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Boy Sets Fire “After The Eulogy”
Since becoming a scribe this is without a shadow of a doubt my proudest and most cruel moment. I currently stand before the mighty Matt Farnsworth, creator of the social media slasher which has taken the whole free world by storm. Deep breath then.
Keeper: A cruel morning to you Matt and a hefty wedge of gratitude for affording me this exclusive opportunity to bottle that dark magic which has made you, in my humble opinion, the Fucking Man!
Brother Matt: And a brutally painful morning to you my cruel brother. Thanks for your kind, yet evil words. It is my pleasure to destroy this.
Keeper: On primary viewing of TOK the first thing to make an impression on the Quill was your opulent opening Cinematography which showcased the sheer expanse of your luxurious location, before bottle necking into a far more insular and soiled terrain. Having learned to ply your trade by a professional such as Robert Brown, who has nearing half a century of experience and a sterling resume to boot, it is clear that you had a fabulous tutor, and that you took every word of wisdom on board. Please talk us through that wonderful sweeping ariel shot and how did your artistic schooling prepare you for setting off to realize your own dark vision?
Brother Matt: I understood that I needed to grab some beautiful shots to fill in between the slaying. In order to ramp up the atmosphere of the film I decided it would be best to use ariel photography over New York. We went from NY over the GWB (George Washington Bridge) into New Jersey filming a follow car with myself and star Diane Foster in it. It was a good way to establish location, time of year, and tone. Plus, helicopter shots following muscle cars with a hot blonde inside sell. The camera we used is called a Viper. Michael Mann and Fincher often use this camera. It’s a pro machine. Good grain. Million dollar sensor. Robert Brown taught me a lot about filmmaking. In the horror world, he cut the original Amityville and Lost Boys. It was a good platform to start from. I learned a solid filmmaking degree from the pros. Bob got haunted with the movies he worked on. A trait I have carried over into my work.
Keeper: You took on the lions-share of responsibilities for TOK, shouldering such duties as cinematography and editing, as well as writing, co-producing, directing and co-starring, no mean feat! On top of that you have marketed your work exquisitely and in a totally unique manner. During a Q&A for Red State after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011, Kevin Smith spoke candidly about his desire to break away from the decadent and deadening marketing outlay which often spirals to around four times as much as the film costs to make, thus deciding to self-distribute the film himself. I consider this is a marvelously petulant and honest approach and there appears to be a growing refusal for filmmakers to be fucked in the asshole by greedy studios any longer.
Brother Matt: I had no problem taking on multiple roles. I prefer it. In fact, we shot the film in multiple stages due to problems with people on set. There are a lot of egos who all want to make their mark. They take advantage. You really have to find a core crew that you trust. I had to weed them out and say “get the fuck outta here”. I got used to it after a while. I taught myself all these skills as a way to avoid creative issues. Kevin Smith’s film Red State was at Sitges (Spain) the year before ours. I actually had always planned to go the DIY route. Kevin Smith knows as well as I do that if you pony up the cash to make a film, and give it to a studio to distribute, you can kiss your ass goodbye. I had studio offers from Lionsgate and Anchor Bay to put the film out, however no promises they were going to shoot for the stars or even put the film in front of people who wanted to see it.
Keeper: You have nurtured and protected TOK from these unscrupulous suits , and I consider this loyalty to your vision both valiant and subterraneanly commendable. Is this the manner in which you intend to continue developing as a filmmaker?
Brother Matt: What is filmmaking really? A way to viscerally impact people through visual and auditory means in order to give the fan a true experience. You have to have passion for what you are creating. It translates to the screen. That feeling can get sucked out in the blockbuster world in an instant. I am not saying never because I am a pretty positive person by nature but any film I make has to be something I am passionate about.
Keeper: For anyone fresh to TOK, they may be unaware of your previous works. Two years after directing your first short Poor Man’s Dope in 2003, your first full-length feature Iowa (which attracted the likes of Rosanna Arquette and John Savage to name but two) gained considerable praise at both the Tribeca Film Festival and the Midwest Independent Film Festival, where it claimed the Best Picture accolade. You then went on to direct Dying for Meth which once again touched on the Methamphetamine pandemic which affected Midwest America in particular during the 90s and saw you crowned an ambassador for alertness and deterrence of Meth. Indeed it was a theme explored in all three features. Please enlighten us on this desire to make a positive change to the community you inhabit and the way in which these projects prepared you for TOK?
