First of all, why don't you introduce yourself to those of us who
don't already know you?
My name is Kristian Day and I am a
filmmaker and soundtrack composer from Des Moines, Iowa. I have been in
the business for over four years starting with composing original music
and sound for independent horror films such as 100 Tears and Mutilation
You are currently working on a
documentary called Capone's Whiskey: The Story of Templeton Rye.
What can you tell us about this movie?
the prohibition era, farmers began making their own booze and were
bootlegging in order to save their farms during those dark economic times.
Although it was really only meant to supply booze to speakeasies in the
surrounding counties, it caught the taste buds of the most famous mob
boss, Al Capone.
What drew you to
the project, originally?
and Mobsters? Sign me up! I am actually a huge history nut. Especially
history that I am not familiar with. A lot people donít want to talk
about it as it was a very dark time in our nation's history. No one wants
to admit they had any connection with this stuff.
How or easy/difficult was it to
get all the relevant information and footage on the subject?
I sent a press release out at the beginning of February announcing the
project and invited people to email us their stories. We picked the ones
we liked the most and got in contact. At every interview we would ask
questions and some of the answers included names of other people who had
been involved with the subject. We would contact those people and bring
them on board. Thankfully, Templeton Rye is hot a subject in these parts.
Capone's Whiskey: The Story of Templeton Rye, you are currently
also working on a horror film - and call me a bad researcher, but I don't
even know its title. So what's it called (tentatively) and what is it
Vessel. I have
kept it pretty secret. Itís stars author and public speaker Frank Meeink
(Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead) and actress Vanessa
Giselle (from my short film Bird Seed). We shot in 2010 from March
to September. I donít want to give anything away. But think if
Cronenberg directed The Trip instead of Roger
Corman [Roger Corman bio -
I showed the
trailer on March 18th 2011 at a local a local gallery called
Finders Creepers as part of the closing reception to my 4 Rooms Film
Doing the two back-to-back, what are the main
differences between working on a documentary and shooting fiction, and how
are you allowing your personal style as a filmmaker to shine through in
both of them?
Honestly, I have
to do both at the same time. I shot my documentary, Brent Houzenga:
Hybrid Pioneer, at the same time I shot my upcoming feature, Vessel.
On the business end of things, I have to have one film in pre-production,
one shooting, one in post-production, and one currently screening. This is
the life of an independent filmmaker. I donít have day job anymore.
Itís the only way to keep business going.
On the creative
end, I feel it helps me. There is a lot more pressure on me when I direct
fiction, however I can be a lot more creative. I donít have as much
pressure in shooting a documentary, however there really isnít a lot of
room to make the rooms melt or have heads explode. There is also a huge
learning experience with doing things like this that I can use with both
Any future projects beyond those two films
you want to talk about?
I am also
directing a documentary called James Bearden: Man of Metal. Itís
going to be a short film (29 to 48 minutes). Itís sort of a surreal
approach to documentary, where I am actually collaborating with James
Bearden on an artistic level vs treating him as a regular subject. Think
of it as a mix of a Salvador Dali film and a Werner Herzog documentary.
The promo teaser
it online now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IRLL7dcDnw.
You started directing shorts
with such lovely titles as Dead Man Working, Body in the
Dumpster and Wolf Tits: An American Superlative in 2008. What
can you tell us about your early efforts and your free-form approach to
I was at a
different place in my head back in then (and its only been 3 years). I
grew up on horror and abstract music. So thatís where I started. Dead
Man Working is a skeleton in my closet and I will never let it get out.
It was the only time I ever worked on a 48hr Film Project. I didnít care
for it one bit. There are so many restrictions and I realized that it
really doesnít make you a better filmmaker, it just teaches you how to
make a movie for the 48hr Film Project. The best thing that came from that
was meeting make up and performance artist Patrick Boltinghouse. We have
been working together every since.
Body in a
Dumpster was attempted to be made when I wasnít ready. I admit that
now. It was such a surreal experience. Our crew had a million things
working against us: a 500 year flood, tornadoes destroying locations, and
location managers not having their paperwork together. But itís
not completely lost. Someday I will return to this movie complete it.
Itís in a lot of ways a masterpiece in my eyes.
Wolf Tits: An
American Superlative was the first film I made after college. Aaron
Long (the man called Wolf Tits) is a very close friend of mine from my
time in Colorado. I always wanted to put him in a movie as he is great on
camera and is completely up for anything.
Any other of your movies you'd like to talk
I just did a
short film exhibit at a local art gallery/horror boutique shop called
Finders Creepers. I made 4 new short films and each of them had their own
room. I then assigned an artist to each room to create up to 4 pieces
that were inspired by each film.
