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MOHAWK: Ted Geoghegan On Bringing His Captivating New Thriller To The Screen!

MOHAWK: Ted Geoghegan On Bringing His Captivating New Thriller To The Screen!

Ted Geoghegan exploded onto the scene in 2015 with the award-winning 2015 horror hit, “We Are Still Here.” His directorial debut paid tribute to the filmmakers and movies that helped shape him as a young creative. In 2018, Geoghegan returns to entice audiences with another captivating film. A no-holds-barred action-thriller, “Mohawk,” centers around a young Mohawk warrior who is pursued by a contingent of military renegades set on revenge after one of her tribe sets an American camp ablaze. Fleeing deep into the woods they call home, Oak and Calvin, along with their British companion Joshua, must fight back against the bloodthirsty Colonel Holt and his soldiers – using every resource, real and supernatural, the winding forest offers. Praised as “gripping” and “a wild ride” by Indiewire, and “realistic and very personal” by The Hollywood Reporter, “Mohawk” unfolds over the course of one bloody day during The War of 1812. Birth. Movies. Death. says, “[Mohawk] does a fine job of reminding us that sometimes the truest horror is that of our own history.” RogerEbert.com called the film “A searing genre hybrid.”

“Mohawk” stars Kaniehtiio Horn (“Hemlock Grove”), Justin Rain (“Fear the Walking Dead”) and Eamon Farren (“Twin Peaks: The Return”) along with Ezra Buzzington (“Justified,” “The Middle”). It also includes Ian Colletti (Arseface from AMC’s “Preacher”) Jonathan Huber (aka WWE Superstar Luke Harper) making his big screen debut. “Mohawk” marks the second team-up between writer-director Ted Geoghegan, producer Travis Stevens, cinematographer Karim Hussain and Dark Sky Films. After a triumphant run on the festival circuit, Dark Sky Films announced the theatrical release of “Mohawk” on March 2, with a simultaneous VOD and HD Digital release.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Ted Geoghegan to discuss the inspiration for the film, the challenges he faced in bringing it from script to screen and the lessons learned along the way.

It’s been a few years since we connected about your last film, “We Are Still Here.” You returned with an awesome new period piece called “Mohawk.” Tell us about your inspiration for the project.

To dive right in, with “We Are Still Here,” it was literally a love letter to the filmmakers I had grown up adoring. I wanted to make something that paid tribute to all of these amazing artists I had spent my whole life loving the movies of. For my follow up, I wanted to do something different in that I wanted to pay tribute to not necessarily a filmmaker but a group of people I had felt somewhat indebted to. When I moved to New York City years ago, I knew nothing of the Mohawk people. The word Mohawk to me growing up was simply a haircut! When I moved to New York, I started noticing that everywhere I went, I would see these signs that said “Made with Mohawk construction … ” or “Mohawk ironworks.” I couldn’t figure out what the heck it was. I went home and started reading up on it. I discovered not only were the Mohawk these incredible people who were indigenous to New York and its surrounding areas, but they also built the city that I now call home. The Mohawk quite infamously claimed to not suffer from vertigo and that claim actually allowed them the ability to work on virtually every huge skyscraper during the modern birth of New York – The Chrysler Building, The Empire State Building and so on. These are all iconic structures that were built predominately by Mohawk people. I felt some sort of odd connection, although I myself am a white man of European descent. I was blown away by the fact that there were these foreign people who were native to the place that I now called home that I knew nothing about. I found myself wanting to learn more and more about them. From there, I started studying and researching their culture. The more I learned about them, the more I was impressed by these people and felt quite indebted to them. As it goes, after “We Are Still Here,” one of my chief concepts was to make a film about people that I cared about. These were people that I almost immediately fell in love with upon moving to New York. Thankfully, the pieces came together, and we were able to make the film with real Mohawk actors and with the support of the Mohawk Nation. I feel quite good about it!

As you should! “Mohawk” is a great film and I loved the authenticity. As you alluded to, “Mohawk” is a bit of a 180 from “We Are Still Here.” Was the new approach something you did by design?

Absolutely! I love haunted house movies. I adore haunted houses and I plan on making many more stories about haunted houses, but I also didn’t want to be the haunted house guy. I know that there are so many stories to tell and there is only so much time we are given to be able to tell those stories. I decided that, given the fact I was very lucky to be able to make one film, the fact that I was able to make two made me feel that I owed it to myself to make sure that the second story was different.

Fair enough! One of the things that makes this film spring from the screen is the awesome cast you assembled. What went into finding the right people to make these characters jump from script to screen?

