Short film of the week: Damn Your Eyes
WINNER: “Best Student Film” at Royal Flush Festival ’09
WINNER: “Best More Than Horror Short” at Buffalo Screams Horror Festival ’10
Mini interview with short film director David Guglielmo
What inspired you to make Damn Your Eyes?
The easy answer would be Spaghetti Westerns. I think Sergio Leone is one of the most cinematic and brilliant filmmakers who ever lived. Like top 5. But this film is actually inspired by a lesser known Sergio. Sergio Corbucci, who directed a film I adore called THE GREAT SILENCE, and the cult classic DJANGO. If you’ve seen THE GREAT SILENCE, you will see the influence in this. But I wanted to shake it up a bit. These European Westerns were very extreme and I wanted to take it even further than that, while at the same time keeping it grounded in reality so it doesn’t turn into a spoof. I want the characters to feel real. Also there’s an Oedipus thing going on too, but I didn’t want that to be too distracting. It’s there though, for those who look.
What were the joys and pitfalls of creating Damn Your Eyes?
Quick history: I came up with this idea when I was a freshman at SVA. I even wrote a couple of scenes and was going to make it, but realized I would fuck it up being as inexperienced as I was at the time, so I put it on the back-burner and pursued less ambitious projects for practice. Then when senior year came around and I had to make my thesis, I took a look at that old western I started writing and really liked it! I think that if you still like something after so much time, you just have to do it. So I re-wrote what I had, and added to it, and said “let’s go”.
The shoot was a joy because I was finally making it, after all that time. It was difficult as hell being that it was done for $5,000 including post-production costs, so really we shot it on $4,000. And what you’re seeing is New York City, Fort Lee New Jersey, and a scene in Connecticut. It’s not like we could go out west to shoot this. We had to improvise. Louisa’s cabin is a gutted out bathroom on the side of a highway. The Saloon is an open set, and we rented antique furniture to fill it up. We really had to push a buck, all the time. So many choices in the film are that way because they had to be that way. If the camera was turned an inch to the right or left you’d see buildings and telephone poles. But I love it and wouldn’t consider that a pitfall. I think it forces you to come up with your best ideas. Also I had the most amazing people working with me. Jennifer Joelle Kachler, my producer, and Alex Chinnici, the DP were always able to match my level of excitement, which is so important while making a movie. We had a blast. And the actors – some of them had to roll around in the snow for hours! Luckily it was non-union. They were good sports all the way through, and everyone believed in my vision. Since we’re on the topic, here’s a link to Alex Chinnici’s reel.
Any projects in the pipeline?
Yes! I just finished a short called THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY, which I like to call a very dark romantic comedy. It was also produced by Jennifer and shot by Alex. I’m currently sending that out to festivals. So far the screenings have had really strong reactions, so hopefully we can make that a “short film of the week” one of these days as well. I’m also working on the feature version of DAMN YOUR EYES with Jennifer producing that as well. The story was always a feature idea, so the challenge while writing the short was to make it self-contained while still letting the audience know the story continues. So I decided to serialize it. And what you’re seeing now is PART I. I like to do one short film a year, so every year I was going to continue with the next part, but it got too expensive and the parts kept having more action and bigger sets, and I decided that I don’t want to half-ass this. I’m going to give it the feature treatment it deserves. So I wrote the script, and now we are prepping everything. Like I said, if you still like something after so much time…You just have to go for it.
If we wanted to stalk you, how would we go about it?
Unfortunately I don’t have a website yet, but I’m constantly promoting my work on Facebook (which I’m sure is annoying to many people) but if you want to keep up-to-date, that’s the best way.
Are you a short film maker?
If you have a short film on YouTube, get in touch at [email protected] or nominate it below. We’d love to hear from you – maybe your film short could become our next Short Film of the Week!
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