Recently, we sat down with Michael Kazlo II, of Archangel Productions. Archangel promotes Kazlo's films, including the short The Vampire Assassin, a great dark comedy satirizing the vampire craze, and the feature Bloodlust, the story of young Maria Hunter goes on a crusade for vengeance after her parents are slaughtered by a vampire. Both took multiple awards at the 2009 International Haunted Horror Film Fest. Currently, Michael has a movie in production, CRYPTID. We asked him to talk to us about CRYPTID and about indie horror filmmaking in general.
KDK 12: Can you tell us a little about your current project, CRYPTID? What do you think will draw horror fans to the movie?
MK: When Dr. Nannoc's assistant transports a dangerous new creature to a scientific facility for disposal, the creature escapes and begins a rampage of DEATH! A secret government agency is called in to clean up the growing mess. Cryptid is a monster movie that, as I am filming it, is reminding me of the Charles Band movies I grew up watching and still love to watch like the Ghoulies and Puppet Master movies. I want it to be fun with some comedic parts and hopefully some stop motion animation to go along with the puppetry. Hopefully this will be appealing to horror fans.
KDK12: How is CRYPTID similar to or different from your past projects?
MK: My last two projects were Bloodlust, a vampire action feature and The Vampire Assassin, a vampire action short that was a sort of arty styled prequel to Bloodlust. Cryptid is totally different from those two since it is a monster movie, which is a sub genre I plan on focusing more on for my next few projects.
KDK12: What is the appeal of the monster movie for you?
There's been such a glut on the vampire sub genre that I am giving that a rest now. I want to experiment with some monster movies. Experiment with different types of SFX like puppets and stop motion. Not that I won't ever come back to vampire movies, I just want to try something different. They can be fun and I want to try and do that. Make a fun monster movie.
KDK12: You're using crowdfunding as one of the ways to raise
money for CRYPTID. How is that going? Is it a strategy you would
recommend to other
MK: Crowdfunding? Is that what it's called? The website I used [kickstarter.com] was an all or nothing type of fundraising site. I wasn't successful with it so I didn't get the funds but I took the idea and put it on my own website for donations to be taken via PayPal instead of Amazon so I can keep the donations as they come in. I wouldn't recommend using a crowdfunding site because it wasn't successful for me plus they take a cut of the final amount. But, I would recommend copying their method of offering different donation amounts in exchange for different "prizes" for those donations.
KDK12: Has working with indieflix been helpful to you? What other ways of promoting your movie, getting it out there, would you recommend to other indie filmmakers.
MK: I think I have a 60/40 split with indie flix. I would recommend going directly through the indie production companies themselves. At least then they get most of the cut. An indie prod co should be promoting themselves and their movies as much as possible so they should be responsible for posting what sites we can view their movies. Besides indieflix and amazon I also use filmbaby.com. I need to find a few more to get some diversification.
KDK12: How can supporters get involved in the crowdfunding project? And, are there other ways we can help get CRYPTID made?
MK: On Cryptid's site supporters can go to: http://www.archangelproductions.org/SHORTS/CRYPTID/home.html, then click the BE A PRODUCER! link. If there is anyone in the Glens Falls area of upstate NY that wants to help out they can go to my "Contact Us" page.
KDK12: What are the biggest challenges and advantages to being an independent horror filmmaker?
There are several challenges to being an independent horror filmmaker. One is finding quality local actors who will act for free to little money. That can give an indie film unintentional character, if that's what you are looking for.
That coincides with the difficulty of getting a project funded with a decent budget. You get what you pay for, no matter how much ingenuity a filmmaker has to make a movie, you need actors with the same passion you should be having for your movie. Not just a bunch of buddies who think it will be cool to get together with the new prosumer video camera mom and dad just lent you money to buy and shoot some blood and guts on a weekend.
The advantage of being an indie horror filmmaker is that this is your project and no one can tell you what to do with it. No corporate studio holding you back to give it a PG-13 rating. Just whatever passion and artistic vision you may have.
KDK12: As I'm sure you know, many people are dismissive of horror as schlock, or something for depraved minds. How do you respond to people like that?
MK: For one thing I don't care what what other people think
of me. Just my wife and my parents are the only ones whose opinions
I value. As long as you're not treating Nightmare on Elm St and
Halloween as if they were documentaries there is nothing wrong
with horror movies or their fans or creators. Besides, what's
wrong with schlock? I love schlock.
KDK12: Do you find that the horror community is supportive of indie horror?
MK: Somewhat. From what I know of the horror community, which is not much since my only experience with it is only what I read in some horror magazines, it seems most horror fans prefer larger budget movies. I don't think most appreciate low budget movies and that it does not need to have elaborate wire work or huge explosions. I prefer low budget shorts with good scripts that are fun which is why I make and have been given many compliments for the screenplays for Bloodlust and The Vampire Assassin.
KDK12: It must be frustrating, though, trying to break through all the remakes and sequels?
MK: I don't blame viewers for going to see big budget hollywood productions of horror movies. I prefer to go to the theater to watch some kinds of movies, event movies like iron man, lord of the rings, the star wars and harry potter movies. It gets expensive to go there every week when so many movies just aren't that great. That's another thing i think indie movie makers need to take into account that since they are not making movies that are SFX heavy or action packed they really can't be asking too much $$ from viewers to shell out. I hope that asking $.99 for a viewer to watch The Vampire Assassin on my site isn't too much.
KDK12: That's a definite deal, having seen The Vampire Assassin. But what more could we be doing as a community to support indie horror?
MK: Support original ideas. Support artistic filmmakers. Like you say, don't support horrible remakes of classic Hollywood slasher films. To me an independent film is made by nobody writer/director/producers like me, with no name actors on weekends with heart, thought, passion, artistic talent and the need to get out to horror fans something they cared enough to spend nights and weekends slaving in front of a monitor to edit.
Anybody can make a horror movie. Only a few take care to make something they and others would want to see over and over.
KDK12: Thanks, Michael! We can't wait to see CRYPTID!
Note: Archangel Productions is currently offering The Vampire
Assassin and Bloodlust as a set for just $11, 2.50 shipping and
handling. Come on, let's show Michael and the other indie horror
filmmakers out there that we want good horror, not the rewarmed
crap Hollywood's been serving up lately. Take a chance on an award-winning
filmmaker, and get two great movies as well!