Your new movie Catatonia
- in a few words, what is it about?
Lemme quote the plot summary: “The lone survivor of the brutal
Oakhurst Asylum Murders suffers from severe post-traumatic dissociative
disorder in a state run mental health facility. Budget-cuts lead to the
transfer of the criminally-insane killer she escaped right to her
hospital…” So, yeah, there’s a monster in the house, but the
movie’s about WHO is the monster?
is a direct sequel to Play
Hooky, but differs considerably in approach - so how does the new
movie compare to the earlier one, and was the different approach intended
from the get-go or did it just develop during dreaming up the story?
Hooky was a found film; very realistic and cinéma vérité. Catatonia
is a traditional narrative format, told on different levels
through Rosie’s post-traumatic dissociative disordered brain’s
point-of-view, you know -- what she actually sees, what she imagines she
sees, and what her sub-conscience thinks she sees. This is all
offset with a closed circuit camera in the mental health ward, along with
the ugly reality of the narrative story. Both films deal with evil, but
evil, as we know in movie-land, manifests itself in different ways, and
evil’s victims usually lose their innocence.
were your sources of inspiration when writing
heard on the hourly news of a local radio station that cuz of budget cuts,
a recidivist-rapist had been taken from his state mental facility for
criminals and placed into the exact same state mental hospital where his
kidnapped-victim was being treated. I immediately thought of the Play
Hooky characters of Rosie and Buddy (Charles DeWitt) and the story
ran from there. We also talked about One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Snake Pit
(1948), Girl, Interrupted and Awakenings.
what degree could you identify with the movie's key characters Rosie and
Charles - or any of the other characters really?
with the characters of Coral and Dr. Meadows, and on a couple levels, Dr.
Rivera. Good hearted people trapped in a nightmare reality with
nightmarish people, like Rosie is. They all suffer that old expressions:
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and “No good deed
about your co-writers Vincent Kulish, Jason Chester and Kim Kleemichen,
and what was your collaboration like?
To me, we are all a
family of creative derelicts; a team with one heart. We’re movie tramps.
Jason is the “Mind” of the group, Vincent’s the “Soul,” I’ve
been called the “Heart.” All three of us know that we can look
to Kim as the “Muse.” Kim, as an actor, is a source of insight; as a
writer (particularly for me) she has reliable perception. All of us
together know we are lucky to be with each other during the filmmaking
process. We have faith and trust in each other’s background,
instincts and ideas. Like a family, we’ll spat and bicker and piss
and moan (particularly me) but most times we’re laughing or trying not
to break-up (particularly in the middle of a shoot) which makes the
situation funnier. We are an odd bunch and as different as night and
day, but we seem to think in the same way about filmmaking.
That’s what counts.
What can you tell
us about Catatonia's
approach to horror?
We lean towards “Art House meets
Grind House” type of work. We do more crime/psycho-thriller work rather
than the typical blood & guts & boobs films. We seem to lean more
to Kubrick and Hitchcock; Jason and Vincent more Kubrick, and me, more
Hitchcock. For a no-budget/low-budget film-group, and we just like to roll
A few words about your overall
directorial approach to your story at hand?
actors and crew to do what they do best, hold on tight, keep your heels
down, keep your head up and don’t fall off, cuz it’s gonna be a hell
of a ride!
about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
theater, where the character is well-defined in the play, I believe a good
actor breathes its own life into the character of the film. Why exactly
“these” people? Cuz as a director, I can trust them, and as actors,
they trust me.
the whole movie being set in a mental institution, where was
filmed, actually, and what was it like shooting there?
were lucky to have an actual medical building that was pretty much empty
of tenants to become Nutmeg Valley State Mental Hospital. We also went
back to our original location, as the Oakwood Asylum, for Play
which had been neglected and deteriorated tremendously in three years. It
was cool to go back to the original location for Rosie’s hallucination
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
commit to each other to film on weekends. Friday night, Saturday and
Sunday to midnight, usually, or until the job is done. It’s an efficient
atmosphere. Spartan. Guerilla-style filmmaking. We like to laugh a lot. We
usually just enjoy being together. The core group always looks forward to
watching midnight rushes with a few cold ones. We don’t like to go home
(unless we have a 7AM call to look forward to) and look forward to getting
back together the next day. At least I do.
can you tell us about audience and critical reception of
Hooky, either you like it or hate it. Catatonia
many levels that if you don’t start connecting the dots between the
reality, the hallucination, the fantasy and the nightmare, the film will
piss you off or confuse you. I was told by filmmaker Amy Hesketh [Amy
Hesketh interview - click here] that
sometimes it’s not bad thing to be polemic. I guess disagreement leads
an audience to good debate over a pizza after the film is over. And, as
usual, there are raging complaints about not enough blood, guts, violence
and nudity – but that’s not what we do.
Catatonia being a
sequel to Play Hooky,
will there ever be a sequel to Catatonia,
and will it again try a totally new approach to the material? And/or other
future projects you'd like to share?
To me, Catatonia
more of a “spin-off” of Play
Hooky; it was never meant to be a sequel.
We hoped it could stand-alone as a film all by itself. On the
flip-side, a few people have suggested to watch Catatonia, first, and then
immediately afterwards, watch Play
Hooky. They said it would be like
watching the “police evidence video,” or a found-film, at the scene of
the original crime. Maybe both films on one DVD or a stream should
be presented that way. I dunno.
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Anything else you're
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
An important character in the movie is La Llorona (pronounced “LAH yoh
ROH nah”), Spanish for the Weeping Woman. Rosie encounters her. La Llorona’s been a part of Hispanic culture since the 16th century.
is a taller, thin specter with long flowing black hair. She wears
white and stalks the night searching for children to drag, screaming, to a
horrible death. Our La Llorona
wept blood. I’ve been told
that some Latino mothers & fathers notoriously threatened their kids
with La Llorona, to be good, clean their rooms and behave. So, the
question is: in the movie, is La Llorona
the devil in disguise doing what
evil does, or just the Hispanic version of the Big Bad Wolf?
for the interview!
Thank you for this opportunity!