Your about-to-be-released movie Mr. Bricks: A
Heavy Metal Murder Musical - in a few words, what is it about?
I think Lemmy Kilmister said it best when he said Mr. Bricks: A Heavy
Metal Murder Musical “fires on all head-banging cylinders... you
must see this film!”
ok, sorry I had to throw in a Motörhead plug! After being shot in the
head, Mr. Bricks takes bloody revenge on the corrupt New York City cop
who tried to kill him – and stole his girl Scarlet! Throughout the
movie we see different perceptions through these 3 characters of what
happened to Bricks and Scarlet, and truth be told, Mr. Bricks may not be
the victim he may seem to be! It's like watching Lost except the
characters break out into heavy metal songs and the cast doesn't go to
heaven at the end.
What has initially drawn you to the movie, and is hardcore heavy
metal a music style you identify with?
wanted to do something different, and hardcore and heavy metal music is
something I identify with in a big way. That genre of music has balls
and expresses feelings that most people feel inside even if it's about
killing or ripping someone's face off.
had been in numerous hardcore/heavy metal/ death metal bands in the 90s
and then I burnt out in the early 2000s when shit like Creed and
Nickelback started being considered “metal”, or pop metal or
whatever. Then when I moved to New York I had a hard time adjusting, so
I went back to the basics, which for me was rediscovering music I hadn't
listened to in a while like Slayer, Motörhead, Deicide, Biohazard,
basically everything from my youth I threw on my ipod in a haphazard
way, 80s metal mixed with 90s hardcore mixed with death metal and I just
started jamming to it again and now it's basically all I listen to,
the same time I was brainstorming movie ideas and I thought of the
character Mr. Bricks and then I thought wait... could it, should it, no!
Nobody will go for a heavy metal musical!
A very obvious
question: Why a musical?
always had a love/hate relationship with musicals. I remember as I kid we
had one VCR and my sisters always got to watch their videos first, like
The Sound of Music or Mary Poppins while I waited with bated breath to
watch A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 or Friday the 13
Part VII, so in some twisted way I think all that stuff melded in my mind
and sat dormant in my subconscious for all these years until boom! A
hardcore horror musical! But Mr. Bricks isn’t your typical musical. The
characters do break out in song, but what they sing about is so dark and
disturbing like murder, rape and suicide! I would perhaps call it an
anti-musical, sort of like Lars Von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark. That
film really inspired me when I first saw it in the theatre. I was blown
away. It was shot on grainy DV and blown up to 35mm so it has this weird
washed out watery look and of course you had the beautiful and dark songs
by Björk. Since that day in 2000 when I saw it I said to myself I want to
do something like that. I just didn’t know how. And also what was
interesting about Dancer in the Dark was the actors sang the songs but
some of them weren’t good singers. Like Peter Stormare, his voice sounds
so natural like his character sounds, he’s not trying to be a bravado
singer, but on the official soundtrack Thom Yorke sings his parts! So all
these factors were working in my mind and I was also strangely enough
influenced by Steven Sondheim too! I had worked on a production of
Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, which is told backwards, and the
musical numbers have odd arrangemenats, with odd time and key signatures;
Merrily was also kind of panned by critics for not having “catchy”
tunes or melodies and there’s even a song in the show that addresses
this critique! So to make a long answer even longer, I was inspired by all
these things, the “anti-musical”, it all kind of clicked and I said
well what to I have to lose? I started writing the songs for Bricks before
the script was finished, and once Lauren Miller was writing the final draft
I would take elements from the script like dialogue and write new songs to
tailor it to the story.
How would you describe your
directorial approach, and is there any other musical Mr. Bricks: A
Heavy Metal Murder Musical is comparable to?
directorial approach was schizophrenic to say the least! Some days we
would start shooting the musical stuff first and some days would be
straight dialogue scenes. So some days I felt like a film director and
other days I felt like a music video director! And some days it all ran
together. Thankfully I had actors that trusted in me and the material
and were committed 100% to doing the best possible job. In rehearsals we
would go over the emotional beats of a scene or the arch of their
character so when it came time to burst into song it made sense.
