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An Interview with Nathan Suher, Director of Higher Methods

by Mike Haberfelner

November 2016

Films directed by Nathan Suher on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Higher Methods - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Higher Methods is at its heart a movie about what it means to be an actor, what it means to be a performer. Itís the story of Matthew whose sister went missing 15 years prior. One day heís at the movies and sees his sister as an extra who hasnít aged a day. He embarks on a quest to find out what happens to her. He spirals down a rabbit hole into the dark, cultish world of drug addicts, freaks, the black sheep, the wannabe actors led by a menacing and intellectual acting mentor. As he attempts to uncover the mystery of his sister that went missing realities begin to blur in this sick twisted tale.

 

How did the project fall together in the first place, and what made you choose exactly this project as your first attempt at feature filmmaking?

 

It all began in the spring of 2015. Screenwriter Lenny Schwartz and I had recently collaborated on a short film, Scary Little Fuckers (A Christmas Movie) that he wrote and I directed. We realized that we had fantastic chemistry and had a lot of common ground towards the films we enjoy. I knew it was around this time that for my next project I wanted to produce a feature length film. He graciously sent me about a dozen scripts to see if I was interested in any of them and Higher Methods stuck in my mind more than any of them.

 

I had jump-started the idea of directing a feature length film several times over the past 9 years. Each time I realized shortly that for one reason or another either the project wasnít right, or financially things werenít in order, or mentally I wasnít prepared. In the summer of 2015 I was fresh of the coattails of two short films that I couldnít have been more proud of and something clicked with me. I felt that I finally hit my stride both creatively and professionally, so for the first time I was comfortable to transition into finally producing a feature.

 

Higher Methods resonated with me in a way that no other script Iíve read has. I love the fact that when you read it itís completely relatable and enjoyable on a surface level, but then upon digging deeper into the characters, the dark and twisted depths of their true nature bubbles to the surface. It truly is the ultimate character study.

 

Do talk aboout your scriptwriter Lenny Schwartz for a bit, and what's your collaboration with him like? And how did you two first meet even?

 

I've known of Lenny for many years before I reached out to him. People in my circle would constantly praise the quality of his stage plays. I had also seen a few feature films that he wrote that highly impressed me, most notably Normal, directed by Richard Griffin [Richard Griffin interview - click here]. I originally reached out to Lenny to ask him if he could do some script doctoring on another feature film that I was eyeing on producing at some point. We instantly hit it off and began hashing out ideas for other projects we might collaborate on. Thatís when he proposed producing a horror/comedy short, Scary Little Fuckers (A Christmas Movie), which set it all in motion.

 

Collaborating with Lenny I would describe as a Ďmanic joyrideí. His level of energy and enthusiasm is uncompromising. Iíve never met a writer that is so full of life. Most people think of the self-deprecating, beaten down anguished, hardened writer. Lenny couldnít be any more opposite of that stereotype. His confidence in himself and in those that he surrounds himself with is a breath of fresh air in this industry.

 

Do talk about your film's approach to horror for a bit!

 

I think itís hysterical that I find myself gradually becoming a genre filmmaker. For the first 18 years of my filmmaking career I produced nearly exclusively comedies and dramas. I wouldnít consider Higher Methods to be a horror film by any means. More like psychological horror/mystery. I donít see myself ever diving head first into a straightforward horror flick. In fact Iím really not a very big fan of it at all. I can enjoy scary movies, but it needs to have some more ingredients for it to stand out for me. I do love it when films surprise you with horror elements. Higher Methods is a great example of this. Itís a mystery and there are engrossing characters, but with that thereís a threat of violence and horror playing hide and seek with its audience. When horror erupts itís shocking and unexpected. Thatís the kind of horror I love.

 

What can you tell us about the intended overall look and feel of Higher Methods?

 

The look of the film will have an interesting dynamic going for it. On one hand we want the film to have a very polished slick feel with lots of surface beauty. If you look close though, you will discover the superficiality of it. We want want the characters, the locations, and the overall world they exist in to be full of contradictions. On the surface itís about actors working in a Hollywood landscape. Just like a faÁade in a studio backlot, what appears to be authentic in reality is made of plywood and cheap materials. It is this contradiction that influences the look, the feel, and the tone.

 

Anything you can tell us about your intended cast and crew as of yet, and why exactly these people?

