Writing for this magazine I always feel privileged when interviewing filmmakers. I attempt to strip away the layers behind the films while digging into the pre production, production and post production. Always informative, always a different journey/process and always a diverse degree of experience.
At times I’m ecstatic to hear that a past interview subject has finished another film. It indicates they are still running with the ball, they’ve found the fountain of film and are cementing themselves as serious contributors to good storytelling. The anticipation in discussing the next film is comparable to being handed a wrapped gift in a large box. One such gift recently received was from Motorcycle Boy Productions.
I had the amazing privilege of speaking with two thirds of the team that make up Motorcycle Boy Productions. Rusty Nixon is the writer/director and James Clayton is a producer and multi-talented actor. Blaine Anderson is the third partner and producer that help synergize with his two counterparts in creating movie magic. Their latest creation, Residue is a mind-blowing supernatural ride that will leave you emotionally spent. Having the opportunity to watch it was a hair-raising treat. My therapist suggests I stick with animated films from this point on.
“It’s a pleasure speaking with you once again about your latest film Residue. How does this film compare to your last psychological thriller, Candiland and what was the inspiration behind it?”
James Clayton answers, “This film was much more complicated to make but was easier than the last. I had lost fifty pounds for the last film. It was very physically demanding but this film allowed me to eat burgers and increase my muscle mass at the gym.”
Rusty Nixon, “In terms of inspiration for the film, I wrote it fifteen years ago after waking up from a nightmare. I tend to have multiple nightmares every time I sleep. I always wake up feeling better about my life once I awake and have learned to harness them. Author H.P. Lovecraft had a similar condition and would write horror based on his dreams. Sometimes your weaknesses turn out to be your strengths.”
Rusty also states that when looking back at the script it was interesting to peer into his much younger self again. He applied a few changes and a final polish before going into production.
The film Residue is about a detective that is tasked with delivering a book of sinister origin. His curiosity causes him to open the book and begin reading it. The bad decision releases a demon that puts his and his daughters immortality in crisis.
“You have a tremendously talented cast in this film. Can you tell me how you went about attaching some of the main characters?”
James answers, “This is the third film I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Rusty on. We had great interest from Costas Mandylor, he is the detective from the Saw franchise. He’s been following our work and was anxious to be part. He came up from LA but everyone else was local. We had auditioned many young talented girls to play the role of the Luke’s daughter, Angelina. The day Taylor Hickson came into audition she knocked our socks off. She was able to bring something the other girls didn’t. When she transformed into the demon, with her guttural voice, we knew she was right for it. She wasn’t afraid to go there. It was like two auditions.”
Speaking of demon, both James and Taylor became one in the film. Imagine the thrill when they had to spend a day for casting and prosthetics. It took the better part of the day to apply before the camera rolled. James told me it was comparable to working under a fish tank. He has a newfound respect and admiration for actors that have gone through it.
“I would practice my expressions in front of the mirror before each scene. Because of the heavy prosthetics, subtlety doesn’t work anymore. You have to exaggerate your facial expressions in order for it to register on camera.”
In getting to know James and his work over the past years, he is a consummate professional. His detective character is very likable and chambers your attention throughout the film. Taylor Hickson’s portrayal of James daughter and young demon is both frightening and enduring. Aside from both their outstanding performances, there is a copious amount of talent in this film. Matt Frewer, Elysia Rotaru and Dan Payne of Cabin In The Woods, Watchmen, Star Trek Beyond and Warcraft. The list goes on and on. Matt Frewer also had to undergo a casting of his face. He plays an intriguing boss man, Mr. Fairweather. He is best known for his role years ago as Max Headroom and more recently, Watchmen and 50/50.
The makeup team consisted of amazingly talented Matthew Aebig, Sara Huggins and Jessica Green. The transformation and prosthetics give this film an exclamation mark. Truly stellar work and exceptional creativity compliment the vision and bring each character to life and death. The costume designer is Michael Mill of Deadpool. Truly an abundance of talent. Ben Peever created their musical score and had worked with them previously on Candiland.
Stylistically this is a neo noir film. It has all the elements and is reminiscent of Bogart films, Blade Runner, Cronenburg’s Naked Lunch with whispers of X-Files. They used approx. six locations and then doubled them up and repainted/redressed them for other scenes. They filmed in April of 2016 and it was recently released on iTunes, VOD and Amazon.
When filming 12-14 days, you get to see the best and worst of people on set. James explains that Rusty is an incredibly personal director that has an amazing connection with his actors and will most likely be remembered as one of the nicest directors to work with. They had all learnt so much from making the last film that they used the same crew.
Rusty says, “When you put talented people on a higher diving board than what they’re used to, they will excel. As a director, if you have a bad day it can all come crashing down. You have to have a thick skin and maintain composure.”
The guys explain the importance of pre production and having an air-tight script. ‘Trying to reverse engineer further down the line can cause exponential problems that could potentially destroy the entire production if not corrected before going into production.’
Motorcycle Boy Productions started with a film with a solid budget. They then made the next with a larger budget and used the sales of that one to finance the next one.
“One step at a time. Start with what you have for a budget and make the best film possible. From there, have a long-term game plan and goal.”
Great advice from filmmakers carving a reputation out for bigger and better films. There are so many reasons why a great film does not make it to distribution. Sometimes it comes down to the smallest of details that caused its demise. James is extremely grateful to be part of a production in company with films that have much larger budgets.
Their Canadian distributor is IndustryWorks Pictures and US distributor is XLrator Media. This film is a must watch with a great story and astounding talent. It’s remarkable to see Motorcycle Boy Productions not only excel but succeed with every new film. They continue to raise the bar with every film. Respect!