Monday, 8 June 2020

Interview with filmmaker Mike Messier

Blood! Sugar! Sid! Ace! will premier at the Straight-Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival

*How did you get into making films? 
In college, a buddy of mine named Jorge Lomastro had access to some nice cameras and a studio. We spent a year and a half making an 80 minute movie on no-budget. I had the original idea for the movie and starred in it and Jorge directed. We never wrote a script but we outlined scenes as we went along. The movie, titled Man In You - A Providence Love Story,  came out decent, it was rough and raw and had a "vibe" to it.  Most importantly were the lessons learned in making it and sticking through with it. 

*What inspired you to make your movie? 
Blood! Sugar! Sid! Ace! came to be when I realized I would have a small settlement coming to me after an accident (that was the other party's fault).  I was becoming increasingly frustrated after a number of years of trying to raise money to shoot a feature film script titled Wrestling with Sanity; no matter what I did, I was not getting any real traction with fundraising money for Wrestling With Sanity and it seemed like a dead end. So, I decided to back-burner Wrestling with Sanity and concentrate on writing a new, lower budget script. I  set up the logistics for the film knowing what we could afford to shoot on a small budget.  We started the process of casting and rehearsing before we had the settlement money in hand, and, luckily, the funds came in just in time for when we scheduled to shoot. 

*How has your style evolved? 
I've learned over the years that comedic pop culture references don't really stand the test of time. References to catchphrases , "current events", or "changing technologies" are sure to become outdated and "time stamp" whatever project they are included in. Dialogue is tricky because you want it to push the story forward while still being interesting to listen to. The risk though is that the dialogue becomes self indulgent and overshadows the action. So, it's a balance. Blood! Sugar! Sid! Ace! is an unapologetic arthouse film; we weren't looking to "entertain as many people as possible"  with this one but rather do something different that a small group would really like a lot. 

*Tell us any strange or funny stories while making the film? 
My co-producer/DP/Editor Tim Labonte had access to a "studio" (that was more of a warehouse) that we used to shoot the film in. Unfortunately, we did not realize that the studio's air conditioning would be too loud for us to run while we were actually running cameras. We also happened to be shooting during an unbelievably hot summer and the studio was really hot . We had to turn the AC off whenever running cameras and this led to a really uncomfortable temperature for everybody. But somehow we trudged through. Lawrence O' Leary who plays the central character of Sid! really has a ton of dialogue in this film.  To memorize his lines, Larry taped up all his words throughout his home so that he would see the words every day with every step. I remember visiting him and seeing all of my dialogue taped up in hand written notes plastered all over his house; the living room, the kitchen, even the bathroom. I appreciated his dedication and technique. 

*The Misrule Film Movement & Pink8 manifesto bring what to mind? 
The first and last tenants "film school is poison" and "answer to only one person - yourself" resonate the most with me.  Some of the other points like "the director must edit the film alone" aren't part of my own experience. I have always worked with Tim or another editor; I enjoy having a second set of eyes and, I'm just not a good editor, it's not in my skill set. Of course, any set of "rules" or "guidelines" are subject to being debated or disagreed with as soon as they are published. Ultimately, the independent filmmaker must make a film to please him or herself. As far as the "film school is poison" point, I have seen that in action. I have seen poor lessons, and poor professionalism,  being taught by poor teachers. I have also seen great lessons being taught by great teachers. It can go either way, really. I was an "Actor in Residence" at a film school for a few years and learned a lot from guys like Tom Kane, Barry Primus and Steve Fierberg. So those lessons were huge and those gentlemen became mentors that I have learned a lot from. For those that choose to go to film school, be careful. Your time is the most important resource any of us have. At this point, if you don't need or can afford the social interaction that is part of a physical campus, you can learn a lot from books on film and taking online classes. I would suggest the film classes on  For my own insights, I have a video online titled "How to produce a low budget, high quality short film" that anyone can watch for free from this link:
I also do some acting coaching. I tell the actors I work with, "YOU can LEARN Acting but I CAN'T teach you to be an Actor. Use me as a resource". Everyone must find their own way. 

*What can we expect from your next film? 
I'm finishing up "Messier Peace Theater Presents That Night." It's a six part series that follows me and a three actor cast as we go from rehearsal to a finished short film shoot. We deconstruct my own process of rehearsals with the Actors and a series of interviews with each Actor about their character.  The series can be seen here:
Beyond that, I recently moved to Florida, USA so I'm looking to start a new network of collaborators down here.