Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Interview with filmmaker Ray Robison

Vampire Cap will premier at the Straight-Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival

*How did you get into making films?  
Right out of high school I went to art school. I was just 18 years old and spending 6 to 9 hours every week drawing and painting nude models. I remember being very nervous about it at first but quickly it just became something I did as a part of my creative routine. Toward the end of my second term a friend from high school came to visit and he told me of the program he was in at another college that included photography, television and film.  As soon as he mentioned film I knew that was what I wanted to do. It would be the medium which would replace my pencils and paints. I felt that it was a much more powerful medium and way to communicate to others. So I transferred schools and enrolled in the film program. It would be over 20 years after I graduated before I would finally start making the films that I wanted to make. 

*What inspired you to make your movie? 
I knew I was going to be furloughed from my job for a couple months so I scheduled surgery with the idea that I would spend the furlough time recovering. But a month before the fulough was to begin I was prescribed a new drug that eliminated my need for the surgery.  So now I had a couple months off from work with nothing scheduled so I decided it was an opportunity to make my third ultra low-budget feature. I had previously made "Die Before I Wake" and "Sixes and the One Eyed King". So there wasn't any specific inspiration to make the film other than my passion for filmmaking and an opportunity of time that availed itself. 

*How has your style evolved?  
As I mentioned in my response to the first question it was over 20 years after film school that I really got to make the films I wanted to make. That was because during those 20 years I was making low-budget TV commercials. It paid the bills and was a good way to hone my filmmaking skills so I don't regret making all those television commercials.  It really helped me learn how to create films without money - though of course it is always nice to have a budget. I knew when I started my first feature I could do it with very little money. My style is based a great deal on my working for so long without budgets but also after being strapped down by commercial requirements it was quite freeing to self-finance a film and just do it the way I wanted.  I'd say I stay away from filming trends and maybe I stay away from trends in general as I've never really felt too connected to American culture. My mom was raised in a world of eastern philosophy and even though I grew up in the US my mother's perspected was definitely a part of who I was and am. So I just go with what I like whether it is the current style or not. I want to be able to be as eclectic as my budgets will allow. Specifically to "Vampire Camp" it borrows a lot from the beach movies of the 60's, like "Ghost in the Invisible Bikini" and the low budget comedies of the 40's and 50's like "Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein".  But you notice "Vampire Camp" is not very similar to my previous feature films. Like I said, I like being eclectic. 

*Tell us any strange or funny stories while making the film? 
Reuben Rox plays a character in the film that the vampires leave alone. One of the reasons is that he is constantly eating garlic. I told him he could just palm the garlic hiding it in his hand while bringing it to his mouth instead of actually eating it.  He insisted it was fine so he ate garlic cloves in each of his scenes. There were a couple times he needed a break from chewing on the garlic but I'm amazed he never got sick. 

*The Misrule Film Movement & Pink8 manifesto bring what to mind? 
I went to film school which a lot of independent filmmakers view as a waste of time. Not to debate that opinion I will say that I studied filmmaking and not film. I do see a difference.  I don't know what other film school programs encompassed but where I went it was more about learning how to make a film from a technical and basic aesthetic direction and not a lot of over anylysing film styles and admiring the work of over praised filmmakers. All I was looking for was a way to make the films I wanted to make. The Misrule Film Movement & Pink8 manifesto to me bring attention to so much that is unfortunate in humanity - a lack of adventure in creativity - both from film audiences and filmmakers. What is popular is mainstream and mainstream exists for the purpose of making money so big business filmmaking brings in the masses to watch the same formula remakes and sequels. Sadly most audiences are not willing to take a risk on an unknown film and because of that we as an artistic community cannot grow. 

*What can we expect from your next film? 
I never know what to expect from my next film so can't really tell you what to expect. I've been doing a lot of short films lately but really want to get back to making another feature.  Some of the options I am exploring are: "And Evil Makes 8" a blend of the typical horror setup where people gather at a cabin in the woods and cosplayers; a film called "The Other N-word" that I wrote as a sequel to "Besetment" which I executive produced but looks like I will need to disassociate it from "Besetment". None the less if you haven't seen "Besetment" you should - it is fucked up. And of course I would love to do a sequel to "Vampire Camp" called "Zombie Camp".