Scream Horror Magazine

Director Michael Malott talks about filmmaking, Directing, Music, and Dysfunctional Families…

Posted on: July 4th, 2023

Stephen Moore: So, well here you are in a distributor war for North American territory with a film that you never thought would get into a single film festival, and you are at how many festival wins now?

Michael Malott: 67 or 68. [On] a film, I never thought would get made.

SM: Since January of this year?

MM: Correct, January one.

SM: You filmed a movie in the middle of a Florida swamp in the middle of hurricane season?

MM: True.

SM: And now the movie has been received well and far exceeded your expectations?

MM: Completely exceeded my expectations. This was something I figured I’d have 300 DVD’s made, that’s the minimum to get copy protection, then in a couple years I’d have about 280 sitting in a box still somewhere.

SM: How’s that feel?

MM: Good but everything is happening really fast and just so much going on.

SM: We talked about that earlier why don’t you elaborate for us again on record.

MM: The timing of everything is complicated. We were renting a duplex and the owner, our landlord, had sold the property to a new owner who decides a few months later that she hates Florida and decides she wants to move back to Boston. Can’t blame her there. But this right as our lease is about to expire and the property is going back on the market. Now we’ve lived here going on four years, had settled in and have tons of shit. But the thing is, we’re in the middle of putting out the movie. She knows we don’t want to commit to staying in Florida another year. Especially with a movie coming out that doesn’t put Florida in a positive light. So, with the uncertainty of what is going to happen and whether the new owners want tenants we were technically in a position where we could be given a 15 day notice, we had no choice but to pack to move. We have way too much shit to move in 15 days. The landlady shielded us till the end of June, but it actually worked out to our favour cause we were planning on bailing Florida just not so soon. Now we’re going sooner than later. Come July when anyone and everyone can open carry a gun in Florida every other fucking intersection is going to be a crime scene here anyways.

SM: And then what happened with your mom? and your sister?

MM: Yeah, my mom has a stroke on top of everything. But my mom is doing well. All I care about is my mom being left alone and it seems my sister is talking to people selling them on the idea of sticking my mom in a nursing home, and my mom is sharp as a tack for her age. I do not trust my sister, truth is she did some shady shit before that my mom had to hire an attorney to go after her once before when my mom’s accountant found thousands of dollars missing from my grandmother’s estate. My mom could not imagine suing her own child and eventually cut the lawyer loose and then it got nicely swept under the rug from everyone. But the repercussions are now I’m feeling that my mom is expecting my son and I to move into her basement and care for her and her husband and I can’t do that. Everything with our family is a frickin’ soap opera.

SM: So, you have a dysfunctional family?

MM: Very true, but whose family isn’t in some way? I am totally convinced I come from a family of control freaks and manipulators. They’re selfish, conniving, and truly self-centred. Starting from my grandmother, she was a master manipulator, everything was always her way period. Everyone in the family. I actually have one relative who literally stopped talking to me because Trump lost. Seriously, up until the election, we’d debate about it, but she actually thinks he won the election and uses this families favourite crutch word calling Trump ” a victim”, and because I refused to join her cult, she tells me to take a hike and have a nice life, just an example of people that make up my family. That particular persons kid has SS and Nazi shit everywhere and she’s concerned about me? [I] thought you were allowed to vote for whoever you want in this country? Fucked up, but that’s a prime example of the bizarre and fucked up people that make up my family. Add some who think the whole world is beneath them and those who are totally judgmental of others, and one two-faced. There ya have it, there is not a single member of this family who would not throw me under the bus the first chance they got. I know that because they had been doing it all my life until I just distanced myself. I was always the black sheep of the family, I had long hair, smoked pot, was a hellion, and instead of conforming to the nine to five world and living up to everybody’s expectations? I stayed inbounds and never got arrested or anything like that. I followed my dreams and aspirations so I become the bad guy, despite the work I have done helping people. I’ve had commendations from prime ministers and even Nelson Mandela for my humanitarian work with the children’s charity I started back in 2004. I’m sure everyone in my family is hating the success I’m having with this movie because it doesn’t meet their expectations or liking. People may see me as different, but I see them all as the same and that’s not the type of person I want to be.

