Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Psyche of Manson

The Fourth Guam International Film Festival is happening right now on Guam.

Here is an interview with Kent Velesrubio, one of the creative minds behind one of the more anticipated films this weekend "The Psyche of Manson."


GIFF interviews Kent Velesrubio, writer/director/actor of Guam’s risqué indie feature film, “The Psyche of Manson”. (Screening Saturday, September 27, at 8:30PM. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION )

GIFF: Congratulations again on your official selection into GIFF as well as your nomination for Best Made in the Marianas for your film “The Psyche of Manson”. How does it feel?


KENT: It feels totally surreal. Going to the movie theaters ritualistically every weekend since I was a kid always inspired me to go out and make something that I’d be satisfied with, and to finally have a privilege to showcase my work on the big screen which I’ve grown under, is just extraordinary. And not to mention the nomination for “Best in the Marianas” is just utterly unexpected and most importantly gratifying. I feel like I’m going to the Guam Oscars.

GIFF: I love the screenplay. I love the neo-noir. It’s the first thing that caught my attention. It’s brave and refreshing – especially for an indie film coming out of Guam. I like to think of it as if “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” was directed by David Lynch. Tell us how you came about developing the story.

KENT: That is a perfect description for the movie! John Hughes and David Lynch were huge inspirations for the premise! I wanted to make a film with a story that I thought would be slightly outside of everyone’s comfort zone, including mine. At first, it was hard to come up with a story that I’d be satisfied with, merely because the first few screenplay drafts of action narratives were too conventional and I didn’t feel a personal connection with them, so appropriately I took some time off of writing and did some contemplating. Consequently, I turned to “teen-hood” as a central theme; it was perfect since I myself, am a teen, and there are some issues that I thought needed to be dissected under a microscope.

Coming from St. John’s School, where the air is thick with competition and success driven motivation, I decided to focus on the ideals through a teen’s perspective. And what better era to display the quintessential teen life and the pinnacle of financial success than the 80s. On account of that liking for that era, I watched a ton of 80s teen flicks such as, The Breakfast Club”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Risky Business” to grab some inspiration, however, I saw a recurring “cleanliness” in those movies that I thought I could veer away from then create my own sort of “dark parody”. So displaying the darker side of teen drug abuse caused by financial height was a form of breaking away from the cliché nature of those 80s teen films.  I knew that premise would be unique to show and questionable to watch. On a side note, the dialogue style is widely influenced by Stanley Kubrick’s (cinematography as well) and Woody Allen’s works.

As for the concept of renewal and realization from “greedy motivation”, as displayed by Marty Manson, I thought that putting his character under a nightmarish demise would be a great premise simply because I love the movies that contain that similar concept. Movies like Takashi Miike’s “Audition”, Coen Brother’s “Barton Fink”, and David Lynch’s “Eraserhead”, shared that means of changing a character in the most morbid way possible, which is messing with their psyche.

GIFF: Describe Marty Manson. How much of you is Marty?

KENT: Marty Manson is a cynical and exploitive character who has unmatched cockiness, and carries the beliefs of an existentialist philosopher with the genius of Andy Warhol. I think to an extent, I do possess the qualities of Marty. I’m not as depressive as he his, but I am very success driven and I do see myself as different from others sometimes. We share the same ideals but have different ways of achieving them. In the movie, he begs his teacher, Mrs. Lisa Gallagher Warhol, if she can work as a liaison in order for his painting to be displayed in a prestigious art museum. He uses his talent of exploiting people in order to encapsulate an emotion that’ll be translated into canvas in the form of a painting. This is slightly reflective of me, because I wanted my artwork or film to be displayed at the GIFF, however, unlike Marty, I don’t exploit or beg anybody to increase my work’s value. I work for myself and the actors work for themselves, it’s a correlating win win situation.

GIFF: The characters are cocky, rich and Asian! We noticed that the St. John’s drama department made up the cast as well as some of the faculty (Karen Flores). Coming from such an esteemed school with a reputation for its privileged and/or wealthy students and alumni, did you feel the possibility of any sort of backlash with producing such a provocative project while utilizing some of St. John’s resources? Tell us about that.

KENT: I wouldn’t say that I used “St. John’s resources” for my own benefit, because the actors are all self driven and they do it for the sake of the art regardless of who or what they work for. They themselves committed wholeheartedly to the film, as they would for a stage play or improv, and that’s what made working on the set of “Psyche” even easier and more liberating. The Drama Department in St. John’s consists of a lot of kids who are open minded and ready for anything regardless of content. They all know it’s for the process and the art; and I’m more than gratified since they allowed me to showcase their talent. These kids want to act for the sake of acting, and I’ve never seen such a group so committed to what they do and they do it with incomparable audacity.  As for backlash, I know for sure that there will be some controversy based on the characters’ profanity, but I’m not one to make movies that are constrained or half-assed, I want my stories to be artistically truthful and gutsy.

GIFF: Describe the most challenging obstacle that you encountered while producing “The Psyche of Manson”.

KENT: The biggest challenges I faced during the  production process of the movie were scheduling shooting times for the actors and making that instant transition from the mindset of a Director to the mindset of Marty the character. As a lone Director, the whole technical aspect completely sent my mind into a frenzy since I had to change the lighting and camera angles while keeping the spirits high on set, so making that change in mindsets kind of blocked my acting sensibilities, consequently taking a little bit away from the character.  And since all of the actors’ schedules are incredibly tight, I had to make some compromises and cut out precious parts from the original script. However, I do try to give myself some appeasement by telling myself that “it is my first feature and this is just a filmmaker’s learning process”. I’m my worst critic and realizing that statement helps soothe the bashing dramatically.

GIFF: Random question:

KENT: Random Answers
GIFF: Will this be your first time to attend GIFF?

KENT: Yes, it is my first time. I’m really stoked for it this year.

GIFF: What do you hope GIFF audiences will get from “The Psyche of Manson”?

KENT: I hope the audience will accept the story for what it is, without any hope for gimmicks whatsoever. I want this to be an intellectual film that will develop the audience’s curiosity for character and in depth plot analysis. Just as an artists takes his liberties by the throat, the audience is free to form any judgements about the film, I think it allows for controversy which equates to a more memorable film.

GIFF: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

KENT: I’d like to thank everyone who is a part of GIFF for seeing the artistic rigor that was put into this film and allowing it to be presented on the big screen. Much gratification.

GIFF: Thanks for taking the time Kent and congratulations again. Is there anything you’re looking forward to most at GIFF 2014?

KENT: I’m looking forward to seeing the other films, especially the ones done by my competitors in the same category. Best of luck to everyone.

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