Your new movie Crazed
- in a few words, what is it about?
through the dark alleys of Harbor City, brutal vigilante cop Ronan
Pierce looks to exact revenge on a ruthless cartel that killed his
daughter and now kidnapped his wife.
How did the project
fall together in the first place, and what can you tell us about your
chief collaborator on Crazed,
Michael McCarthy (any relation?), and what was your collaboration like?
with my brother Michael on movies is a dream come true! We’ve been
obsessed with movies since I can remember... so we both have a very similar
passion and drive for making movies. Sure, we butt heads sometimes, but my
brother and I understand each other on such a cool level. I can visualize
these crazy scenes in my head, and my brother actually sees what I see.
Hard to explain...but it’s true. He’s unbelievable at putting together
stories from our conceptual ideas. Crazed
was just our first one, and we
hope to do this for years to come.
Regarding Crazed: My brother Michael and I actually came up with the idea in July of
2011 when we were outlining possible stories for our first official short
or feature film. One story that we loved was about this insane vigilante
cop who did a lot of drinking, cocaine and kicking ass. We loved the idea,
and ultimately started planning (and saving) for a feature film that
In order to keep the costs down, we decided on shooting it in Tampa
Florida (my brother's home). In January of 2012, I travelled down to
Florida with fellow filmmaker Edward Payson and actor Wade Gallagher. The
four of us were the first members of the team. We rented a crew house and
spent a month finding final crew, locations and actors for an intense 17
day shoot in February. That was the first of several planned shoots we
saved up for and executed over the course of making the film. In addition
to Tampa, we also shot a large portion of the film in Massachusetts (with
a completely different crew).
film has a strong comicbook vibe to it in both looks and story - so what
can you tell us about that aspect of your movie, and are you at all a
comicbook guy, personally?
since I was young kid, I was always captivated by art and animation.
Growing up as a child in the 80’s, delving into comicbooks and cartoons
served as a perfect vehicle of escapism (still does). In 1989, Tim Burton
brought his glorious comicbook movie Batman to life, and I’ve been
obsessed with the idea of bringing these stylized worlds in
comics/cartoons to life ever since. The majority of my favorite movies are
comic bookmovies with an edge (The Crow, Blade, Batman,
Sin City, 300, Spawn, Watchmen,
Punisher, V for
Vendetta, Darkman, Black Mask, Wolverine, Daredevil,
Dredd, Kick-Ass etc),
and ‘comicbook style’ movies like Escape
From New York, Face/Off, Mad Max, Dark City and
Given the fact we are huge horror fans too, it was only natural that we
would give our attempt at a ‘comicbook style’ movie that was
ultra dark and outrageous.
You of course also have to
talk about the action scenes in your movie for a bit, and how were they
wanted Ronan to go through a lot of really bad guys to get to his wife,
and that meant a lot of action (with a pulsing dark industrial score
behind it). Because we were just having fun with the script, many times
the action was the result of our desire kill bad guys in creatively crazed
ways, and we built the action around that. The more over the
top/indelible, the better. Thus, from there, it’s just proper planning
and finding the right mix of actors, stuntmen and crew to pull it off -
and we were fortunate to find so many talented artists that helped
collaborate and make our film what it is today. Lastly, the soundtrack is
key in our mind for the action to pop. What would the opening scene in
Blade be without that ‘Bloodbath Remix’ of New Order’s Confusion.
I’ll always remember that scene vividly. It was a crazy mix of visuals
and music, and we definitely wanted our film’s action scenes to have
that quality. Believe it or not, the kick-ass music by Frantz
Widmaier and Thomas Mahoney was exactly what we had imagined when writing
the script - we feel extremely lucky to have their music as the backbone
to our film’s action.