Brother Matt: Dying For Meth was shot as research for the making of the film Iowa. We wanted the drug use and psychotic elements surrounding meth use to be as truthful as possible. So Diane and I filmed actual addicts to re-create that behaviour. Once we finished shooting the film and released it in Theatres I realised that the footage we shot as research was perfect to be a documentary. It was aired on Current TV worldwide and won several awards. Iowa is a special film to a lot of people. It was a jumping off point independently for shows like Breaking Bad in the mainstream conscience. It was a groundbreaking moment for me as a filmmaker. I appreciate that film more and more today than ever before. These films toughened me up to make TOK. Forced me to learn.
Keeper: Social commentary is plainly evident in TOK and in all four of your works you have shown the voice of a true visionary filmmaker. I’m guessing you are required to be a reflective individual to explore these themes (abandonment and the effects of cruel handling in TOK) but I also witness a very pragmatic approach to the way that you have assembled your own empire. Being an optimist despite any dark leanings, I see it as an exclusive opportunity to become an advocate for hopefulness and affirmative role-model, whilst reveling in the blackest of delights. You appear to wear your own idealism on your sleeve without pretense, how do you see your role as an envoy for positivism, regardless of your own dark inclinations?
Brother Matt: I am a very optimistic person. When I first came to Los Angeles 15 years ago I did not know anyone. Within two years I was screen testing for Star Wars at the Skywalker Ranch. Sitting down to have a meeting with George Lucas. I always believed in what I was doing. Still do. It takes you farther faster than taking everything too seriously. I met with Christopher Nolan and Al Pacino at Warner Bros. once and thought for sure I had nailed some big roles in very big films. When it did not pan out, I didn’t go and drink myself into a mess. I channeled it into my writing. I feel lucky to have that as an outlet and my skills helped me overcome the frustrations I was having as an actor at the time. It came flowing out onto the pages in final draft. If I couldn’t get Hollywood to give me the job I deserved as an actor due to politics, I was going to make the opportunities, by creating them, myself. Writing is really the heart of all creativity. Being able to put your ideas clearly onto paper and get them made is key to creative success. Everything is real for me. The realization that happened was not exactly as I had planned, but it happened and the emotion is the same no matter the playground.
Keeper: Grue has a key presence in TOK and you clearly revel in the final blow. During one particularly brutal ax dismemberment I was particularly stupefied by the restraint you illustrated in only showing the ultimate swing making contact. That moderation made a much larger impression as a result, whilst highlighting that you won’t shy away from displaying the most visceral of carnage. This brings to mind the Wizard of Gore that is Tom Savini. Both the importance of that final image and the way the camera lingers to survey his bloody work showcases both the pride he takes in his work and the courage in his convictions, both qualities that I believe you to have in abundance. Does the camera lens act as a filter for you when depicting extreme violence and how do you go about crafting these cruel dispatches?
Brother Matt: The Orphan Killer is banned in Germany. I received a 10 pages letter from the German Government and film association. It’s among classics now. There was a lot of rage inside of TOK when we shot the gore. He was ripe to wreck the nun in that scene. Dismember her. We decided that one of the worst things that could possibly happen to a person is being chopped apart by an ax. 10 or 15 serious body blows from a psychotic masked madman. When you hear the crunching on each swing. The evil impact. The massive body damage…. you cringe. When he strokes it 15 times before digging the final blow into her neck you are relieved he is finally done. That is what I like to go for. Grabbing people and just holding them there in that moment and not letting them go.
Keeper: One factor which hit me with some force was the brave decision to enable Marcus Miller to vocalize his intent. I would imagine this was not a decision you took lightly as it sidesteps the well-trodden slasher formula, whilst giving your addressees far greater insight into Miller’s motivations. How was the primary response to this resolution and have attitudes altered to this bold and wholly triumphant endeavour?
