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An Interview with Monte Light, Director of Blood Covered Chocolate

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2022

Films directed by Monte Light on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Blood Covered Chocolate - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Blood Covered Chocolate is about a recovering drug addict named Massimo. When he is bitten by an ancient, shapeshifting monster named Sofia, Massimo has to fight to save his girlfriend, Tien, from the same bloody fate.

 

With Blood Covered Chocolate being a vampire movie (of sorts at least), is that a genre at all dear to you, and some of your genre favourites? And what can you tell us about your movie's approach to vampirism?

 

I do love vampire fiction. It’s a monster that is universal throughout various cultures and time periods. The vampire is also symbolic of the creation of horror film itself, with F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu being the first horror feature whose DNA is still felt today. Nosferatu was the direct inspiration to the color schemes in Blood Covered Chocolate, in particular the red hue symbolizing the presence of the monster. From there, I wanted to harness a side of vampirism from Eastern culture that we haven’t seen all that much in Western film. The 1981 Indonesian movie Mystics in Bali is referenced directly, specifically the creature The Penanggalan.

 

(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Blood Covered Chocolate?

 

I’m always indebted to the absurdist writers and surrealists that have had the biggest effect on me: Luis Buñuel, Julio Cortázar, Samuel Beckett, David Lynch. I adore the Spanish and Italian giallo films, with their sense of bombast and opera. I took inspiration from their dreamlike quality, their ability to express as much raw emotion as possible in any given frame.

 

Blood Covered Chocolate plays quite a bit with different levels of "reality" - so how easy or difficult was it to not literally lose your plot telling your story that way?

 

It certainly helped that I wrote, directed, and edited the film myself. I storyboard all of my movies, so everyone was on the same page. I would color hue the boards in white, blue, and red, which made it clear which scenes were real time, flashback, or the presence of the monster. Whenever you’re working in the realm of “dream logic” in a story, it’s almost more important to flesh out the logic part than the surrealist flourishes. That’s been the most satisfying part of our audience feedback, so far. The movie may be symbolic and interpretive, but everyone still “gets it”. If the movie had been incomprehensible, then it wouldn’t have been a very good surrealist film. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case.

 

Do talk about your movie's approach to horror!

 

I knew I was going to be limited in the amount of blood and gore I would be able to put in the film, so my approach was more psychological in nature. The monochrome and various mixed-media colors give it the feeling of a nightmare. So, that was my ultimate goal. To make the audience feel like they are trapped in someone else’s nightmare, a lucid fever dream, where every moment increases the sense of dread.

 

A few words about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

I wanted to use every trick in the book to tell my story: Long takes, match cuts, split diopter, juxtaposition, split screen, cross dissolves, etc. But I also didn’t want to showboat any of those choices. They emerge organically from the narrative, and what the character Massimo is feeling. The advantage of making a film like an extended, lucid dream is that there is no need to mimic “reality”. Blood Covered Chocolate operates as a subjective experience, similar to a German film I absolute adore, called True Love Ways. We both share a love of severed heads too.

 

What can you tell us about Blood Covered Chocolate's key cast, and why exactly these people?

 

The lead Massimo is played by an actor named Michael Klug [Michael Klug interview - click here]. I’ve known Michael for many years. He actually had a supporting part in my previous film, Space. Michael took the role to places I was wildly thrilled about, especially because I know how difficult it is to play a character that appears in every scene. I think Michael relished the chance to explore such a complex and emotionally dark character. 

 

Meghan Deanna Smith, who plays the female vampire Sofia in the movie, was a recommendation from my producer, Frank Merle. She is one of the greatest actresses I’ve ever worked with. We talked a lot about who Sofia was as a person. I looked at Sofia like the vampiric equivalent to one of those hard-nosed coaches in a sports film. She wants Massimo to grow into this “gift” she has given him with her bite, train up to be a great bloodsucker. Meghan brought a level of charm and whimsy to the part. It could’ve been so dour and cliché, the tired Carmilla trope. Instead, Meghan creates a character who is so full of life, you can see why Sofia fights so desperately to hold on to it. 

 

Joe Altieri stepped in very close to filming to play Massimo’s stepdad, the gangster Zeb Crate. He only had two days to prepare, I believe. It’s a role he was born to play, and everyone just adored working with him. Same with Mike Ferguson, who came to us with a massive action, horror, and crime film CV. He worked on some James Cullen Bressack [James Cullen Bressack interview - click here] and Eric Roberts pictures, and we only had him for one day. The man is a machine, take after take, stunt after stunt, perfect every time. Jamie Tran strikes a memorable presence in the movie. She’s a wonderful screenwriter and filmmaker in her own right. And I also got the chance to work with scream queen royalty, Debra Lamb [Debra Lamb interview - click here] and Helene Udy [Helene Udy interview - click here]. Both of them are incredible actors, madly talented, and their work speaks for itself. It was a privilege to work with them.

 

Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

It was a highly focused set. We shot the whole movie in two weeks with a crew of four, including myself. My director of photography Neal Tyler, as well as Greg Schmittel and Curt Skelton. Our special effects make-up artists, Lauren Verret and Cynthia Pinedo, did fantastic work with the practical effects and gore in the film. With only a handful of exceptions, I wanted to capture all of the effects on-set and in-camera, very much an old-school style of filmmaking. They were doing the work of a crew of thirty, and all of them did a masterful job. The actors were very generous with their time and talent, and I think everyone nailed their performances beautifully.

 

The $64-question of course, where can Blood Covered Chocolate be seen?

 

We haven’t secured our release date quite yet. But we do have film festivals on the horizon. A major one would be Shockfest Film Festival on December 10, 2022. For the past fourteen years, Shockfest has emphasized community, supporting filmmakers and writers of cutting-edge content from all genres. It is a virtual event, so anyone in any city is welcome to attend. The Shockfest website is: https://www.shockfilmfest.com/home.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Blood Covered Chocolate?

 

Blood Covered Chocolate has only started its roll out. So far, the reactions have been quite magnanimous and positive. Everyone seems to really identify with the lead, Massimo’s plight. You care about him, his psychological and physical dilemma. I think we’ve all metaphorically fought demons and depression, like its depicted in the film. The crime movie and supernatural aspects offer a great rollercoaster ride, but the heart at the center is the main character. That’s really been speaking to people.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

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I have a couple of projects in development that are currently seeking a production company. One is a neo-western werewolf film called Her Black Dog, about a woman who escapes a vicious cult that also turned her into a lycanthrope. I’m excited to do a deconstructionist take on werewolves, a companion piece to the vampires in Blood Covered Chocolate. Think of it as Ginger Snaps meets Wind River. I also have a very unique thriller script called Chastity White, which centers around a teen girl serial killer; a peaches-and-cream Hannibal Lecter with freckles and pigtails.

 

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

 

I have my Patreon, www.Patreon.com/TheRealMonteLight. For only $5 a month, you can follow my entire filmmaking journey. I’m on Instagram (@monte_light) and Twitter (@montelight). Always love to chat about movies!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

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A Killer Conversation

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written by
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