Someone's in the house. He's watching. He's creeping round, only you can't see him. He's watching you from the walls. He's right behind you now. Looking over your shoulder. He wants the remote control. He's a bad boy. He wants to watch bad movies. Bad bad Ronald...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

BadRonald Gets a Big Fan

I believe the quote was "... imBadRonald... love him, by the way..."

Yes!  I've made the big time -- a fan!!  Not jut any fan, either, but a fan who has, well... real fans!!  Loads of them.  Now, if I could get all my interview subjects to heap on the accolades...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

BadRonald Reviews: Zombie Girl: The Movie (2009)

I Was a 12 Year-Old Zombie Filmmaker!

Wow!  What a surprise this was.  Not only is this documentary -- about a twelve year old filmmaker who makes her very own feature length film -- good, but the actual film that the 12 year-old "Zombie Girl" made (Pathogen a zombie epic -- included on the DVD), is really quite fantastic.

You may have heard the name Emily Hagin lately.  She's the 18 year-old who just recently signed a distribution deal with MPI for her film My Sucky Teen Romance -- which had just premiered at the SXSW Festival.  This is remarkable, seeing that Hagin may very well be the first teenager to get a film released on the major market, but even more remarkable is that MSTR is Hagin's third feature length film.  She's a veteran filmmaker, and she hasn't even hit college! 

Emily first hit the national pop culture scene as the subject of Zombie Girl: The Movie, a 2009 documentary that chronicled Emily's first foray into feature length filmmaking, from the first day of shooting, to the premiere screening of her completed movie at the Alamo Drafthouse.  While so many star-crossed preteens dream of being the next Miley or Taylor or Mrs. Beiber, Emily Hagin finds her influences and inspiration somewhere outside the standard pop realm. She got the movie bug when she was very young, making her own short movies by the age of ten. 

Then, in 2003, inspiration struck at Harry Knowles Butt-Numb-a-Thon 5.  Emily and her mom, Megan (her constant movie-going companion), attended the annual 24 hour movie marathon, with great anticipation for the Q&A with Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. But, it wasn't the iconic director's pearls of wisdom that kick-started Emily to make her big leap into the features.  Instead, the brainstorming sprang from some good ol' fashioned brain-eating.  One of the other flicks at the marathon was the Aussie comic zombie flick Undead, and it was there and then when Emily came up with her story idea. So, by the following year, she had a completed script, and at age twelve, she began shooting her first feature length film Pathogen.

Having been a part of the motion picture and video industry for numerous years, I've grown fond of the documentaries featuring filmmakers, especially the offbeat kind that feature the non-Hollywood folk or even the next door neighbor, like American Movie, Monster Road, Burden of Dreams...  I enjoy them because the featured filmmaker is someone who is fulfilling their own passion, and struggles to achieve their dreams or their vision.  Emily Hagin is certainly full of passion.  She lives and breathes cinema, and through most of her life, has endeavored to become the filmmaker she has dreamt of being.

You could easily argue that the young filmmakers of today have it fairly easy, with affordable video cameras, highly accessible editing software, and loads of inspiration.  But, the big roadblock here is -- vision.  There are piles of homemade backyard masterpieces, written/directed/edited by every Tom, Dakota and Hunter, made in a fevered pitch of Red Bull fueled hysteria.  And, believe it or not, they're mostly heaping loads of crap, copying, mimicking, or plain ripping-off the same movies, over and over.  I don't mean to say that these home movie mavericks aren't sincere in their passion.  They are!  They clearly love the movies so much, they wanna make every cult classic over again... with their own camera.
Focus focus focus

However, once you see Hagin in action, though fairly meek and mild, you see her passion, and her vision.  For a kid of twelve, she demonstrates an incredible amount of discipline in her work, visiting the sets of professional filmmakers, to study the process, and then, awkwardly maybe, applying them to her film.  She's like a real life Big -- a grown-up caught in a kid's body.  She converses with adults with ease, while struggling to connect to the rest of the kids her age.  Thank goodness for the adults in her life -- especially her Mom -- who guided her, and influenced her to explore and grow creatively.

Bloody Momma
Like I said, Hagin's actual film Pathogen is a fairly fantastic film.  Compared to so many other backyard films, it outshines them with competent direction and finely crafted characters and dialogue.  No, it's not the best of the year quality, but for the first time out, it's very well done.

I'm now looking forward to seeing Hagin's latest My Sucky Teen Romance -- her satire on the vampire craze, lead off by the Twilight series.  I hope it bites!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl -- Why Are You Not Watching This!!

A Girl.  Her Bedroom.  Her Camera. A Ghost.


There are some things in our pop culture lives that we come across, quite by accident, which just make you wonder -- how could I not have known about this before?  Sorta like the original The Office.  Never watched it on BBC America.  Then I heard about it and had to hunt down the DVDs.  Loved it.  And now Ricky Gervais is the best thing that's happened to comedy since Tim Conway!!

So... when I discovered The Haunting of Sunshine Girl -- again, quite by accident (don't ask), I figured I'd better latch on to this one, 'cause it's gonna blow up!  Really... it's good stuff.

There's a crud load of pretty young things all over the Internets, vlogging their miseries and joys, and occasional guitar strummings -- thanks lonelygirl15!  And some of them have become quite famous -- no thanks Biebs!  As usual, much of the stuff is pure nose goblins.  So many people looking for stardom, and none of them with near enough talent to get on the local carpeting store's cable TV commercial.  But then, sometimes you run across something that sticks out.

Sunshine Girl (no real name given) is a 16 year old girl (now 17), who has decided to start a YouTube video blog, to try and convince her Mom, and everyone else who will listen, that she has ghosts in her house.  What follows is a list of video entries, totaling near 300 in a 10 month time frame, where Sunshine encounters a strange neighbor, Creepy Lady, who shows up unexpectedly with foreboding, eerie warnings; strange messages and photos of people with pillow cases over their heads; a Creepy Man who attacks her, while she investigates her estranged father's house; haunted house busting; and a cult-like sacrifice on a rainy, stormy night.
Who dat!

But, let's not jump the gun here!  This is no Blair Witch or Paranormal Activity.  This ain't no creepy, scare the skinnies off you type of ghost story.  It's really all quite unique.  And that can be attributed to two factors.  First, is show creator Nick Hagen (along with Sunshine's Mom) who has crafted an idea about a Gilmore Girls like mother and daughter, who are just so having some paranormal activity around their home unit. The show is primarily spun from the POV of Sunshine and her Flip-style phone.  And what is genius about it isn't all the ghostly activity, but rather the relaxed pacing.  It takes several episodes (all about 2.5 minutes in length, with some a bit longer) before we ever encounter anything remotely strange. And when Sunshine finally does share some of the activity with the viewers, it's all pretty much -- whatevs!  It's like, hey there, I'm Sunshine, blah blah blah... This is my life, and stuff, and oh yeah -- I have ghosts.

