1/25/15 – USA
It’s coming! New to the underground scene, it may be coined “an abstract psychological thriller” by its makers, but based on the trailer and the response at various recent theatrical showings in the Tampa, Florida area, FRANKLIN is a movie that every hardcore underground horror fan is going to at least want to check out in 2015. Here’s a brief synopsis of the movie:
Franklin is a tormented man who seeks asylum in the arms of Mother Earth. His serenity is shattered by two masked maniacs that violently subdue and abduct him. Awakening in captivity, he realizes his bizarre nightmarish journey has just begun…
Co-written and produced by filmmaker/director Richard R. Anasky from ACTRESS APOCALYPSE fame [an underrated underground classic you NEED to seek out if you have not seen it!], we recently caught up with FRANKLIN’s head honcho [director], called The Archer, aka Jeremy Westrate, to pick his brain about this glorious, surreal, psychedelic, gory, and twisted masterpiece….
1.) Tell us about yourself and your creative experiences leading up to FRANKLIN and your style as a Director.
My name is Jeremy Westrate and Franklin: A Symphony of Pain is the first feature that I’ve had the opportunity to direct. The decade that lead me to it was spent co-writing screenplays with my life-long friend Daniel Rainey. Years into our collaboration, with a couple finished scripts under our belts, we began to consider expanding our understanding of the practical “on-set” application of our craft. We our hands in several writing projects already, to which Daniel volunteered all of his efforts. We agreed that my attention should be turned significantly in the direction of production. Since then, I’ve been a P.A., Gaffer, Sound Engineer, Assistant Camera, Editor, Writer, Cinematographer, Producer, and Director on various independent productions (shorts/features/commercials). As far as my directing style is concerned I’d refer you to Drivin n Cryin who wrote, “The leader must start the march, and fall behind to walk with the people.”
2.) Tell us a bit about FRANKLIN: A Symphony of Pain and what inspired it… The placement of the word ‘Pain’ in the sub-title is no mistake. The viewer and protagonist walk hand-in-hand on a brutal quest for truth as they are subjected to a succession of incidences akin to Alice’s hallucinogenic journey through Wonderland with some torturous acts of LSD-laced ultra-violence along the way. Differing from Alice, the meaning of Franklin’s trip becomes clearer as the story progresses and then definitive when the truth prevails. This movie is a reaction to our surroundings; it is confrontational in nature, much like the world we live in. If we didn’t think it was either cool or important, we didn’t film it. Conceptually, our generation’s reaction to the birth of ‘New media’ toned Franklin with a contention for corrupted leading messages, and ulterior motives. Life is a series of decisions between love and fear, Franklin is a protagonist whose choice was stolen from him. Our film was inspired by Pink Floyd: The Wall, Altered States, The Ninth Configuration, the films of Stanley Kubrick, The Stranger by Albert Camus, and as anything that I get involved with, the music of Jack White.
3.) If you had to do a TV Guide Synopsis of FRANKLIN, how would it read? A man’s serenity is shattered by two masked maniacs that violently subdue and abduct him. Awakening in captivity he realizes his bizarre and nightmarish journey has just begun.
4.) What exactly is The Lavender Handle Collective? Who were your partners in crime on FRANKLIN? The five producing partners created a conglomerate for this movie’s occasion, Sean Donohue (Executive Producer) suggested that we use two irrelevant terms and cited the words “carpet cleaner” and “machete” as examples. The Lavender Handle Collective was then forged, grouping Sean and I with Richard R. Anasky, Dee Dee Seruga, and our lead actor Nikolas Franklin as the producing partners on the project.
