a story with supernatural elements. Therefore we have Ghost
Dance, which contains all the great elements of a western and adding a
dash of the supernatural to give it more of an edge. Iím very excited
with it and the potential it has to spawn more like it in the future.
(Other) sources of
inspiration when writing Ghost Dance?
many western movies as possible, to get the mood and atmosphere as
authentic as possible. I recall watching the old John Wayne [John
Wayne in the 1930s - click here] and Clint
Eastwood movies growing up and into my teenage years, so to revisit them
again as a source of inspiration for this film was refreshing. I am a
filmmaker who likes to dabble in different genres as Iím not one for
being restricted for being typecast to just one, so writing a western was
a breath of fresh air for me.
to my information, Ghost Dance was your first screenwriting
collaboration with David T. Krupicz [David
T. Krupicz interview - click here] - so do talk about the writing process for a bit!
I love to write, plain and simple. Yet over the past eight or nine
years I haven't had much time to just write something and produce it.
Iíve been focusing on my family and thatís my priority when Iím not
working. I stuck mainly to producing as it just worked for me. Nowadays,
Iíve been craving a return to screenwriting. David and I have
collaborated on three productions, but this one was the first that I felt
comfortable jumping into and joining him in the writing process. I felt
like I could add more depth into these troubled characters and make them
more human. I am all about characters and their development, the arcs they
take, and the situations that alter them along the way.
Basically, David wrote the first draft and I came in to do the second.
Together we came up with some solid ideas that western fans will love, but
also some that will surprise audiences as well. And the beauty of
collaborating with someone like David is that heís always up for
different interpretations on things. Itís a real collaborative effort.
can you tell us about the intended style of animation, look and feel of
David has decided to animate the film using Blender, which is the same route we took with Cold Dark Mirror.
The look of the film is very much what youíd expect from a western. When
it comes to animation, thatís most definitely Davidís area. Thatís
his world. Thatís his vision as the director, and one I would never try
and replicate or enforce. The atmosphere is edgier and darker, which is
something that our past films havenít been considering the subject
You also voice the
"Stranger" in Ghost Dance - so do talk about your
approach to the role for a bit, and about recording voice-overs as such?
role of ďThe StrangerĒ was a fun one to do. I grew up watching Clint
Eastwoodís portrayal of gruff lawmen and gunslingers and always wishing
that one day, be it in real life or in the cartoon world, that I play a
character such as that. As with most of our collaborations, my involvement
in front of the camera is just the icing on the cake for me. I love the
experience and the opportunity to lend my voice to a character and give it a
life of its own. Itís also the first time Iíve played the lead
character, so Iím pretty excited to see The Stranger in action. Heís
dangerous and heís got an attitude, and I love playing characters like
you can tell us about the rest of your film's voice-cast yet, and why
exactly these people?
I love the cast! Since itís a short we only have a handful of
characters within the story, so casting was crucial as we couldnít just
find friends of friends to play the roles. I look over a huge roaster of
names and David and I eventually settled on the select few who just embraced
the characters. Daniel Wyse plays The Shaman, who is the spirit talker in
the story. Daniel just has ďthe voiceĒ. When you hear his voice, it
just is one of authority, of power, of importance. Heís been in every
one of our collaborative productions and he continues to amaze me with his
presence. He just owns everything he does.
For the role of Black Zeke, we cast Brian Carleton, who is a terrific
actor Iíve known about for years yet had never crossed paths with nor
worked with previously to this film. The man is phenomenal. Not only as a
physical actor on screen, but his voice is just chilling, even menacing
when he wants to be. He makes a great villain, and the perfect antagonist
to my character. I would work with him again in a second if I could.
Ghost Dance also marks the second time weíve worked with
the lovely Caleigh Le Grand. She appeared in our Cold Dark Mirror and
again is on hand here to lend her voice to a couple of supporting female
characters. She is always a joy to work with. Sheís got energy and charm
and I pushed to have her in the movie.
At what stage of production is Ghost
Dance presently, and where do you see the main challenges the rest of
Ghost Dance is currently in
production. We recorded our actors last year (2015), but production on
the film didnít begin until this past summer as it takes lots of time to
develop a structure to the animation process. David is meticulous. Heís
a perfectionist and he wonít just churn out a piece of garbage
considering all the time and effort he puts into animating these pictures.
So weíre taking our time with this, probably more so then weíve done
in the past. We also have families and other commitments, but we continue
to work steadily on it.
It might be waaay too early to ask, but any
idea when the film might be released onto the general public yet?
believe we should see the film finished and released sometime next summer.
We hope to hit the festival circuit around the same time and maybe offer
up a DVD/Blu-ray release later on in the year. Yes, itís a bit too
early to discuss release dates to the general public, but we hope to
showcase this at festivals around the globe beforehand.
future projects beyond Ghost Dance you'd like to share?
I am taking some time off to spend with my family and Iím enjoying that
special time. In terms of projects, I am looking at a few scripts from
other filmmakers to produce and a few ideas Iíd like to write and
collaborate with other filmmakers on. Again, writing is something Iíd
like to pursue on a greater level, so weíll see what comes up.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Also, donít forget to check out David and Iís previous
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
want to encourage young filmmakers of any age to not be deterred from
making films. Itís a rigorous, competitive, and often very stressful
process that takes years to make. If you have a true love for film, then
pursue what you love and prepared to work for it. Make your own films,
donít sit around waiting for people to make it for you. Write your own
projects when you feel that others donít understand you. Produce movies
that you want to see. Collaborate and donít be afraid to take
constructive criticism from others who either admire or dislike what you
do. You learn by what you do not just by what you know. You will stumble,
you will fall, but what you learn from that is probably more useful than
what you learned at school. I have always said that film school is
important to any filmmaker, but true experience of the craft can only be
obtained by going out and making a film on your own and seeing first hand
how it all works and comes together. Go out and make magic.
for the interview!
Thank you Michael! Always a pleasure speaking with you.