March 23, 2017
Share:
Facebook Twitter Email

DIG TWO GRAVES by Hunter Adams Opens Friday 24 March in Theaters and Streaming

“that rare chiller conjuring eeriness and dread… it bears a haunting ambience as agreeable as it is ephemeral.
Mr. Adams is clearly skilled with story structure, cinematography and his actors.”
NY Times

“Strong performances and atmosphere elevate an intriguing suspense tale”
Variety

“A stylish, haunting thriller…dark, original and chilling…
Ted Levine gives one of the most memorable performances of his career.”
— Chicago Sun-Times

“An inky dose of the supernatural.”
— New Orleans Film Society

“Part moody Stephen King-style thriller, part brooding family drama.” 
— Culture Crypt

“A haunting and darkly beautiful tale of revenge.”
— Horrornews.net

 

March 23, 2017
Share:
Facebook Twitter Email

Fessenden celebrates 54th year with Death Reel 2017

 

 

March 20, 2017
Share:
Facebook Twitter Email

Daily Dead talks LIKE ME with writer/director Robert Mockler

SXSW 2017 Interview: Writer / Director Robert Mockler Discusses LIKE ME

A haunting, neon-soaked fever dream that tackles the dangers of viral media and loneliness, first-time director Robert Mockler’s drama, Like Me, was unlike anything else I saw during the 2017 SXSW Film Festival, and features brilliant performances from Addison Timlin as Kiya and indie filmmaking icon Larry Fessenden as a man she kidnaps on her crime-fueled journey.

While in Austin, Daily Dead spoke with Mockler about his approach to the story of Like Me, his experiences collaborating with Timlin, how Fessenden became a mentor to him throughout the process of making his debut feature, and more.

Really great job, Robert. I would love to hear about where the genesis of this idea for the film came from. Clearly, there are a lot of issues that you tackle in this that are very relevant to what’s going on, especially with online culture these days. You took an unusual route here, and it’s incredibly fascinating.

Robert Mockler: That’s so good to hear. A fear of mine was that I know this story goes to a dark place, and I know there are moments where I’m like, Whoa, that’s kind of a walk-out moment type of situation. So this film became this whole scenario of, “Can we delicately straddle that line and not get gratuitous, but make the experience real and palpable enough to really touch a nerve without being exploitative or going overboard?”

But as far as the genesis of the idea, that came from this place where I always wanted to make a movie about loneliness. I wanted to be a filmmaker ever since I saw Star Wars, but then there were those movies that made me realize, Oh, movies can be something else, too. I saw Taxi Driver and Requiem for a Dream. That’s what really launched me on a path starting to write and doing those sorts of projects, and how I got into these “lonely man” movies, which includes Taxi Driver, The Conversation, and The Tenant.

I just saw this project as an opportunity, with this strange paradigm shift of social media, to put a magnifying glass on loneliness and filling a void. I felt that it was a great opportunity to try to do that sort of idea that I’d been thinking about for a while.

So much of this movie revolves around Addison’s performance, and she’s fantastic. She has a lot of really subtle character moments, and I was curious if those were all in the script, or did you guys workshop those together?

Robert Mockler: Most of it was in the script, but Addison also brought a lot of it just on the day, and then through conversations we would have and even through the editing process, too. I talked to her a lot because I felt like this was her character, and I wanted her to have authorship over it. The thing about Addison is that she gives you so many options that in the edit, your problem is that you have too many good takes. And it was a great problem to have, really.

She made Kiya three-dimensional, and it would have been very easy for this material, in the wrong hands, to not work at all. Addison is so delightful to watch work. It’s magical and it was a joy to watch her on set every day.

Another thing I wanted to commend you on was the casting of Larry as Marshall. He’s been a fixture in indie filmmaking for decades now, and it’s always fun when he has these cameos and smaller roles, but you give him such great material to work with here. For a big chunk of this movie, he’s just as front and center as Addison is, and I loved that.