What can you tell us about your overall
directorial approach to your story at hand? And what can you tell us about
your guest director Edward Payson and your collaboration with him?
is a fellow filmmaker and director whom I previously worked with on his
feature The Cohasset Snuff Film back in 2010. When my brother and I
decided to make a feature in 2011, we were extreme newbies to the
industry. We hadn’t gone to film school, and I didn’t have any
connections. I was basically a self taught guerilla filmmaker with much to
learn about the ‘proper’ way or hierarchy of filmmaking, and Edward
Payson helped us out so much! He advised us on everything we did on that
initial 17 day shoot in 2012. It was Edward who knew many of the initial
cast and crew from California (Brad Potts, Jordan Elizabeth), and without
his key collaboration, our film wouldn’t be the same. Things were quite
hectic, and many times we needed to split up crews. Thus, Edward directed
scenes when I couldn’t... HUGE thanks to Edward on that shoot in
February 2012! However, after that shoot in 2012, Edward went back to LA
to continue directing his own feature films, which he’s been doing ever
since. He has a really cool feature anthology called The Sunday Night
Slaughter coming on Halloween in 2017.
the directorial approach: Well,
we wanted to have fun with it. We wanted to make a movie that revels in
dark juvenile glee, all the genre tropes our inner 20 year old yearns for.
A dark fun ride full of audacious visuals paired with music that isn’t
talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
had a bunch of super talented actors that brought our intense characters
to life. Because of the over the top nature of our production, MANY of the
actors would give amazingly intense live performances that blew us all
away on set... Harry Aspinwall being the standard bearer, and Robert
Crayton killing it as Lazarus! However, one person whom especially
deserves to be talked about is Wade Gallagher. Wade was a bricklayer from
Boston that had done one short movie called Townies with director Mike
O’Dea. His role in that movie jumped out at me immediately... he was a
badass, and we literally wrote the role of Damien Logan with Wade in mind.
Wade was the first actor to join our team. He lived with us the whole time
down in Florida, and we all got to become close friends. After our initial
shoot was over, we realized we wanted to do re-shoots/add different
scenes. We had big plans for Wade in some of our re-shoots and future
movies... he was so unbelievably talented. Unfortunately life can really
suck sometimes. Wade was diagnosed with esophageal cancer (which he
actually had during the whole initial shoot), and he battled heroically
for over a year… until it took it’s toll on him in the summer of
2013. Wade was a great friend and a great actor, hopefully our crazy
little film can keep his spirit alive in some weird cosmic way.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
we did have a bunch of different shoots over the course of the production,
so each shoot had its own cast and crew (some sets over 100 degrees,
some way below zero). However, given the subject matter, we encouraged it
to be a fun set where artistic collaboration is key and ideas are always
welcome. You spend time hiring the right artists, and then you give them
your full trust and confidence, and I think that brings out the best in an
artist (cast or crew).
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Crazed?
any film, we’ve had mixed reviews, but we knew going in that our film
wouldn’t be for everyone. However, every now and then you really connect
with someone who watched your movie, and those moments are so
badass… they make it all worth it. Also, we take great pride in
being selected to some of the world’s coolest horror/genre film
festivals (including Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival in
Spain). In all we went to twelve festivals in five different continents,
and won awards in Australia (Fantastic Planet in Sydney) and Italy
(ToHorror Film Festival, Torino).
future projects you'd like to share?
are working on a post apocalyptic action/horror. We’re hoping to start
shooting early next February… no details yet :)
What got you into
filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on
always wanted to make movies since I was a young kid/college bound
teenager. However, it was very exclusive back in 1995, with the only film
schools being NYU, USC and UCLA. Everything was shot on film, and the
equipment was ridiculously expensive. I was a dreamer, but even that dream
seemed impossible (back then). Thus, my artistic spirit led me to Clemson
for a degree in architecture. Nonetheless, I learned quickly I didn’t
want to design buildings for the rest of my life and I ended up graduating
with an international business degree and long line of inconsequential
jobs. Ten years had gone by, I was about 33, and I needed a complete
reboot. My artistic spirit had been held down long enough, and I really
wanted to follow my lifelong dream of being a filmmaker. So, with any time
I had, I started researching and learning through online tutorials and
articles. I bought a really nice $3000 Sony camcorder with an expensive
Redrock lens converter to give it that ‘film’ look. The results were
ok, but it was cumbersome and certainly not film quality. However,
technology progressed with the advent of DSLR video, and better filmmaking
tools became much more accessible. About 5 years back, I bought my first
Canon T2i then 5D, and started using Adobe Premiere Pro/After Effects to
edit. I watched thousands of online tutorials and read tons articles over
the years to educate myself. Early on I would film guerilla style shorts
with family and friends. However, I can honestly say, the backbone to most
of skill/knowledge is from making Crazed
over the last 4 years.
