Travis Campbell & Nicola Fiore On MR BRICKS:
A HEAVY METAL MURDER MUSICAL
-Interview by Nic Brown-
Actor Tim Dax as Mr. Bricks
shooting performing in one of the musical
sequences in Mr. Bricks [Photo
courtesy of Ship to Shore Meda]
Actor Tim Dax as Mr. Bricks shooting performing in one of the musical
sequences in Mr. Bricks [Photo courtesy of Ship to Shore Meda]
Travis’s vision has attracted a number of artists to appear in the film, including YouTube sensations Shawn “Cool Duder” Phillips and M.J. Kelley (The Don and Murph Show), Jamie Greco (PDA Massacre, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead), and Lloyd Kaufman (President of Troma Entertainment and creator of the Toxic Avenger). The film also includes a guest appearance and musical performance by Richard Barone (The Bongos/Author, Frontman: Surviving the Rock Star Myth).
Justin Martell, the founder of Ship to Shore Media, found out about the project while working with Troma Entertainment and decided to throw Ship to Shore's support into the project by becoming a producer for it. Raising money for the film was a challenge according to Martell. "A member of my production company (who shall remain nameless) even had to skype with his shirt off in order to raise money from an older woman who had some to throw around!" Despite these efforts the project still came in with a "micro-budget" of just $3,000. This might not have been enough except for the efforts of everyone involved in the production, especially special effects artist Jessica Jade Jacob who agreed to work for costs on the project and who innovative ideas helped cut costs for the production's effects even more.
Now, one of the film’s stars is “Women of Horror” featured actress Nicola Fiore. She and Travis are eager to spread the word about this unique approach to a genre that’s been around almost since the start of talking movies.
Nic - The name may say it all, but tell us about MR. BRICKS: A HEAVY METAL MURDER MUSICAL!
Travis - MR. BRICKS: A HEAVY
METAL MURDER MUSICAL
is, well, obviously a musical but it's
also a twisted love story. Mr. Bricks wakes up with a bullet
in his head and realizes his true love has been taken from
him. He then goes on a killing spree in the
Left to right: Justin Martell
(Producer), Lloyd Kaufman (Troma Entertainment),
Travis Campbell (Director) on
set. [Photo courtesty of Nina Gielen]
Left to right: Justin Martell (Producer), Lloyd Kaufman (Troma Entertainment),
Travis Campbell (Director) on set. [Photo courtesty of Nina Gielen]
Travis - I had always wanted to do a
musical. I was in hardcore bands in the 90s and then did the
college rock band thing later on, so music has always been a
big part of my life. When I moved to New York, I had a hard
time adjusting, and went back to my roots listening to
hardcore music, which helped me get through a lot of tough
times. At the same time, I was trying to develop multiple
low budget projects with Nicola and Tim Dax in mind and one
day it hit me,
MR. BRICKS... and it will be a musical, no - a
heavy metal murder musical! I loved the concept, but it also
frightened me, a heavy metal musical? Would it work? Would
people laugh their asses off? It could be a colossal
Left to right: Nicola Fiore
(Actress, Scarlet Moretti), Travis Campbell
& Tim Dax (Actor, Mr. Bricks)
discussing the next scene.
[Photo courtesy of Ship to
Left to right: Nicola Fiore (Actress, Scarlet Moretti), Travis Campbell (Director),
& Tim Dax (Actor, Mr. Bricks) discussing the next scene.
[Photo courtesy of Ship to Shore Media]
Travis - I wrote the music along with Dane Robinson, and after recording I would show Lauren the songs, since she wrote the script and she would either say brilliant or terrible! There are nine songs in the movie but there were at least 25 songs written at various points. It was difficult writing the music with the story in mind, because you have to ask yourself what warrants a musical number and what doesn't. Bricks taking a dump wouldn't warrant a musical number, but Bricks questioning his motives for killing would! I had the hardest time writing Nicola's song "Torn." I just wasn't getting it and one night I said, “Fuck it - I can't do it!” Lauren then helped me by going over the scene she wrote, explaining what it meant to her and for Nicola's character Scarlet. Lauren wrote most of the lyrics for that song and then it made sense to me! I wasn't connecting the emotional dots so to speak, but once I found my groove it was awesome. I would write the music with scenes in mind and then sometimes take dialogue right from the script and plug it in as lyrics. When it came time to shoot we would work in some choreography and it came together really well!
The hardest thing for me was directing a script I didn't
write. I always had written material I directed. I did a
Jessica Jade Jacob (Key
Special Make-up F/X Artist for Mr. Bricks) prepares
chest mold of Mr. Bricks for a
bullet wound effect. [Photo courtesy of Sharmeen
Jessica Jade Jacob (Key Special Make-up F/X Artist for Mr. Bricks) prepares a
chest mold of Mr. Bricks for a bullet wound effect. [Photo courtesy of Sharmeen Azmudeh]
Nic - Nicola, can you tell us a little about your character in MR. BRICKS.
