Your upcoming movie Moderngrumble - in a word, what is it
going to be about?
can best be
described as The Bride of Frankenstein meets Jack Kerouac's
On the Road or
Mark Twain's Huck Finn. It's a road movie about the coming of age of a
young monster and possible messiah, and it's told from the monster's point
of view. Moderngrumble
is my attempt to do something new with the zombie horror
film. A genre that is at this point basically ubiquitous, and borderline
pointless though the same can be said for most genre films. It appears to
me that any time someone takes an old idea, and puts a clever twist on it,
the picture is lauded for its originality or audacious re-invention. This
kind of filmmaking and by extension film review disturbs me a great deal.
While of course there is nothing new under the sun, there are after all
only so many stories to tell, I do not believe the answer to creating
interesting, engaging cinema lays in clever dialogue and third act
reversals. It's all about context, or how you present your story, through
what filter or viewpoint and how that particular filter or viewpoint
changes the story.
What got the movie off the ground in
the first place?
we are currently still raising finishing funds to complete the film. What
we have currently completed is a series of scenes, short films, and
trailers done as examples of where we would like to take the feature film
and how we plan on presenting the story.
a zombie movie, is that a genre at all dear to you, and what do you think
sets your film apart from other genre entries?
a life-long lover of all film from the cinema of Robert Bresson and Andrei
Tarkovsky to the horror film in all its permutations. I am particularly
fond of zombie and slasher films, having seen, I would wager the majority
of both currently available examples of the genre. I love the Italians'
take on the zombie and slasher (giallo) films as much as I do the American
classics. That said, Moderngrumble
stands apart from the zombie genre as it
is only a zombie film in as much as Jaws is a beach movie, and visually
it takes its cues from the European art films of the sixties and seventies.
My favorite zombie films are Death Dream aka Dead of Night,
Night of the
Living Dead, Return
of the Living Dead and probably a toss up between The Beyond and
your main inspirations when writing Moderngrumble?
film work rarely takes any cues from other cinema, at least consciously.
much of my inspiration came from the poems and writings
of Arthur Rimbaud, Antonin Artaud, Theodore Roethke, William Blake, Jack
Kerouac, JG Ballard, WS Merwin, Robert Frost, and the Marquis De Sade,
while musically I found a
great deal of motivation in Miles Davis, circa Live Evil and Bitches
the early albums of Wire, and Patti Smith's Summer Cannibals, to name a
few. I also spent a lot of time with the images of photographer's William
Eggleston, Nan Goldin, Robert Frank and particularly Ellen Rogers.
is also a graphic novel, right? What can you tell us about the graphic
novel, its look, and to what extent does it influence the movie,
was never intended to be a graphic novel at all. I
originally partnered with my friend Michael Duggan in an effort to create
a detailed storyboard for the film - however what resulted was so fantastic
that it made sense to pursue as a stand alone graphic novel. From my side,
my interests are definitely in the black and white graphic novels and
comics of artists like the Hernandez Brothers' work with Love and
I would have to let Michael speak to his own influences, but Moderngrumble
is now intended to be a graphic novel to be released in tandem with the
film. Pages from the graphic novel can be
found on the website and we are currently taking pre-orders, proceeds of
which will go to funding the film.
What can you tell us about your
directorial approach to your subject at hand?
definitely subscribe to a less-is-more aesthetic when it comes to camera
movement, and while this style does not dominate the trailers thus far, my
intention is to keep in step with my cinematic heroes such as Ozu,
Tarkovsky and Bresson in creating a sense of time, place and atmosphere
through long shots, minimal camera movement and unecessary close ups, or
the manic cutting that plagues so many films today. As
for the most recent trailer we went for a more tone poem styled approach -
putting emphasis on mood, emotion, and style over story, which hopefully
will appeal on a more primal level than just presenting it as an art film
or a horror film.
film without special makeup, blood and gore. So what can you tell us about
the effects on your film?
can tell you that there is very little traditional zombie action in the
film, those fans expecting brain and gut munching may be let down. We're
after a more existential horror - however that is not to say there will not
be flesh eating, floating zombies, throat slashing, tongue eating and
birds flying out of our hero's head. All courtesy of Marcus Koch of
Oddtopsy FX [Marcus Koch
interview - click here], a magician known for his work on numerous underground horror
Jeff Dylan Graham in Moderngrumble
A few words about Moderngrumble's
is for the most part a one man show, our star is Jeff Dylan
Graham, a terrific Los Angeles based actor who has appeared in numerous
films, most recently Bloody Bloody Bible Camp, The Theater
and the upcoming El Matador. We have yet to cast our lead lady antagonist
but have our eyes set on a very well known actress who has worked with
everyone from Tarantino to Gilliam.
As far as I know, Moderngrumble
is not quite in the can yet. At what stage of production is your film
I mentioned, we are still raising the money to complete the film. We are
for all intents and purposes in pre-production, however a very slow one.
We're hoping with the unique style of the various trailers we are
releasing that we can generate interest to start production by the end of
It might be waaaay too early to ask, but any
idea when and where Moderngrumble
will be released,
we're still too far off from wrapping the film to know a release date as
Let's go back to the beginnings of your
career: What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you
receive any formal training on the subject?
attended the Academy of Art for filmmaking and broadcast media in San
Francisco but dropped out once I realized I really didn't need to go to
school to shoot a film. That's right, I'm another film school dropout. My
experience has thus far been garnerd from the cinema, library, and
shooting my own short films here in Arkansas.
What can you
tell us about your filmwork prior to Moderngrumble?
cinematic output has for several years been in the art world where several
of my shorts have played both festivals and art galleries as parts of
will be my first feature narrative film.
this might be too early to ask, but any future projects beyond Moderngrumble?
We're working on a short called Parasites that will probably be available
well before Moderngrumble
hits the screen. Adapted from the Theodore
Sturgeon short story Bianca's Hands, Parasites is a very exciting story
about unusual beauty and a potentially sentinent pair of hands. Beyond
that I have several screenplays in development, one in particular that can
only be described as The Breakfast Club meets The Shining with
thrown in for good measure. It's pure B-movie goodness but I'm having a
blast writing it.
who inspire you?
Seijun Suzuki [Seijun
Suzuki bio - click here], Robert Aldrich, Andrei Tarkovsky, Mario
Bava [Mario Bava bio - click
here], Elem Klimov, Robert
Bresson, David Cronenberg, Jean Vigo, Roman Polanski, Kenneth Anger,
Andrezj Zulawski, David Lynch, Jean Cocteau, Robert Altman, to name just a
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Apocalypse Now, The Conformist, Some Came Running, Blue
Velvet, A Snake in June,
The Tenant, Weekend,
Mirror, Taxi Driver,
Bug, The Long Goodbye,
Return of the Living Dead, The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre, and Cemetary Man.
and of course, films you really deplore?
know, I've always found that I learn more from bad movies than I do from good
ones, but I really can't stand romantic comedies or anything with Robert
Redford in it.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
can see our latest tone poem for Moderngrumble
or at https://vimeo.com/44670443.
Also special thanks to White Ring and Thomas Spieker for providing an
excellent soundtrack to the latest trailer.
for the interview!