On this episode, Phil Newsome, producer of Albanian Gangster and Every Time I Die, talks about producing and distributing indie films.
A Film Review by EJ Argenio, No Rest for the Weekend
Aye Sir, through the thick fog and high tides, The Lighthouse shines with darkness as awards season sails in.
Traveling through a heavy storm, Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) approach the coast of a lighthouse deep into the ocean as they embark on four weeks of employment maintaining the structure. Wake, a veteran of the sea, is working for the first time with Winslow, who most recently worked chopping timber in the forests near Canada. Winslow is a young man looking for his place in life and became intrigued by this opportunity because of the money he could earn. “The further you are into the ocean, the more money you make,” Winslow tells Wake. However, Winslow quickly realizes he might be in for more than he bargained for with his day to day duties including tasks from shoveling coal to emptying buckets of bodily waste. Wake, constantly barking orders at Winslow, makes his purpose on the remote island very clear. His job is to maintain the light from dark until morning. This is much to the chagrin of Winslow, who makes it known from the film’s start that he is eager to be up atop the lighthouse. It takes time for Winslow to adjust, and as their four weeks of service comes to an end, an ungodly storm barges through preventing their relief of duty. With the weather not calming, the two lighthouse keepers are stranded in solitude with no end in sight.
Willem Dafoe gives a masterful performance as the grizzled seaman who is all too familiar with the uncomfortable conditions surrounding him. The delivery of every word of dialogue hits its mark. Part ship captain, part pirate, there is an authenticity that has you feeling as though this was his real profession. However, it is Robert Pattinson who gives a career-defining performance as his portrayal of Winslow slowly turns from disgruntled employee into madman. Moving forward, Pattinson has made it difficult for audiences to remember him as the pale-skinned vampire Edward in Twilight. Ephraim Winslow is now his most iconic role.
Director Roger Eggers (The Witch) does a remarkable job bringing out the best in both actors in this chilling tale of isolation & madness. He channels the directorial stylings of Hitchcock and DePalma in this black and white story of solitude. The cinematography of Jarin Blaschke compliments Eggers’ direction through his use of light and shade. Through close-ups of Wake and Winslow during peak moments in the film, it’s difficult for audiences not to feel as though they are the ones stranded. One can tell that he fed off the performances of Dafoe and Pattinson and felt a responsibility to visualize the very darkness that grew within each character.
In addition, praise must be given to Max Eggers, who wrote the film with director Roger Eggers.. Despite having only two characters and one primary location, the storyline becomes more intriguing through the hour and forty-nine minute runtime. Never does a dull moment occur. Credit must also be given to their inspiration. The end credits note dialogue was taken from the works of Herman Melville and the journals of former lighthouse keepers.
The score by Mark Korven perfectly marries music with the natural sounds of wind and sea. With every beat, the tone of the film is further enforced. The score in addition to the powerful acting and directing cements The Lighthouse as an instant classic.
Had you asked me a month ago, I would have assumed that Joker would be the hands down favorite to rack up many of the awards this season. Now, I’m not so sure. It will be interesting to see how Dafoe and Pattinson will be marketed to the Hollywood Foreign Press and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. They both give lead performances, but will the producers want them to go head to head? In my opinion, one thing is certain, should they put them in separate categories, whoever is considered the supporting actor, likely wins. Also expect nominations for directing, writing, cinematography, and best picture, which is exactly what this film is right now … as I see it. Other potential nominations include costume design, editing, and sound mixing.
The Lighthouse is a must see film. It is the type of cinema that will be shown in film schools for years to come. As the final scene fades to black, I could not help but say aloud, “wow”. The rest of the theater applauded in admiration recognizing the brilliance that is The Lighthouse.
“Write. Shoot. Edit. Repeat.” has been Ryan Connelly’s mantra since starting the Film Riot YouTube channel in 2006. Over the years we’ve seen the channel grow and Connelly’s filmmaking skills along with it. There’s Comes a Knocking is the latest in a long line of short film offerings from the writer/director.
There Comes a Knocking is the story of Emma, a young woman who is mourning the loss of her lover. She is all alone in a new house, a house he bought for them.
Stefanie Butler is compelling as Emma. She conveys a lot of emotion given the short run time, and makes us feel for her even before the screaming starts. We are drawn into her world by Connelly’s slow-moving camera, which seems to float omnipotently as we stay with Emma right until the chilling climax when the horror is revealed.