The heart and soul of the film is Kaniehtiio Horn, who plays Oak. Kaniehtiio is a native Mohawk and she came recommended through my director of photography, Karim Hussain, who had actually directed her in a segment of “The Theatre Bizarre” several years ago. She was the star of his segment of that anthology, which was called “Vision Stains.” When I proposed to him the idea of making this film called “Mohawk,” he said, “Ya know, there is only one person I can think of for the lead in this film and she is actually Mohawk.” I immediately jumped at the opportunity and said, “Please, please, please! I’d love to meet her!” We jumped on a call, very early on, and spoke about it. She was extremely passionate about the project. Not only is she a very proud Mohawk but she actually told me, “If you hire anyone else for this part, I’m going to kill you!” [laughs] I felt quite lucky! Once we had her onboard, we reached out to other actors. Something I was very intent about, especially during the casting process, was to make sure all the Native American roles in the film were portrayed by Native people. Unfortunately, there are very few Native American people left in the world anymore due to all the atrocities of history and that, unfortunately, makes ones talent pool so much smaller. We wanted to make sure we were still able to cast this film with actual Native American people and, when we started looking around, we were blown away by all of the incredible talent we were discovering! We discovered Justin Rain (“Fear The Walking Dead,” “Blackstone,” “Defiance”), who plays Calvin Two Rivers, who is a Cree. I was actually familiar with his work from a handful of other things. Because he is a Cree, he was extremely excited about the idea of playing a Mohawk. He told me that he had always admired the Mohawk people and was really in-tune with their culture, so he jumped at the opportunity to play one. Sheri Foster, who plays Oak’s mother, was also extremely excited about the film. I was familiar with her work from “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” on Netflix, where I thought she was extremely fun. In “Mohawk,” she has a small but pivotal, not funny role but she certainly lands it! [laughs] With our antagonists, we were very lucky to find a who’s who of phenomenal actors. Ezra Buzzington, who plays Holt, I was very familiar from a lot of his horror titles over the years. Noah Segan has been a longtime friend and someone I’ve been very eager to work with! Robert Longstreet was someone else I was very excited to work with after seeing him in countless films over the years. We were very surprised and excited about the prospect of working with Jonathan Huber, who is best known as Luke Harper from the WWE. He had never acted professionally before. I always tell him, “Every single day, you are acting professionally in the WWE!” [laughs] He jumped at the opportunity for his first big screen role and really slayed it! He’s a wonderful, wonderful talent and I feel very honored to have been able to direct him in his first film. I hope that he gets to make a lot more!

Ted Geoghegan’s ‘Mohawk’ hits theaters and VOD on March 2nd, 2018.

Was there anything you wanted to attempt with this film, from a directorial standpoint, that you might not have done in the past?

Yes! From day one, we knew this was going to be an extremely challenging film. The fact that we were making a period film set 200 years ago during the War of 1812 on a limited budget, is something that no one would dare try to achieve. Films of this scope are typically made for not only tens but hundreds of millions of dollars. We wanted to try to be able to tell a story that felt as big and as powerful but on an indie level. The way that we chose to do that was by making the story more intimate. I took a page from James Cameron who said, while directing “Titanic,” “You not only care about the deaths of thousands of people, you care about the deaths of two people.” That was something we wanted to do with this film. Whereas both Calvin and Joshua are essentially the Mohawk Nation and the pursuers are the new White Americans. They are indicative of their entire cultures both in how headstrong and ridiculous they are and how strong and terrified they are. Both sides of the film are absolutely terrified beyond words. To get back on point, what I wanted to do was make something that was wildly different. I wanted to do something I knew would be challenging and something I felt would surprise people. We made a lot of creative decisions, very early on, about what we wanted to do with the film to set it apart from other period pieces. The last thing we wanted this film to look like was diet “Last of The Mohicans.” We wanted to have our own feel and, in doing so, we made bold creative choices. The film was shot with natural light, which is something that movies typically never do. That was very exciting, to be able to work with natural light and make a film that glows. Every shot of the film just has a sparkle to it that, to me, feels like old John Boorman. I wanted to make sure the film did not look as scary as it felt. Ya know, the forest is typically the sort of location that you film at night and find the most terrifying places you can shoot in. We wanted to show how beautiful the forest was and show that it’s the sort of place that is absolutely stunning and untouched but that’s where these atrocities occurred. When you’re making a film that’s essentially a dramatic chase film and you’re shooting it in these beautiful backgrounds, it comes down to a question of “How do you raise the tension?” We did that through our actors! It’s less about where they are and more about who they are. Ultimately, it does have a lot of similarities to “We Are Still Here.” I do think “Mohawk” and “We Are Still Here” are spiritually very similar. They are both intensely character driven. They are also films that are both about a bigger picture but ultimately about these people and a very small amount of people. Also, although “We Are Still Here” is set in the ‘70s, it’s essentially a modern film about people dealing with the sins of their fathers and “Mohawk” is a film about those fathers. It’s about these original sinners and how what they are doing is going to resonate for hundreds and hundreds of years afterwards, just as the characters in “We Are Still Here” are still dealing with the fallout of things that happened hundreds and hundreds of years earlier.

Ted Geoghegan’s ‘Mohawk’ is a can’t miss thriller.

We are still relatively early in your career as a director. However, you accomplished amazing things as a screenwriter. Looking at that aspect of your work, how have you most evolved?

