Welcome everyone to another DireChat on The Movie Guide Blog. This week we are joined by Alex Mann, the director of the Detention of the Dead.
MG: Thanks for taking the time to do this Alex
AM: My Pleasure
MG: What Inspired you to become a director?
AM: Originally, I was an actor and at a certain point in my career I began directing to become a better actor by further understanding the director’s job. Eventually, I fell in love with creating the whole vision and commited myself to that role.
MG: Can you tell us about some of the other projects that you’ve worked on?
AM: Well, my background is theatre. So, I’ve directed serveral award winning and nominated theatre productions in Los Angeles. Dentention of the Dead is my first feature film. Some cool credits for myself as an actor include working with Terry Gilliam on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Frank Oz in Bowfinger and Henry Jaglom in Festival in Cannes. ALll three if these filmmakers were of great influence on my development as an artist/director.
Now that we’ve got a background about Alex, we’re now going to talk a little about Detention of the Dead.
MG: Where did the Idea come from for Detention of the Dead?
AM: It was a play I directed at the Beverly Hills Playhouse in LA, where I teach a professional acting class. It was quite “sketchy” in tone and during the screenplay’s development I infused it with story elements reminiscent of John Hughes’s films like Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful and Pretty in Pink. This way the comedy would always be tethered to a strong story.
MG: What is the plot of Detention of the Dead in your own words?
AM: 6 sterotypical teenagers will either learn to work together or perish at the hands ofa zombie hoard. Along the way, our hero, Eddie (The Geek), must decide whether to pursuit his childhood crush, Janet (the hot cheerleader), or his best friend, Willow (the goth chick). As the story unfolds, Eddie evolves from geek to hero, and true love wins that day… if they survive of course.
MG: Can you tell us the Crew who were on the movie and what where they like to work with?
AM: There were many. Filmmaking is a gigantic collaborative effort. Two deserve special mention.
First, I’ll mention Brooke P.Anderson, my producer and right hand women. She is amazing. She went to work early, stayed late, and never once forgot to do the i’s and cross the t’s. She’s been there from the beginning and she’s still there as we’re delivering the film for distribution. All for a pittance of what she’s worth.
Second, Noah Rosenthal, my cinematographer and friend. He made my vision manifest on screen. His technical know-how, passion, and support helped me tremendously.
MG: How did the main cast come about and can you tell us about them?
AM: I hired casting directors Michele Levy and Elisha Gruer and over several weeks of auditions, I chose the actors you see in the film. We did auditions. call backs and chemistry reads. In addition, I spoke with them all on the phone in order to get to know them and for them to get to know me. It was important to me that we were all on the same page and that i was casting actors who had excellent attitudes and who were committed to work.
MG: Can you tell us a little about the production of the film and if there was one moment that made it that more special?
AM: It was wonderfully challenging, like running a marathon. One momment that stands out for me is in pre-production when I got a call from the school system that vandals had broken into our location (for the second time!) and lit a number of fires. It stands out for me bcause I never hesitated or thought of abandoning ship. I only thought “What do I need to do to continue? How do I out create this obstacle?” I found in lie and filmmaking this kind of enthusiasm and perseverance is a necessity. The result we found a better, more secure location that had many advantages over the first. The obstacle was a blessing and the move to a new location proved to be instrumental to our success.
MG: One thing that I love about films is the music, can you tell us what was happened to get the music for Detention of the Dead?
AM: Hours and hours of listening to music. Then negotiating with whomever owns the rights to said music. I was lucky enough to get the rights to some incredible music from some superb established and up and coming artists.
MG: The Final Question Alex, can we expect any more great films from you?
AM: I’m developing a number of projects. My focus right now is getting Detention of the Dead out there to the world and developing a TV show based on the film. It’s an exciting time.
Thanks to Alex for joining us on DireChat, join us again for another DireChat..