Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Second Star" short film

Watch the film HERE. The press release for this project is HERE. Director's notes about the project are HERE.

"Second Star" was first screened at Chicago's Space 2941 in December 2010.  It has been featured on The Critic's Word, Queeramblings, Buzz Magazine, Tube Tide, Big Gay Horror Fan, and Fangs, Wands, and Fairy Dust.

"Darkly enticing, 'Second Star' brings urban fantasy to the Peter Pan story. In the seedy, forgotten depths of Chicago, youths commingle for a mysterious party. Derek Quint's film spookily meanders through reality and fantasy, leaving the viewer with a chill and hunger for more."
--K. Kriesel, Queeramblings

"....the director, Derek Quint, follows a guerilla film style for a very realistic opening. For someone living in Chicago, it’s something you witness nearly every day, but are rarely a part of the way it is shown to us here. Once the party begins I liked how drastically the tone and atmosphere changed. This noticeable difference takes us in to a surreal cycle of events--we can’t be completely sure what’s real and what’s not, much like our protagonist, who is scared and lost in the world she finds herself in.

The bending of fiction and reality is among my favorite themes that can be explored through film. It’s the perfect medium to do so.....'Second Star' takes advantage of this exploration and experiments with the characters' psyches.

The director writes that he isn’t completely sure what happens, how it ends, or what is reality and what is fiction, which emphasizes the importance of the experience relating to 'Second Star'; it really doesn’t matter what happens because the story since it's about something much larger. It’s up to you to decide what that is."

--Kelsey Zukowski, The Critic's Word

"Intriguing, Ambitious"

--Zach Zimmerman, Buzz Magazine

"How many times has Big Gay Horror Fan hoped to stumble upon a forbidden warehouse on New Year’s Eve and find some cutely smooth stud, waiting within, to seduce me? Well, honestly, never. But the thought did cross my mind after watching Derek Quint’s beguiling short, Second Star.

In Second Star, two transient youths, fighting their way to warmer climes, run into a mysterious benefactress of sorts on a subway tunnel. Accepting an invitation to spend the evening with her, they soon find themselves locked into a willowy game of seduction and intrigue.

Writer-director Quint creates a moody dreamscape, here, with seemingly no budget. Images of fairy tales, elusive realities and those creepy party scenes from Rosemary’s Baby and Midnight Cowboy enter one’s mind upon viewing. Most importantly, Quint makes you wonder what really goes on in the dream world of those forced onto the streets for survival, making Second Star a sociological statement as well as an artistic one.

Featuring a solid cast, with BGHF favorite Heather Dorff (What They Say, Afraid of Sunrise, Mother’s Blood) and the truly delicious Andrew Bochniak making indelible appearances as a pair of glittery masked wraiths, Second Star also features some story driven boy on boy action – a true holiday gift to the guys like me and the girls who love them, everywhere!"

--Brian Kirst, Big Gay Horror Fan

"Inspired by J. M. Barrie’s 'Peter Pan', this dark tale definitely has a weird, confusing, ominous vibe and I honestly had no idea what was going on the entire time but I knew (from experience) that my reactions were normal and it was supposed to be unusual for a reason. It's not for everybody but what film is really?"

--Julie Harber, Tube Tide

"Second Star" created itself very quickly. I just organized the project so that it happened. It won't be everyone's favorite film of mine but I feel that most adults will be able to relate, in some capacity, to the themes within the film.

The story takes place on New Year's Eve in which a troubled young woman is unable to distinguish between reality, dream, and hallucination. J. M. Barrie's book, "Peter Pan", informed and inspired the project along with an old English ghost story and modern, urban myth and nonfiction.

I'm not really sure what happens in the film--I've never had that occur with any other project that I've done before. I have no idea what actions take place in it or how it actually, truly ends. If you're not able to tell what is reality and dream within it, that's fine because I don't know either.

I feel that this is the darkest film that I've ever made and I leave it up to the viewers to decide for themselves how they feel about it and what actually happens within the story.

It was (understandably) a relatively strange project to shoot. Thanks to the actors for doing such a beautiful job and thanks, especially, to the "party guests" who kept the mood upbeat and the shoot easy.
"Second Star", a short film by Derek Quint

Stephanie Sylvester as The Girl

Troy Zitzelsberger as The Boy

Brittany Collins as Bell

Andrew Bochniak as Peter

Heather Dorff as The Siren

Talia Borgia, Jamie Dounou, Emily Gajek, Maura Hearrin, Valerie Lyvers, Monica Okoniewski, and Adam Roker as Bell's Guests

Special Thanks to: Ben, James, Matt, Sarah, and Johann Sebastian

"Second Star" was first screened for Dark Room no. 1 at Space 2939 in Chicago on December 17th, 2010.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Long "Danse"....

