Welcome, my morbid little miscreants! Join me, your cryptress, Lili DesGhoules, as I dig up and dish out the devilishly delightful dirt from the dark side of the entertainment industry!

Friday, 21 August 2009

Interview: Kyle Cassidy, Photographer

I know what you're thinking, minions: This isn't a "typical" Lili's Lair post. Ah, but that is where you will be mistaken. You see, the following interview victim inadvertently fell into me lap, so to speak. It's just like six degrees of separation . Let me explain.

You should all know by now that E.E. Knight is one of my all-time favourite authors. Well, Kyle Cassidy was given credit for a couple of photos I posted for my E.E. Knight interview. I then noticed traffic coming from Kyle Cassidy's Live Journal, so I went to see what was up. I read through the page and noticed some comment about Gothic Beauty Magazine, and Kyle's comment about how Wednesday Mourning was his favourite goth model.

(Keep following my whirling dervishes.)

That is how I found out about Wednesday Mourning.

After my interview with Wednesday, I asked Kyle if he ever photographed goths. Of course, duh me, I had already been to his site and looked at all his stuff so I already knew he did. So it was a dorky question. Anyway, I asked him to do an interview since it's goth week here at Lili's Lair.

And there you have it: complete circle. Weird huh? Since that has been explained, I can get right into my introduction of Kyle.

Cameras freak me out, and they hate me. It's a mutual agreement that I stay away from them and they stay away from me. After all, getting your photo taken means losing your soul.

However, I do appreciate a beautiful photo and marvel over the artistry and vision it took to capture and freeze a moment in time that will never be again. Good photographers to me are like powerful sorcerers. It's all magic and secrets interwoven with a technical knowledge that baffles.

I have seen many photographs taken by people who are self-professed "professionals". Blech, but then I suppose anyone (except me) can pick up a digital camera, take some pictures and say: "Hey, look at me, I am a professional". This is isn't the case. It's art, vision, creativity, and yes, even magic. It takes all of these abilities to photograph someone or something so that it freezes them in the moment. It does capture their soul and you don't just see it you literally feel it oozing out of every pixel.

This is the kind of photographer I believe Kyle Cassidy is. He is an artist... a visionary... His pictures are alive and breathing, and if I didn't think getting my photo taken meant that my soul got eaten, Kyle Cassidy would be the photographer I would want to freeze me in time forever.

(Make sure to click the photos to be taken directly to Kyle's site.)
    Lili's Lair: How did you get your start in photography?

    Kyle Cassidy: I'd had a fascination about photography since I was very young. I remember seeing some cheesy TV show, I was probably six or seven at the time, where a tourist ccidentally takes a snapshot of a crime and a "photographer" uses a darkroom enlarger to blow up the tiny little corner of the negative into a perfectly clear 8x10 showing who did what and thinking it wasmagic. Around the same time there were all these heroic photos being printed from Vietnam, and Watergate broke and I remember being very, very young and thinking that photojournalists were people who Did Important Things. I wanted to be part of a noble profession doing noble things and getting into dangerous situations for Truth and Good.

    I was around twelve when my grandfather gave me my first camera, a Petri 7s that my father had actually bought in Vietnam and had been handed around the family. I still have it, but that opened up worlds for me. I took it to school with me. My college had three photography classes, I took them all and I signed up for the newspaper and the magazine. Those were really big deals, because you had, basically, limitless film and chemicals and people giving you assignments, so it was just a playground for experimentation, and you also had all these other photographers on the staff teaching you what they knew. That's where it really happened.

    Lili's Lair: What was the process you had to go through in order for this to become your career, and did you have to go to school?

    Kyle Cassidy: I did go to school, though not as much as I probably should have. I think it would have been easier to do what I'm doing now if I'd gone to grad school. But in any artistic career, be it writing, or photography or poetry or sculpture, the key to success -- and this isn't a secret, is some amount of talent some amount of hard work and some amount of luck. And, as far as I can tell, there's no magic amount of any that you need, just some of each. Bumping into Madonna in an elevator is luck. Being able to say "Hi, here are five album covers I've done and a fashion spread in La Weekender, we should work together" is luck paired with determination and hard work, and that's what turns "OMG! I MET MADONNA IN AN ELEVATOR!" into something more than a one sentence anecdote.

    Lili's Lair: What is your favourite type of equipment to use?

    Kyle Cassidy: That's kind of a difficult question. Because the cameras that I love to use are the most impractical. From time to time I hear people say "oh, I'm a film purist, I never use digital" and in large part that's baloney -- you're adding all these unnecessary obstacles to your work and it's a bit like saying "Oh, I pump my water out of a well by hand and carry it into the house in a bucket," you can do it but, for the most part, what's the point? But there's something about my old film cameras that i love -- my digital camera I use, we have a working relationship.

    It's like a hammer -- we go to work, we drive nails, we go home and we don't talk afterwords -- but these film cameras ... I can't bring myself to sell them. Nobody's really made a digital camera that's beautiful -- that might be it. Your Nikon D3 might have a zillion times the functionality of a Leica M3, but it's never going to have that mysterious beauty and you're not going to sit there watching TV cradling it in your hand and thinking "Wow, I love this camera. It's my best friend."

