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A Note from the Director….

DIRECTOR’S COMMENTARY: Go Mad and Mark is mildly inspired by the Cash-Landrum UFO incident I saw on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries back when I was twelve years old. It stayed buried in my mind until one night I decided to try and find the episode that scared me so deeply all those years ago. Little did I know that one day it would turn into a feature film. My first (hopefully not last) feature film. Go Mad and Mark has had trouble finding its place in the film festival circuit. It’s not horrific enough to fit into horror film festivals, it’s not funny enough to be a comedy, and it’s not dramatic enough to be just a drama (I’m hoping that the “underground” film festivals will take it more seriously.) The fact that it blends so many different genres might confuse people. Some might see this as a flaw, but in fact, this was my intention. Everything in this movie was my intention. There’s a reason why the eating scenes are so long and drawn out, there’s a reason why there is little to no character development, there is a reason why Larlene accepts help from a doctor who grins at her like a freak, and there’s a reason why the ending does not conclude. For the eating scenes, I wanted to make the audience feel what John was feeling. At the beginning of the story, John is going through the monotonous daily grind of working to support his family, putting up with abuse from his boss, going home to watch “reality television” and then getting up to do it all over again, and again, and again, and again. I wanted the viewer to feel like they couldn’t take it anymore (just like John) and right before the viewer feels like they’ve absolutely had it, the story changes completely. It’s no longer a slice of life film. It’s now a story about a man, a man and his love affair with something that only he can see. Was it made up in his mind or did he really see and meet an alien? Either way, he was completely plucked out of his normal, mundane life and given a purpose to live, even if that purpose to live was the same thing that was killing him. If you have ever researched alien sighting/abduction cases, they are mostly very similar. The victims claim that they saw something, it has a profound impact on them, they tell people, they return back to the site where the encounter occurred, but in the end, there is no real solid evidence to bring much credibility. In the case of the Cash-Landrum UFO Incident, this is very much the case. The three victims claim that a UFO they encountered on a dark, rural Texas road one evening poisoned them with radiation and was the result of health problems that lasted many years. Although the story seems very convincing at first, the more you delve into it, the more questions it raises. For instance, the amount of radiation that they supposedly were exposed to in just a few short minutes would have killed them in just a few days, but two of the victims lived for years after and the youngest is still alive. A radiologist who has studied the case noted that instead of radiation poisoning, it’s more likely that they were poisoned by some sort of chemical contamination. It is also suspected that Betty Cash suffered from Munchausen Syndrome which might explain her poisoning herself, but what about Vickie and Colby Landrum? Did they all have the same disorder? Did all three of them just make it up? If they did make it up, why would they do such a thing? What were they trying to gain? Attention, fame, money? These answers may never be known. Today it is still considered an ‘unsolved mystery’. One of the ideas that really inspired me for this film was the thought that, as human beings living on this earth and with the limited time that we have, we all have choices to make. What will we do with those choices? How will we live our lives? What paths will we take? Some people use their time on earth to become doctors, lawyers, mothers, fathers, janitors, or priests. Others will use their time to try to convince people that they saw an alien that caused them serious health problems. No matter how big or small, when we die, we will all leave our mark on this earth. What did you choose to do with the life you were given? What mark will you leave? As a filmmaker, I am not interested in making commercialized films. I do not like the status quo of Hollywood. I am bored of seeing the same movies being made over and over again. I see very few filmmakers taking risks. People are afraid to try anything different. I want to make films that challenge people, to make people think. I think as a society we think of movies only as a form of entertainment but not as an actual art from. I think one of the reasons I have gotten so much backlash for the long eating scenes is because people are not really entertained, and thus they think the movie fails or that it is heavily flawed by a filmmaker who doesn’t really know what he is doing; because if he knew what he was doing, than why would he want to bore the hell out of the audience? But does it fail? I am making you feel the same way the main character feels. Monotony, maybe some sadness and definitely boredom. I will make the argument that it’s actually more of a cinematic approach to use less dialogue. Nowadays and in the era of Quinton Tarantino, people expect the dialogue to carry the scenes along and to advance the characters through a three-act structure and to entertain them to the highest degree possible. But in the early days, cinema didn’t even have sound. It was just images. At the beginning of Go Mad and Mark I tell the story using images of John laying in bed, the ceiling fan going around and around, and the table shots of everybody’s lifeless expressions intercut with the construction job scenes. Maybe this approach fails, maybe it fails miserably, but regardless, I will walk away happy because at least I can say I took a risk and that’s more than most filmmakers can say. This movie was made for $5,000 and shot on a Canon t3i. I saved up most of the money from working at a law firm. I am proud to say that I got to make the movie that I wanted to make. This movie is not owned by an investor who expects a return on their money. It is owned by me. I paid for it with most of my own money and used all my own equipment. I played the role of Writer, Director, Editor, Cinematographer and, along with Maria Liatis, I also helped produce it. At the end of the day, whether this film happens to garner any attention or not, I will walk away proud knowing that I did so much with so little; and you can be assured that I will be back with an equally, if not more, frustrating and bizarre film.

