As part of the upcoming ‘One Hundred Mornings’ run at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles, Cinema Speakeasy, CineFist, Downtown Independent Theatre, and Slamdance Film Festival have come together with the WorkBook Project to jointly curate a short film program to highlight new independent directors. What follows is the second of six director profiles.
Los Angeles-based filmmaker Michael Medaglia is a singular human being, and not only for the broadness of his talents (writer, director, web designer AND computer programmer). He’s a filmmaker uniquely prepared for this new era of innovation, and is particularly adept at utilizing technologies at the service of his storytelling.
Utilizing an idiosyncratic palette, his films tend towards the surreal, the dark, and the unexplored sides of the human psyche. His 2006 short ‘Ratsnitch Angel’, for instance, premiered at SXSW to an audience gamely sporting old-fashioned 3-D glasses. Without them one was treated to visual noise. With them, one was able to decode a subtle and very – dare we say – creepy narrative, what Michael calls a ‘dirty secret disguised as a short film’, nudged along by a breathy, whispered voice over.
His newest film is similarly curious, but requires no special eyewear. Inspired by a real-life disease, toxoplasmosis, which has recently been linked to altering human behavior, Kitty Kitty is a short horror film about love, cats and brain parasites.
We caught up with Michael for a little question and answer session, in support of the upcoming screening of Kitty Kitty at the Downtown Independent Theatre.
What are the biggest issues you’ve faced, as a filmmaker?
For me the hardest part is balancing all the work, while still staying creative. Now that self-distribution models are a reality (and sometimes a necessity), the typical indie filmmaker is doing a lot more legwork than before. Finding the time to nurture the creative side of your brain can be a real challenge.
How do you typically distribute your short films? What has worked, for you?
If you asked me that question six years ago, my distribution strategy for Kitty Kitty would be simple: get it into the biggest festivals possible, then try to strike a deal with a short film distributer. Of course, chances of making a profit were extremely slim, but that’s what people tried to do. For Kitty Kitty we’re trying something different. The project’s Director of Marketing and Distribution and I have decided that our goal is simply to get as many people to see the film as possible. This has freed us from worrying about going the conventional route and giving us license to really experiment with reaching an audience.
How do you define success as a filmmaker?
I was listening to an interview of a well-known director and was shocked to hear him say: “Failure in film is not falling down, failure is not picking yourself back up again.” I remember thinking: here’s an incredibly commercially successful director whose work I admire and he STILL has the same problems I do. So for me success is just continuing to make films.
Cinema Speakeasy & WorkBook Project present: ‘Kitty Kitty’
Directed by Michael Medaglia
Saturday 18 September
7:30 and 9:30
Followed by the WorkBook Project Discovery and Distribution Award winner ‘One Hundred Mornings’.
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