* We had the honor of interviewing Bri Castellini once before about her zombie themed web series “Brains”. Now, we have the privilege of interviewing her once again about her new film Ace and Anxious.
- Why don’t you tell us a bit about Ace and Anxious? What’s the general plot and idea behind the film?
Ace and Anxious is a short film about a millennial asexual woman, Emma, with generalized anxiety disorder. After a period of time without panic attacks, she starts having them again, and coincidentally also ends up learning about the science behind sex and it’s stress-relieving properties, so she decides to test this low-budget “cure” to her anxiety by placing an ad for sex on Craigslist. Hilarity ensues as we go back and forth between her telling her therapist about her plan and her interviews with potential sexual partners.
2. What inspired the idea for Ace and Anxious?
Well, I’m both the things the title depicts- ace and anxious! I haven’t seen really any solid asexual representation in media, other than in a smattering of web series, and I was also dealing with a lot of anxiety at the time I was writing (and producing and editing and doing interviews for) this film, so I thought- what would be the funniest way an asexual character would deal with anxiety? Why, put an ad for sex on Craigslist, of course! I also really wanted to subvert the expectations of a film about an asexual protagonist- it wasn’t necesarilly about her sexuality, and she never doubted herself or who she was; it was about her anxiety and depression and how sometimes they crop up without a trigger. Sometimes, you just have a panic attack in the middle of a grocery store or walking to the subway and there’s no good reason, and that’s really frustrating. You’re powerless- if you can’t fix something, you can’t control it, and that’s incredibly scary. I wanted to explore that fear and feeling of being out of control with comedy, because I think it’s worth talking about but often overlooked- most movies and TV about depression end with the person being “fixed,” but often it’s not that simple.
3. Are there any existing films or other works of art that you would compare Ace and Anxious to, or would say inspired the film in style or substance?
This film was my directorial debut, in traditional filmmaking at least, since my web series was found footage and I only directed one of the thirty existing episodes. So when preparing, I watched a lot of Edgar Wright movies, because I love his dialog and his visual comedy. Then my lead actress, upon accepting the role, told me she was moving to LA in two months, so most of the Edgar Wright-inspired transitions my DP Brandon Smalls and I planned got tossed in service of time. That’s the long way of saying that I’m not sure I’d compare to Ace and Anxious to anything in particular, especially not on a film level, but for the writing I was heavily influenced by Amy Sherman-Palladino, Rachel Bloom, Mindy Kaling, and other fast-talking female comedy writers.
4. From what we have seen so far Ace and Anxious seems to revolve around many different issues involving sexuality and mental health. Without giving too much away, what would you say is the under lying message of the film?
I think the underlying message of the film is that sometimes, things are out of your control, and you have to learn to deal with that instead of living in denial. Mental health isn’t always cause and effect, sometimes it’s just effect. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to get better, but you should also consider giving yourself a break, because the world is complicated, and mental health is complicated, and you’re a person who’s allowed to feel things even when they aren’t productive. This film wasn’t really meant to speak on any particular sexuality issues, so I guess the message is that asexual people of all shapes and sizes are valid and should be represented better in media.
5. In the process of writing and creating Ace and Anxious, did any of the overall story or underlying themes change or did it remain relatively consistent throughout the creative process?
At first, it definitely was a bit more about Emma wrestling with her sexuality, but I realized while writing that I didn’t want to spend fifteen minutes defending asexuality as legitimate- I wanted to talk about how annoying it was that sometimes I have a panic attack on an otherwise banal day. So I definitely shifted a bit in terms of what the central problem was. Other than that, the only things that really changed from draft to draft were the jokes, something my good friend Chris Cherry helped with a lot.
6. What would you say is the most unique aspect of your film?
It’s a film with an asexual main character that isn’t about her asexuality. Also, it uses humor and matter-of-factness to deal with some frankly pretty distressing mental health situations.
7. What has been the general reception of your film?
Overall positive, from what I can tell! It’s doing really well on Tumblr, especially since it’s Pride month and there is often a lack of ace rep in larger Pride celebrations, let alone in media as a whole. My favorite responses so far have been the ones where other asexuals I’ve never met have stated how much they related to Emma. I just went and found one of the things someone has sent me because it warms my heart so much. It’s censored for the faint at heart- “OH MY F***ING GOD I JUST WATCHED THIS… and and and all these stupid thoughts in my head that i don’t say to anyone…are said by this character and holy f***ing s**t.” Thank you to “F*ckYeahPikacha” on Tumblr for that one, and for proving again why representation is so important and so valuable.
8. What impression are you hoping to leave audiences with after watching?
Mostly I just hope they laughed! And if they didn’t know much about the realities of anxiety or asexuality that they learned something.
9. If you could work with any director, (living or dead) who would you work with?
Edgar Wright, for sure. I’m new to the production side of movies and TV, so I mostly only know about writers, but Edgar Wright’s ability to blend funny stories, funny dialog, and funny visuals is awe-inspiring and something I really want to learn more about. I don’t have as much of a head for shots and blocking- yet. And learning from someone with such a unique and inventive style that’s right up my comedy alley would be amazing.
10. Where can we watch Ace and Anxious?
For the rest of June you can watch it on the St. Lawrence International Film Festival Online website here: https://www.stlawrencefilm.com/official-selections
If we win an award, it’ll be available elsewhere on their site forever, and if we don’t, I think I’m going to keep it hidden away until we get a few more film festivals, preferably ones with in-person screenings, under our belt. A lot of film festivals get weird about premiere statuses, and I want to give this weird little film a shot before I make it widely available.
11. Where can we follow you to learn more about Ace and Anxious and any projects that Undead Burrito Productions will be working on in the future?
You can follow Undead Burrito Productions on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, and learn more about Ace and Anxious and other projects we’ve done on my personal website: BriCastellini.com.
- What first inspired you to become an actress?
I’ve always enjoyed being in the spotlight. When I was younger I danced on stage and I also acted in theatre throughout my school years. I’ve just always known I wanted to entertain.
2. What is your favorite part of Acting?
My favorite part of acting is connecting with people.
3. Are there any actresses that you would say inspired your style of acting?
I was very inspired by Lucille Ball when I was a child but I’ve sort of gravitated towards more dramatic roles, so I would have to say Jessica Chastain. I’m in awe when it comes to her, I think she is absolutely phenomenal and any chance I get to watch something she’s in, I do. I would love to work with her some day, she has taught me a lot.
4. Could you tell us a bit about “Split Cost”? What’s the general plot and idea behind the film?
Split Costs is about two young women from disparate backgrounds share a ride to western Massachusetts where traumatic setbacks for each to make pivotal decisions at an unforseen crossroads. The story is very powerful in that it illustrates the beauty of two strangers who find each other during the most tragic moments of their lives.
5. Could you tell us a bit about your character in “Split Cost”? What would you say is her most defining aspect is?
I knew I had to play Emma the moment I read the script. Her character is so complex and layered, I knew it would be challenging but that got me excited. She’s so misunderstood, and I think her tough exterior fooled a lot of people. She is a fragile human being and a bit unstable with nothing to lose. She was raised by an addict and learned to survive on her own. Emma has no idea what love is or how to have a normal relationship with anyone, she’s always felt abandoned. It’s such a beautiful story and character, I can’t thank my director, Jeffrey Palmer, enough for giving me the opportunity to bring her to life
6. What would you say is the most unique aspect of “Split Cost”? What has the general reaction to your “Split Cost” been like?
The most unique aspect of Split Costs is that we had an all female cast, and we shot the “dead of winter” film during the warmest winter ever recorded in the northeast.
7. What has the general reaction to your “Split Cost” been like?
The reaction to Split Costs has been overwhelmingly positive. I couldn’t be more happy with the feedback and reviews it’s received. So far we have been the official selection to 27 festivals and have won 14 awards.
8. Since you’ve acted in several films in the past, what would you say is the most important thing to know about acting?
I think the most important thing is to believe in the work you’re doing. It’s also a lot of work to be an actor. Nowadays everyone thinks they can be an actor but they’re not willing to put in the work. Whenever I do a film I put countless hours of research towards my character. I really live the creating process, your character comes from somewhere, their life doesn’t just begin where your lines begin.
9. If you could work with any actor or actress, who would you pick?
I would love to work with Jessica Chastain, Al Pacino, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, and I’m deeply saddened that I’ll never have the privilege of working with Phillip Seymour Hoffman. He was truly an inspiration, and so passionate about the craft of acting.
10. What qualities do you think make a great film, and could you give us a few examples of films that you would consider great?
We’ll besides having an amazing story and cast, I absolutely love when cinematography is used to communicate with the audience. Adding underlying characteristics or hidden messages, or just the craziest plot twist ever gives the viewer that, “Oh shit” moment and that’s what I look for, and strive to use in my own films. Fight Club, Shutter Island, and The Sixth Sense had the craziest plot twists of all time and it keeps you talking about them years later. To get back to story and cast, take Seven Pounds for example, it is truly a remarkable film, the story is beautifully crafted. There is this constant struggle between life and death throughout the entire film and Will Smith gives the most honest performance. I seriously can’t watch that film without crying
11. What advice would you give to any who wants to begin acting?
To anyone who is just starting out in acting I suggest you get as much training as possible. It is so important to be constantly learning and working towards perfecting your craft. Take any opportunity you are offered to act in front of someone. Don’t be intimidated by the audition process, it’s part of the journey and helps you grow as an artist.