This is the second -- and key factor -- that Sunshine isn't your average TV show material.  Yes, she's wonderfully adorable and very cute -- but she's not the latte chugging fashion slave (or a booze guzzling teen mom in the making), who is boy bait for the all the floppy-haired high school Casanovas (or rather, Troy Boltons) who we find on every other teenage show.  No, Sunshine is holding to no one, but herself... and her Mom, who she adores.  She's an individual.  Strong, but flawed.  And with a mind of her own.  When she speaks to the camera (usually held at her own arm's length), she has a geeky, bubbly confidence, and a quick wit, that is endearing not just to the boys, but as well to the girls.  She's like the protagonist in a Judy Blume novel, or that friend of the kid in those 70s After School Specials, who the boy has a secret crush on, but will never tell her, because she has no real interest in anything but having a good time with her friends.  It's terribly refreshing to find a girl on a show that is just fine with who she is, with no need or desire to be defined by anyone else but herself (now, that's "girl power" for you Spice Girls!).

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is a gem of a show... and yeah -- it's a show.  Part of the experience of watching and enjoying Sunshine Girl is the wild response it gets from some viewers.  Like Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, and the many caught-on-tape shockers, it doesn't announce itself as a fictional piece of work.  It also doesn't announce that it's real, either.  And this, of course, is by design.  Part of the fun of these mockumentaries is the acceptance that they are not real, along with the giddy hidden desire that maybe, just maybe, they are!!  Hell, no one went and saw Avatar and came out all steaming mad, because it looked so damn real, but was all animated.  But, really, for a few good yucks, you should check out some of the, umm... non-fans of Sunshine Girl who work so diligently -- with blogs and other YouTube channels -- to "debunk" the fictional world of Sunshine.

I had the brilliant opportunity to sit and chat with Sunshine and her Mom, to have a behind-the-scenes look at their little show (that I predict will blow up soon enough!!)  We talk about ghosts, h8rs, Cheetos, and how to be a good role model...
Let the Sunshine in

BadRonald – I know there are still a few people out there who have not seen your show.  So, can you give them a tantalizing summery?

Mom – The way we usually explain it is Paranormal Activity meets Gilmore Girls, with a little Easy A thrown in.  It’s a girl who sets out to prove her house is haunted. And decides to record the videos and throw them up on YouTube, and low and behold, people are interested.

BR – You know, I admire how you guys paced the show.  You didn’t jump in, with the early episodes, with ghosts jumping out all over.  It’s like a regular teen girl blog, and “Oh, yeah… I have ghosts…”

Mom – Yeah, we rally wanted it to seem authentic, and very much like people would be watching a friend.  We didn’t want to complicate it.  We just wanted to keep it really simple, and that’s what are formula was.  Nothing about it has been accidental.  It’s all been very specific and on purpose.  We like to call it “unscripted fictional reality.”  It’s not scripted.  It’s all ad-libed.  There’s a story and plot lines, but Sunshine does not have (written) lines.

Sunshine – Nope… I make everything up.

BR – No dialogue is scripted?  It’s all you?

Sunshine – Yes.

Mom – Yup. (to Sunshine) You’re a genius!

She gives her a high-five. Then air-fives me.

Mom -- A Skype high-five!

BR—Ah!  Skype five.  Our timing is off so, I’m swatting at thin air.

Mom – It’s all good.

BR – So, the idea behind this all comes from the show’s creator, Nick Hagen.

Mom—Yes, Nick Hagen. The genius behind the curtain.

Sunshine – He’s Oz.

Mom – He is Oz.  And we were talking about this earlier, that he is totally cool with staying behind the scenes on this.  You know, doesn’t feel like he needs credit for everything.  Although, anyone who knows anything about the show, knows that… you now – it’s a show.  So, he likes to let it be that.

BR—Speaking of that it’s just a show (and not reality), some people have really gotten testy when they figure it out.

Mom—Little bit.

BR—Does that bother you – people who get mad when they discover that it’s fiction – but still need to debunk it?  Or do you see it as part of the whole thing?

Suddenly, Mom moves to the computer on another desk, and lets Sunshine take center stage. She taps away quickly on the keyboard, with Sunshine trying to peek over her shoulder.

Mom—I’m gonna let Sunshine handle that.  I actually have to delete something off the wall that somebody just said that’s… been posted (coincidentally) as we’re talking about this.
The Ghoulmore Girls

Sunshine— Yeah, it’s just part of it.  For me, it’s kinda like, I don’t get too invested in what people say about me, because they don’t know me as well – They think they do, but they don’t.

BR—It’s very easy to be brave and write nasty things – like call you fake – while safely under the anonymity of the Interwebs.

Sunshine— Exactly.

Mom—We actually filter the comments, so Sunshine doesn’t see the really nasty stuff.  She knows it’s out there, but you know – she’s seventeen.  Let’s let her be seventeen a little longer. And honesty, we were shocked that anybody really believed it was real. We understand that very early, like maybe in the first five or so videos… But, since unicorn levitated…?  Really?  Really?

They both have a chuckle at this.

Mom—We never set out for people to think that it was anything other than Paranormal Activity.  It’s the Blair Witch Project.  So, when people started getting really angry about it… You know, we didn’t put it out there that we were actors or any of that.  Nobody would have heard about Blair Witch if they had come out and said “This is just a story…”  So, when it came down to people saying “This is fake,” and “You suck,” “You’re all liars,” -- we say -- hey we’re actorsWe’re playing a part.

BR—So, as actors, what then is next for Sunshine Girl?

Mom—We have a ton of plans.  Halloween is going to be busy for us.  We have more channels. We just launched more channels.  We’ve got Uncle Tommy’s YouTube Confessions.

BR—I saw that.  Good stuff.

[Uncle Tommy is a recurring character from Haunting of Sunshine Girl, and friend of Mom and Sunshine]

Mom—Yeah, it turned out that people really loved Tommy.

Sunshine – I love Tommy!

Mom—We were like – yes! We were thrilled!  So we’ve got lots of big plans.  Maybe, taking Sunshine to new mediums.  Maybe see Sunshine in other forms… that’s all we’ll say about that.

BR—Oh, no secrets revealed to me?

Mom—Just a tease, there.
I hear something...

BR—How about you, Sunshine.  Would you, or are you, thinking of moving outside of Sunshine and maybe taking a try at other projects or possibilities?

Sunshine—College is next year, so that’s exciting.  But, with Sunshine, as far as that goes, we’re gonna keep going with that until people get tired of it.

Mom—“Til their sick of Sunshine.

Sunshine—Yeah, until they’re tired of me – which doesn’t seem to be anytime too soon, thankfully.

BR—And you’ve been at this for nearly a year?

Sunshine—This December it’ll be a year.

BR—So, you’ve got another whole year to do this, and then it’s off to College?


BR—A haunted college?  Are there any?

