Short Film of the Week: Neon Killer
Mini interview with short film director Benito Robinsoni
How the hell did you end up making this gloriously delirious Film Short?
I’ve always been fixated by the Italian giallo horror films of the ’60s and ’70s (which reached their dizzy heights of violent, hyper-stylised excess with films such as Suspiria and Tenebre) and also the Italian Dirty Harry rip-offs of the 70s (known as Poliziotteschi to mega-geeks like myself), such as Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man and Contraband). In addition to these influences, I was also heavily addicted to the original Miami Vice TV show, so Neon Killer was the sleazy byproduct of all these unhealthy preoccupations. We had very limited time and money to make this film, and a tiny crew, so I had to work fast and dirty. The intention was to make an ultraviolent crowd-pleaser for UK’s Film4 Frightfest Short Film Selection, and so Neon Killer is essentially just a violent binge of set-pieces and lurid death (I’m actually a very mellow, friendly chap as anyone who knows me will testify).
The film short was made as part of a 5 short film anthology called Horrorshow, which I collaborated on with 4 other emerging horror filmmakers. We were also lucky enough to work with UK horror legend Norman J. Warren (Inseminoid) on the production, who acted as creative advisor and onscreen crypt-keeper for each story. We kinda made these 5 short films quicker than you could blink, one after the other in a beautiful flurry of creative activity that lasted about 3 weeks.
Best short film-making experience?
My best filming experience during the making of Neon Killer was the ‘warehouse crackdown’ sequence, where the detectives accidentally trigger a grisly pendulum decapitation. It was one of the largest cast and crew I’d ever directed, and everyone worked very well together. The actual pendulum decapitation took 4 hours to prepare, and only lasts for 3 seconds on screen, but the shot makes its point! One of my detectives (TV veteran Louis Raynes, who acted in Mike Leigh‘s first TV drama Hard Labour in 1973) is in his early ’80s, although you’d never know it from his crazed performance. I had him running around this dilapidated warehouse in King’s Cross all day long, and I was a bit worried I’d kill him with all the exertion (he survived the ordeal thank god).
Worst short film-making experience?
The worst filming experience was the police precinct shoot. It was our last shoot and everyone was shattered. The crane operators didn’t arrive until 11:30pm and we only had enough cash to pay them for 60 minutes’ work. My good pal and collaborator Michael J. McCarthy was run ragged that night, and I want to give him special thanks for bearing with me that hectic night. The moral of the story? Make sure you have a full crew, so you don’t have to do 4 jobs at once. And don’t try to schedule too many shots in one shoot: it will destroy you!
Film projects in the pipeline?
I live in Qatar at the moment, working for Doha Film Institute, spreading genre love to the middle-east. I have two feature films in development, and I’m very lucky to be advised by a great UK producer, who ‘gets’ my intended vision and wants to help me take it to the next level. Quite appropriately, one script is a slasher movie in the Italian giallo style, and the other is a supernatural cop movie.
For the latter script, I have forged a new partnership with fellow horror-comedy filmmaker Ryan McDermott, whose awesome short film Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders wowed the festivals back in 2009. We’ve been working on a feature-length version of Mark Macready for the last 12 months, and we’re very close to a fantastic, thrilling final draft of the script.
We’re also creating a graphic novel of the story, which we hope will further attract interest in Ryan’s unique creative universe. My good buddy Jason Eisener (who I met when my fake trailer Slash Hive was competing at Robert Rodriguez’ Grindhouse competition in Austin, Texas, back in 2007) is taking the festival world by storm right now with his super-cool new ultraviolent feature Hobo with a Shotgun, so I am even more motivated than ever to make my debut movie! Jason’s going to become the most important extreme horror and action filmmaker in the next 5 years: mark my words. He’s a total inspiration to me, and has proven that no-budget filmmakers, who maintain total passion and committment at all times, can enjoy massive cinematic success (even wowing Sundance Film Festival recently).