Sunday, November 13, 2016


Michael Medaglia 2015 film deep dark’s director. He gave me the opportunity to have a talk and explain me some stuffs about films and his craft, an affable person, very clear at the moment to tell you things, really very gratefully to him for allow me make him this interview and take a little bit of his time, I hope you people could enjoy this interview as much as I did. 

"Hermann Haig is a failed sculptor who discovers a strange, talking hole in the wall. Which It has the power to fulfill his wildest dreams...and become his worst nightmare." This is the Deep Dark’s plot film directed and written by Michael Medaglia.

When and how your love of filmmaking began?
I started making super 8 films in college. At the time, I was studying to become an engineer. I started taking night classes at a nearby film school. After getting a degree in engineering, I continued taking film classes. My first film was pretty silly: a Kung Fu comedy that takes place in a laundromat. But that first film I got me hooked on filmmaking. I liked everything about it. I continued making short films, then eventually some commercials and music videos. DEEP DARK is my first feature film. I just try to keep getting better and honing my craft.

How was the process to create Deep Dark? How the story first came to you?
Initially the idea for Deep Dark came as a singular scene: a character pulling notes out of a hole in the wall. The note paper is old but they seem to answer questions he’d only just asked. I found something very compelling about this scene. Who was writing the answers? How did the hole get there? This scene became the seed that the whole story grew around. I think it’s one of the best scenes in the film. 

This was a low budget film. Did you have troubles with the financing? What were the most difficulties you experienced with the making of Deep Dark?
Yes, it’s always hard to finance your first film. No one wants to take a risk on a first-time writer/director (which, in truth, is inherently risky). When I was pitching the script to producers or investors, I think they were unsure of how the tone would play out--would it be slapstick humor--or something more psychological and subtle? To help show them how I would handle the subject matter, I made the short film, Kitty Kitty. It’s an unrelated story, but the tone is the same. I think this helped convince people I could direct the subject matter.

We experienced many difficulties making the film: we lost locations the day before shooting, some props didn’t work as expected, we were using older camera equipment which would frequently break down and cause delays, we ran out of money towards the end of the film and had to raise more. But actually these problems are pretty common for low budget films. I think we actually got off easy!

It is an atypical plot: a hole who talks to you, and also makes your dreams comes true. Everybody could interpret it how they prefer. How do you interpret it?
That’s a great observation. I like to let people have their own interpretations. Some people think it is all a figment of Hermann’s deranged mind. Others think there is a creature inside the hole. In order to direct the film, I had to choose--for me the hole is real. It grows stronger when more people interact with it and weaker when people forget about it. And anything can come out of it--so it’s like a living, talking, feeling extradimensional portal.

If anyone looks at your filmography, this is your first feature film. But looking the short films, for example one is about a man with an angel into his pocket and the other one is with a parasite, and now we have a talking hole. Is there any connection? And why treat this topics?
There’s no connection between the individual stories (at least, it wasn’t a conscious choice). I like creating different worlds with my films, so my writing often contains an element of magical realism. I like to explore the dark side of the human psyche but always tempered with an aspect of humanity. This is why in Deep Dark the Hole has feelings that can be hurt. I hope the audience sympathizes with her a little.

What was the budget? How to juggle with location and crew, is it was sufficient money?
I don’t want to say the budget outright but to put in perspective, this film was made for very little money. We could have made 15 Deep Darks for the amount they spent on the indie film The Witch. We could have made 200 Deep Darks for the cost of The Conjuring 2. We definitely had to cut corners with our budget. I had to change several key scenes so they could be shot with a smaller budget. Specifically the first scene with Uncle Felix and the hole-patching scene--these were very different in the screenplay. But in the end, I’m happy with how the film came out.

Now you watching the film, do you consider that you reached your goals with the movie, or do you think maybe could have been a little different?
I’m proud of the film we made. But I think there are some things we did right and some things we did wrong. Probably the biggest thing I would have changed is not the film itself but the way it was marketed. We initially targeted a general horror audience, but in hindsight I think we should have targeted more or a fantasy/horror audience. Deep Dark was never meant to be very frightening but more disturbing. I think some people were a little disappointed there were not as much blood/fright moments.

