Celebrating ‘BLACK FRIDAY’ with Stephen Nemeth
 

Celebrating ‘BLACK FRIDAY’ with Stephen Nemeth

 
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Celebrating ‘BLACK FRIDAY’ with Stephen Nemeth

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Title: Black Friday
Director: Stephen Nemeth
Writer(s): Stephen Nemeth
Cast: Alan Adkins, Emily Dempsey, David Solch, Lee Emory, Hallyn White, Holt Conrad
Genre(s): Thriller, Psychological Horror
Release Date: May 20th, 2018

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Stephen Nemeth wrote, produced, photographed, directed the film, composed/performed the score and created the special effects. Nemeth also appears in a cameo as the Devil’s Advocate in the Prequel Ultrashort portion of the Promo Video/Trailer. BLACK FRIDAY promises to pose questions instead of answers and challenges the audience to think for themselves about the extreme behaviors onscreen.

 

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EHC:

We are here today because we love indie/extreme cinema. How did your love of these films get sparked?

 

SN:

 

I’ve got to give credit to the independent video rental stores of the 1980s. Before tape rental was a thing, I saw PSYCHO and JAWS. They affected me as films. It was seeing STAR WARS in the theater that made me become obsessed with telling stories with image and wanting to be a filmmaker. PSYCHO and JAWS were really great films, but I was already afraid of sharks before JAWS and I didn’t need suspension of disbelief to get me to accept PSYCHO. I mean, I knew hotels and awkward mentally ill killers existed . . . it was STAR WARS, being a independent effort and a lot lower budget than people realize, and it’s filmmaking made the Force, the technology and the aliens real.

Time for a disclaimer: I loath the “special edition” versions of the original trilogy and I could care less for the 1999-early 2000s prequels. They actually made me prolong my hiatus from filmmaking . . . it started a depression and disillusionment for me with the industry . . . the first of a few incarnations of this. This disillusionment was a big step for my quest to keep special effects practical and created in camera.

On public educational television in the late 70s I saw Luis Bruñuel’s UN CHIEN ANDALOU and its provoking eye slicing sequence. Shortly after I was exposed to violent Asian cinema many due to the over the top images would make it into the “Extreme Film” category . . . then in the early 80s my parents got a Vector Research VCR. We were one of the first on our block to have the ability to watch VHSs and a good friend had a Beta player. Then came the Ma and Pa video rental stores. Independent owners were stocking shelves with all kinds of treasures. This is where I found extreme films like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, CANNIBAL FEROX (rented under the name MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY) . . . and for some reason back then Tobe Hooper’s THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE seemed extreme. As an adult and a filmmaker I compare it’s editing more to PSYCHO’s shower scene; you think you see so much explicit content, but it is only implied by the cuts and your mind fills in all this more extreme stuff that is not actually on screen, which is a credit to the skill of the filmmakers.

I found Fulci’s films: ZOMBIE (ZOMBI 2), GATES OF HELL (CEMETERY OF THE LIVING DEAD), SEVEN DOORS OF DEATH (THE BEYOND) and many other Italian director’s films featuring extreme content. And of course there were slashers . . . oh so many slashers with their gory kills . . . to many to name. (chuckles)

The was also the FACES OF DEATH films. My exposure to these led me to the MONDO CANE films and eventually the Japanese GUINEA PIG films which I am honored to have become a part of through the reboot of the franchise with my camerawork on AMERICAN GUINEA PIG: BLOODSHOCK and the docu-feature BEHIND THE SCENES OF BLOODSHOCK that I created. I was exposed to the GUINEA PIGs first through pen pal relationships with Asian tape traders. Then bootleg tapes circulating from Stephen Biro’s VIDEO MAYHEM that evolved into his procurement of the official rights, UNEARTHED FILMS’ releases, his development of AGP BOUQUET OF GUTS & GORE and its follow up, BLOODSHOCK. It’s funny how things can come full circle.

 

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EHC:

What makes a film great for you?

SN:

Cinematography, writing, and performances under direction that creates a challenging psychological experience. A good work of art should make one feel something. It should provoke a response. I enjoy art with layers that are unfolded upon subsequent viewings, listenings et cetera. There are the exceptions to this criteria, some films defy reasoning and are greater than the sum of their parts. Some movies are just so darn fun they cannot be denied, but mostly I am fulfilled by serious dark, bleak and challenging films.

EHC:

What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you?