12. Where can we watch “Split Cost”? Where can we follow you to learn more about “Split Cost” and any other projects that you will be working on in the future?
You can watch Split Costs at http://www.vimeo.com/162566178 and the password is 2journeys1ride You can also view our press kit here: http://www.flickerpictures.com/splitcostspresskit.htm … I’m currently working on my animation film Tomboy, and my short dark drama Eight. I’m directing and starring in both so I’m very excited. Indiegogo campaigns coming soon! Connect with me on: http://www.melahudson.com http://www.imdb.me/melahudson http://www.facebook.com/ItsMelaHudson https://www.twitter.com/ItsMelaHudson http://www.instagram.com/ItsMelaHudson Snapchat: ItsMelaHudson http://www.melahudson.tumblr.com
- Could you tell us a bit about your short film “The Knock”? What’s the general plot and idea behind your film?
The plot of The Knock is about a girl who hears a strange knocking noise. She’s not sure where it’s coming from and then she realizes that it is coming from a strange and unexpected place.
- What inspired the idea for “The Knock”?
I was looking online one day and I saw an ad for the My Rode Reel 2017 short film contest. Right when I saw it I knew I wanted to enter. I looked at the rules and saw that the film had to be 3 minutes or under. So that was very hard for me because I like developing characters and plot and 3 minutes wasn’t enough. Then I decided I needed to find a very short horror story that I could film in 3 minutes. I looked and looked and found nothing I liked. As I was looking on the Internet I saw a line that said “two sentence horror story.” I clicked it and it brought me to Reddit and the first story I saw was “I woke up to hear a knock on glass. At first, I thought it was the window until I heard it come from the mirror again.”
- What would you say is the most unique aspect of your film?
I would say that the most unique aspect in my film is that it takes place in two worlds. The spiritual world and the physical.
- What qualities do you think make a great film, and could you give us a few examples of films that you would consider great?
I think a great film consists of relatable characters. If a character isn’t relatable then why would you care if they get in danger. And definitely a believable and good story. If the story isn’t good nothing else matters. And films that I would consider to be great would be Shadow Of A Doubt which is directed by Alfred Hitchcock. I think it’s a great film because it has a very relatable character. The main character is Charlie who is named after her uncle. What makes her relatable is that she’s an ordinary American in an average American family who feels that her life is so routine and boring. And she wants some excitement and I think anyone can relate to feeling that way. Another great film I think is another Hitchcock film which is very underrated is Marnie. Marnie is about a woman that is a kleptomaniac, pathological liar, and has other mental problems. I think Marnie’s character is relatable because she is starving for love and affection and she’ll do anything to get it. I think the story is great because it shows all of her psychological problems and someone helps her found why the way she is and how to heal. It’s a wonderful film about self discovery, healing and forgiveness.
- On the opposite end, are there any films you enjoy as guilty pleasures? Movies that aren’t exactly great, but you like watching anyways.
Oh my goodness! Yes! I love watching The Burning which is a Friday The 13th ripoff. It’s about a caretaker of a camp who got burned by some pranksters and comes back to the camp on a killing spree for revenge. Another one I would say is Strait-Jacket which is an old film that stars Joan Crawford. It has a lot of cheesy axe murders, but the ending is shocking.
- What advice would you give to someone who wants to create an independent film of their own?
The advice I would give is never give up even if you think you aren’t getting better just keep making films and learn from your mistakes and just enjoy the journey.
- Where can we watch “The Knock?
You can find The Knock on YouTube. My YouTube channel is Filmmakingman.
- Where can we follow you to learn more about “The Knock” and any projects that you will be working on in the future?
I post about my projects on my Instagram page which is Filmmakingman.
- What first inspired you to become a film maker? I started making short videos in middle school with my older brother on this really crappy no-name-brand digital camera that my parents got us for Christmas one year. We screwed around a lot and made really ridiculous sketches that we uploaded to YouTube, and our friends thought they were funny so we kept doing it for a while. Then in high school me and my friends would make short films for English class projects because we didn’t want to write papers and for some reason the teachers let us do it, for almost every project. We made films for The Odyssey, The Count of Monte Cristo, To Kill a Mockingbird, and a ton more that I can’t remember. We also made short films on the side for our personal YouTube channels. So we slowly got better and better at filmmaking and started to make homemade greenscreens and steadicams and other shitty rigs, then at some point I realized that I could actually do this for a living if I kept at it. So I applied and got into film school and here we are.
- Why don’t you tell us a bit about this Lobelia- The Movie? What’s the general plot and idea behind the film? The story is about a woman and her husband trying to reconnect after a traumatic experience that has separated them emotionally for quite some time. The woman has become obsessed with maintaining her isolated backyard garden until one day her flowers start mysteriously dying. This causes a chain of events that leads to her starting to lose her grip on reality, experiencing terrible nightmares and becoming obsessed with curing her plants, until her and her husband are forced to confront the source of their trauma.