SM: So your household, it’s just you and your son?

MM: Yeah, I raised my son from when he was an infant to now just turning eighteen, best job I ever had and I did it as a single parent, so I really got to interact with him on a lot of cool things. We got to travel around a lot. Even here in Florida, I let him take a year off of school and we got into Disney’s exclusive Club 33 and were annual pass-holders for a couple years and we’ve stayed at every resort in Disney, we keep ending up back at the Polynesian that’s our favourite. Growing up I got to go to Disney a couple times back in the 70’s and those are significant memories for me. I wanted to pass them on to my son but in a more major way so my son & I would go for a couple days at least a couple times a month over the past two years. We’d also go to Universal and get escorted around the park with our own private guide. We created lots of cool memories. Zach [son] has met a lot of cool and famous people. He hung out with KISS in Boston, Sevendust in San Francisco and Atlantic City, Cheech & Chong and Snoop Dogg in L.A., Brian Johnson [AC/DC singer] in Atlanta, Ron Carter and Monte Alexander, shit a bunch of jazz artists in Boston. We toured several days up in New Hampshire and Maine with Pat Metheny, dinner in San Francisco with the guy who played Chewbacca in all the Star Wars films, Peter Mayhew. He’s been on a couple TV shows, [Bruce] Springsteen got the lady who owns the Stone Pony to open it up so he could include a photo of him on the stage in his Asbury Park book. I don’t know how many times he has been backstage at shows, lots. It’s cool as a dad to do shit like that shit with your kid. How many kids are going to have memories like that growing up? But it’s a hell of a lot of fun making those memories for him. He’s actually on the autism spectrum, but he is quite a cool kid and huge achiever. He has an entire children’s book series out now, like 16 books, and all his royalties he gives to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. He’s been doing that for years. In fact, President Obama actually did a homework project with him and called us an inspiration to special needs kids and families everywhere. It all started out when he was the water boy for the Harvard football team, that was his first book. He’s also got his own Kids World Magazine and internet TV show too. He just came into a huge settlement on his 18th birthday from a lawsuit I filed on his behalf and is already working on plans to use some of that to open his first business, a toy collector’s store. You know, like action figures, Transformers, Legos, Star Wars stuff. He’s got over a thousand of those damn Transformers things.

SM: So back to Bed of Nails, you signed an exclusive agreement with one of the top agents and agencies in Beverly Hills, how is that going?

MM: That is going great, Alex is the shit, he’s getting a bidding war going with North America distributors, and my attorney, she just flew out to Cannes [Film Festival] with my film and the companies coming in, like the ones who did Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Alex was tied into Blair Witch Project. These are all classics that I grew up on. That is cool, because the same masterminds behind those great flicks are now fighting over mine and that is totally surreal to me.

SM: You are getting screened in other countries right now?

MM: Italy, India, and other parts of Europe and the U.K. But that is self-distribution through my own company, Horrible [Films Distribution & Marketing]. The response has been mind-boggling. North America is the mothership and as that is where I stand to make the highest profit margin, that has to be done through a major, well-anchored distributor. We just have to sift through to see who has the best offer on the table.

SM: You raked up not only a number of best first-time director awards, but also best director awards competing against the work of established directors, how’d that happen?

MM: I have no clue. I have never made even a video, no short films, nothing. All my background is in music. This is my first time ever doing anything like this. But honestly, the credit goes to everyone. We were a team on the set filming this thing. The team is what made this film what it is. I was just a designated driver.

SM: But you wrote, produced, directed and then edited the film all on your own?

MM: Yes, mostly (pause) the end result still is a team effort and really the brilliance on the ending touch was really Jermaine Trott. Jermaine was the real genius in post, sure I pieced it together, but Jermaine glued it down and tight.

SM: All editing was you though?