Sunshine—Yeah!  I’ll have to look into that.

Mom—The plan is to keep right on going.  If the audience is liking it, then we’re having a great time.  We love it.  We’re having so much fun.  We love working together.  We’re best friends.  We’re having a blast!

BR --What’s the schedule like on your show – shooting wise.  Do you come up with an idea, and shoot?  Or do you block off a bunch?

Mom – We usually go a couple times a month, and shoot somewhere between 15 to 30 episodes at a time.  It depends on how complicated the scenes are.  Like the sacrifice scene was all in one night.  Kind of a big production – we actually brought in rain towers.  We hired a special FX artist to come in – who was also the stunt guy -- that Sunshine hits with the car [In another episode].  We had a special FX makeup artist who came is, as well, to turn me into the demon.  That was not a mask, but makeup.

BR – Nice!  Real production value!

Sunshine – Yes.

Mom—And that’s where all the money goes to.  The money we get goes right back in, to pay for these people who are willing to come in and use their skills to make it all work.  You know, it’s not easy to get a guy to let your 17 year old daughter hit him with a car.

Sunshine – Yeah… Hadn’t even had my permit for a year.

Mom – Hey Jerry!  How’d you like to have my daughter, who hasn’t been driving yet for a year, hit you with a car?  You cool with that?  He’s like “yeah!”  And we’ll pay you for it!  “Yeah, wohoo!!”

BR – How many times did he get run over?

Mom -- Yeah. Exactly!  We’re really proud that we’ve been able to pay all of our actors and our crew.  That’s a big deal.  That’s where all of our money goes.  You know, people say it’s really cheesy, and over the top.  But, whatever it is – we’re trying to make a good webseries that breaks out and entertains people, and gets people to watch.  We’re not out to say, you know… ghosts are going to hurt you.  Or, that cults are “good.”  We’re not trying to lead any children astray. 

Sunshine – Well… maybe.

Mom – Yeah!  Sunshine was!

BR – That’s one of the qualities I like about Sunshine – that it’s generally good clean fun.

Mom – Yeah BadRonald!  High five!!  Yeah, we really try.  We try at making this as family-friendly as it can be, while still keeping it creepy.  You know… Sunshine here – she won’t even wear a tank top.  I’ve tried.

Sunshine – She does try…

Mom – You know, if I could get her in a bikini – I would!

Sunshine – She does… try…

BR – There was even a time, on one of the trip episodes, where an OMG slipped out.  And you called her on it.

Mom – Mhmm!  There’s a lot of people who watch the show, together, as a family.  And we love that!  We love that moms and daughters are sitting down to watch it together. 

BR – Do you, Sunshine, see yourself as a role model, at all?  I don’t mean that you set out to, or that you have established yourself as one.  But, do you accept the idea that you could be a role model?

Sunshine – Me!  I didn’t expect to be a role model.  But, then, this happens and I’m like “Yeah!  I’m okay with being a role model.”  I’ll be like Lady Ga-Ga.  I’ll be cool like that.  Yeah.

BR – Good.  It’s good to see that, in this market that’s saturated with all the Disney stuff, or Nickelodeon stuff, that you’re doing some good straight forward… you know… girl power stuff.

They both get a nice chuckle at that.

Mom – It’s been a happy accident.  And she’s become a good role model.  She’s brave, and she’s out-going, and she’s… different.  You know, what you see is this girl – Sunshine.  And it’s not fake.  The ghost?  Okay… okay, there’s no ghost in her house – you don’t have to print that if you don’t want to!  Actually – who knows!  There may be a ghost in our house.  There have been a couple EVPs that we did not put in.

Sunshine – It’s been weird, yeah…

Mom – Not gonna lie to ya.  Yeah!  So, it is actually very possible that house is haunted… But, the real people seem so drawn to (The Haunting of Sunshine Girl) is because Sunshine is so genuine.  The relationship that you see on the show is really the relationship that we have.  [Looking to Sunshine and joking]  You know, we’d look at each other and wonder why a camera crew isn’t always following us around!

Sunshine – All the time.

Mom – We’re hilarious!  We should have out own reality show.

Sunshine – We’re so funny, it’s ridiculous.

Mom – And modest.

Sunshine – Yes.  So humble.

Mom – Yeah, humble.  And you can see, we’re both so much alike.

BR – I’m seeing the Gilmore Girls.  You guys are fans?

They both nod their heads delightedly, and pump fists.

Mom – We love Gilmore Girls.  And Veronica Mars.

Sunshine – [sing songy] Veronica Maaaars!  For three. Short. Seasons!

Mom – Our two favorite comments we get a lot is that no mother and daughter has that relationship.  And we’re like, yeah, none.

Sunshine – Yeah… none.

Smile... Oh, uh nevermind
Mom – And the other is that – couldn’t you find actors that look more a like?

To this, they put their heads together to demonstrate the point.

Sunshine – Really.  My mother. 

Mom – I am.

Sunshine – She gave birth to me.

Mom – Yeah… painful, too!

Sunshine – Oh my god.  I wasn’t even that big.  I was 6 pounds.

Mom – But I didn’t have drugs, though.

Sunshine – Well, that’s not my fault you didn’t get there fast enough.  Jeez.

Mom – We tried.

BR – Yeah, see… you guys are so faking it.


BR – What shows do you like now?

Mom – [To Sunshine] Go!

Sunshine – Oh!  NCIS. Nikita. Project Runway.

Mom – That’s just her, because I don’t watch NCIS or  Nikita.

Sunshine – Nikita’s so good!

Mom – We like the new Pan Am.

Sunshine – Pan Am!!

BR – I agree!

Mom – We’re loving Pan Am. We’re still trying to catch up on Friday Night Lights.

Sunshine – We’re so behind.

Mom – We’re busy.  She’s busy.

BR – Chasing ghosts.

Sunshine – Yup.
Howdy Neighbor

BR – So… Cheetos or Cheez-its?

Sunshine – I’m gluten free.  So – Cheetos.  They’re made of corn.  So, Cheez-its, I can’t.  Made with gluten, so… and Cheese Nips – the off brand.  Same thing.  Can’t eat them.

BR – Forget Cheese Nips.  Cheez-its are the way to go.  How about Cheese Doodles?

Sunshine – I’ve never heard of those.  What are those?

Mom – That must be a NY thing.

Sunshine – Oh, NY… I want me some Cheese Doodles!

BR – So, you guys are not Horror fans, I understand?

Mom – No!!  Not the scary stuff!

Sunshine – I’ve watched one horror movie, and it scared the heck out of me.

BR – Just one!

Sunshine – Haunting in Connecticut. “There’s bodies in the wall!  There’s bodies in the wall!”

Mom – No, we don’t watch that stuff -- that scary stuff.

Sunshine – She didn’t even see it.

Mom – I didn’t even see it.  I saw Sixth Sense.  That was scary.

