Jonja.net had the privilege to spend a few minutes with Mike P. Nelson
and Troy McCall, Producers/Directors for Random Creatureface Films, just moments before the Horrorfest screening of their release, 'Summer School'."Tell me about yourselves and your production company."TM ~
"I'm Troy McCall
. I'm Director of Photography for the film, and I actually directed a sequence of the film, the Nazi sequence, and I acted as Henry in the Hillbilly sequence... and I gaffed the whole movie as well. And, uh, Mike can explain the whole process."MN ~
"Yeah, the film is called SUMMER SCHOOL
, and our company is called Random Creatureface Films
. Random Creatureface Films was started by two guys and myself, Ben Trandem
and Lance Hendrickson
(not to be confused with Lance Henriksen), and we started the company just to sort of... we started doing short films and decided, you know... we wanted to tie together... we all are interested in the same kind of stuff, and we really want to just form the company and make our first feature together. And we knew that we wanted to make a horror, so what we did was, this being kind of like the start off, like, the poster boy for our company, we wanted to take a couple of different directors, people that we went to school with, that we went to film school with, that we knew were really talented people that knew their film stuff... that we really wanted to work with. Troy was one of them. Another was Steve Rhoden and we said 'hey, we're making a movie that we want five people to direct and five people to write.' But we wanted to have one character arc, you know, one plot line all the way through. We don't want it to be an anthology."
"And so what we did was we base it on a nightmare type sequence about this kid who has stayed up all night watching 'B' horror films, and then he goes to his first day of summer school. When he gets there, nobody's there. So he decides to take a little nap...and from then on the terror ensues... and he finds himself in all these predicaments related to movies he watched the night, or a couple nights before."
"So you have varied exploitation genres. You have Nazism. You have cult. You have vampires, hillbillies, monsters... a little bit of romance. You have a great slasher sequence in there, and so... it was really... this is really our first big attempt and so, yeah... that's the point where the party started. And we're just going from there. Like I said this is kind of our poster boy feature and we're kind of working from there, and make the next one and keep going."
"Hey, we're not necessarily focused on just making horror. This being our first start we still... horror will always be a part of our company, and who we are as people. At least for Ben, Lance and myself. But with the filmmaking, there's definitely a lot of... a lot of films that we want to, kind of focus in on, you know like anime and action genres, you know, war... comedy... so, we like to keep our options open! We're just going to keep going with it, you know what I mean, and just keep representing the company and... keep it independent until something strikes."
"Troy and I each... we have some small option companies that we do. But Random Creatureface, it's sort of... it's nice because it pools together a lot of people who do like to do other things, into a horror genre and make this, you know... this kind of a different film. A film that hasn't really... an idea that really hasn't been touched on.""Where do you call home?"TM ~
"Minnesota. Minneapolis, Minnesota.""Is this your first Starfest?"MN ~
"Yeah. It's great! We had a connection through Dread Central.com
which is a horror website, and we had some connections on there... and they recommended us to Starfest... Kathy (Josey)... you know, 'Hey, there's a film called Summer School, you gotta see it!'. We sent them out a copy, they said we want you guys out here. They've treated us really nice out here... we've got a great liason. You know, they've made sure we're fed. They made sure that we got extension cables, tables, anything we need... and it's been such a great experience.""What do you enjoy doing when you're not in front of/behind the camera?"TM ~
"Personally, me, I like... I... besides film..., when it comes to film I'm more of a visual guy, like shooting, lighting, being a cinematographer and studying all that. The art of, you know, the art and craft of cinematography. The look and the movement of film. The visual storytelling part of it."MN ~
"Yeah, but outside of film, though..."TM ~
"Outside of film... right. But what got me to that was painting. I was a fine art painter. Painted landscapes, stuff like that. It kind of led me to the love of movies but...you know... writing, reading, greek literature.""Where did you attend school?MN ~
"Troy and I both went to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design so, uh..."TM ~
"We both applied to the American Film Institute. And, uh, hopefully... we find out soon what's going to happen with that."MN ~
"I'ts great because one thing that... I like working with Troy... is we both have, like Troy said... Troy's really into the cinematography aspect, like..."TM ~
"He's like, one person I met in college that, you know, we have this relationship where we don't have to say anything. We know... we can talk without even saying anything. On the last set working together, we collaborated on a film called... well, I'll say it now, we just made a film called 'An American Classic'. It's a short film, kind of a dark, pulpy Americana kind of thing. It was an amazing experience. Again, the working ethic with that was, just..."MN ~
"It's like connecting two LEGO's. A cinematograper and a director, so it's like we understand what each other is like... he understands what I'm directing, I understand what he's shooting, so we get the language, we get the lingo, we understand what's going on, and I think it really just melts together. We both like very similar things when it comes to filmmaking and we just have very similar stylistic choices.""Will 'An American Classic' be released for the public in the near future?"MN ~
"Well, with 'American Classic' we hope to be hitting festivals with it. That's really our focus. It's really a promotional piece for us. It's to show... lookit, this is what we can do! Mike Nelson - director, Troy McCall - producer, cinematographer. And we wrote it as well, so it's like... you know... these guys can make a film. That's really what it's trying to say.""Who are some of your influences or inspirations?"TM ~
"Jesus, my influences? Well, I would have to say Stanley Kubrick of course. Everybody probably says that but, I mean, as far as cinematographers like... recently, you know... when people first start watching movies the don't really focus on the credits, but when I went to film school I started to pay more attention to who made it and who's behind it. Kubrick to me is like... he's the kind of guy who, you know, had money and the studio, but he was making movies that were more like personal films and not like, you know... 'Okay, I'm gonna make this because I'm gonna be rich and I'm gonna be famous and I'm gonna make all this money and I'm gonna release it and it's gonna be a great success.', he was making personal films, independent, as a business, market it and get it out there and have people enjoy it."
"And that's what I love about it. That's what I want to do. I want to produce my own film, find the bucks to make it, tell a great story and go out on the road with it."MN ~
"I grew up a Spielberg child. I mean, all of the Indiana Jones movies being such a huge influence. A favorite film being American Graffiti and just the way George Lucas told that story. It's quite amazing. In terms of what's going on today, I do... there's a Tarentino influence. Overall, I would say directors from the 1970's. Warren Beatty, William Friedkin, some of those guys that, you know, they knew that they had to make movies. And they just went out and did it. And they got recognized. Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson. I mean, those guys were huge influences just by the fact that they were just like us at one point. Just trying to get movies made."TM ~
"It's the same f****n' ballpark! It's the same s**t! Them trying to make 'Easy Rider' then, is no different than us right here now, trying to do this."MN ~
"Bert Schneider and Bob Rafaelson, putting together their own little company, BBS, and just saying, 'Yeah, we wanna make great films, lets pull in some great filmmakers', I don't see Random Creatureface as anything different than that. It's exciting to feel that you're shooting for something similar, because you know if those guys can do it, we can frikkin' do it! So it's cool."
You can read the 'Jonja.net' review of the film 'Summer School' here
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