    I wish that there was some sort of digital film I could slip into these old bodies and keep using them. I suppose I'm holding on to them because I figure that some day, six years from now, someone's going to do it when CCD's are cheap and thin and you can buy them in sheets at the drug store.

    I have a Hasselblad 500cm which is really a pain in the rear to use because it's so unnecessarily complicated but I love it, and I have a couple of Leicas, and I love them. But when they're sitting there next to the digital SLR and I need to get something done, I never pick up the fun one, I pick up the practical one. So a bit of the joy has gone out of it -- it's the price you pay for efficiency. Sure it would be romantic to ride a horse everywhere instead of drive but you need to be a special kind of person to feed it and muck out the stalls and do all the associated maintenance.

    Lili's Lair: Do you have a preference of photographing in black and white or colour, and if so why?

    Kyle Cassidy: I used to do exclusively black and white because I was very DIY, I wanted to depend on other people as little as possible, so I shot black and white because it was easier to develop myself and I could do everything in my darkroom and now -- now that everything's digital -- black and white seems false because it's an extra step to remove the color, so you're going out of your way to remove information, so I don't do it, it seems to me a bit pretentious. There's still something very beautiful about a well photographed and well printed black and white image but unless it was shot on black and white film, it bothers me in some place in the back of my head.

    Lili's Lair: What is the thought process you go through when deciding which projects you'd like to take on? For instance: Your documentary photography book, Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes, or your project of photographing homeless Romanian children?

    Kyle Cassidy: That's a really good question, because there are a bunch of things that I'm sure every photographer is interested in photographing but what ones get chosen are really influenced by a troika of factors

    a) how much personal meaning does this have to me?
    b) how easy is this to do? and
    c) how am I going to get paid to do it?

    So you can have all these extremes: "This is the most important thing in my world, I'm doing it! Everything else be damned!" to "Why not, it'll only take me half an hour" to "They're going to give me a hundred thousand dollars to take pictures of hubcaps?" But most things lie at theintersection of these three lines somewhere in the middle.

    With Armed America, it was something I was really interested in, was very, very, very difficult to do, but someone was willing to pay me to pursue it. So I spent three years of my life working on it like a whipped dog. And then you have something like the Romanian orphan project which I believed in, it touched me profoundly it changed who I am as a person, it flipped my world upside down, all these things -- but nobody was going to pay me to do it, and it wasn't terribly difficult to do, so I did it. I didn't make any money from it, but I think I saved the world a little, and that's value and it's the kind that's difficult to measure in dollars. It's a different kind of reward than the reward I got for doing Armed America, which was financial, but I actually think also saved the world a little, because it got people who wouldn't normally talk to one another talking to one another, which is a good thing.

    So you have all these ideas and you weigh them against these three values and something comes up a winner. Also, if I'm any indication, most photographers are probably working on ten things at once, and after a while, some you realize have potential and you work on them more -- like for six years I've been photographing cars parked in front of fire hydrants. I kid you not -- whenever I see one, I take a photo. Who knows if anything will ever come of it, but it's a project" I'm working on -- I do it in passing. But if after reading this interview, someone from Chronicle Books calls and says "we want to do a book of photos of cars parked in front of fire hydrants!" I'll start walking around looking for this stuff and I'll spend a lot more time on it.

    Lili's Lair: I find photography extremely confusing to the point of terror when faced with having to use a camera. Can you please explain to photography illiterates such as myself what you have to do, and the process from start to finish of a proper studio photo shoot?

    Kyle Cassidy: Studio photography is, to a large extent, math. And by that I mean it's learnable, it's reproducible, you can write the solution down on a napkin and hand it to someone and they can re-create it a thousand miles away with no artistic talent whatsoever; it's technical. This is, on the one hand, very good, because it means you can learn it from books. You can pick up a book with a title like "the guide to studio lighting" and you can look at what a soft box does, and what a shoot-thru umbrella does and what a reflective umbrella does and what a grid spot does and you can see where the backdrop was in this photo and what the f-stop was in that photo and you can replicate it. It is SCIENCE.

    That's the easy part. You can learn a lot of it in a weekend.

    What's difficult is figuring out what to do with it. That's the artistic part, you can probably learn a lot of that in a classroom too, but it's more abstract you can say to some photographer "tell the story of migrant farm workers" but if it was still math, you could pretty much hire any competent photographer to do it. What makes some photographers different, is their ability to display emotion, feeling, to break through that mathematical barrier and use the studio to make the viewer's gut shake and their head spin and to make them think about things they wouldn't otherwise think of. That's the hard part. If you can do that, if you can make the hard part work, your technical skills don't really matter so much. If you can talk your way into a street gang in Los Angeles and spend six months with them taking photos, it doesn't really matter so much if everything's perfectly exposed, perfectly in focus, perfectly framed.

    Lili's Lair: Can you please tell me about your Spooky Girls Project?

    Kyle Cassidy: I'd been photographing goths for years, maybe since 1997 and I'd done a bunch of gallery shows and some album covers, but there really hadn't been a comprehensive collection of my work and I thought it would be nice to get everything together. It was basically a trolling of the archives that I thought might make a nice small book. There was some wonderful interest from publishers but around the same time, Armed America started to take off and Spooky Girls got thrown on the back burner where it's sat, neglected, ever since, though there's a lot of it in my portfolio in general.

