M is for MADNESS
A 3 minute Short Horror Film Contest entry
ABC’s of Death 26th Director Contest.
by Joseph Robert Louis Jobe
Interview by Michael T. Snyder
Please tells us about your crew. Who is directing, shooting, and producing?
I, (Joseph Robert Louis Jobe) am the Director, Screenwriter, Casting Director, Camera Operator, Editor, Sound Engineer and one of the Producers. Buck always seems to stop with me, control issues I guess… Sean Carter is another one of our Associate producers. Ted Haynes is our Lead Associate Producer. Ca$h Cantrell is our Production Manager, 2nd Location specialist, Grip, Camera Assistant and Associate Producer. Travis Kerr is our Storyboard Artist and Set Painter. Steve Kalinsky will be doing press photography. Alfonse Yanazzo is our Location Specialist, Grip, and Script Supervisor.
We have a great, talented cast and for virtually every one of the cast this was their very first film. I like to start by casting the “LOOK” of the characters that I write FIRST, acting talent and performance, although very critical, is second to me. Rachael Pearlman plays “LISA”, our lead. She wanted and fought, literally tooth and nail for the lead from day one of me reaching out to her and she gave it her all – great talent to work with, true professional, takes direction very well. I could feel in my gut that she was the right one for the part and damned if I wasn’t right. Great supporter of the project from the very beginning.
Kimberly S Zarobsky plays “Medical Mary” and she is just absolutely GREAT in the part – we have received many compliments that she’s the scariest one in the film. Looking back I wish I had used her more, but I am looking forward to working with her again sometime very soon. Real big part of the crew. As soon as we lost our makeup and costume people, she came through and did both jobs, plus acted ON SHOOTDAY!
Morgan Tank Gonzalez is “Maniac Morgan” – that’s all her – can’t fake her look – great crew motivator, helped with makeup and lifted the spirits of the whole crew. When I first offered her the part she almost jumped threw the phone to thank me she was so excited about the film! Lisa Alsippi, who plays “Sharon the Inmate” had just showed up on the set to watch and I put her to work! Noe THAT’S INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING! That’s show biz folks!
“Warren “Razor” McClure” is played by Ca$h Cantrell. Where do I start with this guy… He’s one of my best friends for over 10 years, my mentor, my former Boss, my coworker. 10 years is a very, very long time to know someone when you look back on all you have gone through personally and professionally with someone. Adding his character was actually an “after thought”. As I was editing the “asylum” footage, I wanted a “VOICE”, someone, a character, to give the audiences an “incite” into what they are about to see and why they are seeing it. With this being his first (on camera performance), he did great. Hell, his character is even being quoted on the contest site! How cool is that!
I wrote the character for him, and he is that character! What you see is how he is and that is what good casting and good writing is all about. KNOW your characters and GIVE THEM WHAT THEY CAN DO AS NATURALLY AS POSSIBLE.
I really wish I didn’t have to devote over six weeks and more than twelve hours a day being the (main) Fundraiser, Casting Director, and main Producer. On a (Short Horror Film) the standard practice is to do everything, and most everything that you can do, you do yourself. I accept that.
There is a choice here. I chose to do this, but I am getting some very good help along the way. If it was easy, you know the saying, everyone would be doing it.
I was originally going to shoot MADNESS with a Nikon D800 but went another way. I have been a Nikon guy all my life. Great camera. My father shot on Nikons when I was growing up and I shoot stills today with his Nikon D80.
Our shoot date kept getting pushed further and further back due to the talent’s schedules and availability, we changed locations 2 weeks before our planned shoot date, we were still casting, I was ordering camera equipment for the shoot, the Indiegogo campaign was just launched, you name it. Roadblocks at every turn.
The real trick was to lock in a date and shoot the damn thing. But, things being what they may be in independent film, at the end we only had only a (ONE DAY-5 HOUR SHOOTDAY) with the main cast. Ca$h’s character of Warren “Razor” McClure would be shot at a separate location days later. A 5 hour shoot to get 3 minutes of useable footage with non-actors as the minutes are ticking down until we need to leave the set. That was our filming situation. No time.
We couldn’t lock down a firm rental period for the Nikon equipment because of these rescheduling factors. We had to make a change in the entire films concept and design so that we could shoot and produce on time and hopefully within budget. This (contest project) has a strict deadline and I at least wanted a week to edit the (3 minute contest submission). Plus, the later we got the film online afforded us less time to promote it.
The “DIRECTOR’S CUT” short film would be done the weeks after. It would wind up that at the end of the day that I would be financing this film about 90% by myself. Originally we were to shoot at the Carrie Furnace location in Dravosberg, located right next to Kennywood Amusement Park. As much as we wanted to shoot there, the time schedule and costs became prohibitive. We found an industrialized location in Jeannette, PA. that served us very well. We got basically 2 sets out of there, but then again we had the time restraints holding us back. Great location, not a lot of time to shoot in it. It took Travis Kerr 2 days to complete all of the “graffiti” as I did the set dressing and props.
