I Just Want Some Extra Time and Your...
Apocalypse Kiss!Potent Media. Check out the list of projects, and then peruse the names on the cast lists. Pretty impressive for a production team whose film's budgets wouldn't even foot the Starfucks coffee bill from The Walking Dead.
|Carmela aka Roxsy Tyler|
Potent founder Christian Jude Grillo (aka Mr. Potent) impressed us with his shocking and titillating feature Deer Crossing (check it out at Netflix and RedBox), and certainly got a few panties all bunched up with its "controversial" content. And now he's back, along with his wife and business partner Carmela Hayslett -- also known as the familiar BadRonald favorite Roxy Tyler -- to deliver a steamy SciFi laser thriller Apocalypse Kiss.
|Christian lights it up|
Christian and Carmela were good enough to sit down and take some questions about their new film, and also chat about the state of indie film, in general. Enjoy...
BadRonald: Apocalypse Kiss looks to be leaning a lot more towards Science Fiction. What inspired you to step away from the horror/thriller stuff?
Carmela Hayslett: Christian writes films that are meant to be dramas, really. He never means for them to be pegged as "horror" movies but his tone is quite horrific from a reality stand point. I would actually be really curious if he wrote something that was meant to be a horror movie. I'm glad he went the Sci-fi route with this one though. I know it's a genre he's most passionate about.
Mr.Potent: After doing Deer Crossing and Booley I felt the desire to challenge myself as a film maker. I'm not the type of person who finds a niche and stays in it. That would completely bore the hell out of me. I have always loved Dark Science fiction. Alien, Event Horizon, Dark City, Time Bandits, etc... Doing a film of this nature at the budgets we work with creates an enormous challenge. How do you create a whole world with a set design budget less then $2K. It is this challenge that drives me as a film maker and an artist. I am a true believer in the school of thought that imagination out-ways budget 10 to 1. I think Apocalypse Kiss will prove that.
|All Star Cast|
Give us a quick little storyline of the movie.
Carmela: Government security agent Jerry Hipple has been unsuccessfully tracking the city's most infamous criminal The Red Harvest Killer. When two nomadic lovers, Katia and Gladys enter the city the death count rises and are being credited as Red Harvest killings. Obsessive compulsive Adrian, the actual Red Harvest Killer becomes furious that the sexy serial killing duo are grabbing media attention under his alias. Not only does Adrian attempt to reclaim his rightful reputation but he also decides to cleverly aid his detective counterpart through the case. All the while, killers and victims alike are unaware the world is about to reach an abrupt catastrophic ending.
The trailer has a very Doctor Who feel to it -- staying in budget with more intimate sets. But also has a Blade Runner feel with the action. How did you guys come up with the set designs?
|No. The pumpkin mask doesn't come in 'til here|
Mr. Potent: Carmela, My daughter Katie and I are all huge fans of Doctor Who. But there are three major influences in the set design and the entire backdrop of Apocalypse Kiss. Hardware: A low budget Sci-Fi from Director Richard Stanley. This film is fucking amazing and is truly my biggest influence on Apocalypse Kiss. From the lighting to the pre-apocalyptic environment to the dark satire to the style of production.I loved the esthetics of Blade Runner, (The big world feel) and the old school Noir detective story within it. I wanted to do this even though we had hardly any money. The sets for Katia and Gladys are what I consider trashy New York life 1975.
|It's about to get hot in here|
Mr. Potent: The most difficult part is getting passed the agent. If the agent feels it's worth while offer, then you can start the dance from there.
You have used the social crowd-funding sources to an extent. But you get your financing through the traditional avenues, correct?
|Carmela and Tammy Sizzle|
Carmela: I dress up as Roxsy Tyler and ask for money.
What are your thoughts on the millionaire filmmakers who have been flocking to the crowd funding sites, and taking the share of the pie from the filmmakers who don't have the other avenues -- or bank accounts -- of these 1%-er filmmakers?
Carmela: I'd like to know how they raised money before they became millionaire filmmakers and why aren't they doing that now? Part of me thinks it shows the same passion the underdogs have for making their films. Another part of me thinks very differently. Those filmmakers are capitalizing on their past success while real independent filmmakers are on there trying to make their success. People like us have to do it the hard way. We always had to do it the hard way. If these millionaire filmmakers wanted to keep making movies why didn't they think about that when they were making money? Christian tells me all the time that if he ever gets rich... he's making more movies with that money. Screw any chances of having a mansion someday he just wants to make more movies.
Mr. Potent: As far as the big timers using crowd funding... more power to them. If you can get funded to make your films by multiple donations you eliminate so many stress factors. You don't have to worry about the movie making money, no one has a contract to sue you with and you don't have to pay it back. I would totally fund an entire film with it if I had the celebrity leverage to do so.
|Okay, I know I left my coffee around here, somewhere|
Carmela, I enjoyed what you did with the supporting role in Deer Crossing. What inspired you to take a lead on this new film? And Christian -- what are your thoughts on her stepping up?