    Lili's Lair: Do you find you prefer a specific subject type to photograph over others?

    Kyle Cassidy: People. I'm endlessly fascinated by them. I've done a couple landscape projects -- I fell in love with the desert after driving through it doing photography for Armed America, but it still doesn't hold the interest for me that people do. Everyone's different. I want to hear all their stories.

    Lili's Lair: Any up and coming projects Kyle Cassidy is working on we should all be keeping a lookout out for?

    Kyle Cassidy: Right now I'm spending the bulk of my time on this project called "Where I Write: Fantasy and Science Fiction Authors in Their Creative Spaces" which you can see at www.whereiwrite.org and I'm also right now starting to photograph fans -- NASCAR fans, heavy metal fans, I'm interested in the whole thing. I'm not sure where that's going. I'm also photographing war veterans tattoos, which you can see at www.kylecassidy.com/warpaint.
Visit Kyle - and click on the photos to visit them - at his site. All of his photos are simply amazing.


Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Book Feature - Monolith Graphics: Joseph Vargo

Today at Lili's Lair we have decided to finish off our Monolith Graphics/Joseph Vargo gothique extaorinaire with their books.

Yes, Joseph Vargo also writes. Are you surprised? You shouldn't be.

His writing is not only found in his books. Joseph Vargo also writes the snippets of spook in Nox Arcana's Songs, as well as the "puzzles" one gets to poke about with on each CD. Ahh, the sweet torture of figuring out a mystery.

Sorry, back to the books. If you read my interview with Joseph Vargo, you would know he has been writing for quite a while. If you have not read the interview, shame on you my morbid masses. Go do so now, or I will punish you most severely.

All of Monolith Graphic's books are a work of art and a must-buy for the collector. Let's take a further look at what Monolith Graphics has to offer.

The Legend of Darklore Manor and Other Tales of Terror
(comes with a free Darlore Manor CD)

This anthology of terrifying tales is actually a collaboration between Joseph Vargo, Joseph Iorillo, and Timothy Bennett.

This 216-page book includes the following stories:

The Coroner
Black Heart
Mr. Stitch
Darkness Immortal
Spiders in the Attic
Brotherhood of Shadows
Afraid of the Dark
Sister Salvation
The Pumpkin Patch
The Westgate Phantom
The Doll
The Legend of Darklore Manor

Tales from the Dark Tower

Co-written and illustrated by Joseph Vargo. Other authors in the book include: Christine Filipak, Joseph Iorillo, James Pipik, and Robert Michaels.

This 13-story, 280 page book is based upon characters in Vargo's Paintings.

The Gothic Tarot Compendium

This book features Joseph Vargo's personal insights into his famous Gothic Tarot, as well as other resources for further divinatory exploration. This 224-page book is a must-buy if you own or plan on owning The Gothic Tarot.

Born of the Night
The gothic fantasy artwork of Joseph Vargo. This beautiful 9x12, 184-page book features over one hundred original paintings and illustrations with introductions and summaries written by Joseph Iorillo.

Also check out Monolith Graphic's other beautifully dark products:

Post Cards

Monday, 17 August 2009

Interview: Wednesday Mourning, Gothic Model

When we think of mainstream fashion models, most of us tend to envision these sometimes-beautiful (looks-wise, not body-wise) clothes hangers, married to rock stars, who are also dumb as bricks. (Alright, I do, anyway, because I've personally known enough of them to have experienced the stereotype up close and personal.)

However, what about goth models? Well, having been around the scene since my days hanging out at the Bat Cave in London, I can tell you: Yes, there are some stupid goths out there. Of course there are stupid people in just about any walk of life.

On the other hand, having been a punk/dark wave model (we didn't have the term "goth" way back then) myself during the 80's, I have to say most of us in this particular scene were not dense.

In my experience, I have found most goth models to be a bit introverted, quiet, and book-wormy. These are the kind of girls who not only look stunning, but with whom you can carry on an adult, literate conversation, as well as have deep philosophical debates. (Seriously.) Would you expect anything less from the scene than such intelligentsia? There are, of course, exceptions to this rule.

Wednesday Mourning is not one of these exceptions.

She is bright, articulate, and even has a great Texas sense of humour. Besides all of this, she has appeared in Gothic Beauty Magazine on several occasions, as well as Dark Realms magazine; she's been featured in art books, runway shows, and was even the cover model for the band My Chemical Romance's CD Welcome To The Black Parade.

She is a stunning beauty with looks that any women would kill for - goth or not. Except, of course, the goth woman would use a poison ring.

So my malevolent miscreants, if you doubt my assessment as to whether Wednesday Mourning can string two sentences together, read the interview. After that, become one of her worshipers, send her bookstore gift cards, black roses, dark chocolates, and absinthe. Then have a visit to her links at the end of the interview.
    Lili's Lair: Tell us about WHO Wednesday Mourning is and WHY you are a gothic model.

    Wednesday Mourning: Wednesday Mourning is the public identity of an introverted book geek, who although shy finds ways to express herself visually through like minded artists.

    Lili's Lair: How did you first become involved in gothic modeling?

    Wednesday Mourning: I was working at a Goth club in San Antonio and they needed a model for a flyer so I was asked to fill the position. I was hesitant at first but ended up enjoying the shoot and the images that followed. Soon after local designers started to contact me for work, and since then my career has taken flight.