We are shooting the whole film with a GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition @ 1080p – 24fps to give the film a sense of nervousness and terror, and I think we achieved that result effectively. We are also using a Steadicam specifically designed for the GoPro, and that alone added a lot of production value to the footage as well.
I have been a Camera Assistant and Camera operator on varied Pittsburgh based films such as “Bob Roberts”, “Striking Distance”, and believe it or not, “Blood sucking Pharaoh’s of Pittsburgh” – which was the first Hollywood film that I had ever worked on. Spent many years working along side some incredible Pittsburgh Commercial Directors as a Camera Assistant. The “good-ole-days” when shooting “ON FILM” was the (only option) and it was the norm and video assist was new. Looking back, I really miss those days.
Learned it all there, on set, and I read everything that I can from “American Cinematographer” to “HD VideoPro” magazine every month for the past 20 years. Watching films with a “Photographer’s Eye” and listening from a “Writer’s Perspective” helps a lot too. In my opinion you have to have this methodology already deep in your head and intergraded in your personality or you don’t.
I was a Director of Photography on “Eyes are upon you”, and Indie-Film made here in Pittsburgh many years ago. I even played a small part of a “drunken street bum” in that film and actually had a line of dialogue. What a debut!
My first documentary that I shot was “Max – The Crystal Skull” that featured JoAnn Parks – nationally know as the person entrusted with the care of this ancient, mystical crystal skull for years, and we became great friends after that. Now we are doing a short Horror film – who knew?
What is the theme to your short? Is there a moral?
SYNOPSIS: “MADNESS: This short story revolves around Lisa, a 25 year woman, somehow thrown away and forgotten by society, awakening to find herself restrained in a straight jacket, left alone inside a decaying insane asylum with only her blood and bruises left to help her to understand what is happening, not only to her circumstances, but within her own mind. And those voices she hears, they’re NOT all in her head”!
LOGLINE: “Alone and terrified, Lisa must confront the horrific images that invade and torture her every thought to survive”.
I find the subject of a person’s MADNESS very, very fascinating. Always have for some unknown reason. I have no idea why. To live a life without any self control, or remorse, or understanding of consequences, hearing the (reported) voices seemingly coming from nowhere but inside one’s own mind.
The self-inflicted pain and the pain inflicted upon others, having to be kept in absolute solitude and possibly medicated, or even worse abused for possibly one’s entire life. That is what I think is true terror.
That kind of person is out there more that you think. I have been told that in reality, this is a much bigger problem in society than we would ever be led to believe. Sometimes people are just bad people, “bad wiring” as I understand it. It’s a miracle that we actually can get through the day when you think about it.
These people are (supposed to be) separated from society. Sometimes society misses one or let’s one go too soon. The MIND is what makes one a terrible self.
Is there a moral to my storytelling? I play show and tell with story and images. Many people say that my morals are questionable to non-existent in nature at best. You decide.
How are you separating Madness from other horror short films out there?
I don’t really want to separate MADNESS from other “HORROR” films, I would want my film to be embraced and coexist along side the films that for years terrified me, more so in my much younger years as opposed to today. THE EXCORCIST is STILL A BRILLIANT FILM. The remake of EVIL DEAD had a few scenes that literally sent chills up my spine, it really did, and that was a real surprise to me.
For a film to do that to ME is quite an accomplishment! I really liked the “found footage” approach taken with THE DEVIL INSIDE. MADNESS is a short film – hopefully people may want to see more stories from these characters someday.
I have less than five minutes in this (Horror contest entry film submission) to shock and scare the shit out of you. That’s the job. That was the job of The Exorcist, Evil Dead, Audition, The Shining, Hellraiser, and on and on. The list is huge and we remember these films as household names today. I would certainly like to accomplish something like that someday soon.
I’m just hoping that audiences, be they see my films at film festivals, conventions or broadcast, that they will want to see more of my films, what is he doing next… I want to see that film again… either to be entertained or personally intrigued, perhaps even disturbed in some way when they view it.
To get a reaction, positive or negative, to see something they won’t forget and want to remember in some sort of very personal way, to have an influence. Hell, I had 4 people walk off the set the morning of the shoot (do to script chances, supposedly) and I haven’t shot a single frame of video yet!!! Now THAT’S a REACTION! That’s not a whole lot to ask, but it’s also asking a whole Hell of a lot at the same time.
What horror contest are you submitting to? Is it possible for viewers to vote online, or is it a closed contest? When and where will your trailer for Madness be made public?