- What inspired the idea for your film? I started off with the idea that I wanted to tackle a film about depression, because a lot of screenwriting teachers told us not to, and the subject was important to me. A lot of people have told me that a protagonist who is depressed is not active and an audience gets bored with that. So I took that as a challenge and tried hard to find a way to make an active character who was also depressed. It’s important to me that more stories like this get told because depression really sucks, and we need more characters on-screen that show it in a realistic way that also gives hope to people that it can get better. It’s definitely something I struggled with a lot in the past and still do, but I think I’m much better at managing it now. I was also interested in telling a good story about a broken relationship, because I’ve seen a lot of unhealthy relationships fall apart, and I wanted to explore how that happens and how a couple might be able to fix a relationship that was once healthy and now seems doomed. I was also really into magic-realism when I wrote the script so that’s where the dreams come in. I wanted to blend a realistic situation with imaginary situations and make it hard to tell which was which sometimes, without resorting to any cheap twists or deus ex machina. The inspiration there came from movies like Pan’s Labyrinth and Birdman.
- What would you say is the most unique aspect of Lobelia- The Movie? I think the juxtaposition of the beauty and tranquility of the backyard garden in this isolated rural landscape with the horrible state of mind the character is in makes for an interesting world that I don’t see too often. And although I’ve been kind of advertising it as a horror movie it’s much more of a domestic drama with some surreal horror moments, and really doesn’t have the kind of ending you’d expect in a similar movie. At least I hope so. I really want it to be honest and realistic despite all the dreamlike stuff.
- What impression are you hoping to leave your audience with? I want it to leave the audience kind of sobered and a little bit hopeful by the end. I want people to learn something about themselves with every film I make, in some way. If just one person watches this film and has an epiphany about a relationship in their life or feels like they’re not alone anymore, that’s enough for me.
- What qualities do you think make a great film, and could you give us a few examples of films that you would consider great? I think it has to be personal in some way to really be great. If a director has no personal connection to a story then what’s the point? A personal connection can happen with any material, even if you’re making a film about a character who’s the complete opposite of you, as long as you show empathy and find a way to relate to the material. I mentioned before that I really like Pan’s Labyrinth. My favorite movie is The Big Lebowski. Other movies I keep coming back to are There Will Be Blood and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
- Are there any films that you would consider guilty pleasures? Films that aren’t exactly great that you still really enjoy anyways. Oh man, I’ve watched Hot Rod probably about thirty times. I don’t even think it’s that great it just sort of became a tradition at my house to watch it every Christmas eve, and there are a few parts I think are really funny and surprisingly touching. Another one is Escape from Tomorrow, which is a terrible film but I enjoyed it a lot. It’s a horror movie shot in Disney World without permission and it’s super surreal and absolutely ridiculous. I think it’s really interesting and fun to see a movie set in Disney World that makes the space feel so much different than it does in real life.
- What advice would you give to someone who wants to create an independent film of their own? Get good at networking. I’m still pretty bad at it and it causes me problems all the time. It really is a collaborative process and you need to find good people to work with to make the best work you can. And you’ve got to actually listen to other people’s notes, because if you make a project in isolation, there will always be things you didn’t realize are issues until other people point them out. Take all the help you can get, because you’ll need it. And always help the people who help you. Basically just be a good person and people will like you and help you out. Feels good
- When is Lobelia- The Movie set for release and where will we be able to watch it? Post-production should be done by the end of the summer, then I’ll be submitting to festivals to hopefully screen at some by the end of this year or early 2018, then I’ll be posting it online on Vimeo and YouTube after it’s had its festival run. This is assuming I get into festivals. Otherwise it’s just going straight online.
- Where can we follow you to learn about Lobelia- The Movie and any future projects that you will be working on? You can follow the official twitter for the film @lobeliafilm and the facebook page, https://www.com/lobeliafilm/. I don’t have a website for myself yet so for future projects I guess you can occasionally Google my name and see if I’ve made anything in a year or so.
- What first inspired you to become a film maker?
I love watching movies & music since my early youth. At first I was producing (just smoking pot and flowing on beats) hip hop music in my youth together with friends and then we filmed music videos for our tracks and published them on the German rap platform rappers.in. Trough the music videos I was teaching myself amateur techniques about directing, cinematography, editing and everything. After that I began to produce gaming content on my own Youtube channel together with a friend of mine. Parallel I was searching for film projects to get involved, so I was getting involved in my first project as a producer, and after that several projects followed soon.
- As someone who has worked as a writer, director, producer and various other roles in the film making process, what would you say is your favorite job?