Cinematographer Chase Smith’s use of warm and cold light take the story from a drama about loss to a supernatural thriller perfectly complemented by Daniel James’ foreboding score.
This film feels like what David F. Sandberg would have made when he was making his horror shorts if he had more money and a crew. It’s easy to see that Connelly and company have come a long way since their DIY days.
There Comes a Knocking is a proof of concept short for what will hopefully become a feature film, a first for Connelly. After years of helping filmmakers improve their skills, he has sharpened his own and is ready to move to the next level, proof that his practice of writing, shooting, and editing will definitely open doors.
On this episode, Jenny Paul returns to the program to talk about her latest interactive digital series project, Adulting with Jane, a new digital series with a twist. You can now buy the products in the show as you’re watching it.
A Review by EJ Argenio
Do you want to hear a scary story? Get your popcorn, turn off the lights, and turn on A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio.
A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio is comprised of chilling vignettes beautifully told by Rod Wilson (James Wright) who is not your average late-night radio talk show host. His talk show, Nightmare Radio, focuses on a variety of horror stories, from the supernatural to urban legends, with the hopes members of his audience will call in and share ones of their own. This is a modern day telling of campfire stories, but instead of being in the middle of a forest with a group of friends, Rod’s behind the mic in his studio speaking with complete strangers. The film begins on a a night that seems like any other night, any other show, and we have the honor of taking part as he narrates tales of possession, vanity and corporal punishment.
The film is comprised of a series of vignettes told by Wilson. These tales include a ghost made out of darkness, a victim of a sadistic hair stylist, a convicted murderer sentenced to a series of amputations, a traumatized dancer, and a hunter who becomes the hunted.
Tonight’s show appears to be commonplace for Rod, but the horror becomes all too real after the host receives a phone call from a child claiming that someone is trying to murder him. Despite looking at this as nothing more than a prank, Rod starts to question his reality.
The cinematography of Carlos Goitia, combined with a score composed by director Luciano Onetti, elevate each terror-filled tale as they unfold. When we learn the story of a young dancer’s psychological torment, we cannot help but empathize. This authenticity not only makes for an entertaining horror film, but we are hooked in further when Rod eventually goes from narrator to protagonist.
A combination of Tales From The Darkside & Talk Radio, A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio has re-imagined the telling of the campfire horror story. If you’re a fan of the macabre, and enjoy the agony of fear, this is the movie for you.
Horror has a home in Brooklyn. The most popular genre in indie film is definitely horror. Many filmmakers from Guillermo Del Toro and Peter Jackson to David F. Sandberg got their start in the industry by making horror films. Jason Blum built Blumhouse on a foundation of films like Paranormal Activity and Sinister before later achieving critical acclaim with Get Out. Horror has been and continues to be the way to break into an over-saturated industry.
The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival which ran from October 17th to October 24th this year was packed with young hopeful filmmakers looking to launch their careers and with fans looking for the latest scares. Festival founder Kaila Heir and her team put together an impressive program that is filmmaker and fan friendly.
At this year’s festival, there were a wide variety of films both shorts and features that range from psychological thriller to horror comedy to the surreal. I had the opportunity to attend Home Invasion short’s program, and was impressed by the selection. Some of the shorts that stood out were: Laundry Night by director. A.K. Espada, Bakemono, by Sumire Takamatsu and Jorge Lucas, and Muffin Man by Ethan Blum and starring (friend of the show) Stefanie Bloom.
Some of this year’s winners included the features Daniel Isn’t Real which took home the best horror film and best director awards, Monument which took home the Best Picture award in the Head Trip Feature Competition, and Swallow which won Best Screenplay and Best Production Design.
Now in its fourth year and going strong, the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival has recently been named one of the 30 Bloody Best Genre Fests by MovieMaker Magazine. If you’re a horror fan, BHFF have a lot to offer, and if you’re filmmaker looking to make your bones in horror, I highly recommend submitting your film.
On this episode actor/filmmaker Kate Forsatz talks about the making of her indie feature Thre3bound. We first met Kate at this year’s Soho International Film Festival.
Actor/Producer Alex Emanuel talks with host Jason Godbey about his indie feature, The Incoherents. We first met Alex and the team behind The Incoherents at this year’s Soho International Film Festival.