Carmela: When we were filming Deer Crossing I told Chris I aspire one day to play a lesbian or a serial killer. Before I knew it he pooped out this awesome script featuring me as a serial-killing lesbian. The next step was being ready for it. I was ready for it before he even started casting.
Mr. Potent: This role was Carmela's idea from day one. (Like she said) after Deer Crossing she told me that she would love to play a lesbian serial killer. Of course I took major interest in this idea. (We had just watched GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and ) I love Noomi Rapice! Carmela, like Noomi, is a petite little porcelain faced girl who can exploit a sinister presence. I knew she had it in her. I modeled her character Katia after this idea. It's actually what set off the complete exploitative side of the film.
|The Stuff Hits the Fan|
What were the good and not so good aspects of having your spouse direct/act for you?
Carmela: I probably drive Christian crazy when we work together because we're both artistic and any two artists will bump heads. The fact that we're married doesn't really register when we're on set or while we're doing post-production work. He doesn't treat me any different than he does the other actors. It's all business. I like having someone that I can collaborate with and be creative with all the time.
Mr. Potent: Good side... I shot some hot scenes of my wife dominating Tammy. Bad side... I had to say "cut".
|Bring the Troma|
Carmela: I was more excited than I was nervous about it. I took six months to prepare for my role as Katia. I didn't take on any other projects at the time because I was so committed to Apocalypse Kiss. I took acting lessons, Tammy and I rehearsed well before the movie even went into production... there was just so much I did to prepare for the role. I would ask my friends who are actors to meet with me and critique my reads... I learned sign language. I had a coach who taught me how to sign the lines I had in the script but I went well beyond the script and started trying to learn ASL full-time. I also learned a lot about deaf culture to the point where Christian had to make some revisions to the script. I even went as far as putting ear plugs in my ears while we were filming. I really couldn't hear anything. That way I would react accordingly and have no choice but to read people's lips.
|Getting the Mood Right|
The role also looks (old man term alert!) racy. Was there any hesitation from either of you? Or is it another day on the set?
Carmela: I never did anything like this before so I was nervous but I never once hesitated. I'm glad I did it and I would do it again. I think the experience helped me really grow as an actress.
Tammy Jean looks to do an impressive job. Where did you find her, and how was it working with her?
Carmela: Tammy Jean was an absolute joy to work with. She took the role seriously but she was also very fun to be around. I never worked this close with another woman before. I was a little worried about it because of some of the things we had to do together in this film. After a couple of times of meeting and rehearsing with Tammy my nervousness was gone. She's just so easy to work with.
Mr. Potent: We have known Tammy for a couple years. She is related to one of my good friends Christopher McMullin who is also an actor in the film.
Who would be your dream catch, to play a role in one of your films?
Mr. Potent: I have always wanted to work with Paul Rubens.
Carmela: I want to work with Michael Keaton in the worse way. Come on, he was Batman! That would be a nice full-circle sort of thing for me.
|The Power Couple. Like Bill and Hillary... Only Better|
You've had some negative reaction to the nudity and gore in Deer Crossing (from the a-hole RedBox crowd, right?). I don't see your films as gratuitous, but more along the exploitation line. To me there's a difference. There's a commentary that goes with exploitation that is left out of the more gratuitous films, even if it's not fully realized. It's all in what the story has to tell -- and your films have some good character development going. What are both of your thoughts on sex/nudity and gore in film, and how do you see it in your own work?
Carmela: I actually wrote a Redbox review saying that Deer Crossing didn't have enough sex and violence (true story). I mean, it really didn't. Christian never intended for it to either. People were more bothered by what they thought they saw. By my standards as a horror fan the film was actually very tame. The fact that it got such a reaction despite showing so little is a real statement. Christian disgusted thousands of people with not his visuals but with his writing. That's a great compliment to his abilities for story-telling. I don't have sex and nudity in anything I write... at least not yet. As far as sex/nudity/gore in general-- it is what it is. Gore is fun to look at and sex/nudity is a part of nature. You can pretend you're not naked under your clothes and that you don't have sex but it's more than likely not true. Why shouldn't that stuff be in movies?
Mr. Potent: I feel most accomplished when someone either loves or hates my movie. I never want a mediocre reaction. Luke warm sucks. I guess by now it's very obvious that I am a Writer/Director who wreaks of exploitation. I want people to feel something... get something... from my films. I want a reaction. I feel most comfortable when my audience is uncomfortable. Gore... sex... who the hell cares. You can do both and make them boring. I had the biggest backlash on REDBOX for the "Extreme sexual content" in Deer Crossing. There is only one short scene with nudity in it. The scenes that piss everyone off the most... show nothing. It's all up to the viewer's imagination.
Apocalypse Kiss is looking to be really awesome. How soon can we expect to see this.
Mr. Potent: Coming April 8, on DVD and streaming sites across the Internet.
What's next for the Potent Gang?
Check out the IndieGoGo campaign for Sugar Skull Girls!
Check out the red band trailer (NSFW), and look for the DVD release, coming soon!!!