    Lili's Lair: What is it about goth culture that attracts you?

    Wednesday Mourning: The pivotal point of my pre-teen development towards this culture was watching Bauhaus’s scene in The Hunger when I was fourteen years old. The droning lyrics combined with beautiful dark aesthetics kept me mesmerized. I loved the contrast of pale skin to dark hair, the beauty of gaunt cheekbones and the frail composure. These were the days before the internet as we know it now therefore I went to my local record store and starting thumbing through all the zines I could find. My days were filled with special ordering interesting looking records and publications while drilling those older than me for information on this fascinating new-found culture. The more I researched the more I fell in love with these creatures that have seemed to have walked out of a Poe story. Not any less important is the music that is equally as beautiful, never had a found a more perfect union. I am still deeply in love with this subculture and I am honored to have been able to work with so many people that share my viewpoint within it.

    Lili's Lair: Have you always done gothic modeling? Or have you done other types of modeling as well, and if so what type?

    Wednesday Mourning: I’ve only worked as a gothic model since starting at the age of seventeen, I do not “genre hop” as some call it. It only seems natural to model in the field I am most comfortable in. I think I would feel strange doing pin-up or steam–punk style shoots as that would “not be me”.

    Lili's Lair: What is, in your opinion, the difference between being a gothic model and a mainstream model?

    Wednesday Mourning: I feel that a gothic model should be involved in the scene, listen to the music and live the lifestyle. The model’s own individuality and creativity should translate honestly to film not just as someone playing dress up for the day. A mainstream model does not need to follow such guidelines as they are hired to portray an image outside their own, think of them as a blank slate that is molded to the client’s wishes in totality.

    Lili's Lair: Have you found, in your personal experience and/or personal observations, any difference in the way the goth fashion industry is run vs. the mainstream fashion world?

    Wednesday Mourning: Yes, for one the Goth fashion industry is very close knit and often uses the same models. I also see that the goth designers help each other out, with more camaraderie then competiveness. I’ve not worked much in the mainstream world as I refuse to change my daily look but I imagine they are more competitive and have a much larger pool of models to pick from!

    Lili's Lair: When doing a shoot, is it the photographer that "puts you in the mood," or do you find your inspiration elsewhere?

    Wednesday Mourning: It is often a collaboration between both parties but sometimes the photographer has a specific emotion or feeling they want express and they direct me towards their vision. Others just let me do whatever I want and snap away.

    Lili's Lair: Who, if anyone, is your favourite photographer to work with and why?

    Wednesday Mourning: I love working with Chris Anthony, his dark Victorian work fits nicely with my own tastes and he’s a shy bookish type like myself.

    Lili's Lair: Who would be your ideal photographer to do a shoot with, and why?

    Wednesday Mourning: I would love to work for Eugenio Recuenco, his fantasy work is jaw dropping beautiful.

    Lili's Lair: Can you tell us here at Lili's Lair what a typical day is like for you when you do a shoot?

    Wednesday Mourning: I would love to start out this answer a’ la Patrick Batemen style but I will spare you my extensive morning routine. By afternoon I am sitting in the makeup chair for about an hour depending on the project and then I have a genius hair stylist foaming at the mouth to tease out and stand up my longer than waist length hair. I also seem to get myself into shoots with complicated outfits so at times I have to be dressed… I sometimes feel like a mannequin as I’m pulled and pushed into some odd wardrobe contraption. After a couple hours shoot I head home to try to comb out my hair and take a nap. Sounds like I’m complaining…but I love it! I must be a glutton for punishment!

    Lili's Lair: Do you do live, runway-type shows? If so, do you prefer these shows, or magazine shoots?

    Wednesday Mourning: I have walked in several runway shows, and although the fast paced energy behind such productions is fun I prefer magazine shoots. When doing print work you are able to keep a tear sheet as a memento… which can be sent back home to mom!

    Lili's Lair: Is there a particular client you especially like doing work for?

    Wednesday Mourning: I love working for Kambriel, her work is amazing and she’s a genuinely awesome person. Did I mention her work is amazing too? :)

    Lili's Lair: What advice would you give to someone - male or female - who would like to get into gothic modeling?

    Wednesday Mourning: I would advise them to stay true to what you love no matter what is popular in the current realm of alternative modeling. Gothic modeling is an expression of your inner self and make sure you are pulling from that, find your strength there! Also…have fun!

    Lili's Lair: What are Wednesday Mourning's plans for the future?

    Wednesday Mourning: I am in talks with an artist/videographer to work on some experimental video projects. After working in still images for so long it will be fun to branch out into moving pictures.

Check her out:



Thursday, 6 August 2009

Interview: Paul Newbery, Actor - Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders

I cannot tell you exactly when I first met Paul, because he is the type of person that after you first speak with him you feel as though you have known him your whole life. He is a genuine, charismatic, talented individual, who becomes the multi-dimensional characters he portrays.

Paul is the kind of actor that deserves to be in big budget box office draws. He is a truly nice bloke who you want to see winning awards, making it big, and getting a go round on Top Gear track. I know Jeremy would like him as much as I do.

Make no mistake my mischievous minions, I do not hand out compliments like Father Christmas does gifts in December. I am from Ireland after all, and although we are known for our blarney we do not give out compliments unless they are deserved and earned. Which is precisely what Paul Newbery has done.

