Friday, November 4, 2016

DOG EAT DOG Paul Schrader, Matthew Wilder Premiere Interviews

                                     Paul Schrader being interviewed by Robert Mitchell

                                              Screenwriter Matthew Wilder interview

Dog Eat Dog the new film by Paul Schrader (writer of Taxi Driver, Rolling Thunder, Raging Bull) had it's North American premiere at the 2016 Midnight Madness programme at the Toronto International Film Festival. Robert Mitchell was at the premiere and spoke with Mr. Schrader and screenwriter Matthew Wilder who adapted Edward Bunker's book for the screen. Here are those interviews.

Monday, October 31, 2016


                                                    Interviewing Vengeful Spirit Sadako

                                               Interviewing Vengeful Spirit Kayako

Robert Aaron Mitchell was on the red carpet at the closing night of the 2016 Midnight Madness programme for the film Sadako vs Kayako and somehow communicated with the vengeful spirits who arrived for the premiere. Here is those interviews!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Jason Blum & Steven Schneider Insidious Interview

This the forth in the ongoing series, Meeting the Producers of Midnight Madness 2010.
By Robert Aaron Mitchell

                                                                    Jason Blum 

                                                                     Steven Schneider

When the news broke that the producing team behind the hugely successful Paranormal Activity and the writing and directing team of hugely influential genre film Saw were teaming up to work on Insidious there was obvious excitement from the horror community. These heavyweights of genre cinema decided their partnership together would be best suited outside of the studio system in order to best help James Wan bring his vision to the big screen.

Let me introduce you to Jason Blum and Steven Schneider, part of the producing team behind Insidious.

Jason Blum opened Blumhouse Productions in the fall of 2000. Throughout his career, he has cultivated a reputation as a tireless advocate of independent film, and as a skilled producer adept at securing compelling new material and cutting-edge talent and forging deep relationships with studio executives, agents, writers, directors and actors. Since opening his own company, Blum has produced six feature films that demonstrate his unique taste and creative sensibilities. With keen business savvy, and a sharp eye for art house fare, he is constantly striving to expand the Blumhouse Productions slate of films.

Could you talk about how and why you formed your production company Blumhouse Productions?

Jason Blum WHY -I loved making movies and one of my dreams in life was always to have a single purpose company that does just that. HOW- I spent the first ten years of my career working for people who were very successful and I used that time to learn as much as I could always keeping in mind that eventually I wanted to work for myself.

Looking at your filmography you have recently become a producer in the past couple of years, how did you become a producer? What attracted you to the job?

Steven Schneider I grew up in New York City reading comic books and watching horror movies. After ten years (!) of grad school working on various degrees in philosophy and film theory, I found myself missing pop culture more and more. So I started writing and editing books on genre cinema - in particular horror movies from around the world. But to that point I'd still never thought about transitioning into film production once. Then, in 2002, Roy Lee (producer of The Ring, The Grudge, The Departed, etc.) reached out to me because he'd seen some of my books and wanted to know if I had any ideas for horror remakes. After this initial phone call, things immediately started clicking into place. My long-term girlfriend had already begun a successful acting career, and I just wasn't feeling excited about my dissertation work anymore. So later that year, Katheryn and I made the move to Hollywood, and I've been producing full-time ever since.

I've read that you are a strong advocate for independent film. What draws you to producing projects outside of the studio system?

Jason Blum I like making movies for studios and independently equally as much but the two jobs are entirely different. Making studio movies the Producer for the most part answers to the studio first and goes from there. Independent movies allow the producer only to help the director realize his vision without any other factors. Both are fun complicated jobs.

What attracted you to producing Insidious? How difficult was the financing of the project?

Steven Schneider On the heels of Paranormal Activity's success last year, my partners on that movie (Jason Blum and Oren Peli) and I entered into a slate deal with Alliance Films. (The head of Alliance, Charles Layton, had previously worked with Jason at Miramax for years, so they already had a good relationship.) The basic idea of the Alliance "Haunted Movies" slate is to make a number of very scary horror movies on very low budgets; and to work with amazing filmmakers who are excited to trade bells & whistles for creative freedom. As for Insidious, James Wan and I sat down after Paranormal came out, and as soon as he pitched me the idea, I was in. Loved the concept, loved James' vision for it, and couldn't wait to get started. Fortunately Jason and Oren agreed, and Alliance was totally supportive. Insidious is the first Haunted Movies production, and the Paranormal Activity-Saw combination is lethal!

What for you are some of the keys to making a package to present to investors and/studio executives?

Jason Blum There are only 4: Script Director Cast Budget If your budget is low enough and you script, cast, actors are compelling even now there is money out there to make your movies.

What unique challenges did you face in bringing Insidious to the screen?

Steven Schneider I think everyone involved would agree that the biggest challenge with Insidious was just making sure we could help enable James and Leigh (Whannell) achieve their amazing, ambitious vision for the movie given the relatively miniscule (by Hollywood standards) budget. But with the help of an incredible, passionate crew of true professionals - including Albert Cho, Aaron Sims, John Leonetti, Jeanette Brill, Rick Osako, Annie McCarthy, Jennifer and Tom Spence, Kristin Burke, and all of our wonderful actors (Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye and many others) - we were fortunately able to achieve it. At least we think we have - you tell us after the premiere!

Originally appeared 09/12/10 Midnight Madness Blog

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