Monday, October 17, 2016


On Tuesday September 13, 2016 Morgan Spurlock's latest documentary RATS premiered at the Midnight Madness programme at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Robert was on the red carpet and spoke with Morgan about the film which Mr. Spurlock has described as a "horror documentary" Robert also spoke exterminator Ed Sheehan who has been in pest control for over fifty years. Here are those interviews. It was RATASTIC!


Monday, October 10, 2016

HEADSHOT: World Premiere Interviews with Directors Kimo Stamboel & Timo Tjahjanto

                          Timo Tjahjanto, Kimo Stamboel interviewed by Robert A. Mitchell

Headshot the new film from Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto aka The "Mo" Brothers premiered Setember 9th, 2016 at the midnight madness programme at the Toronto International Film Festival. Robert was at the premiere and spoke with Kimo and Timo about their latest film.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

FREE FIRE World Premiere Interview with Sharlto Copley

Ben Wheatley's latest film Free Fire was the opening night film at 2016 Midnight Madness programme at the Toronto International Film Festival. Sharlto Copley spoke with Robert on the red carpet about the character "Vernon" and his subsequent return to Midnight Madness. Sharlto was at the 2015 edition for Hardcore Henry.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

MEMORY BOX: Interview with Director Writer Audrey Ewell

                                      Audrey Ewell                                  Aaron Aites

Memory Box is the third film directed and produced by the life and filmmaking partnership of Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites. (Until The Light Takes Us, 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film). In April Aaron passed away after a battle with cancer.

It was the most unbelievable privilege to share my life and work with Aaron for over 15 years. He never looked away from the darkness, but illuminated it so the rest of us could find our way a little more easily. Aaron’s passion for great and often obscure music, film, and art was contagious, and the world is a better place for his having been with us. Though he had much more to offer, he continues to shine a light in the darkness through his tremendous legacy of music, films, and the love he left behind.” -- Audrey Ewell.

I recently spoke with Audrey about her and Aaron's film Memory Box which recently premiered at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas.

Where did the idea for Memory Box come from?

I get a lot of ideas when I'm just about to fall asleep. Not ideas, really, more like images. I had this image of a woman smoking a cigarette outside of a factory. And then she's joined by a co-worker. And then of a man in his apartment, kitchen actually, at his computer. And from there I sort of imagined how they were linked, and I had this whole idea around this facility where actors would recreate memories or fantasies, and the sorts of weird interactions they might have with the customers. And what sort of rules there would be.
What themes did you want to explore in the film?

There's a lot in there around the way relationships are negotiated, and the difficulty in being honest, with yourself and with others. I also wanted to look at a relationship where traditional gender roles might be inverted, and how that might add difficulty. We're so inundated with cultural tropes, and they make it harder to be honest about what we want, as individuals. For both men and women. Especially when sex is involved, because it's so personal and there's shame and all these other weird identity things around sex that make it hard to be honest about.

I really liked the visual atheistic of the film. How did you come to find the visual language of the piece?

We wanted it to have a slightly futuristic feeling, which we got with Eric Lin's impeccable cinematography and our locations and design, but then at the same time I wanted to reference traditional norms, so we did that a bit with our costuming. I didn't want it to feel "costumey" though, so we tried to keep it quite subtle. I gave our costume designer, Evren Catlin, reference images that were based on 70's Italian fashion.

Part of that, honestly, was just my own nod to director Michelangelo Antonioni. You can't make films like him anymore, they don't ever work when people try, and it wasn't our intention to try. But there are actually little nods all over the film like that, to directors who have influenced Aaron and me. Just as Isabelle is inundated by all these images of mediated female sexuality, we've also been influenced by the images and the films and media we've seen. So the film is literally peppered with references and nods to filmmakers we love. Which, probably, no one will pick up on, and that's 100% fine and expected. There was just this aspect of where we finally got to make a narrative - which we'd been wanting to do for years - so it felt right to pay subtle homage to the filmmakers who had fostered that love of film in us.

Memory Box was originally envisioned as a feature length narrative film. How difficult was it to tell this story in the even more concise structure of a short film?

The short came first, it was envisioned as a proof-of-concept for a feature that we hadn't written yet, and then we were working on the feature afterward. The idea was to introduce the world, concept, characters and conflict, and see if there was interest in making a feature that expanded on all of it. There was, but then life and death had other plans.

Making the documentaries Until The Light Takes Us and 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film how did those experiences prepare you to tell a narrative story?

I think having something like 500 movies in our library prepared us for that more than anything. But filmmaking in any form does teach you some of the nuts and bolts of how to work with cast/subjects and crew, etc. 99% was a crazy project where we were flying by the seat of our pants and trying to wrangle and stay on top of a project with 100 filmmakers all over the country, so that was just about putting in the hours, about 100 hours a week for almost a year. That film was about endurance. Until The Light Takes Us was a very crafted film, where we did really extensive research and went in with a 50 page treatment, and then made that film. So while it wasn't scripted, there was a story - really a theme - that we wanted to explore through juxtaposition of two timelines, and that was a very constructed film.
In this film you work with Mackenzie Davis, Louis Cancelmi and Shane Carruth what did they bring to this story?

Just: work with smart people. When you choose smart collaborators, every single one of them will bring something. They were all delightful to work with. Though it was interesting when we had a pair who didn't work in the same way, i.e. one might like to rehearse where the other doesn't. This was our first film as narrative directors, so it was a tremendous learning experience.
What do you wish audiences to take away from the film?

