Michael Angel Loayza Jr. talks to us about his film…
Clyde French, a struggling author battles heartache in the midst of his ex-girlfriend’s disappearance. He begins to search for the missing girl that broke his heart thus unraveling a psychological mystery. His dreams and assumptions compel him to dig deeper, not knowing what’s true or an illusion. And just when he thinks he has an answer, he’s surprised with yet another problem.
indieactivity : Give a background of your personal experience with the story, writing, production and marketing?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : The story is near and dear to my heart due to the fact that this tragedy was my reality. This heartache was something that I was experiencing; the loss of the love of my life, my best friend, abruptly and out of the blue with no explanation on her behalf. It was the healthiest and genuine relationship that I’ve ever been in so it definitely took me and my family by surprise.
I wrote the screenplay about 2 weeks after the breakup (in June) and started shooting in July. I shot all of the scenes that I could with only my character in it in order to speed up production. Prior to this film being my 3rd feature, I’ve self-produced about 22 shorts (30 min runtimes) and 2 other features. Within the marketing front I never write with the intention to “sell” – I write what I’m interested in and what I feel, as an artist, in the moment. This is truth and this is true art – I feel this is essential to what any subgenre of art is: whether it is writing, filming, acting, editing, painting, composing, etc. the originality and personal experience discovered and created during, or inspired throughout the process, this is what is essential.
I do my part and stalk managers, producers, financers, agents, and all of the industry types listed in IMDB Pro, I email them my projects and links to them. I send to blogs, websites and also simply word of mouth. I hand out my business cards like crazy and speak about my films and books anytime I can. I also have gone to the movie theatre and stuck them in the door handles of cars – I try to be creative in every regard so at least this way I know I always give it my best.
indieactivity : Did you start writing with a cast (You or any) in mind?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : I wanted to showcase myself for a change. I’ve written around other people while including myself not as a primary character because I work the camera, lights, sound, direct and pretty much everything. I wanted beautiful cinematic scenes with myself in it, so I can take time, and not have to schedule, while also keeping the integrity of the film in mind, keeping the suspense and the interest throughout the duration of watching the movie.
When I’m alone the only thing I need to worry about is the daylight (unless I’m shooting at night) – it’s refreshing because people have lives and schedules and I need to coordinate around that when I’m working with people in the scene. My mom actually played my mom in the film and just killed it – I’m so proud of her – she cried in the movie – everything was just so raw and real, especially because it was her loss as well. Her hand is actually my production logo and my great-aunt’s voice is my production sound “Hello” – from voicemails she had left me.
I’m fortunate enough to have my family assist me when needed, from camera work to an opinion or idea, they’re always there and I’m forever grateful. Sorry if that doesn’t fit this question but it must be said.
indieactivity : How long did you take to complete the script? (Do you have a writing process?)
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : I wrote the script in about 7 days. I work very fast and I’ve written hundreds of other screenplays and even books. My process is usually just my own weekly deadlines. I’m extremely structured and clock my time in and out: my hours spent writing, or editing, or marketing. It’s a job and structure is essential in order to be ready for when luck strikes.
indieactivity : When did you form your production company – and what was the original motivation for its formation?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : I formed my production company 5 years ago – after falling in love with acting (something I always wanted to do but was too fearful to do), I started to write for my class and help out my teacher, and then that got me free workshops (since he managed them as a side business) and then I landed my first manager from that. And being that it’s hard to book gigs and even just to get auditions, I’ve always had a lot to say and my teacher compelled me to make one of my hysterically offensive scenes into a film.
From then on I was addicted – it became my life, something I was searching for and struggled due to the “traditional ways” of the conventional society. I didn’t go to college, I barely graduated high school and I had to teach myself how to write and properly punctuate in order to break the “rules” of punctuation.
indieactivity : What was the first project out of the gate?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : ‘Repent’ was my production company’s first short. It was about two stoners and one of them joins Isis accidently and his friend then goes to confession to get more in touch with his religion but just ends up experiencing a corrupt alcoholic priest. My dad made the confessions booth with material supplied by my step-dad – it was pretty awesome.
indieactivity : During production, what scene (that made the cut) was the hardest to shoot?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : There was a scene in the cemetery and I only had 2 wireless lights. It was 100 degrees. Cameras suck at night (obviously). It was pitch black and it was very difficult – if I had more lights to light the background it would’ve been much easier but I made it work. Again, it was only I and another actress – that was the production crew for that scene.
indieactivity : What works better in this latest production that mightn’t have worked so well in the last one you did?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : this is a placeholder text, that indicates that the content for this template must be placed between this block, to allow the article hold a firm structure and also kill time for the writer or editor.
indieactivity : this is a placeholder text, for the interview question?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : Throughout each project we tend to grow both spiritually and technically; if we’re doing our job then we’re constantly learning, growing, and educating ourselves at any opportunity possible. I would say being that the score needed to be unique for this film due to the genre-bending experience of drama, horror, mystery and thriller and even with a brief comedic scene within the film, the music had to come from within.
And I was fortunate enough to work with one of the actors, Charles Barrows, who is a close friend and very talented violinist, I told him what I heard in my head and what I wanted, and he had the talent to play it out and match what I had composed on the piano, guitar and cheese-grater (I used as a cow bell). I feel I could’ve composed something for the film prior but obviously the time wasn’t yet right. And my eye as a cinematographer got much sharper with experience and playful practice.
indieactivity : You produced and directed the film, what measure of input did it take to don these hats?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : It’s chaotic and takes a lot of dedication. Not only that, I’ve been working the camera, sound and acting in my films as well. But there is nothing more rewarding when you create something completely by yourself from the ground up. The blank page, the black screen, the ‘Fade In:’ – it’s beautiful – but despite wearing all of the hats, without my talent, I’d have nothing – so yes, I take on many crafts and have taught myself out of a need to excel in all plains of production, but it’s the talented actors that I work with that believe me in which I owe the success of this film too as well. We both mutually fuel each other – this truly makes the project what it is: trust, openness, a genuine belief and shared admiration for one and other through well-crafted chaos.
indieactivity : Is there anything about the independent filmmaking business you still struggle with?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : Trendy films that lack depth or meaning and the superficial “talent” that doesn’t have anything to say – I can only speak of my own experience but it seems that people tend to just copy one and other without having much to say within their own regards. And what’s baffling to me is that they excel by abiding by this “safe” blueprint lined out for them. Many of which purge upon topics such as race, misogyny, rape, and unfortunate things that are trending right now in Hollywood – this would be fine if there was a truth of experience or in depth thought to the matter but it seems as if that is not the case – it seems shallow and trendy; sellout-ish.
In the past I’ve written a lot of provocative comedies that go against the norms of society, observing the hypocrisy of organized religion, our government, and the self-righteous acts of false but seemingly positive movements, and it was very difficult to get into the festivals with this type of material: being my opinions. I still wouldn’t compromise my integrity as an artist; it’s just a matter of the time being right. So that’s a bit of struggle, along with the nepotism.
indieactivity : Where do you think your strengths line as a filmmaker?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : I’m a director that knows and visualizes exactly what he wants while providing the talent the freedom to explore and make changes in order to make the scene work and the film more cohesive. I run a tight ship but I’ve very relaxed and down to earth – I never want people to feel under pressure unless the scene calls for that, even so, it’s their job to as the actor to deliver it, and my job just to guide it to truth.
indieactivity : Let’s talk finance, How did you finance the film?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : I self-produced the movie. About 4 films ago I bought 2 4K DSLR cameras (though 1 of them left with my ex), microphones and lights, so the movie didn’t cost me anything. Luckily my talented actors worked with the hopes of good footage and belief in the project. I gave them all credits as Producers and also offered to re-edit their reels with the new footage, do their headshots, or help them with anything, such as an audition or even just a ride to the store. It’s more than just bartering; it is the immense gratitude, and again, that mutual belief in one and other.
indieactivity : How much did you go over budget? How did you manage it?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : Also, as stated above, no budget. But, my side hustle is being a private chef and a few weeks prior to the seemingly love of my life leaving me, the woman I cooked for 4 years passed away. So there was literally no budget!
indieactivity : How important is marketing? Do you think a project can make any dent without it these days?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : I’m just learning more about marketing and it is essential to find like-minded admirers because you don’t know the doors that’ll open. The choice is within the individual and that one person can lead to several admirers of what you’re putting out as an artist. Marketing in the area is important. I market myself as a published poet and as a published philosopher as well but I always tie my movies in because you just don’t know and it’s my primary drive. I know this to my core reason of being.
indieactivity : Can you tell us about your marketing activities on the project – and how it’s gone for you?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : Email, email, email! And word of mouth! I’ve gotten more subscribers and website hits from speaking to people that were genuinely interested in what I had to say. And submitting to blogs, websites, and industry I feel doesn’t hurt – I like it better than festivals because it’s free – and we can’t just throw away money at this point. I do see the growth, I see them clicking in my site statistics, so cold solicitations do work. Out of the hundreds and thousands that I’ve sent out, with my last movie ‘Damaged’ I landed a big interview with a prominent manager.
He loved the movie. He didn’t sign me but we keep in touch – he told me to send him my newest feature with the chance to have his post-production team to possibly work on it. I went ahead and finished it on my own but I did send it and I haven’t chatted with him but, hey, who knows. His company was also in a bit of a snafu so he was preoccupied so I do understand that too – the world doesn’t revolve around me (as much as my ego would like it to). Marketing got me here, so it seems diligence pays off!
indieactivity : What do you hope audiences get from your film?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : The shared feeling of heartache, confusion, isolation, and that subconscious and conscious fear of one’s self. The movie leaves the audience filled with suspense and the whole film, including the ending, is left up to the audience’s interruption. I very much enjoy freedom of thought, for it leads to creativity, therefore adding to the process.
indieactivity : What else have you got in the works?
Michael Angel Loayza Jr. : Too much! I love it though. I recently published my 8th book which is my second in philosophy and also my 9th book but my first in narrative fiction (in novel format) and it just so happens to be a horror. I’m currently writing 3 other mystery/horror feature films to shop around with about 50 of my other non-self-financing scripts (at least at the moment).
I also just wrote a comedic episodic for me to shoot (in one night) and I’m rewriting a horror to shoot within my budget as well. I was starting production of a comedic feature titled ‘Stoners’ based upon a short I did years ago but some personal things came up in my life and then this worldwide pandemic came about, which happened when the Chinese drank too many Corona’s with not enough lime – it’s a recipe for disaster. I don’t drink alcohol but that joke just seems to fit this occasion.
Tell us what you think of the interview with Michael Angel Loayza Jr. What do you think of it? What ideas did you get? Do you have any suggestions? Or did it help you? Lets have your comments below and/or on Facebook or Instagram! Or join me on Twitter @oladapobamidele
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