5.) Tell us about the FRANKLIN shoot… Principle photography lasted forty or so days, spanning a year. We used thirty-seven locations throughout the Tampa Bay Area (mid-Florida). There are fifty two characters in Franklin, forcing some of our crew to double as masked tormentors in some scenes. In all honesty, the only stress we faced on set was in racing the sun. Nikolas Franklin (playing his namesake) delivers a brave and honest performance as our lead. He becomes the viewer’s moral compass in the chaos-ridden, upside-down world that we’ve created. Greg G. Freeman breathes fire into a role more than a decade in the making; Father Hyde Pearcy. Slake Counts, Bob Glazier, Jules Sceiro, and Tommy Sosko are a forceful pack of savages whose motivations are as hostile and retched as you could imagine. The entire cast and crew showered this picture with attention and effort, without one of the names in the credit roll at the end, this movie wouldn’t be what it is.
6.) Richard R. Anasky is one of your collaborators on FRANKLIN…how did you two meet and what was the creative process like working with him? He’s well known in the underground scene for ACTRESS APOCALYPSE, and collaborating with Tim Ritter on movies like RECONCILED and DEADLY DARES… Rit and I met for the first time over a burger and cigarettes several hours before I began shooting my first short film. I was nervous and had no idea what I was doing. Rather than gossiping about the local film community, telling me about his favorite camera, or bragging about his work with Tim Ritter; he explained to me the notion of centering my on-set energy. His words empowered me to achieve my relative success that day, and I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t conjure the same vibe every day that I am lucky enough to spend on a set. We grew to become true friends transcending the analytical tone of contemporary society. By the time we began to collaborate on Franklin it seemed as if we had been co-creating for a lifetime. Rit and I worked together on every aspect of this picture. His power of visualization is incredible; giving real-time editing notes over the phone is no easy feat. I couldn’t imagine making a movie without Rit in the room.
7.) How did post production go on FRANKLIN? The movie looks very slick, talk about what equipment you used to shoot and edit it and about your overall experience in assembling the film. The edit began the day we shot the first scene. In fact, that was the way of the entire production. We would film for a day, maybe two. Then I would disappear for a week and return with a rough cut for review. It allowed the space and time necessary for personal development within our own rightful areas of the craft. We got to get better together. It was beautiful. There were five different cameras used, staying within the DSLR family aside from the one ancient 35mm that Rit had with him. Final Cut X is the only editing program that I have ever used, and no matter how painful it is to hear, I love it! As far as “assembling the film” is concerned, we certainly took some part in it, although we are firm believers that it was the universe that did most of the assembling. We were just the lucky one’s that showed up and pressed play.
8.) Music plays a big part in surreal movies. What can we expect from FRANKLIN’s score? Our composer, Preston Marshall is an auditory-chameleon. He contributed fourteen songs to our score/soundtrack, all ranging in genre. There were eight local bands (David Kibby, Red Feather, Cosm, catalyst, World Collision, Brahm Bones, Kevin McLeod, & Space Probe Taurus) that we worked with in order to define our soundtrack. Each has their own distinct and beautiful vibration comprising to add a tone of schizophrenia to our symphony of pain.
9.) When and how can fans expect to view FRANKLIN? [Streaming, VHS, DVD releases, festival showings, etc.] We will be touring the 2015 festival circuit, and are currently considering several options in the way of distribution (spanning all media formats). Our strategy is to afford Franklin all of the opportunities it needs to define its own path in the marketplace.
10.) Anything else you’d like to share with the readers regarding FRANKLIN? “The demons of one’s own mind torment more severely than those spawned in hell. Every day that Franklin awakens he is confronted by a punishing existence. The seeds of guilt thrive in his soul for transgressions both past and present. These “sins” committed not only mutilate his sanity from within but also manifest physically to harvest the cosmic score that must be settled!” -Fernando Peters
11.) What’s next for you and is there anything you’d like to add that wasn’t covered? Daniel and I have been working on a script for upwards of thirteen years. It’s a true story, and cuts straight into the heart of reality rather that occupying the same abstract world as Franklin. This next project has weighed heavily on me throughout my life, and in many ways Franklin was a necessary step in my preparation for it.
Thank you for your time and best wishes with the project! Fans….seek this one out!