ALIENS!!!!

 

-Michael Gorgoglione

The Search for John’s Home

It’s a beautiful Saturday in November. The sun is shining, there’s just the right amount of breeze, the air feels fresh. Most ATL-iens are spending the day at the park, hiking, drinking cold margaritas in outdoor patios.   Most ATL-iens.

Mike furiously swerves his VW and makes a sudden, also illegal, U-turn off a small road in Marietta, GA.

“What are you doing?!” Maria yelled, exasperated and desperately trying to keep her severe motion sickness under control.

“Do you want to drive?” Mike replied. Their annoyance grew with every mile added to the odometer. They were clearly in an area that was foreign to them, with unfamiliar, small roads that seemed to lack street signs.

“I’m dizzy!” Maria complained.

Mike responded almost instantly. “I knew you were going to get sick…”

By the time they pulled into their apartment complex, Maria was resting her head on the car door, hugging herself, and squeezing her eyes shut.

“Wanna check out Winder next week?”

“No!” Maria dragged herself out of the car, and took in a deep breath of fresh air to steady herself.

Some people just aren’t made for location scouting.

IT COMES WHEN YOU STOP LOOKING

For being a short film, and Michael Gorgoglione’s first short film at that, the locations in Go Mad and Mark made it a very ambitious project. Not only were there 5 locations needed, but they all needed to be a very particular style. More rural, but not too rural. Kind of 70s style, but not too flashy. Woodsy and working class, but not too impoverished. Country, but not too country.

The most important location, where the majority of filming would take place, was John’s House. It needed to be perfect. Mike jumped in his car and searched different areas of Georgia for the ideal location. He took photos of his favorites, while Maria tried to look up specs on the houses. He wasn’t blown away, though.

Shooting day was approaching very quickly, and the team still didn’t have a location. Finally, Bo Micadelic, who plays the lead, John, introduced Michael to his friend Rick Womack. Rick had access to a large piece of land equipped with construction trucks. Finally, Mike had found one of his locations! This would be the location of John’s work at the construction site.

Not far from the lead actor’s house, near the airport, was also a beautiful stretch a land with greenery and boulders…the perfect alien sighting location. Things were coming together!

Rick mentioned that his mother-in-law had a house in Stockbridge, Georgia that may work for what Mike was looking for. As soon as Mike walked into the “log cabin”, he knew he had found John’s Home.

THE COUPLE THAT BUILT A HOME

The beautiful home we were blessed to use was opened up to us by Nancy Turner. The “log cabin” was the term we used to describe the location that would be John’s Home, but it was so much more! And as Nancy pointed out, it isn’t a typical log cabin as the logs that make up the walls are flat instead of rounded.

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Relaxing on the front porch of “John’s House”

Between 1980 and 1983, Nancy and her husband Mel built this home.

Originally from South Carolina, Nancy married her husband when she was 20 years old. She describes her husband as an intelligent man who always needed to have a project to keep him busy. He was, as he liked to put it himself, “a jack of all trades.” He started building things in high school, could fix lawn mowers, motorcycles, and cars, and if he didn’t know how to do something, he would do research or ask a friend.

He learned how to fly when he was 16. He was a crop duster pilot, flew for the Civil Air Patrol, and ran the ROTC program at the Citadel Military College in Charleston. Although he didn’t fly for the military, while stationed in Alaska, he flew his wife all over the state. Sounds romantic!

In March of 1966, Mel got a job with Piedmont Airlines, which brought the Turners to Atlanta.

