Interview with filmmakers of ‘The Groomsman’ comedy series – Now Available Online!

Hello readers, Ruth here! Welcome to another interview edition of MN-made comedy series The Groomsman, featuring two Minnesota filmmakers, Nick Hansen (writer/director/actor) and two producers Lindsey Kolar Martinson and Anne Hansen (who also co-wrote the script).

TheGroomsman-Official-Poster

The Groomsman is a rom-com about the perpetual groomsman. We’ve all seen movies about the perpetual bridesmaid…always the bridesmaid, never the bride… well this time it’s told from the male perspective just as he finally finds the woman of his dreams.

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Check out the trailer:

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Episode 1 of The Groomsman is now streaming on Hieronyvision or HV for short, a subscription-based space with content by indie artists.

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Lindsey + Nick at the Zinema Duluth, MN at a screening event for The Groomsman

Interview with director/co-writer/
star Nick Hansen

Q: First, can you tell me what The Groomsman is about?

Nick: Will Knight is the perpetual Groomsman. He has been in all of his friends and family’s weddings, over 15 of them. He has always been The Groomsman, and never the Groom. He has finally met the woman of his dreams, Courtney, and now he just has to propose. And that is where we pick up our story.

Q: I’m always intrigued by what creative people are inspired by. How did you came up with the idea for the series?

Nick: I went through a period of being a groomsman in a ton of weddings and Lindsey Kolar Martinson is my cousin and she was at a lot of those weddings. Eventually we started writing down all kinds of ideas about a possible movie or tv show involving weddings. We talked about it for about five years and then finally saw our opportunity to make it and teamed up with my mom Anne Hansen and talented filmmakers and crew from the Institute of Production and Recording and actors from the Twin Cities and went to work.

Q: Why did you decide on a tv series format vs a feature? Was the original idea always been a serialized storytelling?

Nick: We decided to make it a tv pilot because we originally made it to submit to the Catalyst TV Festival. Making a twenty-four minute tv pilot was a tremendous amount of work but was more manageable then an entire feature. Eventually, we came to realize that it works better as a pilot and we are looking forward to making more episodes.

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Anne, Nick + Lindsey at the Catalyst TV Festival, Duluth MN

Q: Tell me a bit about your character Will Knight, how much of your own persona is depicted in his portrayal? 

Nick: I don’t think much of my own persona is depicted in the portrayal but I think the one thing we have in common is looking for love, and that’s universal, and I believe that’s what the audience has been connecting with.

Q: What do you like most about playing Will? Who are your comedic/ dramatic inspirations?

Nick:I had a phenomenal time playing Will, I usually get cast as a drug dealer, or bad cop, or someone on the edge in some way, so it was amazing to play an average guy trying to make his way through the day and find love. Ultimately, I feel like the audience connected with this character more then any other because of the relatability. My comedic inspirations are Dick Van Dyke and Jim Carrey and my dramatic inspiration is Kate Winslet.

Nick on the set of The Groomsman
Nick on the set of The Groomsman

Q: As a writer/producer/actor, what’s been the most challenging part about making this pilot happen?

Nick: The most challenging part about this one is that we decided to start filming in early april and it was due to the Catalyst Festival I think on June 1 or July 1 of 2019 so it was a very compressed timeline-this made it exhilirating, but certainly stressful at times!

Q: I always enjoy filmmaking trivia, can you share a particularly memorable bts snafu that you can still laugh about today?

Nick: This is actually quite sad, but we filmed a scene at Lola’s on the Lake, the restaurant and gathering area on Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis. It was an amazing location and we were happy to film there, but it burned down about a week later in a terrible fire. Hopefully it will be re-built and when we are through this pandemic it will be returned to it’s former glory.

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Will wooing Courtney in Episode 1


Interview with producer
Lindsey Martinson

Q: When did you come on board as a producer? Did Nick pitch you the idea or were you involved from its inception?

Lindsey: I was involved since inception!! However, our idea was for The Groomsman as a feature. I was on vacation in Florida when I got a call from Nick and Anne pitching The Groomsman as a tv pilot and they would like to start ASAP since we would have a tight deadline to enter into the Catalyst festival. I was happily onboard with the idea!