There’s an emotional build-up with the character, when you see Nicola
Fiore or Vito Trigo or Tim Dax break into song, there’s a reason for
it, and the music advances their character and pushes the plot along.
can you tell us about the music of Mr. Bricks: A
Heavy Metal Murder Musical?
music is a mix of metal genres from the guitar driven harmonies of 80s
metal to the aggressive energy of 90s hardcore. The songs are also short
like a minute and a half, I think the longest song is three minutes and
that's the final number. I did this because I think the attention span
of most viewers is very important. As a filmmaker you have so many
competing factors for your viewers attention, the internet, video games
etc. Even songs on American Idol are like a minute and half long because
they have to keep the audience's attention. Plus, with a smaller movie
like this I wanted to pack quite a punch with the music as a
storytelling device, so I thought the shorter the better.
fans have said the music sounds “Nu-Metal” - in my opinion I would
disagree. I know where some people are coming from, because the music
that influenced the music in the film is reminiscent of early 90s NYC
Hardcore bands like Biohazard and Sick of It All which were responsible
for the fusion of metal and rap. But when they did it, it was raw and
rough around the edges and the lyrics were socially significant. These
bands would address topics like urban violence and being blue collar and
what it's like trying to survive on minimum wage just to survive. Later
in the 90s, certain bands stole this style and totally used it t sell
records. That's where the term Nu-Metal comes from. Instead of using the
music for socially significant topics the music became whiny and emo,
and all you heard on the radio was this terrible hybrid sound of NY
Hardcore, stripped of the rawness and polished for radio play. I only
bring this up, because I want the fans and viewers of this movie to
understand where the inspiration for the songs came from. One viewer
even told me one of the musical numbers in Bricks reminded
him of a Biohazard video! To me, that's quite a compliment. I want
people to seek out bands like Biohazard and Sick of It All from back in
the day and discover what they were trying to do and what they were
trying to say musically. Usually these bands would be 5 normal guys (or
as Type O Negative used to say “four dicks from Brooklyn”) who worked
in a factory or some other shitty job all day and at night they would
make this incredible music, expressing how shitty their lives were or
how shitty the system was! They used metal as a social platform and
fused it with the urban sound of hip-hop to create a unique outlet for
their anger and frustrations. I'm not saying there are any rap numbers
in Bricks, Tim
Dax doesn't break out in any rhymes unfortunately, because that would be
just too hilarious.
bands weren't talking about satanism or ghouls or any of that crap haha.
With Bricks, I wanted to accomplish the same feeling, these characters
in the movie have a shitty existence and this metal/hardcore sound was
the perfect medium to express exactly what they were going through.
A few words about your
lead Tim Dax?
Dax used to send out these postcards of himself to various film
companies. One day he sent one to Troma
and it landed on Lloyd Kaufman's
desk. I took it and said what is the story with this guy! I instantly
knew I had to put him in a movie. I emailed him and introduced myself
and we hit it off. We went back and forth for a long time trying to come
up with a project to do, this went on for a good year. Finally, when I
came up with the idea of Mr. Bricks I thought this would be perfect! I
sent him some of the preliminary songs and he was on board right away.
We finally met at a script meeting and I remember being so intimated, I
had talked to him over email for a year now and then to meet him was
surreal! He is such a nice, talented guy and we hit it off right away.
He put 100% into the moive and his character and I couldn't be happier.
This was his first feature film and he pulled out all the stops and you
can see it in the finished product!
Vito Trigo, Nicola Fiore, Tim Dax
Tim landed a nice role on CSI, the television show with Ted Danson,
and it was so DAMN SURREAL to see him on the small screen, like wow we
worked together and here he is acting with Ted Danson! Truly incredible,
I am very proud of him.