I have a secret:

For a moment, right before we were about to shoot "Danse Macabre", I thought about doing a feature-length version of the story instead of having it be a short film.

It would have involved Count Dracula, The Blue Bride, The Red Bride, and The Gold Bride staying at some presidential suite in a hotel while they're in town for the masquerade ball and for Dracula's business meeting. Was it a business meeting that he was actually going to or was he trying not to worry the girls and actually about to sign a secret truce with the Vatican in a neutral city?

Was the whole kidnapping/assassination attempt a way of the Vatican trying to avoid the meeting and simply eliminating their enemy altogether?


Maybe so;)

In the longer version, we would have learned much more about the fiasco that the characters endure.

I know that we definitely would have seen much more of the over-the-top decadent undeathstyle of the vampires (their rooms, multiple costume changes, their thoughts, intents, regrets, and how you spend your freetime when you're 800 years old)......

Maybe....there would have been a situation in which the young nun tries to ransom Dracula's release in exchange for turing her into a vampire and having him all to herself.....

.....maybe we would have seen the bits of chaos that break out in the hotel when the Transylvanians have some hotel employee snacks before the Halloween party.....

....maybe we would have learned about the contention between the 3 vampiresses.....

....maybe (certainly) we would have learned more about the Vatican agents, the cruelty of the main priest, and how deeply unprepared they were for their mission......

.....and maybe Dracula, himself, would reveal more of his motives. Has he really softened so much over the years or is he more ruthless than ever but just hiding behind a more pleasant form? Was he truly helpless within that chained-up box or was he using this absurd situation as an opportunity to test his three wives?
Maybe this film, as much of a ridiculous comedic romp as it is, contains a deeper, not-so-dark allegory wrapped in its stale candy shell?

Well, some of those things are hinted at with the 11 minutes and it gives the fans of this short film some thoughts to chew on while watching it so watch closely and you'll see glimmers of those submerged plot points.

Also, before we filmed, I thought to myself: "You know, this will have to stay a very quick short because we don't have the time or the money right now to do this as a feature-length."

And I was right. Because, yeah, we didn't have the time or money to expand the project. Too late now.

But.....it's fun to think about the larger story that was possibly maybe meant to be folded within the short film "Danse Macabre". So, the next time you want to see these goofey characters running around Chicago, try watching the film with these thoughts and possibilities in mind.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Danse Macabre" short film/Halloween Special

Our short film, "Danse Macabre", is finally finished.

Click HERE to watch it. Feel free to rate and comment.

"Danse Macabre" premiered online November 2nd, 2010.  It has been featured on Obscuro!, Horror Cult Films (UK), Goth Triggers, Big Gay Horror Fan, Lucretia's Reflection, A Dream of Dracula, Fuck Yeah Cult And Indie Films, and Dark Matter Zine among others.

"A fun little piece of independent filmmaking"
 --Obscuro! Films

"Screen it at your Halloween bash."
--Dark Matter Zine

"I enjoyed this a lot."
--Fuck Yeah Cult And Indie Films

"Campy Halloween Fun"
--Lucretia's Reflection

"A beauteous wonder......with humor and screwball energy"
--Big Gay Horror Fan

Director's Notes:

This project was a pretty crazy shooting experience, kind of expensive, stressful, strange, cold-- a lot of a lot. But, OF COURSE, it was worth all the adventure!

The plot can be summed up, fully, in one sentence:

  Count Dracula and his 3 brides are on their way to a masquerade ball in an American city on Halloween when they run into some trouble with a vengeful troupe of Vatican agents sent to track them.

And there you have it.

The entire point of this project was so that I could be indulgent (what else is new....) and create my own Halloween Special in the spirit of so many of the ridiculous/amazing/irreverent yearly TV programs that I enjoyed when I was a kid--to do something that felt like it had been around forever, something that you can laugh with and at while also having a true bit of that darkly delicious Halloween magic to it. "Danse Macabre" is a short film inspired by a full range of different influences: "Hocus Pocus", "The Worst Witch", "Teen Witch", "Garfield's Halloween Special", "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", and then "Adventures in Babysitting", "The Goonies" (c'mon, it's obvious), and so on.