There are so many jobs on the set I love when I make movies. But if I have to choose, It’s the directing part I would prefer. I think that there is nothing more exciting to see than how written ideas getting built into moving images filled with music. I love working with several actors and a good, working team. But in our budget class I am often forced to do more than one job at the same time. So I get used to it. And plus that, I also love the whole organization, production and planning stuff as a producer a lot.
- Could you tell us a bit about your upcoming film “Reyes”?
As I am a character driven writer, I like to tell and build my stories out of my characters. And so Reyes is about a down at heel guy who gets into the vortex of a big secret society underground organization. He meets his old big love named LEYA who is a part of the trouble there and he wants to save her out of that. Step by step MICK (the main) realizes, that he has to get over his personal issues to gain enough power to handle the dark forces which are ruling his hometown.
- What inspired the idea behind “Reyes”?
The first idea was to create a movie pitch in front of the background of the feasibility. I at first every time begin my stories with: It’s about a guy/girl who… and so I structured the story a little bit, and my co-writers René Wiesner and Peter Ahlers helped me coming along with that. After that and with every discussion about the characters and the story, the script grew bigger. While creating the idea I was inspired by genre movies like “the Ninth gate” or “Eyes Wide shut”, but also by a lot of other movies which include mysteries and riddles.
- What would you say is the most unique aspect of “Reyes”?
We have really amazing actors involved and I think we are very special because we’re combining genre elements of the mystery and the thriller, together with elements from exploitation movies. And also our international cameos are interesting, also one complete short segment of Reyes will be shot in Mexico. And of course we have blood & tits 😉
- What are your favorite types of films to make and why?
I like many kinds of film projects, but I love developing and filming drama scenes, because there are so many emotions to transfer to the audience. I love discussions with actors about how to play the role and how to react in different situations. I also love to see how good actors can show several facets of their acting.
- Are there any directors or writers who you would say inspired your style of film making?
I am a big fan of the older works of Roman Polanski, and of course everything by Werner Herzog. Also Scorcese inspired me a lot, but I also like the German director Akiz for his endurance and creativity. And of course I don’t forget the lots of German independent directors.
- If you had the opportunity to work on a film with any director (alive or dead) who would you pick?
I would love to work together with Lars von Trier. Should be amazing to do this.
- What qualities do you think make a great film, and could you give us a few examples of films that you would consider great?
As I am a big fan of image aesthetics, good storytelling and film craft, I will name some movies which represent those points in a good way in my opinion:
- Platoon (1985) by Oliver Stone
- Stone (2010) by John Curran
- Swordfish (2001) by Dominic Sena
- Red Dragon (2002) by Brett Ratner
- Dark City (1998) by Alex Proyas
- Tokyo Tribe (2015) by Sion Sono
I know so many more, but just a little list of movies 😉
- What advice would you give to someone who wants to create an independent film of their own?
As every experienced filmmaker would say: Just do it! The possibilities are much easier and cheaper to make movies, so go out and just create an interesting flick, guys!
12. Where can we follow you to learn about “Reyes” and any projects that you will be working on in the future?
Watch out & Thanks for the interview!
- Could you tell us a bit about “Undead burrito Productions”? When was it started and what kind of films do you guys specialize in?
Undead Burrito Productions is the name I gave my fake production company when we started making my show Brains, because my director and an actor from a different show he was working on also had fake production company names to make the productions sound more legitimate. Since Brains, I’ve worked under the name a few other times, and eventually hope to register it as an LLC as I continue working on indie projects. Right now, the specialization is “things I write or produce with close friends.” The name is now associated with Brains and all its spin off properties, my short film “Ace and Anxious,” and my friend Chris Cherry’s web series “Relativity.”
2. Why don’t you tell us a bit about “Brains”? What’s the general plot and idea behind the series?
The shortest way I can explain Brains is the tagline “love, friendship, neuropsychology, and zombies.” Basically, it’s a found footage “vlog” series about a neuropsychology major, Alison Sumner, as she makes videos of her life on her college campus after a three-year zombie apocalypse. At first, she’s mostly focused on trying to seduce her crush, Damian, while simultaneously investigating whether or not he’s secretly a zombie. In this world, if a zombie eats enough brains on a consistent basis, they can appear mostly human. As the show goes on, it becomes much more a diary of her post-plague life and the lives of her friends and fellow students.
3. What inspired the idea for “Brains”?
The idea behind the series is that a few years ago I thought it would be funny to write a zombie story about a girl who studies brains and is also frankly unimpressed by the apocalypse. First it was a five minute play, then it was the first few chapters of a novel, then it was a short story, then it was an even shorter short story that got published in a literary journal, and eventually, it was this show.