What can you tell us about the rest of
your cast and crew?
had an excellent cast and crew. Nicola Fiore and I met on a shoot for
the 20th Anniversary DVD Edition of Troma's
Redneck Zombies. She was playing an 80s chick from the future and I
was filming, this was all taking place in Lloyd Kaufman's living room by
the way, with Redneck director Pericles Lewnes. After the shoot
we became good friends and she also became my muse for a while, I was
always thinking of projects to write with her in mind. When Bricks
came up I knew she would be right for Scarlet and a good fit to work
with Tim Dax. They have great chemistry together and it worked like a
charm. Then after Bricks we made Slaughter Daughter, where
she plays the lead Farrah, so it all worked out perfectly. We know how
each other works and thinks and we have become a great team.
Martell, the producer and saving grace for Bricks
used to work at
Troma as Lloyd Kaufman's
assistant! At that point I had been trying to
get Bricks off the ground for a while and one day while Justin
and I were walking to get lunch, I mentioned Bricks
and right then
and there he offered to produce it through his company Ship to Shore
Media with his partners Vito Trigo and Jeff Cornell. Justin raised the
money and we were on our way! I can't stress how important it is to find
a great, competent producer who has undying enthusiasm for your project!
Trigo as I mentioned before is partners Justin Martell and Jeff Cornell
in Ship to Shore Media. Trigo played Dukes and his acting ability was
great! In rehearsals we would go over character motivations and block
out the musical numbers so they looked as best they could, and they do
kick ass! Vito even blocked out the fight scenes. Which look pretty damn
good as well. He has a commitment to his craft which is a dream come
true for a director because it makes my job easier and we can
communicate better and be on the same page.
Cornell, the DP was instrumental in capturing not only the vision of the
narrative but the vision of the musical numbers. We would work in tandem
to figure out what angle worked the best etc. Sometimes I would come in
with storyboards, usually I use shot-lists because in low budget
filmmaking you have to adapt to you surroundings and you usually can't
get to the set until the day of shooting. Jeff was great with ideas of
how to frame things when certain shot just didn't work. And there were
more than a few times Jeff and I ended up in the shower filming certain
scenes in cramped spaces! Yes, you heard me right! The perils of indy
Mr. Bricks: A
Heavy Metal Murder Musical will be released by Troma,
a company you also work for. What can you tell us about your experiences
Yes, Troma will be distributing Bricks
theatrically in certain cities and then
will go to DVD in 2012. Working for Troma
is a rollercoaster to say the least! I
am their main editor so every day a new project will come along with a breakneck
deadline! Lloyd likes to stay up on current events so he will come up with a Youtube video idea and pitch it to us, then
Troma Team has to write it, shoot it
and edit within days so the video is still relevant. Like I said, it's a
rollercoaster, but worth it. I've learned more here than I would have in grad
have also had your hands in Troma's
How to ...-film Direct Your Own Damn Movie! - a few words
about that one and the Lloyd Kaufman-school of filmmaking?
his travels, Lloyd interviews his famous friends like James Gunn and Eli
Roth among other industry professionals. We had so much footage and so
many interviews the idea was broached to make a feature length documentary
using the structure of how a movie is made. It starts with pre production,
then writing the script, shooting, editing etc. and at the end all the
famous directors blast Lloyd for what he does wrong when making Troma
movies, but he is then redeemed when these same directors also praise
Lloyd and tell him what he has done right for the past 40 years! I spent
many long nights in the Troma
editing room, sometimes spending the night
to make Direct Your Own Damn Movie and the end result is fantastic!
If you really want to learn what it takes to make a movie you should get
this (not only because I directed and edited it with Lloyd haha) the movie
really is educational! It's on DVD now.
What can you tell us about your short The Amnesia Party,
which at least in writing sounds beyond wild, to say the least?
The Amnesia Party is
a short film I made coming out of film school. I would describe it as Natural
Born Killers meets Parents.
The film takes place right after 9/11 where our main character
“Son” has to decide whether or not to go to war and make his parents
proud (his dad was Vietnam Vet). He ends up losing his mind and his
imaginary friend Tommy shows up to help him make sense of all the
craziness that was happening during that time. The film is funny,
surreal and heart-breaking. Troma picked it up and put it on their Best
of Tromadance Vol. 5-DVD.