In terms of screenwriting, which is something I’m still very passionate about and want to continue doing forever. I feel the evolution hasn’t been necessarily a creative one as much as it’s been a technical one. When I started out as a screenwriter, I followed the advice of, “Write whatever you want! Just let your imagination run wild!” I wrote screenplays that no one on Earth could ever potentially produce! [laughs] They were these gigantic, overblown spectacles where I poured my everything into them thinking, “Well, one day this will get made!” The simple truth of the matter is, “No, no it won’t!” [laughs] As the years have gone by, I’ve really been excited about how to write to a budget. Not a specific budget but rather to say, “This is how you write a film that could potentially be made.” Being able to create something that has the potential to be made without sacrificing your creativity. Those little technical tricks and little ways that you can turn your brain on and off at just the right moments have really helped me, as a writer, create projects that are much more viable in terms of being brought to the screen.

We can look to the career you are building as an inspiration. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey?

That’s a biggie right there! Ya know, I came from a small town in Montana. I used genre films as a way to escape from the monotony of living in the middle of nowhere and having very little to do. I took that passion and that drive for something that I loved and decided that I wanted to share that with other people. My first screenplay was produced 17 years ago and I directed my first film four years ago. There are 13 years in between those events and there, of course, were plenty of struggles in between and they continue to be struggles to this day. However, it’s important to remember it’s not an overnight process. I guess if there is one thing one might be able to take from me, a man who at 38 is on his second film, is that you just have to keep plugging. I know it’s trite and I know that so many filmmakers say it but, ultimately, we’ve got to come to grips with the fact that overnight successes are few and far between. The reality is that the majority of us will spend our entire lives pushing and pushing in order to try to make these things happen. I love genre films. I don’t know where I’d be without them. If anything I’ve made can make anyone’s life easier or remotely happier, I feel as though I’ve succeeded.

Where are you headed in the future when it comes to the stories you tell?

Right now, I’m very focused on politics. My work will likely remain quite political for a while and until I feel it doesn’t need to be political. I want to remain in the genre film industry. I don’t see myself moving outside of it. I do feel as though, in these troubled times, there is certainly a place for popcorn cinema, comedies and romances. For me, I think the greatest way in which you can tell stories that need to be told from reality is through the lens of the fantastic. You can see that in many of the great genre masters from the past – from George A. Romero to the Italian masters who were really striking back at their governments at the time. These were people who deeply, deeply cared about the world that they were living in but chose to tell the story through a wild way. That’s what I hope to continue to do with my work.

That’s awesome and I appreciate your voice. I’m sure we will cross paths again soon with the work you’re are doing! I wish you continued success!

Thank you so much, Jason! I really appreciate it! Talk soon!

‘Mohawk’ hits theaters on March 2, 2018. Follow the continuing adventures of Ted Geoghegan on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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BACK TO THE SWAMP: A Review of Adam Green’s “Victor Crowley”

BACK TO THE SWAMP: A Review of Adam Green’s “Victor Crowley”

The year is 2006. The horror genre is being beaten down with nothing but uninspired sequels, prequels, and remakes. The original slasher film has all but died. Something seems to be missing from the genre. Where’s the fun? In comes a young, up and coming director Adam Green 6 years removed from his last film, “Coffee and Donuts”. He recruits the man who many consider the greatest Jason Voorhees of all time, Kane Hodder, and revitalizes a genre many thought they would never see again.

“Hatchet” hits the festival circuit in 2006 with an eventual DVD release on December 18th, 2007. While it received mixed to low reviews by critics, fans all over the world raved. Finally, a return to form for the horror genre. “Hatchet”, an old school American horror, received massive success from fans and gained a cult following that follows the franchise today. By 2013, Green had worked on two sequels and was ready to give up the character of Victor Crowley to focus on other works. He drops a bombshell with the incredible, “Digging Up the Marrow”. A film that, like “Hatchet” before it, wore its influences on its sleeve. From here Green notes that he’s finished with the series from a film standpoint but you’ll be able to keep up with “Crowley” in comic book form; the “Hatchet” series was dead…or so we thought.

August 22nd, 2017, the original film’s “10 Year Anniversary” show. Hundreds of “Hatchet” fans and stars pile into Hollywood’s Arclight Cinema, expecting to see a presentation of the film that started it all. Instead, fans were elated to see that not only was a fourth film already made, but they were about to see it in all its glory. Needless to say, the hype was real and fans left the theatre ecstatic to see the lovable crazy redneck humanoid back in action. As “Victor Crowley” unleashes on all of us in VOD and Blu-ray, did it meet expectations or should we ship it back to the swamp to rot? Find out as we cover the return of the millennium’s icon of horror, “Victor Crowley”.

Keeping with one of my favorite tropes about any “Hatchet” film, Parry Shen is back! However, for the first time in the franchise, he’s reprising his role as the sole survivor/paramedic from the third film, Andrew. It’s been 10 years since that fateful night on the swamp. Andrew has become a writer and is making his rounds on the press circuit sharing his story. Things aren’t going so well for the survivor as we open on him being interviewed on live TV by his ex-wife Sabrina (Krystal Joy Brown). No one back home believes his story, in fact, they’re under the impression that Andrew is the maniac who axed all of those people years ago. Things take a turn for the worst when his publicist, played by the “Sleepaway Camp” star Felissa Rose, convinces him to return to the swamp for a large sum of money. It isn’t until he gets on the plane that he realizes it’s to film a show for Sabrina. The three, along with a film crew (including “Impractical Jokers” star Brian Quinn) are off for a romp in the swamp. Meanwhile, across the water, a few “Crowley fans” (Laura Ortiz, Katie Booth, Chase Williamson) are trying to make a film of their own. Of course all hell breaks loose as our killer decides to join in on the fun of both parties. What follows is a return to form for writer/director Adam Green: film filled with gore galore and big laughs.

