Directed by: David Guglielmo
When the team of HorrorCultFilms gathered around a small Laptop in our office to watch a short film by an unknown director, we did not think that twenty minutes later The Good Queen Bat would be barking out orders and sending The Bad and The Ugly Editors Matt Wavish and Ross Hughes into the Old West to find out all they could about this quite remarkable talent of this young man behind the camera! Before the two set out through this peril mission, they dusted down their skills with a quick game of Red Dead Redemption and jumped on their horses and galloped away into the dead of the night, searching bars and avoiding shooting at dawns to find the man who created the quite wonderful Damn Your Eyes, a short film that has won The Best Student Film at The Royal Flush and also The Best More Than Horror Short at the Buffalo Screams Horror Festival
We finally found David Guglielmo working hard on the now going to be a full length feature film of Damn Your Eyes and we managed to ask him put down the camera and join us in the Saloon for a few drinks and a chat!
David thankfully agreed and we are honoured at HorrorCultFilms to not only bring you an exclusive interview with this soon to be huge director within the film world but also the complete short film which all our readers can watch at the top of this page!
THE INTERVIEW WITH DAVID GUGLIELMO
First of all can we say how honoured we are at HorrorCultFilms that you have found time to sit with us and answer a few questions. Can we start by telling our loyal readers a bit about yourself, a little history, what inspired you to go into film making and where you feel you fit in with today’s market?
Thank you, I’m honored as well that you have decided to give DAMN YOUR EYES such a royal treatment. It’s not often that independent short films get this kind of a spotlight, so on behalf of myself and everyone in the cast and crew that worked so hard to get this movie made, we thank you, HorrorCultFilms.
The story of how I got into film is actually very appropriate for HorrorCultFilms because it all started with horror movies. When I was in 5th grade I saw SCREAM and became obsessed with it. I was excited by the violence, the sexy high school girls, and the murder mystery. But most of all it was the attention to character.They were so clearly defined, in ways that other slasher films neglected. When someone died, it was sad because you liked them. I felt I really knew these characters and because of that, I wanted to write the sequels.
The funny thing is, when I first saw it, I was pretty new to horror, so the post-modern references went over my head. I had to go back and watch the older films afterwards, and I’d slowly put together all the jokes. This spawned my love for the genre. I started a horror collection that filled my bedroom. VHS tapes, memorabilia, signed pictures, action figures. I went to Chiller Theatre twice a year which is a convention in Jersey. It was the equivalent of being a Trekkie or STAR WARS geek.
But my taste wasn’t strictly horror. The great thing about being a kid movie buff is that there is nothing pretentious about it. There were no preconceived notions or opinions that would hold me back from seeing anything. I didn’t read reviews and didn’t care if a movie was good or bad. I don’t think I ever watched the Oscars. I just wanted to watch movies so I saw everything, and more often than not, I liked it. My mom would drive my friends and I to the theater and we would buy a ticket to one movie then sneak into the following two. We would spend the whole day watching everything and anything, and then she would pick us up at night. it was a great time.
I think I do fit in with today’s market because I love not only the art of filmmaking but the business as well. I always think of marketing and the best way to advertise a movie. I consider demographics. I love the art of movie posters and trailers. I also wont make a movie if I don’t think it’s accessible. Not at this stage at least. I want my movies to gain popularity and eventually become mainstream. I can’t wait to sell out, because that means my movies will have the largest possible audience, and that’s the point.
The reason why we Matt and I sit with you today is because of the short film Damn Your Eyes which is really impressive and made us want to meet you, but in an age where gore-porn, sequels and re-makes are a plenty, why an old fashioned Spaghetti Western?
Some genres are stuck in a certain time period, and people believe it can never exist today without adding the “neo” prefix to it. I didn’t want to spoof Spaghetti Westerns. I’m not a fan of these films that try to recreate everything to a tee. That’s not interesting. I want to take what I like about the genre and then update it. Add my own sensibilities to it. In a sense, I guess it is old-fashioned, but I never thought of it like that while I was making it. I thought I was making the modern version of an old genre. The feature version is a little less Spaghetti and a little more genre-bending. It’s got a lot more of the traditional Western in there, and it’s very horror influenced as well. It’s also more dramatic and funnier. Overall, I think it will be more difficult to categorize, which I’m happy about.
The one thing that made Damn Your Eyes catch our attention is the opening sequence, was that intentional to grab the viewers attention straight away? The main draw if you like (excuse the pun!)!
Haha, yes that’s exactly right. I heard somewhere that if a festival judge doesn’t like your film within the first couple of minutes, they turn it off. Regardless of whether or not that’s true, it got me thinking that people don’t usually give credence to short films, let alone student short films. I wanted to surprise people and start off with a bang. That way the audience gets involved right from the start. I only had it in my budget to do one action scene, so I picked the beginning. it’s an odd structure but I think it works. I
just watched Clint Eastwood’s HEREAFTER and he does the same thing.