LindLindsey on the set of The Groomsman
Lindsey (with the clapper board) on the set of The Groomsman

Q: How’s your own profession as a small business owner prepare you to do this producing role?

Lindsey: I feel as a business professional I had many strengths to bring to the table as a producer. Due to my work background I am very organized, work well under pressure, I can easily figure out logistics of a day for scheduling and have the foresight to know when different tasks need to get done to move us to the next step. I also work well with others and am able to adapt to most situations.

Q: What did you enjoy most about working on The Groomsman and what’s the toughest part?

Lindsey: What I enjoyed most was working with my cousin Nick and Aunt Anne. They are both so talented and I felt so grateful to be apart of the team. We created memories I will never forget.

The toughest part for me was having to let go of not having some of the scenes be as perfect as I wanted. I quickly learned there is a lot that goes into shooting the scenes and can’t just be easily redone if you don’t like what you get on the first shoot being that you only have access to the actors and locations for limited amounts of time.

Q: Does this experience make you want to make more tv/movies

Lindsey: This answer is easy. YES! The whole time I was thinking why I am not doing this for my career. I love the work as a producer! I felt it was very challenging and exciting. I did have the best mentor..my cousin Nick who paved the way. I learned a lot from him!!

Q: What’s your fave shows and actors?

Lindsey: Too hard to pick just one! I love Friends. I think the writers are brilliant! I have seen all of the episodes so many times it’s always just as funny as the last time I watched it. On a whole other genre I love Peaky Blinders and would love to create something similar. I love the cinematography, the music, the actors…I just think it’s the coolest show! I also love Vikings and Game of Thrones!!

Q: What’s next for The Groomsman?

Lindsey: We are working on episode 2! We feel people want to continue watching Will Knight…will he ever find love?

Nick and his co-star Gabrielle Arrowsmith on set
Nick and his co-star Gabrielle Arrowsmith (Courtney) on set

Brief note from producer/
co-writer Anne Hansen

I am Nick’s mother and Lindsey’s aunt. I’ve been involved from the beginning! Since Nick made his first feature film in college, I have been involved in many of his filmmaking endeavors in various ways. The Groomsman was my first time, though, as an official producer and writer. Lindsey, Nick, and I have been compiling lists for years about ideas for The Groomsman. We had always planned to make it into a feature length film, but never found the time. When we finally decided to make it into a television pilot, we were off and running with it immediately.

The Groomsman is definitely a family affair. Working with Lindsey and Nick is a dream come true. Nick is the artist and Lindsey and I are pragmatic perfectionists. We make a fantastic team!

Click to see a larger version of the photo


The filmmakers are editing episode 2 now and will be filming episode 3 this summer!

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Indie Film Spotlight: THE GOOD EXORCIST + Interview with MN filmmaker Josh Stifter

As I’ve been blogging for more than a decade, it’s always a joy and privilege to feature indie filmmakers and supporting their work.

Josh Stifter is a local Minneapolis filmmaker who had the opportunity to be a part of the reality show for El Rey Network (elreynetwork.com) and he got to make a $7k feature with mentorship from Robert Rodriguez. Yep you read that right, he made his horror comedy The Good Exorcist for seven thousand dollarsI sat down with Josh in a coffee shop in a Minneapolis suburbs and it was a blast listening to him talk about the experience making the film, shot in Texas in just 14 days!

The film premiered at a special event during SXSW Film Festival and it also won Best Texas Narrative at Austin Revolution Film Festival.

After a ranch in Texas is befallen to a mysterious, demonic presence, it is up to an eccentric, wandering priest to find answers and dispel the darkness. As he digs deeper he soon finds that he may be in over his head and out of time.

A Go90 and Rebel Without A Crew Production

Directed, Edited and Shot by: Josh Stifter
Written by: Daniel Degnan and Josh Stifter
Starring: Daniel Degnan, Brittaney Ortiz, Avery Merrifield, John Baran, and Ali Meier

JOSH STIFTER’S BIO

Josh Stifter began his filmmaking adventure crafting short movies with his friends after school everyday. He pursued animation and quickly found a job directing cartoons for the director Kevin Smith. After years of creating shorts and animated films, Josh has decided to tackle features, jumping at the opportunity to make his first feature length film with Robert Rodriguez. He has worked with companies such as Troma, CNN, SModco, 1517 Media, and El Rey Network.