Along with the cast members I’ve already mentioned, the highlight of the film would without a doubt be Dave Sheridan. This man is hilarious in every film he’s in and doesn’t get enough credit. He plays the boat driver/aspiring actor, Dillon, and he steals every scene he’s in. As you watch the film you can truly feel how much fun this cast and crew was having while filming. Definitely my favorite group of death puppets in a “Hatchet” film. The man of the hour, Kane Hodder, is better than ever. This is the greatest Crowley has looked since the film’s original inception, that credit goes to both Hodder and the make-up department. Nightmare fuel.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and I’m glad to have Victor Crowley back in my life. Green understands his franchise and doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel in any shape. That’s not a knock, on the contrary, it’s commendable for the man to return and give the fans a film they’ve been clamoring for for years. I’ll be honest, if you’re not a fan of the “Hatchet” series this movie is not going to change your mind. It’s a tour de force of crude jokes and gut wrenching violence. Understand what you’re getting and you’ll have a blast. I recommend “Victor Crowley” to any film of the franchise, and anyone who needs their slasher fix. Here’s to hoping a “Digging up the Marrow” sequel is next!

“Victor Crowley” hit DVD and Blu-ray on February 6th via Dark Sky FIlms.

About The Writer: 
Dylan Lyles – Staff Writer
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is an obsessive fan of cinema, pro wrestling, horror, vinyl, and comic books. Bursting from the womb in 1992, Dylan’s surrounded himself with all things geek culture. Earliest memories include Wrestlemania 11, ‘The Death of Superman,’ and Jason popping out of the water. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the MonsterMania Con on the east coast. You love him and he loves you!
Twitter: @thedylanlyles

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Catch ‘Impractical Jokers’ Star Brian Quinn In A New Clip From Adam Green’s ‘Victor Crowley’

Catch ‘Impractical Jokers’ Star Brian Quinn In A New Clip From Adam Green’s ‘Victor Crowley’

Adam Green’s VICTOR CROWLEY is FINALLY coming to VOD and digital platforms tomorrow! Below is a clip featuring the hilarious Brian Quinn from ‘Impractical Jokers.’ Check out the clip below!

Synopsis: Set a decade after the events of the series’ first three films, VICTOR CROWLEY reunites Hatchet mainstays Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th 7X‘s Jason Voorhees) and Parry Shen (Better Luck Tomorrow) for an all-new, horrifying journey into the haunted, blood-drenched bayou.

In 2007, over forty people were brutally torn to pieces in Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp. Over the past decade, lone survivor Andrew Yong’s claims that local legend Victor Crowley was responsible for the horrific massacre have been met with great controversy, but when a twist of fate puts him back at the scene of the tragedy, Crowley is mistakenly resurrected and Yong must face the bloodthirsty ghost from his past.

VICTOR CROWLEY’s ensemble cast also features Laura Ortiz (2006’s The Hills Have Eyes),Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie), and Brian Quinn (truTV’s “Impractical Jokers”). Writer/director

Adam Green proudly returns to the director’s chair of his series that, upon debuting in 2007, was energetically touted as a return to “old school American horror,” and whose maniacal fan-favorite villain quickly secured a place among slasher royalty.

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Ted Geoghegan’s ‘MOHAWK’- Official Trailer and Theatrical Poster Unveiled!

Ted Geoghegan’s ‘MOHAWK’- Official Trailer and Theatrical Poster Unveiled!

After its hit festival run, Dark Sky Films has announced the theatrical release of Ted Geoghegan’s MOHAWK on March 2nd, with a simultaneous VOD and HD Digital release. MOHAWK is a no-holds-barred action-thriller marking the second team-up between writer-director Ted Geoghegan, producer Travis Stevens, cinematographer Karim Hussain and Dark Sky Films after their award-winning 2015 horror hit, We Are Still Here.

After one of her tribe sets an American camp ablaze, a young Mohawk warrior finds herself pursued by a contingent of military renegades set on revenge. Fleeing deep into the woods they call home, Oak and Calvin, along with their British companion Joshua, must now fight back against the bloodthirsty Colonel Holt and his soldiers – using every resource both real and supernatural that the winding forest can offer.

Praised as “gripping” and “a wild ride” by Indiewire, and “realistic and very personal” by The Hollywood Reporter, MOHAWK unfolds over the course of one bloody day during The War of 1812. Birth. Movies. Death. Says, “[Mohawk] does a fine job of reminding us that sometimes the truest horror is that of our own history.” and RogerEbert.com called the film “A searing genre hybrid.”

