First of all, why don't you introduce yourself to those of us who
don't already know you?
My name is Sean Weathers and I’m an independent/guerrilla filmmaker
from Brooklyn, New York. My films represent my upbringing, my experiences,
my environment and myself: Bleak, gritty, harsh and raw.
What is it like to be an indie
filmmaker in New York, and what can you tell us about the local film
It can be rough at times. Shooting guerrilla-style,
you always have to keep an eye out for people mugging for the camera and
ruining your takes. You also have to keep an eye out for the cops trying
to shut you down. You’re usually good for 1 or 2 takes before you start
attracting a crowd. Shooting in the outer boroughs (meaning anything
outside of Manhattan) can be dangerous. You gotta worry about gangs and
thugs wanting to either steal your equipment or cause trouble. With the
type of films I do, there are a lot of scantily-clad, attractive women.
It’s tough to even get to the location without feeling a sense of danger
because in NY, even the cops are horndogs.
As for the film scene, it’s
slim pickings depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. Most
trained actors in NY are theatre actors and most indie filmmakers tend to
be film students. I’ve been doing this since ‘96 and I’ve found most
people that do what I do don’t last very long and usually go back to
their day jobs when the going gets tough.
What got you into filmmaking in the first place,
and did you receive any formal education on the subject?
I was still in gangs in junior high school, I stole a camera and
videotaped my friends doing typical, petty crimes that troubled kids do.
As I matured, I started getting into sports and realizing that lifestyle
wasn’t for me, I still kept the camera and enjoyed recording different
activities from the people around me. I worked on a few documentary-type
projects before high school when I realized that I wanted to get into
movies. After high school, I bypassed college and went the self-taught,
first feature was I think House
of the Damned. Now how did that project come into being? And what
were your inspirations when writing it?
I wanted to make something that showed my dark sense of humor. So, I chose a
campy horror comedy. Inspirations for the film was my favorite television
series, The Twilight
Zone, along with classic horror comedies such as the Evil Dead-series,
Return of the Living
Dead, and Dead-Alive.
Looking back at House
of the Damned - is there anything you would do differently
It’s Murphy’s law on set, “what can go wrong will go wrong.” So
I would’ve definitely spent more time in pre-production planning scenes
and shots out better and rehearsed more with the actors. During
production, I would have done less takes. Part of my trademark as a
director today is minimal takes. Also in post-production for this film, I
spent months searching for editors and working with editors that didn’t
pay off for me at all. To date, I’ve edited all of my films.
All Must Die is a very bleak film, even for a rape movie. What were
your inspirations for that one?
All Must Die
is based on real events that I saw growing up
in the late 80s and early 90s in the East Flatbush and Bedstuy areas of
Brooklyn, NY. All of the characters on screen are based on real people I knew
growing up; real situations that happened, real feelings and emotions. Back
then, black people in the inner city felt that whites had taken everything from
them and all they had left was the ghetto. It didn’t matter if the white
people who entered the ghetto were interracial dating, coming to buy drugs, or
even teachers that taught in local schools. They all got it in the end if they
overstayed their welcome or said or did something to the wrong person. The
attitude back then could be summed up by lyrics from the Naughty By Nature song
Ghetto Bastard, “If you ain't never been to the ghetto. Don't ever
come to the ghetto. 'Cause you wouldn't understand the ghetto. So stay the fuck
out of the ghetto.” The only white people that made it out safe were the
cops... The only reason for that was because they were heavily armed and stayed
All Must Die must have been a tense experience to shoot, especially for the
actors. What can you tell us about the on-set atmosphere?
deliberately kept the actress away from the actors during rehearsals and
the first time they met was during the rape scene to increase the tension.