Brother Matt: I knew on set he would talk. In the boiler room he was going to have speeches. Lessons for Baby Sister. I wrote the dialogue in post production and tested it as i edited the film. It was a great process and his vocalization separates him into a class superior to other slasher icons. It’s original and that can never be taken away. Marcus Miller, The Orphan Killer will talk to you as you die and he will not comfort you. He may sing you a bloody lullaby while gouging out your eyes. It’s frightening and people love it. It has been a big key to adding major dramatic success to the franchise. I am pleased to announce that the TOK mask will be distributed in Major retail stores worldwide by Trick or Treat Studios. This summer the mask will be hitting Hot Topic, Morris Costume Shops, Halloween Town, Spirit, and others. You can pre-order yours now. They will sell out in stores fast.
Keeper: As a young lad coming-of-age during the Eighties, Slasher flicks played a major part in my filmic upbringing. I feel that the service we have received since has been somewhat less than stellar. Were you mindful of this when you set off to make TOK and did its unprecedented triumph take you by surprise?
Brother Matt: From the moment I saw the original Nightmare on Elm Street I was into slasher. It grabbed me and suspended me in a parallel plain of existence. The Orphan Killer does this now for so many people. It’s a visceral impact on the soul. Horror fans feel it deeply and they love that feeling. I was always drawn to the reality and the truthfulness of horror. Survival and happy ending are not always on the menu and that is appealing. Horror films have more integrity than any mainstream films. I appreciate that. No silver linings and rainbow endings. It’s an experience. The Orphan Killer movie has actually caused heart attacks. I like that. Speaking on the films murder success I must say I have never had more messages a day over a project as I have with The Orphan Killer. I try my best to respond to every person. I enjoy the interaction with the fans. It’s where I derive a lot of creative power. Interaction with those that are most passionate about what you have made drives it forward. I feel brutally fortunate to have a real and viral fan base. It’s a strong group of very diverse, intelligent people who crave more TOK murder. They are the brothers and sisters of the bloody TOK revolution. Without them this does not exist.
Keeper: At which juncture after shooting for TOK wrapped up did it begin to sink in that you had crafted something to resonate with so many, and how did you go about marketing it?
Brother Matt: I realized after our second round of shooting. When I was watching the boiler room footage played back that I had waves of horror gold flowing in front of me. My eye sockets bled it was so good. The film impacted me emotionally. I was infected with TOK murder. Once I became haunted with the picture the legend started to grow.
Keeper: Another thing I admire you especially for is that you haven’t made TOK2 as yet. It would have been straightforward to churn out a half-assed sequel and make a return, but the fact that you haven’t done so speaks volumes to me about your investment to the cause of Marcus Miller and the integral Social Media aspect of TOK which constantly builds on your devotees’ connection with Marcus. Correct me if wrong, but I imagine you to be a perfectionist, like myself. I would also hazard a guess that you want to prepare not only financially but emotionally to giving your fans the follow-up they truly desire. How is your ongoing vision shaping up and what can we expect of TOK as a series?
Brother Matt: We have a following the size of a small country. It’s full of Horror fans worldwide. The Brothers and Sisters of the cruel revolution. There are close to 5 million pirates of the film. I have been given a medal in TOK and liken it to being a champion in the ring. Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson played The Orphan Killer onstage during their Twins of Evil tour. It certainly has been no small affair. I have an obligation to provide fans with the highest grade murder on the planet. Rushing a sequel together would be hazardous to the art of properly killing humans. Let’s face it, they deserve to die more than any other thing on this planet. I have written TOK 2. I write all my scripts in camera angles. It is tentatively titled TOK 2 Bound X Blood. Audrey is trying to get her life back together. Trying to put the past behind her seems impossible as inside of her rages unforgettable demons. She has killed and inside of her a violent revolution is taking place. A metamorphosis. Brothers mercenary will rise. I have to be cautious how much I divulge, but yes, we plan on making several TOK films.