4. What would you say is the most unique aspect of “Brains”?
Probably the way we use the vlog and found footage aspects. Most vlog-style web series right now stick to one room, and rarely move the camera from its tripod. We take the camera all over the place, and the fact that the footage is being uploaded to the internet and only a handful of characters know that is very important to the story itself. It creates a lot of dramatic irony and heavily influences the behaviors and decisions of the characters in the show.
5. Could you tell us a bit about the character you play in “Brains”? What is this character like and what is the most interesting thing about her?
I play the lead, Alison Sumner. She’s a neuropsychology student, a scientist, and obsessed with her five year plan. The apocalypse derailed her previous five year plan, but the world is starting to put itself back together and she couldn’t be more ready, at least in her own mind. Alison is basically me if I made slightly worse decisions. We’re both very detail-oriented, we like to plan things that can’t really be planned, and we sometimes value efficiency over other people’s feelings.
Alison’s the type of character whose confidence is infectious- she’s so sure of herself and her place in the world it’s hard to fully hate her, though she definitely has qualities worth hating, particularly in season 2. She’s so single-minded and organized that it can be hard to change her mind, which is sometimes a really good thing, and sometimes a really bad one. Playing her made me a more confident person in real life, so I’ll always love that most about her.
6. What qualities do you think make a great film, and could you give us a few examples of films that you would consider great?
Unpopular admission: I don’t watch that many movies, and I certainly don’t watch movies most people would consider great. I’m a TV gal all the way. That said, my favorite movie of all time is A Few Good Men, which I love because it’s a perfect blend of drama, comedy, hot people arguing, and quick, witty dialog. For me, what makes a great film is one that is honest and authentic without taking itself too seriously.
7. On the opposite end, are there any films you enjoy as guilty pleasures? Movies that aren’t exactly great, but you like watching anyways.
Most of the films I watch would be considered “guilty pleasures,” but I’m not a huge fan of that term because I think people should be allowed to like what they like without fear of social alienation. Things like Easy A, Star Trek (2009), and Zombieland are movies I’ll watch over and over again, even if they aren’t considered cinematic masterpieces. I’m also a huge fan of the Captain America franchise branch of the MCU, and I’m weirdly obsessed with “What’s Your Number?” with Chris Evans and Anna Faris. Rogue One was probably my favorite recent movie.
8. What advice would you give to someone who wants to create an independent project of their own?
My advice is the same no matter who asks me: just do it (copyright: Nike). Seriously. I have a weekly column about making a web series for the first time which you can read every Wednesday over at TVWriter.net, but the only way you’re going to get started is to start. Even if you don’t think you’re ready, because I definitely wasn’t. But now I have Alison’s confidence as well as some of my own, which I’ve used to continue working in the indie film arena.
9. Where can we watch “Brains”?
You can find Brains at BrainsWebseries.com, with links to all the YouTube playlists as well as both extended universe projects, promo videos, blooper reels, an FAQ, and plenty more behind the scenes content.
10. Where can we follow you to learn more about “Brains” and any projects that you and “Undead Burrito Productions” will be working on in the future?
We’re @BrainsWebseries on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr, and I’m @BrisOwnWorld on the same four sites. The best place to find out about new Undead Burrito projects is my website BriCastellini.com or my Twitter account, where I spend at least 18 hours a day. This is not a joke: I spend almost all of my time on Twitter. So come say hi!
- What inspired the idea to create “Or Die Trying”?
MH: We created Or Die Trying because we wanted to tell our own stories and talk about the types of things that we experience, both in this industry and as women in general. We also wanted to build this really strong network of women who are working together and supporting each other, because that’s so valuable and rare. To us, this show wasn’t just important to produce because of the story we’re telling, it’s also important because of the way we told it.
2. What would you say is the most unique aspect of your show?
MH: I think all great TV shows and films have solid, well-developed and realistic characters that are, on some level, relatable to the audience. They don’t have to be likable, they just need to be three-dimensional and complex. To me, great stories are ones with endings that are reflective of how life actually works, whether happy or sad. Grey’s Anatomy and Shameless are two of my favorite shows because they exemplify all of these qualities.
5. Are there any movies or shows you enjoy that are guilty pleasures? Shows that aren’t exactly great, but you still enjoy and appreciate.
7. When is “Or Die Trying” set to premiere and where will we be able to watch it?
8. Where can we follow you to learn about “Or Die Trying” and future projects that you will be working on in the future?
Outside of ODT, you can find me @_sarah_hawkins on Instagram and Twitter and sarahmariehawkins.com.
MH: You can find me @myahhollis on Instagram and Twitter and on HolliBaker.com.
- How long have you been working as a filmmaker?
