I NEED HIS BLOOD FOR MY POISONS was the winner of BEST FILM at the August 2021 COMEDY Film Festival.
1. What motivated you to make this film?
It’s always bothered me to see people communicating so darn poorly on the internet. For all the wonderful and hilarious things that get posted in the comments sections of certain websites, those places still live up to their reputation as the internet’s cesspool. Folks get in arguments over the most trivial matters, make wild assumptions about the other person, and by the end, they can be completely at each others’ throats, with baseless accusations flying fast and furious — and it’s just like… why? Why are you treating each other like this?!
This April, I was browsing Reddit (the self-appointed “front page of the internet”), and I happened upon a funny anecdote a parent shared about their diabolical children. One of their boys got a bloody nose, and their other kid had taken his brother’s blood-stained clothes and put them into a cooking pot to brew “poisons.” A hilarious little tale, and knowing how twisted kids can be, it was completely believable. But someone else in the comments didn’t think so, and figured the poster was doing it all for internet attention. They dismissed the story as a fake, with the old sarcastic standby: “That Happened.”
I made the choice to respond to them, to ask why they chose to say this. What followed was… well, the entirety of this movie covers that pretty well.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?
One week. Time lost a bit of its meaning because I foolishly walked into a challenge from my conversation partner to get the entire thing finished in an unreasonably short timeframe… and didn’t really sleep so well for several days (neglecting health, work and relationships). So yeah, everything from the timespan of the Reddit argument starting, to the seed of the idea planting mid-fight, to the moment I finished uploading the finished film documenting it all to YouTube, all happened in one week.
3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?
Hmm… Argumentative therapy.
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The timeframe. When I got permission from my future pen-pal to turn our ongoing argument into a finger puppet show, I didn’t realize how much they would hold me to my throwaway remark about trying to finish it by the end of the week. They HOUNDED me, for days afterward, demanding progress updates and asking where the puppet show was. And strangely, that sense of skepticism is what fueled me to go all-out, to an unreasonable scale. Instead of doing a straight adaptation of the argument, a large amount of improv was added to cover the meta-narrative of this person harassing me, which amused me to no end. I was making this entire film for an audience of one: this wacky stranger I had never met.
There were also a lot of technical hurdles. The absurd ending (set in a metaphorical packed theater) required so many layers of puppets that the final VFX shot had about 50 layers of raw video (all shot in 4K, for some damned reason), with chroma keying and… it absolutely brought my editing system to its knees. Just absolutely humbled that poor computer. The video ended up needing a little more time, so it got uploaded a day later than it was “supposed to,” but… the guy liked it a lot, so he cut me some slack there.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Oh, it was super fulfilling. Hearing people say “oh yeah this is exactly what Reddit is like” and commenting about how this film makes them think about the social dilemmas we find ourselves in — was very validating. I’m so glad that the things that bother me deeply (like poor communication, cyberbullying, and “othering” the folks we don’t believe or understand) are issues that also resonate with much of the world. Also wow, everyone had something so nice to say about this! That was lovely.
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I was young, maybe 7 years old when my mom (a school librarian) borrowed a VHS camcorder from her school’s media department to bring home for the summer, and it opened up an entire world of creative expression. I’ve had other passions, but from the moment I discovered what it meant to me, I’ve never left filmmaking behind. It is one of the most potent, accessible mediums I’ve ever found for conveying core values and trying to “change the world” through art. Every year I feel like I discover at least one movie that brings me great inner peace, healing, and meaning during times of turmoil, and I would love to contribute a few films like that to the world before I’m done.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Ooooh, hmm… I’m not certain. Maybe Young Frankenstein, maybe Toy Story, maybe Weird Al Yankovic’s UHF, maybe O Brother Where Art Thou… wait, no! If this counts, it’s definitely the TV special “Blackadder’s Christmas Carol.” My household watched it every Christmas for a good 20 years. It’s a treasure.
8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?
FilmFreeway is a godsend for one-man-band writer/director/producer filmmakers like me, who don’t have the resources to hire a publicist or the time to take care of keeping track of all the festival communications in my inbox (and delivering screening copies). It’s just very automated and straightforward. So thank you for being you, FilmFreeway. You’ve done a darn good job.
9. What is your favorite meal?
A darn good sandwich, like roast beef with havarti and some fresh microgreen sprouts? There’s a co-op grocery off I-5 at this little town of Mount Vernon that has had, like… consistently, the most fantastic ready-made sandwiches I’ve ever had. It’s so good. Everyone should have one. So right now I’d say that’s my favorite meal. Pair that with some Sun Chips and a raspberry Mama Chia kombucha and it’s sure to make my body happy (and repulse my best friend in the process — fun bonus)!
10. What is next for you? A new film?
Yes. A few! This finger puppet short has turned into the first installment of a “Finger Feuds” Web Series. I’ve already started working on a few follow-ups, all of which involve dramatizing internet conversations that go off the rails, from disastrous celebrity “Ask Me Anything” Reddit threads, to wacky scammers failing to land a catch, to “nice guy” incels cluelessly repelling the opposite sex. And oh my word, I cannot wait to share all of these. Working on them just makes me brim with joy. It’s so much fun.
There are some larger projects brewing too. I’ve got a uplifting supernatural horror/comedy feature I’ve written with my longtime creative partner Austin Hillebrecht, and a totally different finger puppet series that’s like a comedic mystery action-adventure show that I’m hoping to unveil next year — but we’d like it to find a home on a more premium network, not just making it on a shoestring budget for YouTube like we normally have done.
I’m also gonna try my hand at some dormant artforms I left behind. I’m a pianist and avid composer and it’s been 15 years since I’ve made an album. Been really feeling the need to get a couple more of those out in the near future.