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EXCLUSIVE: Beau McCombs – Best Screenplay of FFA’18 (Interview)

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The SAW saga has left its mark on the horror genre since it graced the screen with its premiere in 2004. For over a decade horror buffs have been exposed to the creations and ‘tests’ of Jigsaw.  With such terror and scares, comes the opposite of humor and laughter. Comedic horror is nothing new, but is rarely pulled off right.
One of the few that have been able to create the perfect balance is none other than Beau McCombs with Litteraly a Saw Parody. It was no contest that he is our winner for Best Screenplay for the 2018 Fan Film Awards. His short had left our judges both holding onto their seats and rolling in them by the end of the film!
Here is our interview from Beau McCombs on his twist to the SAW universe and what inspired him to contribute his humorous take to the franchise.
What inspired you to create the film? Are you a horror film fan?  What made you chose the SAW universe as the setting for your film?
I have two cats that I adore. However cat litter is hands-down the grossest substance on the planet, and I have to look at it, sift through it every day. Because my mind often wonders in ways like this but thought occurred to me “could I eat a box of cat litter to save my wife’s life?”, which opened the door to so many other questions: would it even be physically possible to eat that much cat litter? Could my stomach hold it all? If I were in this position, how would I approach it, litter first or clumps? Would it get easier as I ate more? What could someone hold over my head to convince me to do this? Each question held so many opportunities for comedy. And it just devolved from there.
The concept itself lent towards the Saw franchise, so that’s the direction I went. I’m not really a fan of the series, but I knew the concept and aesthetic, the sense of danger would transfer to comedy well.
Horror and comedy are a common combo genre, but very difficult to pull off. What balance did you give to both genres in your script? Did it start one way and end differently? Did the end product turn out the way that you originally visualized?
The horror part of the script is all in the setup, that first half page to page where the stakes are set. I knew it had to be played straight-It’s life and death. It’s a terrifying situation being chained in front of your best friend who is strapped to a death machine. The moment the cat litter comes out, it’s comedy- and it’s funnier because of those life and death stakes- like- how much does Colin hate cat litter? And I then I got to play with all those questions that sparked the script in the first place. The finished product is better and more disgusting than I ever could have imagined.
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This being said, keeping to the SAW aesthetic with the way you played with the cinematography, was it difficult jumping out to the comedy and then back in? What were the fan liberties that you took and how did it balance with the SAW aesthetic.
My cinematographer Nich Musco and I wanted to shoot it as straight as possible, to light and shoot it like a horror film. We were asking each other how can we work Colin and Phil’s conflict into each frame? How horribly uncomfortable would it be for each of them? The comedy was going to come so much from the epic task before him, so we knew we needed to visually escalate this. Musco really worked magic on this. I had a kind of cooler look in my mind’s eye, and when he started lighting the set a sickly yellow, it threw me off guard. But once he had his frame up, I was like- “Oh. It looks EXACTLY like a Saw movie.” He nailed it.
I think the main liberty that we took with the franchise (besides the whole ridiculous concept) is having pig face present the entire time – though I’ve only seen the first two films, I don’t think he’s present when people are struggling out of there traps. But having him wheel in that TV really help set the horror tone right out of the gate
The plot revolves around this box of stale kitty litter. I see kitty litter box cake tutorials floating around the internet, but yours seems far more convincing to the real thing. Was creating the prop box a trial and error? How did you come up with the final prop?

It’s real cat litter.

Kidding. Finding a substitute cat litter was a challenge. I had considered Using real cat litter, but with sugar water and melted chocolate and playing the role of Colin myself, because there is no way I would be able to ask an actor to do that. But I knew I needed to be behind the camera on this one. I watched SOOO many tutorials on the litter cake, and tried making one myself, and it just didn’t sell as the real McCoy. I was on the hunt for the holy trinity of dusty, gritty, and clumpy. I got a couple boxes of whole oats and steel cut oats and started with a food processor, breaking the whole oats into dust. The color was way off, so I tried throwing food processed Booberry cereal in, but it didn’t help. However, adding in water and letting it sit gave the perfect texture. I had resigned myself to fixing the color in post, but My cinematographer’s sickly yellow lighting covered for me.

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What the main character has to do in the film is pretty terrible. When writing the script, what motives did you use to push the main character to eat the box of litter? Did you know when you started writing it that there had to be a certain relationship to drive the plot between the two characters?
The whole story sprang forth from the cat litter, rather than vice versa- so I was coming from it backwards. I just knew it needed to be life and death, friendship, and guilt.
I usually don’t see the characters or the plot until after that first strong image or question comes into my head, and then I build around that.
What do you hope SAW and Horror fans can take away from your film? Is there anything you were hoping to add to the universe with this film?

The whole story sprang forth from the cat litter, rather than vice versa- so I was coming from it backwards. I just knew it needed to be life and death, friendship, and guilt.
I usually don’t see the characters or the plot until after that first strong image or question comes into my head, and then I build around that.

Thank you for sharing your humorous screenplay. What are some other works from you and your team that we can look forward to?

I’m wrapping up a stop motion music video this weekend, and will hopefully finish post on that in a few weeks. The video is titled 7-20-12 by Peter Stewart.
I’m writing an adaptation of a one act play that we’re hoping to shoot in a few months.
Also writing a feature length action comedy, that would be so much fun to shoot. We’ll see about that one.