SN:

UNDER THE VOLCANO (1984), John Carpenter’s ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976), TREASURE ISLAND (1950), BAD LIEUTENANT (1992), SWORD OF DOOM (1968), SNOW WHITE (1937), KING KONG (1933), DUEL AT ICHIJOJI TEMPLE (SAMURAI II, 1955), DUEL AT GANRYU ISLAND (SAMURAI III, 1956), FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1927), HORROR HOTEL (1962), BLADE RUNNER (1983), THE TERMINATOR (1984), THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1947) are all films that I can watch on repeat. Some modern new school favorites: Kurando Mitsutake’s KARATE KILL (2017), Nicolas Winding Refn’s ONLY GOD FORGIVES (2013), Anno and Higuchi’s SHIN GODZILLA (2016) and THE TAINT (2009).

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Action!

 

EHC:

Okay, let’s get to the subject at hand, your film Black Friday. I had the pleasure of watching it before it’s released and it was absolutely amazing! Thank you for that. This will definitely be a favorite of mine, forever.

SN:

Wow! Thank you for the kind words. It means a lot to hear a film lover like you say that.

 

EHC:

How did you come up with the storyline?

SN:

I’m more scared of dangerous people, their thought process and their behavior than monsters and the like. Not to say there aren’t some damn tense and creepy monster flicks I enjoy with great effects bringing them to life. While writing BLACK FRIDAY, I realized that it and my previous film IT BECOMES AN ALTAR which is in production limbo, DEATHLUST the short on which ‘ALTAR was based, and its completed, but unreleased sequel IN SHADOWS all featured home invasion murder scenarios. I think violence in the home is so frightening. I go home to shut the world out. I can’t retreat any further than my home, so when the horror comes inside I find it incredibly unsettling.

With BLACK FRIDAY I aimed to do something slightly experimental, not with filming technique, editing or anything arthouse like that, but with the audience’s experience in regards to spree killings and the way we experience them. When a spree killer strikes, we do not have all the background. Just all of a sudden death strikes and an active shooter is moving about. So to parallel that, there is no Sam Spade narrating the event, spoon feeding us inner thoughts and past history while walking us through his mind as the film’s events unfold. The event just happens, as we the bystanders witness and try to make sense of it and realize later that subtle, minute details may have meaning and reveal more than we thought at first glance. I aimed to make a film that allows the viewers to peel back layers on repeat viewings while they investigate the happening.

 

EHC:

Were you influenced by something in your past, present?

SN:

I want to start a dialogue about behavior in an extremely violent event. 28 years ago a friend of mine was the Easter Bunny at our local shopping mall. A woman was seen watching the children in line the previous day. Then all of a sudden this woman approached a little girl and stabbed her eyes with a pair of scissors. We had no idea where she came from or why she struck. The only reasoning she gave during interrogation was her comment that it was no big deal, people can always have more children. This event and the woman’s point of view was so chilling, it had stayed with me all this time. Today violent events are escalating in the media and I want to start a dialogue about this behavior . . . What justifies extreme violence to those that commit these acts? What allows them to distance themselves emotionally from their targets? Why are we as a society so triggered? What responsibilities do bystanders have? I’m hoping BLACK FRIDAY will pose these questions.

 

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Stephen at work!

 

EHC:

Were there any onset problems filming BLACK FRIDAY. If any problems how did you deal with it?

SN:

This is the smoothest production I’ve worked on. This was due to the dedication of my cast and crew and especially the efforts of my assistant, Emily Dempsey. She has a theater directing/acting background and she transitioned well to filmmaking. She was such an asset during the filming of the music video for Chris Sullivan’s song “By the Light of the Radio” that I made sure she was in on this production too. The only snag was the snow. We were shooting in Charleston, SC which is known for mild winters compared to those up North, but the first week of January which was the last week of principal photography the town was snowed in with curfews in effect. This delayed shooting and I even did some new writing to use the winter wonderland, but it was eventually left on the cutting room floor.

 

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Stephen Nemeth and Lee Emory and the cast

EHC:

How was it working with your wife, Lee Emory?

SN:

I love working with Lee. She is my best friend in every sense. Lee is an ex professional Disney dancer and together we own a dance studio/school and performance company. She is the Creative Director and I am the Director of Operations there. We have an awesome student body and a killer competition team at GOOSE CREEK DANCE COMPANY. With all this she’s no stranger to acting a role, but she’s never done film until we teamed up . . . and without her support I wouldn’t have gotten BLACK FRIDAY made. Besides her onscreen appearance, she is an Executive Producer of the film.

EHC:

How do you feel about the cast you had and directing the film?