Robert Mockler: He really is. Originally, he was just on as a producer, but I was struggling to find Marshall. And his Blu-ray box set [Scream Factory’s The Larry Fessenden Collection] had just came out, and I hadn’t seen Habit in a little while, so I watched it again. I just fell in love with his performance in that film all over again. I missed this version of Larry and I wanted to see if he was interested in going back to that. And, at first, he was reluctant. But then, when he embraced it, not only did he deliver such a sensitive and delicate performance, but he made the character all his own. Again, Marshall was a character that could have gone really wrong in the wrong hands.

But Larry was a real mentor to me throughout the entire process of making Like Me, because I’m new to this entire thing. He was someone that I could always rely on, and he was very generous with his time. If I was ever in a pinch, or was feeling insecure or I was just lost, I could talk it through with him. I love his movies, I love his ability as an actor, and he’s a great friend and a mentor.

Can you discuss how you approached the visuals in Like Me, because generally when you think of movies about loneliness, you always think of drab, cold colors. And yet, so much of this movie is very vibrant and really bold.

Robert Mockler: The idea was to reflect Kiya’s inner headspace, which is not so drab. Color is really important to me, and when I’m editing, I have to apply some sort of preliminary color grade before I can start editing, because for whatever reason, I feel like that helps me tap into the tonality of the scene. That’s a little unconventional and at times I think my producers were like, “Just find the narrative already.” I would just say to them, “But I’ve got to get the color right, first.” For whatever reason, it’s my window into the feeling of the film, and going that route helped me a lot on this.

Being an independent movie, a lot of times directors have to create these stories that take place in one location because of their budget. With this, you have multiple locations and you’re on the road for part of it, too. Was that one of the biggest challenges in terms of getting this film made, just making sure you could find these locations and be able to take the show on the road?

Robert Mockler: Absolutely. So many people would read this script and say, “Too many locations. No, you can’t do it.” And then, when I met Glass Eye Pix and I met Jenn Wexler, she thought we could do it. She helped put together a schedule that I thought was aggressive, but she was like, “I think you can do this.” And she was right. It was nerve-racking, but she figured it out. And Jessalyn [Abbott], the other producer on the project, she had this incredible ability to find amazing locations. She just found so many beautiful places, all within a close proximity, in such a short period of time. We were very, very lucky to have her.

This is your first film, which blows my mind after seeing it. And now you’re here at SXSW with Glass Eye Pix behind it, and you’ve got an amazing cast and crew all behind you. How surreal has this whole experience been for you being a first-timer and really putting yourself out there like this?

Robert Mockler: Honestly, it’s like an out-of-body experience. I don’t think I’m going to digest it until it’s over, really. SXSW is the festival we wanted to premiere at, so it’s just all been a mind-blowing experience. I came here seven years ago, and I watched the Indiana Jones trilogy on 35mm, sitting next to Robert Rodriguez. It was one of those things where I just felt connected to the fabric of filmmaking, and, as geeky as that sounds, it was so profound for me. So to be back here, with my own movie, is so cool.

READ INTERVIEW HERE

 

March 20, 2017
Share:
Facebook Twitter Email

We Got This Covered: LIKE ME “a bombastic feature debut”

Like Me Review [SXSW 2017]

Like Me is more than a movie title. It’s a plea made to an entire generation of social media users. Filmmaker Robert Mockler dives into murky online waters of constant approval, fame and millennial obsessions with a like-based culture, all prevalent in society’s 21st-century screen fixation. As a junkie tweaks for their next hit, social media users also calculate their next play at attention. Yesterday’s shocks are forgotten overnight, as audiences awake with a new craving daily. Please the masses, and watch the hits roll in. But even then, when will the hunger subside?

