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An Interview with Marrie Lee, Director of Certified Dead

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2015

Marrie Lee on (re)Search my Trash


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Your upcoming movie Certified Dead - in a few words, what is it about?


It is a dark drama with a simple yet complex story of real emotions that face us on a daily basis. Meet Ian Lee, an ordinary man in his 50s. He has most things that a man would want in life: a beautiful wife, a lovely cute 4 year old daughter, a good job, a house and a car, with a fear of growing old and not being there for his young family. Meet Megan, a beautiful woman, married too young and a mother of a 4 year old who realizes she is unhappy in a lonely sexless marriage with a husband who is always obsessed with work and exercise. And there is Ian’s boss, Hilary, sensual, powerful, scorned by her own husband. She knows what she wants and she wants Ian Lee. Finally meet the sinister, manipulative childhood doctor friend of Ian Lee who would stop at nothing to achieve his ambitions.


What were your inspirations for writing Certified Dead?


I was happily living life when I was suddenly hospitalized in succession for a minor stroke and Bell’s Palsy. It is really scary when you feel helpless looking into the mirror and see your face lopsided and having no control of it. I do not want to wait till I am no longer mobile to do things which are important to me. I realize a lot of people are that way and that procrastination is a way of life. I thought Certified Dead could be that catalyst that would make people stop and think.


Since your movie tackles big themes like death and redemption - how do you approach these, what can you tell us about the tone of your movie?


I want the movie to represent through events and emotions that touch us when major events happen in our lives. In the movie, Ian the lead character went through hell when he found out that he is dead. He was in self denial, something that patients of terminal diseases often go through. There is this “why me phase“. For those who can cry, tears are often a release from the pent up grief.


Do talk about your directorial approach to your subject at hand for a bit!


In most cases, it is an explain-the-situation and then allow the actor to build his or her own character, behavior, quirks, style of dialogue etc. But some of my cast are inexperienced or may not have faced a certain event in life to be able to portray the necessary emotions, it helps when I act through the part with them and show them how I want it done. I often sit down with my lead cast and talk about something which had touched them in their lives and I start crying with them, when they are good and ready, we roll the camera.


As far as I now, you will also appear in front of the camera in Certified Dead - so what can you tell us about your character, and did you write her with yourself in mind?


No, no, the cameo I play is such a small part. It is just slightly more than an extra with a oneliner. It almost got written off but then another scene had a role that may be suitable and so I stepped in. For Certified Dead, my only wish is to stay behind the camera and see the characters come to life. I played the cameo cause I just thought it is the right thing to do


What can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?


Michael Hadrievic Chua, my leading man has been in more than 200 productions and he is at the right age and with the kind of EQ required to carry off the character of Ian. In fact, the film being 80% done, he has shown that I had not made a mistake to cast him. Vanessa 

Adrienne Aguirre Tan is a delightful young woman, charming and with a great range of emotions. She reminds me a little of myself. She gets into character easily, especially that of a young mother and the chemistry she has with her 4 year old onscreen daughter, Shayleigh Koh.

Now, hearing about nightmares of working with children and animals, she is the kind of child that can put a professional actor to shame. She is on time, on cue and a regular trooper. We sometimes film from early morning to late nights and she runs around high-fiving everyone after each take. 

My other leading lady, Toni Ravelo, is probably the least I have to worry about. She needs the least direction and surprises me each scene how she carries it so well. She is really an accomplished actress.

And Richard Muru, who plays the antagonist - I have so much respect for him as a fine actor. Having worked together with Michael on other films, their on-screen chemistry and characters are so believable for 2 childhood friends.


As far as I know, you're still raising funds for Certified Dead - so what can you tell us about your fundraising efforts?


We are doing an Indiegogo campaign. Unfortunately the response isn’t encouraging. We made some mistakes like accidentally putting a stretch goal as the objective. What I really hope to raise is just for the post production. We have done 9 shorts ( without much problem but a feature length is a whole new situation. In order to make it ready for the big screen, we need to send it to a professional lab, do the color coding, sound, effects, and DCP.


I have to date used whatever resources I have to pay for the food and equipment. I received some money from a couple of corporate sponsors but it will not be enough to see us through to the end so I am still asking around. And asking all my friends for a favour, for even a Dollar contribution. This is such a humbling learning experience as people whom I do not know well came to my aid while people close to me turned a deaf ear. But this is life and it will help me write a better script for the future.


You have already started shooting Certified Dead though, right? A few words about the shoot so far? And how would you describe yourself as a director?


We shoot only weekends as everyone holds a weekday job. This is another humbling experience that so many people are passionate enough to sacrifice their time every weekend in order to finish the film. We have done 80% or 30 days of full day filming. It is 15 weeks or almost 4 months of going without an off day.

I just want to emulate the late Bobby Suarez, my director, mentor. He taught me a lot of what I know. As a director, make each castmember look and do good on film and you have a good film. I leave a lot of technical worries to my ADs who are simple wonderful in spotting bad lighting or if a boom drops into view.


Any idea when and where the movie might be released onto the general public yet?


Hopefully by 1st quarter of 2016 if we have raised enough funds for the post production.


Any future projects beyond Certified Dead?


My main long term objective is to resurrect Cleopatra Wong, something which Bobby Suarez wanted to do but died before he could. But a more immediate consideration would be to rewrite Rene, a thriller short which I wrote and directed before Certified Dead into a feature length. The link to watch is here ( A lot actually rides on the outcome of Certified Dead.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, IndieGoGo, whatever else?


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x-rated  find Marrie Lee at


Certified Dead website:


IMDb link:


Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


I am looking for parties who are keen to help out on this project or future ones. I still need a great editor with good EQ for Certified Dead. Please contact me at if you think there is any scope for a collaboration.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner


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