Thursday, September 8, 2016

Daily Dead Interviews Director CJ Wallis

Q&A with BB Writer/Director CJ Wallis:

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, CJ. When did you originally come up with the idea for BB?

I never really know, to be honest. I tend to just have a bunch of cool ideas for characters or show-off scenes or shots floating around in my head that, individually on their own, don’t add up to much.

I was pretty into Bjork for a long time and in high school I saw 18 hours worth of underground Hi-8 tapes of a kid named Ricardo Lopez who filmed himself over a year having conversations to the camera about his love for Bjork while progressively, and successfully, building an acid bomb hidden in a book for her. He filmed and timed his own suicide with when she was meant to open the book herself.

I met cam-model Jennifer Mae and the more I thought about her profession, I started to realize how vulnerable and terrifying it could be under the surface. Coupled with my fascination with people’s theories about being able to hack into embedded cell-phone or laptop cameras and add Ricardo Lopez to the gumbo and all those chunks rapidly form and became Megazord-like.

A few days later, the script was done. A month after that, we were filming.

What was your shooting schedule like for this film?

I had rented a house in the Hollywood Hills for only 12 days and had no way to afford more time. My two crew members John Sovie & Russ Matoes got caught in horrible New York blizzards and it looked like they might not make it at all, which - outside of human concern for another’s welfare - was a major issue because they had the camera and lights.

Shooting daily documentary content the last several years, if forced, I can usually get the shots I want in one or two takes, plus you can knock the head off most production problems in the writing stage so, despite losing three days, once we thawed out the crew and camera we still knocked it out fairly easily.

What type of atmosphere does the soundtrack add to BB?

Having lived in the New Orleans hip-hop world the last few years, I was introduced to a city with countless talented artists. Outside the legends and recognizable names, you can discover people like Mother Marygold who deserves to be in everyone’s ears, and my only way to scream that to the world is put a ton of her music all over my film.

Her voice is unlike anyone else and the contrasting tones of her vibe bouncing off of mainstream artists like Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y or Lil Wayne make the film have a sound that I truly believe is unlike anything you’ve ever heard before in the genre.

Were there any films or music that influenced or inspired you while making BB?
The film that changed my mindset and methods for a very long time was Dancer In The Dark, which is one of those polarizing pictures you passionately love or hate.

But that quiet threat that hovers over that film and the jump-cut editing style slowly sucks you in and you don’t realize how bad everything’s got until everything’s already irreversible.

Same thing with films like Boogie Nights. Eddie Adams in desperation becomes Dirk Diggler and somehow we end up coked out in a drug den watching Molina go batshit when it felt like we were just dancing in the disco.

The descent and dissolve into their hells are subtle and pictures that evolve that way were always the ones I tend to go back to and re-watch the most.

What was it like working with your cast on this film? Had you collaborated with any of them before this movie?

Jen paid and flew herself out to New Orleans for a couple days in December to shoot a teaser trailer to upload and build hype in the meantime of having actual footage.

Outside of that, I had never met any of the actors or people involved in real life before. I had met Kristian online from both existing with the genre and told him I was making the film and he offered to come out and help and introduced me to John and Russ.

I’m used to working as a one-man crew on most of my no-budget content, so having them made everything go twice as fast, so even if there was a figuring-each-other-out process, it didn’t take long to get into sync.

Looking back at your time on set, is there a funny or favorite moment in particular that stands out?

When we went to the warehouse to pick up the mannequins, Kristian came out from behind this wall holding a mini-mannequin doll and laughed: “It’s Hal’s son.”

I had seen the documentary Marwencol about a guy who got beaten and came out of a coma with PTSD and he started painting GI JOE’s in his backyard and created a massive plastic reality where real people from the neighborhood were replicated in his scenes. He’d make his character fall in love with the check-out lady at the grocery store or whatever, and he’d bring these people over and show them these things.

So the joke ended up triggering a cool way to add another layer to Hal’s world. I said all that to say; we didn’t tell Jen anything about it, so when you see her reaction, it is as real as it gets.

Would you be interested in returning to the world of BB in a potential sequel?
It usually takes so long to research the idea and write it, convince people to invest and come out and film it, then edit and mix and market it, then spend weeks reaching out to get it seen/sold. You can spend 3-5 years easily within the world of that film. If you can’t get it out of your system in that amount of time, then it’s probably time to trade in the Red Cam for the webcam and pick out your adult-alias.

With BB available on BitTorrent Now, what projects do you have on deck that you can tease for our readers, and where can they find you on social media?
I’m in pre-production for my second feature called Umerica, which is an ensemble comedy love letter to high-level conspiracy theorists. There is a bigger budget, but still small, and the cast is filling up with actors and comedians you know and love.

You can find me across social media as @fortyfps, or if shit goes bad like I said in #7 - google the name “Aarow Flex”.

'BB' - this film features a unique form of storytelling using songs from some of today's hottest underground recording artist, such as MOTHER MARYGOLD who occasionally replaces dialogue to serve as the story’s tone setter and narrator.

‘BB’ boasts a 27-track soundtrack that easily rivals any major film that includes songs from hit recording artists CURREN$Y, WIZ KHALIFA, B REAL, 3D NA'TEE, LIL WAYNE, FIEND, CORNERBOY P, RYKKA, LE$, T.Y. and an original song from Montreal artist HAYLEY RICHMAN."

Check out the original review here.


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