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An Interview with Sylvester K. Folks, Director of The Ghost and the Negro

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2016

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Your new webseries The Ghost and the Negro - in a few words, what is it about?

 

A religious skeptic (Sidney) is framed for murder and to prove his innocence he teams up with a wandering Ghost (Hattie).

 

Why a ghost story, is this a genre you're especially fond of, and some of your genre favourites?

 

I grew up watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. I've always loved murder/mystery films with just a dash of a supernatural twist. People can relate more to ghosts than let's say vampires I believe. I wanted to tell a story on a subject we keep in the back of our minds.

 

Other sources of inspiration when writing The Ghost and the Negro?

 

Mainly reading and watching the works of Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King.

 

Why did you choose a serialized format for The Ghost and the Negro, and how (if at all) does filming for this format compare to shooting a standalone movie?

 

I chose the serialized format for budget reasons but also because I felt like there was more than one defining story to tell between Sidney and Hattie. My original plan was to shoot it as a feature but I wanted to share parts of the story to hopefully attract a fan base that would want to experience more about the characters.

 

Do talk about your series' approach to horror (as in suspense vs sudden shocks, atmosphere vs all-out gore, and the like)!

 

Suspense is so much better to me. I decided to make sound a character in the film. There's no music, no type of score, the characters are placed in a realistic setting and only hear what you would normally hear on a Tuesday at 2am. I want the audience to have the same cautions and thoughts as the character. Almost like a shared mind where the next step is another unknown. This is a atmosphere that I believe people can identify with more. Not a big all-out gore fan. Those type of things can be more distracting and completely take away the suspense of the scenes. 

 

You've shot The Ghost and the Negro in black and white - to put it plainly, why?

 

Yes, first off, I wanted to create a atmosphere and world that these characters live in. When I watch older black and white films I find myself even more focused on the characters than anything else. This is a character-driven story so I wanted the audience to know that whoever you see on screen, they're not just filler, they're important to the story and they mean something to other people, even if they're not speaking.

 

What can you tell us about your overall approach to your story at hand?

 

My approach was to tell a thoughtful story about a man who refuses to lower the barriers around his life and is forced to do so because of extreme circumstances. I wanted Sydney's journey to be one about love and redemption and not a revenge tale. Love is such a great mystery and Sidney's journey with Hattie, on the murder investigation is a great mystery to pair them together too.

 

Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Daniela Cobb is by far one of the best actresses I've worked with on stage and film. She is a graduate of ASU theatre program and has participated in a few other projects I've done. She brings such a graceful, mysterious but yet seductive performance to the character of Hattie. Demise Harp is truly a great upcoming talent and terrific actor. He has great delivery on his dialogue and he really invokes that quiet guy next door that you see everyday but never speak too.

 

What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

There are three episodes total. Each episode was shot in one day. We filmed one day at my house and two days inside a bookstore. It was very challenging and fun at the same time. When you're shooting so much material in one space you have to get as dynamic as possible.

 

The $64-question of course, when and where will the series be released onto the general public?

 

The series has its world premiere at the LA Film Fest on June 4th and 5th.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

I am currently in development for a project centered on autism and another thriller.

 

What got you into filmmaking to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

I am self-taught. I transitioned into film-making after writing and producing several stage plays. I wanted to share my stories on a larger platform and film has helped me reach a larger audience. I guess you can say my training began when I started helping a few friends on set of their projects and then filming little projects on my iPhone. That was my beginning foundation before I moved up into DSLRs.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to The Ghost and the Negro?

 

I have a feature film, The Lovely Patient, which was released in 2014 and I've DP'ed and directed several short films.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

I try to be the director that gives actors plenty of room to do their work and not stress over the things that don't move the story forward.

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

Feeling lucky ?
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at the amazons ...

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Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)  amazon.co.uk

Germany (East AND West)  amazon.de

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Alfred Hitchcock, Oscar Micheaux, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan and Kathryn Bigelow.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

The Hustler, E.T., The Birds, Beasts of a Southern Wild, Inception, a very long list lol.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

Not a fan of films where the villain has a stronger case for carrying out their plan than the protagonist does stopping it. 

 

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

 

The two lead characters are named after Sidney Poitier and Hattie McDaniel, the first two black Oscar winners.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

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
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD