Not very long ago, I saw an indie film that truly stood out from the rest I was reviewing, namely "Dreadful" (Read my review.), and it sort of blew my mind! I haven't seen anything like it in recent memory and it just stuck with me, to the point where I had to know more! The man behind this interesting piece of cinema is a one Kipp "Poe" Speicher, an aspiring indie film maker who's out to show the world how movies should be made. Kipp puts his heart and soul into his projects and openly dislikes the way Hollywood works these days. (Don't we all though?) He's truly passionate about film making and he had some mighty interesting things to say on the subject.
* * *
Before we get down to the nitty gritty Kipp, could you please introduce yourself to our readers and give us all a little background on your film making career, your other interests, and your inspirations for becoming an indie film maker?
Since I was a young I have always wanted to, in some way, show the stories I had running through my head. I tried writing a book and even thought of doing a graphic novel, but then I realized I can't draw worth a crap. But I still do story board most of my stuff out but not many see that portion of the process. But with the technology the way it is. It is a dream come true to shoot edit and burn to DVD, all at an affordable price!
I am very much into music. I collect all types and I draw much inspiration from music. I can just hear one line of lyrics and start visualizing an entire movie! I just really want to be original with my story telling and give the audience something new and hasn't been done over and over.
Right on Kipp! Truthfully I think people the world over are ready to see something new and original for a change. We're all becoming pretty jaded toward all the remakes and prequels that are coming out. And speaking of new and original, your film "Dreadful" has a very distinct visual and narrative style: you shot in black and white, though you curiously inserted the color red into several shots. (i.e. We see a red rose, a guy wearing a red shirt, and of course red blood.) Also, in "Dreadful" there is not a single line of dialogue uttered. While this did frustrate me a bit at first, the more I thought about it, the more I figured that you did this for artistic reasons and wanted your film to be left open for interpretation. Is that sort of what you were going for? Also, how did you develop your visual style for your movie, and what film makers (or films), if any, inspired said style?
Dreadful is a story that has been kicking around in my head for years! Before I even had a camera, I had most of it story boarded and it was a very big accomplishment to finally put this story to a visual media for others to see. It all started from a song by Ben Harper called Roses From A Friend that is about a man who is stoned to death for his religious beliefs. It is also about how the human condition can withstand abuse and hold off death till it is ready to die. The red roses in the film, represent that the task is completed and he can now pass on.
I really didn't want any dialog and wanted to treat it as a art piece such as a painting where everyone who looks at it draws from it what they see. I was more concerned about creating mood more than explaining everything and having a bunch of talking heads do what I was able to do visually. As for inspiration in filming, I am a big fan of early cinema of the Avant-garde period and the silent period. I am also a big fan of Igmar Bergman's Hour of the Wolf and of David Lynch.
In my review for "Dreadful," I joked around a bit and claimed that I had no idea in hell what the film was about! Truthfully I'm still pretty fuzzy on the details of the storyline. Could you please walk me through the plot so I can see if I truly understood the symbolism found within your film? (I'm not the brightest crayon in the box!)
It's essentially about good against evil. The man in black is a figure of evil and controlling people from being individuals, and he represents industry. And the savior comes and shows them how to remove the id chip to release them from the conformity. It can be interpreted on many other levels, but the main message is that hope can arrive in the bleakest times.
I like the fact that your film has a strong message of hope, Kipp. If there's one thing I've learned in life it's that there's always hope. Sometimes hope alone can get you through some rough times. Now moving on to your name, I noticed that you go by the "Kipp Poe" in the credits of your films. Is your "stage-name" a reference to Edgar Allen Poe?
Ever since I was young, starting around 3rd grade, while everyone my age was watching cartoons and whatever was programmed then on TV, I read what my parents and friends would just consider disturbing material. And one of my favorites was Edgar Allen Poe so all my friends started calling me Kipp Poe and the name has stuck for over thirty years. Honestly, more people seem to remember the name Kipp Poe better than Kipp Speicher considering not many can pronounce it right. Also, I am considering doing a movie based on one of Poe's poems.
Sounds good to me. There have been many attempts to make films based on Edgar Allen Poe's work, and not all have made a successful translation to the silver screen! Keep me posted on that possible project if you would please! Now, on the DVD of "Dreadful" that you sent me, there was a slew of short films that you made. Of the several that I watched, "Dead Bodies" caught my eye. In that one, a somewhat annoying video store customer falls victim to an accursed video tape that's sitting in the store's Horror section. Where'd you come up with the idea for this film and why'd you kill that guy off? Hahahaha! He was a tad annoying (I should know, I worked in a several video stores over the years) but did he really deserve what he got?!
I met John Leonard a couple years before I purchased my first camera, and he owned the video store that you saw in the film. We would spend evenings at the video store discussing what was wrong with the film industry and how we would make a difference if we lived in Hollywood. Then we decided to form One Eye View Productions and make a difference! Unfortunately we have conflicting schedules: I work days and he works evenings. So to remedy this, we came up with a story to do in the video store that we could shoot while he was working. It was the first film we worked on together and we just based it on the annoying customers he had to deal with all the time.
Also on the DVD was your short film, "Hitcher." I mainly checked that one out because I'm a big fan of the Rutger Hauer film of the same name. Was the 1986 thriller the inspiration for your short film?
Hitcher was a very fun project to work on. It was one of those things we spent a weekend to finish. I wrote it on Friday, shot it Saturday, and edited on Sunday. It was just one of those little stories I had bouncing around for years and finally shot it! I'm not sure where the inspiration for Hitchercame from though. I too enjoyed the original but I don't think it had much to do with the creation of my short film. I was originally going to call it "Hitch," but right after I got done editing, Hitch starring Will Smith came out and I had to re-title my film.