MM: technically yes, lots of stuff putting this together was new and uncharted territory, true. I never planned to do any of the editing. It was way too fucking complex for me. But it came down to either I edit it myself or we don’t have a film. Really, I had no clue what we would end up with, none at all. In fact, I never thought for the longest time we even had enough footage to do a feature length film, but somehow we did.

SM: You took a whole year before you even started editing?

MM: Almost, I took a long time to learn the editing system. I took online courses, read books, I wanted to make damn sure I knew what the fuck I was doing before I ended up losing footage by making some stupid mistake.

SM: So Bed of Nails, a feature length film, was your first filmmaking effort?

MM: Correct.

SM: You had no prior filmmaking experience whatsoever, not even a short film?

MM: I always have a tendency to jump right into the deep end. I’ve never made any kind of film before. I’ve been on some [film] sets, but that’s about it, as far as directly being involved in the actual process of filmmaking, no. My objective was to make a feature film. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough footage for a feature at first and I might end up with something else, but we did good on footage and hit the timings we needed.

SM: Let’s talk about your encounter with a panther while you were filming.

MM: Nobody told me they get that fucking big! Man, the caterer had just come out so we’re on a dinner break one night. I stay behind while everyone goes to eat. So here I am sitting out in the middle of the fucking swamp, on my own, just sitting in my director’s chair and looking at my phone. Since we’re on battery power I killed the lights because every night we were cutting it close on having the batteries and shit. So, out the lights go. I’m sitting there in my director’s chair, and I hear like this sound of just something moving. You know you can sense that shit, like when something isn’t right. So now I hear something for sure and flick on one of the lights. Sure, as fuck, about thirty yards in front of me is a panther. Now, panther, I’m thinking like overgrown pussy cat. Cute little harmless wild cat, right? This mother fucker was something directly out of Animal Kingdom. The thing is like the size of a fucking lion. I mean like fuck, I’m scared. Scared like I’ve never been before scared. It’s looking directly at me now and when I see that damn tail curl up, I’m thinking that’s it. Eight, nine fucking people and not one has their walkie-talkie on. So, I’m like two steps backward and reaching for the director’s chair thinking like lion tamer shit. On the chair is the bullhorn and I like instantly remember it has a siren. I hit that thing, and that panther was like see ya. I must have spent twenty minutes screaming at everybody for not having their radios on. I just never imagined they got that big. That was fucked up. Almost as fucked up as finding out the whole time we were filming on a sacred Indian burial ground.

SM: The character of Skeeter was a very last-minute addition, how did that come about, as it seems your most recognised character role was in fact Skeeter?

MM: Yeah, Wesley Moniaci is a longtime friend of mine from Michigan who I had actually flown in to be a production assistant. Everything was set, confirmed and ready to go. Then at the last minute the person who was set up to be Skeeter flakes out and calls the day before saying he can’t be there. The entire production is now in peril because of one unreliable person after crossing every T and dotting every I. Wesley never even read the script until the night before we started shooting and he fucking pegged it. Wesley played that part so well that I’m still blown away and he is the actor who has racked up the awards like crazy. If it hadn’t been for Wesley we would have been fucked and in the end I can’t think of anyone better who could have played that part. It was absolutely a blessing in disguise.

SM: So through your own Horrible Films Distribution & Marketing, your film has hit the market in a handful of foreign countries, when can we expect to see it hit North America & Canada with a commercial release?

MM: Hopefully Halloween, but it requires us settling on a decision on who will distribute North America relatively soon. After seeing this thing light up on the overseas markets we have hit, I am patiently awaiting it hitting the American market with tremendous enthusiasm. However, those in the U.S. who are resourceful can actually find the movie available in the US market very low key. We just have it on a single out-of-the-way VOD platform and can’t commercially advertise it due to distribution negotiation.

(access for US viewers may be found through the link below for a limited time)

SM: I have heard that Jimmy Kimmel liked your film?