"Mystery Science Theater 3000" was watched a lot before I started shooting as was Fellini's "Juliet of the Spirits" and "Casanova" as well a few 1960's Russian fantasy films (if you're not familiar with the film version of "The Tale of Tsar Saltan" from director Aleksandr Ptushko, for example, that film and its ilk are highly entertaining and very, very artistically inspiring). Emily Gajek's Gold Bride character, especially, was designed as an homage to the types of heroines and disenchanted princesses that traveled through those gaudy, vintage Russian fantasy epics.

But my film is just some goofey, little, short indie film--nothing as spectacular as its influences. But I still like the way it turned out and it's certainly a lot of fun to watch, the actors are terrific, and it came out the way that it was supposed to.

Of course, the classic Camille Saint-Saens composition initially inspired this whole project and I wanted to have my go at it in the sense that the film is a visual suite created to accompany the 7-minute 1872 "Danse Macabre" piece. Other suitable music pieces by Chopin, Beethoven, and Strauss helped flesh out the narrative. When the adventure kicks into gear, so does the centerpiece composition--Saint-Saen's "Danse Macabre". When that piece ends, so does the finale.

Visually, the film that we watch online has been degraded by multiple transfer generations in order to wear down the footage, fuck it up a bit, give it that "when was this made?" feeling--as in what dark corner of 1987 did they drag this out from? The colors and settings were adjusted repeatedly to give it that unhealthy, acid green tonality. The film succeeds in looking retro, strange, and worn-in and (yes!) seems indistinguishable from the kinds of strange cult shows that inspired it. I wanted this project to feel like you used to watch it all the time Back In The Day and that you found this footage on a VHS tape that's been hiding under your basement couch for a decade or two.
In the "Danse Macabre" short film, the Vatican agents speak in Italian and the Dracula family speaks in Romanian--as they would if they were meeting for a surprise showdown in an American city. Having them speak languages besides English (i.e. speaking their native languages instead) accentuates the other-ness of these foreign visitors and plays with the old film tradition of not-quite-there translations and questionable voice dubbing that many of us enjoy. The Italian clergy members, and their Eastern Bloc enemies, are NOT your nextdoor neighbors. These silly undead aristocrats, as well as their holy adversaries, are appropriately alien to American viewers and their language demands your heightened attention in order to understand their motives and emotions. So lean in closer because they are not like you and I.

All elements of the production, from the sound to the visuals, were adjusted and worn down in order to heighten the low-budget, funky, tin machine sensibility that I was going for. The cheesier, the better while also having a subtle sincerity regarding what the characters are experiencing. After all, this film is about a kidnapping followed by a slaughter--they're still real characters and it's not their fault that they are, and the situation that they're in is, preposterous. I was happy that I was able to get that queasy mix of complete ridiculousness with bits of genuine feeling--it makes people a bit uncomfortable which I enjoy. "Danse Macabre" is clearly a broad comedy but also has some heart to it.

Overall, I hope that you enjoy this corny little adventure and that you watch it every Halloween or whenever you like. And it's quite possible that there's more than meets the eye with this short film.....if you think so, read HERE.

To everyone who worked on this film, THANK YOU a million times over--I know that this wasn't the easiest or most simple project to dive into but you guys totally understood what I was going for for this and you knocked it out of the park. Amber Morrow, especially, thank you for doing double-duty; playing a role (perfectly) AND doing the gorgeous and subtle job on the actors' hair and makeup. When it comes to independent films, especially, the cooperation and talent of the small team that you work with is especially important--I'm very fortunate to have a strong group of frequent collaborators to share projects with.

"Danse Macabre", a short film by Derek Quint

Emmi Chen as The Blue Bride
Emily Gajek as The Gold Bride
Amber Morrow as The Red Bride
Lee Wolf as Count Dracula
T. Finerty as Priest #1
Jackie McKethen as Nun #1
David Chatham as Priest #2
Britany Collins as Nun #2
Adam Roker as Unit 77 Driver
Michael Marius Massett as The Vatican Spy

"Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint Saens
"Polonaise" by Frederic Chopin
"Egyptian March" by Johan Strauss

Romanian Translations by Mircea Granescu
Italian Translations by Scott Williams

Voice Talent:
Anca Barsan-Cayro
Stefanie Foresta
Mircea Granescu
Scott Williams

Stefani Foresta
Derek Quint

Music Performances:
Kevin MacLeod
Felipe Sarro

Hair and Makeup:
Amber Morrow