In 1979, Mel and Nancy bought the 3 acres of land, with a lake in the backyard, from a friend who had been transferred and was looking to sell. By the beginning of 1980, they had begun the process of building their home together on their days off from work, which took 3 years to complete. They moved in July 1983.

Mel and Nancy did 90% of the work to build this house, including all of the trim work around the doors and windows, the handmade doors, some wiring and plumbing, etc. Some friends helped stack the logs that would become the walls, and the couple cut out the windows and doors. Using a recipe from a company in Tennessee, they even created the concrete to pour between the logs. And if that isn’t impressive enough, they did this without any blueprints! As Nancy said, “all the plans were in my husband’s head.”

The golden hue of the wood and the purposeful minimal number of windows creates a cozy environment. Excluding the walls, which were built with tongue and groove pine, the house was built with old wood. For example, the beautiful, large front door is made from refrigerated railroad boxcars, with an antique doorknob from an old hotel in Charleston, SC and probably some of the biggest hinges you’ve ever seen in someone’s home!

John's Kitchen

Cabinet with hutch built by Nancy’s grandfather

The décor of the house seems to have a warm Southern flair. Her grandfather built several pieces of furniture in the home, including a large wooden cabinet with hutch in the dining room and a stunning grandfather clock. Every decorative piece hanging on the walls has a meaning to Nancy, including photos of her and her husband, and an old photo of her mother’s family she found in the family archives. When her husband was alive, there were an abundance of airplane photos as well.

John's Bedroom

“John’s Bedroom” was adorned with “Gone with the Wind” memorabilia. Maybe you can spot some in the movie!

More than anything, the team couldn’t help but notice the abundance of “Gone With the Wind” memorabilia. Nancy was a fan of the movie, so Mel bought her the first keepsake. But according to Nancy, “it was like it fell out of control. The kids realized it was something they could buy me, was stuff with Gone With the Wind, so I finally had to say to them ‘Hey! Don’t buy anymore! I got more than I need!” (haha…this reminds me of my, very adult, sister who’s home is covered in frog souvenirs, which I contributed too immensely.)

While Nancy and Mel only had one child, she helped raise the rest of her family when her father died at a young age. “The home was going to be at one time . . . a place that [the couple] came to when the family got small, but unfortunately [Mel] passed away before [they] reached that point in [their] lives.” Nancy’s mother moved in and lived her last years with her daughter in the log cabin, until she passed away this past September.

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Front porch of the log cabin

Not built by the couple was the pool Nancy had put in. According to her, that’s where you’ll find her in the summer.

If this place were on Air BNB, it would be the perfect place for a writer’s retreat or someone needing a break from city life. Here’s hoping Nancy will take the suggestion! Maria would definitely rent the place out for a month for some relaxation!

 

Can’t wait for y’all to see how good it looks on camera!

Thank you Nancy Turner and Rick and Tana Womack!

A Whole Lot of Begetin’ and Beggin’

As we are getting ready to go into Day 4 of shooting, one thing has become clear: OUR CREW IS AMAZING!  So, how did we put The Mad Crew together?

BEGET, BEGET, BEGET

Michael and Maria met on set of a sketch comedy project about 2 and half years ago.  Michael worked as a videographer doing contract work and Maria was a working actress and acting coach.  They started Cart Reel Films, where together they created footage for acting reels.  Michael came up with the idea of Go Mad and Mark and asked Maria to be his Producer.

Working as acting coaches at The Actor’s Scene, Maria and Sanna Haynes met several years ago.  Maria worked on Sanna’s short film project 34 Inches in October 2015 as an Assistant Director and Producer.  They realized their idential slight-OCD personalities were a perfect match for running a set.  So, of course, Maria asked her to be Wardrobe Supervisor.  This was a position that required someone meticulous and alert, since we would be shooting scenes out of order and at several different locations.

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Sanna is married to Matthew Haynes.  Matt was the Cinematographer for 34 Inches, while Michael was the Camera Operator for the same project.  For Go Mad and Mark, we pulled the old switcheroo and put Matt behind the camera so that the Director could work closer with the actors.

Yet again on 34 Inches, Emmanuel Phillips was asked to join the crew as a Production Assistant.  However, he blew Sanna and me away, so we gave him a 2nd AD credit.  Naturally, I brought him on as 1st AD for Go Mad and Mark.

