Raymond, a young private investigator specializing in divorce, gets too ambitious and takes on a case that involves more than just snapping pictures of cheating couples.
While searching for the estranged daughter of a client, Raymond discovers that she works as a stripper under the name Natalie Cottontail. Natalie’s exploits bring together a desperate collection of lost souls – sucking everyone down a drain of despair.
Director: Vilan Trub
Writer: Vilan Trub
Stars: Duke Williams, John Mertens, Ed Glynn
PERSONAL STATEMENT FROM DIRECTOR VILAN TRUB
To make a movie knowing that there’s no access to a budget, a crew, or means of selling the picture for profit is a weird ambition that will get you a lot of sideways looks and at best, words of encouragement from loved ones who fear not being supportive. There’s no logical explanation for why aspiring filmmakers invest so much energy into making a movie, even if it’s one shot in nine days on a budget of whatever they have in their pocket that day. It’s just something we need to do. Rocky tried explaining to Adrian that he was a fighter, and that’s why he had to fight Ivan Drago. I’m a director and I needed to direct this movie. I don’t want to say making THE DIRTY KIND served as its own reward because that would be untrue. I wanted to make a good movie that audiences could enjoy and remember. Hopefully dead hookers, confused PI’s, and a wide-angle lens still resonate with audiences. I always found these types of movies very cool and wanted to contribute my interpretation to the genre.
Movies should make you think, but not at the cost of being fun. There’s nothing wrong with superhero movies, but there’s plenty of excitement happening on our streets every single day and night. THE DIRTY KIND is a look at the real world and the real heroes and villains, and a look at how blurry the line dividing the two is when you take into account the responsibilities adults carry. We all know the private detective trope – grizzled, burnt out, half in the bottle and half with their arm around a woman who may or may not be plotting their death. I wanted to take a look at this PI before the experiences that made them believe they’ll never have a white picket fence future. Raymond is that PI. He’s young, ambitious, and has no clue that the career trajectory he’s on is going to infect his personal being and define the life that he leads. I wanted to see “the case” that turned a young professional into something out of a Raymond Chandler novel. THE DIRTY KIND tells that story.
WHY DID YOU MAKE THE FILM? WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO MAKE THE FILM?
I love the “film noir” world. It’s dark and seedy and it’s real. Murder, conspiracy, lies and deceit lead to headlines that sell papers. It’s not necessarily because these acts are newsworthy. It’s because we’re fascinated by them. I wanted to tell a story about people who could be and should be winners, but because of some internal flaw always end up as. I also wanted to show how they suck everyone around them down the drain, the people we don’t get to read about or see in the news. That’s why the PI trope is so enduring. That detective acts out our curiosity and allows us to experience the consequences of going down that drain. It’s a virtual experience and in some crazy way, it’s fun.
Why I Made THE DIRTY KIND
A hard-boiled movie for a hard-boiled world.
I didn’t make THE DIRTY KIND to be a festival darling. A movie like that can’t be any kind of darling. It’s a hard movie for an audience that understands that the world is a hard place. What’s more, they understand that the problems people face, day-to-day, can’t be fixed by a magical snap of the fingers. THE DIRTY KIND is an honest look at the ugly side of life that will never go away and can’t go away because it is as natural as a bowel movement. Anyone who thinks it can be eradicated needs to try sitting on a cork for a while, see how that suits them. I believe, if we have to live side-by-side with the fecal matter of the world, we might as well take a close look at it. After all, it’s a byproduct of ours and if we look close enough, we might even see ourselves in it.
I hope you enjoy the movie. For better or worse, we’re all responsible for it.
WHAT DID YOU SHOOT ON – CAMERA/FILM/ETC…
THE DIRTY KIND was shot on a Sony FS100 camera using a G-Log picture profile designed by Frank Glencairn. The movie was shot on vintage lenses from the Schneider Cine Xenon set and an Angenieux 18.5mm, a favorite lens of Orson Welles and chosen for the look it created on Touch of Evil.