So... read his interview, visit his Web site, sign his guest book, and then pick up a copy of Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders to see what I mean.
    Lili's Lair: I've spoken to many actors, and they all seem to catch this thing called the "acting bug." Can you remember when you caught the acting bug, and what your thoughts were with regards to what you were going to do about said bug?

    Paul Newbery: I was I believe about 5. I got up onstage at a holiday camp and sang a song and acted as a sausage and they gave me a stick of rock I remember it vividly. No-one has given me once since. In my teenage years I was part of a very strong youth theatre and it was all about how I could improve all the time. I used to mix with lots of children who were going to Stage Schools and feel a bit segregated as my parents could not afford that luxury but there were people around me who recognised that, looked out for me and pushed me. I'm forever indebted for their kindness and advice.

    Lili's Lair: Was your family supportive of your choice to become an actor?

    Paul Newbery: Well acting is a very misunderstood profession. No one, your loved ones, friends, your best friend or your closest loved one unless they are in the industry themselves will ever understand what you have to go through to get your c.v. even looked at, never mind getting an audition etc. It's a profession only for tough, thick skinned people.There isn't room for fragilities and egos, people forget that a lot of your working time as an actor is searching for the work, maintaining your craft, marketing etc it's a long list and a full time job trying to get a job. It can be a very lonely life and one that is hard to support because for instance you may get a comment like "so and so got on telly why can't you" which in someones eyes is their way of supporting you because they want you to be on their tv's, that's success to them whereas to an actor that media form is divided into sections and not just "being on telly" if that makes sense. Yes I got support from my family to a degree and still do but believe me the only person who will ever truly support you in this profession is yourself and your agent if they are any good. Being self supportive is very important and has to be learned. You need to bring yourself up from a failed audition by yourself and down from any highs so you can get back to your work. It's unfair to ask people to support you totally, it's too much of a complex profession. If you are reading this and wanting to go into the profession and have no support don't let that be a brick wall, you can do it all yourself and find your own network of people that will understand.

    Lili's Lair: Do you prefer to act in film or theatre?

    Paul Newbery: I like both equally. I like having the luxury of rehearsal with Theatre and the excitement of performing on Stage and in film the technique excites me and I love it that you have it forever.

    Lili's Lair: Is there anything you do in order to "get into character" before a production?

    Paul Newbery: Yes, there are processes I go through, it can be quite complicated, sometimes it's much simpler. Normally if you've done all your homework, you can take your few minutes,attune to your character.You have all these compartments in your head,sometimes you have to drag up an emotion from the back of your mind, put it at the front ready to use then tuck it back safely into your mind again. It's not something I would advise as it can be distressing for some people and there are different methods that people use to get the same result.

    Lili's Lair: Was there anything special you did to prepare yourself for your role as DCI Doyle in Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders?

    Paul Newbery: When we were filming at the train station I used to walk around looking up at the skies imagining seeing the Archangel and wondering how it would move in the sky and perhaps cling to the trees because Doyle would do that, Mac would be the one looking for the clues leading to the Archangel, Doyle would just be looking behind his back so he could get away. I used some animal technique with Doyle, hunched his shoulders slightly and gave him a bit of a Rhino charge which I don't think you see in the office cut but it put me in the right frame of mind.

    Lili's Lair: What was your most memorable experience in the filming of Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders?

    Paul Newbery: Doyle had 2 deaths, the first one we shot that wasn't used I was lying down on the floor of the car park in a pool of blood literally covered in it and my ribs were killing me on the concrete floor but of course I can't shuffle even a tiny bit because I couldn't take a chance of changing the way the body looked because of continuity etc. and there were 4 actors talking around my body in quite a dialogue driven scene and things kept going wrong and the blood was caking on my skin and then went into my eye and the corn syrup was stinging the hell out of my eyeball and we kept doing take after take. That was memorable and uncomfortable but a lot of fun too. Sissy Spacek had to walk around the prom with her eyes wide open covered in corn syrup in Carrie so i'm not complaining. It comes with the territory with film, I could be filming underwater, I'd still end up covered in bruises after the scene.

    Lili's Lair: Do you take classes to improve your art, and if so, do you feel that they have been beneficial?

    Paul Newbery: Yes especially with film, it's an ever learning process, technology changes and you have to keep and eye on camera technique. There's so much more to screen performance than I realised there would be. It's a fascinating process and rewarding when you see yourself improving. There's also plenty of things on the internet to help technique and they're free!

    Lili's Lair: Are there any particular roles you prefer to play over others?

    Paul Newbery: Not really, I just like good characters.

    Lili's Lair: If you could star in a film or play who would be your "dream" director and why?

    Paul Newbery: I'd love to be in anything directed by Mike Leigh. He marries actor and character perfectly, I know I would learn a great deal from him and he would work me hard.

    Lili's Lair: What would you like to see yourself doing five years down the road?

    Paul Newbery: Working hard with Mike Leigh or in a play or film working with actor Con O'neill or a great character in a musical.
I will tell you something, minions. I truly enjoy interviewing talented, smart, and unpretentious people. Do yourselves a favour and visit Paul's Web site to read his bio, reviews, see what he is up too, drop him a note, or to find out about Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Interview: Scott Benzie, Musical Score - Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders

I do not know very much about Scott, but I will tell you what I do know:

It takes a lot more than talent to create musical scores for movies. It also requires creativity, discipline, and the ability to take someone else's vision and breathe life into it. I never realized how incredibly complicated it is to create these movie musical masterpieces until my interview with Scott.

Here... read it for yourselves, my horrific horde, and tell me if I am not correct about its complexity:
    Lili's Lair: I don't know about everyone else, but I have NO idea what the process is for writing a score. Could you enlighten us on that please, Scott?

    Scott Benzie: When writing music to film, it is vitally important that the music is perfectly in sync with the visuals. This serves two purposes 1. Any musical idea, a theme, for example that follows a character or situation needs to be heard at a specific moment, if the music has been written and the edit changes, then the theme, will not be in the correct spot, therefore the music will need to be re-written. This makes the whole process longer and this incorporates no.2 If the picture edit is constantly changing, this has a knock on effect with music, the whole process takes longer and can be very stressful for all involved.

    To actually write the score I will look through the film several times and then meet with the director and discuss where he wants music to be, where I think music should be and any thoughts what the music needs to do, The director might say ‘I want something really dramatic and big here, this will help guide me through the film with the directors vision.

    I will take notes during the spotting session and use this as the basis in writing.

    The actual writing normally begins trying to find the style of the film, and this normally means developing a theme, for a character or situation that I can use again and again and this helps give something familiar that the audiance can releate to and that can help with developing the story.

    When I think I have something that is working whether it’s just a theme or a finished piece of music, I will send it over to the director and we will discuss this, and If he’s happy with the direction I continue writing, there may be changes, if it’s not right, I develop it further from any thoughts that the director may have and I work on the piece of music until the director is happy with it.

    After this I go and start writing in no particular order, and I will send the music over once I’m happy with them for approval.

    In writing music to film one of the biggest issues is time; I will normally have a strict deadline to complete everything, once the music is completed it needs to go to the final mix prior to release. It is of paramount importance that the music is delivered on time.

    The writing consists of me sitting on my own watching the film, timing the sections and making ‘hit points’ this can be a line of dialogue or a piece of action, anything where the music is going to change, or if a theme is going to be heard. From these points I start to fill in the themes and work the music to the scene, trying to make the music fit the scene, almost as if it’s always been there, changing moods if it needs to and incorporating any ideas or thoughts that the director wanted.

    Lili's Lair: What is your favourite type of project and/or movie to score?

    Scott Benzie:I really like scoring films that need the music to help convey a sense of scale, large panoramic scenes, or writing music for a really gothic horror film, post apocalypse, or wild fantasy film would be really good fun.

    Lili's Lair: Did you have any professional training as a musician, and if so, were you required to take additional training on writing scores?

    Scott Benzie:I was at University studying Composition and started teaching myself about orchestration (how to write for orchestra) by attending orchestral rehearsal sessions and getting them to play snippets of music of mine, this was great to see and hear what was working in a real life experience. Whilst studying I met with directors and scored their films. I feel a hands on approach was a much better way, for me to learn.

    Lili's Lair: Who are your musical influences?

    Scott Benzie: So many…. John Williams, Bernard Herrmann, James Horner, Jerry Goldsmith, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard.. There is a big list… you can add almost any composer here….

    Lili's Lair: If you were only allowed to listen to one type of music or band for the rest of your life, what or who would it be, and why?

    Scott Benzie: I have lately been listening to a much more diverse range of music and I have realised that I quite like a lot more than I had previously thought. At this moment in time, I don’t think I would want to listen to one type of music or one band.

    Lili's Lair: Is there anything or anyone that inspires you to create the incredible music you make?

    Scott Benzie: The music that I write has to relate to the film and the situations and moods within, therefore my only concern is to work on the music for the film and use the film and the directors vision to give me inspiration. (nd thanks for the wonderful compliment)

    I use the imagery to help shape the music as well as dialogue to help punctuation and action to helps me give the music life.

    Lili's Lair: What advice can you give to a musician who would like to break into the film business writing scores?

    Scott Benzie: … it’s very difficult trying to get any break and it’s so competitive, just keeping writing and trying to get your music heard, I’m still trying… it is difficult but the rewards are great and there are some amazing people along the way.

    Lili's Lair: What projects are you currently working on?

    Scott Benzie: I have several projects that I am working on ‘Crucifixion Island’ a psychological horror film, ‘The grave digger’, a hammeresque horror film. I also am scoring a Cypriot/UK feature later in the year.

    Lili's Lair: If you could do anything in the music business as your ultimate goal, what would it be and why?

    Scott Benzie: I want to write music for film!

    Have a listen to some of the great music Scott has created:

    Room 36 - Woods Escapes
    (Thank you Room 36 the movie for allowing us to post this MP3. BTW: Room 36 is being released in the UK 26 October 2009. It is a double disc with the film and the soundtrack.)

    Archangel Murders - Friday Returns

    Bloodline - Love

    Ten Dead Men - Theme

    For more info about Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders, visit archangelmurders.com.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Interview: Ryan McDermott, Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders

Ryan McDermott is the kind of bloke you go to when you want to "get stuff done." He has certainly proved that with his movie short, Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders.

Working with a couple of friends, he helped to co-create not only the character of Mark Macready, but also the really cool and dangerous supernatural world the short takes place in.

Talk about your man for all seasons. Ryan co-wrote, produced, starred in, edited , and did a whole lot of marketing for Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders. You think that's something? Get this: he did it all whilst still holding a day job.

Impressed? I know I certainly was.

Ryan did me the favour of answering some interview questions in between taking breaths and his 39-hour days.
    Lili's Lair: What was your "official" role in the co-creation of Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders?

    Ryan McDermott: In “official” terms I was the Producer, I oversaw the film come together but like Sean and Paul I had multiple roles, so officially I produced the film which meant lots of stress, no much sleep and more emails than Megan Fox receives... actually, not quite.

    Lili's Lair: Where did you get the idea for the creation of Mark Macready? A common question, I realize, but one that begs to be answered.

    Ryan McDermott: Well the initial idea came from my good friend Paul Feeney, it was presented to me when we were in college during 2002. Together we shot a version of the concept, it wasn’t very good but Sean saw the tape and insisted there was “something” in there to be developed. The idea has evolved greatly since 2002 but key elements have remained such as the search for Christina and the overall sense of ridiculousness.

    Lili's Lair: What was the creation process like for you personally?

    Ryan McDermott: It was a very fun process; working alongside your friends who share the same sense of humour and passion for film is a great privilege. It was always fun to go to work on the idea, however the creation process was frustrating sometimes as we ended up developing so many versions (from a Naked Gun-esque draft to a serious gothic approach) it was tough trying to pin down just exactly what it was.

    Lili's Lair: Did you find it difficult to co-create a screenplay as well as the Mark Macready world with other people?

    Ryan McDermott: Not at all, it was fairly easy because in the world of Mark Macready anything can go, if you want a giant Moth Man attacking the city you can write it, is it filmable? Probably not. There is just a great sense of freedom in this world, it's liberating. I suppose on occasion we’d go off in the wrong direction because we’d get so excited about a certain premise when it might not necessarily have been the “one” but we always rained it back in. We co-wrote so many drafts that the only thing difficult was deciding what version we’d eventually make.

    Lili's Lair: In your opinion, what was the trickiest part in the creation of Mark Macready, with regards to both the writing and the entire project itself?

    Ryan McDermott: I think the trickiest part was stylistically how we would do it. When you say you’re making a horror comedy you’ve already got your work cut out because you’ve got to maintain two genres as opposed to one. I think that carried over into filming as well, we were very lucky to have the cast we had because they all got it stylistically, they balanced their performances just right, the dialogue had to be delivered deadly seriously but with a twinkle in the eye. We honestly had a fantastic bunch of people work on this film who all understood what we wanted and they worked closely with us to secure that.

    Lili's Lair: Any final thoughts on where you see Mark Macready as a concept going? Any chance of a sequel?

    Ryan McDermott: Sequel wise I think we have to wait and see, we’ve not had that conversation yet, we obviously want to continue this story and bring it to a wider audience so I think any sequel would probably be part remake/part sequel a la Evil Dead 2, but as I say nothing has been discussed yet. It's an interesting dynamic though, because there are three people involved it’s tougher to sign off on one idea because everyone has their views, it's extremely health though, it means we're rigorous and ensure the story is right, it's all very Lucas, Spielberg and Ford.

    Lili's Lair: What did you want to do first: become an actor or a writer?

    Ryan McDermott: Neither really, I wanted to be a Politician but that world is so corrupt I felt it was probably best left undone. I’ve always loved films and TV, I met Sean in ’97 and we were both huge fans of The X-Files, we even tried to make our own X-File, so I guess that is when I got the bug for it. Then we met Paul and as a three we’d film more and more shorts which we’d always act in, that was a great buzz acting opposite each other, we’d also write the shorts together. So I guess both things happened at the same time and I enjoy both aspects as much as each other.

    Lili's Lair: Ry, you were also the editor on the movie. What exactly does an editor do?

    Ryan McDermott: I co-edited with Sean, so it was a great process, a tough one though. The editing was not a process we wanted to do, it just dropped in our lap as the time frame in post-production grew shorter and shorter. Thankfully we’d had some editing experience but it was a very daunting task, I operated the software so I had to learn it over a weekend, I honestly don’t think I slept a wink during that. It was such a great creative process, for a thirty minute film we had around twenty hours worth of footage, there was so much choice, so myself and Sean would sit together, watch the footage, pick the best takes and then I’d assemble it, we’d review it and then sign off on that particular scene. I think an editor can make or break a movie, we worked so hard to ensure it flowed and I’m really pleased with the finished result.

    Lili's Lair: Was it a challenge for you as an actor to take direction from someone you worked so closely with in the creation of Mark Macready?

    Ryan McDermott: No not at all, it was very healthy, very relaxed. I was incredibly lucky because Sean trusted me to get the character right; I had enormous freedom to run with it. We’d always have a scene breakdown before each shoot, just to go over how to play it, but in a take-by-take sense it was very relaxed, lots of freedom. It was brilliant to have a director who knew the material so well, I don’t think anybody else could have directed the film like Sean did. I have to say it was always great to look up and see Sean stood behind the camera, I’d then turn to my right and see Paul stood next to me sharing the scene which was also a pleasure, going to work with people you trust is half the battle.

    Lili's Lair: What is your process as an actor for bringing the characters you portray to life?

    Ryan McDermott: Well this was my first big role, my first time as a leading man in a film, so I watched some performances from leading men who I felt Macready needed to be like such as Charles Bronson (Death Wish), Daniel Craig (as 007), Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry) and David Duchovny (Fox Mulder), if you put those characters into a blender and flip the switch you’d get Mark Macready, he’s a hero in a sense but he’s also not that likeable, he does things that are extremely questionable however his personal search for Christina is the only thing in my view that makes him human. After looking at performances the next part for me was working with Sean on key elements such as the voice, which is intended to be a poor man’s Daniel Craig impression and ensuring my delivery of the lines was dead pan enough yet comedic and emotionally engaging. I always try to find a signature for a character I play, if it be an expression or an item of clothing, with Macready I had the Mac-Brow, a simply device where he raises his eyebrow, It lets the audience know that Macready is thinking, because he’s such a deadpan character the eyebrow makes him a little more animated.

    Lili's Lair: What advice can you give any individuals who would like to break into the film business?

    Ryan McDermott: Tell stories you want to tell, no matter how ambitious they are. We wanted to make this film because it was always going to be a challenge especially when you have to self finance it. I think people get caught up in trying to get funding and grants, in truth forget them, especially if it’s your first film, I honestly believe you’re better off without their money to start with. You need to do it yourself, your going to make mistakes, you may even make a bad film and you don’t want the extra added pressure from a financer breathing down your neck. Film as much as you can before you make the idea you consider to be the one, put yourself through your own private self-taught film school. Buy a cheap camera and download editing software trials off the web, experiment and don’t be afraid to shoot with no money. Most of all be bold, confident and have a voice.

    Lili's Lair: What aspect of movie making do you like the most, and can you see yourself still in the film business 10 years from now? If so, what aspect would you like to continue working in?

    Ryan McDermott: I enjoy producing the most, I love the challenge and I enjoy meeting new people. I also like coming up against people who are resistant to films like this, especially here in the UK and it’s up to folk like us to change that. As a country we have nothing to offer the general movie-goer anymore, we don’t have any Hammer Horror in production, we don’t produce our own blockbusters and we don’t even have “The Carry On” franchise anymore, we have virtually no identity in the market place and that’s something I hope will change with films like this coming along. So I guess I like to think of my role at CM Films as somebody who can get things done and producing fits my character pretty well. I’d love to continue doing this kind of thing, it’s very demanding and it consumes your life to a certain degree, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Ten years from now I’d love to be telling great stories with my friends that audiences the world over can enjoy.

Thanks Ryan for this insightful interview. If you'd like to contact Ryan about Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders, visit the movie's site: http://www.archangelmurders.com

Monday, 3 August 2009

Movie Review: Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders

Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders

Manchester, the supernatural crime hub of the 21st century. Home of Detective Mark 'Mac' Macready. When Macready wakes from a coma he was brutally put into by an unseen enemy, he is met with the unsettling news that his wife Christina is missing and a mass murdering monster has been on the rampage, which the press has affectionately dubbed 'The Archangel'.

Realising there is a connection between his wife's disappearance and the arrival of 'The Archangel' the intrepid detective descends into a paranoid, frenzied search through Manchester's dark supernatural underbelly. It is up to Mac, and Mac alone, to find his missing wife, solve the case and bring the merciless Archangel to cold blooded justice. Directed by Sean Candon and starring Ryan McDermott, 'Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders' is an independent low budget horror comedy from award winning Manchester based studio CM Films. Filled with numerous memorable characters and with twists coming thick and fast, 'Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders' is a thirty minute thrill ride that will have you gasping for breath and asking for more. (Synopsis courtesy CM Films)

I thought I'd jump start the week with a review of an increasingly popular film short from the UK: Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders.

Now, since this is a short, don't expect too many details. Besides, you know how I hate to spoil surprises.

Mark Macreaady and the Archangel Murders has taken Manchester, England, by storm, and it's no wonder. Creators Ryan McDermott, Paul Feeney, and Sean Candon have done a spectacular job of bringing their creation to life. This isn't your ordinary horror film, my creepy cohorts. It is a very British, over the top, tongue-in-cheek horror comedy. If you love Brit humour with some darkness, monsters, and a mystery, you will love this film short.

The cinematography, directing, and production were spot on, and the acting perfect for the parts. The world in which the story takes place and the characters in it beg to be given more room to grow. Put all of that together with a fantastic musical score by the talented Scott Benzie, and you have got yourself a winner. Manchester United has nothing on these guys!

Ryan McDermott was brilliantly over the top as Macready. Paul Newbery was Doyle. Nathan Head not only gave us one great performance as Raymond Korkinsky, but two, as he also played the creature dubbed the Archangel. And Ashleigh Edwards Pitt did a beautiful job as Friday. I know I have missed others in the cast and crew, but they all did a terrific job and deserve kudos, so forgive me if they are not mentioned. After all, I am only semi-human.

From the opening line to the last, you are presented with a fun-but-sinister romp in Mark Macready's world. In my opinion, we will be seeing a lot more from this talented group.

Visit http://www.archangelmurders.com to order your very own DVD and to have a look-see at all things Macready.

Now watch the trailer!