Interview: Dead Giveaway writer/director Ian Kimble
What began as a short film project between friends soon became the debut feature of Shoestring Gold Films, a local production team specializing in high-quality, low budget cinema. It’s called Dead Giveaway, and it tells the tale of a young woman who, after a boozy evening, wakes up next to a corpse. She and her best friend must work together to figure out what happened the night which led to such tragedy, as well as who this mysterious corpse may be.
Writer/director Ian Kimble is pleased to be premiering Dead Giveaway this Friday as part of Film Block 2 at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival. To help get viewers ready for a gruesomely hilarious experience, Cinema76 sat down to pick Ian’s brain and learn a bit more about the film.
I should note that I’ve seen the movie and it’s absolutely fantastic.
Cinema76: I know artists hate this question, but the plot of your movie is so off the wall that I must ask. Where did this idea come from? How did it come together to form a story?
Ian Kimble: The whole concept was reverse engineered, really. My goal was always to take a simple idea and expand on it, but I didn't have endless resources at my disposal. So, I worked backwards. I knew I had a house to shoot in (mine), and the less actors, the more manageable the schedule. So small cast, one location. Then it's just coming up with one interesting sentence: "what if a girl woke up next to a stranger in her bed, but he's been stabbed to death?" After that, I just ran with it.
C76: In adapting from a short film to a feature length, what concerns did you have? What hurdles did you run into? What benefits, if any, did a longer runtime provide you?
IK: It's a real pain in the dick to write a short that is pretty solid and has a beginning and and end, and then decide to add 60 or so pages. Like, why do that? So the concern was primarily hoping that I didn't ruin a good thing. In reality it worked out to benefit the picture because it allowed for more antics. I'm a big fan of writing with no outline, because that means I end up trapping myself (and my characters) in these shitty, inescapable corners. The fun in that is always coming up with a way to get them out of trouble, no matter how insane the solution is.
C76: The “final girl” is one of the longest standing horror tropes, and it’s one you have subverted through inversion. Your duo of “final girls” aren’t being stalked by an outward threat, but rather threatened by a lack of information about an event from their past. Can you talk a little bit about your characters through this lens? Did you purposefully give this trope consideration? Are there any other horror tropes/styles that you considered in making the film?
IK: I love that you saw this in them. It's kind of fun for me to always think of the final girl the morning after. In this case, the true horror has already happened, and now someone else is forced to deal with it. It was also cool to explore how people act when they think they might have murdered someone. Not the shock of a car accident or anything, but the sudden realization of "I think I might have murdered this person."
The horror tropes I stuck to are primarily nods to Hitchcock. The way he made things look and feel and the suspense he was always able to conjure... I'll be trying to do that for the rest of my life.
C76: I sincerely hope you continue to chase that dragon. With Shoestring Gold, you’ve stuck to horror so far. Do you feel like you will remain allegiant to genre in the future or are you planning on branching out beyond it?
IK: I think genres, like emotions, are too complicated. As much as I love a good old fashioned comedy or horror or what-have-you, I don't think I want to make anything so straightforward. I think of people and their emotions... there's no such thing as just being mad, or sad, or happy. People are always some blend of multiple emotions all at the same time. Like someone being mad at another person because they love them and are disappointed, or hating someone because they broke their heart, or laughing at a funeral because they're reminded of their dead best friend's favorite joke. It's beautifully intricate. This is a very long and rambling answer. I'm sorry. Short answer: no, I'm not going to stick to horror. I think my next movie will be a love story, in fact.
C76: I’ve known you for a long time, and you’ve been making movies since day one. Nowadays, the tools required for filmmaking are ubiquitous. We all have powerful shooting and editing software in the literal palms of our hands. There are more opportunities for exhibition than ever before. Producing and exhibiting a high quality film on a meager budget is easier than it’s ever been (although never outright easy). Can you talk about your experience of being a filmmaker during such a momentous shift in the medium?
IK: Yes! I tell people this all the time. There's no excuse to not make movies anymore. It really isn't that hard. If you are good at organizing some things and you can focus on a project for a month, you can make a movie! That being said, it's way harder to get noticed than it was in the early 90's. Back then, you had to know your shit because you had to shoot on film. Nowadays it's hard for the cream to rise to the top because there's such an infinite amount of content. The only way to get ahead is to make something really good, and the only way to do that is to get good at taking criticism. For instance, when I'm writing something I only give the script in it's early stages to people who I know won't bullshit me. I don't want to hear "great job!" — I want to hear what works, what doesn't, why they think that. People who want to take this seriously get too caught up in their personal bubble of their moms and friends telling them that they're the greatest thing since Spielberg. It just isn't so. So it's rad because now people simply have to work harder. Most people quit, so just don't quit and work harder than everyone else. I'm rambling again. These are just good questions. Let's have a beer soon.
C76: I believe we’ll be getting more than a few beers on Friday. Let’s close with something fun. You have a blank check with which to remake any film. What do you remake?
IK: Frankenstein, but in my own little way. I've always wanted to make a Frankenstein-type movie. One day I will.
C76: I can’t wait to see it.