What can you tell us about your filmwork
prior to Crazed?
I mentioned previously, I started out doing short ‘guerilla style’
films with my brother and other family members. I then started actively
looking for film projects to jump on. I found a listing on
NewEnglandFilm.com for a found footage horror feature that Edward Payson
was directing, and I applied for the cinematographer position. I was
hired, and the rest is history. Edward then came on my film as an executive
producer/guest director… thus Crazed
would you describe yourself as a director?
In short, I want to make uber-edgy films that are fun diversions. I enjoy
world building, horror, sci-fi, action, crazy visuals and rocking
soundtrack. No more... no less. Although I have many opinions about the
world and what not, I don’t feel that inner need to preach to my
prospective audience. Like bringing up politics at a dinner table
discussion, sometimes it’s pointless, offensive and not my cup of tea.
I’d much rather talk about the state of filmmaking and debate which
Quentin Tarantino film is the best.
who inspire you?
the beginning, I was inspired by Robert Rodriguez and his DIY book
sensation Rebel Without a Crew. After reading his book, it makes you
believe anything is possible if you work for it. Actually the same thing
can be said for guys like Christopher Nolan and Nicolas Winding Refn, who
both made movies while living penniless with their parents in their 20’s
(Following and Pusher). Stories like these are such an
inspiration… guys who never went to film school... instead they decided
to just ‘go for it’ and make their first feature... and now here they
are! The future is what you make of it.
Your favourite movies?
REALLY hard question... I’ve already mentioned some, but I’ll give you a lot
of my super favs
no particular order): Kill
Bill 1 & 2, Mad Max 2,
The Matrix, Gladiator, Evil Dead
2, Army of
Darkness, Drag Me To
Hell, Braveheart, The Crow, Blade, Batman
Begins, Batman, The Dark
Knight, The Dark Knight Returns (animated), Empire Strikes
Back, The Force
Awakens, I Saw the Devil, Escape From New York, Face/Off,
Dark City, Sin City, 300, Guardians of The
Galaxy, X-Men, Inception,
American Werewolf in London, The
Shining, Cabin in the Woods, Let The
Right One In, The Departed, The Ring, Bram Stoker's Dracula,
Reservoir Dogs, Fight Club,
Seven, Silence of the Lambs, Fifth Element, The
Terminator 1 & 2, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Casino Royale (probably
forgetting some haha). Point
is... I love movies... and I truly love a ton of them. I also love a lot of
the new TV programing out there… Dexter, Game of Thrones probably
leading that list.
and of course, films you really deplore?
first one that comes to mind is Birdman, second is The Phantom Menace,
third is Batman & Robin… oh, and I wish the Matrix sequels never
saw the light of day.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
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The links below
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Facebook page and IMDb links are as follows:
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
actually... the best part to this story is that I never would have met my
wife if I hadn’t followed my dreams. I hired my future wife Lauren as a
special effects makeup artist on Crazed. We started talking at the
‘Lukas Lodder shoot’ wrap party in July of 2013, and haven’t stopped
since. She’s a huge genre movie fan like my brother and I, and we are
always talking movies, music new stories and our next film. Now we’re
married and make movies together, nothing cooler than a filmmaking
family! So I guess if I were to preach anything... it’s follow your
dreams, because you never know where they will take you if you work at
for the interview!