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INT: Mike Costanza

03.05.2004by: The Arrow

The Arrow interviews Mike Costanza

Having enjoyed and respected "The Collingswood Story" (which for some reason no distributor has picked up yet-- PEOPLE WAKE UP!) and the talent behind it, I decided to contact the man with the plan, writer/director and all around kool muchacho Michael Costanza to get some insight into the dude behind the camera and the film itself. Here's what he spat my way...

ARROW: What’s your favorite horror movie?

MIKE: If I had to name an all time favorite it'd have to be HALLOWEEN (and, of course, PSYCHO) but most recently MAY, DOG SOLDIERS, and THE EYE.

ARROW: Who would you say were or are your major horror influences?

MIKE: John Carpenter, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Wes Craven, Roman Polanski, Tobe Hooper and Hitchcock.

ARROW: What prompted you to write "The Collingswood Story"? What was the trigger that sprung the tale and the webcam idea in your head?

MIKE: I had made some short films that did well at the festivals (Sundance, Cannes) and tried my damnedest to get some other projects off the ground but couldn’t. I never could sit still for too long anyway so I decided if anything was ever going to happen I’d have to do just do it myself. I wrote the script, auditioned the actors, and shot COLLINGSWOOD in about ten days. But with literally no budget I had to think of a concept that would be hyper cost effective, but more importantly I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done yet. I was getting turned off by the genre which definitely needed new blood pumped into it. So I came up with an idea to have an entire film viewed through webcams.

ARROW: May I ask how much the budget was and how you financed the film? Was it through private investors, your own wallet? What not?

MIKE: COLLINGSWOOD was shot for 10 grand, however post-production was five times as much. The film was financed by myself, and yes, “private investors”. (I.E. friends and family…who have all put a contract out on me and my dog unless I pay them back.)

ARROW: What were the more challenging aspects of the shoot?

MIKE: Usually the shooting for me is a breeze. I obsessively plan everything out in advance and have solid rehearsals so we’re all on the same page. There’s too much that will go wrong anyway no matter how much you plan but you’re one step ahead of it all if you’ve done your homework. The most challenging aspect was making the actors think that the webcam concept was going to work. No webcams were ever used in the film. It’s all in the editing that you believe the private conversations, the madness and the terror are happening in real time.

ARROW: How many actresses did you audition for the part of Rebecca? What was it about Stephanie Dees that made you say: that's the one?

MIKE: Ah, Stephanie…what a gifted actress, extremely attractive, sexy, one of the nicest girls I've ever meet. I only saw 6 actresses but as soon as Stephanie read I knew she was the one. She had the innocence, the natural quality I needed, and was clearly far more talented than the others that read for Rebecca. (Funny you should ask me that because I recently watched the COLLINGSWOOD auditions tape which I had not seen since they were shot. What a trip to see Stephanie reading with all the "Johns" I went through. I'd love to add some of them to the Special Features if there's another edition of the DVD. They’re fucking hilarious!)

ARROW: Where is the film now in terms of distribution?

MIKE: Melee, a subsidiary of Dreamworks, was in the process of making an offer however Universal bought them out along with Dreamworks Records. So all new acquisitions have been put on hold. Oddly enough, I was just approached by a company that would like to do a Japanese version of the film. Given the concept and the story, I think it could actually work. But COLLINGSWOOD has surpassed my wildest dreams in terms of the reaction from horror fans and from genre reviewers. Shivers Magazine made it their feature article – over the studio made horror films! Since when does a film with no distribution get so much attention? And the film still manages to receive rave reviews and is about to play in festivals. With so much positive feedback from all around the globe it’s bizarre that a distributor doesn’t pick up on it.

ARROW: If successful financially, would you ever consider doing a sequel or do you want to move on?

MIKE: I think the idea of a prequel for the first half of the story would be really cool, for a look I’d shoot it on high con B&W and scratch up the image a bit. I’d expose the origin of the cult from France and the gruesome history of Alan Tashi – whose name is actually an anagram. That would play out during the rest of story, taking place where the first COLLINGSWOOD left off.

ARROW: What’s next on your plate as a writer/director? I've been hearing about "Puff" through the grapevine. Is it a horror film?

MIKE: PUFF is actually a dark, sexual, coming of age story along the lines of a 21 GRAMS. It has attracted some big names and a negative pick up from Fox. I intend to shoot it very explicitly. So now watch PUFF get an X rating. Proud of me now mom? I made a PORN film!

ARROW: Has the business aspect of filmmaking ever put you off the whole process a bit or kind of killed your enthusiasm in regards to what you do?

MIKE: At times, fuck yeah. But I ain’t going away baby. I love what I do and no one is going to stop this brat from doing what he loves to do.

ARROW: Any advice for all the budding filmmakers out there?

MIKE: Yes. Take time on your script. Make sure it is as tight as possible. When your film is finished submit it to every festival you can. Just remember for every door slammed in your face another will be slammed on your finger. Just keep on truckin, as they say. Stay dedicated and it will happen. Trust me. One more thing, just wanted to say it was great meeting you in person when you jetted to L.A. and I gotta tell you, you're one genuine, talented, passionate dude. Thanks for the interview John!

ARROW: Well, thanks for the kind words man, I appreciate it, you're a groovy mofo yourself. Keep keeping it real bro!

I'd like to thank Mike for the interview and would like to wish him luck in his future endeavors. Keep slugging away, Mike!



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