Sunshine – No it wasn’t.

Mom – Yes, it was!

Sunshine – Like, three seconds of it was scary.

Mom – No, it was scary.

Sunshine – I didn’t even finish it.

BR – Because you were scared.

Sunshine – Because I got bored.

Mom – You should’ve finished it. Yeah – really, we wouldn’t have watched our own show!

Sunshine – No!  No no.

BR – Okay -- one thing we don’t know abut you?

Sunshine – One thing you don’t know about me…?  Hmmm… [time killing sing song] I got nuthin’

BR – How about school – what’s you favorite class?

Sunshine – In school, now?  Or favorite class I’ve ever taken?

BR – Ever taken.

Sunshine – Human Biology.

Mom --  Isn’t she weird?

Sunshine – It was so good!  It was amazing. I loved that class.

BR – Did you have to do frogs or anything like that?

Sunshine – We did a sheep’s heart… A cow’s eye…

BR – Wha!

Sunshine – Yeah, it was really gross.  We had to take apart all these animal parts.  We did a cat…

BR – Cat brain?

Sunshine – Yes, I think that might’ve been what it was.  I don’t remember, but  loved that class.
Such a nice lad...

BR – How about Literature.  You like reading?

Sunshine – Love reading.  Reading is super fun.

BR – What books?

Sunshine – Hmm… you see this is where – I like scary books!  I like mysteries, and stories that twist and turn.  Not necessarily like death and gore, but… yeah, I have a huge bookcase full of all my books.

BR – You’re a Jane Austin fan, right?  Is she your favorite?

Sunshine – The movie Pride and Prejudice is my favorite.  But, I love Neil Gaiman.  He’s my favorite author.  He’s amazing.  Probably, Neverwhere is my favorite book.

BR – So, how many viewers does the Haunting of Sunshine Girl have now?

Mom – Over 11,000 subscribers.  And, we also have a lot of viewers who don’t subscribe, but watch.  It’s funny with that, because we think there may be sort of a secret shame for watching the show.  We kinda think there’s a bunch a people who watch, but don’t tell, you know, their friends.  Especially boys.

Sunshine – Yeah…

Mom – Oh, and speaking of boys… we’ve had a lot of trouble with boys hating Nolan [One of the newer teen characters, who helps Sunshine and Mom with some of the mystery and intrigue]. Boys of all age.

Sunshine – Adult men!

Mom – Yeah, so many will say “He sucks…”  When the word they’re really looking for is jealous!  The girls love him, though.

BR – Safe to say, there’ll be more of Nolan.

Mom – Yes, more Nolan.  Also, more Uncle Tommy.  We also have some great stuff coming up for Halloween.  On the 29th (of October), we’ll have a special live event.

Sunshine – I’m wearing a costume!!

BR – You gonna tell me what it is?

Sunshine – No!  You don’t get to see until you tune in.  Gotta tune in.

Mom --  October 29.  Noon PST to see Sunshine’s Halloween costume.  And…

Sunshine – And live Fan Appreciation Daaaay!

Mom – Sunshine will answer your questions – live.  And!  At the end, when she’s all tired and we log off, there will be a special... very creepy… scary video.

Sunshine – [Ghostly voice] Yup!

Mom – People will be able to write in their questions, whether it be via FaceBook, YouTube or Twitter.  And Sunshine will take the questions and record her answers… Like, Barny asks…

Sunshine – Barny asks, from Jimmiestown, NY – what’s your favorite cereal?  And I say --  whatever it is!

BR – What is it?

Sunshine – Oh!  Corn Chex.  I’m so lame…

BR – Chex Party Mix at Christmas?

Sunshine – Except you can’t eat Chex Mix, ‘cause half of it’s not even gluten free.  Pretzels.  Full of gluten.

BR – How about substituting with something, like bagel bits.  But no –

Sunshine – Yeah, bagel bits.  Gluten, too.  So hard being me.

Mom – I think you have the title of your blog post –

Sunshine – “Can’t Eat That Chex Mix.”

BR – Will there be any cross-over action with your other shows?

Sunshine – Well, two of the three are me, so the other is Uncle Tommy’s.

Mom – I’ve been on Uncle Tommy,  But, we have some stuff planned that we can’t talk about yet, with some other channels.  We’re starting to expand to outside of Sunshine’s universe, too.

BR – Now, Coat Tale Productions – was that previously established, or did that spring from Sunshine Girl?

Mom – When we decided that we were going to do more that Haunting of Sunshine Girl, Nick and I formed Coat Tale Productions.  The idea behind it was that we wanted to do this and bring along all our friends along with us.  Oregon film is a very tight knit group, and we have people who we love to work with.  The reason we have Creepy Lady in our videos is because we love the actress Adrianne, who plays her.

Sunshine – I love Adrianne!

Mom – Originally Nick wrote Creepy Lady as an old woman.  And I was like, “No  You know who’s creepy?  Adrianne.  Adrianne’s creepy.  Let’s put her in!”  Uncle Tommy is a great friend in our lives, so we waited until we could bring him in, in a way that would work and we could keep him around.  So, we saw Coat Tail Productions as more of a family thing.  We formed an LLC and we’re looking to produce in new media.

Sunshine – And… what about your seventeen year old?

Mom – My seventeen year old?

Sunshine – Your seventeen year old producer.  You forgot.

Mom – My seventeen year old is a producer, yes.  She’s the third part of out little production group.  She’s a producer – which is gonna come in handy when she’s applying for colleges.  It’s gonna be like, “Yeah… producer.  What’ve you done?”

BR – “World’s youngest producer – what’up?  What’ve you done?”

Mom – “Four million views on YouTube – ba-da-doosh!

Sunshine – [soto] “Ba-da-doosh?”

Mom – Yeah, this has been good for her.  She’s learning a ton.  She’s taken to it like a duck on water.  She’s incredibly, incredibly professional. When we were at the creepy house location, with the Creepy Man –

Sunshine – Not be confused with Creepy Lady.

Mom –  (At that location) it was the first time we had a crew, instead of just her and I and Nick. At one point, we were all sorta like goofing off, and we Sunshine here was like “C’mon, let’s get this shot!”  She’s totally in this, making creative decisions.  She helps with the casting.  She’s definitely the one who had final call on casting Maxwell as Nolan – which wasn’t easy, to try and cast a boy who was cute and could keep up with Sunshine –

Sunshine – It’s very hard keeping up with me.  I’m very riveting.

Mom – And could do the ad lib.  Which, is not that easy.  Oh!  And to hold the camera!!

Sunshine – Not easy… Sometimes you get half the face, and other times you can’t even hear them.  They forget that they had the camera, and suddenly [gesturing holding the camera at arm’s length] the hold it out and nobody's there.  No one’s in the shot.

Mom – It’s interesting bringing in other actors, because we’ve been doing this on our own for 8 months.

BR – Pros.