David F. Young isDavid1 one of Michael’s friends from his improv days at The Basement Theater.  We hired David to run sound for some of our Cart Reel shoots.  So, we asked him to be our Production Sound Mixer for Go Mad and Mark.

Michael was desperately looking for someone to help with Special Effects Make-Up.  He was watching YouTube tutorials, buying all kinds of supplies, and honing his own skills, but he was already wearing enough hats.  Lo and behold, I ran into an old friend of mine from the acting world.  Mary Claire Klooster and I took an acting class together several years ago.  I randomly bumped into her at a school where I taught acting in the after school program.  She mentioned wanting to practice more SPFX make-up and voila!

Michael posted on Craigslist to find some PA’s, and we were lucky enough to find Ravan Cofer, Chris Vance, and Kira Zachery.

BEG, BEG, BEG

When making a short film with a small budget, you have to be very good at begging.  It helps to have friends in the industry, and favors to call in.  But most important of all, the actors and crew are working for little to nothing, so you need to find individuals that are as committed and excited about your project as you are.

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We are so blessed to have this talented group working with us!

Stepping off a train from a week vacation and right onto set, David used his sound expertise to make sure we were getting quality sound.  Shooting outside on a windy (and might I add, cold) day near an airport is a sound guy’s worst enemy, but he took the challenge like a pro.

Ravan, Chris, and Kira have been the dedicated PA’s we were hoping for.  They’ve stepped up to doing all kinds of jobs like grip work, helping run sound and holding the boom, set dressing, picking up lunch and even picking up crew to bring to set, etc.  As one of the first productions they are working on, we hope that they are learning from us and enjoying their experience.  Hire them!

Emmanuel has jumped in and completely taken the reins of 1st AD.  He is the glue between the talent and all departments of crew.  If Michael had eyes on the back of his head, he would be them.  He is Michael’s umbrella-holder to protect the camera from glare and Michael’s shadow to protect Michael from ditches in the dirt.  And when Maria can’t make it to set, he is Maria…just more manly.

Mary Claire is doing a killer job with the SPFX make-up.  She is so committed that she accidentally cut her own forearm when she was practicing her ‘wounds’.  Thankfully, she’s also been able to keep up with the crazy shot order.  Make-up continuity ain’t easy!  She’s also great at helping Maria with time management…so, basically, nagging on Michael.  Hehe…

MaryClaire1

Sanna has performed as expected.  She quickly chose the 6 principal actors’ wardrobe and many wardrobe changes, flawlessly took careful notes of each change, and knew exactly which wardrobe was needed for each out-of-order scene.  Plus, she has been Maria’s right-hand man (ahem, woman) helping with anything from answering incessant questions about SAG to seasoning the chili for lunch. MattandMichael1

Matt’s attendance on set allowed Michael to be more creative with his shots and took a lot of burden off Michael’s back…literally and figuratively.  Getting giddy when they think of a clever shot and proud once they’ve pulled it off, Michael and Matt look like 2 children playing Movie-Makers.  That must be what it looks like when people are getting to do what they love.

 

We are so grateful for The Mad Crew, and feel excited and confident to continue this mad journey with them.

A Rising Star

Did you know that the role of Max was originally meant for a boy?

When Michael Gorgoglione wrote the short film Go Mad and Mark, he had created a story around a man’s family-his wife, mother, and son.  A special request was sent to Michael to consider a girl for the part.  Upon reviewing the self-taped audition, Michael agreed to see this young actress for the live auditions.  Faith Renee made such an impression on the Producer Maria Liatis, the lead actor Bo Micadelic, and Michael, that they unanimously agreed the role should be given to her.

With that, the man in the story had a daughter, instead of a son.  Now, John, our main character, finds himself being the sole male in a home of 3 generations of women.  This seemingly small change actually plays a big part in supporting the plot, since one can argue that this new family structure contributes to John’s erratic behavior…but that’s something we can talk about after the short film has been released. 😉

FaithRenee

It was no surprise to hear that Faith Renee was nominated for the 2016 Youth Artist AwardGeorgia Entertainment Gala.  On February 6th, 2016 at the Georgia World Congress Center, Faith Renee and 5 other young nominees will be recognized for their talent.  We couldn’t be prouder of our ‘Max’.

