Friday, December 18, 2009


KERBEROS: The Kely McClung Interview. Part 2

1. From start to finish (assuming you are about to sign off), how long has the KERBEROS production been?

The writing went really quick once I wrote the first sentence: Wide on a nearly colorless cemetery. But for me it usually does—maybe three or four weeks start to finish. I don't write rough drafts or outlines. I play conversations in my head and/or start to see a few images very clearly, and the story grows from there. Sometimes that process goes on for a couple years before it hits paper. Usually it gets to the point where I have to put it down and write it. Good or bad, I have written twenty-three feature screenplays. It’s a lot of fun for me to write, almost like reading or watching a movie. Characters appear and do things that I had no idea about until it happens! The stories always seem to write themselves, and I have a blast discovering them. I knew KERBEROS was strong and much bigger than the resources I had at hand, so the next bit of time went to start planning on how to pull it off. I had a read-through with some actors I know—many are in the film—but it was several months after that I was able to pull the trigger and officially start. From the time I officially started preproduction until now, it has been twenty-one months. I am finally about ready to sign off, day-by-day checking off a list of fixes and details that always bothered me.

And then of course comes the little details like checking and double-checking the sound separations, credits, titles, websites, DVD menus, posters, trailers, behind the scenes, commentaries, and the joys of paperwork.

2. If you could channel one director's skills, who would it be and why?

I'm sure anyone who has seen my films is thinking Tony Scott who is a huge inspiration to me but more [for] his handling of story structure and some of the visual risks he takes than the actual movies [he directs]. I think SPY GAMES was genius though not his biggest critical or box office success. But the first name that comes to mind is Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Even there, I admit that it is his bigger, more commercial fare that I really like and am blown away by, both AMELIE and A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT. The rhythm and epic pacing, the mastery of each frame in terms of composition, color and light, his handling of special FX in ways that seems quite natural but that are anything but, the complexity of the stories, and the way he stages and finds so much beauty in the blood and mud of war, is really remarkable to me. I'm still at a stage because of my [limited] budget that I am forced to create my compositions from the natural world and available light. I also draw and paint and have since being very young, so I'd like to think that when I have the budget to construct and paint each scene, I could find a few frames that approach the painterly effect and quality of what I have seen in his films. I appreciate that same beauty and Gilliam-like quirkiness in Jeunet’s first films, DELICATESSEN and CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, but the stories were not my favorite. I look forward to seeing his newest film MICMACS when I can.

It's probably hard to see the director's role in shaping actors’ performances when they are so consistently great like Daniel Day Lewis and Penelope Cruz with directors like Scorcesse and Almodovar, but I really strive for the ability to elicit great performances from the actors. So perhaps the (possibly) underrated ability of someone like Tarantino who, time after time, ends up with a movie that [features] actors’ best performances [is something I would like to emulate]. It's partly a matter of empathy and communication, the ability to relate to people as individuals in unique ways, which reaches and moves them. [It is] having the desire [to do this], taking the time, and pulling it off in split-second situations that makes up a production. I have a long way to go, but I am getting there.

3. Next up: BLACKHEART or ALTERED? Can you give any details on what you are thinking in regards to these? (These are two film ideas that Kely has mentioned to me in our discussions. Both sound rather badass, BTW).

At this minute I am still planning on doing both. They are incredibly different and [each] have very unique challenges for me. BLACKHEART concerns child sexual slavery and prostitution, yet my concept for a movie starts from a more conventional action film and develops into something that approaches horror. If I tackle it, the action will be even more brutal that what anyone has seen me do, and most likely because of the graphic quality I am drawn to, the horror will not only look real, but the emotional level and investment will be extremely high. Because of the subject matter, child slavery, and sex, think HOSTEL with children. I am sure there will be those lined up to crucify me as exploitative, which is exactly the point: to draw attention and horror to this situation that in many countries, including ours, is quietly shoved under the rug and in others, is quietly accepted. Because I am finding the ability to bring strong emotional qualities to my characters and thereby [impact] the audience, I think [such a film] will be both disturbing and heartbreaking.

I'll also have to be in better shape than I have ever been on film as I would hope to actually have stuntmen to choreograph and fight with on this one. This means I'll be wanting to put more of my “style” and theories of martial arts on film. There is much I haven't done in terms of realistic fights that really comes down to [not having] the budget [necessary] for great stunt fighters and kick-ass make-up. Can't have fights where I am breaking bones if I can't show it!

ALTERED has been my pet project since inception about 6 years ago. Think SE7EN as told by Tom Tykwer and interpreted by Terry Gilliam with the relentless horror of Fabrice du Welz! Hopefully, all together that creates a Kely McClung film! Interesting story structure, constructed sets, heavy art direction, special FX and make-up, a really off-the-wall take on things, probably a dance number or two, and of course, some brutal action! It [would] deal with a lot of universal truths and very simple ideas, but hopefully people would get through it and walk out scratching their heads and needing that piece of pie to put it in perspective.* And really, that's what it's all about, perspective: how it changes our world, and how it determines each person's actions and place.

I have a half-dozen other stories ready to go but am developing a new idea which wraps an action movie around something that feels a bit like SEVEN POUNDS. Maybe my mother will get to watch that one!

*This is a reference to something Kely has said to me in conversation: he wants all of his films to inspire a “pie and coffee” discussion afterward. He is referencing an exchange between Clarence and Alabama in Scott’s TRUE ROMANCE. In all honesty, who doesn’t want a movie that inspires a warm discussion afterward?

More to come...


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