MOHAWK stars Kaniehtiio Horn (Hemlock Grove), Justin Rain (Fear the Walking Dead), and Eamon Farren (Twin Peaks: The Return) along with Ezra Buzzington (Justified, The Middle), and including Ian Colletti (“Arseface” from AMC’s Preacher) and Jonathan Huber, WWE Superstar Luke Harper making his big screen debut.

Produced by Dark Sky Films, the producers and distributors of We Are Still Here as well as House of the Devil, Stake Land, Hatchet 2 + 3, and many more, and Snowfort Pictures (Cheap Thrills, We Are Still Here, Starry Eyes) this is The Last of the Mohicans meets The Last House on the Left.

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Adam Green’s ‘Victor Crowley’ To Hit VOD And Blu-ray On February 6th From Dark Sky Films!

Adam Green’s ‘Victor Crowley’ To Hit VOD And Blu-ray On February 6th From Dark Sky Films!

Dark Sky Films has announced the official release date of Adam Green’s VICTOR CROWLEY, the surprise fourth film in the fan-favorite Hatchet franchise. The film will be released on VOD, Digital and Blu-ray and DVD on February 6, 2018. Kept tightly under wraps for over two years, the slasher reboot unexpectedly debuted this past August. The highly anticipated release was shown in theaters across the country in October  as part of the “Victor Crowley Road Show.”

Set a decade after the events of the series’ first three films, VICTOR CROWLEY reunites Hatchet mainstays Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th 7X‘s Jason Voorhees) and Parry Shen (Better Luck Tomorrow) for an all-new, horrifying journey into the haunted, blood-drenched bayou.

In 2007, over forty people were brutally torn to pieces in Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp. Over the past decade, lone survivor Andrew Yong’s claims that local legend Victor Crowley was responsible for the horrific massacre have been met with great controversy, but when a twist of fate puts him back at the scene of the tragedy, Crowley is mistakenly resurrected and Yong must face the bloodthirsty ghost from his past.

VICTOR CROWLEY’s ensemble cast also features Laura Ortiz (2006’s The Hills Have Eyes),Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie), and Brian Quinn (truTV’s “Impractical Jokers”). Writer/director Adam Green proudly returns to the director’s chair of his series that, upon debuting in 2007, was energetically touted as a return to “old school American horror,” and whose maniacal fan-favorite villain quickly secured a place among slasher royalty.

@darkskyfilms
www.darkskyfilms.com
www.victorcrowleylives.com

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Adam Green’s ‘Victor Crowley’ To Hit Home Video On February 6th, New Poster Art Revealed!

Adam Green’s ‘Victor Crowley’ To Hit Home Video On February 6th, New Poster Art Revealed!

Dark Sky Films today announced the official release date of VICTOR CROWLEY, the surprise fourth film in the fan-favorite Hatchet franchise. The film will be released on VOD, Digital and Blu-ray and DVD on February 6, 2018. Kept tightly under wraps for over two years, the slasher reboot unexpectedly debuted this past August. The highly anticipated release was shown in theaters across the country in October  as part of the “Victor Crowley Road Show.”

Set a decade after the events of the series’ first three films, VICTOR CROWLEY reunites Hatchet mainstays Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th 7X‘s Jason Voorhees) and Parry Shen (Better Luck Tomorrow) for an all-new, horrifying journey into the haunted, blood-drenched bayou.

In 2007, over forty people were brutally torn to pieces in Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp. Over the past decade, lone survivor Andrew Yong’s claims that local legend Victor Crowley was responsible for the horrific massacre have been met with great controversy, but when a twist of fate puts him back at the scene of the tragedy, Crowley is mistakenly resurrected and Yong must face the bloodthirsty ghost from his past.

VICTOR CROWLEY’s ensemble cast also features Laura Ortiz (2006’s The Hills Have Eyes),

Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie), and Brian Quinn (truTV’s “Impractical Jokers”). Writer/director Adam Green proudly returns to the director’s chair of his series that, upon debuting in 2007, was energetically touted as a return to “old school American horror,” and whose maniacal fan-favorite villain quickly secured a place among slasher royalty.

@darkskyfilms
www.darkskyfilms.com
www.victorcrowleylives.com

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Francesca Eastwood, Natalia Leite & Leah McKendrick On Bringing ‘M.F.A.’ To Life!

Francesca Eastwood, Natalia Leite & Leah McKendrick On Bringing ‘M.F.A.’ To Life!

When director Natalia Leite (“Bare”), writer/actress Leah McKendrick (“Bad Moms”) and leading lady Francesca Eastwood joined forces to bring the ‘M.F.A.’ to the masses, they had no idea of the incredible bond they would form during the process. The hauntingly powerful film, which was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the 2017 SXSW festival, tells a gripping story of a young woman forced to take action to protect herself in “perhaps the bravest, rawest rape-revenge thriller yet” (No Film School). Noelle (Francesca Eastwood, “Final Girl,” “Outlaws” and “Angels”), an art student struggling to find her voice, is sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate. Attempting to cope with the trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker, leading to a violent altercation culminating in his accidental death. Noelle tries to return to normalcy, but when she discovers she is only one of many silenced sexual assault survivors on campus, she takes justice into her own hands. A vigilante is born – retribution is the inspiration she needs. Directed by Natalia Leite from a debut screenplay by actress Leah McKendrick. McKendrick also co-stars in the film along with Clifton Collins Jr. (“Westworld,” “Knight of Cups”).