Sunshine – Yeah!

Mom – …At this style.

Sunshine – But, nothing else.  We can’t do anything else.

Mom – I’ve been acting since I was a year old.

Sunshine – I’ve been since I was six.

Mom – So… we’ve been doing this for a while.  She’s done a lot of modeling.

Sunshine – Foot model.

Mom – I’ve done a ton of voice over.  Stuff for Nintendo – I’m the voice of Princess Rosalina, for Mario Cart and Super Mario Galaxy 1&2.  Lot of film – What the Bleep Do We Know. Lots of local stuff – Oregon.

BR – Famous last words?

Mom – Thank you!  You’ve touched on stuff that a lot of other people don’t get to.  So… Please, everyone stick around for October 29th!! We’ve got some really cool surprises.

Sunshine – Thanks!  Tune in!!

So... go tune into the show at the YouTubes

And... as, Sunshine would sign off with -- blah!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

PopCereal's Movies That Made Me a Monster Kid #3: The Bad Seed (1956)

This was the movie that got me to be frightened of creepy little kids.  Heck, I was just a kid when I saw it, so the damage has been long standing.  It also gave me an appreciation for chilling movies that didn't dabble in th supernatural.  Little Rhoda Penmark (played superbly by Patty McCormack) was just what the title says -- a bad seed.  She didn't have the devil in her.  She wasn't swarmed by demons.  She was just the world's most insane little brat.

Some trivia:  The song that little Rhoda plays on the piano was the very first song I ever learned to play.  Us siblings would play the song with a blank stare in our eyes, to creep other people out.  It worked...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

PopCereal's Movies That Made Me A Monster Kid: #2: 13 Ghosts (1960)

This movie showed me the sweet sweet joys of being terrified.  Oddly enough, I watched this movie on a quiet, tranquil Sunday morning.  Sunday morning TV, when I was a kid, was very laid back.  We'd watch the local morning show, called Shhhhh, and then some Laurel & Hardy, and Davey & Goliath.  This one morning, for some reason, the wiseguys at the local TV station decided they'd put a creepy, ghost story on, for all the kiddies to watch, before their moms and dads got up for church.

I was mesmerized!

Until that cobwebbed covered ghost squished a victim in the killer canopy bed!!  The unique look of those ghosts was never really duplicated in other films -- I'm not sure why.  The corpse-like features and cobwebs, sometimes cloaked in the traditional clothe.  I thought they were creepy then, and still do!  The Zemeckis/Silver remake of 2001 was a fairly unfrightening, overindulgent, effects-laden attempt to bring horror into the big budget blockbuster world.  After seeing that flop, I was really wishing that Ghost # 7 would drop the dynamic producing duo into a hole filled with acid.  Sizzle!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

PopCereal's Movies That Made Me A Monster Kid: #1 The Tingler

The Tingler, no doubt, is my earliest movie memory.  I don't remember what age I was, probably 4 or 5.  However, I remember sitting there in front of the old Black&White, completely scared out of my trousers.  The most vivid memory is the scene with the deaf, mute girl in the tub (hot dog!), about to be attacked by the huge killer bug. 

You see, the premise -- as set up by Mr. William Castle in his preamble -- was that if you see the Tingler coming at you, you just scream, and that will chase it off.  Well, Miss Prettylady couldn't scream, so all she could do was leave me with the terrifying image of her and her gap-mouth silent scream!  Thanks lady!  Now naked ladies in tubs make me scared and silly willy.

This film was the very start of my life as a diehard horror fan.  And it also introduced me to my first favorite movie star -- Vincent Price.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

PEEPHOLE REVIEW: The Woman (2011)

You won't be scared by The Woman because it's shocking, you'll be frightened because it's true.

The Woman is one of those controversial films that either you love it or you hate it.  You love it because you get it. Because it speaks to you on a level that's above the usual horror fare.  You hate it because it scares you.  Because, not only does it scare you, but you get it, and the message is what scares you.  You hate it because it's a mirror that reflects back the things you don't want to think about.

And that's the reason why I think this movie works, because it throws back in our face the very things we try to avoid.  Because it makes me think and analyze my own thoughts and beliefs.  I'm always up for that challenge... but too many people aren't.  That's why they'll hate this movie.

In Lucky McKee's The Woman, the Cleek family of rural Maine, in first appearances, look to be your average, functional family, attending a local picnic. Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers), the head of the household, is a successful small town lawyer, overseeing his family as they mingle.  His wife Belle is the doting mom, keeping their children in check, and out of their daddy's hair.  Middle child, Brian (Zack Rand), practices his hoops, while keeping an interested eye on the girl who's getting teased by the other boys.  Oldest child, Peggy (Lauren Ashley Carter), hides herself from the boys, behind old paperback novels.  And little Darlin' (Shyla Molhusen) is full of innocent mischief.  They aren't the Cleaver Family, but in Chris' eyes, he's got it made.

At home, for the rest of the family, Daddy's ideal version of life isn't so wonderful.  Dad keeps Mom in check with the periodical backhand.  Brian's obsession with the perfect streak of foul shots is practiced out of fear that he'll lose an ongoing playground challenge with a girl.  And big sis Peggy's baggy clothes hide a secret from the outside world, but maybe not a secret in her own household.  The worst of it comes when Dad brings home a feral woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) that he's found running half-naked through the woods, and cheerily announces that her domestication will be the next family project.The Woman is chained and locked in the hurricane cellar, where each and every Cleek is administered their duties to care and tame her.

The subject of "civilizing" a woman isn't exactly new, but then again Chris Cleek ain't no 'enry 'iggins, and the Woman is loads more unsophisticated than Eliza Doolittle.  So, instead of linguistics and etiquette, Cleek utilizes more barbaric tools -- power hoses, shackles and chains, and rape.  Welcome to the age of enlightened man.  Not even the feral males of the Woman's former tribe (in the film's prequel Offspring) were this cruel... and they were barbarians.

The shocking part of this film is not the ultraviolent climax (which art house crowds will surely wince at it, while gore fans will howl with delight), but in the everyday violence that goes on "right next door."  Chris Cleek is not the serial killer monster, who stalks the city.  He's not the workmate that goes postal at the office.  He's just your neighbor... who happens to do bad things to his own blood an' kin.  These types, believe it or not, are far worse than the others, because their crimes are hidden, and go unpunished.  And worse, the scars they leave, the sad lessons they teach, run deep, and get passed on like a bad family heirloom.
Just you wait 'enry 'iggins, just you wait

The script by terror legend Jack Ketchum, and co-written by the film's director Lucky McKee, juxtaposes nuanced character build up and bravado moments of violence.  The characters aren't just loathsome, or simple victims, or mere enablers, they are -- as usual in Ketchum's works -- real people.  They may be doing unusual things. But, then again, they are caught up in unusual circumstances.  But, outside of the circumstances, the Cleek family is basically a real family.  No, they may not be like you and me, but that's not to say they don't exist.  We've all known people who spoke about women the way Chris Cleek physically handles them.  We've all known teenage girls who've hold deep dark secrets, like Peggy hides.  We've all either known, or known of, a family from out old hometown, who had some real weird shit going on behind closed doors.  A question that arises from viewing The Woman is: what'd you do about it?

