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An Interview with Richard Powell, Director of Familiar

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2011

Films directed by Richard Powell on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new film Familiar - in a few words, what is it about?


Familiar is the story of Johnathan Dodd, a man who despises his family and will do anything to be free of them. As John plots his escape he begins to question the source of his unfounded rage and discovers a shocking truth not only about himself but perhaps the very nature of human hatred and desire.


early storyboard drawing

What were the initial inspirations for Familiar, and how would you describe the crative process from first idea to finished script?


Familiar is essentially the flip side of Worm, it deals with similiar themes of anger and disapointment but to a different and more bloody end. The inspiration for Familiar is really my desire to recontextualize the ideas from Worm and suggest another explanation for the existence of monstrous human beings. Worm suggests human monsters are a product of their choices, their environment and so forth, Familiar takes a different route and suggests those dark desires and motivations come from somewhere or from something else.


Cathryn Hostick, Robert Nolan, Astrida Auza

How would you describe your directorial approach?


The film explores the mind of its main character so we kept things tight and claustrophobic. I wanted an insulated, cut off from the world atmosphere and with the help of our great cinematographer Michael Davidson we pulled it off. The family in this film exists in a vaccum, visually and conceptually.


What can you tell us about the actual shoot?


The shoot lasted a week, most days where 12 hours or longer. The cast and crew really gave the film their all and I am greateful they were willing to go the extra mile to finish the project. We had three days of basic stuff, converstaions between characters and what not and two days of special FX. The FX stuff is always so involved and complex and requires so much planning and prep but our team The Butchershop was great and got the job done and it looks great. Our D.O.P Micheal Davidson brought an incredible team with him and really shot some beautiful footage which I can't wait to show the world. The shoot was long and full of hard work but the end result is worth it. The cast were really troopers, especially Robert Nolan [Robert Nolan interview - click here] who we had run ragged by the end of that last 18 hour monster day.


In certain ways, Familiar is a sequel to your last short Worm. How much groundwork for Familiar was already laid out in the earlier film, and at what point during production of Worm did you figure the film might deserve a sort-of-sequel?


Familiar is a kind of spiritual sequel to Worm but it really stands on its own as a story and narrative. It deals with similar themes but in very different ways and to a very different end. There was never any plan for a sequel and in all honesty I don't consider Familiar a sequel, there's a connection, a shared universe but this is in no way a continuation of Worm, it is as I said before a recontexualization of Worm. As for Worm, that story will be continued but in feature form sometime soon hopefully.


Richard Powell, Robert Nolan, Zach Green

For Familiar, you once again used Worm's Robert Nolan in the lead [Robert Nolan interview - click here]. Why him again (quite apart from the obvious reason that he plays the twin brother of Worm's lead character)?


Robert is the lead in Familiar for three distinct reasons. The first is I pictured him as John while I writing the screenplay.

The second reason is after reading the script Robert let me know he was interested in doing the film and after a few long conversations and emails I was convinced he would be the best man for the job. I had planned on using someone totally different but for no reason other than that, different isn't necessarily better I've come to learn, i'ts usually just different. Robert and I had a working relationship, he understood me and my style and I understood him and his method. He gave me everything I needed and wanted for Worm and I knew he could do it again in Familiar and he did. I knew I could bank on Robert to deliver, that's a confidence booster heading into a film. 

The third and last reason is Robert in an incredible performer and any filmmaker is lucky to have him.


A few words about the rest of your cast and crew?


Everyone was incredible. There are so many talented, hard working people out there it amazes me. I really have to mentioned Micheal Jari Davidson once again, without his help and talent the film would not exist. Originally we tried to get a grant to produce the film and had attached Micheal to shoot the project for us - when the grant fell through Micheal was still determined to help us get the film made and he brought so much in terms of skill and dedication to the poject and now we have a finished film ready to go out the world. Our post team was incredible as well, from the editors Navin and Tom to our sound editor Justin and our extremely talented composer Bernie Greenspoon we were very lucky to have assembled such a talented group. And of course none of this could have been assembled or arranged without the tireless work of the films producer Zach Green [Zach Green interview - click here] who ties it all together.


More often than not, your films tend to feature deeply troubled, often borderline insane characters. Why is that?


I find these kinds of characters more interesting. Their lives have so much more potential for conflict and struggle and hardship. I wouldn't say my characters are insane, that gives their behaviour an easy out. To suggest these characters are sane and have valid grievences with the world is whats most disturbing.


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The $64 question of course: When and where will Familiar be released?


The film is finished but as of yet we don't know where and when it will be released. We certainly have a time and place we would like to premiere the film but until we know for certain we can't say much. Hopefully in the Fall is the most I can say.


Any future projects you'd like to talk about?


I'm currently scripting the Worm feature so hopefully thats the next project from Fatal Pictures. The script is very promising and I'm excited to get started on that film.


Your/Your film's website, Facebook, whatever else? - and find us Richard Powell, Zach Green, Fatal Pictures, Consumption, Worm and Familiar all on Facebook!


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


Make sure to check out us out on Facebook and show your support! We love talking to filmmakers and film lovers alike! As well as looking out for news of the Familiar film festival premiere look for Consumption and Worm, both making their TV premeire on the American Horrors horror channel coming soon!


Thanks for the interview!


© 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 ...
... 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


Jetzt kaufen bei