Faith Renee has attended classes at The Actor’s Scene, where Maria works as an acting coach, and it was common knowledge at the studio that Faith Renee was an outstanding actress and student.  Maria said, “not only was she able to combine a child-like vulnerability with a deep connection with her father in her believable audition for Go Mad and Mark, but she is also one of the sweetest and most focused child actors I’ve ever met.”  We are incredibly grateful to have this little starlet in our short film.

I mean, can anyone really look at that precious face and not believe her?

We’ve got a rising star in our hands!

Let the Madness Commence

Producing a film, even a short one, comes with a lot of challenges and, sometimes tedious, responsibilities. But I love it! I’ve been working as an actress in Atlanta for over a decade, so I’ve worked on several sets, be it industrials, commercials, film. I’ve also gotten a taste of what it’s like to produce by helping friends on their projects. Specifically, earlier this year, I worked as the Producer and AD for Tall Girl and the Cricket’s awesomely quirky, mockumentary-style short film 34 Inches. It was during those chaotic pre- and “in-“production months that I realized I finally found the right role to put my slight OCD to good use.

Michael, the Director and Writer of Go Mad and Mark, first told me about his idea on Christmas Eve 2014. I know the date because we had initially discussed it over Facebook chat!

Screenshot of a conversation between Michael and Maria

My initial response was basically “Michael, you’re weird…and aliens creep me out.” I grew up terrified of movies about aliens. When I was in Kindergarten, I would watch movies like Poltergeist and Pet Sematary and not even lose a wink of sleep. But if I heard the theme song to X-Files coming on, I’d run to the next room. I even recorded the movie Fire in the Sky off the TV with the intention of watching when I was older and braver. I still have the VHS. I still have NOT watched it.

Michael had shared this YouTube video about the “Cash Landrum Incident”, a story he remembers from Unsolved Mysteries. This story was the influence for his film Go Mad and Mark, but he takes it from a completely different angle. Instead of it being a story about aliens, it’s a story about a man. Simple in plot, complex in meaning.

Despite my fear of aliens and my skepticism about the noteworthiness of an alien short, I decided to tag along as a Producer after reading Michael’s script. There is a lot more to this film than “alien movie”, and that’s what I love about it. Now that we have an amazing group of talented actors to make our vision come to life, I could not be more excited about this journey.

Now, I just gotta get all this paperwork in order!

-Maria Liatis, Producer of Go Mad and Mark

The Go Mad Journey Begins

Anyone who grew up in the nineties remembers watching, or rather bravely attempting to watch, the ever-ominous TV show Unsolved Mysteries.  One episode particularly stuck with me.  I may have only been a child at the time, but I still remember the eerie story about the “Cash Landrum Incident.”

On December 29, 1980, a woman named Betty Cash was driving home with her friend Vickie Landrum and Vickie’s 7-year-old grandson Colby.  They claim to have witnessed a flying saucer.  Shortly after this encounter, they began to experience hair loss, skin blistering, and sickness.  The case remains unsolved.  Betty passed away exactly 18 years to the day after the incident.

I was intrigued by the incredulous claims the victims made and was greatly satisfied with the telling of a good alien story, but what really piqued my interest was the mystery behind these witnesses.  Who were they?  Why did they tell this story?  What really happened?  Will we even know?  These were the questions that influenced my short film Go Mad and Mark.

Mike_GMAMDirector

Michael Gorgoglione, Director and Writer

I started my filmmaking career at the age of 18 with a move to Los Angeles and an application to film school. From there I transferred to Chicago, so I could simultaneously study comedy improvisation and writing. In 2012, I moved to Atlanta and founded Rendez Voodoo Productions to embrace Georgia’s burgeoning film scene. I have worked with clients ranging from Atlanta’s top comedians to the Small Business Administration.  And though I have worked on others’ short films, this will be the first short film that I am creating as a writer, director, director of photography, cameraman…I may be mad.

As a filmmaker, I want to create stories that challenge the audience.  I want viewers to question what they are watching, to strive to understand multi-layered characters just as we try to understand others in real life, to enjoy the uncertainty of not knowing.  Some may find the film comedic, some heart-breaking, others thrilling.  I suppose one’s emotional response and personally conceived message from the film may supply answers to one’s own psyche.  I suppose.

-Michael Gorgoglione, Director and Writer of Go Mad and Mark