The main character looks somewhat like Clint Eastwood, was this an in joke so fans of the old films will nod with approval?
I didn’t think much about that, but Clint did pave the way for the other Spaghetti actors. Thomas Milian, Franco Nero, Jean-Louis Trintignant. They all had that look. So I was just going for that.
What we at HorrorCultFilms loved is that you have picked a genre dead in the saddle and made it seem fresh again, for me (Ross) the Western died after the masterpiece UnForgiven, but somehow your short film has wetted my appetite again! The sign of a good film is that you just do not want it to end, was it frustrating that you were onto something so good and that it had to end after the 20 minute mark?
Yes, I always knew the story was bigger. I originally was going to do it in parts, but then recently decided that a feature would be more appropriate. It’s frustrating only because I think it gets much better as the story goes on, and I hope everyone gets to see it. If you like the short you will LOVE the feature.
The good news for us and fans of Damn Your Eyes is that this has led to a full length version, a part II, can you tell us about it, how the story carries evolves?
Yes! Except it’s not PART II. It’s just not PART I. I am remaking the whole thing, and expanding it.
The feature allows the focus to be on more characters. It follows Sam and Louisa, as well as Dennis the Sheriff, and Buddy the bumbling Deputy Sherrif. It’s a revenge movie but it’s also an action adventure because there are dangerous people out to get Sam. Bounty Hunters and criminals. It takes place in Texas and New Mexico in the late 19th century. I was really able to just open it up and make the scope of the story so much bigger.
The special effects, especially the gunshots, look very impressive. What was your secret?
I had a CG artist named Alex Kirby. He did the the muzzle flashes and smoke from the gunshots. The blood was done with my SFX artists, Erica Nese and Jen Zakrzewski. We did it the old-fashioned way. Balloons and water guns filled with blood. But there is a little CG in there too just to enhance it. I’m a fan of CG when it’s touching up an effect that’s already there. I don’t like to create something solely using computer FX, but it’s an awesome tool to have and Kirby is a really great artist. And the girls are total badasses. I love working with them. We would go home soaked in blood. Then I had to go back to the location the next day and clean it up…that sucked.
How often did Jakob Von Eichel (Sam) have to practise firing and holstering his gun to make it look so authentic?
We caught him on set a few times doing the quick draw. When you have guns everywhere it becomes very habit forming. I found myself doing it too. He was a natural though.
The cast are perfect in the roles, did you get lucky or did it take a lot of research to find these talented bunch?
I put a lot of emphasis on casting. It really makes or breaks a film, and I want to make sure the cast is perfect before I go any further. Fortunately there is no lack of talent in New York City. I got most of the actors through websites and auditions. A few of the leads were recommendations by Angelo Angrisani who played Scott. He told me about Jakob Von Eichel and Marisa Costa. Bud Stafford who played Greg I found surfing IMDB.
Can we move away from Damn Your Eyes at the minute and ask you to name one interesting fact about yourself.
Before I decided to dedicate my life to film I was a black-belt in Tae Kwon Do. I’m a bit rusty now, but one day I’d like to make a martial arts movie and help choreograph it. I hear they are remaking BLOOD SPORT. If only I could direct that!
If you had the chance to spend an evening in a pub talking movies with any director, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Probably Tarantino. We like a lot of the same films and I adore his work. I met him once in a Starbucks and gave him DAMN YOUR EYES. He was really cool to me.
Who are your influences?
He’s definitely one of them. I mentioned SCREAM being a seminal movie in my life, and PULP FICTION was another. I saw that around the same time, and I guess it was a very impressionable age because that one really stuck with me as well. My favorite director is Martin Scorsese. I love De Palma, Leone, Hitchcock, Woody Allen. I’m also a big reader. I think literature has equally influenced me as far as writing and storytelling. Elmore Leonard, Larry McMurtry and Stephen King. They are the masters at what they do, and they are older guys who are not only prolific but consistently good. I just read Kings new book of novellas and it’s some of the best work he’s ever done. They inspire me to wake up every morning and write. I’m only 24, I have no excuse.
To surprise you by the fact that we at HCF do our research before sitting down with our talented guest, can you talk about the other short film you have done “The One That Got Away”, its a very dark comedy of sorts and shows another different range to your talent?
Thanks so much for that. I haven’t gotten the chance to really speak about it yet. It is a dark comedy, but I also like to call it “a romantic comedy for people who like horror films”. It’s a very short movie, only ten minutes, and it’s really fast moving and hopefully full of surprises. It’s about a 40 year old guy who works as a SFX artist for low-budget horror films, and he’s a pretty lonely guy,
so he decides to reach out to an ex-girlfriend. After DAMN YOUR EYES I wanted to make something completely different. Set in the present, and self contained. There isn’t a feature attached. It’s nice to get that kind of closure.
And what about this is script for a live action children film? Still planning it?
