Interview of Writer/Artist/Filmmaker Kevin MacDonald

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Bec: Welcome to my blog! Please start by telling everyone about yourself –

Kevin: Hi Bec. Thanks for having me. First and foremost I’m a father and husband. Career wise, I’m a writer/director/producer with two features under my belt so far. I’ve also edited both films. Before I even mention them I should tell everyone that without Shanna MacDonald and Ron Baker, neither of these films would have been possible. They are not only two of the hardest working producers in independent film, but they are the two people I’ve been able to count on 100% of the way. I won’t bother trying to mention the other hundreds of people who’ve pitched in and made it possible because I know I’d forget someone. Let’s just say that it takes a lot of hardworking, dedicated people to bring an indie script to life. You’re only as good as the people around you in film, and I’ve been very lucky in that respect.

The films. BEG, my first film, won Best Picture at The Rhode Island International Film Festival in 2011. It stars Tony Todd, Michael Berryman, Tony Moran (the original Michael Myers), Brandon Stumpf, and we were lucky enough to have PJ Soles and Kristina Klebe (both “Linda’s” from John Carpenters Halloween and Rob Zombies Halloween). It also features Scream Queens Tiffany Shepis and Debbie Rochon. We finally were able to find a good distributor (ITN Distribution) for BEG In August.

My second film, The Witching Hour, stars Michael Madsen, William Forsythe, Tony Todd, Jay Giannone, Brandon Stumpf, Sarah Nicklin, Kayla Harrity, and Sue Costello (to name a few). I wish I could list the whole incredible cast, because it’s a “Pulp Fiction” style Horror/Anthology film (meaning it’s an ensemble cast and characters appear in more than one story).

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Bec: What are the events of your life on any given day?

Kevin: I start by getting my son off to school. The rest of my schedule varies so much and depends on where I am on my films. Right now we are in post-production, so I spend most of my time editing. Of course, I do have to take some time to watch “Breaking Bad” to inspire myself creatively. I’m still trying to convince my wife that technically my “Breaking Bad” marathons are “work.”

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Bec: I know that you’re a photographer, tell us about your creativity in that area? Where can we find your work?

Kevin: I love photography. I started out as an artist long before I became a filmmaker. I went to art school and focused on drawing, illustration, and photography. I think my background in art is what’s made me able to transition from a screenwriter to a director. It’s impossible to know what you want your shots to look like without knowing composition, color schemes, and all the other elements that go into a drawing, painting, or photograph. I’ve never actually tried to get my photographs published, so right now Facebook or Modelmayhem are the only places to view my work. But I do have a project coming up that will incorporate my photography and film. I recently did a photo shoot with the beautiful and talented Sarah Michelle (Miss Terrorcon), which is related to the project. It was such a blast and reminded me how much I missed photography. The only other thing I can say right now is that it will involve a calendar.

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Bec: What is your favorite film that you’ve worked on?

Kevin: I’d have to say “Spilt Milk” which was my first real short film. I wrote it in my car while delivering pizza. I figured I’d try sending it to Tiffany Shepis, assuming she’d never reply. The next day she wrote back saying she loved it. That’s when my wife (Shanna) and I became indie filmmakers. Trial by fire. With no idea how we were going to do it, we just jumped in. My friend Ari Manin (one of the producers) was a big help, but he was right out of film school and learning on the job as well. That’s also how we met Brandon (Stumpf). He’s become a close friend and has been in all of my films since. Not only is he talented, but he’s the kind of guy that when his scenes are done, will stick around and hold a row boat in place so you can film a scene in a lake (true story!) those are the fun times you remember. Tiffany was incredible to work with as well. She’s done a lot of indie films, so rather than act like a diva, she made it fun. Whenever I was unsure of what to do, she would just smile and sort of guide me through the process. The last shot of “Spilt Milk” was in an alley. Once we wrapped, we all went to a bar around the corner and did a shot together. Fun times.

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Bec: What draws you to horror?

Kevin: I’ve always been drawn to horror. My favorite films growing up were always the ones that scared me. Those were the ones that stuck with me. I guess like most people I have a dark side. It always seemed to come out in my work. Even in my early drawings. I just decided to embrace it.

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Bec: How do you find the stories for your films?

Kevin: The stories are all around us. I’ve always been an observer. As far as horror goes, just read a newspaper or watch the news. War, murder, Ebola, shark attacks, you name it. The stories are everywhere. It’s just a matter of what grabs my attention and makes me want to write.

