Horror-on-Sea Interview with writer, director and actor Michael Fausti
Dead Celebrities (2018)
Director: Michael Fausti
Writer: Michael Fausti, Mathew Bayliss
Stars: Michael Fausti, Louise Nosbod, Mathew Bayliss
Meet Mick, he’s a psychopath who wants to be famous and he’s found a way of achieving his dream – But Mick is no ordinary killer, he knows a secret. A secret he shares with Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, Judy Garland and other dead celebrities.
Date & Venue: 11th January 2019 at 20:00pm
Park Inn by Radisson Palace Southend-on-, Church Rd, Southend-on-Sea SS1 2AL, UK
Dead Celebrities is a new horror short from writer, director and actor Michael Fausti, which has been selected to play at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival. I got a chance to ask Michael Fausti a few questions about her character and what we can expect from the film.
Q. Your new short horror Dead Celebrities has been selected to play at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival, what can people expect from the film?
Dead Celebrities is the story of a guy named Mick, who thinks that he should be famous, despite having no discernible talents or abilities. However, unlike most celebrity wannabes, Mick knows a secret that may enable him to achieve his dream. It’s a secret that he shares with a long line of famous people that includes; Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison and Judy Garland. Cue, conspiracy theories, drugs, violence, gore and, of course, celebrity deaths.
Q. How did you come up with the original concept for the film Dead Celebrities?
Like many independent filmmakers, I was thinking firstly about what kind of locations I had easy access to and I hit upon the idea of creating a film around a series of bathrooms. Bathrooms have a long history of featuring in horror films and, whilst Psycho (1960) is the obvious example, The Shining (1980), Shivers (1975), Profondo Rosso (1975) and I Spit on Your Grave (1978) all feature unnerving bathroom encounters that stay with the audience. Bathrooms are spaces in which people feel safe safe, yet ironically are often where people are at their most vulnerable. I began researching deaths and murders that took place in bathrooms and was surprised at how often bathrooms have featured in celebrity deaths. I then wrote a first draft for Dead Celebrities which I ran past my writing partner Mathew Bayliss and producer Lou Nosbod.
Q. Were there any other celebrities who you considered incorporating into the film?
Yes, the original script featured several more celebrity bathroom deaths than occur in the final film, most notably Judy Garland and there were more involved discussion between the two central characters, Mick and Joe, which referenced the deaths of many more celebrities, such as Whitney Houston. Essentially, it came down to a question of time, both in terms of production and the running time of the film.
Q. What were your influences for the look and style of the film?
I always wanted Dead Celebrities to have a sleazy, Grind house aesthetic to it, as is evident in films like I Spit on Your Grave and Shivers. Given the seedy nature of the narrative, I felt that we needed a sense of a film which had been through the grimy projectors of the worst kinds of establishments in town. That said, I also wanted to give each of the celebrity deaths that occur in the film their own distinctive look that signifies both the historical period but also conveys something of the person involved. So for the death of Tod Browning, the director of the 1931 Dracula, I wanted a black and white, Universal Studios Horror Movie look.
Q. In addition to directing you also act in the film, portraying several of the characters. Did you find it difficult juggling both roles?
In short Yes! I would always prefer to be behind the camera. Directing and acting are two very different skill sets. It’s difficult directing camera, thinking about lighting and blocking scenes, when you’re actually physically in the scene yourself. During the filming of Dead Celebrities, I’d often find myself on set sitting in a bathtub of blood or lying on a bathroom floor, whilst at the same time attempting to check a camera monitor and also remember my lines. At the time we were about to start shooting some of the first scenes for Dead Celebrities we were also all significantly involved in pre-production work for our forthcoming feature Exit. Therefore, attempting to cast actors and organise rehearsals for Dead Celebrities was not a realistic prospect. Fortunately, Mat (writer, Mathew Bayliss) was available and agreed to play the part of Joe and I also persuaded a reluctant Lou (Fausti Films Producer Lou Nosbod) to play the part of Bathorette!!
Q. What was one of your favourite moments during filming?
I actually enjoyed filming with Mat the hotel scenes between Mick and Joe. We kept making each other laugh, which made for quite a lot of outtakes but I’m hoping that some of that humour has made it onto the screen.
Q. Did you encounter any issues during filming?
Filming in real bathrooms, as opposed to on a set, did bring its own challenges, particularly in terms of the placement of cameras and lighting. We had very little room to move cameras or even ourselves. This did mean that we had to get pretty creative with some of the shots we used to avoid getting crew or gear in shot. Similarly, lighting in such a small space means you have to attempt to hide the source of some of your lighting and in a small bathroom this can be difficult. Another unforeseen problem about filming in a bathroom is when somebody actually needs to use the toilet for real!!… From a personal point of view, a number of the scenes required me to sit in a bath of water for an extended period of time during filming. To avoid steaming up the camera lenses, the bathwater had to be cold. Attempting to lay still and play dead in a bath full of freezing cold water for long periods can be something of a challenge!
Q. Do you have any other projects which you are working on?
We are currently in Post-Production with our feature Exit, which we shot in Summer 2018 on location in West London. We are hoping to release Exit in the latter half of 2019. We always have three to four projects on the go at once, myself and Mat Bayliss are in the process of writing a TV series, whilst in terms of features we currently have several in the early stages of pre-production. I don’t really want to say too much about these, although one of our forthcoming projects will have something of a punk vibe about it! And that’s all I’m going to say!
Q. What would you say are positives and negatives of being an independent filmmaker?
The positives of being an independent filmmaker are that you do have creative control over every stage of production. However, that’s not to say that any decisions are solely made by myself. Fausti Films operates as a collective and creative decisions are always made by agreement. Myself, Mat and Lou are all coming from the same place in terms of the kind of films that we like and are inspired by and the kind of projects that we want to be involved in. We create movies that we would want to see and tell the kind of stories that engage us. We also get to cast and work with actors who fit with our creative vision and who we think are right for the part, rather than being told or experiencing pressure as to who will appear in our films.
As independent producers we also don’t need to worry about having to “tone down” our work or avoid certain subject matters for fear of not appealing to a particular economic demographic. The obvious downsides to all of this is that as an independent filmmaker you never have enough time and you never have enough money. Available budget obviously does have an impact upon your creative choices. However, filmmaking is really about problem solving and restrictions can often be a virtue, in that they force you to be innovative. Whilst Hollywood can solve problems with money and technology, independent filmmakers have to use creativity, imagination and guile. All of which ultimately makes for more interesting cinema.
You can find out more about Michael Fausti and his projects on the website www.Faustifilms.com
and the following social media pages