Producers of "Black Metal" Film Discuss Soundtrack and Heading Back to Sundance
The short film “Black Metal” aired at Sundance Film Festival 2013 in Park City, Utah. This was the second year in a row independent film company, Austin-based film production company, Candler Productions was nominated to play the indie film juggernaut. As the film’s title suggests, corpse paint and spikes are abound with bands such as Vesperian Sorrow and Horned Almighty supplying the soundtrack.
Black metal as a form of music was probably chosen because of its violent history. While Norway’s infamous BM bands show no remorse for various crimes, not all artists creating extreme music live in an abyss of personal agony. So when dark music influences a fan to commit a crime, how would the guilt of this tragedy affect the artists, especially someone with a family? Writer and Director Kat Candler explores the aftermath of such a tragedy and asks the question: Who is to blame? Who should take responsibility for such terrible acts?
Before taking “Black Metal” to Sundance, Metal Underground.com watched the film at a private screening. Afterwards, we talked to lead actor and producer Jonny Mars and fellow producer Kelly Williams about researching black metal and attending the massive indie film fest. Although the film is only nine-minutes, Candler said she plans to make the film a full-length feature. Before reading our Q and A, please watch the film embedded below.
Darren Cowan (Rex_84): Tell our readers about the music in the film?
Jonny Mars: Corey Mitchell from Metal Sucks was our music supervisor. He was our black metal consultant. He was at the show. He put us in touch with bands. He answered all the questions we had, in terms of how to make this as authentic as possible. He also helped us with the crime scene because he writes true-crime novels. He would analyze our crime scene and say, “how about this or this?” He’s analyzed a lot of crime scene photos, so he was able to make ours look even better.
Cowan: Did he pick the music for the film?
Mars: No, Kat picked the music. Corey hunted those bands down to get permission. He introduced us to bands for the beginning stage for us to model. Ultimately, my band in the film was a local band called Vesperian Sorrow. It wasn’t the whole band. They wrote the song you hear in the opening part.
Cowan: Did you shadow musicians and learn how to be like a black metal musician?
Mars: I watched a lot of You-Tube. That’s one of the first things those guys did. They pointed me in the right direction, where to look, what place to look at and what I needed to listen to. I went to some shows. I’ve played in bands throughout my life. I’ve been to a lot of concerts and seen a lot of things. I’ve seen black metal music before. Those guys were definitely able to shed some light on a very dark subject.
Cowan: Yes, it is a dark subject. The film asks the question of how far one can go with art before it becomes dangerous.
Mars: This has been in the headlines a lot, too. We see a lot of violence.
Mars: Yes, a lot of the violence that has happened recently raises the question: Who’s to blame? This film asks if the artists are to blame. Ultimately, that’s what this movie is about, that guilt.
Cowan: In the end, you leave it open. Did you leave this question to the viewer?
Mars: That final scene in the short film took a long time to get to. It was a process for us to try to hit that ending.
Cowan: Did you reshoot that part many times?
Mars: We didn’t reshoot. Editorially, we were moving things around and cutting things. We were trying to hit that button as soon as possible. We shot the film in four days.
Cowan: Did you film at Beauty Ballroom?
Kelly Williams: We shot it at the Spiderhouse Café.
Cowan: How did you cast this scene? Where did you get the extras?
Williams: It was a mix of our friends and Corey put out a call for some extras. A lot of metal dudes came in.
Mars: It was quite a show.
Cowan: Are you really singing?
Cowan: Are you lip synching?
Mars: Maybe. It’s all smoke and mirrors (laughs)…We went to Sundance last year. We made a pact the day we got back from the festival. We said we have to go back next year. We came up with this project and an idea to move forward. Now, we’re seeing it!
Cowan: What’s the process for getting your film picked to air at Sundance?
Williams: We submit our film. We were one of 7,000 entries. I thank that over 60 films were chosen.
Mars: Less than 1% get in. That’s a big honor. Sundance is doing something with You-Tube.
Williams: There will be a handful of films that will be on You-Tube during the festival. Viewers can go watch each film and vote on the ones they like.
Mars: I think they’re going to vote on “Black Metal.” There is an award given to the film with the most views.
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