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An Interview with Morgan Muscat, Producer and Co-Writer of Ghost Dance

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2016

Morgan Muscat on (re)Search my Trash


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Your upcoming movie Ghost Dance - in a few words, what is it about?


Ghost Dance is a western short film with supernatural overtones about a wandering stranger who meets an Indian Spirit Talker and tells him the tale of his lost wife and daughter, his journey into the west, and a showdown at high noon with a notorious gang of thugs.


With Ghost Dance being a supernatural Western - could you elaborate on that in more detail, and what fascinates you about the genre as such?


When David T. Krupicz [David T. Krupicz interview - click here] approached me about the idea, something clicked almost immediately. The films weíve worked on previously have all been situated within the sci-fi realm, with concepts that have been way out there as science fiction should be. Ghost Dance was simple and straightforward and I liked that idea of mixing a story with supernatural elements. Therefore we have Ghost Dance, which contains all the great elements of a western and adding a dash of the supernatural to give it more of an edge. Iím very excited with it and the potential it has to spawn more like it in the future.


(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Ghost Dance?


Watching as many western movies as possible, to get the mood and atmosphere as authentic as possible. I recall watching the old John Wayne [John Wayne in the 1930s - click here] and Clint Eastwood movies growing up and into my teenage years, so to revisit them again as a source of inspiration for this film was refreshing. I am a filmmaker who likes to dabble in different genres as Iím not one for being restricted for being typecast to just one, so writing a western was a breath of fresh air for me.


According to my information, Ghost Dance was your first screenwriting collaboration with David T. Krupicz [David T. Krupicz interview - click here] - so do talk about the writing process for a bit!


I love to write, plain and simple. Yet over the past eight or nine years I haven't had much time to just write something and produce it. Iíve been focusing on my family and thatís my priority when Iím not working. I stuck mainly to producing as it just worked for me. Nowadays, Iíve been craving a return to screenwriting. David and I have collaborated on three productions, but this one was the first that I felt comfortable jumping into and joining him in the writing process. I felt like I could add more depth into these troubled characters and make them more human. I am all about characters and their development, the arcs they take, and the situations that alter them along the way.

Basically, David wrote the first draft and I came in to do the second. Together we came up with some solid ideas that western fans will love, but also some that will surprise audiences as well. And the beauty of collaborating with someone like David is that heís always up for different interpretations on things. Itís a real collaborative effort.


What can you tell us about the intended style of animation, look and feel of your movie?


David has decided to animate the film using Blender, which is the same route we took with Cold Dark Mirror. The look of the film is very much what youíd expect from a western. When it comes to animation, thatís most definitely Davidís area. Thatís his world. Thatís his vision as the director, and one I would never try and replicate or enforce. The atmosphere is edgier and darker, which is something that our past films havenít been considering the subject matter.


You also voice the "Stranger" in Ghost Dance - so do talk about your approach to the role for a bit, and about recording voice-overs as such?


The role of ďThe StrangerĒ was a fun one to do. I grew up watching Clint Eastwoodís portrayal of gruff lawmen and gunslingers and always wishing that one day, be it in real life or in the cartoon world, that I play a character such as that. As with most of our collaborations, my involvement in front of the camera is just the icing on the cake for me. I love the experience and the opportunity to lend my voice to a character and give it a life of its own. Itís also the first time Iíve played the lead character, so Iím pretty excited to see The Stranger in action. Heís dangerous and heís got an attitude, and I love playing characters like that.


Anything you can tell us about the rest of your film's voice-cast yet, and why exactly these people?


I love the cast! Since itís a short we only have a handful of characters within the story, so casting was crucial as we couldnít just find friends of friends to play the roles. I look over a huge roaster of names and David and I eventually settled on the select few who just embraced the characters. Daniel Wyse plays The Shaman, who is the spirit talker in the story. Daniel just has ďthe voiceĒ. When you hear his voice, it just is one of authority, of power, of importance. Heís been in every one of our collaborative productions and he continues to amaze me with his presence. He just owns everything he does.

For the role of Black Zeke, we cast Brian Carleton, who is a terrific actor Iíve known about for years yet had never crossed paths with nor worked with previously to this film. The man is phenomenal. Not only as a physical actor on screen, but his voice is just chilling, even menacing when he wants to be. He makes a great villain, and the perfect antagonist to my character. I would work with him again in a second if I could.

Ghost Dance also marks the second time weíve worked with the lovely Caleigh Le Grand. She appeared in our Cold Dark Mirror and again is on hand here to lend her voice to a couple of supporting female characters. She is always a joy to work with. Sheís got energy and charm and I pushed to have her in the movie.


At what stage of production is Ghost Dance presently, and where do you see the main challenges the rest of the way?


Ghost Dance is currently in production. We recorded our actors last year (2015), but production on the film didnít begin until this past summer as it takes lots of time to develop a structure to the animation process. David is meticulous. Heís a perfectionist and he wonít just churn out a piece of garbage considering all the time and effort he puts into animating these pictures. So weíre taking our time with this, probably more so then weíve done in the past. We also have families and other commitments, but we continue to work steadily on it.


It might be waaay too early to ask, but any idea when the film might be released onto the general public yet?


I believe we should see the film finished and released sometime next summer. We hope to hit the festival circuit around the same time and maybe offer up a DVD/Blu-ray release later on in the year. Yes, itís a bit too early to discuss release dates to the general public, but we hope to showcase this at festivals around the globe beforehand.


Any future projects beyond Ghost Dance you'd like to share?


Currently I am taking some time off to spend with my family and Iím enjoying that special time. In terms of projects, I am looking at a few scripts from other filmmakers to produce and a few ideas Iíd like to write and collaborate with other filmmakers on. Again, writing is something Iíd like to pursue on a greater level, so weíll see what comes up.


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

Also, donít forget to check out David and Iís previous collaborations:


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


I want to encourage young filmmakers of any age to not be deterred from making films. Itís a rigorous, competitive, and often very stressful process that takes years to make. If you have a true love for film, then pursue what you love and prepared to work for it. Make your own films, donít sit around waiting for people to make it for you. Write your own projects when you feel that others donít understand you. Produce movies that you want to see. Collaborate and donít be afraid to take constructive criticism from others who either admire or dislike what you do. You learn by what you do not just by what you know. You will stumble, you will fall, but what you learn from that is probably more useful than what you learned at school. I have always said that film school is important to any filmmaker, but true experience of the craft can only be obtained by going out and making a film on your own and seeing first hand how it all works and comes together. Go out and make magic.


Thanks for the interview!


Thank you Michael! Always a pleasure speaking with you.


© by Mike Haberfelner

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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 ...
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... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Tršume ...


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