Thursday, December 19, 2019

A DECADE OF INTERVIEWS 2010 - 2019: Soldier Of Cinema Robert Aaron Mitchell

As the decade draws to a close I thought it would be cool to look back at a decade of interviews I have conducted. This is no small undertaking I have been fortunate to interview a lot of people over the past ten years. What follows is one interview for each year. This is not be exclusionary, I am thankful for every person I have met under the strange circumstances of meeting them for a few seconds and then asking questions as a video camera records. What follows are only from video interviews not the numerous email and phone interviews from the now soon to be past decade.

2010 STAKE LAND TIFF World Premiere

At the 2010 Midnight Madness program I spoke with Director Jim Mickle who has gone on to make several more feature films as well as Hap & Leonard featuring the beloved characters of Joe R. Lansdale, actor and writer Nick Damici and as well as genre legend Larry Fessenden who in the past decade has continued to produce and direct provocative genre films as well as co-produce and contribute to Tales Beyond The Pale a horror podcast in the spirit of 1930s radio dramas. Larry has also written horror video games Until Dawn and Man Of Medan. These interviews would wind up on the DVD and Blu-ray release of the movie.

2011 OFF! NXNE Music Festival
I was working with my good friend Ryan O'Shaughnessy and his Tune In TO website. I interviewed Keith Morris, Dimitri Coats, Steven Shane McDonald and Mario Rubalcaba the members of the punk group OFF! this was a huge thrill for me because Keith Morris was the first singer of Black Flag. I have always enjoyed running around doing interviews at music festivals, a completly different vibe than my usual film festival beat.

2012 THE LORDS OF SALEM TIFF World Premiere Interviews with Rob Zombie, Sheri Moon Zombie and actor Jeff Daniel Phillips. Doing world premiere red carpet interviews are very short usually not substantive affairs. I try to infuse something unique in this quick snippets of conversation. My research lead me to the fact that Rob Zombie was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts which is not far from Salem. I brought this up as an ice breaker and our quick conversation lead to Stanley Kubrick. At the moment I felt we were vibing one another the moment was over. It was also cool that the film was well received at Midnight Madness and holds up. 2013 R100 TIFF World Premiere with Hitoshi Matsumoto This was an extremly fun interview. It is always great to meet filmmakers from all over the world and it was a huge thrill to meet Mr. Matsumoto especially in this setting where red carpets are a rarity in Japan most filmmakers only do formal press conferences. It was also awesome that I was able to make the great comedic legend laugh. 2014 TUSK World Premiere Interview with Kevin Smith There was a lot of things swirling around this night behind the scenes. Time was running out and it looked as though I was not going to speak with Kevin Smith. I did and said it was great that he was back to making movies and he gave me a huge bear hug which has since been written about in a dissertation and published in a book. 2015 SLUMS THE CITIES OF TOMORROW The In Light Human Rights Film Festival I was the videographer for a new film festival that was created in the anthropology department at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Later in 2015 I would interview Sir Patrick Stewart at the Green Room premiere but I went with this conversation with professor Nicolas Reeves because I really enjoyed our conversation and the documentary is becoming more and more relevant as the wealth divide increases. 2016 THE BAD BATCH TIFF Premiere with Jason Momoa This is one of my most talked about interviews I have done and happen before already star Jason Momoa was launched into superstardom. It also features another bear hug. Guess I am a huggable guy! 2017 BODIED TIFF World Premiere with Dizaster This was the opening film this year and was great to research and learn more about the underground hip-hop battle scene. I had no idea that Toronto had such a vibrant scene. The film was very provacative and in your face so was battle rapper Dizaster. It was also another interview that ended in a hug! 2018 THE WIND TIFF World Premiere It is great to go into a movie not knowing anything about it. From an interview and research stand point though it makes an interview quite difficult. I really enjoyed these interviews at THE WIND Premiere with director Emma Tammi, writer Teresa Sutherland and actors Caitlin Gerard, Julia Goldani Telles The flow and ease of the interviews went really well and I was happy to support this film. 2019 FIRST LOVE Interview with Takashi Miike This was another year that featured some very cool interviews. The long awaited return of Richard Stanley and the few minutes with elusive Nicolas Cage, third time really was the charm this year but I went with my interview with legendary filmmaker Takashi Miike. In my film collection I probably have more films by him than any other filmmaker, in large part to how prolific he is. This would mark the second time I have interviewed Mr. Miike this time it was great that I could sit down with him for a longer interview. Interviews with a translator can always be difficult but I feel this interview flowed well. Honorable Mention SADAKO VS KAYAKO 2016 The photo on this post is from this premiere and one of my favorite photos my good friend Ian Goring has taken of me over the years. This was a really fun premiere and threw out the normal interview process out the window.

