Your new movie Shitcago
- in a few words, what is it about?
is a film that doesnít really have a traditional plotline but instead,
it has a very minimal one. It follows a seemingly mundane day in the life
of a young loner living in Chicago as he wanders around the city and
encounters many idiosyncratic characters.
From what I know,
quite a bit of Shitcago
is based on personal experiences - care to elaborate, and what inspired
you to turn these experiences into a movie?
like to describe the film as a ďquasi-autobiographyĒ because many of
the characters and situations in the film are loosely based on real life
experiences I had while living in the city all of my life.
I thought of the concept a few years back, I knew the film was going to
evolve into something that was personal to me so I thought it would make
sense to take all of the odd but interesting things that happened to me
and incorporate them in the film.
extent can you actually identify with the lead character, the Loner, of
would say The Loner is very similar to an older version of myself. I
really wanted to make this character to be very uninterested in life and
quiet because I felt thatís how I was years ago after high school during
the summer. I wasnít working or in school, and I actually didnít have
a lot of friends to hang out with during that time, so I would just sit
around the house, watch television, eat junk food, and then when I got
bored of doing that, I would go downtown and wander around the city for
hours doing absolutely nothing just like the character.
you have chosen not to follow a linear narrative but go with an episodic
structure instead - would you like to elaborate on your narrative
were many ways of approaching the idea and I did attempt to write out an
actual script that had more of a linear structure to it but it just
wasnít working out. So one of the approaches was to not have a linear
plot at all and sort of jump from scene to scene, I thought it was an
interesting idea to do but I didnít have complete faith I could do it
that way and succeed.
then decided to do some research on films that didnít really have a
coherent plot and I ended up watching two films that would then be huge
inspirations for Shitcago. The
films were Jim Jarmuschís Permanent
Vacation and Richard
Linklaterís Itís Impossible
to Learn To Plow By Reading Books. Both of these movies are viusally
interesting and they donít have an actual plot going on, it just goes
from scene to scene throughout and thatís what I wanted to do with my
film, and I think for the most part it worked.
What can you tell us about your directorial
approach to your story at hand?
approach was very straight forward and somewhat specific. Whenever I
directed someone, I would tell them what I exactly wanted but keep
everything simple as well, I didnít want to complicate things. I would
tell them what kind of character they were going to play, give them vague
details about the character, and then feed them a few lines here and
You also play a
character in Shitcago
- what can you tell us about your character then, why did you choose
exactly him, and seriously, how much fun was it to play him?
the role was going to be for a friend of mine but when we were about to
shoot the scene one night, he was unavailable. I really didnít want to
do the scene just because Iím incredibly camera shy, but I did want to
have a cameo in the film so I did it.
was really fun to play the character and Iím glad I did it because a lot
of people who have seen the film really enjoyed that particular part and
that really means a lot to me.
can you tell us about the rest of your key cast, and why exactly these
entire cast was mainly made up of non-professional actors and actresses
but more specifically, every person in the film is either a family member
or close friend of mine. The reason why I chose these people was because
none of them were camera shy and werenít really afraid to improvise in
front of the camera. I also wanted to work with these people because they
knew my sense of humor and they were comfortable with everything I was
Did you actually have permits for everywhere you
shot or did you shoot guerrilla style? And what can you tell us about the
shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shot everything guerilla style. At first I thought about calling people to
secure locations and all, but it was pointless. Filming permits in Chicago
are incredibly expensive and I made this film on a shoestring budget so I
decided to shoot wherever the hell I wanted and whenever someone asked us
to stop, we would just move to a different location and shoot it there.
really disastrous happened while filming but there were at least two times
we were asked to stop shooting. The first time it happened was when we
shot the Art Museum scene, it was originally shot in an actual exhibit and
everything was looking great until one of the security guards told us to
leave despite the fact that I asked another security guard if it was okay
to film in the exhibit and he said it was fine. I didnít want to argue
about it so I just asked one of the security managers if I could just film
the scene on a blank wall near an entrance and they were fine with that.
