Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Interview with filmmakers Wayne & Stephanie Keeley

History of Everything f/k/a Kissy Cousins will be screening at the Straight Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival

*How did you get into making films?
WAYNE: I always was into filmmaking, even in my early teens. I loved everything about the arts – theatre, films, acting, writing. I got sidetracked when I received a scholarship to law school and became an attorney for a while, but I couldn’t stay away for long -- my creative passion won out and I returned to filmmaking. My first professional production was in 1985 (damn, just dated myself!).
STEPHANIE: I always wanted to be involved in the entertainment business. Having parents who had been performers sparked my interest from a young age and I was always disappointed that they elected to retire from show business before I was born. It didn’t dampen my spirit, however. Fast forward to ten years ago when I met Wayne – I was a psychotherapist-turned-freelance journalist on assignment for a piece about a public service announcement he did. He loved my passion for storytelling and thought I’d make a great producer and partner – from that point on a creative relationship was born!

*What inspired you to make your movie?
WAYNE: The quest for fame and fortune. JK. My team originally wanted to make a low-budget horror film for the straight-to-video market, but we didn’t raise enough money so instead we made, what we thought would be a low-budget comedy. Little did we realize that the comedy would far surpass our original budget (and expectations!) and literally take decades to finish!
At the time we were first working on our film idea, we were rebels and truly ahead of our time. We wanted to both spoof and spill the beans on some of the aspects of the entertainment world to which only insiders were privy. We also wanted to make both social and political statements – and we did! Then we went on to make it relevant to today – 2018. Take it from here, Stephanie!
STEPHANIE: When Wayne puts his mind to something he’s relentless. This film is part labor of his love beginning 25 years ago (from before we met), combined with a contemporary component which gives it a whole new twist. In the new elements, we pulled out all the stops with present-day pop-culture references; we threw in our friends, family (including our kids!), and even our dog! If we could have added the kitchen sink, we would have as well!
Further, we made the film into a continuing story, recycling some of the same gags from the earlier footage, some of the same actors (and they haven’t aged a bit!), and we kept up the political and social jabs in a whole new way.

*How has your style evolved?
WAYNE: I believe that it has evolved with technology, experience, continued culture-vulturism, and the creative input and synergy with those with whom I’ve worked. There’s a little piece of everything I’ve ever done tucked away in my gray matter for use in every new project. As for technology, I started out shooting 35mm and 16mm. Now, no one even remembers what “film” is – everything is 4K, HD, digital, but I incorporate all kinds and am open to using everything. Retro = awesome. Modern = fresh. Throw it all in a blender with a sprinkle of kitsch and see what comes out!
I’ll also say my wife and creative partner (who happens to be 12 years younger than me – lucky me, indeed) has had a tremendous impact on my evolution as a writer and director. I’ve never worked with anyone with whom I can say I’ve had such a powerful relationship – we’re completely simpatico. We work together exclusively now and provide each other with a constant flow of ideas, feedback, and productive work outcomes.
STEPHANIE: I’m the newbie, here, so…what he said!

*Tell us any strange or funny stories while making the film?
WAYNE and STEPHANIE: The whole film is a funny story – it’s hard to pick out any one incident. Every day was a fresh day of mishaps, jokes, backfires, ad-libs, and hilarious adventures. When you’re filming a movie with a title like Kissy Cousins, Monster Babies and Morphing Elvis, one can just imagine the creative pool of consciousness that was involved in such an endeavor.
I think the funniest aspect of the making of the film, however is how it came to be finished. It actually began in 1992 and then went on to take about two years for shooting and editing. From there, it went through the hands of three distributors (known as “distribution hell”) and then we finally felt we had no choice but to shelve it because the 1990s were over and it looked like it would never see the light of day and if it did, it wouldn’t mean anything to anyone once the 2000s came. About a year ago, an off-hand request by one of stars of the film asking me put it on YouTube for “legacy purposes” inspired my wife and me to write wraparound footage, re-edit, and wholly update the film. We are even up for a Guinness World Record for the longest time spent making a feature film!
The official title is now The History of Everything Circa 1993 to the Present: Formerly Known as Kissy Cousins, Monster Babies and Morphing Elvis.We old-timers from 25+ years ago call it KCMB or newcomers call it The History of Everything for short.

*The Misrule Film Movement & Pink8 manifesto bring what to mind?
WAYNE AND STEPHANIE: Wayne is the king of breaking the rules. Rules, what are they? They don’t apply to him. Just ask anyone! He’s always called himself a “violator,” lol! And he’s always loved guerrilla filmmaking and guerrilla marketing. If Wayne wasn’t the age that he is, he’d be a 16-year-old pimply faced YouTuber! We’ve put KCMB together with spit and glue (the shiniest kinds!), unknowns (the most talented among them!), no money (except the change in our pockets and returnable soda bottles), and we ad-lib, rewrite, and let everyone contribute (some of the best takes come about that way!).
No rules all the way!

*What can we expect from your next film?
WAYNE and STEPHANIE: KCMB is an exceptionally unique project on so many levels. It has been a labour of love and like the little engine that could, it’s had the might and staying power to withstand decades of dust and reinvention – it was hard for Wayne to let it go (if you’ve not been able to tell, with a mere 25+ years on it!). We have so many other projects we’ve co-written and that are in various stages of development – in truth, we have films in many genres and we’re not sure what should go into production next. Maybe it will be that horror gem or a bromance comedy; maybe a psychological thriller or a family comedy. It all remains to be seen!