I've known kids, from my own youth, who acted out like Brian Cleek, an impressionable son who tries so hard to follow his father's lessons.  Brian is certainly conflicted, but hell, it's his Dad!  Conflicted or not, he's got trust in him.  Then there are the hormones.  Conflicting feelings once again, as Brian tries to be a "man" like his Daddy.  He knows he shouldn't be in the storm cellar, alone with the Woman, so that's why he does it on the sly.  And it doesn't matter that he doesn't have a clue about what to do with any woman, let alone a feral one.  But that doesn't stop him from trying to be the "man."  Tell me these issues aren't the least bit familiar.  Daughter Peggy has the similar conflicts.  Her chore is to hold up a sheet while her daddy hoses down the feral woman, to prevent the neighbors or passers by from seeing the twisted bathing scene.  She breaks down, in tears, embarrassed and ashamed by her father's task of civilizing the Woman.  But, saddened and frightened as she is, she stays, and keeps her mouth shut.

Mother Belle is probably the most upsetting of the characters.  She sits (not stands) by as her husband fills her boy's head with the one sided view of the politics of the sexes, and subdues any ounce of self worth in her daughters.  The lack of urgency that she has towards the well being of her own children is just as horrifying as the physical and mental violence of her husband. Imagine, a mother who sits and sobs, but never raises a hand as her child is being harmed.  Well... you don't have to imagine it, just look in the papers.
I hate hate hate bath time!

This is what The Woman does best. On the surface, it's a terrific shock thriller, but underneath, it's an even greater dark satire.  All the faults and foibles in each character are familiar to us.  Chris Cleek's bloated sense of masculinity, and Brian's misconceptions of it.  Belle's complacency with being the submissive wife, for the good of the family, and her daughter Peggy's struggle with it.  Even Peggy's teacher, who fancies herself the heroine to her students, boldly, but misguidedly ventures to the Cleek ranch to take matters in to her own hands.  To this seeming impropriety, Chis Cleek  mimics what has become the credo of many parents around the USA -- "How dare you come into MY home and tell me how to run MY family."

This is the statement that rings out loud and clear.  We've all heard it.  We've probably spoken it a few times.  But, do we ever really mean it?  Or is it just a defense mechanism to get people to stop analyzing our own shortcomings?  It sure is easier to turn the blame on outside influences, rather than to take a hard look at oneself.  It's easier to say "Hey, I'm not getting involved -- it's their business, not mine," rather than stand up for what you know is right and good.  And this is what baffled me about the, now infamous, Sundance angry man.  He certainly appeared to be an open liberal minded person, defending the rights of women, and all.  But, ironically, he was attacking the filmmakers as if they were the ones perpetrating the vile acts of misogyny and pain that ran up on the screen.  He demanded the film be confiscated and never seen again, as if this film would somehow motivate males into becoming their own version of Chris or Brian Cleek.  I'd love to pawn this off on simply mistaking the author for the character, but that's too easy.  It goes deeper than that.  What I believe happened was that this man was severely affected by the satire of this film -- that societal complacency propagates these beliefs, that the male is superior over woman, nature and family -- that he had to deny it, by simply believing that he, himself, would never do those vile acts, so "Hey, you can't blame ME!"

Yes, it's easier to sponge away the writing, than to act upon the words.
Time for a family meeting

But, lest you think I justify my admiration for these kinds of films, that exploit the current fascination with sexual captivity and violence, because they serve up a dosage of nudity or sex, I have to tell you that you couldn't be more wrong.  Hostel, the remake of I Spit on Your Grave, and Captivity, et al, all provide ample opportunity to gaze at their actresses.  But, I wouldn't recommend any of those films, because to be honest, they lack the sincerity in their commentary of violence and women.  The filmmakers may express their good intentions, and critics may pull subtext from the cesspool of gore, but really, they're just crying wolf.  They didn't thin of anything but throwing some good ol' sex and blood up on the screen.

The Woman is surely a disturbing, and upsetting piece of film... but more importantly, it's honest and powerful. You won't be scared by The Woman because it's shocking, but you'll be frightened because it's true. It holds the mirror to the face of society, and dares it to take a good look at how we view women, masculinity, and our duty as a community.  It's not for the weak-minded, because, frankly, that's who this film satirizes.  The viewer should remember that this is only a film (only a film, only a film), and the reality of the play is really right next door. 

BadRonald Interview: The Woman Producer - Andrew van den Houten

Yesterday, I posted my interview with Pollyanna McIntosh, and today -- keeping with the The Woman build up -- I'm posting my interview with the film's producer Andrew van den Houten.  I've spoken to Andrew before, after he released Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door.  I was highly impressed with his views of producing and filmmaking.  I admired that he was able to bring such a controversial story to the screen, with a great sense of responsibility and honesty.  I'm glad to see that he's continued to tread down the path of bold filmmaking by releasing more thought-provoking films, such as The Woman.

BadRonald:    I remember you saying that you were in South America (is that correct?) reading a Ketchum book... what a weird experience that must've been.  Have you topped that on?

Andrew van den Houten:    I honestly haven't topped that experience...being sick with food poisoning reading THE GIRL NEXT DOOR for the first time will hopefully never be repeated!

BR:    You've produced, mostly.  But you've also directed.  What inspires you to take the lead as director?  And on the flipside, what makes you hand over the reigns to another director? 
AVDH    Stories that inspire me to (want to) direct and take the lead tend to connect with me in a more personal way.  Not to say I don't produce projects I'm not personally enthusiastic about, but there is just a deeper connection to those projects I end up directing.  Usually, I connect to creative material too based on where I am at in my life.  After The Girl Next Door, I wanted to direct something down and dirty with plenty of gore.  Offspring, based on Ketchum's novel, was the perfect '70's throwback to explore the themes I was trying to play with.  Also, it was great because Jack could have his first adaptation brought to the screen.

As a producer I always ask myself who will be the best director for any given project.  I have to be willing to put ego aside and make the best decision for the film.  The only way I've grown as a director is by working with more talented directors than myself.  I soak up what they teach me and use those techniques I like and leave the rest behind. 

BR:    After the relative success of The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum stories were sought after.  And in three years time THE LOST, OFFSPRING and RED were adapted for screen, with either you or Lucky McKee involved.  How did it happen, then, that the three of you all came together on The Woman?
AVDH    Lucky was introduced to me through Jack.  He asked if I wanted to do THE PASSENGER, which at the time I passed on.  A couple years later, as a fan of Lucky, I figured he'd be the perfect writer and director to work with myself and Jack to do the continuation of Offspring story, hence The Woman saga began!