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught with the inspiring women responsible for the success of this powerful film  — Natalia Leite, Leah McKendrick and Francesca Eastwood. In the interview, they discuss their passion for the film, the challenges they faced in bringing it from script to screen and the lessons learned along the way.

It’s great to have you all here today. Tell us about what sparked the initial idea for this film and what made it a story you all wanted to tell.

Leah McKendrick: It started from me feeling very frustrated by the things I was seeing in the media. There were stories on constant repeat about girls being assaulted on and off college campuses who the system had failed. I was feeling frustrated, hurt and angry, so I started writing this script. Eventually, I got it to a place where it wasn’t so dark because it had been very dark originally. I tried to infuse some humor and levity into it along the way. It wasn’t long before I was on the hunt for the perfect director. I knew in my mind that I needed someone who loved it and had a connection to it. To be honest, that’s not that hard to find as most women have experienced something and would feel a connection to a story like this, so that wasn’t even the hard part. For me, the hardest part was finding a director who understands it and knew what to do with it. I’m not a writer that wants to direct. I’m a writer that loves directors and I want a director to make it their own. That’s the most important thing to me; that it’s someone who is going to share your baby. Natalia was that person! I had seen her work and I had felt that she had a very intimate connection in film. I also felt that she could be the perfect addition and the perfect person to helm the ship. That’s when she came onboard.

Natalia Leite: The script came my way and Leah reached out to me. I read it and really loved the script. Honestly, I just felt that I had to make this movie. I was really drawn to the concept and thought the writing was really strong. We had some conversations where I told her what I would do. I felt that we were a really good match and the film would be a good way to talk about a social issue that I care a lot about in a way that is so accessible to people and can be entertaining while still opening up a bigger conversation.

What went into finding the right mix of actors to bring these characters to life on screen?

Natalia Leite: In terms of casting, we had to cast very fast because we had access to Chapman University and we had to try to shoot it before school started. We hit the ground running as soon as I signed onboard. Francesca Eastwood’s work came my way through our casting director, Arlie Day. Arlie sent over some materials and I loved Fran’s work, so we met for lunch and talked about what I was going to do with the film tonally and what she would bring to it. We wanted to make sure we were on the same page and that we were gelling together. It was perfect! Once we found her, no one else could have fit the role! Peter Vack is someone who I’m friends with and Leah had also thought of him for that part, so he came on. A lot it came from reaching out to people we had some connection to and thought could be good for the part. Clifton [Collins] came onboard somewhat last minute but was fantastic in the role!

Leah McKendrick, Natalia Leite and Francesca Eastwood.

You all came together to make this film and you all saw it from different angles given your role in the production. What was the biggest challenge you faced on the project?

Francesca Eastwood: I think the biggest challenge for me was the subject matter and the timing. While it wasn’t something I had initially thought of when I read the script but my mom said to me, “Wow. You really go through a lot physically in this film.” It was a very physically demanding role in terms of running around, long shoot days and shooting every day relatively quickly. That was a challenge but it’s also part of why this project is so awesome! The challenges were all good things! It was just as emotionally challenging as it was physically challenging. It was an extremely rewarding project to be a part of.

Natalia Leite: For me, it was a lot about tone. Like Francesca said, it’s a very sensitive subject matter and a controversial film. Finding the right balance between making it feel very realistic, yet not having it be a sad story all the way through was a challenge. It came down to making good informed decisions on how we would talk about this issue while still having moments of being entertaining and thrilling.

Leah McKendrick: I think the hardest thing for me was getting over the idea of the script being your baby. It’s just one thing and it’s going to change. A lot of things may end up on the cutting room floor and you have to get over the initial vision you had when it was just you and no one else involved!

Natalia Leite: Yeah, that was a difficult thing for me as well.

Francesca Eastwood: Yeah, as an actor reading it, that was hard for me too.

Leah McKendrick: I think, as an actor, when you pick up a script and are reading it, you become attached to the vision you have in your head. Maybe that comes from being an actor; becoming very attached to the journey that the characters go on. If one character gets cut out or whatever, your vision starts to feel incomplete. I think the strongest writer is the writer who can get over that. My mentor, Shintaro Shimosawa, who is also a producer on this film, is a writer. He is so un-precious about his work. He is always all about the best idea. I think while you can think you just want the best idea, I think you can be emotionally stunted by the fact that you’ve only been seeing what you have in your head and can be cutting yourself off from greater possibilities. Sometimes you’re just not seeing straight and you just want what is in your head. Getting over that and realizing that what can be created is better than what was in your head or on the script is definitely a lesson I’ve learned. It took me two years to write my script. There are points where it is just you alone in the coffee shop with your vision and you have to fight for it. Every step of the way you are fighting for that vision, so as it gets dismantled it can be heartbreaking. With that said, I’m very proud of our film and how it changed because of Nat and Franny, the producers, performers and creators on the film. I’m really proud of the end product!