Follow Josh Stifter & Flush Studios on social media:

twitter: @joshstifter
facebook: facebook.com/flushstudios
instagram: @flushstudios


Twenty-five years ago, Robert Rodriguez made his first feature-length film, El Mariachi. Armed with a budget of just $7,000 and 14 days to shoot his movie, Rodriguez created an award-winning film that changed independent filmmaking. To mark the 25th anniversary of “El Mariachi,” Rodriguez has invited five aspiring filmmakers to Austin, Texas to take on the same challenge.

Check out Season 1 of Rebel Without A Crew series on elreynetwork.com »


Brief review of The Good Exorcist

by Laura Schaubschlager

Apparently 2018 has been the year of independent horror comedy for me-first with Ahockalypse, then Better off Zed, and now Josh Stifter’s The Good Exorcist. The Minneapolis writer and drector was a part of the El Rey Network reality show Rebel Without a Crew, where he had the opportunity to create a $7,000 feature  in two weeks with mentorship from renowned filmmaker Robert Rodriguez. The result was a wonderfully bizarre and hilariously campy paranormal mystery starring a small but engaging cast.

The film follows Father Gil (Daniel Degnan), an eccentric but cheerful exorcist, to a small vacation ranch in Texas run by married couple Mr. and Mrs. Willows (John Baran and Ali Meier) to investigate a strong demonic presence. Along with the Willows’ dim-witted but good-natured son Stanley (Avery Merrifield) and enigmatic ranch employee Maria (Brittany Ortiz), Father Gil struggles to unravel the mystery behind the dark force plaguing the area.

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Q&A with Josh Stifter

Thanks Laura Schaubschlager for the interview questions!

Josh on set with Robert Rodriguez

Q1: How did you get involved with Rebel Without a Crew? What was the process to get on the show like?

A little over a year ago, I sent an animation called Other Fish to El Rey Network I wanted Robert to see. It featured voice talent by Michael Parks, an actor Robert has worked with before who had recently passed away, and I thought he’d like to see it. After El Rey saw my work, they asked me to be on the program The Peoples Network Showcase. While I was there filming a sequence for that show, the show runner noticed that I had a copy of Robert’s book Rebel Without A Crew on me. I told him that I always have a copy with me. It’s my Bible.

Then, he asked if I had any live action films I could show him…

From there, I applied like the thousands of others who wanted to make a feature film for $7,000. The process of applying went in multiple steps. First, I filled out a survey. After that, I was asked to send in a synopsis for my film. I had an idea for what I could do (i.e. I had a priest costume, my best friend to star, and a few props such as a Teddy Bear and a fake tentacle), so before work one Monday, I wrote up a synopsis, made a really quick poster (which is still being used as the poster for marketing!), and came up with some ideas for characters. The next day I got a call asking for the script… which hadn’t been written yet…. I got on the phone with folks at El Rey and basically lied. I said, “I have the script kind of complete, but can I get two weeks to clean it up and make it more readable?” They said, “Okay” and from there, Daniel Degnan and I set out to write a feature film that Robert Rodriguez would be reading in two weeks. And somehow, miraculously, we did it! After a few weeks I got a call that my script was chosen by Robert and they wanted me to make my movie.

Josh directing Daniel on set

Q2: Being mentored by Robert Rodriguez must have been an incredible opportunity. What did you learn from him that you incorporated into The Good Exorcist?

One of the first things Robert told me was, “The road to success is going to be hell, but it’s going to worth it when you see your movie play on the big screen”. He was a cheerleader for keeping the independent spirit and pushing forward. But mostly, he was just a friend through the whole process. Sometimes the hardest part of making art is just continuing when you’re tired, frustrated, or feel like it’s all a waste of time. Robert continuously reminded me that 10 years from now, not a single moment will have felt like a waste of time because we keep learning and pushing ourselves.