Addison Timlin stars as Kiya, a young woman searching for her next YouTube masterpiece. Kiya’s photographic artwork only garners so much attention from internet fans (food chewing videos/yoga poses), which means the ante must be raised. It’s a “harmless” stunt, where she holds a convenience store clerk at *fake* gunpoint – but the man (Jeremy Gardner) still pisses himself without knowing the difference. Kiya uploads the video, and it goes viral overnight to the tune of 2 million hits. The internet is buzzing about her stunt, some praising the humor, while others – like Burt (Ian Nelson) – condemn her sick social disease. Either way, Kiya realizes what the people want, and she aims to please. Even if it means kidnapping a motel owner named Marshall (Larry Fessenden).

Mockler’s style will challenge some viewers since it’s comparable to a luminescent art installation. From the film’s first shot – a glowing drive-thru mart – to its last beachy view, visuals are of a psychotropic nature. Characters ingest drugs and sniff paint, unlocking hallucinogenic highs like a neon-green eel slithering out of someone’s open wound. As Kiya plays arcade shooter games or gazes upon the ocean (between scenic palm trees), cinematography frames these neo-Vegas portraits with arresting beauty. It might be a bit too “freaky” for some during fast-paced montages that flash animated wolves and blinking eyes, but Mockler’s introspective vision-quest is a wild visual feast nonetheless.

Even more sickening (in a positive way) are Mockler’s metaphors, since Kiya is obsessed with (over)consumption. More than one scene features a zoom-in on her chewing, mouth wide open. It’s always junk food. Cheese balls. Pizza. Gummies. A comment on the sugary, toxic digital garbage we shovel into our souls. Hateful online communities, money-sapping “games” and pictures so heavily filtered you wouldn’t even recognize the subject in public. We idolize the unknown, only to have it be someone like Kiya – a product of pressures coming from voices behind a monitor. Audiences push because we want to see someone break (the new-age Roman gladiator arena). That’s what gets views these days, isn’t it? It’s nauseating because it should be. Mashed cereal between teeth is no less disgusting than children who re-post Instagram pictures until they achieve the most likes, because self-worth is now measured in cartoon hearts.

Timlin turns in a provocative, wounded performance as Kiya, so caught up in her journey for stardom. She’s a loner who lives out of her car and struggles with human interaction. Larry Fessenden’s “prisoner” Marshall represents Kiya’s only real friend, but even that’s because he just doesn’t want to die (his own food scene is a testament Fessenden’s legendary genre status). As Timlin swings on a hammock, wearing a white wig and shredded stocking mask, her confidence is nothing but a cover for vulnerability. Follower numbers and commenter discourse spike her dopamine levels. Ian Nelson’s scathing hypocrisy as a master troll should reduce Timlin to tears (another oh-so-nasty, meaty performance), but instead, she views each take-down as a challenge. “Some dumb bitch with an iPhone,” proclaims Nelson’s basement dweller, as he notes that Timlin’s just trying to find fame before she “shits out a kid and dies of cancer.” It’s a triangle of intertwined souls who mirror the internet’s darkest reaches: the fame slut, the vile ogre and the victim. All real, and all brilliantly realized.

Mockler’s aesthetic is strong and performances are powerful, but there’s a lesser through-line for Timlin’s fiery arc. One of the YouTube commenters jokes about Kiya’s ability to get away with these “pranks,” which raises a fair point as police intervention is never an issue. Although, that can be laughed off – unlike sequences that are visual-heavy and thinly scripted. Like Me benefits from style, glamor and pinkish coloring, but needs a bit stronger narrative to break the next level. Needless to say, few films actually DO reach the next level I’m referencing, and for a feature debut, Mockler asserts himself as a creatively-driven madman whose vision blisters with illuminated curiosity. He’s going to try things, and that’s an exciting feeling. Please, do no leash this man.