I didn’t want them to even know each other’s names because I felt
anything they knew about each other could take away from the tension in
the scene. There were many takes in which the actors got overzealous with
the actress and blurred the line between acting and reality; from going
too far with the ad-libbed racial slurs to getting much too physical with
her. I would end up using a lot of these takes in the film, which is why
her character doesn’t come off as likeable as she was written in the
script. She ad-libbed some racial slurs of her own and a lot of very real
punches and kicks in retaliation that made it to the final cut. During the
exterior scenes, there were a lot of people being both offended by the
racial slurs being yelled to the lead actress and there were also people
adding their own racial slurs. During the interior rape scene, neighbors
called the cops because it sounded like a real rape was taking place.
They All Must Die ever
screened back in the day, and what was the audience reaction like?
It was screened at a local bar in Manhattan to a mixed crowd of whites,
blacks, men and women. People were offended before the rape scene even
took place. At the end of the film, when the thugs got away with the rape,
it was like the reading of the OJ Simpson verdict. Some of black people
started applauding and this lead to several fights breaking out, the cops
coming on the scene and multiple arrests.
only compared to They
All Must Die, Lust
for Vengeance is a very refined film. What can you tell us about
that movie and especially its non-linear structure?
came together very quickly. It was written, cast, and shot
within a 2 month span. There were some positives and negatives of this. One of
the positives is that I finished it. After this movie, I would go on to make 4
films that I would not finish. One of the negatives, is that I shot the first
draft of the script and because of structural flaws, all of the action happened
in the last third of the film. In order to spread things around, I decided to
adapt the “sequence approach”. All sequences serve as their own mini-movies with their own compressed three-act structure. This film
is told in 5 sequences that follow the main characters rather than the timeline.
liken Lust for
Vengeance to the Italian giallo-genre. Would you like to
for Vengeance, much like Gialli, combines murder,
eroticism, nudity, mystery & whodunit with stylish visuals. I
locked myself in a room for over a month watching over 100 Italian
thrillers for inspiration for this film. The predominant themes are
complex murder mysteries that emphasized stylish visuals, techno scores,
the whodunit element, violence, gore, and large amounts of melodrama via
Italy's long-standing tradition of opera drama. They also generally
include liberal amounts of nudity and sex. This is the first & only
true Giallo film ever made in the U.S. to date.
in Revolt is probably your most accomplished film so far. A few
words about that one?
in Revolt, originally titled “Women on Top,” is a
retro-blaxploitation in which a group of hookers revolt against their greedy
pimps. There were over 50 actors, including principal cast and extras, showing
up on set throughout the course of the 1st day of shooting. At the start of the
day, I was busy shooting 2 of the more complex scenes in the film at a secondary
location with my “cell phone off” policy as to not disturb the shooting.
Unfortunately, unforeseen delays left a lot of those actors unsupervised and to
their own devices longer than I planned. This would lead to alcohol and drug
use on the set, people having group sex, fights and 3 arrests. I would have to
deal with separate cast & crew revolts & spend 5 hours trying to talk
everyone out of quitting the film. However, not everyone was willing to
continue. This incident would effectively end my professional relationship with
actor Jeff Roches and in addition to writing the 3 antagonists that were
arrested out of the script, I would have to write Roches out as well. This would
force me into extending my on-screen time to compensate and lead me to rename
You have based Hookers
in Revolt on George Orwell's classic Animal Farm. In a
word, why, and what do you think George Orwell would think about your
I did it because I love the book. We’re talking about a man who turned the
Russian Revolution into a bunch of animals squabbling on a farm. I think he
would have a sense of humor about me turning animals on a farm into hookers
arguing for free rights... I would hope.
Footage of three of your unfinished
films, The Erotic Adventures of Samson and Delilah, Gangz vs
Cults and Escape from Bloodbath Island, were recently released
on the DVD The
Unfinished Works of Sean Weathers. Would you like to talk about
these films for a bit, and what was it like seeing the footage once again?
Looking at the footage as I was doing the commentary for the DVD as well as
talking about it was incredibly difficult. It was tough to relive all the
heartbreaking memories of my biggest failures. Even though I know this is more
so a DVD for a diehard fan or a film student than a mainstream audience, I felt
releasing this was important for all the people that worked so hard on those
projects and myself to have some sort of closure.
far as I know, quite a few of your unreleased films will see the light of
day (or rather the inside of a DVD-player) in 2012. Want to talk about
some of those?
