Glenn Ciano is the director of two upcoming films “Inkubus” and “Infected”. Both films have fantastic genre casts: “Inkubus” stars Robert Englund, William Forsythe, Joey Fatone and Jonathan Silverman and “Infected” stars Michael Madsen, William Forsythe and Christy Carlson Romano. Glenn really knows the business and he really loves what he does. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Glenn about his upcoming films and his love for directing.
Mike Gencarelli: “Inkubus” was your directorial debut. How were you able to attract such talent as Robert Englund, William Forsythe and Joey Fatone to the project.
Glenn Ciano: You never know what to expect. When Robert Englund became a possibility things went completely wild. I had to rewrite the script…polish it up. And then to know that he was reading it. And on the other side I was asked what I thought about working with Robert because he is a horror icon. I mean having him comes with its own baggage. It’s great but it’s also so easy to mishandle someone that is basically a legend in the genre. I told them I wouldn’t be scared at all. I’d run right after it, tackle it to the ground and pull out something new. I mean, that’s why you want to make movies…to work with guys like that. Robert liked that answer too! And when we were casting the role of Diamante I looked at a list of actors and I had always wanted to work with William Forsythe. I had been a P.A. (production assistant) on a movie he did called “Palookaville” when I was just starting out in the movie business. So to be able to come full circle and work with him in a completely different way, that opportunity was …he left such an impression on me as a young man as an actor and just watching him work. Joey has become probably my best friend in the business. We met in 2005 when I sold a script called “Homie Spumoni,” which he was in and I worked on. I was very involved with the film right up to the end and he and I struck up a real easy relationship. It feels like he grew up just down the street. And it remains that way. So when this came up I told him I had a horror movie about to jump off and I asked him what he thought. He said, “Are you kidding me…I LOVE horror!” I told him I had rewritten the role…that the character would be in way over his head, just like Joey would be (laughs). And then through Joey…we were going over a list of names and he spit out Jonathan Silverman and I said, “oh my God, I HAVE to work with Jonathan Silverman.” I love movies and I love making them, so to have such an eclectic pairing of all of these personalities and actors is incredible. And if you read some of the reviews, they’re like “what the hell is Joey Fatone doing in this movie…what the hell is Jonathan Silverman doing in this movie?” But when you see the movie it makes sense because it takes all types. I like to create worlds and atmospheres and each guy and each girl has a different thing to do. I like the fact that you read the cast list and you might think this is just a horror movie but it’s not. I pay homage to the genre because I love it, but at the same time making movies is like telling a joke. Not the joke that you and your five friends get off on but the joke that goes in front of the biggest audience possible. That’s cool. That’s really saying something. Hopefully the audience will make something of these movies and get them out there. I’ve had test screenings where 60 year old women come up to me afterwards and say, “wow, that was really an intense mind fuck.” And I think that’s great because that’s what I wanted. I expect to hit my mark and do my job for the “right” age demographics but if I can get other people to say, “wow…I didn’t expect that. I got pulled in,” that’s what’s cool. I mean that’s what Robert Englund…Freddy Krueger…did. They weren’t just horror movies. He was the boogie man. I mean whether they like horror movies or not, everyone knows who Freddy Krueger is. That says a lot.
MG: What was your most challenging aspect of getting this film made?
GC: I only had 15 days to shoot it. The effects had to be more practical. We weren’t dealing with the biggest budget in the world…it was amazing to get all of these people on board. Being a first time director I had to make good decisions and stick to them. I had a kid piss his pants in the movie. And you know, I had other stuff like someone getting their spine ripped out. That was easier then getting this kid to piss his pants. There’s this rig they use…and he’s wearing shorts made out of the same material they make scuba suits out of. So we couldn’t get the shorts to look like they were wet. And I had to yank the shot…hopefully come back to it if we have time on another day. I only have these actors for a certain amount of time and I have to get the most out of them. And if I don’t use the time properly I get screwed because I won’t have what I need on screen. So if I can isolate the effects shots to where I don’t need an actor I just need a section of a body…I kept sliding down my days to shoot my inserts. I tried to be really smart about the time I had. I had to schedule everything the right way because if something went wrong I wouldn’t have enough screen time with the people I needed to have screen time with. Also, telling the story in smaller moments. You have to get those big shots done. If I have a small crew I can deal with that, but if I don’t get the shots I need for the movie then I don’t have a movie at all.
MG: You worked with Michael Madsen and Christy Carlson Romano on both “Infected” & “Loosies” Tell us about those two films?
