My first encounter with Michael Johnson and Faux Pas Films was being asked to do a cool little scene in their film, “Cyclical Effect” (and have one or two of the songs from my album featured in the film as well). Well, I enjoy what these guys are doing so much that I wanted to interview them and see what they’re about, what makes them tick, etc. So read on and see what these guys are up to! And check out “Cyclical Effect” currently available for pre-order on DVD!
MU: Well first, how did Faux Pas come into existence?
MJ: Faux Pas Films came into being in the literal sense circa 2007 when I had caught the filming bug by working on a couple small projects and had begun going to the local horror conventions. I saw there that even with no budget or experience, people were still making their dreams happen. It was inspiring. So already being a long time writer of poetry, lyrics, and short stories, I wrote a couple of screenplays and set out to make them a reality.
But honestly, the germ of creating began as a kid with my love for all things horror and macabre. Watching The Exorcist, The Shining, Elvira, and old black & white sci-fi films really fueled my imagination. It just never occurred to me that I could make my own films, until 2007 when I set out to do just that.
MU: For those not familiar with it yet, tell us a little about your newest effort, “Cyclical Effect.”
MJ: “Cyclical Effect” is a drama/horror film that really is the meld of four different ideas together. It is by far my most personal film to date. It was a long road for this labor of love, having starting outlining it at the end of 2011. It’s the story of Ian that goes through a downward spiral as he loses control of everything solid in his life. He must reinvent himself and tries to find a perfect match on a dating website but all the while a killer preys on him and his friends. The drama aspect is about triumph or tragedy in the face of adversity, the story of what it take to get back on track after hitting rock bottom. The horror aspect is a costumed killer stalking the victims. Come on, who doesn’t love a costumed killer, right? The cast boasts a number of indie horror veterans, from Russ Croley, Shannon Sylvia, Michelle Tomlinson, Melantha Blackthorne, Bianca Barnett, Lilith Stabs, Andrea Collins, Dawn Lyn, Kayla Perkins, Donald Farmer, Shauna Tackett, and yep, even a nice little cameo by Tiffany Apan.
MU: What are some challenges you guys faced in filmmaking (“Cyclical Effect” or others)?
MJ: Always there are obstacles you have to overcome on set with each film. For Cyclical, the biggest challenge was trying to finish everything. I moved from Nashville, TN to Chicago, IL halfway during production so it pushed filming back a couple months until I could get back in town. Extreme weather has been a problem in making many of our films. Whether too cold (like in “Brimstone” and “Killer Shorts”) or too hot (“The Killer’s Meow”), we always find ourselves out in the middle of nowhere filming at these times.
MU: Any odd, hilarious, or horror (pun not intended) stories on set?
MJ: The hours are long, the conditions aren’t great, but at the end of the day we have a lot of laughs onset. I always include an outtake reel on the DVDs because it’s fun to revisit the goofs on set. Half the cast were scared to death to film in the woods in the dead of night for “Brimstone”. The story was how the woods were cursed and it created a creepy atmosphere. The biggest horror story we ever had occurred on that film when the small town local cops mistook our “gothed out” actors as criminals and had the “you better get out of town” mentality. Another horror story happened filming “The Killer’s Meow” at an abandoned house when it was so hot that my sweat went into the camera and halted production for two hours. Behind the scenes you can always find funny moments. One of which was when I was trying to film while running down stairs in “The Last Rendezvous” and fell on my ass. Laughter ensued thereafter.
MU: I’ve asked a few people this question, but I’m interested in getting different viewpoints on this question. The mainstream media tends to saturate us with the stories of “overnight successes” with all the reality tv ‘stars,’ American Idols, and the ‘cinderella stories’ of how “so and so became an overnight sensation in a matter of five minutes.” Would you say that such articles and stories tend to give (especially) young people trying to break into the industry a sort of false hope and distorted view as to how the industry really works?
MJ: I’d say it’s a very distorted view to aim for such a goal. It could happen, for sure. We’ve seen many cases of virals exploding on the web but the chances of that happening are probably less than getting struck by lightning. Many of those stories are falsified anyway as it took hard work and long hours for many of the “overnight sensations” to actually find their break. I’m not saying a lot of “fame” doesn’t come from being at the right place at the right time, who you know, and what’s trending, because it does. If you are trying to be yourself and find your voice, generally it’s going to take some time to craft your art and get to where you need to be. I learn more with every film I make and I still have much to learn. It’s an evolution for me. I knew from the start it would be a gradual advance and I haven’t been disappointed yet. My advice is to just do what you love and don’t give up if you don’t see the grand rewards right away. Keep chasing those pesky dreams and they’ll eventually stop to rest and you can nab ’em.
MU: So when you guys aren’t making films, what do you like to do in your free time?
MJ: I am also a freelance videographer and other than that I try to spend time helping other local filmmakers make their films. It’s always good to have a film community willing to help each other out. I am of course an avid fan of film (especially the horror genre), devouring as much as I can, both mainstream and indie. Other than that, reading and spending time with the family takes up the rest of my time.
MU: And finally, what’s coming up for Faux Pas Films?
MJ: We are currently in production of our newest film “Ovulation” which stars Lynn Lowry, Mandi Johnson, Chelsey Garner, and Willy Adkins. The story is about Azura, a woman who isn’t so young anymore and she is obsessed with becoming a mother. Driven passionately by her nagging mother and competitive sister, she is meticulously monitoring her ovulation cycle to try and conceive with her apathetic boyfriend. After month of trying, her obsession is rapidly growing worse. When she finally reaches her breaking point and finds out a hidden secret, she sees nothing but red. This is a dramatic tale of a woman’s need to procreate taken to horrific levels. Find out more about the film at facebook.com/ovulationmovie
Find more of Faux Pas Films at the following links:
DVD store: www.freewebstore.org/FauxPasFilms
And definitely check out “Cyclical Effect”!