 

This cast rocks!  We held an open casting call last spring and the level of talent we had to turn away was staggering. Itís a rather large cast, so I want to highlight a few of the key players. Michael Christoforo, Abigail Jean Lucas, Jamie Lyn Bagley, Aaron Andrade, and Anthony Ambrosino round out the prominent roles. All of them are gifted actors and we couldnít be happier to have them on board. The role of Matthew was the most critical one of course. The actor in this role is in every single scene in the film. Finding an actor who can carry that much weight was a main priority. Michael Christoforo lives in NYC and submitted a video audition for this role. Normally I dismiss these because itís very hard to know what your getting with an actor if you donít have the opportunity to give them direct feedback and see how they interpret it. However, upon seeing his video, we immediately scheduled a way to get him to Massachusetts to meet with him and formalize his inclusion.

 

The crew is equally as staggering. The DP is Ken Willinger who is one of the best local cinematographers. His work on two Richard Griffin films, Exhumed and Normal sold me instantly that he was the right person for this production. Overall itís a relatively large crew by my standards. I also need to highlight working with Chris Esper [Chris Esper interview - click here], who is my co-producer and 1st AD. Chris is an amazing filmmaker in his own right and itís his first feature too. Chris and I have been friends and collaborators since 2010 when he was an editing assistant on a 48 Hour Film Project I produced. Since then heís been a part of many productions in lots of different roles. Love working with this guy!

 

With Higher Methods being your debut feature as a director, where do you see the main challenges?

 

Finding enough time to properly prepare is my biggest challenge. I am married, with a 5 year old daughter. Juggling my film life with my home life is always hard. Did I also mention I work a full time job too?  So pile that on top of it as well. Iím constantly in a state of civil war in my mind. The one side is a relentless perfectionist who wants every single detail of this film thought out ahead of time and addressed with precision. The one side understands itís my first film, and itís a creative outpouring, and I shouldnít be so precious with everything. This is a special time for me and I should be enjoying the ride as much as I can.

 

Presently, Higher Methods is still in its fundraising stages - so do talk about your campaign!

 

We lauched an IndieGoGo campaign on October 21, 2016. Unlike my prior campaigns we are actually around 70% funded going into it. This is a huge relief because I know that even if we donít meet our goal we will find a way to claw and scrape our way to the finish line. But lets not think about that yet. We set a campaign goal of $4000. Completely doable for a 30 day campaign. Iíve had a lot of success running crowd funding campaigns over the years, this being my 4th. My approach to it this year (for better or for worse) is an all-out assault. I usually donít go more then a few waking hours each day without promoting it through a huge variety of outlets. This includes hundreds of Facebook groups, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, Mailchimp newsletters, and most importantly direct emails to my list of contacts. One rule that I will hold near and dear to me during this campaign is to never actually ask for any money. I am avoiding phrases like ďplease donateĒ, ďhelp usĒ, ďcontributeĒ. I want our supporters to feel included with this campaign, not feel like their being marketing too. Itís a somewhat risky strategy, but I believe itís the right thing to do. All that being said, donations are wonderful!

https://igg.me/at/highermethods

 

Once the funds are raised, what's the schedule, and even if it's waaay too early to ask, when will the film be released onto the general public, however tentatively?

 

We are going into production in January for 14 non-consecutive days between January 7th-22nd. Yes, itís ambitious, but we can do it!  I think a lot about what the future will hold for Higher Methods. My ultimate goal is to build up a large following and get it distributed across as many digital platforms as possible. We will be submitting it to all of the major film festivals and lots of lower tiered ones too. The great thing about people that support our film through the IndieGoGo campaign, there will be opportunities to them to see the film in its entirety long before itís made available to the public.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Well Higher Methods is obviously taking up a huge chunk of my time and it will be my primary focus for probably the next year during post production and the eventually marketing and distribution of it. There are several projects on the horizon that Iíd like to develop. One of which is a feature length adaptation of Scary Little Fuckers (A Christmas Movie). Itís been doing so well on the festival circuit and the praise for it has been humbling. Lenny Schwartz and I have already pitched ideas back and forth what this story could be. One thing is for sure, whatever it is, it will NOT be high art.

 

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

 

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The Higher Methods IndieGoGo campaign ends November 20th. Here is the link: https://igg.me/at/highermethods

The official Facebook page: http://facebook.com/highermethods

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/NathanSuher

The official website: http://www.imfilmworks.com/higher-methods.html

 

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

 

Yes! In the month of December weíre going to host a Higher Methods fundraiser. It will most likely be held at a local theater. We will screen a bunch of short films from members of our cast and crew. Details are still being worked out so please check our website or social media pages for updates.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

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
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Tršume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natŁrlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
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