I tend to prefer wider lenses because they help give the image depth. It’s said that the human eye sees somewhere in the 40 to 50mm focal length range so that’s why some filmmakers rely on those lenses, to recreate what the eye sees. I believe that the eye will choose what it wants to focus on and to create a world where everything is in focus because that’s a better recreation of the real world. For this type of movie, the slight distortion of wider lenses also helped create an unsettling feeling. It’s not a pretty world that THE DIRTY KIND captures. It’s an overwhelming world.
The movie was edited on Final Cut Pro 7, a very outdated system and served great difficulty. FilmConvert also played a major role in the final look of the movie. It gave THE DIRTY KIND the color and texture that it needed. It gave it the “noir.”
THE DIFFICULTIES IN MAKING THE FILM
Filming a movie on a limited budget in a 9-day span is an unenviable task. The biggest difficulty came when locations were agreed on and minutes before arrival I was told that the agreed upon schedule would be slashed in half. Shooting a scene in 4 hours is difficult enough, doing it in 2 forces you to rely on everything you know, technical and creative, and is where you really understand what it means to be a producer and a director. This is why rehearsal was important on this movie and my own technical knowledge of lensing and lighting a scene. I’m a student of cinema and when you have seconds to decide where to put the camera, you rely on what you know and it helps to have a catalogue of so many movies on the mind. Sometimes a shot from a Raoul Walsh movie from 1939 is the only way to go.
CASTING PROCESS – WHY YOU CHOSE THEM?
Duke Williams was cast because he is one of the greatest actors I’ve ever had the pleasure to come across. He came to the audition and performed the lines given him and immediately felt cinematic. Making a movie is about one thing, does whatever you’re doing feel like a movie? When he acted, it looked like a performance in a movie and I had to make sure he was a part of THE DIRTY KIND.
When I write, certain roles are written for certain types, and other roles are left open for the best actor available. The lead role of Raymond, the private investigator, was written without race in mind and went to the best actor who showed up. There’s a lot of talk about the need for more diversity in movies and I feel the way to accomplish that is by not letting diversity become intrinsic to the movie. Duke doesn’t play a “black” private investigator. He just plays a private investigator. If you see him as just a private investigator, then the way you see the character of a private investigator changes.
John Mertens and Ed Glynn were cast because they feel like they could be childhood friends who don’t really like each other. Not only did that fit the characters, but it fits many friendships and it’s something I felt the audience could, even if only subconsciously, connect with.
All of the actors cast in this movie were because they auditioned better than anyone else for a particular role. What I also looked for was to make sure they were all different from each other. People are mostly the same; it’s when you put a magnifying glass to us that we become different. In a movie, you almost need slight caricatures so that everyone’s inner self comes out, make them characters that all have a unique reason for being there.
WHAT DO YOU WANT AUDIENCES TO TAKE FROM THE FILM?
I want audiences to feel like the characters in the movie are real and to continue thinking about them after they’ve finished watching the movie. I want people to start talking like and dressing like Raymond because that’s how you know you created a cool character that embodies, for better or worse, how you feel as a person and how you want to express yourself. I’m sure at least a few people started wearing cowboy boots because Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver) wore them. It doesn’t mean those people are homicidal maniacs, it just means that they might be lonely, or introverted, and something about the character resonated with them. All of the characters in this movie are different from each other. A movie is a small glimpse into the world and you have to create caricatures to showcase the many different personalities and emotions that exist. Raymond goes down a rabbit hole but it’s one he chooses to go down because maybe he believes he belongs there. Why do people smoke knowing the dangers of cigarettes? Why do people speed knowing the dangers of auto accidents? There’s something inside of us that sometimes drives us to not do what’s best for us and whatever drives Raymond is not unique to his character.
WHEN DID YOU FILM?
This movie was filmed in a span of 9 days starting December 9th, 2016. It was filmed in Queens, NY in the Forest Hills, Rego Park, and Kew Gardens neighborhoods. I was born in and grew up in Forest Hills and now reside there with my wife and child, with a second kid on the way. The movie first screened at the United Artists Midway movie theater on Queens Boulevard. This is a theater I grew up across the street from and attended regularly. It is also the movie theater I currently live across the street from, now with my own family, and attend. The exterior of this theater is featured in the movie because I filmed in the neighborhood and to have it screen at the same theater was a very surreal moment.
THE GENESIS OF THE FILM – where did the idea come from?