BR:    There was a big brouhaha at Sundance over The Woman, with the infamous home video of the irate gentleman accusing the film of being negative towards women.  Can you talk about that incident, and have you heard nay more from that particular man?
AVDH:    First let me say, it seems that incident has made this film somewhat infamous.  No, Sundance Guy hasn't reached out to us ever since, however, I should thank him for all the publicity he has given the film.

In short, when the guy got up to protest Lucky and the film, everyone was a bit off guard.  Nobody saw it coming and it was especially strange because a woman had just past out in the back of the theatre at the end of the film.  This guy honestly was being very insensitive towards her and blatantly rude to Lucky and everyone who showed up to see the film.  He should have raised his hand and waited to be called on to express his feeling towards The Woman

As far as we all were concerned this guy could have been another dangerous lunatic, especially given the timing.  The GabrielleGifford's incident had just happened a few weeks before, so everyone was on high alert.   In the end, I guess you call it Karma...He hated the film and chose the wrong time to comment on the movie, and now people actually want to see if more because of his public outburst caught on video, now on youtube.

BR:    Has there been any other harsh words from viewers?  How is the film being received?
AVDH:    Actually, the film has been received incredibly well by critics and audiences alike.  We have won numerous awards at very prestigious festivals, including FrightFest in London.  Distributors have flocked to the film as well and we have closed many solid deals all over the world.  The film's controversy continues to stir people and get them to the theatre.  People seem to be intrigued by what they hear from critics and online in blogs and ultimately want to make their own judgements about our film. 

In the end, most people find The Woman to be much different than what they expect.  In many regards the film is feminist in what it says, which is incredibly rare for the genre.  People have found all kinds of representations in the movie, political and otherwise.  No matter how many times I've seen The Woman, it's still really exciting just to listen and watch how an audience responds from inside a dark theatre!

BR:    How did you become interested in making horror movies?
AVDH:    I've always been interested in just making films.  As a fan of horror, when William M. Miller sent me a horror script that later became developed into Headspace, I thought it would be a fun movie to make...that's how it all started.  One horror script led to more, however, since then I have also made a comedy, family movie and a drama.  I find all kinds of stories interesting but I will always have a passion for horror.

BR:    What or who are your influences?  Have you watched any of the so-called French Extremism horror?  Your films aren't as gory, or as overtly violent as these films, but they certainly share the same penchant for strong character development.  
AVDH:    I have many influences, including Roman Polanski, Martin Scorcese, and David Cronenberg.  I appreciate the way true filmmakers bring story, acting, set-design, lighting and photography all into one being.  Also, great filmmakers don't need to over emphasize what they are doing but use slight of hand.  Many times the most subtle sound or camera movement is more effective than the largest explosion Hollywood can produce.

As far as French Extremism goes, I haven't really looked to their films as an influence as much as I have Asian Extremism.  Filmmakers like Takashi Miike and Chan-wook Park have made stronger and more lasting impressions on me.

BR:    Now that you and Lucky and Jack are all hanging out in the cob-webbed, dank recesses of the darkness -- what's next for you guys?
AVDH:    Honestly, I see more to follow with The Woman storyline, especially since Jack and Lucky have left it in such a great place to continue.  I also very much would like to explore further to see what Lucky's next "dream project" might be.  Ever since May I've felt Lucky has not done something quite as personal.  That movie is special and he's got a really unique viewpoint on life that is shared through May.  I would love to see if inside the depths of his soul there's another masterpiece like that.  I would sign up in a heart beat to produce...After the creative freedom he had on The Woman, I would be confident in saying he might be down too.

The Countdown Has Started!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

BadRonald Interview: Pollyanna McIntosh from The Woman

Lucky McKee's The Woman will hit theaters this month, and I've had the opportunity to speak with some of the people involved in the controversial film (review to come!!).  First up The Woman herself, daringly played by Pollyanna McIntosh.  
I am Woman, hear me rrrrroooar

BAD RONALD:  I know it's a simple question, but I always like to know: what filmmakers, and what movies, have had the most influence on you? 

POLLYANNA MCINTOSH:  Sidney Lumet has had a profound effect on me with his films.  He showed me the kind of movies and characters I want to see on screen.  Dog Day Afternoon and Network are two of my faves and never fail to make me feel lucky to be human.  Rita Hayworth and Audrey Hepburn make me feel glad to be a woman and alive in my own body.  Almodovar cooks my blood up ‘til I feel it turn Spanish, Jackie Chan makes me wonder at the possibility of hard work plus passion and creative physicality, Patrice Le Conte makes everything bright and marvelous and all my complications feel absolutely as they should be....

BR:  How about Horror -- are you a fan?

PM:  I wouldn’t call myself a horror fan in the sense that I’m not a horror buff, nor is it the first genre I go to but I’m definitely learning more about how artful the genre can be, and The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby and IT DEFINITELY had a massive effect on me, The Omen too!  Such “real” horrors: Madness, mistrust, the fear of madness and exclusion from the world around you, fear itself and the inadequacy of childhood and fear of family!  Ha ha, plus a big scary ass clown which is something that’s kept me clear of large sidewalk drains ever since.  Oh God, I just had a vision!

BR:  Throughout film's history, Horror films have been able to make comments (or maybe more appropriately "get away with" making comments) on many social issues that mainstream or popular media cautiously glance over.  One of the predominant issues I've seen "discussed" in horror is, well... women.  Especially, male aggression towards women.  Where do you see The Woman in this discussion?
On set with Lucky and Pollyanna

PM:  I think The Woman is in the eye of the storm right now with regards to exactly what you say, I think people don’t like to face up to some of these issues and there are those that The Woman offends for this reason and those who value it for doing so.  Mainstream media would rather diffuse it by emasculating men in comedies or arm them with big ‘ole guns and have them kill each other while they rescue some poor defenseless woman.  Now, Lucky says he doesn’t do politics in his movies but to me he has made a feminist film precisely by being someone who judges women on the same level as men as he’s man enough to relate to them.

I hope that the film moves people and causes great discussions and further exploration of the subject but I don’t pretend it’s some high falutin’ intellectual cinema verite.  Lucky provokes, entertains and pushes boundaries without exploitation, with sensitivity and with great flare.  It can be enjoyed on many levels.

BR:  I find it interesting, if not unsettling, that people get up in arms, and become very vocal, when they see a movie like The Woman, or The Clockwork Orange, or I Spit on Your Grave.  They perceive the violence towards, or mistreatment of, women as the direct opinion and practice of the filmmaker.  They have a hard time with the concept that the characters, not the filmmaker, are the one who are brutal and misogynistic.  Because they see a woman being chained and hosed down, they want the MOVIE banished.  They don't advocate for the mistreatment of women in real life, but just in the movies.  Is that strange?

PH:  Amen Brother!

