A mystery develops when a dangerously in-debt conman manipulates his psychic wife to see a premonition that can dig them out of debt. When they begin blackmailing a wealthy businessman, their own futures become as deadly as their mark.
Produced by: Jay Holben, Kelly Stuart, Seamus Dever, Jamie Neese
Cast: Seamus Dever, Haley Strode, Brianna Brown, Don Harvey, Bruno Gunn
7 questions with Mindgame director, Jamie Neese at the half-way mark.
Wednesday, May 31st, 2017
1Hey Jaime! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First, what was the initial seed that inspired you to make Mindgame? I'm a huge fan of the Night Gallery television show from the 70s and Film-Noir movies. I wanted to combine both genres , with their supernatural and crime themes, set in a contemporary Los Angeles.
2You co-wrote this film with Sean Patrick Traver. What was it like working together, what was your process, and what was the most challenging part of writing this script? Sean and I have been working together for years and we compliment each other, as well as fill in the other's weaknesses. I wrote the original draft and then traded back and forth with Sean. Sean's ear for dialogue is inspiring and he helped make the psychic concept plausible within the structure of our narrative.
3You've got a great ending for this film. How important is a good ending for you? Endings are extremely vital for any story or film's resonance, after the fact. It's the last thing the audience is left with. I wanted a twist where all the pieces were in plain sight, but not completely seen by either the characters or the audience.
4Jerry and I went to film school with your extremely talented cinematographer, Tari Segal. How did you two meet, what was it like working together, and how did you two establish the look of your film? Tari Segal is a brilliant cinematographer. I met Tari in 2008, when she gaffed for cinematographer Jayson Crothers on an indie comedy I directed. I got to see her cinematography reel at the end of that production and stayed in contact as her career took off in cinematography. My producer, Jay Holben, asked me who I wanted to shoot Mindgame and Tari was my first choice. Even though she was bouncing back and forth between Chicago and LA on other projects, she really loved the script and agreed to wedge it into her busy schedule. I described to Tari that I wanted a soft, shadowy noir look. After a couple meetings, Tari referenced David Fincher's "The Game". It helped inspire the look for Mindgame. Soft key lights with deep shadows. Tari's lighting creates a dark, dream-like feel, complimenting the psychic concept within the film. A world of shadows with pools of light. She reflected the characters with her lighting, so we only see what we need to while the rest of their secrets hide in the dark shadows. Tari's a true master cinematographer and I can't wait to work with her again. I call her "The Goddess of Light".
5What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker? It's the standard answer for many. It was the original Star Wars. I saw in that movie, the ability to tell a fantastical story in a realistic, engaging way. It prompted me to study John Ford, Howard Hawks, Frank Capra, Orson Wells and many more master filmmakers.
6What is it about film-noir that you enjoy and why did you want to make one? I love Film-Noir, because of its subversive drama. The characters are all broken and damaged, making them easily relatable. Their journeys play against a literal and figurative shadow world. An evil lying just beneath the surface. And the theme of an inescapable, tragic fate.
7What's next? A psychological-thriller feature called Lost Angel. Also co-written with Sean.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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