I felt like quitting all the time on The Good Exorcist. For every shot that went right, 10 things went wrong. With the help of Robert, and my entire cast, I was able to push past the self doubt, bronchitis (yes, I got bronchitis on reality t.v. *doh!*), missing my family, being terrified of how the reality show would portray me, sound issues, and every other thing that went wrong.

Robert also told me, “Don’t be scared to put yourself up on the screen.” By that, he meant that I shouldn’t be afraid to go silly, ridiculous, and DIY with my movie. He really emphasized that I should use my strengths. That people won’t care that it’s super low budget if they can see the passion on the screen and my personality. Every time I thought a joke was too silly or a visual effect idea was stupid, I just remembered… I’M SILLY AND STUPID! That’s exactly what I should be showing! And in the end, some of the moments in the film that get the biggest reactions are those moments where I decided to just not hold back and put my personality on the screen.

Q3: What kind of obstacles did having such a small budget and short time frame present, and how did you overcome them?

There was a new obstacle around every corner while filming The Good Exorcist. Whether it was a construction crew tearing my set apart, sound equipment not working, my cast having too much fun and struggling to make the day, or bronchitis, we had to just keep adapting and pushing forward. A 14 day shoot doesn’t allow for anyone to get sick and take a day off, especially not the director.

Josh and Abaddon

We made the best use of the $7,000 we could, pinching every penny to get all we could from it. We utilized my knowledge of Visual Effects and tried to come up with ideas that wouldn’t cost a lot, but could be enhanced in post production.

Abaddon’s final form for instance was a garbage bag filled with El Rey Network teeshirts and other swag, ping pong ball eyes, a fake mouth from the Halloween store that was on sale the day after Halloween, and rubber snakes on sale at Target my wife bought a few years ago. All together, that final effect cost around $15. Then, I just added an extra tentacle, some fire, enhanced the eyes and mouth, and added some motion in post production that I knew would be fun to do.

I also utilized what I had at my disposal to add to production value. Originally in the script, Father Gil and Maria were supposed to be dancing at Father Gil’s car. But when John Baran (who played Mr. Willows) told me he had a really cool old car with flames and a skull shift, I rewrote the scene so that it could be Maria’s car. And why wouldn’t Maria have an awesome car, right? It was all about adapting the story to fit anything that would add to the value of the movie.

Q4: You hinted at a Good Exorcist sequel at the end of the movie (and gave me some Ash vs the Evil Dead vibes, which I love). Can you give us any clues about what Father Gil, Stanley, and Maria are up to next?

I would absolutely LOVE to make a sequel to The Good Exorcist. In fact, we already have a script called Father Gil and the Daughter’s of Lilith. And coming from an animation background, I plan to make some of the stories that Father Gil told, such as the Ice Cream Demon and the Hell Hound Infestation into cartoons at some point. Growing up on Evil Dead, Gremlins, The Burbs, and the other creepy comedies of the 80’s, I wanted the film to feel like something you’d see on cable late at night. Those were always my favorite films, so trying to recreate that midnight movie feel was paramount for me.

At the moment though, we’re just waiting for this first movie to release and how the audience reacts. So, while we wait, Daniel and I have been shooting and editing our second film titled Greywood’s Plot. We loved making The Good Exorcist with the Rebel mentality and we’re trying to do that again without a reality crew following us around this time.

Josh on set as the director, DP AND sound guy!

Q5: When you first got into filmmaking, did you plan on specifically focusing on horror?Are there any other genres you’d like to explore?

I don’t actually see The Good Exorcist as a horror but more as a comedy. There are definitely horror elements along with dramatic scenes, but blending genres is always fun. I definitely enjoy making people laugh and can’t see myself not putting some sort of humor into everything I do, but I also always want to be challenging myself.

While I never see myself not having some sort of “dark sense of humor” I’d love to try making content for different audiences. In 2019, I’ll be hopefully finishing up two more features that both sort of play in the horror genre, but I’m really hoping to make a kids movie while my sons are still young. I personally love movies that my whole family and I can enjoy and I’d really enjoy making something that I would know other families are enjoying together.


Thanks Josh for talking to FlixChatter!

FlixChatter Interview: ‘Lambent Fuse’ director Matt Cici

Hello everyone! Today we’ve got a very special post courtesy of an indie filmmaker Matt Cici, whose film Lambent Fuse will have its Minnesota premiere this coming Sunday. I regretfully didn’t get a chance to see it when it premiered at TCFF last year, so I’m excited to see it this weekend!