GC: The experiences were fantastic. I got to work with Mike and I got to work a second time with William Forsythe. I met Christy Carlson Romano when she auditioned for “Loosies.” And through William I was able to get Vincent Gallo in, who I had also worked with on “Palookaville.” Michael Madsen was someone I had always wanted to work with. As a producer on “Loosies” it was great to be involved in assembling a great cast. And to be involved in the system of filmmaking that was designed on “Inkubus.” We used the 5D cameras, which isn’t a popular thing to do. But we were saving money. We were buying stuff…we owned our cameras, we owned our lenses. So when we needed to do reshoots it wasn’t a big deal to go out and find the equipment because we already had it. I mean we did three movies back to back. So it was great to have the editing machines and the other equipment available any time at our disposable. We were making stuff that was HD quality and doing stuff that other people hadn’t done before. It was great on “Loosies” to see my system at work for another director. And then being back in the director’s chair for “Infected,” we took it a step further. I wanted to do a slow boil, Sam Peckinpah-style western that happened to have some zombies in it. (laughs). But I really wanted to cook it. The whole thing with the zombie genre, which I’m a big fan of as well, is that someone is always waking up in a hospital and the world has already turned to shit! I wanted to know what it had turned to shit. I wanted to put a little more science into the fiction. So my version is an evolution of Lyme disease, which effects your mind and body in certain ways and knocks you down to your primal state. A lot of fever induced stuff…stuff that scared me. I actually found a deer tick on me. I plucked him off, put it in a baggie and took it to a Lyme clinic and the doctor scared the bejesus out of me…telling me it’s an epidemic…it will affect everyone you know…in the next year or five years…different strands. I asked him if it could be fatal and he said if a dog gets enough different strands and they mix together it could be fatal. They would just walk around in a circle, sit down and die. And I was like, “what the hell?” I asked him about humans and he said doctors didn’t know yet. Like I said, it scared the bejesus out of me so I went home and wrote the screenplay! Michael Madsen was really great to work with. He really epitomized my cowboy. He wasn’t looking to be a hero…he wasn’t a good dad…but life just kind of intervened and gave him a second chance under the worse circumstances to kind of step up.
MG: How do you feel that directing “Infected” has differed from “Inkubus”?
GC: Like I said, we did three movies in a row. I learned a lot on “Inkubus,” most how to manage that 15 days. How to make sure we not only had the scenes…the building blocks… but that we had the work inside the scenes. To add time…to add the little moments. To let it breathe whenever it was supposed to. And I had different kinds of special effect challenges shooting “Infected” versus “Inkubus.” “Inkubus” was a demon…he could do almost anything. I was able to do some digital effects but for the most part they were practical. With “Infected” I really wanted to go old school violence. We were shooting off blank loads. I was getting my camera in as close as I could. I actually got my DP shot in the face (laughs) by Michael Madsen, which was wild but well worth it. We built our own 35 foot crane. We built lights that put off a blue sodium vapor for moonlight because we weren’t able to have huge generators. We got to the point where if we needed to do something we figured out a way to do it. And we weren’t going to let anybody stop us. This movie was on our own backs and it was a great feeling. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to make a movie like that again. It was a very unique experience to where everybody just rallied around the movie itself and got it done. We were out in the middle of the woods…in the middle of nowhere…making this crazy film. And I think it shows. I was able to accomplish similar things with both films. I believe that in “Inkubus” films will see a Robert Englund that they haven’t seen since “A Nightmare On Elm Street.” He is the man in this movie…he leads the charge and he owns it. In “Infected” no one has seen this kind of Michael Madsen in very long time. This film proves that he can deliver…he can carry a movie. He is a movie star. Maybe people forgot that a little bit. Maybe he forgot that a little bit. But this movie is a kick in the pants because he’s back. And I’m glad to be a part of that. It’s something that I’ve always wanted. I’ve wanted to see Michael Madsen back in the forefront. I want to see Robert Englund back in the forefront. I want to see Wiliam Forsythe in a tour-de-force. He tears it up in both of these movies. He holds the emotional center of each film on different levels just giving the ballsiest character performance. To be a part of that…to capture that as a young filmmaker…no matter what happens I feel good about that. That’s the kind of career I’m heading towards. I told Michael Madsen I was going to punch a hole in his stomach and tear out his guts! I didn’t hire his head shot. And he responded. Just like my brazen attitude towards Robert Englund, “ I’m not hiring you because I want you to make a cameo…to make an appearance in my movie…you ARE the movie!”
MG: When can we see “Inkubus” and “Infected”?
GC: It looks like “Inkubus” will be coming out in October. The producers are putting together a small release themselves. I applaud them for that. “Infected” is still in post production. I think it will be out shortly after “Inkubus.” We also have some great conventions coming up where we’ll start making some noise. Robert and I are going to “Rock and Shock” and were going to make a little noise. It’s going to be the fans that make these movies. There won’t be a heavy marketing campaign behind them. No one is going to be force feeding them to you. But I’m glad they’re going to give these movies a shot theatrically. They’re a no brainer as far as DVD and television go. But I’m where I want to be. I like being in the hands of the fans.