THE FILM IS ONLINE NOW… ABC’s OF DEATH 26 Director contest. I caught last years film on Netflix. It’s a compilation of 26, 3 to 10 minute horror-themed shorts that run over 2 hours that comprise the entire film. There were directors from Sweden, Japan, the U.S., from all over the world.
Some stood out to me so well as basically virtual works of art: “D is for Dogfight” “X is for XXL” “I is for Ingrown”. Those are my personal favorites. My top 3. They are holding a contest for a 26th Director for this years film and we are taking our shot.
This was TRUE ARTHOUSE FILMMAKING in every sense of the word. In my opinion, I found my way home. I saw that others see the world as I do artistically. That film gave us something to watch over and over again. Shocking one minute, art the next, claymation, to shit that I had no idea of what they were doing or what they were trying to say.
That’s just brilliant. Short little narratives that engage you, hold you at times with a death grip to the throat and leaving you gasping for air, your head and eyes spinning from what you have just seen and herd. Shocked, amazed, and maybe CHANGED in some way. Really cool stuff. When I learned about the contest the clock started ticking!
Viewers will have a chance to VOTE by clicking “like” on the films page on the ABC’s of DEATH “ENTRIES” page. Their favorite submission for this contest and a winner will be chosen for inclusion in this years new compilation of films, The ABC’s of DEATH 2.
I have not viewed any other of the filmmakers submissions, I had people do that for me. I need to concentrate on “M is for MADNESS” for myself, not on what others are doing. I’m told by my crew that our chances are good. All votes and likes are truly appreciated by us, so vote often!
Submissions are open to all Independent filmmakers around the world, and the Submission Deadline is October 31st – ending appropriately on Halloween. Top 12 Announced: Nov 5th. Voting Ends: Nov 30th. Winner Announced: Dec 15th. The 3 minute short horror film contest submission of MADNESS will be online on their website. The Director’s cut and the BTS footage – we will have that available after the contest.
People can see and vote “LIKE” on the film HERE: M is for MADNESS
What drives you to produce this project?
That’s a damn good question that a lot of people would sure as Hell like an answer to as well! Pressure. Deadlines. Do I know what drives me, what makes me obsessed about writing, filming and telling these graphic stories that I have conjured up in my ole’ short-circuited brain-box?
I’m a Sagittarius (same birth date as Billy the Kid, among others)- creative, controlling, outspoken, goes after their goals, beyond obsessive and (an anal) perfectionist. The easy answer, and the only one that makes sense to me is that once you know this is what you want to do, you need to do it. No exceptions.
That advice and reasoning comes from a Director that I have followed and studied ever since I was 12 years old – Sir Ridley Scott. His words, not mine. “Just do it” he said about a year ago about getting off of your ass and just shooting your film and he’s dead-on right.
I saw “ALIEN” when I was 12 years old, only saw it twice in the theaters. I literally had to cover my eyes with my hands both times as I was watching the “chest burster” scene through my fingers! No shit – I couldn’t watch it, I will never, ever forget that. That was the difining moment that I must make films in my lifetime.
I also left the theaters back in 1979 after that knowing that filmmaking is exactly what I wanted to do someday. That film truly changed my educational direction, career direction and my basic outlook on life, as well as on modern film. I researched the Hell out of that film, I still do to this day. It’s an obsession to override perfection. That was, and still is my goal today, whether it be by writing the story or by filming it.
IMAGE PERFECTION. I see the world around all of us like that. Composition, color, content, context, structure, exposure, etc. I just can’t see the world any other way. “The Exorcist” taught me story structure. “Alien” taught me how to film it. Tell the story well. Photograph the story well.
Create an environment, a certain or strangely unfamiliar mood that we do not see or experience day after day after day. Show me something different. Shock me. Frighten me. Make me feel…SOMETHING. I really think that the “ABC’s of DEATH” does just that, and does that very well.
If once you communicate this in film, you can do almost anything, including making some very good entertainment choices for the audience. This is not a social changing of ideas or marketing agendas, it’s entertainment – good or bad, that’s all it is! You sit on your ass for 90 minutes or more and stare at something. Sometimes you make films for yourself.
To be successful you must make films to THINK ABOUT FOR DAYS AFTER SEEING IT. Now that’s filmmaking.
Would I have done things differently? Absolutely 100%. Do I think the film can be improved? 100%. This film was a race against time from day 1. It’s a miracle we got what we did and what we did get is alright with me. Far from perfection, but it’s a complete 3 minute idea for a contest. Our talent and crew – absolutely everyone LEARNED SO DAMN MUCH on this production, myself included more than anyone.
In the coming week, I will be cutting (MY VERSION) instead of a “timed contest version” of the film – the “definitive short” if you will. The really cool thing is… the entire cast and crew want to do another film RIGHT NOW! I can’t ask for a bigger compliment than that, so I think the film did achieve something for everyone involved, and that in of itself is cool as Hell.
Crew group photo © 2013 Steve Kalinsky