Before I get to the interview, here’s some information about the film:

Lambent Fuse is a character-driven drama that illustrates human connection and choice. This complex narrative unfolds in a non-chronological timeframe as the lives of six main characters intertwine.

99 minutes (1hr 39min)

Premiere Info: March 18, 6:00pm
Location: St Anthony Main Theatre
115 Southeast Main Street
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Tickets: http://tickets.lambentfuse.com

Check out the trailer below:


1. Firstly, please share just a bit of background of how you got into filmmaking. How long has film been a passion for you?

I was first introduced to the aspects of filmmaking through my brother. He made videos for his Spanish class with a group of his friends. Through these, however, I had one small acting role. It was a pretty embarrassing role, but then again I had never acted before (on camera or on stage).
One day not so much later, I was reading for the character of Peter in the Diary of Anne Frank in one of my English courses at Osseo Junior High (8th Grade) during a “popcorn” session (someone reads for as long as they feel of something and shouts “popcorn” and the name of the person they want to read after them). I said one phrase, something I can’t remember anymore, but the thing I do remember is that people laughed. And it clicked within. I felt this incredibly giddy feeling in my stomach, and felt like pursuing acting very strongly.

It was only a year later that my energies shifted. In my 9th grade social studies course, I made a baseball film for a project. I worked with my brother on this project: writing, shooting, acting, editing it all together. We shocked the class. That was 2003.

I’ve been making films for fun ever since. I say fun, because it is, even when you’re serious about it.
2. Now, I’m curious about the title of your film Lambent Fuse. What’s the significance of that title to the story and how did you come up with that?

Haha, everyone asks that question. Well, it’s the entire plot of the film neatly knit into two words.

The first, Lambent, has several definitions:
1. running or moving lightly over a surface: lambent tongues offlame.
2. dealing lightly and gracefully with a subject; brilliantly-playful: lambent wit.
3. softly bright or radiant: a lambent light.

We chose to borrow and use the descriptions: “dealing lightly… with a subject” and “playful.”

And “Fuse” is: a tube, cord, or the like, filled or saturated with combustible matter, for igniting an explosive.

There are multiple characters in this story and all of their lives intertwine. They make choices, as everyone does, that cause events that may or may not affect the other characters and their choices. An audience watches this film and becomes more of a participant rather than just a viewer. They may impart judgement on what’s right and what’s not right, following another character down a different path. They may even come to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong choice. This is that “playful” definition. And the characters in the film all deal lightly with each other leading, along the line of a story’s plot to the climax, to an explosion.

We were sitting in a Caribou, like most of our writing days, except this one was just after our first audition for the pre-trailers back in August 2008. We renamed the film using a thesaurus, as I feel most people have never heard the word “Lambent” before Lambent Fuse (as was the case with myself).
Actor Rhett Romsaas (Freddie Goone) practices his lines with Producer/Sound Designer Blake Hosler in Ginger Hop in northeast Minneapolis.


3. How long was the process of bringing this project to life and were you involved in the screenplay process as well?

Before we filmed, we spent 2 1/2 years working on the project. And yes, I served as co-writer. David Marketon, Co-writer/Producer, wrote me a Facebook message some months before we met back in March 2008, nearly four years ago asking if I would like to write a film with him. I accepted. He had been friends with my brother for some time (and they were the ones working on that film I acted in so long ago). At the time we had just imagined writing and selling the screenplay. But, as I began directing several award-winning shorts, I became too attached to the piece and wanted to direct it myself.
The reason why it took 2 1/2 years was because we first started shooting a trailer with the intention that it would help raise funds for the film. We delayed the project a year for two reasons: 1) It needed to be shot in summer, and 2) we applied for a grant and won it. The grant was for studying the techniques and methods of screenwriting as the elements of Lambent Fuse (specifically multiple characters, non-chronilogical plot, and intertwining storylines) challenged many screenwriting theories. During that time we also shot several Character Trailers and had a massive pre-production marketing strategy to generate awareness for the project.
Actors Heidi Fellner (Allison Swanson) and Rhett Romsaas (Freddie Goone) sneak a laugh in the rehearsal of a scene from Lambent Fuse in Ginger Hop in northeast Minneapolis.
4. Your last two projects, Eidolon and The Writer focus on people suffering from some form of psychological affliction, schizophrenia and writer’s block, respectively. Lambent Fuse also carries similar themes of depression, kleptomania, and obsession. Why does that subject matter interest you?