Damn that Will Smith! First he steals your movie title for his big-budget chick flick, and now I discover that he's starring in a new film adaptation of "I am Legend" (previously made before as "Last Man on Earth" with Vincent Price, and "The Omega Man" with Charleton Heston)! Will this madness never end?! But I digress, and its time to get back on track. Seeing as how you've built up a pretty good library of short films, do you have any plans to put them all on a DVD in the near future to sell to the general public?
I would like to get some kind of distribution with it, but that all comes with time. I do currently sell the DVD independently and it is not for profit. I'm just trying to get our name out there and trying to build a fan base for when we do a full length feature.
Aha! That leads me to my next question Kipp: When do you plan on making the leap to feature-length films? And what sort of ideas do you have brewing for your feature-film debut?
Actually last Friday we started shooting Winslow Asylum which we hope to have done by next Fall. It will be a full-length feature shot in black and white. It takes place in the early 1900s during the White Plague and it will be extremely creepy and gory. I am also working on Psycho Zombies which we started shooting last year. And I am also writing a screenplay and story boarding I Thought You Tasted Like Rain. It is a story that involves three separate story-lines going on at the same time that are all linked to an event. And if that event didn't happen, the stories would of changed drastically. It is my Sundance bound film.
"Winslow Asylum" sounds like it's right up my alley Kipp! (Gore! YAY!) and your other projects have definitely gained my interest! Hollywood could use some films like those, which brings me to this fun inquiry: What exactly do you dislike about Hollywood films... other than their predictability and overblown publicity? And do you think that independent films will become the Hollywood films of the future, especially now that Hollywood execs are looking to make cheaper movies that yield higher profits?
I'm just really sick of the remakes and the anti-originality! No one wants to take a chance on anything new anymore! It wasn't like that before, I mean look at the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Nightmare on Elm Street. Why isn't anyone taking chances on stuff like that?! It seems like eighty-five percent of the films playing in theaters are remakes, and not a very good one at that. And animated farm animals??? C'mon, give us something new! We can handle it! Really!
The independent market is about the only thing interesting out there anymore, but if Hollywood gets a hold of that, big studios will find a way to whore it out. The next thing we know Saw will have it have it's own breakfast cereal with marshmallow body parts!
Actually that sounds kinda cool. I'd eat "SAW" cereal... I mean.... NO! That's bad, I would never sink to that level of commercialism... unless there was a free toy inside. Hahaha. Just kidding! So, you've just completed your experimental short, "My Dying Bride," which I thought was pretty darn cool. What can all of us indie movie fans and critics expect to see in the near future?
My Dying Bride was a first in a series of shorts I'm doing based on nightmares. I have three more story boarded out and just waiting to be brought to life! I am also working on a short with Andy Copp, the director of Mutilation Man where we are both putting together a nightmarish vision of one man's downward spiral, that is caused by the negative media we are all bombarded with every day.
Wow, it all sounds so cool! You best keep me updated on these films of yours, and don't forget to send them my way so that I can review them here at Rogue Cinema! Well that's pretty much all I've got for you Kipp. Do you have anything else you'd like to get off your chest before we close out this interview?
Thanks for taking the time to talk with me Jordan. I hope to inspire others to go out and do something different! Just take a chance and go do it, and not just talk about doing it!
And thank you for giving me the chance to see your films Kipp! Good luck with your future projects and hopefully we'll see you back here at Rogue Cinema some time soon!
After reviewing Kipp "Poe" Speicher's "Dreadful" in the last issue of Rogue Cinema, he eagerly sent me two more films he had worked on. This was a definitely a double-edged sword though, because I enjoyed one film and didn't really care for the other. First up is Dark Wind Woods, which was directed, edited, written, and produced by Greg Laudermilt. (Kipp served as the director of photography on this flick.) This film my friends, is the one I didn't like. Dark Wind Woods starts out ok, and develops a creepy atmosphere right off the bat. And the fact that it's set up like an old black and white silent film (complete with title cards that show people's dialogue) is very unique and original. But about six minutes into the film, I began to realize that there wasn't much substance to this short.
Essentially, two people venture into the Dark Wind Woods through an old wooden gate. Said gate suddenly disappears and soon the curious duo is running terrified through a dark forest, full of odd creatures and I guess, dead people. By the end I think that they two main characters die and end up as denizens of the evil, haunted woods, but I'm not totally sure because I lost complete interest in the movie! For a short film like this, it actually runs too long! (At approximately twenty-six minutes!) Had Greg Laudermilt cut the film down to a mere five or ten minutes tops, I think I would've been able to sit through it without hitting the fast forward button. Though the film looks cool, it just doesn't have any substance and was just plain tedious to sit through. Sorry Greg!
On the brighter side, Kipp Speicher's My Dying Bride is a very dark and brief short film (only five minutes or so). It's visually set up like his previous film Dreadful (black and white with a bit of red blood) and the story is completely open to all sorts of interpretation. All we see in this short film is a pretty girl dressed in her wedding gown. As she solemnly strolls toward a pond, we see that's she's carrying a hammer that's dripping with blood! As she reaches the pond, she drops the hammer into the water and that's it! It's over! This short is the first of many similar short films that are based on actual nightmares! (Kipp told me so in our interview that is elsewhere in this issue of Rogue Cinema!) Kipp once again creates a moody piece here that is quite memorable, short, and sweet!