It’s cool to see you all working together in this capacity and creating such an awesome film as the end product. What did you bring out in each other creatively?

Leah McKendrick: Building off of what I just said, I would say that Nat forces me to see my work in a completely different way. An example is that, as a writer, I use a lot of my real-life experiences. The scene where Fran’s character, Noel, is being peer-critiqued was different initially. In the original script, it was a conversation she was having with her professor and her professor is saying, “This isn’t good enough.” Nat came in and said, “I went to art school and a big part of art school is being critiqued by not only your professor but your peers.” I thought, “Oh my god! I love that!” I would’ve never thought of that because it wasn’t something that occurred in my real life. I went to school for acting and there is also peer-critique but, in my mind, I was remembering these moments where professors would pull me aside and say, “This isn’t good enough.” So, to answer your question, I think that Nat brings this whole world of experience to my work. I love the sense of judgement that it brings to Noelle’s early life in the film. She feels so naked initially. I really love that Nat is always forcing me to come up with the weirder, more unique, intimate and vulnerable version. Another great example is with the pool. Initially, after she went through her trauma, she ran and got in the shower because that is where I go when I feel very alone and very vulnerable and I need to feel more in touch with myself. Nat said, “I want her to do something weirder, more unique and more off because she is feeling off.” So, we had her walk into the swimming pool. That’s some of my favorite footage in the film. I think that another director might have just taken my script and made it the way it’s written, where I think Nat has challenged me to get a little weirder. With Franny, I think you are right in that we just trusted her and you ran with it but I love that! When I watch the film, sometimes she looks like a little girl to me, especially the scenes with my own character, Skye. I feel like we look like little girls and that is something we bring out in each other but, at the same time, there are times where we are vicious to each other, crying, upset and angry. I feel, as an actress, I’m able to both love and hate her at times in the film. In real love, I have the most love for you! I think we played it really well from both sides and it’s something that comes across really well. I think that is why people say to me so often that we work well together in the movie because it’s so sad, loving and all of these things. I think that is because we have that chemistry in real life?

Natalia Leite: I would add to what Leah said about pushing her to a certain place, I feel that you also did the same for me. I have a tendency to linger in these moments and I’m sure from an outsider’s point of view, I seem like a pretentious artist to sit in this scene for so long! [laughs] Leah would be like, “No, no. We’ve got to move. We’ve got to get to the point. We don’t just need to sit here. We get that she’s in pain.” I think that gave it more of a commercial appeal and made it a little more hard-hitting and faster, which was really good. It was such an amazing collaboration between the three of us because we are all strong women with strong ideas and all felt very invested in this story and film. There were times where we had to hash it out. I might think something should be one way in a scene but someone else felt it should go another. We would have to figure it out. For me, as a director, I’m also like, “OK, if you feel really strongly about it being this way that I didn’t really envision, convince me.” I’m always open to hearing someone else’s opinion about something, especially when it’s not my writing and ultimately Fran is the one who is living the character. It was a really awesome collaboration in that way.

You are inspiring females. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey as artists?

Natalia Leite: Thank you for calling us inspiring females! [laughs] I love that! Thank you! I almost dropped the phone. [laughs] This film had a small, small budget and we really had to be a team and work together to make it happen. We had to really trust each other. Starting out, we didn’t even know each other when she sent me the script. Since making the film, we have all become friends, which is awesome! I think the lesson is that we all need to do it together!

Francesca Eastwood: I would say the most important lesson is to take risks, to do the things you believe in and also the things that you’re afraid of. If you believe in it and your heart’s in the right place, it’s a pretty good feeling getting to share that.

Leah McKendrick: If somebody would look at my career, I would hope it would inspire more women to take things into their own hands. No matter if they want to be directors, writers or actors, they shouldn’t be afraid to create their own work. You don’t need to wait for the industry to give you permission. As many leaps forward as we are making as female filmmakers, there is still so much work to do. I think you’re in trouble if you’re waiting for permission. For a long time, I felt so frustrated by the industry while trying to get work as an actress. That’s when I started making my own work. I’m glad that I did because not only can I make my own roles but I can make work that I believe in and speaks to the sort of issues in the world I feel need to be spoken on. I hope more women will do that!

That’s an awesome way to look at things! Thank you all for your time today! We can’t wait to see what you all have in store for us in the years to come and wish you continued success!

Dark Sky Films’ will release the haunting thriller,’M.F.A.’, in theaters, VOD and HD Digital October 13, 2017.

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Dark Sky Films To Release ‘M.F.A.’ Starring Francesca Eastwood on October 13th

Dark Sky Films To Release ‘M.F.A.’ Starring Francesca Eastwood on October 13th

Dark Sky Films has unveiled the release date of M.F.A., a critically acclaimed powerful thriller starring Francesca Eastwood in a stand out role. The film, from female director and female screenwriter, takes on the searing current issue of sexual violence on campus. M.F.A. will be released on October 13th.