Lambent Fuse
, did not begin as a project that focused on mental illness. It molded into a story like that when I made my decision to direct it.

I am interested in the pursuit of developing a storytelling voice that is true and explores the depths of everyday life. The messages in today’s society are too sensationalized and, all too often, they’re not useful. An example of this is the movie, A Beautiful Mind, where the real-life schizophrenic, John Nash, is shown as a violent man. Sure, it provokes interesting discussion to show schizophrenia in this light, but it is an inaccurate portrayal of the condition, of reality, of truth. The movie received a lot of attention—winning 31 awards—but did a grave injustice to schizophrenics and their families. It is important to research the truths of life and explain them; an audience watches a film for entertainment, but film has also become one of the most powerful ways to send a message.

This film explores the depths of kleptomania, depression, and obsession — aspects of the human condition that are real but often underrepresented or misunderstood.

The overall goal of Lambent Fuse is to shift the paradigm of the stereotypical mental conditions shown in mainstream cinema by portraying the reality of mental illness and human choices in an eye-opening and innovative manner. Eidolon is a 30-minute short film about a man wrestling for control as a schizophrenic was said to be one of the best representations of schizophrenia by a practicing psychiatrist. The careful illustration of each characterʼs true emotions and actions will showcase the psychological landscape in an educational and insightful way. This will give the audience a unique opportunity to experience these conditions along with the characters, forcing viewers to challenge their preconceived notions about mental illness and to approach the conditions with more understanding and empathy.
Director/Co-writer Matt Cici scans the screenplay while the main cast Rhett Romsaas (Freddie Goone) and Heidi Fellner (Allison Swanson) rehearse.
5. The complex narrative unfolds in a non-chronological timeframe as the lives of the six main characters intertwine. What are some of the challenges in filming in such a format?
There are so many. This is what our grant time focused on. Most stories have one or two characters for viewers to follow and become attached to. They are most used to doing this in a simple-to-follow chronological way. We all think stories should be told in order of the events that happened.


But film has the ability to change that, in fact all art does. A story is best told the way it is best told—when it’s most impactful. Events in a film draw emotion and drama from each other, and when aligned in a way that pushes the story forward, they make the audience feel something. Our story also had multiple characters, because it’s not supposed to be about any single one of them. It’s the sum of their lives blended together that make the story what it is.


We risked losing a lot of our audience by complicating our film with these factors, so we did our best to make it feel as if it were chronological. Film is all about suspending disbelief. So, even if it doesn’t feel like that’s an actor in front of you on a giant screen, she is. If done right, it’s invisible.

From left to right, Production Sound Mixer Aaron Huber, Director of Photography Zachary Nelson, and Director/Co-writer Matt Cici examine the framing and lighting in a scene from Lambent Fuse in northeast Minneapolis.
6. What has been your most memorable experience from making this film?
So many experiences are memorable, and it’s too hard to name one over another. I can say the fact that I’ve made a feature is something I hold as a memorable experience. All of the people who helped me along the way have made completing this film incredibly rewarding.


So, I’d have to say that people’s belief in me and this project is the most memorable. I will always remember everyone who sacrificed their time and efforts in order to push this project forward. It was a Minnesota film made for Minnesota by Minnesota. I think that all came full-circle when we sold out TCFF and everyone finally got to see the film. It was a moment that they could all be proud of themselves for working on the film.

7. Has Lambent Fuse been screened at other film festivals or events after Twin Cities Film Fest? How has the reception been for your film?
It screened at Highway 61 Film Festival in Pine City, MN. We won Best Drama Feature at that festival, following Best Minnesota Feature from TCFF. I’m going to be honest about reception, because I encourage honesty with feedback. Film is an art, and therefore it’s subjective.