I think that I have been subconsciously a filmmaker for a few decades but I didn’t do anything about it. That is until about three years ago, I was the guy that wouldn’t take the plunge. Then, I committed myself to learning about scriptwriting and I never looked back. For a few years now, I have been teaching myself, with the help of the internet and how-to-videos, the art of filmmaking. I am a self-taught filmmaker and I have some acting and theatre training from back in the day, but other than that there has been a lot of sweat and blood put into scouring the internet for tips, tricks, and sound advice about filmmaking. All of this has led me to make my first short THE WINEMAKER, which is Phase One of three that culminates in a feature film.
2. What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
One day, I just realized that I wanted to express myself creatively as ideas and thoughts kept coming to me repeatedly. I would later figure out that those ideas were visual images, scenes, and dialogue for a film script. From all the movies that I have watched in my life (and that’s a big number), it was clear that I was creating movies with my imagination. So I ended up putting quite a bit of energy (before and after my day job) into studying screenwriting and filmmaking. Then, after a year of writing, I wrote my first screenplay, but I realized that what I wrote was either a $150 million dollar live action film (like The Lord of the Rings) or a $30 million animation (like Spirited Away). I want to direct my own projects, so I put my first screenplay on the shelf and learned how to make low budget Indie films and I came up with THE WINEMAKER film series that starts with a short that leads to a web series and culminates with a feature film.
From a young age, I have always loved movies and now I have done something with that love; it took me almost two years after the first script was done to reach this point in time. I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the path that I want to be on and that it couldn’t have happened any other way, except the
way it did. There is a running joke in my house about a viddie that I made two years ago, where I said I would be done in six months; my children walk around our house and act like me and say I will get my six month film done in two years. They are quite good at imitating me. They are hilarious and we can laugh openly about it. It has been a good life lesson for all of us.
3. Why don’t you tell us a bit about this project? What’s the general plot of THE WINEMAKER?
THE WINEMAKER short is a standalone project that can also act as a teaser for what is to come with the web series and the feature film. The overarching plot or synopsis for the film series is as follows:
Vic leaves his marital problems behind and goes on a winery tour. Along the way, he repeatedly sees two children or does he? At the vineyard, Vic meets THE WINEMAKER, who plays a deadly game of cat and mouse. At the climax, THE WINEMAKER forces Vic to decide to save himself or the souls of the two children.
One of the taglines for the film series is #theWinemakerknows and you have to watch the whole film series to find out what the Winemaker knows. In a nutshell, THE WINEMAKER film series is a psycho-thriller, with some classic horror motifs added in for good measure.
4. What inspired the idea for the movie?
Like I hinted at before, I had limited money and resources to make a film. When I wrote my first script, I wrote what I was passionate about at that time but without the awareness that I wouldn’t be able to film it. So after that I learned to work within my means and while I was researching about how to make an Indie movie, I often read the same thing: use what you have around you and write what you know. Then I spent quite a bit of time figuring out what was around me and how I could incorporate all these things into a movie. Simple things, like my house, my vehicles, a tree in my backyard, my family, etc. You would be surprised at what you have available to you, if you really start to notice.
This way of limitation opened up my mind to some interesting plotlines, images, and prop ideas, which started jumping out at me. I ran with them and would write dialogue, plotlines, and images down that came to me from the muse. This went on for over a year, along with studying all aspects of filmmaking and then I would have to take a break and work to make an income and then get back to THE WINEMAKER film series. One quick side note is to also look at all the available resources at your local library, which for me was amazing. I used a 3-D printer to make some props for THE WINEMAKER.
After a while, I realized that I had a lot of things to work with within my world (my house, backyard, and neighbourhood, etc…) without having to bring in expensive special effects and plots and storylines that I wouldn’t be able to film when I was finished writing my script. The long and short of it is that for me having limitations worked wonders and it challenged me to think ‘inside the box’ not ‘outside of the box’ and the end result is going to be THE WINEMAKER film series. Here it is important to bring up the point of embracing what makes you unique, to find your voice, for me THE WINEMAKER is my voice. Give some weight to what makes you who you are and create from that place.
5. What has been the most challenging part of creating THE WINEMAKER?
Getting my mind around how all these characters are interconnected and then being OK with new ideas that flesh them out more, because at the start I was afraid that I was losing a character, when in fact the characters were becoming richer, but I was just too inexperienced to realise this. Being patient about the creative process and respect the muse, as she only whispers her ideas to you. You have to learn to recognize when you are actually getting a new idea and then writing it down and going from there, wherever it leads you.
Be comfortable with the unknown and walking down that path. A lot. Whatever makes you uncomfortable, go there in your writing and see what happens and then be open to simple moments that tie together two characters or two scenes. Creativity is not a loud process when it happens; it is quite the opposite and when nothing is happening creatively: do not be hard on yourself. Relax and move on to something else and you will be rewarded when you least expect it. Don’t have certain expectations about how something is meant to be, because this just closes the doors of creativity.
6. What impression are you hoping to leave your audience with after they view
That THE WINEMAKER is a NARSIESSE original film series, even though I may pay respect to some great directors; I have done it in a way that reflects my vision and my interpretation of a given moment in time. And that you can incorporate Art
influences film references into your films, regards of whether or not you are making an Indie movie or a so called studio film. I want to show others that they too can create a film with smartphone tech, add-ons, apps and that it can be quite powerful and impactful. In the next ten years, this will be the new norm of filmmaking: using smartphones to make feature films. In the end, I want my audience to always remember once and for all that #TheWinemakerknows
7. What qualities do you think make a great film, and could you give us a few example of films that you would consider great?
That all depends on the film really, because think of how many great classic films there are; they are all different but still legendary. Think of what David Lean, John Ford, Stanley Kubrick, and Akira Kurosawa have produced in their careers. All have a repertoire of great films under their belts. What makes a film great is that it has the signature style of the director, when you see a film you say, oh yeah, that is a Kubrick film or that is without a doubt a film by Kurosawa. This means that they made it their own with their own voice and they had a specific vision for each film that they created. They all had an eye for detail and sometimes took a genre in the opposite direction, like Kubrick, who turned a war movie into an absurd comedy. So go down the list of films that these folks made: Lawrence of Arabia, The Searchers, A Clockwork Orange, Rashomon, you could spend days talking and analyzing any one of these movies and still not reach the bottom of the well. I could watch any of the films from the above directors over and over and still see and learn something new.
8. What philosophies or beliefs, if any, do you follow when creating a film that you believe are integral to making the film great?
One important thing for Indie filmmakers is to stop racing to the bottom to say that they made the cheapest film that they could, because in most cases it will look just that: cheap. There is a weird pride in doing a film for no money that must stop. I also think that however long it takes to make a film is how long it takes, but don’t abuse this remark. Because if you are not actually working towards your end result and the film takes years, then this isn’t the same as struggle with plot points or location or actors or weather or etc…be honest with yourself and be the filmmaker that makes his movie; not the filmmaker that just says they will make a movie. Always be open to ideas and don’t say no to an idea that comes to you because you never know where it may lead. One way to see this is to think of a game of chess, you may have to look ahead five, ten, fifteen, or twenty moves down the line to see if one move is good or not. This concept I learned from Kubrick (who was a great chess player by the way) and he would be open to new ideas and look at what he produced with that mentality. I am in good company and let’s leave it at that.
9. What advice would you give to someone that wants to create an Indie film of their own?
Pretty much what I was saying before, do your homework and get a good group of people around you to support you. And by this I don’t just mean a good film crew, just have good people around you. Give yourself the time that you need to find your own signature voice, whether it be a writer, director, cinematographer or whatever. You have to learn the craft and it takes time, start out small and work your way up from a short to a feature film and think twice about going to film school, because all that money used for tuition can go to your film’s budget. Learn from those that have gone before you, research how other indie filmmakers made their first film, whether it was a short or a feature. A bonus from doing your research is that you will realise that great filmmakers often had the same
struggles that you are having right now. You have to pay the price of admission, because all those overnight success stories you hear about were ten years in the making.
You can also figure out some way to cross promote your film with other Artist like I am doing right now as we speak, try to find a fresh way to get your film out there to as many people as possible. Too often filmmakers are so worried about their own projects that they limit their effective audience, when they could increase it.
10. Where can we follow you to learn more about your film and any other projects that you may be working on in the future?
I mostly only do twitter so you can find me on there. My handles for THE WINEMAKER film series are:
I also have another handle @ArtIntoFilm with the hashtag that I created #artinfluencesfilm, which has great international interaction and input. As of now you find over 700 examples of where Art has inspired cinematic moments throughout the history of film. I do have website http://www.TheWinemakerfilm.ca coming out soon and I will have one more interesting way to connect with all my projects to the masses. I am proud of the cross promotion idea that I am running along with my film series, because I get to showcase some great talent that is a part of my twitter community.
Since THE WINEMAKER is planned to become a mini webseries, each part will be a continuation of the last or will they all be separate, but connected through
various themes and ideas?
The four part mini web series will be a combination of both but leaning more towards the continuation of the overall plot ideas, themes, and characters. The web series will develop the players a little more but still keep the air of mystery around the whole project. That’s about as far as I want to go with that.
Throughout THE WINEMAKER film series, I will combine several of my passions: First Nation mythos
Art influences film
The last one is where you create a scene that recreates a piece of Art that suites that moment. This has been going on in cinema since its inception. Art has a
powerful impact on our psyche and the great directors have drawn on Art to inspire their work for a long, long time and I want to be a part of that tradition.