Living in Queens, Anthony Weiner was a story I couldn’t avoid. And wouldn’t want to because it just kept going and was fascinating. What if this character, this politician with deep-rooted issues, didn’t just destroy himself, but caused a domino effect that ruined lives he never even came into contact with? It seems very plausible and inspired the narrative of THE DIRTY KIND.
I also do a lot of reading in preparation to write a script and that included the works of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and a lot of true crime novels. The gangsters in the movie were inspired by The Westies, the notorious Irish gang that dominated Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
I was also inspired by work of Frank Miller. His run on Daredevil and Batman pieces really captured a dirty side of the city that I wanted to showcase in the movie.
ANECDOTES FROM FILMING – ANY STORIES FROM THE SET
Mr. Blonde Likes “THE DIRTY KIND”
People often ask how Michael Madsen got involved with the movie and the answer is a combination of producer Derek Zuzunaga being one of the friendliest people on earth, and the fact that THE DIRTY KIND is an exciting, slick looking movie right up the actor’s alley. Derek Zuzunaga developed a friendship with Michael while assisting on a feature film in Mexico. He was able to get Madsen to view some footage, who loved what he saw. It didn’t take a lot of convincing before Madsen agreed to help out, wanting the movie to find as wide of an audience as possible. A cool crime-thriller is supposed to make you react a certain way and Michael loved how the movie made him laugh at all the most despicable parts.
Principle photography for THE DIRTY KIND lasted a miniscule 9 days. Much of the shoot included filming of both day and night scenes without a break, but was scheduled so that no actor would have to be on set longer than ten hours at a time. Producer Derek Zuzunaga slept on Vilan Trub’s couch.
A FAMILY BUSINESS
Vilan Trub was always obsessed with cinema and making movies. His wife Anna quickly learned the joy and stress of making a movie and made herself an intricate part in the production of THE DIRTY KIND. While 7 months pregnant, son Stanley was born in February, she handled coordinating and accounting for the movie and even accommodated producer Derek Zuzunaga when he had to sleep at the Trub household as a result of the condensed shooting schedule. Since production of THE DIRTY KIND she has continued working diligently behind the scenes and although she didn’t originally share Vilan’s passion, seeing her name on the big screen and seeing the success of the movie she worked on motivates her to get this movie in front of audiences.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
9 Days and Pocket Change
THE DIRTY KIND was filmed in 9 days on a miniscule budget. Vilan Trub used his own equipment and funded the project with money saved from working as a copywriter and digital video producer for a newswire company. Friends and family offered their homes and offices as shooting locations and Trub’s 7-month pregnant wife assisted in organizing the production. Much of the shoot included filming of both day and night scenes without a break, but was scheduled so that no actor would have to be on set longer than ten hours at a time.
Mr. Blonde signs on as Executive Producer
People often ask how Michael Madsen got involved with the movie and the answer is a combination of producer Derek Zuzunaga being one of the friendliest people on earth, and the fact that THE DIRTY KIND is an exciting, slick looking movie right up the actor’s alley. Derek Zuzunaga developed a friendship with Michael while assisting on a feature film in Mexico. He was able to get Madsen to view some footage, who loved what he saw, encouraging director Vilan Trub to push for a discussion about getting the famous actor on board to help out with the project. It didn’t take a lot of convincing before Madsen agreed to help out, wanting the movie to find as wide of an audience as possible. A cool crime drama is supposed to make you react a certain way and Michael loved how the movie made him laugh at all the most despicable parts.
1. Please explain your inspiration and point of view when you first started developing and collaborating on the feature film, THE DIRTY KIND and why you made this film. How or what prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?
I wanted to make a crime-thriller, a “noir” movie. I’d previously made a movie, Susie Q, that was inspired by the French new wave and was black and white and stylistically did things that aren’t necessarily general audience, or any audience for that matter, friendly. It was a freshman effort and although I’m proud of the fact that I made the movie, it was not at the level of what I felt I was capable of. I’m a student of cinema and also study filmmakers and their careers. I remember watching Stanley Kubrick’s first movie, Fear and Desire, then the follow up picture, Killer’s Kiss. In interviews he explained how after the failure of his first movie, a very philosophical and artistic tale, he decided to do something rooted in a genre. Something with more action that could better entertain audiences. I felt this was a good idea, using a genre as a springboard. A genre movie comes with a built in foundation that you can work off. I love the crime-thriller genre and living in Queens, NY had access to a wonderful outer-borough to film such a movie.