MM: I don’t know exactly, I know he had been given access to it because I authorised it, but that is all I really know. It makes sense with the anti-trump tones that he’d like it, who knows? I enjoy his show, that’s what is important to me. If he’s got it, it was sent for his own enjoyment not for promotional purpose.

SM: And Rob Zombie?

MM: Rob got a copy too, I sent to him myself, but again, the premise of that was here is the work by someone you greatly inspired, to check out personally. Rob and I have some history in the music biz, just slightly, but his films have greatly inspired me. I loved 31, and was far more impressed with 31 then I was with House of 1000 Corpses or with Devil’s Rejects which really didn’t do much for me. I mean, I loved Sid as Captain Spaulding. I would have gone somewhere different and less complicated with House of 1000 Corpses, but 31 was brilliant and I really enjoyed that.

SM: I also see on your list of films that inspired you, Southern Comfort and Cruising?

MM: yeah, the thing that blows me away with Cruising unquestionably the soundtrack and cinematography. You had a highly fucking controversial subject matter film. The underground gay S&M sub-culture and Pacino was fucking brilliant in his role. I still have no clue how they got away with an R rating because the shit you see in the background in the bar scenes, um that isn’t acting. I fucking love that movie because it is just amazing. Southern Comfort. Almost every night I was editing my film. I would watch this movie. It’s an old flick, but it greatly inspired my film. Again, people stuck in a swamp and being hunted, but the storyline is really great. I have a copy of that original script and they clearly improvised a lot of scenes and we ended up doing that as well. In fact, we had to re-write a cast members part on the spot at one point.

SM: It has been said that you are an innovator in a new style of filmmaking that is soundtrack driven. Would you care to comment on that?

MM: Bed of Nails is definitely soundtrack driven, there is no doubt about that. I just really envisioned the dominant use of soundtrack from when I actually was writing this. It’s pretty clear, how that worked out because the music drives the visuals perfectly. The soundtrack makes this film. I didn’t think anything of it, now it’s being classified as a new style. I kinda thought a lot of that inspiration came from Cruising [movie starring Al Pacino] and I thought I was duplicating a lot of what that film did? I’m flattered that people think that, but I see it more of imitation on my part to some degree.

SM: You have a long history with the music in this film?

MM: My history with these cats goes back decades. Seems everyone thinks that the soundtrack was written for the film because it matches up so well. Truth is, the movie was written around the soundtrack, no shit. A lot of people have no clue about that. For instance, when Sky comes back from the dead. Every indication would be the song was written for the scene, but it is actually opposite that. I’ve known this music forever, I’ve heard this shit a million times. I know it word for word. You have to remember these guys are really the innovators if you want to credit someone with that because this shit is pre- Nine Inch Nails and they may have been ahead of their time back in the late 90’s, but they are in their time now and people are going to remember this soundtrack probably more than this movie.

SM: You also have a long history in the music industry yourself and part of that was creating a charity that gives free musical instruments to kids?

MM: Instruments for the Youth. That started let’s see, 2004. I had been living in Negril, Jamaica for several months and somehow ended up creating this huge music project to fix up Peter Tosh’s [popular Jamaican Reggae artist] Mausoleum. Somehow it evolved beyond that into a resource where needy kids could get free musical instruments. We had tons of artists support it, KISS, Keith Richards, Billy Joel, Jimmy Buffett, a long list. Lots of music companies too, Martin Guitars, Shure, Guitar Center, long list. We still do it to this day for kids all over the world. We helped set up KISS presenting a child in remission from cancer a signed guitar on the Ellen DeGeneres Show which was fun. I’ve gotten some commendations from [Nelson] Mandela, and a couple prime ministers like the Prime Minister of Canada which is good in case Trump or DeSantis become president I can move there.

SM: How do you feel when people tell you that you may have created a cult classic?

MM: I mean, that would be cool. Everything about this film has far exceeded any expectation I ever had, or I could even dream of. I guess we see where it goes? I’m hoping to see Bed of Nails action figures, then I know we did something right.


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