Yes I’m still writing that. I took a break from it and wrote a crime film. It’s a feature and I’m really happy with it. Now I’m ready to go back into kid mode, which is a challenge for me, because I’m not accustomed to writing for that audience, but I used to work in a video store and I would see how kids reacted when they loved a movie. They had every line memorized. I want to be responsible for that.
Back to Damn Your Eyes and you must be thrilled that it won the best Student Film at the Royal Flush Festivial?
Yes I was. That was the first award I ever won. I was pretty drunk and it was handed to me by a hot burlesque dancer wearing titty tassels. It was the coolest awards ceremony ever. It also gave the film a certain credibility. Now I don’t just have a short film, but I have an award winning short film. People are more interested in seeing the latter. It also won “Best More Than Horror Short” at Buffalo Screams Horror Festival, which was a fest created by Greg Lamberson, the man behind the cult favorite SLIME CITY. It was an amazing festival. There is such a sense of community in horror that I’m not sure exists in other genres. The support was really evident at that festival.
Finally, what is your favourite movie of all time, and why?
That’s such a hard question, and liable to change depending on my mood. But I’ve been answering with MEAN STREETS for the past couple of years because Scorsese is my favorite director and that’s my favorite of his films. It just has an energy and style that no matter how many people try to emulate, just can’t be duplicated. It’s a product that is purely from Scorsese’s soul and no other director could have made it. It has a gritty realism, but at the same time it’s highly stylized. The location is so present, to the point where it’s another character. The street dialogue is flawless and always believable. It’s funny, disturbing and even romantic. It hits every emotional chord, and Robert De Niro’s portrayal of Johnny Boy is my all-time favorite performance from an actor.
Thank you for this chance of an interview, we at HorrorCultFlilms wish you the best for the future of Damn Your Eyes and we hope to meet up with you again in the near future!
You’re very welcome and thank you so much for the support!
Visit the website for DAMN YOUR EYES as it will be updated regularly with news https://damnyoureyes-movie.com
Matt Wavish, Ross Hughes and all at HorrorCultFilms would very much like to thank David Guglielmo for joining us in the Old West and for not letting us get shot by those Cowboys with no name and an evil glare and we would like to wish David all the best for the future in all what he does and hopefully we will get the chance to speak to him again! We on behalf of David would also like to tell our readers to keep an eye on our news section for any further updates on the Damn Your Eyes feature film. For now though before we get back on our horses and ride off into the sunset, we again like to say thank you David and before we depart, here is Ross giving his view on the short film which hopefully you the reader have just watched!
THE FINAL WORD By Ross Hughes
The saying goes that “action speaks louder than words” and I think there has never been a more fitting time for that to feature here! Why should I bother writing a long review, telling our readers to watch the film Damn Your Eyes when you have no doubt watched it yourself a few minutes ago. Again thanks to director David Guglielmo for letting us feature the full short film on this amazing interview we have just done! You the viewer have probably made your own mind up if its good or not but judging by the emails that have swamped our office over the recent month since we posted the short film in our News Section, then I can pretty much guess that nearly 100% of you have loved it!
So instead of reviewing it, lets just talk about it!
Why is Damn Your Eyes so good?
Maybe its the fact that the Spagethi Western has been a genre that has been dead in the saddle for many years and Guglielmo reminds you of times of old when a youthful Eastwood would roam the Old West with just a gun and no name! I do not think I am insulting the director by saying that Damn Your Eyes is the closest I have got to those films of old and knocks the cowboy hat off last years homage The Good, The Bad and The Weird!
That is a very strange thing to say considering all I have seen is a twenty minute film but somehow Guglielmo manages to fill a small running time into something really special. It does not feel that “short” and most of all it wants you to have more. When it ends you feel sheer frustration and anger because what you have got is a dirty tease, a preview to the main event, you could weep but then you be confused with a dilemma of are they tears of sadness or joy! It may seem like I am getting a bit carried away but having watched many short films, Damn Your Eyes is probably one of the best I have ever had the pleasure to witness. Lets not forget, this is a film that was made on a mere $5,000 but you would not think it!
In many ways what we could be witnessing is the birth of the new Robert Rodriguez because Damn Your Eyes feels like its following in the path of El Mariachi, in which here we have a new d
irector who can bring a stunning movie out of a nothing budget and makes you just so damn excited for the feature film of the same quality but with a bigger scale, his Desperado that will set Guglielmo onto a path of greatness!
There is not a single bad word that I can say about this film! If anyone dared too then I would tell them straight “well here is $5,000, you do better” The question you have to ask yourself, “could you?” I know I couldn’t
There is no question that Damn Your Eyes has struck at just the right time with a new youthful audience just waiting to discover it! Last years barnstorming computer game Red Dead Redemption has created a new wave of fans of the cowboy era and I just hope HorrorCultFilms can bring more fans to a film of remarkable quality that just for a simple twenty minutes, shows more quality, style and vision than many Hollywood blockbuster!