The internet can be a lonely placed filled with temptation, and Like Me is just one warning scenario. A movie like Tragedy Girls plays a bit more on the nose, but writer/director Robert Mockler goes the more fever-dreamy route. Consequence echoes as loudly as actions, tracing back intent to typed words that some random username didn’t think twice about posting. Addison Timlin plays a systemic product, born from human desires that are warped into a crippling addiction. Feast on Nightmare On Elm Street inspired rooms and car rides through a jelly-floating vortex (very Willy Wonka-ish), but don’t lose focus. This is a cry for reassessment that needs to be heard. You know, before we’re electing presidential candidates based on their Twitter followers…

Read Full Article… 

March 20, 2017
Share:
Facebook Twitter Email

Variety reviews MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND

SXSW Film Review: ‘Most Beautiful Island’

March 20, 2017
Share:
Facebook Twitter Email

SXSW Photo Round-Up!

SXSW comes to a close! We’ve gathered pics from throughout the festival, including the MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND and LIKE ME premieres and the GEP / Dogfish Pictures / Palomo Films party.

 

BuzzFeed Photo Shoot

(Check out all the BuzzFeed Candid Pics here)

 

MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND

 

 

LIKE ME

 

 

PARTY!

 

March 17, 2017
Share:
Facebook Twitter Email

Cut Print Film: LIKE ME “likely to be the most exciting debut you’ll see this year. Or maybe any.”

“What If There’s More To Tell?”

Film synopses are often misleading. To the point that I try not to read them. But when you’re sorting through festival screenings, synopses are usually ground zero. I gave the blurb for Robert Mockler’s Like Me little more than a casual glance and wrote it off as a tween ‘social media obsessed’ drama. Then I found a different movie to see in that time slot. But serendipity is beautiful thing. That other film’s screening was completely booked up. I was stuck in line with no plan. Like Me was next up on the docket. So I bought the ticket. I took the ride. I found out that Like Me‘s synopsis was very misleading. And that’s a good thing.

That was apparent a couple of minutes into the film. Mockler opens the action at a drive thru grocery store in the middle of nowhere. It’s night. Christmas music is playing. A burly, bearded gentlemen is minding the shop when a shabby little Oldsmobile drives up. After a tense silence, a woman’s voice simply says, ‘I want some milk.’ The woman makes her way into the store. She wears a mask. She points her camera phone at the burly man like a gun. She says not a word. It almost feels like a bad joke … until it doesn’t. When that shift comes, the scene escalates in wildly unpredictable ways.

Wildly unpredictable is the only way to describe the story that follows. That heist video winds up on YouTube. It makes an overnight sensation of Kiya (Addison Timlin) the young woman that executed the ordeal. Viewer comments drive Kiya to escalate her antics in increasingly dangerous fashion. So yes, for simplicity’s sake you could say that Like Me is a drama about social media obsession. But that’s not at all what Like Me is. There’s no ‘unfriending’ high school drama. There’s no annoying little texting bubbles or Tweeting graphics. No, Mockler takes that setup and spins an arresting tale of modern isolation from it.

Much of that tale unfolds on a days-long ‘crime spree’ leading Kiya on an uncomfortable late-night diner binge, to a themed ocean-side motel, and on a doomed road trip with a complete stranger. All the while her camera is rolling (minus the one precarious/hilarious moment it isn’t). And all the while her viewers fuel the fire. But Kiya never seems to get any real pleasure out of the online attention. Every escalating adventure leaves her less engaged with the real world. As Kiya’s journey descends into a surrealist nightmare, it becomes a delicate balancing act between hyper-stylized visuals and stark, melancholic realism.

Mockler proves himself more than up to the task. The first-time feature director guides Like Me through its myriad of tonal shifts and stylistic flourishes with the grace of a seasoned filmmaker. His story is erratic and prone to flights of fancy, but the finished product is fluid and focused. And his unruly story unfolds – even in its fantastical moments – with a captivating level of naturalism. The naturalism proves a stark counterpoint to the expressionistic flourishes that Director of Photography James Siewert brings to the table. Siewert and Mockler use vibrant coloring, disorienting camerawork, expressive animation and dazzlingly simple effects to bring Kiya’s nightmare to life. But they always seem to know when to reign things in. Like Me often plays like a farce, but it never feels that way.

In fact, the film is most alive in the quiet moments in between. The moments when Giona Ostinelli’s score builds a dreamy sense of doom under the stillness. The moments when Mockler lets his camera linger on the face of Addison Timlin in all of its fragile instability. The face that effortlessly projects the innocence and menace and loneliness and dismay that form the twisted inner world of Kiya.

If you’re not familiar with Timlin, now’s the time to take notice. Zach Clark used her fragile features to striking effect in last year’s Little Sister. But nothing can prepare you for what Timlin brings to Like Me. She commands every single moment of this film. She imbues Kiya with a real-world complexity that lends the story a credibility that the narrative doesn’t quite earn. And she finds a welcome partner in the ever-adventurous Larry Fessenden, who gives the performance of his career as a paint-huffing loner named Marshall (Larry Fessenden). That’s no joke, by the way. Fessenden really is great in this film. It’s the sort of performance that makes you wish he’d stop letting people poke objects through his head … or stomach … or other body parts in movies and just be an actor.

And Like Me is the sort of film that will make you wish more directors would take big chances. Much like his story, Mockler’s film plays like an escalating game of risk. Every twist and turn and unorthodox decision could’ve led the first-timer’s film to ruin. But he pushed limits. He took chances. He made a devastating little film that’s not like anything else you’ve seen before. It’s far from perfect. But it’s likely to be the most exciting debut you’ll see this year. Or maybe any.

9/10

Read article…

March 17, 2017
Share:
Facebook Twitter Email

DIG TWO GRAVES Premiere in NYC 24 March 2017 at Cinema Village


From Dread Central:

Dread Central will be hosting the NYC premiere of director Hunter Adams’ supernatural shocker Dig Two Graves, and you can win a pair of tickets to the star-studded premiere and after party! This special event will take place on Friday, March 24, at 7 pm at the Cinema Village (22 East 12th Street, off University Place), where the movie will begin a week-long run. Dig Two Graves marks the latest genre production from local horrormeister Larry Fessenden (Habit, The Last Winter, Stake Land, Late Phases, I Sell the Dead, The Innkeepers, etc.)

A stylish, haunting thriller…dark, original and chilling…Ted Levine gives one of the most memorable performances of his career.” — Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

An inky dose of the supernatural.” — New Orleans Film Society

“Part moody Stephen King-style thriller, part brooding family drama.” — Culture Crypt

“A haunting and darkly beautiful tale of revenge.” — Horrornews.net

March 17, 2017
Share:
Facebook Twitter Email

Gravitas picks up NO WAY TO LIVE featuring Fessenden

GEP pal and co-producer of THE RANGER Andrew van den Houten inks deal with Gravitas for film noir No Way To Live featuring Fessenden…

from Deadline:

Gravitas Ventures also has landed U.S. and international rights (excluding Canada) to No Way To Live, a crime thriller, with plans for a July release.

Starring Freya Tingley and Tom Williamson, the film noir follows an interracial teenage couple in the 1950’s south, during the Jim Crow laws, who rob and steal to escape their town and find themselves in a downward spiral as violence erupts and dark secrets come to light. Larry Fessenden and Timothy V. Murphy also star. No Way To Live was written and directed by David Guglielmo and Nick Chakwin, and produced through Moderncine. 

Andrew van den Houten of 79th and Broadway handled the sale on behalf of the filmmakers.

March 16, 2017
Share:
Facebook Twitter Email

The Iris: LIKE ME “one of the most refreshing indie debuts in a long time”

SXSW FILM REVIEW: LIKE ME (USA, 2017) IS DISORIENTATING AND BEAUTIFUL

When I was nineteen I spent three straight days without sleeping. I had just moved to Tokyo and couldn’t cope with the light pollution or the sounds from the trains that ran behind my flat. I would spend the nights listening to relaxing music and watch films during the day. On the third morning at around 4AM I made an instant coffee and decided to put on Enter the Void.