The way I write is rooted in research. I love to watch movies and documentaries, and very much love to read. I read through the bibliographies of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and James M. Cain then started to go deeper. I read true crime books covering The Westies and mafia figures. I also looked to graphic novels by Frank Miller, specifically his run on Daredevil and his work on Batman. Miller understands how to show the worst out of a NYC street. All streets can be good or bad, depending on what moment of the day you happen to be walking by. Miller knew how to capture the bad moments very well.
I wanted to understand both the private investigator trope and what it meant to be a career professional. We have ideas of what a criminal does, but unless you’ve been behind the desk at a job for 10 years, you don’t really know the details. We think a gangster intimidates someone by breaking their thumbs. You quickly learn that there’s far more creative and effective ways to demoralize a person.
Once I understood the characters I’d be creating, I started putting them in a world and a situation. Anthony Weiner lived a few blocks from me and we all remember his story. Having a politician caught in a predicament as a result of adultery felt like a great starting point for a story that sees people from different cultural parts of the borough go down a drain.
One aspect of the movie I was adamant about was that it wouldn’t be the “Sam Spade” private investigator, the burned out whiskey drinking PI who doesn’t look to tomorrow. I wanted to show the private investigator before that point in life, when being a private eye still felt like a good career choice. I wanted to show the young, ambitious private eye who wanted the family one-day, and white picket fence. This was still just a job to that private eye, not the entirety of his soul. I also wanted to show the case that resulted in that transition.
2. What inspired you to become a filmmaker? Please explain your history in filmmaking.
I grew up with seven movie theaters in walking distance. It’s what we did growing up. My mom would take my sister and I to the movies on weekends, when I got older I went myself or with friends. If you live across the street from a beach you go swimming. I lived across the street from Midway, and back then they were all single screen theaters are at most, twins.
I also always remember seeing movies on TV, on WPIX. They had 8PM movies during the week and matinee movies on weekends. It felt like it was always the same movies playing too, like The Wraith or Short Circuit 2. There was also the video rental stores like West Coast Video, also across the street. Every Friday I was in there renting movies and starting with well-known movies then before long digging for anything interesting. I’d watch anything I could get my hands on.
It was during high school that I started to realize that I wanted to make movies, and that was from the realization that I COULD make movies. I just purchased Mean Streets, never seen it before. I watched it and was blown away. Not just because it was an amazing movie, but because this was a movie by the director who made Goodfellas. I knew Scorsese and knew him as a big Hollywood director with budgets and crews and everything. You never imagine being able to make that movie. When I saw Mean Streets it looked like something I could make. It was filmed on the streets and in apartment building stairwells. Even though it wasn’t my neighborhood it was all very recognizable and familiar to me and it didn’t look like a big Hollywood movie.
It looked like a camera and some actors and something I could do. That’s when the feeling of wanting to make movies, not just watch them, took hold.
In college I took my home family video camera and moved into a magic shop on Queens Boulevard for a week. I didn’t know what I was going to film but I just knew I needed to get used to filming stuff and the shop and the people who hung out there seemed like an interesting bunch. That week taught me how to not be afraid of filming something. To be a director you need to be a leader, you need confidence. I learned how to get what I want and needed, in terms of footage. Over the course of the week I spent less and less time asking, and more time telling.
I then got an unpaid internship with a guy through Craigslist. It could have been a disaster but I was a nobody and needed to learn, anywhere the lessons would come from. The experience was interesting, unprofessional to say the least, but the person I worked for actually had a great background in the industry. My dedication led to him hiring me when he started getting real projects again. It wasn’t long before I was turning 21 while helping shoot a music video at 50 Cent’s house. It’s not where I expected to turn 21 but looking at my watch at around midnight I couldn’t help but think about how cool it was. This was the house, after all, my dad and I knew for being Mike Tyson’s house and we were big fans. It still featured a neon “Club TKO” sign in the club section of the mansion.
