MICHAEL GINGOLD AT HOME IN “THE TENEMENT”

What gives Gingold more “cred” than most, perhaps, is that he’s an NYU film school graduate, he has worked both in front of and behind the camera on movies that are available for rent and purchase. He’s not a dilettante with an internet connection, digital cable and too much free time, like so many so-called “reviewers” today. He understands what makes a movie work and what doesn’t.

“One piece of advice I always gave (to indie filmmakers) is to not try to make more of a movie than you can. One of the flaws that I’ve seen in some of them is that they try to make a movie with a lot of special effects, or big-scale movies, and they end up with movies beyond their means. If you want to have a big special-effects show, save it for a time when you’ve built yourself up and you really have the budget and time to approach it. The best of these films are the ones that don’t rely on a lot of special effects, where the filmmakers sat down and said ‘here’s what I have, and here’s what I can do with it.’ As opposed to writing a $5 million dollar script for a movie they only have $10 thousand dollars to make. And the other thing is to not go by what you think the trends are or what you think will sell. That’s pretty much the advice you give to any filmmaker. Do something that you believe in. It doesn’t have to be personal, as such, to you, but a story that you feel is compelling and not something just driven by the market. Frankly, I’ve seen a lot of independent horror films—not just the low-budget stuff, but stuff made between $500,000 and $2 million—that’s just as derivative of the marketplace as stuff made by the studios. It’s interesting that people complain ‘all the studio makes are teen slasher films anymore’. And I don’t think that’s true. I think the studios have made other kinds of horror films over the last few years, but there have been countless teen slasher movies cranked out by the independent market. I think it’s best for the genre if you have different types of stories coming out. I think that’s what was interesting about “The Tenement”. You have four interconnected stories, so you have four sides of the genre being represented.”

And while “The Tenement” has been, for the most part, well received since it’s official release from Brain Damage, it has received its share of criticism, just like any other movie, independent or otherwise. It has also seen some grumblings due to Gingold’s appearance.

“There’s just this one guy who went on and on about my presence in it. ‘This is going to make it critic-proof. No writer who ever wants to write for Fango would dare to put this down!’ And then he made this big show about, ‘well, I’ve got integrity, so I’m going to do it!’ And, you know, get over yourself. If you didn’t like me or the performance, that’s fine. But don’t make a statement about it like you’re being so brave. And, for the record, you don’t have to like my performances to write for Fango. Dr. Cyclops reviewed “Bloodletting” and didn’t have too much to say about my cameo in that, and he’s still writing for us.”

With “The Tenement” on the shelves, and Baisley finishing up “Sins of the Father” (the further adventures of “The Black Rose Killer”) and gearing up for “Fairview Falls”, Gingold has set his sites on beginning production on his own feature film. After writing for Dave DeCoteau, and appearing in movies for other people, it’s been decided that it’s high time for Michael Gingold to do something for Michael Gingold.

“This is an idea that I came up with about ten or twelve years ago, and I never really pursued it too far,” he says. “But a number of elements have come together that have suggested that this is the time to do it, in terms of availability of equipment and actors and that sort of thing. Hopefully by this summer or late fall I’ll be shooting. It’s probably too soon to talk about it; I’m still working on the script. I will say this: it’s a horror film with erotic elements. And my approach to this is to not just do a film that’s an excuse for a lot of T&A. There’s definitely going to be some of that, but it starts with the characters and coming up with characters that are interesting. I’m halfway through the script and saying to myself, ‘god, I’m forty pages into this thing, I’ve really got to find a place to put some nudity or gore in, or people are going to start losing interest.’ Again, it just comes back being true to the characters and the story and not just an excuse to show naked women every five minutes. I think that’s the side of the whole homemade, shot-on-video thing that I’m not into. How many movies about bare-breasted vampires can you make or see before you start getting tired of the whole thing? I’m hoping that I’ll be bringing sort of a new approach, at least in terms of storytelling. We’ll see.”




Posted on December 17, 2004 in Interviews by

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