[REVIEW] CULT FILMMAKERS: 50 Movie Mavericks You Need To Know by Ian Haydn Smith

Ian Haydn Smith's new book Cult Filmmakers: 50 Movie Mavericks You Need To Know is a book well suited to the cinephile world of lists and discussions. Mr. Smith chronicles fifty filmmakers ranging form David Lynch to Ana Lily Amirpour to Abel Ferrara. I don't want to mention too many as part of the fun for me was turning the pages to see and read about the next filmmaker. The directors span over a hundred years of cinema.

"What makes a cult film, or characterizes its filmmaker as a cult figure?" Is the first line of Mr. Smith's introduction and the question is indeed the crux of the book. It is a pertinent question and the book shines as Mr. Smith gives us insights about his thought process to his answers. In this modern cinema era films are sometimes positioned and marketed as "cult" films. As the local movie theater is dominated more and more by giant blockbuster films by a handful of media companies it is also a nice reminder that in every decade filmmakers were and are operating outside of traditional systems. Directors throughout the decades are telling stories that are unique, weird, provocative, compelling, a reaction and a reflection of the generation they were created in and ultimately theirs.

Another aspect of Cult Filmmakers: 50 Movie Mavericks You Need To Know that is really outstanding and elevates the book are the beautiful illustrations by Kristelle Rodeia that accompany every filmmaker page. It's great to see what set piece or prop accompany the filmmaker.

As Ian Hayden Smith writes, "Rather than offering an authoritative guide through the rich history of cult filmmaking, this book aims to be another voice in the conversation about cult cinema." I surmise  this book will indeed begin and renew discussions and disagreements of what is a cult film and what makes one a cult filmmaker and will definitely stir passionate conversations of the filmmakers featured within and those not included. The book will also certainly bring delight as a reader looks back at well known directors, upcoming filmmakers and forgotten auteurs.

You can by Ian's book here

Sunday, December 8, 2019

[REVIEW] QUENTIN TARANTINO The Iconic Filmmaker And His Work by Ian Nathan

As the old adage goes, "One should not judge a book by it's cover" that went out the window when Ian Nathan's book on Quentin Tarantino arrived at my office. The book takes it's color scheme and font from Tarantino's Kill Bill complete with the image of Japanese steel from Okinawa. As if that wasn't stylish and striking enough the book also has a slip case. These stylistic choices are fitting for a book about one of the most stylistic directors to call out "action!" working today.

"I didn't go to film school, I went to films." - Quentin Tarantino

Anyone who has ever watched an interview with Tarantino can attest to, he talks in rapid fire encyclopedic cinema references with a lot of ego and is extremely quotable. Nathan's book excels at peppering the book with quotes. The above quote is the first sentences you read in the book and are located in the contents page. There are ten quotes in the contents page for the ten sections of the book and this cannot be a happenstance structure as it has long been mythologized that Quentin will craft ten films and retire from film making.

Speaking of mythology the first section in the book entitled Video Archives gets into the talking points about the Tarantino's beginnings. Nathan asks "Why is Quentin Quentin?" he then takes us on the journey from Tarantino's earliest years in Knoxville, Tennessee and the talk of his grandfather being a bootlegger to his growing up in the neighborhood of Torrance south of Los Angeles. As well as Tarantino's first jobs at the Pussycat Theater to Video Archives. The first chapter also details some of Tarantino's many cinematic and television influences.

Another standout chapter begins with another quote "I think of them as like old girlfriends..." and chronicles Natural Born Killers, True Romance, From Dusk Till Dawn. The trio of films that were written by Quentin. This trifecta of screenplays were originally written to be his first feature length effort film (My Best Friend's Birthday not withstanding and subsequently buried in the mythology surrounding Tarantino) Killers, Romance and Dusk help to cement Tarantino's place in early 1990s film and pop culture.

Ian Nathan's book is a glossy sprint through the films and influences of Quentin Tarantino. Film being a visual language Nathan and Tarantino's words are complimented with a beautiful collection of photographs from the Kobal archives throughout the book. Myself being married to an academic something else I very much appreciated is the fact that the many Tarantino quotes are backed by four pages of sources.

With Once Upon A Time In Hollywood arriving on home video as I write this Ian Nathan's book on Quentin Tarantino is a great look back for those of us who have fond memories of discovering Reservoir Dogs on VHS and have been anticipating new Tarantino films ever since. Quentin Tarantino The Iconic Filmmaker And His Work is also a great companion piece for film lovers who have discovered the films of Tarantino in the subsequent years.

You can buy Ian Nathan's book here.  

