new movie Higher Methods - in a few words, what is it about?
Methods is at its heart a movie about what it means to be an actor, what
it means to be a performer.
Itís the story of Matthew whose sister went missing 15 years
One day heís at the movies and sees his sister as an extra who hasnít aged a day. He embarks on a quest to find out what happens
spirals down a rabbit hole into the dark, cultish world of drug addicts,
freaks, the black sheep, the wannabe actors led by a menacing and
intellectual acting mentor. As he attempts to uncover the mystery of his
sister that went missing realities begin to blur in this sick twisted
did the project fall together in the first place, and what made you choose
exactly this project as your first attempt at feature filmmaking?
all began in the spring of 2015. Screenwriter Lenny Schwartz and I had recently collaborated on a short film, Scary
Little Fuckers (A Christmas Movie) that he wrote and I directed.
We realized that we had fantastic chemistry and had a lot of common
ground towards the films we enjoy. I knew it was around this time that for
my next project I wanted to produce a feature length film.
He graciously sent me about a dozen scripts to see if I was
interested in any of them and Higher Methods stuck in my mind more
any of them.
had jump-started the idea of directing a feature length film several times
over the past 9 years.
Each time I realized shortly that for one reason or another either
the project wasnít right, or financially things werenít in order, or
mentally I wasnít prepared.
In the summer of 2015 I was fresh of the coattails of two short
films that I couldnít have been more proud of and something clicked with
I felt that I finally hit my stride both creatively and
professionally, so for the first time I was comfortable to transition into
finally producing a feature.
Methods resonated with me in a way that no other script Iíve read has.
I love the fact that when you read it itís completely relatable
and enjoyable on a surface level, but then upon digging deeper into the
characters, the dark and twisted depths of their true nature bubbles to
It truly is the ultimate character study.
talk aboout your scriptwriter Lenny Schwartz for a bit, and what's your
collaboration with him like? And how did you two first meet even?
I've known of Lenny for many years before I reached out to him.
People in my circle would constantly praise the quality of his
I had also seen a few feature films that he wrote that highly
impressed me, most notably Normal, directed by Richard Griffin [Richard
Griffin interview - click here].
I originally reached out to Lenny to ask him if he could do some
script doctoring on another feature film that I was eyeing on producing at
We instantly hit it off and began hashing out ideas for other
projects we might collaborate on.
Thatís when he proposed producing a horror/comedy short, Scary
Little Fuckers (A Christmas Movie), which set it all in motion.
with Lenny I would describe as a Ďmanic joyrideí. His level of energy and enthusiasm is uncompromising.
Iíve never met a writer that is so full of life.
Most people think of the self-deprecating, beaten down anguished,
Lenny couldnít be any more opposite of that stereotype.
His confidence in himself and in those that he surrounds himself
with is a breath of fresh air in this industry.
talk about your film's approach to horror for a bit!
think itís hysterical that I find myself gradually becoming a genre
For the first 18 years of my filmmaking career I produced nearly
exclusively comedies and dramas.
I wouldnít consider Higher Methods to be a horror film by any
More like psychological horror/mystery.
I donít see myself ever diving head first into a straightforward
In fact Iím really not a very big fan of it at all.
I can enjoy scary movies, but it needs to have some more
ingredients for it to stand out for me.
I do love it when films surprise you with horror elements.
Higher Methods is a great example of this. Itís a mystery and
there are engrossing characters, but with that thereís a threat of
violence and horror playing hide and seek with its audience.
When horror erupts itís shocking and unexpected.
Thatís the kind of horror I love.
can you tell us about the intended overall look and feel of Higher
look of the film will have an interesting dynamic going for it.
On one hand we want the film to have a very polished slick feel
with lots of surface beauty.
If you look close though, you will discover the superficiality of
We want want the characters, the locations, and the overall world
they exist in to be full of contradictions.
On the surface itís about actors working in a Hollywood
Just like a faÁade in a studio backlot, what appears to be
authentic in reality is made of plywood and cheap materials.
It is this contradiction that influences the look, the feel, and
you can tell us about your intended cast and crew as of yet, and why
exactly these people?
We held an open casting call last spring and the level of talent we
had to turn away was staggering.
Itís a rather large cast, so I want to highlight a few of the key
Michael Christoforo, Abigail Jean Lucas, Jamie Lyn Bagley, Aaron
Andrade, and Anthony Ambrosino round out the prominent roles.