Keeper: I explicitly champion TOK and that is as much about the affectionate and encouraging response from both yourself and Diane Foster, as it is about the unquestionable brilliance of the film itself. One thing which shines like a beacon is your tireless work ethic. It’s clear that your dark heart is invested fully to your ever-flourishing fan base and also that you endeavour to treat your countless disciples with warmth and esteem. How all-encompassing is this to your daily routine, please guide me through an average day for Matt Farnsworth?
Brother Matt: Wake up at 7AM. Have quad undertow at Starbucks. Quad undertow is 4 shots in a small Starbucks with whole milk and vanilla. The trick is that they use a spoon to pour the shot over the milk and vanilla which separates the layers. When you drink it the warmth hits you then a rush of cool which then flows back into warmth. It simulates being caught in an undertow in the ocean. It spins you in and out of cold and warm water. Some days I do boxing. Hardcore workout learning the real art of how to knock somebody out. Much of the day I am online and answering interviews. I do a lot of photo shoots and writing. And then the rest of the day is spent editing video and promotional material we shot. This new script for TOK has really come together nicely. I know now, unless I am happy with the script the fans won’t be either. I also watch NBA basketball and play X-box with my son. We are all over LA on any given day. Sometimes we are going to MOCA in downtown LA to look at art. Other days we are working and doing meetings. Then I come home at night and kick myself in the balls intentionally harming myself for pleasure. Just kidding. Around 12:30 – 1:00AM my daughter will come down frightened and want to sleep in my bed. Then I end up at 1:15 sleeping in a hot pink twin bed. My son then wakes me up again at 7am stomping through the house, as if everyone is just as awake as he is, even if their eyes are shut, and tells me about something relating to a sporting event.
Keeper: Diane has been ever-present in your work and her eyes relay her own emotional outlay into TOK, you can tell she’s ‘all-in’. Would you divulge a little about the dynamics of your working relationship and your strong belief in her as an auteur?
Brother Matt: We met on a movie set. From that day forward we have rarely spent much time apart. I am fortunate enough to live with Diane Foster so my nights are booked. We come up with ideas together and approach the work, personal and professional, with respect. We have always been working people in film. We share a family and a working relationship so that makes all of it that much stronger and that much more passionate. Diane can act, sing, and dance. She was a child actor that during her senior year in high school beat out the competition including Oscar winner Anne Hathaway to win the State of New Jerseys’ Rising Star Award. It is a very prestigious state-wide acting award. She deserves every bit of recognition for TOK, because she really lives it. Her charm and personality are an integral part of what is created. Diane is also a fantastic top rate producer. Her ability in that regard is sometimes even more superior than her creative skills. I was lucky to get her into this wacky world of murder. We have both done films other than Horror, but this Orphan Killer movie has become so recognized. Diane is just as prepared as I am to make more Orphan Killer movies for the series.
Keeper: My first introduction to horror was Hammer and Amicus, and being a nostalgist I hold both very dear, kind of my technological conception, if you like. What provided you with your ‘second birth’ and how did it develop organically from that point?
Brother Matt: I couldn’t say exactly. I am what I am.
Keeper: I regularly state that dark crimson runs through my ventricles and consider myself well-versed in horror Film as an art-form, a true fanboy. So this next poser I will invariably ask, what are your ten favourite horror movies, not necessarily best, but the ones you carry with you always?
A Clockwork Orange
The Orphan Killer
Nightmare on Elm Street (Original)
Friday the 13th (Original)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Original)
Keeper: My final question is for Mike. In just a few sleeps time I shall be undertaking the final leg of my pilgrimage, that being to sit in the presence of the oppressive and distinctly inhospitable Marcus Miller. Obviously you’ve had first-hand experience of staring into those blackest of eyes. Do you have any advice for me when setting off on this ultimate stage of my expedition, and will he take kindly to being disturbed?
Mike Hunt: The great and powerful Mike Hunt would tell you to come heavily armed and with multiple victims to offer up as a sacrifice. At least this way you might be able to ask a few questions before he gets to you.
A massive thanks to Matt Farnsworth and mighty Mike Hunt for a most enlightening and brutal chat.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
First Knight of TOK
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013 (Revised Edition 2015)