Interview with Filmmaker David Mahmoudieh (SNAKE DICK)

SNAKE DICK was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the April 2021 LGBTQ+ Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I first had the idea for “Snake Dick” when Donald Trump did his first live debate while running for president, so sometime back in late 2015. It was just so bizarre to watch this convicted fraudster and serial misogynist running – and eventually winning – election in a country that had pioneered Women’s Rights. I think a big part of why the #MeToo movement took off not long after his election was because so many women were disgusted at the idea of having someone like that making decisions about their bodies – it was the proverbial final straw. I’m also a self-confessed feminist and my heart was broken by all the stories so many women in my life have shared with me about their own #MeToo experiences. That’s where the nucleus of the idea came from, then my love of trashy 80’s revenge movies filled in the rest.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Well if the initial idea came in late 2015, I guess we’re coming up on 6 years. However, it wasn’t until a good few years later that we actually shot the film – namely because I was trying to convince myself that making a movie called “Snake Dick” could actually work!

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Feminist. Fun.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The VFX was the biggest hurdle, purely due to the time consumption. Thankfully we had amazing people in Fiona Campbell-Westgate and Stephen Cunnane, and then later Ryan Wieber and Chris Wells who did some additional VFX, like the burning city at the end. These are all incredibly talented people (Fiona, for example, just completed James Gunn’s ‘The Suicide Squad’) but “Snake Dick” was a passion project that paid next to nothing, so we had to be patient, fit our requirements in around much bigger projects and let our post schedule be somewhat flexible. Also, that global pandemic thing that’s been going around definitely threw a spanner in the works. Eventually it all came together though and we were really happy with the end results – definitely worth the wait.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I watched it with the producer, George Lako, and we were first of all obviously relieved all of the feedback was positive! We also both noticed how analytical the viewers were. There were some great interpretations in there and it’s always a pleasure to get people talking and thinking about the deeper issues at the heart of Snake Dick – that’s exactly why we made the film, so that was great to see too.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I took that aforementioned absurdity of Donald Trump’s run for president and realized I needed something equally batshit to convey the level of “fuck no” I had towards it. My wife once told me something that also came into play. During a conversation about women being in more danger than men when traveling alone, she observed that male safety ultimately comes down to one body part between their legs, “which in the case of men is called Freedom.” That really stuck with me for something. I then started thinking how I could visualize that freedom in both a phallic and yet symbolic way… and here we are.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Big Trouble In Little China. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times. If they ever do a movie version of Lip Synch Battle, where you mimic your favorite film instead, they might as well just advance me to the finals if this movie’s on the ticket.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I like it. It’s reasonably intuitive. I certainly prefer it to sites like FestHome, for example. One thing that’s a little annoying on Film Freeway is the way it won’t show “true” deadlines. Like I’ve run into a couple of occasions where I believed a festival’s deadline was weeks away, only to discover the category I wanted to submit to had already closed. It would be great if they could indicate more specifically as to when the most important category deadlines are, rather than letting any category that’s still open make it speak for the others in the search results.

9. What is your favorite meal?

Pizza. If I could shrink all my favorite pizzas into little tiny pizzas, then use those pizzas as toppings on one Ultimate Pizza… I totally would.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I just finished the script for the feature version of “Snake Dick” which we’re getting ready to take out, and I’m attached to direct a couple of features we’re currently out to talent on. So with a bit of luck at least one of those will happen this year. But the next film I know I’ll be shooting is a charity short for Kids In The Spotlight called “Bully”, written by Rodney Jackson-Brown, one of the talented foster youth in their program. Remember that name, he’s a future filmmaker of merit…

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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