Directed and produced by Corey Asraf and John Swab, Let Me Make You a Martyr makes its world premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival tonight (July 22) --- and it's a sold-out show. From the clamoring of Marilyn Manson fans I've overheard dying for tickets, I wouldn't be surprised if a second screening is added. However, but that's purely speculation.
This film seems like it would be one that you go almost "cold" into --- knowing only the basics and letting the tale unwind, unfurling lots of surprises. Let Me Make You a Martyr tells the story of two backwoods adult children who end up falling in love in middle America --- and then plan on killing their abusive, adoptive crime boss father. Along the way, there's a secretive and blind priest, a missing child, and a reclusive hit man (Marilyn Manson). Sam Quartin and Sons of Anarchy actors Mark Boone Jr, and Niko Nicotera also co-star.
We caught up with co-directors Asraf and Swab for a quick bullet round of questions.
The film sounds like an intense and violent family drama; were there any real-life events that influenced the story?
Corey Asraf: The story originated from personal experiences. All the characters are derived from real people from the past. Over time, the story became its own, though the lineage of it all is very real.
How did the story influence the cinematography and score?
John Swab: Our DP Jeff Melanson, and our composer Gingger Shankar are both extremely gifted. Every character in the story has a darkness about them, some more than others. We incorporated that element of darkness into the cinematography to drive that narrative. We selectively shot on both 16mm (sometimes on expired film) as well as digital. In the editing room, it was useful to always have the organic grit and character of the 16mm to fall back on when you really wanted to get dirty. We chose to shoot the film anamorphic, andd we used the format to subtly capture the sweeping beauty of the midwestern landscape. The score is understated through most of the film, we used many Indian instrument from Gingger's personal collection which resulted in quite a unique score juxtaposed against the gritty midwestern landscape.
How did you get Marilyn Manson for the hit man role?
CA: Through Mark Boone Junior. Our lead actress, Sam Quartin, had worked with Boone prior to the film. Two days before shooting, we hadn't casted the part. Manson called 48 hours before principal photography --- and was in. He loved the script and the character as written; we couldn't have planned for what he brought to the story, and we are forever grateful.
What was it like working with Manson?
JS: We both grew up listening to his music. We saw the way he challenged the world around him. I think that had a great effect on us as artists and individuals. To experience that first hand and share a creative experience was one neither of us will forget.
What were your most memorable moments of working on this set?
CA: Overall just seeing how each actor brought a new element to what we had been dreaming of for ten years was surreal. There is actually quite a lot of improve throughout the film, a lot of it was quite entertaining to watch.
What are you working on next?
JS: We're both in the process of writing and developing our own material. The stories range from sci-fi allegories to 80s crime dramas. A lot of times, its not entirely up to the filmmaker to decide what will get funded or picked up. We can tell you this though --- we have no shortage of ideas! At the moment we are busy ushering our baby (the martyr) into the world.