From the crumbling arches of the Roman Coliseum to the steps of the holy Vatican, Rome Italy has always played an important role in cinema history. Last weekend MPI Co-Founder and Film Director Douglas Schulze flew to Rome to screen the new motion picture that stars two talented MPI acting school graduates and was crewed by mostly MPI alumni.
For nearly 40 years Italy’s famed FANTAFEST has been considered one of Europe’s most prominent genre film festivals having hosted countless legendary actors and filmmakers. Name a great director or actor from the fantasy or horror genre and odds are they have attended the festival. Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings), Sam Raimi (Spiderman) and Dario Argento (Suspiria) are a few on the list of famed artisans. And last Saturday around the witching hour of midnight when most Italian cinephiles are making their way to theatres, Schulze premiered his latest film MIMESIS: NOSFERATU to an eager Italian audience.
MPI: Tell us about the festival experience.
SCHULZE: We received an invitation from the festival on Thanksgiving. They originally wanted to screen MIMESIS: NOSFERATU on a Tuesday afternoon since the festival runs for seven straight nights. BUT they said they would move the screening to “prime time” Saturday night IF we attended and presented the film. We scrambled to make things happen. The first objective was to send them what we call a “Dialogue Script” which is basically a final copy of the script with just dialogue. This script is used as a template to create subtitles.
MPI: What was it like being a part of such a legendary film festival?
SCHULZE: It truly was an unforgettable experience. Italian audiences are passionate about cinema and I felt they appreciated the notion of the film being an homage to classic horror movies.
MPI: Tell us more about the film “MIMESIS: NOSFERATU”
SCHULZE: Years ago I wanted to explore the notion of “the ultimate horror movie fan”. Having spent so many years attending horror themed conventions and comic cons I was fascinated with the idea of what makes a “fanatic”. This was prior to the term “Cozplay” becoming a mainstream word. So I set out to write a story about a group of extreme horror fans who take their love of movies a bit too far. I then teamed up with a former student of mine JOSHUA WAGNER and together we wrote what became the first MIMESIS.
MPI: How was the first MIMESIS received by critics and audiences?
SCHULZE: Rather well. We shot it on a micro-budget and brought in a few genre actors such as SID HAIG (Devil’s Rejects, 3 From Hell), COURTNEY GAINES (Children of the Corn) and BILL HINZMAN (the original Night of the Living Dead). The film was picked up by STARZ , ANCHOR BAY and aired on SHOWTIME NETWORKS. It did quite well on dvd, bluray and was a top rental.
MPI: It also starred ALLEN MALDONADO who stars on the hit TBS show The Last OG alongside former SNL comedian TRACY MORGAN.
SCHULZE: Yes, it does. It’s really his character’s story. Allen was amazing in the first Mimesis and we sort of designed the sequel around him and his busy acting schedule.
MPI: Tell us how the new MIMESIS came together.
SCHULZE: The first film did well for us so I felt there was a lot more to explore from a conceptual stand point. The word MIMESIS comes from the word MIMIC. More specifically the idea of art imitating life. The basic idea behind MIMESIS is the exploration of classic horror films. The first Mimesis took George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead and used it as a template to explore the notion of the extreme horror movie fans. This next MIMESIS explores the vampire genre, specifically BRAM STOKERS novel (DRACULA) and the German expressionistic film NOSFERATU. But our film is more a celebration of vampire films from years past. Vampire films from the 70’s, 60’s, 50’s all the way back to F.W. Murnau’s classic NOSFERATU.
At its core Bram Stoker's Dracula (which most vampire films are based around) is a love story mixing themes of sexual obsession and spiritual faith with elements of horror. In approaching a film that sets out to homage and even mimic the vampire genre it was important to understand and respect this. Mimesis: Nosferatu is an homage to the vintage era vampire film, borrowing storytelling style, mood and tone from this classic era. If compared to a contemporary, Mimesis: Nosferatu bares more similarity to a show like the WB's The Vampire Diaries, a Horror Drama or Romero's Martin than more contemporary visceral fare. At their core Mimesis films seek to homage classic era horror, they aren't sequels in the traditional sense. Mimesis films exist in their own world with only a modest narrative thread to tie them together,
MPI: Back to the festival. How did the screening for MIMESIS: NOSFERATU go?
SCHULZE: The film was very well received. The acting was singled out as a strong point. This time around we have iconic actor LANCE HENRIKSEN (NEAR DARK, ALIENS) and of course Allen Maldonado returns as a kind of Van Helsing vampire hunter type character. He took time off from his Last OG series with Tracy Morgan to make the sequel happen.
MPI: Tell us about the Actors who went to MPI and are in the film.
SCHULZE: JULIE KLINE and JORDAN CAMPO are two amazing actors who attended MPI’s 8 month intensive Acting Program. They were brought to my attention (early on) and we ended up casting them both as leads in the film alongside Lance and Allen. In theory Julie and Jordan are the main stars who have the most screen time. Audiences agree they both do an amazing job.
MPI: What’s next for MIMESIS: NOSFERATU ?
SCHULZE: We hope to screen the film in a few more international film festivals before aligning with a distributor. We’re also looking at a fun themed convention here in Michigan with the film as the center piece. The film should make its way to theatres, disc, vod and cable tv in 2019.
MPI: Are their plans for MIMESIS beyond NOSFERATU?
SCHULZE: Yes. We are currently developing the 3rd film but we can’t say too much about it right now other than it’s going to be the biggest and best of the three.
MPI: To learn more about MIMESIS visit their official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mimesisthemovie . And check back with MPI for more news about the films worldwide release in 2019.