I continued working with the producers, even helping make Before I Self Destruct, another 50 Cent vehicle. At that time, I started to feel that the current path I was on was going nowhere. It stopped being cool, the money wasn’t great, and all of the promises that I’d be able to direct my own work became transparent as a ploy to just keep me working. I walked away.
I took whatever money I had saved up, bought my own camera and other equipment and started filming on my own. I realized, if no one’s paying you good money, do it your way. I made my first feature film, Susie Q, and did it my way. For all of its flaws, I’m very proud of the movie and ultimately it served as a lesson on how I want to make movies in the future, what to do, not do, and what to think about.
I’ve been doing it my way ever since and with THE DIRTY KIND I feel I’ve reached a professional level as a writer, producer, director, etc. I have the confidence, experience, and understanding of how to not only start a 3-ton train but keep it moving forward, even when no one else is there to help you pull.
3. What do you want the audience to ‘take away’ after they have seen the film.
I want the audience to feel uncomfortable, but at the same time like they just watched something incredibly cool. I want people to want to dress and act like Raymond. Some people started wearing cowboy boots because Travis Bickle wore them. It doesn’t mean that they’re homicidal lunatics. It just means they’re either lonely or introverted or frustrated. Something about the character resonated with them. There’s a children’s book called Everyone Poops and it’s a great lesson for kids. We are all capable of similar emotions and tastes and anything. I want the audience to relate to Raymond, someone how lives a life totally different than their own. I want them to see something of themselves in how he reacts to the weird situations he gets into.
4. What is your relationship to the cast of this film and how was it working with them?
Everyone in the movie was cast through an audition process, whether in person or via video submission. I’m very happy with everyone who was involved and am still particularly blown away by Duke Williams. There’s talented people, and then there’s people that have “it.” He has it. He understands how to talk and move for the camera and most importantly, he always knows his lines. He even knows the lines of the other actors.
5. Where did you shoot the film and how did you find your location(s)? How long did you film?
I filmed this movie in the Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, and Rego Park sections of Queens, NY. This is the area I grew up in, and
currently live with my wife and son. I know all the nooks and crannies and what streets resemble what movies. Why scout new locations when you have such intimate knowledge of a location already? It looked like the kind of movie I wanted to make.
We filmed mostly along Queens Boulevard, with different stretches representing the different worlds Raymond comes across as he works his way, the wrong way, down the Divine Comedy.
Another reason for filming in this neighborhood was because for a low budget feature, there wasn’t much help lugging around all of the equipment. Lights, cameras, and everything else are quite heavy so you want to make sure you don’t have to transport things too far.
Principle photography was 9 days. We filmed day, night, day, night, but no actor had to work longer than 10 hours straight. Scheduling was very important. Pre-production, a dying process in the age of digital filmmaking is the difference between a professional, organized shoot and self-indulgence.
6. When did you meet your collaborators? How did those partnerships come about?
I met producer Derek Zuzunaga while holding auditions for my first feature, Susie Q. He auditioned and got a role and we became friends. When time came around to make THE DIRTY KIND I let him know, even though I didn’t feel there was a good role for him. He wanted to be involved anyway he could and between the two projects was spending more time working behind the camera. He wanted to work next to me and help bring the script to the screen and in front of an audience. During the shoot he slept on my couch and we had some good times laughing between 3AM and 6AM, the only time we weren’t filming.
I met my wife on March 7th 2013 at a bar in the Lower East Side section of Manhattan. It was a fairly empty bar and I was trying to order whiskey, but there was no bartender around. That’s when Anna walked in and sat down, waiting for a friend. I thought she was very pretty, and like any young and confident male I was always trying to get laid. I didn’t get laid that night but instead met the coolest person in the world and now we are happily expecting our second child. Like making a movie, living is about knowing what you want, going for it, and not being afraid of the outcome. Sometimes what you get is not what you expect, but far better. Now she is the backbone of the production company behind THE DIRTY KIND.
7. What was your biggest challenge with making this movie, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you, where you knew you had something special?
The most challenging part of making the movie was working with a limited budget and only having 9 days to film the thing. That’s too many constraints. Little money or little time. When you’re dealing with both the room for error is nonexistent. You can’t afford to mask a mistake with pretty dressing, production value. You also can’t keep filming until you get it good. Every minute you’re on set needs to result in something quality in the final movie and you need to be able to see what the final movie should be at all times.
