Filmmaker Question & Answer

by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"

Michael Medaglia

 

 

Dark Comedy Productions:

 

After seeing this picture I count it as one of my all time favorite films! I connected quite profoundly to Hermann and his struggle. I think any artist in any field could connect to that character. Where did the idea for this story originate?

 

Michael Medaglia:

 

Really glad you liked it. I think a lot of creative-folks go through a similar struggle as Hermann does. Finding a balance between your creative life and your interpersonal relationships can be hard. I was struggling with that when I wrote the script. The inspiration for the talking hole came from a single scene that popped in my head. It’s the one where Hermann finds the notes in the wall. He discovers these notes that must have been there forever, but it seems like they’re having a direct conversation with him. He asks a question and immediately finds a note that answers it, but judging from how worn the paper is, the note must be years old. That scene became the seed around from which the rest of the story grew.

 

 

 

Dark Comedy Productions:

 

Cell Count is a film I thoroughly enjoyed - How did you get connected with and get to collaborate with Todd Freeman on this film?

 

Michael Medaglia:

 

Todd and his brother Jason had already made several indie films in Portland, Oregon (which I live). As this was my first feature, I wanted to team up with other producers who had gone down the same road. I contacted Todd and Jason and we had several meetings (which mostly involved talking about old films over beers). I think we got along very well from the get-go. They’re both writer/directors themselves so it was great having producers that ‘got it’. There were no egos involved. They were great to work with, as were the other producers on the film. I think we all made a good team.

 

Dark Comedy Productions:

 

My first thought when I saw the name Denise Poirier in the credits was how cool that was given that I have followed her work for years since Aeon Flux - What was the process in casting her to be "The Voice"?

 

Michael Medaglia:

 

Denise was just fantastic. The Hole is really just a voice in a wall. With no arms or legs, if she needs get something done she requires other people to do it. So her voice needs to be compelling enough to manipulate people. While writing the script, it helped me to already have a voice in my head for The Hole. For me, that was the strong yet seductive voice of Aeon flux. We had a temporary actor do the voice while we shot the scenes with Shawn McGrath (Hermann). After we wrapped principal photography, I contacted Denise. I really had no idea how she would react to the story’s bizarreness, but she was game for it. I was so glad. She breathed so much life into the character. She’s done a lot of live acting and theater in addition to her voice-acting, so the part was very easy for her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dark Comedy Productions:

 

What did you find most fun about making your first feature film?

 

Michael Medaglia:

 

The best part of making the film was that was a good stretch for me as a director. I had made several short-format films previously, but Deep Dark provided many firsts for me as a director. This was my first-time working with a stunt-coordinator, first time working with significant amount of practical special effects, first fight-scene, first sex scene (there actually are two but um...one is slightly more memorable). It was great having to try all these new things to try out.

 

Dark Comedy Productions:

 

What challenges did you face during the making of your first feature length film?

 

Michael Medaglia:

 

Creatively, the biggest challenge was simply to make the story believable. When you consider we had a lot of scenes with an actor literally talking to a hole in the wall, it’s hard to keep the viewer engaged. Between Sean’s and Denise’s performances, careful cinematography and sound design I think we were able to achieve this. The hardest non-creative challenge was one that probably plagues all indie-films: finding the money. First it’s tough to raise the money to make the film, then it’s tough to get audiences to find out about the film. We’re still trying to get it distributed into other countries.

 

Dark Comedy Productions:

 

What were some of biggest differences between making a short and making a feature length?

 

Michael Medaglia:

 

I think you have to remember it’s a marathon and not a sprint. You can’t run yourself to exhaustion on day 2 because you know you’ll be shooting for the rest of the week. Also, since you’re working with the same crew for several weeks, you develop a kind of family with them. You’re seeing the same people day-in and day-out and you have to be able to work well together. If the crew sees the producer arguing with the director--that kind of thing affects morale. I’m happy to say we all got along really well. When we started filming, we agreed to approach every setback as simply problem to solve together. This way, we were able to save the drama for the camera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dark Comedy Productions:

 

To you, what was this story/film trying to say?

 

Michael Medaglia:

 

I wouldn’t say Deep Dark has a specific soapbox-type message in it, but I guess the main theme would be the need for balance between success and relationships (it’s no accident Hermann is a mobile-maker), and the importance of being able to recognize something good when it’s sitting right in front of you.

 

Dark Comedy Productions:

 

How important is it for artists to stick with it even in times of feeling dispassionate or uninspired?

 

Michael Medaglia:

 

It’s tough to keep inspired. I think you have to treat your art a little bit like a relationship. By that I mean you have to nurture it and understand that you’ll have to make adjustments at times. You have to be protective of your creative time too. I often schedule ‘writing-dates’ with myself. My wife likes to make fun of me about it, but thankfully she is understanding.

 

Dark Comedy Productions:

 

Do you have any advice for our struggling artists out there?

 

Michael Medaglia:

 

As an artist you’re always going to be struggling with something. Learn to expect and plan for it. You can’t see it as “I’m just going to endure this bit of torture here because it will get me from point A to point B.” You have to enjoy the journey itself. You also have to get yourself in a position where you’re able to make this journey. For example, if (like me) you’re not able to support yourself with your art alone, it means you’re going to have to find a job which still allows you to create your art until it does. Making an indie film is an immense amount of time work, and really doesn’t pay very well. You have to love the process itself.

 

Dark Comedy Productions:

 

Any future projects you're working on?

 

Michael Medaglia:

 

I have a few projects underway. I’m currently writing a new script (another horror-fantasy), but it could be a while until the film gets made. In the meantime I’m developing a podcast and a horror comic.

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Take a look at Phillip's review of Deep Dark 

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