Filmmaker Q&A Sean Melia

by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"

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DCP:

When did your love and enjoyment of movies and filmmaking begin?

 

Sean Melia

I loved movies growing up, but I don't have a story of wanting to make one from grade school or anything like that.  I grew up in a musical family and spent my high school and college years playing guitar in bands (the best thing that came from that was meeting my wife at an open mic).  It wasn't until I was almost 30 when out of the blue I had an idea for a screenplay and wrote it down.  It was okay, not great, so I took an extension class at NYU and wrote a couple more that were long on ideas and short on execution. It wasn't until I decided to make You Don't Know Me in 2008 that I really learned what screenwriting was all about.  After that experience I set my sights on making a feature.  

 

 

DCP:

Do you have any films that have left an lasting impact on you? And what about those films has left an impact on you?

 

SM:

Network for its satire, Raising Arizona for its absurdity, Texas Chainsaw for its rawness, Poltergeist for its craft, Clue for its timing, Pulp Fiction for its style, Jaws for being my favorite movie of all time.   

 

DCP:

Is there anything about yourself that would be surprising to others?

 

SM:

I'm just about to turn 43 years old, which I suppose is a bit late for embarking on a filmmaking career. I remember what 43 looked like when I was a kid and it was more along the lines of stay the course until the pension kicked in at 55 and then hope you make it to 70.  What didn't seem remotely possible then has become a reality primarily due to the ridiculous advances in technology that makes it possible to create movies on the (relative) cheap. Having a bunch of remarkably talented friends interested in your projects helps a bit too!

 

DCP:

Who or what inspires you, as a person and as an artist?

 

SM:

My wife Caroline Falby, who is an extraordinary visual artist as well as a damn good songwriter.  Everything I do starts with impressing her first.

 

DCP:

"Hank Boyd Is Dead" is your first feature film - Can tell us what it's about, where did the story stem from, and can you talk about the process of what it took to make it?

 

SM:

After You Don't Know Me (which stars Michael Hogan, Stefanie Frame and Neil Magnuson, who are all in Boyd) I started writing a new batch of features with the idea of producing one on my own.  The first two were too expensive to pull off on my own, the third became Hank Boyd Is Dead.  

 

The story started as an examination of what it would be like to be the family member of a notorious criminal that the world hated but you were left to mourn.  But as I outlined the plot, I kept drifting towards the absurdity of the situation and from there it evolved into a psychopathic soap opera that is the Boyd family.

 

The film was written to be made in a week and we did it in just under eight days, shooting 10-12 pages a day (it was all the time I could afford to take off). We managed with a skeleton crew of five, led by the outstanding work Joe White, who was hired ten days before the shoot after my original DP backed out to take a better paying job. Half the names listed in the credits are MLB players from the late 70s because someone told me a larger crew implied higher production value. I just thought it was funny.

 

DCP:

Were there any lessons your learned from making your previous short films that you applied to directing your first feature?

 

SM:

Making my short films was my film school.  Without them I could have never pulled off a feature.  It taught me economy of story, a creative language and practical management skills necessary to get a group of smart and strong willed people on the same page.  I recommend to anyone interested in writing for film to make something, even if you have no ambition to direct.  It goes way beyond action and cut.

 

DCP:

Can you talk about any projects you may have coming up in the future?

 

SM:

As mentioned above, I have a couple of screenplays that I'd love to make in the near future.  One's another horror satire along the lines of Hank Boyd, the other more of a man caught in a trap thriller.  In the meantime I'm writing a new screenplay about a yard sale gone awry with the idea of shooting it over a long weekend.

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