Your new movie High Tea
- in a few words, what is it about?
a nutshell: rolling joints; hanging out with chicks; summer vibes. It's sort
of an elaboration on The Meathead, a recurring masked killer who appears
frequently in my work.
What were your sources of inspiration when writing High
hard to say exactly. It was a few years ago that I wrote High
Tea, and I
don't remember taking a long time to complete such a short script. The
idea mostly came from the early days of Video
McNasties, when we were
still screening Blackbags. Audience members would ask us during
Q&A’s what The Meathead did with his victims, because I only showed
him abducting them and left the rest up to the viewer's imagination. We
would joke that he hosted make-believe tea parties, but I legitimately saw
some potential in this idea. I suppose the original Texas Chainsaw
Massacre is always kicking around in the back of my mind, though, when it
comes to this sort of project. You could safely say that it influenced the
vibe a lot. All of those old slashers played a part in a general sense.
Even though I wrote dialogue this time, Dave mostly ad-libs for this
character, so you'd have to ask him about his specific influences. For the
musical score, I basically wanted to rip off early John Carpenter and cues
from Planet Terror.
What made you decide to bring Meathead from
Blackbags back, and
in what way has the character developed since then?
Meathead character was a lot of fun, and Dave and I have frequently been
interested in him reprising the role over the years. We happened to be
housemates when High
Tea was made, and everything just fell into place
after a sudden burst of motivation. There was even this old shed in the
backyard of the place we were renting, where I'd stored a recycled toilet
for an unrealized music video concept. I don't think the toilet was in the
script, but I figured, ‘why not?’ I also wanted to make up for the
Blackbags prequel, The Art of the
Wushu, which did not really turn out the
way I wanted. What I did there was try to recreate what I'd done with
Blackbags, but it didn't work. The other issue was that, while I'd
provided an origin story for The Meathead, I realized I still hadn't
answered the audience's questions about the victims.
might sound like an odd question, but to what extent could you identify
with Meathead in this one - and with his victim Tina?
don't think I could say I identify with The Meathead, beyond having a
twisted sense of humor. The Meathead's not really a person, but more of a
demonic entity inhabiting a physical host, so I'd imagine it'd be hard for
anyone to identify with that. I consider The Meathead to be a comedic
character who just happens to murder people, but some folks will tell you
I laugh at everything. I identify with Tina on a superficial level, in
that she is burdened with the task of performing a particular service for
someone else, potentially facing scrutiny. In her particular role as the
victim, I think we've all been in a relatable situation at some point in
our lives, at least on a metaphorical level. But I typically draw a lot of
inspiration for my female characters from shit I've heard my real-life
female friends recount on a daily basis. Many of my ideas come from real
talk about your movie's approach to both horror and comedy for a bit!
discussed this notion countless times, but I'll say it again: humour
unifies. People seem to respond the most to humour. You get them laughing
and they drop their guard. They allow themselves to become more
vulnerable, and they're more willing to sit through amateur indie horror
films with low (read: no) production values. When it comes to The
Meathead, this is a character we try to have fun with because that's the
nature of the character. He's an unstoppable killing machine from Hell,
and fulfilling his purpose brings him satisfaction. He's not even really a
'he,’ per se. It's just easier to use male-identifying pronouns because
The Meathead embodies so many qualities that tend to be associated with
masculinity, and is portrayed by a male actor. In regard to ‘horror’,
I don't really set out to produce explicit horror-themed narratives,
because I don't ever really stick to the conventions of one genre. Is this
even a horror movie? I don't know what that means these days. I think the
horror genre has largely become a joke in itself. It was never really
anything to take seriously in the first place, but people have become
almost religious about it, largely because of nostalgia culture. I better
stop there, though. This could turn into a tangent that's been carried by
a thousand other dissident voices, and I might end up alienating the
audience (that I don't actually have).
few words about your directorial approach to your story at hand?
studied theatre and film in undergrad, but there was more of a focus on
theatre in my degree program. So I got used to producing scripts with
minimal locations and set changes, featuring lots of exposition and action
confined within a small space. This project could've been a little one-act
stage play, except I learned that I don't enjoy working in live theatre.
That's basically how I approached this project, though. I didn't introduce
the actors beforehand, so there was initially a genuine awkwardness, and
it worked. I mean, you don't want your final girl appearing too
comfortable around the creepy masked killer who’s trying to end her
life, right? Not at first, anyway, since we shot chronologically. I didn't
purposefully arrange to shoot on the most sweltering hot days that August,
but it definitely helped get everyone in the right frame of mind. The
longer you were trapped in that little shack, the more you wanted to make
a run for it.
can you tell us about your cast, and why exactly these people?
Kolenski is obvious. He's The Meathead, so there's no project if he's not involved.
Courtney Make's great. I've known her for years, since we met on an unreleased
short film I helped with. She was cast as the female lead in that, so I
already had an idea of what she could do. I think we'd been talking about
working together again, and she was available when we wanted to shoot High
Tea. That's the main reason anyone's been in my movies. Availability,
and/or we know each other somehow. I only ask the ones who enjoy doing it
to come back, though. She also came back to sorta reprise the role of Tina
in Alley Trash, my interactive YouTube narrative from last year.
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shed was real tight, so it was just the three of us and a big scary spider
lurking in the corner. The opening frame of the movie is an extreme
close-up on that spider, as a matter of fact. We got to know each other
pretty well over those few days, the three of us and that spider. To make
matters worse, I think those were some of the hottest days of the year. We
had candy, though. That helped a lot.
$64-question of course, where can your movie be seen?
an official selection of the Fear Fete film festival in Mississippi,
coming up this October. I'm still waiting to hear back (read: receive more
boilerplate rejection emails) from a few festivals, so it's not going to
be publicly available at least until after that. If I could get it
featured as a vignette in an anthology, that'd be cool, but it'll probably
just be free to watch on Vimeo. I was talking to John Migliore about
making it available on the Indie Horror Online Roku channel, so it might
end up there.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of High
far, it's been pretty well-received. A few festival screenings, including
an award for best horror short last winter. The crowds we've been part of
have been laughing in all the right places, and no one's shit on it yet.
The musical score got some local radio airplay. We've had a good run, and
it's not even over yet.
Any future projects you'd like to
done some curation and programming, which I enjoyed, and I've always
wanted to organize a film festival. So I'm trying to get a little
something going in that area. We'll see, though. It's more work than most
people realize. Everything is.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
only online representation at the moment is the Video
page. I did a whole bunch of graphic design work for a potential webpage
layout this past summer, but I hit a lazy spell and haven't been motivated
to do the coding bit. The music, however, is available to stream or
purchase 24/7 on the Easy Andy Bandcamp page
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
hold a piss longer than you have to, and don't hold in a sneeze unless
your life depends on it.
Thanks for the interview!
for letting me talk about myself some more.