The second time was when we were shoot a scene on a train platform and
were stopped by a cop because we didnít have ďpermission from the
CTAĒ, which is basically the main public transportation company here in
A few words
about audience and critical reception of your movie so far, and of course,
when and where will it be released onto the general public?
overall reception for the film has been positive. There has been a few
mixed responses but thatís something to be expected. I donít believe Shitcago
is for everyone, but if someone was to absolutely hate it then they
probably either hate art and cinema or just hate me.
now, Shitcago is currently in a film festival submission circuit and Iím
just waiting for responses. I submitted to quite a few festival and Iím
hoping I get into at least one of them. I am also contacting small local
theaters who are interested in showcasing the film which would be great
because I want to get this film out there as much as possible.
am also in discussion about distributing the film with the help of an
Illinois-based distribution company, they are very interested in the film
but itís going to take some time to get this deal off the ground since I
want it to screen at a few festivals first. I am hoping the film is
available to the general public by early next year.
future projects you'd like to share?
am working on a few small projects, but nothing incredibly huge right now.
I do plan on doing a thirty something minute documentary about a few
musicians I know in Chicago, so that will be fun to make and I hope I can
start on that as soon as possible.
I do have an idea of what my next feature film will be, but I probably
wonít be able to start on that until next summer or so, not entirely
sure right now. It is going to be something different though because Iím
planning to shoot most of it in a forest preserve and some parts back in
What got you into
filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on
got into filmmaking at a late age. I was a freshman in high school and I
ended up watching Sam Raimiís The Evil Dead for the first time ever. Iíve seen a
lot of movies before this but what really grabbed my attention with The Evil Dead
was the fact that the director made it with some friends and on
a small budget.
that moment, I decided I wanted to make film for a living so I basically
started to do a bunch of research on filmmaking and what films to watch
which then led me to go to the public libraries and rent a bunch of films.
I would spend hours watching these films and just analyze them to their
core. As years went on, I realized that I didnít really want to go to
film school or any kind of art school because I felt that it was more
important to spend money on the actual projects Iím going to pursue
rather than spend money to sit in a class and listen to someone else
telling me how to make a film, it didnít make any sense to me. I decided
that I wanted to learn things on my own by just making films and learn
from my mistakes.
What can you tell us about your filmwork
prior to Shitcago?
I made only two short films prior to Shitcago.
One of them is
actually available to watch on Vimeo and its titled Cut, itís
basically a short black and white silent comedy about an office employee
who gets a paper cut and bleeds to death. I shot the film on a $30 budget
with a good friend of mine and edited by myself within two weeks. The
short was then submitted and selected to play at the CineYouth Film
second short film I made was called Gun with the Wind.
To be completely honest though,
itís one of the weakest projects Iíve ever made. I shot it in one day,
didnít write any kind of script or outline, and it was just bad. The
lame title speaks for itself.
would you describe yourself as a director?
a director, I would say Iím very ambitious and passionate about my work.
I can get really obsessive with my work and I can also be a hard ass too,
but I think those are normal traits for a filmmaker. I try to make sure
that I am 100% dedicated to whatever project Iím working on and I try my
best to make sure that everyone involved with the project is on the same
boat as me.
who inspire you?
as I mentioned before, Iím a fan of Jim
Jarmusch & Richard
Linklater, but Iím also a big fan of Stanley
Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson,
Harmony Korine, Andy Warhol and John Waters.
Your favourite movies?
2001: A Space Odyssey is
one of my favorite films of all time, I can watch it over and over and it
never gets old for me. Itís a masterpiece.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
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The links below
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I really donít like anything by Tyler
Perry. I donít understand how that guy keeps on making movies,
theyíre just awful and I actually donít know anyone who enjoys
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
sure to like Shitcago on Facebook
for updates, screening info, and other important stuff. You can also check
out the website on Tumblr at
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
edited Shitcago 24/7 in my basement on an old Dell laptop
while in my underwear and drinking 2-3 Red Bulls daily. Iím really proud
that I finished the film and that Iím still alive as well.
for the interview!