SN:

I had an extremely awesome cast and crew on this film. Every cast member was also working behind the camera in some capacity making sure the technical aspects were executed. Emily Dempsey, my assistant and more behind the camera played the Running Woman. Alan Adkins the star of the film was the Armorer/Weapons Master and assisted in many other processes. His daughter Karrington Adkins played the Little Girl and she took behind the scenes photographs on “By the Light of the Radio” as the productions overlapped. Her mother Kathy Adkins provided some additional boom operation and production assistance. David Solch the Motorhead provided the vintage muscle car for this and “By the Light of the Radio”, a sweet purple 1971 Plymouth Satellite and he and Alan helped me execute the FX on the disembowelment and other scenes. My niece Hallyn White who played the young woman helped with lighting and stunt driving. Without their flexibility and dedication BLACK FRIDAY would not have been made. Their hard work made my imagination a reality and I can never thank them enough for that.

As for directing I am very happy with the result. This cast took direction like champs . . . and as crew they were easier to manage than any other I’ve ever worked with.

 

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A pursued man in fear of his life becomes a triggered extremist purging an afflicted town home by home of a perceived monstrous threat.

EHC:

You and I talked on the phone a week or so back, you told me about movie influences and a few scenes in your film that you do the proverbial nod. Can you tell us about this?

SN:

There are a few intentional homages to early Disney films. SNOW WHITE (1937) has influenced me my entire life. There’s something about the rotoscope process, which they sometimes deny and sometimes celebrate using, that makes it creepily real. It’s so dark too . . . look at how it’s affected John Wayne Gacy and manifested in his “Heigh Ho” painting series. When Snow White runs into the forest after The Huntsman freaks her out she projects the fears in her mind on the forest. That is definitely a theme in BLACK FRIDAY. My cinematography is also influenced by the framing used in SNOW WHITE. Note the placement of objects like the supports of the canopy, one in the foreground versus one in the background yet encasing her her in frames within frames when she is singing at the well.

Another influence is the lighting during Deems Taylor’s live action introduction and music critique sequences in FANTASIA (1940) between each short musical segment. The rich yellow/gold and blue that dominates much of these scenes is reproduced in BLACK FRIDAY when Alan’s character, the Pursued Man, is struggling to get through the sliding glass door. Here it’s like he is leaving the logical world of the live action parts of FANTASIA, inside the house, and entering the paranoid world of SNOW WHITE as he flees into the outside.

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EHC:

What’s next from Stephen Nemeth, Filmmaker extraordinaire?

SN:

I have a few feature screenplays I’ve been developing. These projects are soul crushingly bleak Neo-Noir Crime Thrillers with horror elements. Two of which have metaphysical sub-themes. I’ve been talking to a few awesome actors I’ve been dying to work with like Kristy Ray (PIECES OF TALENT), Lynn Lowery (Cronenberg’s SHIVERS, Romero’s THE CRAZIES) and Hayate (from Kurando Mitsutake’s KARATE KILL).

EHC:

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me and choosing Extreme Horror Cinema to share in your premiere of Black Friday. Your film was beautiful. Uneasy yet very comfortable. Cinematography and editing spot on. This is a film you should be very proud of. I will always be on the look out for your next projects. Your love of film is infused in everything you do.

SN:

I am honored by your comments. It was wonderful to spend this time with you. Thank you and EXTREME HORROR CINEMA so much.

 

Let’s take a look at Black Friday!


Stephen’s Filmography and Extreme Talents!

SN

“By the Light of the Radio”, Chris Sullivan Music Video, 2018

Director, Writer, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor, Colorist

LITTLE SISTER Forager Films, Supo Mungam Films, Kino Lorber Feature, 2017

Actor

BIGFOOT MOB BOSS CULT MOVIE MANIA Feature, Unreleased

Actor, Additional Content Unit Director, Additional Content, Additional Composer

American Guinea Pig BLOODSHOCK, UNEARTHED Films Feature, 2016

2nd Cinematographer, Camera

Behind The Scenes Of BLOODSHOCK, UNEARTHED Films Feature Documentary, 2016

Director, Editor, Camera, Actor (self)

CRIPPLED THORN þroductions Short, 2015

Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor, Colorist

DEATHLUST THORN þroductions Short, 2014

Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor, Composer, Colorist

Started out on SADISTIC CINEMA radio  as a guest

and was asked back to co host with founder David Manifest, 2013~on going.

LOCUS.2 THORN þroductions Short, 2013

Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor, Composer, Colorist

LOCUS THORN þroductions Short, 2013

Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor, Composer, Colorist

WALPURGIS NIGHT, THORN þroductions Short, 2011

Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor, Composer, Colorist

 

Some Linkage:

https://www.facebook.com/BlackFridayMovie/

 

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