I tried to put the film in many film fests but it kept getting rejected
because of its content, but I felt redeemed when Bill Gibron of
Popmatters.com gave the film a good review by saying: "Like
a post-modern amalgamation of The Graduate and Parents, it’s the
perfect antidote to all the 9/11 inspired jingoism."
me that quote makes up for every film festival rejection!
I ended up breaking the film into little webisodes. If you would like to
check it out you can go here:
other films of yours you'd like to talk about?
did a documentary on legendary underground recording engineer Steve
Albini for youtube, if you would like to check it out:
be sure to check out my next film Slaughter Daughter coming late
2012! For more info you can go to our Youtube page www.youtube.com/myslaughterdaughter
join our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Slaughter-Daughter/185225688173581.
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
education on the subject?
always loved filmmaking. I remember toying around with my dad's VHS camera
back in the 80s and making “groundbreaking” ninja and horror movies!
Then when I really started getting serious about it around 1999, I got my
hand on every book I could about filmmaking and read it cover to cover.
Then I would experiment with my friends and stuff. I was also in a band at
the time and I would incorporate video/filmmaking aspects into our live
shows. Then in 2002, I attended Wright State University's film program,
Jim Van Bebber also went there for a year but instead
of using a bank loan to pay for a second year of college he took the money
and directed Deadbeat at Dawn. On
second thought, I should have done that as well!!!
When it comes to filmmaking,
you have worked in pretty much every position there is, of course director
and writer, but also editor, cinematographer and even composer. What do
you prefer, what could you do without?
course I love writing and directing, but you can't exactly apply for
those jobs in the real world. I love editing, you can sit in a dark room
all by yourself and formulate a story for yourself or a client. Some
people say the movie is made in editing and I tend to agree to an
extent. I also love composing, creating music is one of the best
feelings for me I have ever experienced.
position I cannot stand is production assistant! I PA'ed on so many
people's movies and even on a hit crime procedural show here in New York
and it sucks. You spend 14 hours a day doing other people's shit and
taking shit! Don't get me wrong it's good experience, and everyone
interested in filmmaking should do it, it's a good opportunity to learn
every position on set, but also it eats up a lot of your time! It's a
Coen Brothers, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ingmar Bergman, Oliver Stone, Francis Ford
Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Lloyd Kaufman, Jim Van Bebber, Carl Theodor
Dreyer, Bob Fosse, Stanley Kubrick. I know, it's a very crazy, diverse
Your favourite movies?
The Silence of the Lambs, The Toxic
Avenger, Class of Nuke 'Em High, Repo
Natural Born Killers, Goodfellas, The Rocky Horror Picture Show...
and of course, films you really deplore?
the changes made to the original Star Wars movies, especially the
Blu Ray releases and I can't stand the Star Wars prequels.
Vader should never scream NOOOOOOOOOOO! EVER. Especially in Return of
film's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you are dying to tell us that I have merely forgotten to ask?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
just want to say thank you to Lemmy from Motörhead for letting us use
the song Outlaw from their latest album The World is Yours.
It was a dream come true for me to have Lemmy's music in Mr. Bricks!
he gave it to us for free! How cool is that? Lemmy and Lloyd Kaufman
have been good friends since the old school Troma
days, and Lemmy made
cameos in Tromeo &
Juliet, Terror Firmer, and Citizen Toxie. As
well as a cameo in a hermaphrodite PSA starring Trey Parker and Matt
Stone. He also let Troma
use his song Sacrifice in Tromeo
& Juliet. Thanks again Lemmy!
am also working on musical project called Death Comes in Threes, with
Tony Enz who did the singing voice for Mr. Bricks. You can check it out
but not least, I am working on some horror/comedy ebooks coming soon!
One is called Animatronic Al and the
Massacre at Chubby Cheez it's about a Chucky Cheese-like animatronic
mouse that comes to life and takes revenge after some thugs murder
children at his restaurant! And another ebook is called Hugo Hatchet about
a crazy killer who takes revenge on his high school class years later
with his best pal and hatchet, Ed!
for the interview!
so much Michael!