It ran from
February 5th through March 8th 2010. The films were The
Process, I Lost You to the Beach, Animal, and Inside
Browsing through your filmography, one can't help
but noticing you have worked with actor Barron Christian quite a few times
[Barron Christian interview - click
here]. A few words about him, and how did you two first hook up?
is my closest friend. When I was in college I worked at gas station and he
would come in to get soda. We just started chatting about movies and
eventually I told him I was in school for music business and engineering.
He was the one that pushed me into film. I originally had no interest in
making films myself. I directed him on a class project where I had to make
a 30 second radio commercial for Hersheyís Kisses. From there he told me
that I needed to become a director.
Barron is an old
Hollywood actor from the 60ís and 70s. Which is my favorite era for the
industry. He has worked on a number of films including Star Trek VI,
Navigator: A Mediaeval Odyssey, and A Story of Healing (1996
Oscar Winner Best Short Documentary). He is a lifelong friend and business
before directing films, you left your mark on the film scene as a
composer. What can you tell us about your approach to scoring films, and
some of the films you have scored?
I made a lot of
noise. When I was 15 I found an interest in broken instruments and worn
out records. I loved how everything sounded disjointed and unprofessional.
It reminded me of soundtrack of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Nothing was ever in tune, not to mention most of the objects used were not
even instruments. To this day, I still feel that a-tonal sound has much
stronger effect on an audience than conventional scoring. I also rarely
used a computer except as a recording device and maybe a sequencer. A
lot of people are making music entirely on a laptop and midi controllers.
I donít care for that approach at all.
To date I have
recorded soundtracks for Marcus Kochís 100 Tears (2007) [Marcus
Koch interview - click here], Richard
Terrasiís Am I Evil (2007), and Ron Atkinsí Mutilation Mile
I have also had music/sound included on a number of commercials and
industrials. For Mutilation Mile I got to experiment with an old EMS VCS3.
A synthesizer with no keyboard, just a patchbay and joy stick. I had a
homemade contact microphone that had a magnet attached on the end and
could be submerged underwater. I had that thing plugged into the EMS VCS3
and I would feed it sounds of metal scraps, my dishwasher, radio signals,
you name it.
How does composing
for your own films differ from composing for other directors?
In my films, a
lot of times the music actually comes first. I will be recording a sound
or be using a loop and I will start to see visions of a movie in my head.
directors will give me some guidelines which send into the right mental
realms. Sometimes things can get a little convoluted.
have also made music not intended for film soundtracks. Does your approach
as a composer to music for its own sake differ from writing a film score?
I love strange and exotic music. I
originally just wanted to be a recording artist/engineer and run my own
label, but I didnít feel there was any real money to be made from it.
But I still love to compose and it can be a real stress relief sometimes.
I normally donít have a preconceived theme in mind as I would if it was
for a film. If I am feeling good, my songs will have more structure. When
I was recording my album Dub in Deep Red, I was mixing elements punk
drumming with Martin Denny style lounge and Brian Enoís ambient
textures. I was in great spirits. Now, when I am feeling very stressed and
or angry I tend to strictly make noise.
did you get into making music in the first place, how into making movies,
and did you have any formal training in either?
I liked to make noises. Loud noises,
weird noises you name it. I had some basic piano and about 3 months worth
of guitar lessons. The rest just came from not knowing how to use tools I
was using or using them different ways. It was actually Barron Christian [Barron
Christian interview - click
here] who pushed me to start sending my work to filmmakers. The rest is history.
who influence your work?
There have been a
lot. Everything from the early avant garde guys to some very southern
The ones you can
hear clearly: Boyd Rice (Non), Brian Eno, Merzbow, Martin Denny, early
Skinny Puppy, Throbbing Gristle, Ennio Moricone.
Not so clearly:
Frank Zappa, Roky Erickson, Dick Dale, Link Wray, Sigur Ros, early Misfits.
Directors who inspire you?
Bergman, Jean-Luc Goddard, and Sergio Leone. Films by these men have had
huge affects on me.
Once Upon a
Time in the West. This is the greatest film ever made in my eyes. I
can talk about it for hours.
Shaven, Holy Mountain, Hour of the Wolf,
(Cronenberg), No Country For Old Men.
I have worked on
a number of horror films, but to be honest they are not a the top of my
list. I love westerns and films that show the beauty of desolation.
Documentaries are also at the top of my list.
... and of course, films you really
Most of the
current independent horror that has been coming out. There is a lot of
garbage getting released and not selling. People need to realize that it's
not the 1980s anymore. Sure those films were fun but those same tactics
donít work today.
Also, most of the
remakes that have come out are pretty terrible, but I am just agreeing
with everyone else.
Your website, Facebook, whatever else?
else you are dying to mention and I have just forgotten to ask?
I just had an
album released through my label Left Hand Records, itís called Ambient
Martyr: Selected Works of Kristian Day It has music recorded over the
last ten years including my first radio single, early sound experiments,
and a even a live track. 18 Tracks.
for the interview!