Forty years ago in the summer of ’79, Alien, a revolutionary science-fiction/horror film made its way out into the world, bursting on the scene much like its titular character burst out of the chest of an unsuspecting John Hurt. Memory: The Origins of Alien explores the ideology and influences that gave birth to Alien as well as the film’s production and its meaning.
Documentaries about the origins of movies are nothing new. In fact, there are documentaries, video essays, reviews, books, etc. about Alien which have existed since its release. One need look no further than the various DVD and Blu Ray releases of Alien to find how it was made. This raises the central question to the making of this documentary: what is left to say about this film that hasn’t already been said? Memory explores the Greco-Roman myths and the Lovecraftian imagery that influenced the creators of Alien.
Alien is the brainchild of Dan O’Bannon, H.R. Geiger, and Ridley Scott; each one a visionary in his own right. This documentary explores their influences and how they were able to conceive what some consider a perfect horror film in space that spawned a franchise that has lasted until this day.
Another unique way Memory explores Alien is through its discussion about the themes of the film, themes that were perhaps unconsciously explored by its creators. Themes such as feminism, male rape, male pregnancy, and patriarchal guilt can all be seen in its imagery. It is a testament to the documentary that these themes aren’t usually referenced in other films about the Alien franchise.
Memory: The Origins of Alien comes from the mind of writer/director Alexandre O. Philippe, who uses stark lighting and dramatic angles to interview his subjects, mimicking the style of the film they’re discussing. It’s easy to see this was a labor of love for Philippe whose filmography is largely comprised of movies about movies including 2017’s 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene and 2014’s Doc of the Dead.
If you’re an a sci-fi fan, or a fan of movies in general, you’ll find something to love in Memory. It’s more than just the making of a movie. It’s a love letter to Alien and a gift to cinefiles.
In October, NYC Web Fest celebrated its sixth year at Stonestreet Studios in Manhattan. It is a delightful fest, quite intimate, but they have some great screenings, panels, and workshops.
I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on writing for Digital and TV which included four very accomplished writers: Joanna Pickering, who is an actress and playwright; Misha Calvert, who created several web series including Step Into My Office, ; Cylla Sennii, who created the series Situationships on BET Digital; and Micharne Cloughley, who is currently a staff writer for Law & Order SVU.
The festival encourages creators to submit by having a healthy number of awards. Festival winners included:
Outstanding Achievement in Editing: Countdown — Nathan Breton
Outstanding Achievement in Sound: Microaggressions — Dicky Dahl
Outstanding Achievement in Music: Play the Hits — CJ Ballesteros & Lauren Moon
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Just the Two of Us — Christophe Dalpé & Benoit Jones-Vallée
Outstanding Achievement in Writing: Step Into My Office — Misha Calvert
Best Original Concept: Swipe — Martijn Winkler
Best Supporting Actress: Barbelle –Nadine Bhabha
Best Supporting Actor: Hype — Leroy Shingu
Best Documentary/Reality: Yotsrim– Shachaf Dekel
Best Mystery/Thriller: Terreur 404 — Samuel Archibald & William S. Messier
Best Dramedy: Tuesday Nights — Shiva Kalaiselvan & Joe Bandelli
Best Comedy: Dark Justice –– Mike Gerbino, Elisa Peebles, Travis Cannan, Che Holloway, Zahra Zubaidi
Special Guest Star: Tuesday Nights — Victor Williams
Dynamic Duo: The Mom List –Elena Melener & Melody Fadness
Best Actress: Home Turf — Sarah Cantin
Best Actor: Darcy on House Arrest — Trevor Dow
Best Foreign Language: Georges is Dead — Charles Grenier, Sarah Pellerin, Carolyne Boucher
Best International Web Series: Sui Generis — Roberto Nascimento
I Love NY: The Rehearsal — Jaclyn Bethany, Suze Myers, Alida Rose Delaney, Mikhail Makeyev
Best Short Film: Girl, Sweetvoiced — Rebecca Shoptaw
Best Pilot: Vows — Nazli Sarpkaya & Isabelle Pierre, Ginny Leise, Callie Hanau
Best Director: Darcy on House Arrest — Heidi Weitzer
Best Web Series: Home Turf — Mara Joly, Lou Bélanger, Rafael Perez, St Laurent TV, Sophie Samson
If you have a web series, this is a must-submit festival. For more information on NYC Web Fest, check out Episode 512 with Lauren Atkins, the festival’s founder.