I've always had a strong desire to be a storyteller in one form or another. Growing up, since as young as I can remember, I would often draw stories accompanied by dialogue similar somewhat to a comic book. Once I realized I could not draw and my grammar and story structure were improving, I soon concentrated solely on writing. I had always been fascinated with films, often watching my favorites on VHS over and over again. But it wasn't until high school when I finally decided I would pursue filmmaking, figuring that was the most effective medium for telling a story. Four months following my high school graduation, I enrolled at Full Sail University to study film. I chose that particular school because I agreed with their set-up of teaching all aspects of working a film set, as opposed to majoring in just say writing or directing. There I worked on as many final projects as I could manage in order to network and learn from those completing the program. Once my class shot our last short films, I felt ready enough to shoot a number of my own shorts outside of class. Not much happened with the short films, a few awards here and there, but my primary goal was to learn as much as I could about directing and learn my strengths and weaknesses to improve them. And in that sense, I accomplished what I set out to do.
Q: Why make a horror movie?
I have always been a fan of horror films. Especially the ones that incorporate comedy into them. Those ones always seemed the most fun to make. Peter Jackson's Bad Taste and Dead Alive were very big influences on this film. While in school, I researched as much as I could about becoming a professional director and although I found no precise, fail-safe way to do so, I was finding that a good way to start was by making a low-budget horror film. Once the idea for The Man Who Collected Food developed, I was overjoyed. I had found my low-budget comedy-horror movie.
Q: What prompted the idea for THE MAN WHO COLLECTED FOOD? It's a really weird premise...
This goes back to my film school days as well. As I mentioned earlier, I volunteered on many different projects as a production assistant. On one specific shoot, I was assigned the position of crafty and sat in the kitchen making sure water was cold, snacks were out, etc. And since I was the sole person back there, I was surrounded by nothing but food. It was then I noticed a certain food product, a box of noodles, that had the word "Signature" placed under the company's name. I questioned why this was the "signature" edition and if there even was a non-signature one available. As I later found out, there's no such thing as non-signature edition, but it did not matter as the idea for The Man Who Collected Food had already begun to form. What if somebody actually collected food? There always seems to be new, different, or an updated version of practically every food product out there. It would make perfect sense for this to be a hobby of someone. And having been a collector of various things throughout my own life, I knew I had something I could really expand upon. With that said, I realized the importance of keeping your beloved collection in mint condition, unopened. Of course there's a problem with that, as our collector would not be able to achieve both the needs of staying alive and keeping his food collection in mint condition. Once cannibalism became the only viable way for him, I knew this idea was something I really wished to pursue.
Q: I like that Miguel's neighbors are as strange as him. How did you go about casting the movie?
The neighbors are really something. Edward, my assistant editor, had an interesting thought, saying Miguel's neighbors really make Miguel seem normal. From what I gathered at the few showings we have had thus far, people really love Kelvin. Casting took place all in Michigan. I posted on Craigslist, Mandy, etc. I also came into contact with multiple talent agencies in Michigan who were very helpful in sending me actors suited for the film's characters.
Q: I thought it odd that his name is pronounced Mig-oo-el, not how it's pronounced in Spanish. Was this just to add to the strangeness of the character?
That is actually a happy accident, in my opinion. True, pronouncing his name Mig-oo-el adds strangeness to the character, as many people auditioning pointed out, but Miguel was a name I found when I was much younger, about five or six. I had only seen it in print and when I did, Mig-oo-el is how I thought it was pronounced. Fascinated, I always knew I would keep the name in mind for when I created a character that warranted it. I had a good laugh when halfway through writing the script, it finally dawned on me that this was in fact, the Spanish name Miguel. Absolutely devastated, and now aware why I never met a person named Mig-oo-el, I wasn't sure whether to change it or not. As you'll see in the film, my adolescent pronunciation remains intact.
Q: The special effects were great, very 80's-ish, which I liked.
For the film, I really wanted to go for that effect. All the special effects were done on set, as I wished to stay from CGI completely. I am proud to say we accomplished that goal and I think it definitely made the experience more fun and real on set as well as in the film. Roger White did an extraordinary job.
Q: How was it to write, direct and produce the feature? Which aspect do you enjoy the most?
It's quite the process. The script took about two years to write, from getting the idea onto paper to making it into something worthwhile. I do enjoy the writing process a lot, especially the beginning of it all once you acquire that new idea. As for the production itself, it was a lot of fun. The actual production of a film is always my favorite stage. I believe it's because of the unpredictability of it all. I especially love working with actors and trying to get the best out of them so I imagine that's definitely a great part of it right there. There are not too many feelings that can compare to being onset, working out the scene, and finally getting it right, obtaining that feeling that a certain take is the one that will be projected onscreen. I was very fortunate to have the cast and crew that I had. Everyone had this remarkable skill, professionalism and incredible creativity that they were able to bring to the production and it definitely help make the shoot run smoothly and create a film that I am very proud of. I found the role of the producer to be my least favorite part of it though, and I hope to find a producer for future films.
Q: What was the most difficult aspect of making the film?
For me, I think it's the letting go of the film. Meaning, while you are putting the final touches on the edit and finally realizing that you have a final cut. I remember watching the potential final cut endlessly, always looking for that one thing I might have missed. Is every single cut we made the best it can be? Does everything make sense? Does it flow as it should? It can be very tedious as you are constantly questioning every little thing. And of course, you realize at this point in the film's journey, you know it from the inside out and it's very hard to view with "fresh eyes."
Q: What's happening with the movie now?
Right now the film is looking for the best outlet for distribution. There's that, and awaiting the verdict on various horror film festivals across the country and a few internationally. However, we have received our official selection notification for the Chicago Horror Film Festival taking place in September. The Man Who Collected Food is scheduled to play on Sunday, September 26 at 5:30 PM. The venue is the Portage Theatre in Chicago. Anyone interested in finding out where it will be playing next and when it will be available to purchase, can check out the website at www.themanwhocollectedfood.com or join the fan page on facebook.