There was definitely a moment where I felt all of the work had resulted in something special. It’s when the movie screened at the Midway movie theater on Queens Boulevard. It’s where I grew up, my cathedral. Todd Strauss-Schulson, director of Isn’t It Romantic, also grew up in the neighborhood and felt similarly about the theater and we both filmed a segment talking about the place and why it was important to us. At the time, he was gearing up for the release of his big Hollywood romantic-comedy, starring Rebel Wilson, and I was planning the next steps for THE DIRTY KIND. He talked about his first movie that screened at the theater, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, and I talked about mine. It was at that moment that I realized I wasn’t just an audience member, appreciating what I saw on screen. I had crossed over to the other side. I was a filmmaker.
8. What made this project come together and be successful?
I’m not going to be humble. This project came together and is going where it’s going because I willed it every step of the way. I put the loud on my shoulders and carried it and corralled everyone who wanted to be involved to keep moving forward. People will help but they’ll help the amount that exists in their sphere. That’s not enough to complete a movie, get it on screens and in front of the audience. Everyone stops once they feel they’ve done their part. I don’t stop until the movie is in front of the audience and that means knocking on every door, breaking through every window once that fails, and moving forward without the expectation that there’s a defined goal line. That’s advice I tell every filmmaker, actor, etc. No one will help you succeed. They can help you only with the little, tangible things you ask of them. In the end, it’s on you. The audience doesn’t get the movie with a note card detailing your limitations. They don’t care. It’s on you to win them over and it’s up to you to figure out how to do that. I don’t think it’s a process that has an end.
9. Please elaborate a bit on your approach to making the film, including your influences (if any).
My approach starts with picking a “world” I want to cover. The genre, the foundation of the movie. Then I conduct endless research. I study movies, novels, storytelling in general, and also study everything else around that world. For THE DIRTY KIND I wanted to learn about criminals and their mentality. I wanted to study sociopaths. I wanted to study socioeconomics and the history of urban development. Imagination is limited to experience. I want to learn about what others experienced to build characters I couldn’t otherwise understand. Because I have the foundation of the movie, the genre, the world, I have freedom to experiment because I always have that crutch to rely on.
10. Please address the music in the film. How did these choices come about?
I knew I wanted two styles of music to define the two themes. There was the gangster’s world, and Raymond’s world. The criminal underworld and the private investigator world. For the gangsters I settled on a Bernard Herman type score. I wanted something classic, something thrilling, and something that made the audience think they were watching a movie. When the movie introduces Raymond, I wanted blues music. I wanted something that was down to earth and real. I wanted the audience to feel like they were in Raymond’s real world, and the world of the gangsters was a different, movie world. That way when Raymond enters the other world, the audience comes with him for the journey and really feels it. While a movie score is meant to elicit emotion, blues music comes from emotion. There’s a big difference in that.
11. How do you think THE DIRTY KIND fits into your personal growth as a director? How will it affect your future projects?
THE DIRTY KIND taught me how I want to go about making movies. The foundation from which I want to start each project. It also taught me how to concisely, always be thinking from the perspective of the audience. This movie started my journey on understanding technique.
12. Share something unique about the film. It can be related to the subject, the title, the making of the film, the vision behind the film, casting, location, script, etc.
This movie takes place in Queens and is unique because it shows a side of the city that we don’t really get to see anymore. It’s not a trendy neighborhood; it’s not a dilapidated neighborhood. It’s a neighborhood where people grew up and never left. It’s something that used to be commonplace, but is quickly disappearing.
The script is structured like the Coen brothers structured Fargo. The first act serves as exposition and the protagonist is introduced at the start of the second act. It’s a technique that I fell in love with and am surprised isn’t more commonplace in movies. We’re so often told that with a movie you need to show the character(s) you’re going to be following and follow them through the movie. With the structure in THE DIRTY KIND I could show two worlds and how, ultimately, there’s only one world and it’s very small. The key is to do this without the audience noticing. Sure some people will be turned off and get confused, but some people get confused watching The Cutting Edge. I’ll live with it.