The response from those that have seen it astounds me every day. It really challenges people and they enjoy that challenge. It’s not something that’s complicated to watch; it’s just hard topics presented in a digestible way. So, to answer your question, we couldn’t be happier by hearing how much people enjoy the movie and are surprised that it was made in Minnesota with a micro-budget. And the reviews that are coming in from around the country are very rewarding. As far as festivals are concerned for Lambent Fuse, it’s all about length, major actors, and the film’s mood. Many feel that a 99 minute movie (1hr 39min) is too long. That’s confusing when the industry defines a feature film as 90-120 minutes. Programming film festivals is a very tough job. You’re never going to make money by running one, so your main concern is to fill seats. And major actors bring a crowd. Because we set out to make a Minnesota film, we chose not to hire out. That hurt us in the festival circuit, but it only empowered the film we feel.

And our film is different than most. It’s a non-chronilogical tale of multiple characters whose lives intertwine. It focuses on mental illness and isn’t a “feel-good” movie. It stands out. When planning a festival, programmers like to make all films play nicely with each other, and ours complicates that.


Nonetheless, we keep trying. Any festival or event we’ve gone to we’ve brought everyone with, promoted it like crazy, and packed the house every time. We’ll continue to do so.

8. Who are your inspirations in the film industry? Tell us your favorite filmmaker(s) and actor(s).

I am inspired by people who look for a challenge. I am a large supporter of Daniel Craig and Tom Cruise (although I remain very picky). I especially like watching Gary Oldman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, Rooney Mara, Elijah Wood, Tilda Swinton and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

I enjoy many directors: Wong Kar-wai, Coen Brothers, Steven Spielberg, and recently Jochaim Trier, David Fincher, Steve McQueen, Tomas Alfredson, and Sofia Coppola.
9. Now lastly, please share your top five favorite film dramas and why.
I think my list will always change as I grow older, and that excites the heck out of me. Film is about learning and adapting. Changing and improving. You learn from everything. I can say that I’ve learned the most of the craft of filmmaking during recent years from these films:
  1. Reprise
    This fights with Layer Cake every day as my favorite film ever. It’s simply beautiful. One of the most attractive and photographic films I’ve seen in a long time. Because it focuses on mental illness, I was very much inspired by this film before starting to write Lambent Fuse. It has inspired me ever since, and I can say this will be first on my to-do list before starting any film. This film is my mood film.
  2. Layer Cake
    This film introduced me to Daniel Craig, and at that time I really enjoyed crime dramas (not saying I don’t now, just have widened my tastes). Everything about this film: story, cinematography, acting, music, etc. were so precise it was ridiculous. It’s engaging and educational. This out of the entire list is probably the most entertaining film.
  3. Shame
    I can honestly say that this film changed my perception of 2011 as becoming the best year for film (for me). With The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Tree of Life, Drive, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and others released that same year, Shame put the year up where many years probably won’t ever touch.

    Shame
    is literally perfect. The most well-crafted film I’ve been graced with for as long as I can remember, with its use of transitions, acting, and color. The music became a character of its own. Just as in Lambent Fuse, the music allowed the audience the ability to understand the characters, not just feel for them. I cannot wait for this movie to come out.
  4. A Clockwork Orange
    Wow! If I ever press play, I can’t stop watching. It pulls me in. Stanley Kubrick’s best film in my opinion, and many disagree. I’m not quite sure what draws me to this film the most, but I think the wonderfully unique Nadsat language and acting by Malcolm McDowell do it most. It’s stuck with me ever since.
  5. 2046
    Although I feel like In the Mood for Love was Wong Kar-wai’s strongest film, this is the film that introduced me to him and Asian cinema in general, which is one of the greatest blessings I’ve ever had in film. If I was stuck, at any time, when trying to decide what to watch on Netflix, I’d watch anything from Asia.

    After seeing what I put on this list, I noticed that the subject matter is pretty indigestible for most people, but I guess that’s what attracts me to them. After all Netflix describes my genre as: Dark, visually-compelling, foreign dramas.

Thank you Matt Cici for granting me this interview!
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What do you think of the Lambent Fuse’ trailer? Please share your thoughts on the interview and Matt’s top five list.