All of them are gifted actors and we couldnít be happier to have
them on board.
The role of Matthew was the most critical one of course.
The actor in this role is in every single scene in the film.
Finding an actor who can carry that much weight was a main
Michael Christoforo lives in NYC and submitted a video audition for
Normally I dismiss these because itís very hard to know what your
getting with an actor if you donít have the opportunity to give them
direct feedback and see how they interpret it.
However, upon seeing his video, we immediately scheduled a way to
get him to Massachusetts to meet with him and formalize his inclusion.
crew is equally as staggering.
The DP is Ken Willinger who is one of the best local
His work on two Richard Griffin films, Exhumed and
Normal sold me instantly that he was the right person for this
Overall itís a relatively large crew by my standards.
I also need to highlight working with Chris Esper [Chris
Esper interview - click here], who is my
co-producer and 1st AD.
Chris is an amazing filmmaker in his own right and itís his first
Chris and I have been friends and collaborators since 2010 when he
was an editing assistant on a 48 Hour Film Project I produced.
Since then heís been a part of many productions in lots of
Love working with this guy!
Higher Methods being your debut feature as a director, where do you see
the main challenges?
enough time to properly prepare is my biggest challenge.
I am married, with a 5 year old daughter.
Juggling my film life with my home life is always hard.
Did I also mention I work a full time job too?
So pile that on top of it as well.
Iím constantly in a state of civil war in my mind.
The one side is a relentless perfectionist who wants every single
detail of this film thought out ahead of time and addressed with
The one side understands itís my first film, and itís a
creative outpouring, and I shouldnít be so precious with everything.
This is a special time for me and I should be enjoying the ride as
much as I can.
Higher Methods is still in its fundraising stages - so do talk about your
lauched an IndieGoGo campaign on October 21, 2016.
Unlike my prior campaigns we are actually around 70% funded going
This is a huge relief because I know that even if we donít meet
our goal we will find a way to claw and scrape our way to the finish line.
But lets not think about that yet.
We set a campaign goal of $4000.
Completely doable for a 30 day campaign.
Iíve had a lot of success running crowd funding campaigns over
the years, this being my 4th.
My approach to it this year (for better or for worse) is an all-out
I usually donít go more then a few waking hours each day without
promoting it through a huge variety of outlets.
This includes hundreds of Facebook groups, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn,
YouTube, Vimeo, Mailchimp newsletters, and most importantly
direct emails to my list of contacts.
One rule that I will hold near and dear to me during this campaign
is to never actually ask for any money.
I am avoiding phrases like ďplease donateĒ, ďhelp usĒ,
I want our supporters to feel included with this campaign, not feel
like their being marketing too.
Itís a somewhat risky strategy, but I believe itís the right
thing to do.
All that being said, donations are wonderful!
the funds are raised, what's the schedule, and even if it's waaay too
early to ask, when will the film be released onto the general public,
are going into production in January for 14 non-consecutive days between
Yes, itís ambitious, but we can do it!
I think a lot about what the future will hold for Higher Methods.
My ultimate goal is to build up a large following and get it
distributed across as many digital platforms as possible.
We will be submitting it to all of the major film festivals and
lots of lower tiered ones too.
The great thing about people that support our film through the IndieGoGo campaign, there will be opportunities to them to see the film in
its entirety long before itís made available to the public.
future projects you'd like to share?
Higher Methods is obviously taking up a huge chunk of my time and it will
be my primary focus for probably the next year during post production and
the eventually marketing and distribution of it.
There are several projects on the horizon that Iíd like to
One of which is a feature length adaptation of Scary
Little Fuckers (A Christmas Movie).
Itís been doing so well on the festival circuit and the praise
for it has been humbling.
Lenny Schwartz and I have already pitched ideas back and forth what
this story could be.
One thing is for sure, whatever it is, it will NOT be high art.
movie's website, Facebook, IndieGoGo, whatever else?
Higher Methods IndieGoGo campaign ends November 20th.
Here is the link:
The official Facebook page:
The official website: http://www.imfilmworks.com/higher-methods.html
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
In the month of December weíre going to host a Higher Methods fundraiser. It will most likely be held at a local theater. We will screen
a bunch of short films from members of our cast and crew.
Details are still being worked out so please check our website or
social media pages for updates.
for the interview!