I have 4 unfinished films, 3 of them were
released on the The
Unfinished Works of Sean Weathers
DVD in 2011 and
the 4th was unfinished because of legal reasons. It was an unauthorized
sequel for the 1980 movie Maniac!
- Maniac Too!. However, I plan
on editing that as a 50 minute short film and releasing it on a 2012 DVD
of short films called Something Strange. In addition to that DVD,
which will put a can on what I feel was the first phase of my journey as a
filmmaker which lasted from 1996 to 2006, I have 4 HD softcore films
coming out in 2012. They're titled The Trade Off, Tortured by
Regret, Scumbag Hustler and Ace
Jackson is a Dead Man.
Any future projects you'd like to talk
In addition to the previously mentioned films. I
have 3 scripts that I have written: A Deadly Affair, which is a
murder mystery I plan on shooting later this year. Also a film noir called
Death Quest, and an urban gang film called Code of the Streets, which are projects I would like to shoot within the next 2
Your films seem to have a 1970's grindhouse feel
to them almost invariably. A comment you can at all live with, and would
you like to elaborate?
In my opinion I view grindhouse films as being sensational in their
advertising and leaving viewers disappointed in the actual product. I feel
I deliver all the things that my movies say they will.
A few words about your frequent collaborator Aswad Issa,
and how did you first hook up? And what is your collaboration like?
first started working together when he agreed to be my cinematographer for
of the Damned. Because of his previous experience in film and
that being my first movie, I looked to him for a lot of advice. This
eventually led to us collaborating on each other's films, creatively. Our
relationship can be stormy at times because we are two different, creative
minds. However, our mutual respect and love of film has kept our working
relationship and friendship going through the last 15 years.
are actors that pop up in film after film of yours. Would you like to talk
about a few of your favourites from your stable of actors?
The 3 actors that I’ve worked with the most are Glenn “Illa” Skeete,
Jeff Roches and Waliek Crandall. Illa was a great asset to me because he
did the sound for my movies for 10 years and contributed songs to several
of my DVDs, including the Hookers
in Revolt soundtrack. He was the
lead actor in my first film and played a supporting role in countless
Roches was the actor that I’ve worked with the most; he had a
role in all of my early films and also played roles in a lot of Issa’s
films. He was someone that would eagerly take on any character you gave
Crandall is someone who has played my sidekick in the last 4 films
I’ve done. So, I feel a very strong bond with him, not just as a
director but also as an actor.
would you describe your personal approach to directing?
I cast actors who fit the characters I’ve written and have them play
themselves. You see how much potential the actor has based on their
previous body of work, what they do at the audition and what they do in
rehearsal. Then, squeeze everything you possibly can out of them. In
regards to other aspects of directing I try to blur the line between
make-believe and reality as much as possible. I want viewers to look at my
films and feel everything they see on screen is really happening.
who inspire you?
There are so many directors I love.
However, if I did have to single a few out, they would be Stanley Kubrick,
Orson Welles, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Sergei Eisenstein.
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I’ve seen so many movies that it’s hard for me to say my favorites.
But I do know that my favorite one of all is 2001: A Space Odyssey.
and of course, films you really deplore?
It’s hard to
just flat out say I hate a movie. As a filmmaker, I understand that behind
the scenes politics play a big part in how a movie comes out. However, I
will say that the films that I like the least are films that rely on their
budget to tell the story or films that have too many cliches. I don’t
care how much money you spend on telling me a story, just tell me a good
one and I’m fine.
Facebook, whatever else?
My websites are FullCircleFilmWorks.com,
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I have an hour
long weekly podcast called Full Circle Movie Talk. More information
on it can be found on my website FullCircleFilmWorks.com.
No, thank you. You have an awesome website, I had an awesome
time doing this, and hopefully we can do this again in the future.