Are you a horror fan or like other genres? And what movies you like the most?
I love horror films and sci-fis. Particularly the psychological horror films. Some of my favorites are The Exorcist, The Shining, John Carpenter’s The Thing and American Werewolf in London. I also like thrillers and the old noir films. These are mostly American films but I’m also a fan of foreign horror films like some of the Japanese and Korean horror, and some of the new French extremity.

Do you have any director of reference? Someone you like his work?

Some of my favorite directors at the moment are Kubrick, Polanski, Jonathan Glazer, Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook, early Cronenberg. Polanski’s The Tenant was a big inspiration for Deep Dark.

You mentioned The Fly, The Tenant and Barton Fink as influences for your film, but you know, I see a little of "The Shining", you know, that voice whispering you, a lonely place, the character isolated to grow up as an artist?
Yes you're probably right. Kubrick has always been a huge influence on me. Those wide-angle shots from the Hole's POV is inspired by 2001. And there are themes of creativity and dementia, which was also a theme in The Shining.

During the movie what was your best moment, you know that moment you said "that's why I love this"?
One of my favorite moments was recording the dialogue of The Hole. The whole time Sean McGrath (who played Hermann) performed his scenes with a temp actor behind the wall. When we recorded Denise Poirier’s voice doing the hole, we had already edited the film at this point. Once I finally heard Denise’s voice with Sean’s, it was a truly great moment. Up until then, I really didn’t know for sure how much the audience would ‘buy’ the fact that we have an actor literally talking to a hole in the wall. Once I heard Denise’s voice I knew there was no question people would believe it. I think that’s something we definitely got right.

Personally I really enjoyed Sean McGrath's performing, it was suitable to the movie, tell me how was the casting election process?
Casting Hermann was tricky. The actor would be playing against a hole in the wall--an inanimate object. I needed someone talented enough those scenes by himself. I had been searching for actors and Sean was my top pick. Interesting story: when I first met with Lori Lewis, our casting agent, she said "I know the perfect person to play Hermann." She showed me an actor's photo--it was Sean McGrath. So we had both independently chose him. Sean did a great job with the role.

What cinematography techniques did you use for your movie, cameras, lenses, everything?
We used a single Red One camera with a prime lens set. The camera was pretty old and would shut down every so often while we were shooting. That's low-budget filmmaking for you! Still, Francisco Bulgarelli, our Director of Photography, did an amazing job lensing the film. Prior to shooting, he and I did extensive visual research to come up with a look for the film. Every scene is on location except Hermann's apartment--which was a set. It was tricky because we matched the apartment (a set) to look like the exterior of the building (a real location). We shot all the apartment scenes first. A day before we shot the exterior we lost that location. So we had to find a new one to match the apartment. It wasn't easy, and in the end I had to rewrite the exterior scenes to make the story work.

What was the biggest difference between making a short film and a feature film?
A lot of the principles are the same. But short films need to be incredibly concise. Every scene has to be perfect. Feature length films are a little more forgiving. But they also require much more organization and attention to pacing. One is like a sprint, the other is a marathon.

What advice would you tell to those who wants to makes a film for first time?

Don't spend a lot of money on your first film. Filmmaking is a craft and you have to keep doing it to get better. And try not to copy what you see everywhere. It's more important to have your own voice.

Do you think there are actual paths on which new directors could shows their ideas, their scripts?
I don't think there's any shortcut. You have to make films--make the best films you can. Then try to connect with producers and actors at festivals, conferences or online. People will always judge you by your past work. As your work gets better, you'll get work with more talented people.

If you were offer the opportunity to remake "Deep Dark" with a big budget, but you'll only be on charge of the script, who would choose as the director?
Perhaps William Friedkin. His most recent movies like Bug and Killer Joe are psychological thriller that have a bizarre streak of humor. I think he'd do a great job. Or perhaps Bong Joon-Ho or Takashi Miike.

What are you doing now? What projects are you involved in?
For a while after Deep Dark I was trying to adapt a novel. That didn’t work out, at least not yet. In the meantime I am writing an original screenplay for a sci-fi/horror film, which should be done in December. Feature films take a very long time so I’ve also started working on some short internet videos.





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