Nicola Fiore (Scarlet
Moretti) living up to her image as a "Scream Queen" Photo
courtesy of Sharmeen Azmudeh]
Nicola Fiore (Scarlet Moretti) living up to her image as a "Scream Queen"
Photo courtesy of Sharmeen Azmudeh]
Nic - I can see how you cast Nicola for her role in the film, but what about Mr. Bricks himself? Was that a tough one to cast and is that the actor who plays him doing the singing?
Travis - I always wanted to work with Tim. I found a postcard of his that he had sent around with his picture and contact info. When I saw it I was like who is this guy? I emailed him in the spring of 2009 and asked if he would like to work together and he said yes! The only problem was I had a lot of projects on the table but nothing complete. I started brainstorming, trying to think of roles both he and Nicola could play. At one time, I had this idea for a movie where Nicola was an assistant to Jesus himself and Tim would play Saint Peter! Needless to say, this didn't work out and finally the idea of Mr. Bricks hit me and I thought this would be perfect for not only Tim but Nicola as well.
Nic - MR BRICKS is obviously going to have its fair share of blood and violence. There has been a lot of criticism of violence in films, especially when it’s directed towards women. How would you respond to that kind of criticism towards MR BRICKS?
Travis - I was worried about the violence against women aspect; it is so prevalent in horror movies and has become a cliché these days. It's so easy to come up with a horror movie idea and start it off with "a woman alone in the woods is terrorized by..." or "a woman alone in her apartment showering is terrorized by…." That is why I am glad Lauren Miller wrote the script. While the movie is called MR. BRICKS, it definitely has a female point of view regarding violence. That is why I love Nicola's character Scarlet;, she is written with flaws and it's believable that a woman could end up in the situation Scarlet finds herself in during Mr. Bricks. When we were doing table readings, all the women who attended always loved the character of Scarlet because they felt like they could relate to her.
Nicola - There is an equality between men and women like never before and this story reflects that. It is unrealistic to portray any woman as some fragile creature that needs to be protected or rescued. The female revenge stories have always had violence, and it shouldn't be so shocking when women kick ass and get bloody and act as their own hero. MR. BRICKS has moments that are extremely intense that I think both men and women will respond to. This is obviously not a film for the weak-minded. Underneath all the violence is a story that has a lot of heart.
Nic - So now that you’ve got a musical under your belt, will we be seeing more of this from you?
Actor Vito Trigo as Officer
Carmine Dukes receives a warning as to what
happens to those who stand
in the way of Mr. Bricks. [Photo courtesy of Sharmeen
Actor Vito Trigo as Officer Carmine Dukes receives a warning as to what
happens to those who stand in the way of Mr. Bricks.
[Photo courtesy of Sharmeen
Nic - You said nine songs made it into the move out of the 25 or so you wrote. Will any of those other songs see the light of day?
Travis - Yes hopefully they will! I would like to include the deleted songs as a special feature on the DVD.
Nic - I understand that you got some serious musical talent involved in the project. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Travis - Well when I started writing the songs in a small cramped room I never could have imagined where it would take me. This really was a family affair. I worked with my friend Dane Robinson who would come in with different guitar parts and lyrics, and we would write various songs, some ended up in the movie some did not. My long time friend from high school and fellow band mate from my hardcore days, Tony Bennevento, came in and recorded vocals for MR. BRICKS. At one point I think we had three different people including me doing the vocals for MR. BRICKS!
When we were filming, the actors would lip synch to my vocals because we still hadn't cast the singing parts! I even did Nicola's vocals, and it was really embarrassing on set when people were like, “Why is an out of tune guy singing for Nicola?” After we wrapped, Nicola would come in and record her parts and they sound fantastic! That was the best part for me - finally hearing the songs come to life when other people sang them.
But I think the best part was having Richard Barone, from the band the Bongos come in and record a pop-rock-new-wave version of the song "Brick by Brick." I was trying not to freak out when Richard was recording his parts while I was acting as the recording engineer! Watching his energy while playing and singing threw me into a different world! I had started this whole musical process in a cramped room with the song "Brick by Brick" and now it ends with a pro version of "Brick by Brick." It was really surreal.
Nic - What are your plans for MR. BRICKS - is a theatrical release something you’re looking for?
Travis - I would love to do a theatrical release, but these days it almost impossible for an independent film to get a theatrical release because the big movie conglomerates control everything! That's fine though. I would love to have Bricks play at a drive-in or take it to a convention or even on the road as travelling hardcore circus, where you get to see the movie and live performance featuring the songs in the movie, rather then have it sit on a shelf waiting for "distribution" by a company who does not care about it. We will also try a run at film fests and then put it on DVD. I think these days, filmmakers have to be almost like snake oil salesmen and take their act on the road, convincing movie-goers that their product will ensure the most satisfying emotional response! It is sad that it's come to this, but in a way it's a game. We will see what happens though. Like we said when filming MR. BRICKS... brick by brick, baby... brick by brick.
Check out the trailers for MR BRICKS
at the bottom of the page!