Monday, 15 July 2019

Interview with filmmaker Joe Leone

Straight-Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival will be screening Blood Falls

*How did you get into making films?
(Said in the voice of Sophia from “The Golden Girls”) 
Picture it, Brooklyn , 2017…  As a screenwriter with nearly 2 dozen features written at the time, a wave of frustration was pummelling me, as one option agreement after the next ran out and nothing got produced. So I said, “F it. I’m a producer now. We’re shooting a found footage feature - who’s coming with me??” 

*What inspired you to make your movie?
As Blood Falls is ostensibly about witchcraft, people always ask me about my involvement in the occult. It’s...minimal. What the film is actually about is what happens to your psyche when you are compelled to engage in the same behaviour each and every day. The repetition and monotony of a 9-5 office job can slowly drive some people insane. When the main character, Ren, accidentally reads a spell, she gets stuck in a never-ending nightmare, and is being controlled by forces that she can’t comprehend. This is what the daily grind, or any oppressive activity or relationship can feel like… The “man” just steering you ahead, as you try to make sense of a tortuous, fatalistic world. 

*How has your style evolved?
Our first film, Parched, was a charmingly silly POV-style horror comedy. Next, we went a lot bigger, with the narrative Reap, which features a top notch DP and experienced crew and cast - it’s a true horror movie. Blood Falls deviates from both of these, as it’s not a precisely linear story; we were trying to evoke a wide variety of emotions in our audience. It’s often surreal, and even jumps back in history to the Salem Witch trials at one point. Then, I shot a tragic lesbian vampire love story, the short film Invite Only - which explores themes of prejudice and acceptance. And now, we’re shooting the sequel to Parched - so I guess I’ve come full circle! 

*Tell us any strange or funny stories while making the film?
The house we shot in was built in the late 1700’s. It sure as heck felt like it was haunted for real. Creaking steps and odd nighttime noises had the whole cast on edge, much to my delight. As we slept there, on location, we really felt transported back in time, right around to when ‘witches’ were being persecuted in this country… 

Also, one of the leads, Ariel Fray, essentially has a zoo of pets. We used her dog Bane as the character "Lox." He was phenomenal - so don't believe that old adage that it's hard to work with animals :)

*The Misrule Film Movement & Pink8 manifesto bring what to mind?
The Misrule movement seems like something I am always inadvertently invoking as I make films, as I have zero training and simply learn as I go! 
And Pink8 is the past tense of what happens after you ingest cotton candy. What a great sensation. 

*What can we expect from your next film?
Technically our next film to be released will be Reap. Everyone involved is champing at the bit to see it, as the editing process has been very involved, and as a result, quite slow. It’s got an almost 80’s slasher-meets-Final Destination vibe to it, with some heady motifs regarding relative morality. Some knockout performances bring it to another level, I firmly believe. It’s gonna be a fun one ;)