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Robert Aaron Mitchell Interviewed by Michael O'Keefe on Mystic & Severe CKCU 93 FM

Robert Aaron Mitchell interviews Anne Winters at the Mom & Dad world premiere Sept 2017 I was recently interviewed by Michael O'Keefe on his Mystic & Severe cinema radio program on CKCU 93 FM. We talked about my ten years of coverage from the Midnight Madness red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival. Some of my earliest horror movie memories.As well as my preparation for conducting interviews and some of my favorite Toronto International Film moments. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

COLOR OUT OF SPACE: Premiere Interviews Richard Stanley, Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson

                                 Richard Stanley speaks with Robert Aaron Mitchell

One of the most anticipated films of the 2019 Midnight Madness program at the Toronto International Film Festival was Color Out Of Space, the H.P. Lovecraft adaptation by Richard Stanley who also made his return to the program - Hardware premiered in Toronto in 1990.  Here are my world premiere interviews with Mr. Stanley, Nic Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Brendan Meyer and Elliot Knight.

Monday, September 23, 2019

FIRST LOVE Hatsukoi 初恋 Takashi Miike Interview 三池崇史インタビュー

                                           Robert Mitchell, Takashi Miike, Darryl Shaw

One of my highlights of covering the Midnight Madness program at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival was being able to interview master filmmaking Takashi Miike for a second time and this time I was able to sit down with him for a longer conversation.

It was also great to be able to talk to him about his latest film First Love of which he has said, "This film gives me a joy like returning to my home ground." Here is our interview:

Monday, August 19, 2019

NEKROTRONIC: World Premiere Interviews with Monica Bellucci, Caroline Ford, Tess Haubrich, Kiah Roache-Turner

                   Caroline Ford speaks with Robert Mitchell at the premiere of Nekrotronic

We all know that the longer one surfs the net the waves can take you into dark places. In Nekrotronic - the Roache-Turner brothers next film following their feature length debut Wyrmwood - Howard North discovers that there are literally demons in the the internet. A fight to save himself and the world ensues. The film defies genre classification. The Nerdist says this, "(Nekrotronic is) like if Tarantino's been watching Edgar Wright and Wachowski films and than made Ghostbusters."

Robert Mitchell was the world premiere at Midnight Madness at the Toronto International Film Festival and spoke with the lead actors and writers and director. Here are those interviews as well as the world premiere introduction and post-screening Q&A:

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

IN FABRIC Premiere Interviews Peter Strickland, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Gwendoline Christie

                                    Gwendoline Christie speaks with Robert Mitchell

In Fabric is the highly anticipated new film by Peter Strickland. Once again Mr. Strickland has crafted a beautiful, fully realized world focused around a department store and and the people who come into contact with a haunted dress. I spoke with Peter Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Gwendoline Christie at the Midnight Madness premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

THE WIND: World Premiere Interviews Emma Tammi, Teresa Sutherland, Caitlin Gerard, Julia Goldani Telles

     Director Emma Tammi speaks to Robert Mitchell at the World Premiere of The Wind

The Wind was one of my favorite films to premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival Midnight Madness programme. The film is takes place in the 1800s American frontier and is a haunting tale of solitude and madness that ultimately leads to horror. Director Emma Tammi masterfully combines all the elements of film making, sound design, cinematography, special effects that results in a pure cinematic experience. The Wind is rooted in a strong script by Teresa Sutherland. Caitlin Gerard delivers a strong and powerful performance as homesteader Elizabeth. I urge you to seek out this film which opens this weekend (April 5th, 2019) in theaters and video on demand. Here are my interviews from the world premiere.

Here is the complete world premiere introduction and post-screening Q&A

Monday, February 4, 2019

GEORGE A. ROMERO - The Toronto World Premiere & Welcome Ceremony Videos

Robert Mitchell with George A. Romero at Mr. Romero's welcome ceremony as a Canadian citizen. September 12th, 2009. The inscription on the memento of the occasion was written by me and reads: "In recognition of the Canadian citizenship of George A. Romero , his status as a Torontonian and his efforts to bridge understanding between the living and undead through the cinematic arts September 12, 2009"

Toronto was Mr. Romero's home in his final years. It was in Toronto he would make his final films and they would also have there world premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival during Midnight Madness. Here is a collection of videos I made from the world premieres of Diary of the Dead, Survival of the Dead and the welcome ceremony in honor of Mr. Romero's Canadian citizenship.  

Sunday, January 20, 2019

THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK Brian Geraghty, Happy Anderson, Gene Jones Interviews

                        Brian Geraghty being interviewed by Robert Aaron Mitchell

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek had it's world premiere at the Midnight Madness program at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. Robert Mitchell spoke with actors Brian Geraghty, Happy Anderson, Gene Jones about the Henry Dunham written and directed thriller which sees a neighborhood militia is shocked to discover that a recent mass shooting was apparently carried out by one of its own members. Here are the world premiere interviews and world premiere introduction and post-screening Q&A: