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In “Silence Is Not Golden,” we are attempting to take a look at some modestly-released films through the eyes of the filmmakers themselves.  This installment features writer/director team the Deagol Brothers, who were kind enough to answer our questions about Make-Out With Violence, a sort of coming of age zombie movie which has been hitting the awards circuit with a fervor, including winning awards at Oxford and Atlanta, and playing SXSW.  Check out the film’s official site here, the Non-Commissioned Officers (the band behind the film’s soundtrack) here.

Golden Grouches: People seem to have difficulty pigeonholing Make-Out with Violence, with its coming-of-age story in a teen drama with a romantic triangle and a zombie.  Did you intentionally set out to make that defied genre, or is that just where the story took you?

The Deagol Brothers: We set out to make something interesting, that could be accomplished on a minimal budget.  A John Hughes-esque Rite-de-passage seemed like a doable genre given our resources – we are 4 writers in our mid-20’s who are old high school friends.  The horror element came into play after we saw Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre and loved how odd it was.

Initial drafts of the screenplay were written in a more straightforward narrative that worked with a typical zombie movie trajectory – a third act involving a last stand against the zombies coupled with a big reveal of what was causing the dead to walk the earth.  Most of us were coming to filmmaking from a non-narrative experimental video, painting and fine art background but we thought something that was very traditional and genre-specific would allow us to cement a reputation as feature film directors and we could worry about any “artistic” inclinations later in our careers.  Or at the very least it would be easy to get into Horror film festivals and hopefully make a splash.

Although early drafts of the script had a traditional structure we tried to add as many weird and ostentatious details into the setups and payoffs as we could.  This resulted in an amalgam of body horror and teen comedy that could only be described as Cronenberg meets American Pie.  No one was happy with the direction the script was taking.

It was decided if we were going to make the commitment to shoot this feature we should personalize the story to a greater degree and resolve ourselves to stick with what elements we found interesting not what we thought commercial.  The new story began to heavily reflect our shared experiences in high school.  We became less concerned with the undead story thread and thought it more appropriate Wendy’s back story remain a mystery.  The writing process became about exploring unresolved and unrequited past loves and taking the story into unexpected places emotionally.

For the most part the film’s supporters seem to embrace the plot’s dream logic and liken it to stories of magic realist literature.  Our detractors just think the movie doesn’t make any sense and feel jerked around by the constantly shifting genre elements.

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February 2020
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