Duke Williams is unique because he’s one of the finest actors I’ve ever seen.
13. What are some of your favorite films, and what are your other creative influences?
At the top of the mountain is and always will be Stanley Kubrick. Each one of his movies can be revisited and harvested for any crop the audience, or filmmaker could want. Scorsese was right when he said every one movie by Kubrick is equal to ten by any other great filmmaker. It will take ten other movies to make you feel, to make you learn, the way a Kubrick movie can.
The Coen brothers are a huge influence on me. They are masters of noir, and at the same time, Raising Arizona is perfection. Between Raising Arizona and Blood Simple it hurts how strong an understanding of storytelling they had so early. They get it. Fargo and No Country for Old Men were particular influences on the structure of THE DIRTY KIND’S script. Those two movies seamlessly introduce the protagonist in the second act and use the first act as exposition. It’s a beautiful way to tell a story a sprawling story without having it feel too loose. Hitchcock did it in Psycho and created a revolution.
There are many, many influences on me. Going back some, Raoul Walsh I feel was a studio filmmaker that really stood apart (if John Ford was Zeus then Raoul Walsh was Hercules, a demi-God who gave us a glimpse at something fantastic while still residing on our celestial plane). Curtiz, Mayo, Wellman, Hawks, and more were all studio directors who made some great movies, but Walsh consistently made something that felt interesting and cinematic and at the same time, real. The Roaring Twenties is one of the most important movies I’ve ever seen and has humanity, and at the same time, one-liners that rival Die Hard. It took the gangster genre and showed us that the world of bootleggers is not just cheap entertainment; it is actually an epic story on par with Gone with the Wind. Without it we would never have The Godfather. He made John Wayne, exposed us to widescreen, defined anti-heroes, and showed us just how wide of a range James Cagney really had. He was a special filmmaker.
Without Orson Welles I wouldn’t have THE DIRTY KIND. He revolutionized how a story could be told, structurally and visually. He also showed us that we need to treat filmmaking not as a job but as an entrepreneurial endeavor. And to this day no one has used an 18mm (18.5mm to be exact) lens better.
There are countless filmmakers and films and each one merits a book on its own. There’s actually many amazing books already out there.
The most important book I’ve ever read, as a filmmaker, is Film Technique and Film Acting by V.I. Pudovkin. Any person who wants to make a movie needs to read this book and embrace the theory it offers. There are movies that revolutionize the industry, but they all are built on a foundation of rules that Pudovkin outlines. He didn’t create these rules; he just discovered them during the early days of filmmaking when everything was new.
14. Future projects in the pipeline? Tell us!
I have another crime-thriller I recently wrote called Tanglewood that I’m looking to make. It’s far larger in scope than THE DIRTY KIND and deals with the world of the wealthy and our fascination with conspiracy. What’s a conspiracy and what’s just organic, industrial growth? It also features a private investigator but is not a retread of THE DIRTY KIND. I’ve read about everyone from Aleister Crowley to Candy Jones to John Milton’s Paradise Lost (an In Plain English edition by Joseph Lanzara that I highly recommend). For a crime-thriller the cinematic influences are not the usual lot. Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons, Visconti’s Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) and The Damned, and Renoir’s Rules of the Game are a few of the movies I looked to. Ultimately, Tanglewood is about the decline of a wealthy and powerful family.
I’m looking to make a concert film featuring the Foster Europe Band. It’s a blues band I came across, based out of Long Island, that features Rob Europe. When you hear something special you know it and what they have is special and I want to capture that. I’ve been in talks with people at Stony Brook University about working together on the project as they have such a rich musical history, hosting The Who, Jimi Hendrix, and more.
I’m researching the horror genre. It’s not a genre I’m a huge fan of but want to learn more about. I want to learn more about fear and the different kinds of fear that exist. A lot of it is learning about myself and what terrifies me, conscious and subconsciously. At this phase I’m just a researcher. What I’ve learned so far is I don’t think I’ve ever come across more evil characters than the kids in Mendal W. Johnson’s Let’s Play at the Adams’.
I’m also collecting every book I can find on the history of coal mining, Appalachia and Colorado, and the robber barons, but won’t go further than that.