BR:  Making the rounds with this film, have you found the discussion of these issues to be healthy, or overheated? And as a point of curiosity, do you find the discussion different when you talk with men, as opposed to women?

PM:  You know, I’ve actually found the discussions at Q and As to be very healthy.  There are some sharp people out there who love to discuss this stuff and I’m grateful to be prt of something that’s shown me that every screening.  Apart from that one Sundance dude I’ve never had a shitty comment levelled at a QandA.  Both women and men discuss it but I’d say men have been more vocal on the whole.  The women like to come up and chat one on one about it.  I’ve had some pretty moving facebook messages too.

BR:  With such brutal behavior portrayed in this story, how did you prepare for your character -- the Woman? Did you have any reservations or trouble with the story's content?

PM:  I prepare as the character, I discuss the story as a conscientious person and actress with the filmmaker but my character doesn’t have to think about it so it doesn’t come into her prep.   Lucky and I swapped notes for 4 months previous to shooting and Ketchum and I know each other pretty well from Offspring so it was about how Lucky was going to bring stuff to life and we got the tricky stuff out the way early on.  We found we were very much on the same page creatively and it was pretty obvious he was sensitive and thoughtful from the get go.

As far as character prep went the book A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong was really helpful in the inner thoughts of what I was missing with the hunt and my judgement of the Cleeks for the way they went about their lives.  I also studied animals such as big cats, wolves and apes and feral stories. I also worked out like crazy and grew all my hair out.  Sitting Bull was also an inspiration and, of course, I had to spend a lot of time alone in the woods feeling out my “uncivilised” body and how it is to have a territory of your own, alone.
At Fright Fest

BR:  In (The Woman producer) Andrew van den Houten's film Offspring, you played the same character, but the commentary of that film is not the same as in The Woman.  How did you evolve the character, and your performance, to suit the film?

PM:  I just took her into a different situation and played off the other actors too.  It all felt very real.  Odd, what we do, and hard to describe, but for me it’s the most natural thing in the world.  I think the differences you see in the films are down to style and directors’ choices rather than mine.  For me, The Woman is The Woman and she is no more “arty” in a cellar than she is with her rabble of kids.  It’s just different filmmaking.

BR:  I recently spoke with Argentine director Adrian Garcia Bogliano about his films.  He, too, uses violence and brutality to demonstrate the ill treatment of women in society.  He said "I (talk) about the role models of the perfect woman that society tries to establish and I also tried to take women out of the victim role and put women as the worst enemy of women."   Some of his female characters, like in The Woman, aren't always admirable.  And I think that kind of direction in a film is important, because it doesn't lay the obvious blame on just the bad men in the movie, but puts it on anyone else who facilitates their behavior.  How do you see the portrayal of women in, not only your film, but in media?
And do you feel movies like The Woman can be used as a positive influence?

PM:  I definitely feel The Woman can be a positive influence.  The discussions I hear it sparking are important.  I was just at a screening in Edinburgh where a woman asked, “How did you feel, as far as your responsibility is concerned, about how all the male characters in the film are loathsome and despicable and not one redeems himself?  Did this seem unfair to you?”  I like that kinda chat as it shows issues of sex and blame are coming up from all angles and not just one of “women as victim”.  She and I talked it out a lot and there was much patience in the audience for these kind of discussions.  It’s not just women who are badly represented in the media but men too and one of the things I think is interesting about Lucky as a filmmaker is that he’s a feminist in the true sense of the word: he sees equality in the sexes, he feels sensitively in a way that only women are “supposed” to and he sees how ridiculous it is to consider one sex “better” or “more valid” than the other.  I feel that as women we are represented in the media in many negative ways which, funnily enough, feed into a societal power structure which favours the status quo of fear and consumerism which is so potent and helpful to “the man” as he stands in our present society.  We can change this as women, we can vote with our hard earned cash for starters and say, actually, no, I don’t want to go get that surgery done thanks and I don’t want to buy bitchy asshole magazines like “Us” and “StarFucker” or whatever the hell they’re called, I’m onto a bigger concept than that and am after a little more self respect.  I feel keenly that, for whatever reason, women often set themselves up against other women and find some sick comfort in putting them down.  We need to really think about our actions across the board and ask what we want then go out and get it in a manner in which we see fit to be treated ourselves.

Not the technique Rex Harrison would use
BR:  In Bogliano's films, the female characters/performers are sometimes sexualized.  Not with just nudity, but also with behavior.  For me, this does not discount the message of the film.  In fact, if done genuinely, it flies in the face of the ugly notion that if someone is sexual, they deserve what they get. Admittedly, some movies are guilty of overusing or abusing their actresses willingness to "bare all" while making the statement within the film (for example, the original I Spit on Your Grave danced perilously close to titillation, at times) .  But, in your film, your performance was arguably about "rawness."  The Woman was stripped down to nothing -- an allegory for rebirth, maybe?  How did you come to make the decisions you made on your performance?

PM:  It was pretty visceral for me. I felt a lot upon reading the script and had long conversations with Lucky about his vision and mine and, brilliantly for me, it turned out we had very close ideas.  It was important to me the rape scene particularly was not eroticised nor shot in a panicky, excitable way but more bare bones, cut the bullshit, what is rape about and how would this character handle it kind of way. Let’s not give all the power to the abuser and suggest that it’s a crime that’s one a person can’t recover from.  The reason rape can destroy a person has a lot to do with our societal view that there is blame for the victim and that they are in some way “tainted” or “lesser” because they have been raped.  Well, I saw this as an opportunity to say “fuck that” to that idea.  I’m not changing the world but I do think it’s a fresher approach than most films take with this kind of scene and for Lucky, as me, it was very important that Cleek took on more shame from the situation than The Woman did.

McKee, Pollyanna, Andrew van den Houten
BR:  Your character was speechless throughout, and you did a wild job at using your face and body language to portray your thoughts.  How did you come upon that now iconic, penetrating stare?  It really does send chills!  I'd actually have run the other way, had I found you bathing in the woods!

PM:  Ha ha, thanks!  I studied animals a lot and had my character’s inner thoughts down so it came naturally.  I like to tell people it’s a very constructive exercise to spend a bit of time finding your animal self.  You can take on the world that way!

BR:  I would imagine that producers and filmmakers would take note of your gutsy performance.  Have you found that The Woman has notched up your career? (What's next for you?)

PM:  Thanks.  It has been helpful in getting my work out there to a wider audience including some filmmakers who have approached me.  It’s a pleasure to have people giving me props for what I love to do but in truth it just challenges me to do better work.  I’m working on a movie right now called Love Eternal by Brendan Muldowney.  Very different kind of movie.  A dark romance I like to say.  It’s not definable in a genre really but I’m proud of what we’re doing and hope it comes across in the edit.

BR:  I thank you, Pollyanna! 

 Thanks mate, pleasure.

Read the review.