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An Interview with Mark Schwab, Director of Exteriors

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2024

Films directed by Mark Schwab on (re)Search my Trash

 

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

 

Exteriors tells three different stories about three separate gay men who find themselves confronted with an incredible coincidence related to a prior life-changing experience.

 

Exteriors sees three characters from your earlier film Brotherly Lies reappear - so how closely are the two films actually linked, and did you always intend to expand the story of these three? And is there a cance these three (or any other characters from both movies) will pop up in other films of yours?

 

Iíve always thought of Exteriors as being a ďsort-ofĒ sequel to Brotherly Lies. It does feature three previous characters from that film (and performed by the same actors) but they are supporting characters this time, playing a key part in each of the main characterís coincidences. I didnít originally intend to expand on the characters after completing Brotherly Lies, but when I was trying to think of a new project, my husband suggested it might be fun to do what Bret Easton Ellis does in his books - which is to have characters from his previous novels cross over and make an appearance in the current one. That definitely sparked the idea of bringing three of the Brotherly Lies characters into Exteriors. I enjoyed that creative process and I think the actors did as well so I might experiment with it again if the actors were open to it.

 

(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Exteriors, and is any of the film based on personal experiences?

 

The main inspiration for Exteriors was a wonderful film by Ryusuke Hamaguchi called Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy which also uses the anthology format to tell three stories about misunderstandings and chance encounters. None of the three stories are from direct personal experiences but I donít think a writer can avoid at least a little of themself coming through in the characterizations based on oneís past experiences.

 

Basic question, why an anthology movie, and what would you say is the common theme of the three segments?

 

The anthology format from Exteriors was solely used because of Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy. The common theme of the three segments is coincidence and never judge a book by its cover.

 

What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

The most important factor, to me, is making sure the story (or stories) Iím intending to tell come(s) across as coherent and interesting to the viewer. Directing a feature film involves so many moving parts, and even though Iím not personally executing every moving part, I am responsible for making sure they are all in sync and working well together in service of the story we are telling.

 

Do talk about Exteriors' cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Three of the cast members were from Brotherly Lies, so that was easy. Christian Lopez (who plays Wyatt in the first story) I had worked with on a previous feature film, Shadows In Mind, as was Michael Champlin (who plays Dr. Kessler in the third story). The others were actors I had admired when I saw their previous work. All of them were carefully vetted by me not just for their talent - that was obvious from the start - but for who they were as people.

 

A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

On independent film sets, it is vital that everyone can click and enjoy working together. Thankfully, my instincts were correct and working with this cast was superb. Iíd work with all of them again in a heartbeat. I like to shoot quickly but not ďrushedĒÖ Iíve been on sets as a crew person where there is just so much time wasted standing around. I make sure to keep that to an absolute minimum so the actors can stay engaged. I always have fun shooting movies and I want my cast and crew to enjoy the experience as well. Exteriors was organzied, on-time and on-budget with a cast that was always prepared. Ergo, it was a great experience for me and, I think, the actors as well.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Exteriors?

 

So far, audience reaction is similar to my previous films - very mixed. My work seems to get better critical reviews than audience reviews usually. The people who like Exteriors really enjoy it and tell me itís an indie film that feels fresh and new and intelligent (it did just win Best LGBTQ Feature Film at the Poppy Jasper Film Festival). The ones who donít seem to find it too intense or talky or dark. Personally, I feel all three of these stories are ultimately hopeful but I wonít begrudge anyoneís experience. Iím just thrilled they took the time to watch movie - even if they hated it.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Yes! Iím very excited about my new feature film that I start shooting this May. Itís called Cutaways and itís definitely the edgiest - and funniest - movie Iíve ever attempted. Itís about a former Sundance Award-winning director who, after becoming a victim of online cancel culture, has been reduced to making internet sex videos for a website. Iíve got an incredible cast for it and I can't wait to get on set.

 

What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

I was very lucky that both my parents loved movies so I grew up admiring them. Then I found a circle of friends in high school that also liked movies and we started making our own back in the 80ís on VHS tape. It was glorious. And, yes, I did get formal training when I attended Vancouver Film School in the late-90s which was also a fantastic experience for me.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Exteriors?

 

Unlike a lot of filmmakers, I love all of my previous work and stand by it proudly. I think it you take a chance on an indie film, you wonít be disappointed if you watch Shadows In Mind, Brotherly Lies or Exteriors. Youíll definitely see something thatís original, mature and thoughtful. Youíll also get a genuine story without an agenda. My films never go out to try and pound a message or tell an audience what they should think or feel. I want to keep you interested for the 90+ minutes you are being generous enough with your time to focus on my movie.

 


How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

I like to think I am professional, organized and accessible to the cast and crew I am working with. I am open to ideas if mine arenít necessarily working. Mainly I want to be the guy that creates an arena for everyone to play and create within.

 

Filmmakers who inspired you?

 

Thereís plenty but Iíll narrow it down to three. First is Sidney Lumet. Such a fantastic career of making movies of all genres and with a marvelous reputation in the industry across the board. And all of it done with no ego. Lumet is the greatest director that never put his name or his ďstampĒ on his movies. He let the stories and the actors speak for themselves. Second would be John Waters. I love how he just grabbed his friends and went out and made his movies no matter what, usually in freezing Baltimore winters. He was the ultimate case (to me anyway) of ďIf he can make it, I can make it.Ē Third would be Gregg Araki. When I first saw The Living End back in 1991, Iíd never seen a movie marketed under the New Queer Cinema label and I was totally enthralled with it. Araki gave me the courage to never be afraid of making an uncompromising gay-themed film.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Again, thatís always a complex list, but Iíll name some from the filmmakers I listed in the previous question: From Lumet, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Running on Empty, The Verdict. From John Waters, Female Trouble, Polyester, Serial Mom. From Gregg Araki, The Living End, Totally F*cked Up, Mysterious Skin, Now, Apocalypse.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

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Thatís a tough one for me. I admire pretty much any film that manages to get made since I know how challenging it is. Itís almost impossible for me to criticize any indie filmmaker who pulls it off. I guess, in general, I deplore any film that has almost unlimited resources and comes off dull and incoherent.

 

Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

You can see what weíre up to at www.ditrfilms.com and @ditrfilms on both Z and Instagram.

 

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

 

Just that Iím so grateful that youíve taken the time to watch my films and interview me! I feel very fortunate and Iíll keep making movies for as long as I can.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
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screenwriter and film reviewer
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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