I hope they're intrigued by the world, characters and ideas. And I hope the end is interesting and maybe challenges their expectations a little bit. It's also a film that reveals more on repeat viewings, so I hope they'll like it enough to want to watch it 2 or 3 times. I've been told by a lot of people that they catch a lot more with each viewing.

But Since Aaron died, I do not intend to make this feature version any longer. I'm working on another film now, one that he felt really strongly about making, and one that isn't so emotionally impossible for me. So Memory Box stands as a testament to his enormous potential and talent, and to our partnership, which should have been allowed to go on. But wasn't. This film isn't about us as a couple, but every relationship is hard. Ours was as well. But we loved each other, and loved working together. And I'm not going to make that feature without him. So I just hope audiences appreciate it as a window into this world, that now exists, and which they can build on as much or as little as they choose.
 If you wish to help with the costs of the release of this film you can visit the fundraising page HERE

Friday, September 30, 2016

FREE FIRE World Premiere Interview with Babou Ceesay

The 2016 Midnight Madness opening night film was the world premiere of Free Fire. The new film from Ben Wheatley. Robert was on the red carpet and spoke with actor Babou Ceesay about the film.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

THE FINAL GIRLS Premiere Interviews with Malin Akerman , Todd Strauss-Schulson & Taissa Farmiga

The closing film of Midnight Madness 2015 was the horror/comedy THE FINAL GIRLS. Robert spoke with Malin Ackerman, director Todd Strauss-Schulson and Taissa Farmiga about the film. Here is that video:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

MEET THE PRODUCERS: Interview with Larry Fessenden

Let me introduce you to legendary N.Y. producer Larry Fessenden, producer of Stake Land

Larry Fessenden may not be a name you instantly recognize but the name is one that has probably been involved in some of your favorite films. At this year's Midnight Madness alone Mr. Fessenden's reach is felt, from Ron Perlman that has worked numerous times with Mr Fessenden, from The Last Winter which was written and directed by Larry as well as I Sell The Dead which Mr. Fessenden not only produced with his company Glass Eye Pix but also acted in. If you were looking really close during Brad Anderson's Vanishing on 7th St, there was Larry on the big screen again, which brings me to Stake Land. Stake Land was also produced by Glass Eye Pix. He has over forty acting credits, has produced 35 films and has numerous directing credits for feature films, shorts and documentaries. In short. Mr. Fessenden is not only a remarkable talent but is truly a tireless advocate for independent cinema.

As others are talking about recession and economic downturns you and Glass Eye Pix seems to be thriving in the film world, how do you equate your success in remaining in business and producing quality work?

We were very fortunate to have had financial support throughout the recession of Dark Sky Films. The association began with Ti West’s THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL and that lead us to strike a deal to produce three more movies over the course of 18 months: BITTER FEAST, STAKE LAND and HYPOTHERMIA. And that was followed by another Ti West film, THE INNKEEPERS. So we’ve had a very good run of it with Dark Sky. In the 2000’s Glass Eye Pix invested in the careers of several filmmakers including Ti West, Graham Reznick, James McKenney, and Glenn McQuaid, as well as Kelly Reichardt and Ilya Chaiken, and the consistent model was to make films of artistic integrity at a very low budget. During more lucrative times we could get reimbursed for our efforts. It is our hope that in these lean years our model of frugality and originality will be attractive to new investors. It is important not to discount the sheer talent we have tapped in to. And I believe there is a tone throughout all the films from Glass Eye Pix that stands in marked contrast to the mainstream or even “indie” output and that is our brand.

How difficult was it to find the money to produce Stake Land? What challenges did you face that were unique to this film?

Stake Land was the most solid pitch we had for our slate of three movies with Dark Sky Films; it had the elements that looked good on paper: vampires, the post apocalyptic setting, and the director Jim Mickle had made a successful first film but still was hungry enough to go from no budget to low budget with gusto and conviction. So the film was financed easily, as part of an overall slate. The challenges were many from there. First, the script had to be reworked over several months to shape it into the feature it’s become, and then the epic scope of the story had to be fit into the budget. We determined to split the shoot into two parts, so we could experience on film the change in seasons. This was a gamble that paid off, but one that can stress a budget and crew and spook most financiers. As with all our films, we choose to emphasize post production: sound design, music, graphics, visual effects, the color correct and mix, all are an essential part of the experience we want to deliver, and again, the challenge is to strategize to get the most out of what is left of the budget after a grueling shoot. By using the same team of people in post-production on several films, we have been able to get a lot of bang for the buck.

What is something that you have learned as a producer that you wish you knew when you started out with your first feature Habit?

There is no one thing that has changed since I made HABIT in 1994. With HABIT, I established many of the principals that I still employ: A small crew (there were seven of us on HABIT), an open schedule (we shot over 45 days), and a long post-production emphasizing sound design and a rich, live score, all driven by a resourceful, single-minded auteur (which was me at the time). With HABIT, I endured a tsunami of festival and distribution rejections and so I released the film myself, compelling me to learn about marketing and exhibition. That experience taught me that there are no answers in show biz, there is only conviction. I have applied that to film after film with various degrees of success since, and it has helped several careers get started through Glass Eye Pix. Another thing I have learned since HABIT is I need my own producer to take care of the nuts and bolts of production. I may have a philosophical overview that drives the ship, but it was HABIT’s producer Dayton Taylor that got the film made, Jeff Levy-Hinte who got my subsequent films made, and now Peter Phok and Brent Kunkle have been instrumental in getting a slew of new pictures made. Collaboration in film at every level is essential.

Originally Appeared 9/17/10 Midnight Madness Blog