M.F.A., which was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the 2017 SXSW festival, tells a gripping story of a young woman forced to take action to protect herself in “perhaps the bravest, rawest rape-revenge thriller yet” (No Film School). Noelle (Francesca Eastwood, Final Girl, Outlaws and Angels), an art student struggling to find her voice, is sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate. Attempting to cope with her trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker, leading to a violent altercation that culminates in his accidental death. Noelle tries to return to normalcy, but when she discovers she is only one of many silenced sexual assault survivors on campus, she takes justice into her own hands. A vigilante is born – retribution is the inspiration she’s been waiting for.

M.F.A. was directed by Natalia Leite (Bare) from a debut screenplay by actress Leah McKendrick (Bad Moms). McKendrick also co-stars in the film along with Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld, Knight of Cups).

The film received glowing reviews upon its world premiere at SXSW. Variety‘s Andrew Barker said, “An unapologetically feminist, female-centric take on the oft-problematic (and oft-male-gaze-dominated) rape-revenge thriller genre … Leite directs with a bracing, assertive style.” Brad Miska of Bloody-Disgusting called it “intensely engaging, thought-provoking, and also mesmerizing.” “Spectacular, risky and wonderfully realized by Natalia Leite,” said We Live Entertainment’s Nick Casaletto.

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Dark Sky Films To Release High-Octane Thriller ‘M.F.A.’ On October 13th!

Dark Sky Films To Release High-Octane Thriller ‘M.F.A.’ On October 13th!

Dark Sky Films has announced the release date of M.F.A., a critically acclaimed powerful thriller starring Francesca Eastwood in a stand out role. The film, from female director and female screenwriter, takes on the searing current issue of sexual violence on campus. M.F.A. will be released on October 13th.

M.F.A., which was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the 2017 SXSW festival, tells a gripping story of a young woman forced to take action to protect herself in “perhaps the bravest, rawest rape-revenge thriller yet” (No Film School). Noelle (Francesca Eastwood, Final Girl, Outlaws and Angels), an art student struggling to find her voice, is sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate. Attempting to cope with her trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker, leading to a violent altercation that culminates in his accidental death. Noelle tries to return to normalcy, but when she discovers she is only one of many silenced sexual assault survivors on campus, she takes justice into her own hands. A vigilante is born – retribution is the inspiration she’s been waiting for.

M.F.A. was directed by Natalia Leite (Bare) from a debut screenplay by actress Leah McKendrick (Bad Moms). McKendrick also co-stars in the film along with Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld, Knight of Cups).

The film received glowing reviews upon its world premiere at SXSW. Variety’s Andrew Barker said, “An unapologetically feminist, female-centric take on the oft-problematic (and oft-male-gaze-dominated) rape-revenge thriller genre … Leite directs with a bracing, assertive style.” Brad Miska of Bloody-Disgusting called it “intensely engaging, thought-provoking, and also mesmerizing.” “Spectacular, risky and wonderfully realized by Natalia Leite,” said We Live Entertainment’s Nick Casaletto.

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VICTOR CROWLEY: Teaser Trailer Debuts For Adam Green’s Surprise ‘Hatchet’ Film!

VICTOR CROWLEY: Teaser Trailer Debuts For Adam Green’s Surprise ‘Hatchet’ Film!

Hot on the heels of last night’s successful SURPRISE premiere of VICTOR CROWLEY in Los Angeles, Dark Sky Films unveiled the first teaser for the film. Set a decade after the events of the series’ first three films, VICTOR CROWLEY reunites Hatchet mainstays Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th 7X‘s Jason Voorhees) and Parry Shen (Better Luck Tomorrow) for an all-new, horrifying journey into the haunted, blood-drenched bayou.

In 2007, forty-nine people were brutally torn to pieces in Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp. Over the past decade, lone survivor Andrew Yong’s claims that local legend Victor Crowley was responsible for the horrific massacre have been met with great controversy, but when a twist of fate puts him back at the scene of the tragedy, Crowley is mistakenly resurrected and Yong must face the bloodthirsty ghost from his past.

VICTOR CROWLEY’s ensemble cast also features Laura Ortiz (2006’s The Hills Have Eyes), Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie), and Brian Quinn (truTV’s “Impractical Jokers”). Writer/director Adam Green proudly returns to the director’s chair of his series that, upon debuting in 2007, was energetically touted as a return to “old school American horror,” and whose maniacal fan-favorite villain quickly secured a place among slasher royalty.

Says Green, “I couldn’t be happier to partner with Dark Sky Films and bring Victor Crowley back to horror fans around the world. Resurrecting the series for its tenth anniversary was our way of saying thank you to everyone in The Hatchet Army and beyond who have supported this series since its inception. This bloodbath is for all of you.”

VICTOR CROWLEY will hit select U.S. theaters in October 2017 as part of Dark Sky Films’ “Victor Crowley Road Show”, wherein writer/director Adam Green (and other cast) will travel with and introduce the film at special one-night screening events across America. Internationally, the film is slated to bow at festivals worldwide – it will receive its international premiere this Saturday, August 26th at FrightFest in London, England. Adam Green and Kane Hodder will be in attendance for the gala screening.

Full road show schedule and additional release information will follow.

#victorcrowleylives

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