Your new movie Malleus
Maleficarum - in a few words, what is it about?
takes place in a small town that's returned
to the dark ages of religious fundamentalism, sacrificing witches in
protest of Halloween. The film follows a trio of family members, two
siblings and their aunt, as they partake in the annual ritual. But their
actions don't sit well with the younger brother, and he's forced to rebel
and fight for his beliefs.
where your sources of inspiration when writing Malleus
With all of my films, the inspiration
for visuals comes before anything. I'll go into the writing process with
ideas for individual shots or scenes, then daisy-chain these ideas
together with a plot. The writing process was more focused on
cinematography since Malleus
is a film without dialogue. Visually,
my major sources of inspiration are filmmakers Jan Svankmajer, Shozin
Fukui and Michael Todd Schneider. Svankmajer's shorts are typically told
without dialogue and are hauntingly gorgeous, Fukui's films are inspiring
for how they were produced (super guerrilla-style and strange beyond
belief) and Schneider inspired me to be as daring and experimental as I
want to be with my work. That being said, I don't think Malleus
anywhere near as visually intense as any of these filmmakers' output, but
they were incredibly influential on the project and myself as an artist.
Your film can be understood as a
dark satire on religious fundamentalism - your personal thoughts on the
There's definitely undertones of satire but that
was never meant as the theme of the film. It serves as the setup, the
MacGuffin, but isn't really what the film's about. It's a story about teen
rebellion; a young man stuck in a world where everyone around him is
passively sadistic, but he's the only one who recognizes it. He sees how
destructive their culture is and is horrified by it, but his attempts to
break free come at the cost of rejection. Total isolation is one of the
scariest things I can think of, so I try to work that into my projects as
much as possible. It's something we can all relate to, in some capacity.
Maleficarum was shot entirely without dialogue - why, and what
were the advantages but also challenges of filming that way?
film doesn't have dialogue because, quite frankly, it didn't need it. I
saw ways for everything conveyed in the film to be told silently and
thought talking would only serve as unnecessary noise. The advantage of
this approach was being able to move a lot more quickly on set and gather
more coverage as a result. I ran audio as a guide track, but everything
was ultimately dubbed over. This gave me the opportunity to direct during
takes to ensure that timing was exactly how I wanted it. The real
challenge came in editing, since I had no dialogue to determine how long
to hold on a shot for. As a result, the cuts dictate the tone of the film
more than they otherwise would, since the bulk of the pacing was in the
was the most challenging project I've edited thus
far, and the film went through several different incarnations before I was
totally happy with it.
talk about the look and feel of your movie for a bit?
Since we were working with a very low budget (though I have to thank
Brian, Pat and Steven Lockyer for stepping in and helping fund the
project!), I didn't want this to be another indie DSLR movie. DSLRs are
fantastic tools, but when you have a camera that provides a cinematic
look and no gear to facilitate that look, it winds up looking very
cheap. As a result I went with a Canon XH-A1, which to me resembles more
of a 16mm film stock. The film was mostly shot handheld in an effort to
make it resemble a 70's independent production, but in a more subtle way
than the new-wave "grindhouse" content coming out now.
Locations were also crucial to me; I wanted to avoid anything overtly
modern wherever I could. That being said, I didn't set out to make a
period piece, but it was important that the locations resembled a town
trapped in another era; reflective of their religious beliefs.
I already talked about the editing dictating the tone of the film, but
just as important was the soundtrack. Stephen Schooley and Justin Cober
did a fantastic job on this and were incredibly patient and detail
oriented throughout the entire process. It took me a bit longer to
"find" this film than some of my previous projects, and I
wasn't even sure I'd achieved the vibe I wanted until I heard their
music. Their talents were indispensable in making this film what it is,
so I'll take this opportunity to publicly thank them for their efforts.
They also play in a band called New Wings and are releasing an album
later this month, so check in at their Facebook page for news and
can you tell us about your cast, and why exactly these people?
entire cast is built out of actor friends of mine. Eric Repke, who plays
the lead, is my oldest friend and has been involved with almost everything
I've done since I started making movies. I've known Erin Stuart for a few
years and wrote her part with her in mind, and she pulled it off
flawlessly. Beca MacKinnon is a friend from high school that I'd been
meaning to cast for ages and she fit the bill perfectly. I met Maxwell
Lantz through a production company I volunteered at ages ago, and his
theatrical background was an enormous asset to the project. I met Sam
Varteniuk through a handful of filmmakers' meet ups he helped host, and in
getting to know him found out he had a background in acting. In the end, I
think everyone did a fantastic job. It also made most sense to cast
friends in a lot of ways; we were working long hours and at times needed
to schedule pickup days on short notice, so it was easier to ask this of a
friend than someone I knew solely on a professional level. It also made
the atmosphere on set a lot more playful and creatively inspiring.
talk about the shoot as such for a bit, and the on-set atmosphere!
For the most part, anything negative I have to say was really due to
self-imposed pressure. At the time this was the most elaborate project
I'd attempted, so there was a certain level of self doubt and anxiety I
had trouble overcoming. That being said, everyone involved was a team
player and did everything they could to make things run as smoothly as
possible. Brian Lockyer and Reese Eveneshen were absolutely crucial in
the making of this film, not only for the skills they offered on-set,
but in their positivity and helping me stay subjective when certain
creative decisions needed to be sacrificed (as is the case with any
film). Although it was a stressful shoot, I look back on it happily.
Everything worked out in the end, after all!
$64-question of course, when and where will your movie be released onto
the general public?
As of now, the film's just starting its
festival tour, so catching a screening is your best bet at the moment. I
do have plans for some sort of release with my other short Fondue,
but as of now nothing is set in stone.
Any future projects beyond
Maleficarum you'd like to share?
For the past year
almost, I've been involved with a film called Late Night Double Feature,
an anthology being produced out of Toronto by Three Evil Cats
I directed a third of the film and am excited to see it come together as
well as it has. Hopefully there'll be some finalized release info in the
near future I can share, but for the time being there's not much more I
can say. Extremely happy with how it's turning out, though!
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I'm not going to
mention my site since it's about 3 years out of date, but feel free to
for more info on festival dates and upcoming projects!
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
cast and crew went above and beyond their call of duty for this film, and
I can't thank them enough for it. I'm very, very proud of what we pulled
off together, and their support has been invaluable every step of the way.
Thanks so much, everyone!
for the interview!