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Bec: Tell us about BEG –

Kevin: BEG was filmmaker boot camp. We started out to make a short film and it just spiraled. Tony Moran, PJ Soles, and Debbie Rochon were the original cast. We had such a great time on those first few days of filming that we all decided to go for it. We put every penny we had in the world into getting it made. We would shoot for two days, then go back to work for months while planning the next two or three day shoot. I sent the script to Kristina Klebe and luckily she loved it. Tony (Moran) really believed in us so he was willing to share the script with Tony Todd and Michael Berryman. Then we were lucky enough to find an investor (which could not have come at a better time). Looking back I don’t know how we pulled it off. A lot of people pitching in, working together, and just believing in a project. It really is hard to describe.

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Bec: If you had to be eaten alive (until you’re dead) by any creature living or imaginary, what creature would you choose? Why?

Kevin: I’d go with a great white shark. I’m terrified of sharks, and I love to face my fears. I wouldn’t mind going out like Quint in “JAWS”, he was the man.

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Bec: What would you tell someone who was looking to get into photography or film?

Kevin: Well, I guess I’d tell them only do it if you love it, if you feel like you have no choice. If you’re in it for the money, buy scratch tickets, the odds are about the same. Fame. Same odds. Awards. They’re nice and I appreciate them, but they are not worth the time, energy, and money it takes to get them if you don’t love what you’re doing. The only reason to do it is because you love it.

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Bec: Is there any type of story plot or character you would like to work with on a film that you haven’t yet? What would it be and why?

Kevin: I definitely want to work towards doing more dramatic films. I love horror, but I don’t want to be stuck in that category. Historical dramas are my favorite, but it takes a lot of money. You don’t see many low budget period pieces. “Braveheart” and “The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford” are two of my favorite films.

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Bec: Where can people find and purchase the films you’ve produced or your photograph?

Kevin: BEG finally has a distributor so we should have the release date very soon. The Witching Hour is wrapping up in post now and will be released much faster than BEG. The biggest drawback to indie film is post and distribution. They are the biggest hurdles. Without money it can take a long time to finish and get distribution. Once filming is wrapped, you are ON YOUR OWN! You really have to be relentless. But we have worked tirelessly and finally can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Bec: What is your favorite Halloween movie?

Kevin: Halloween, of course. Though Pumkinhead is a close second.

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Bec: What do you usually do for Halloween?

Kevin: I’ve done a lot over the years (being in the horror business) but this year I’m looking forward to carving our pumpkin, taking my son Trick-or-Treating, and having a “Halloween” marathon.

Bec: If you were Trick-or-Treating, what candy would you want someone to give you?

Kevin: I’m diabetic, but I love peanut butter M&M’s.

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Bec: If you were Trick-or-Treating, what would your costume be, and why?

Kevin: Batman! Because he’s the greatest super hero ever! And secretly, every guy you know wants to be Bruce Wayne.

Bec: What’s the scariest thing you think that could happen to anyone?

Kevin: I would say swimming along and seeing a crocodile rise up next to you. There’s pretty much no way out of that one. I mean one of those huge Australian crocs you see on the discovery channel, not those little Florida gators.

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Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Kevin: Just how thankful I am for all that I have. I have an amazing wife, a son who I love with all my heart, and I’ve been able to pursue my dream which I realize so few people get to do. Everything we’ve accomplished in film is because of all the people who’ve believed in me, worked hard for me, and helped me along the way. People like Michael Madsen, William Forsythe, and Tony Todd who took a chance on me. People like Jay Giannone and Sue Costello who are well established in Hollywood, but are still willing to come home to Boston and work on an indie film. People like Myke “The Wolf” Michaels – one of the top FX/Make-up artists in film and television – who came out here twice and was invaluable on set. And, of course, people like my wife Shanna, Ron Baker, and Sean Doyle who were more than just producers. They made those long hours on set fun for all of us by doing such an amazing job. And let’s not forget the great local actors and crew who worked those long hours with us to make these films happen. I’m a lucky man.

Bec: Where can people find you on social media and otherwise?

Kevin: I’m on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Modelmayhem.

Bec: Thanks for stopping by my blog! It was an honor having you.

Kevin: Thank you so much for having me. Look forward to talking again soon. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!

 

Find out more about Kevin MacDonald and his work:

Kevin MacDonald (@Kevinmfilms) | Twitter
https://twitter.com/Kevinmfilms

Kevin MacDonald | Facebook fan page
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kevin-MacDonald/178694882226690

BEG TRAILER (ITN distribution)
http://youtu.be/nY5GYIc-mdk

Beg Film | Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Beg-Film/273315343272

The Witching Hour | Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Witching-Hour/315151589888

 

 

** The photos included in this post are a mixture of production stills and Kevin MacDonald’s photography. **

©Rebecca Besser & Kevin MacDonald, 2014. All rights reserved.

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