You can find more of Beau’s work on his website:
http://beaumccombs.com/

or subscribe to his YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/faceheadproductions/featured

 

Thank you for joining us for this interview, here is Litterally a Saw Parody:

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EXCLUSIVE: David Strano – Best Director of FFA’18 (Interview)

 

 

strano2The Fan Film Awards has been showing fan films for the past 4 years. A popular fandom that we often receive submissions from is Batman. With the newest addition to the villains from this universe taking center stage since the release of Suicide Squad, it seems like the Dark Knight has since shared his spotlight with the ever growing cannon.
Among this line up of Gotham villains,  Mr. Freeze is one of the more iconic of the several menacing personalities. Yet, as fans there isn’t that much in understanding his motives to the life of crime. David Strano, Director of The Cold Dance, sought to answer this. In his film we get to get personal with the ice man himself and his origins before he turned to his life of crime.
Here is the following commentary interview from David Strano on Mr. Freeze’s origins and love story:
Your film is beautiful. And adds a new depth to the Batman Universe. What made you decide to create a film about Mr. Freeze?
I grew up watching Batman. I used to run around in the classic Adam West costume fighting imaginary baddies. But I was inspired by The Batman Animated Series that began in 1992. I was always drawn to Mr. Freeze because I found him to be a tragic/sympathetic villain. He never chose this life. He was forced into it. I was fascinated with his origin. How Freeze is trying to save Nora’s life so he can be Victor again. I always wanted to show their relationship pre-freezing and pre-accident.
The film is first and foremost a love story. What dynamic with both of the characters relationship were you aiming to portray? We slowly realize towards the end who the characters truly are in the Batman Universe. Was this how you had originally envisioned it?
It was always my intention to keep the characters a secret. No one really knows Nora’s name or what significance she holds to one of the most famous Rogues in Batman’s Gallery so we could get away with saying her name. At first I wanted to have references to Batman and Gotham City but my cinematographer thought it’d be better if we just focused on the two of them and springed it on the audience at the end.
As far as portraying the characters. I wanted to show Victor as a loving and caring husband. And when Nora reveals to him that she is dying, Victor doesn’t want to let go. He wants to control her to fit his needs and becomes obsessed with finding a cure. And when Victor betrays Nora we can see how he was easily turned to a life of crime. We see his Cold Heart.
There is so much symbolism in your film. Can you walk us through some of them? What were your thoughts as a Director adding these nuances to the film?
 I wanted to portray Nora as a free spirit. In the opening we see her dancing out in the cold. She knows she’s dying, she knows it’s the end, she just wants to do whatever she wants and live life. At the end of the scene where they fight I wanted to show Victor looking at a ballerina trapped in a snow globe. Unfortunately, I never found a snow globe like that so I just went with the ballerina statue. It was supposed to symbolism how Victor wanted to trap this free spirit and lock her away to try and save her.
There is a very monochromatic palette that you chose to work with the film. What made you go with this as your filming aesthetic?
The monochromatic palette follows Nora’s arc in the story. As opposed to the traditional color arc of many films where they become more bleak as the arc develops. We chose to move towards a more colorful arc as Nora accepts her time is getting shorter. As Nora accepts her fate we allow the world to become more colorful as she has a better appreciation for the littler things as most people do when they are forced to stare down a shrinking timeline. Nora is not a depressed character. She is a character that understands that things are out of her control and is at peace with this. After the injection in the last act we see the world become bleak again since that peace has been stolen from Nora.
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Nora was a ballet dancer. Creating some beautiful bits of cinematography for the film. Was this something true to the Batman universe or your creation? What were your motives in pushing the plot with this?What would you like Batman fans to take away from your film? What would you like them to know about Mr. Freeze and Nora?
I never read a Mr. Freeze comic that talked about Nora. It was only what I saw in the Animated Series. And even in that they don’t go in depth with her backstory. I just assumed his wife was a dancer because in the show, whenever Mr. Freeze spoke about her, he was holding a ballerina statue carved from ice. I focused on that because we don’t see that in Fan Films. The whole point in making this short was to do something completely different than what you’d see in most Fan Films. I didn’t have the budget to make the Mr. Freeze we know from the comics. And I didn’t have the budget to combine that while pitting him against a guy in a Batman costume. I used my budgetary constraints to focus more on the dramatic side of these two characters. Showing Nora accept her fate through dance I found to be more powerful than just saying it.
Thank you for sharing The Cold Dance with the Fan Film Awards. Are there any other films in the works that we can look forward to?

I’m developing a Lex Luthor short film, but that won’t be out for quite some time. I love villains. I hope fans of Batman and fans of Mr. Freeze enjoyed my short and if you want to follow me you can find me on instagram @david___charles. I’m so grateful that the people at Fan Film Awards picked my film. Thank you! 

For those of you who missed the screenings, here is David Strano’s The Cold Dance:

FanFilm Awards 2018 Ceremony, At Last!

This is the day we’ve all been waiting for, and we couldn’t be happier with the amazing submissions our dear Fan Filmmakers have brought to this year’s festivities! The tears, the laughs, the awesomeness on the big screen has been nothing less than amazing. And after one long year of deadlines and extended deadlines, we are glad to meet the Finalists, and announce our Winners at the FanFilm Awards Ceremony! Join us for this momentous evening.


Click below for details:

Program – See what’s showing, when and where!

Ensemble – Meet this year’s Ensemble performing at the Award Ceremony!

Menu & Venue – Attend the Award Ceremony, and join us for Dinner!


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