DIY FILMMAKERS: MARK PIRRO IS A HERO

Mark Pirro is one of indie film’s unsung heroes. He was the guy that proved an underground film could air on regular televison. His feature-length “A Polish Vampire in Burbank” was shot in Super 8 for $2,500 in 1983 and aired on the USA Network. In fact, it made a butt-load of cash. It was a learning experience for Pirro and the launch of the most bizarre career ever in indie film. Pirro’s Pirromount Pictures (cute, huh?) produces exploitation movies with a welcome sense of humor. Pirro’s pics are just plain fun.
His latest feature, “Color-Blinded”, was shot for $475 dollars. $475 bucks!!!! That’s less than two weeks pay working minimum wage! Pirro’s career should be an inspiration for all those whiny filmmakers out there who bitch about money as an excuse to not make movies. Over several margaritas in posh Beverly Hills, Pirro took time out of his busy schedule to speak with Film Threat.
[ WHAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA TO MAKE “COLOR-BLINDED”? ] ^ I knew a black gal who dated white men pretty exclusively. She made the comment to me that sometimes she felt that if she were white, she would be treated differently by them. That got me to thinking that it would be pretty interesting if a black girl were to become white and confront the same people she was around when she was black. How would one’s life change? The movie answers that. ^
[ WHAT WAS LEFT ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR? ] ^ Very little. We pretty much stuck to the original script. Occasionally I would trim a scene and lose bits of dialogue, but for the most part, what we shot was what we used. ^
[ BUDGET, SCHEDULE, STATUS? ] ^ The shooting budget was literally under $500. Of course, we got favors, locations, equipment, etc. Post production probably cost a few thousand, but most of that was to buy various digital editing and computer equipment which will certainly be re-used. Later on, Iomega Corporation (Zip, Jaz Drives) got behind it and donated a lot of stuff to the film. ^
[ WHY DID YOU DO IT? ] ^ The same reason I did five films before this. I’m a filmmaker and to be a filmmaker, you have to make films. ^
[ WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE MAKING THE FILM? ] ^ This was the best filmmaking experience of my life. It’s the first time I used digital video to edit and the control is fabulous. Once the film was shot, the entire post production from editing, looping, foley, to special effects, ADR, and music was done by one person. It took awhile, but the results are superb. ^
[ DID YOU HAVE TO SACRIFICE ANYTHING BECAUSE OF THE BUDGET AND THE SCALE? ] ^ Nothing. We shot around people’s schedules. Primarily on weekends. Because we were such a small group, we could steal shots by going into public places and get the footage we needed and then get out. Of the six films I’ve made, this one was definitely the smoothest (and it looks the best). ^
[ WHAT’S THE CURRENT STATUS OF THE FILM? ] ^ We premiered it at Universal Studios on Jan 20th 1998. The full house gave it a standing ovation. Two days later, we took it to the Sundance Film Festival and got great reactions there at a private screening for Iomega. It’s currently being reviewed by Casey Silver (head of production at Universal), Ian Calderon – Sundance, 7.23 Productions, is being entered in Festivals and is being sold via our website. ^
[ ANY ADVICE OR PEARLS OF BRILLIANT FILMMAKING WISDOM? ] ^ Stop sending me your screenplay ideas. ^
[ WAS IT WORTH IT? ] ^ Without a doubt. I’m currently writing my next film, “Jesus: The Revenge.” ^
[ MARK PIRRO’S FILMOGRAPHY ] ^ Polish Vampire in Burbank (1983) – $2,500 budget ^ Deathrow Gameshow (1987) – $200,000 budget ^ Curse Of The Queerwolf (1989) – $10,000 budget ^ Nudist Colony Of The Dead (1991) – $35,000 budget ^ Buford’s Beach Bunnies (1992) – $300,000 budget ^ Color-Blinded (1998) – $475 budget ^

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Posted on May 11, 1998 in Interviews by
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