The first thing I heard after listening to a recording of Enya’s Paint The Sky With Stars on repeat for some three hours, and not having slept through two slow nights, was the Thomas Bangalter scored opening credits. I’d never again feel as disorientated as I was in those two and a half minutes; but watching Robert Mockler’s Like Me, I came close.

Like Me marks the first time Robert Mockler has been credited as a director and writer of a feature length film. The film, which premiered at this year’s SXSW Film Festival in Austin Texas, is eighty minutes of visual portraits pieced together by tactile transitions, lucid VFX and a millennial journey.

Addison Timlin plays Kiya, a young girl who amasses a huge social following after posting a video of herself holding up a convenience store with a replica weapon. She takes her newfound popularity on the road and begins to film her encounters with a string of unusual characters, eventually taking a paedophile, ‘Marshall’ (Larry Fessenden), hostage, to mixed reactions from the online community. An antagonistic vlogger, Burt (Ian Nelson), begins to take Kiya’s videos apart, and her journey becomes visceral as Burt begins to impact both her content and her psyche.

Kiya guides us through her journey. She tests the humanity of the characters she meets, finding that a vagabond doesn’t want much more than pancakes from a diner, or that a painter who believes there is no age of consent had lost his own daughter at a young age. Kiya studies these characters and presents them to us; but often she seems to be neither a part of the film nor the viewership. She’s more like the kid holding a magnifying glass over an anthill.

Addison Timlin is perfect as Kiya, even if the character is not a strictly formed one with laborious dialogue. She has again shown her ability to completely comprehend the characters she’s becoming. Like her performance in Little Sister, she brings a sense of palpability to the role and becomes so natural as Kiya that the film, in moments, feels kind of like an Addison Timlin vlog, like she’s simply playing herself (with exception of the scenes where she’s forcing food into Marshall’s throat and telling him, “you’re going to eat or you’re going to bleed”).

What makes Like Me so mystifying to the senses is the intense cinematography and editing. Every shot is beautiful. Every background, shadow and light setting progresses the film like a series of paintings, ushering the narrative from frame to frame as if it were an exhibition across a gallery wall. The lighting and colours filter the film in two schemes, the afternoon pink skies and radiant neon signs to moments of moonlight blue and shadow. Both ethereal and at every shot, meticulously thought out.

The experimentation behind the lens continues through to the cutting room floor with disorientating and innovative shots that mess with the audience and remove any limits to the camera’s function. Shots will revolve around rooms and bury through the floor, while actors become stuck in a glitch-like trance, moving in two-second motions, back and forth on loop.

It’s these scenes that make Like Me feel like one long hallucinogenic journey. Although not directing the film, drugs play a part in Kiya’s internal narrative and are managed in a tacitly accurate sense. Ketamine is blue and calm, and doesn’t make a lot of sense, MDMA is sense-altering and intense, where mushrooms give the film its ‘baby on the ceiling’ moment, as a snake slides from Marshall’s bullet wound and into the alternate dimension that has surrounded Kiya.

At times the film does get lost in its own eccentricity, sacrificing the plot beneath the layers of art. The balance between progressing the narrative while constantly combing it to assure its uniform in style throughout, tips slightly through the second half of the film. Scenes like Kiya chasing Burt through the streets of a sunny city before inexplicably arriving at a foggy beachfront leave viewers with a decision to make about the symbolism of each moment, and what’s been done just because it looked good.

The film is still one of the most refreshing indie debuts in a long time. It is an experiment in style and as well shot as any box office film released this decade. While the plot at times fades into its own aestheticism, the acting and the unique style excel the film into rare territory for contemporary cinema.

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Read article…