Shane Gillis: The MML Interview

By on 25 February, 2013 in Art, City Living, Fun, Interviews, Kate and Stephen with 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: From time to time, Midtown Montgomery Living will conduct interviews with some of Montgomery’s more interesting residents. Today’s interview is with a Montgomery filmmaker, Shane Gillis, who is working on a full-length horror film.

MML: We hear you’ve got a horror movie coming out. What can you tell us about the plot? Who’s in it? Is it all filmed in Montgomery?

Gillis: “Death to the World” is a classic slasher film that compares more closely to the genre films of the 1970s and ’80s than today’s PG-13 ghost-torture-exorcisty-video game-whatever genre. It is plot heavy and delivers intense psychological scares as much as, if not more than, the straight up gore stuff.The story follows the life of a small town killer, Nick, who has been on the loose for months, but the police are still helpless to save their citizens from this madman. As he strikes up unexpected relationships, Nick struggles to keep his private life as productive as ever, while maintaining these new relationships with a female companion and a charismatic new roommate. Meanwhile, a man in the shadows hunts for this sociopath, obsessed with gaining vengeance for the daughter he lost to Nick. The film moves from the killer’s perspective mostly, which gives it a different feel than most horror movies, where the focus is usually on the hero.

Starring in the movie will be Montgomery’s own Josh Carples and Rudy Banes.  Lindsay Garrett from Birmingham is also co-starring. A few major roles have yet to be cast. We’re in the early stages of pre-production at the moment. We’re holding auditions March 2 at AUM to fill the rest of these roles.The movie will be shot mostly in Montgomery, with a few smaller scenes being shot at Lake Martin and  my hometown of Samson, Alabama. We may shoot in Wetumpka as well. All of the locations haven’t been decided upon just yet.

MML: Is this your first movie? How’d you start making films?

Gillis:I made a documentary in the early 2000s about the rock music scene in Montgomery, but this is my first fictional piece. I’ve wanted to make movies for as long as I can remember. I’ve practiced for years with various short films and sketch comedy, so I’m ready for a feature. I think.  I hope.

MML: I understand that you’re trying to raise money to finish the film. How much have you got finished so far? What sort of expenses have you run into? Any unexpected ones? How’s the fund-raising going? Are people believing in your cinematic vision and wanting to help you get the movie made?

Gillis: Principal photography begins April 18. The only thing we’ve shot so far is the teaser video for our fundraising campaign through Indiegogo. Only a small section of that will actually go into the movie, so the answer is, very little has been finished.We’re getting our main camera in a few weeks, and I’m sure I’ll shoot some small scenes before the first official day of filming gets here. But we’re still heavily planning at this point. Even though we’re trying to raise $6,800, this would still be considered largely as a no-budget film. Our expenses are mostly going towards equipment, props, effects, and promotion. The actors probably won’t be paid unless the donations really start pouring in. And they know that. Everyone knows this is a labor of love and that it’s going to be a great experience. I think they know we’re on to something special here. We certainly think so.

The fundraising just started a week ago and is going okay at the moment. But more importantly, we’ve established a partnership with Jiggly J. Slickwood at Did You Bury It? Productions. He has made it possible for us to get the camera we’re going to be shooting with, as well as hooking us up with some key actors for  the film. That is huge! We’re excited about working with him on this and our future projects, whether it’s his movies or ours.My partner at Pudding Moment Productions, Rick Gardner (also the Producer and Co-writer of “Death to the World”) has done an amazing job reaching out through social media, as well as just picking up the phone and calling folks to get help everywhere we need it. I could have never have done this without him. And we could not have gotten this far together without the help of Jiggly J. It’s a beautiful example of how like-minded people with similar goals can combine resources and talent to create something bigger than what might be possible otherwise. I’m thrilled with how everything is turning out and how many new friends we’ve made in the process. And it’s only just beginning.

MML: If this movie gets finished, what are you going to do to promote it? Film festivals? Travel around with it?

Gillis: First, we’ll have a premiere party at The Capri. And I can’t tell you how excited we are about that. I did that with my first movie and it was one of the most fun nights I’ve ever had. After that, we’re going to take it to as many film festivals as we can afford to enter. That’s a huge reason for the fundraising campaign. We can make the movie for a little less, but then we’d have nothing left to promote it. And this is our dream, so we won’t to get it out to as many people as possible.

MML: What other sorts of projects are you working on?

Gillis: For me, right now, this is it. I’m married with two kids and work a full-time job. I can only deal with one project at a time these days. But this is a big one because my hand is in every part of this. I’m writing, shooting, directing, editing and scoring the thing, so it’s keeping me insanely busy.

MML: We first heard of you when we saw the “Death to the World” trailer on [heavy-metal blog] Metal Sucks. They mentioned that you had previously made a short video for them and actually won a contest. What can you tell us about your interest in metal, the Polish metal band Behemoth, and what it was like to make that hilarious video?

Gillis: I’m a metal kid, through and through. I’ve been a fan of metal music (various genres) since I was 4 years old. I would put my Kiss Alive record on and act out the concert every night in my bedroom. I’d trade off which characters I was to keep it fresh. I guess after a year or so I got tired of being Paul Stanley and switched it up. But that and horror movies have always been my two favorite things. As far as Behemoth, they’re just one of the many bands I like. They’re a great band. I’m not a super fanboy or anything, I just really wanted that guitar. It was fun making that video because I mimicked what they were doing in their video. And the timing was perfect because my wife was about a week away from giving birth to our first child, so I was able to get some before and after footage that apparently paid off well since I’m rocking that guitar now!

Note: the video that inspired the contest (a truly brutal song called “Ov Fire and Void”) can be seen here. The hysterical winning video tribute Gillis made can be seen here.

More information about the forthcoming film, “Death to the World,” can be seen on the film’s Facebook page. To help with the funding of the film, donate through the movie’s fundraising campaign on Indiegogo.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a dog, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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