I had the honor of interviewing producer, actor, and ex-musician Mike Rhodes, please check out Wasteland and look out for his future projects-
Me: So my first question is, for those not familiar with you, tell us about you and your filmmaking
MR: I’ve been interested in movies for as long as I can remember, either at the cinema or on TV. As a kid, when my friends and I got a chance to make films by borrowing a clockwork standard 8 camera it was like a dream come true. We made mainly horror films, well I think you do as kids, they seem easier somehow.
I never forgot film, but as I got older, I became interested music, drums and guitar mainly. This was in the era of early car battery sized VHS video cameras. We filmed gigs by renting a camera, but there was no editing, what you saw is what you got.
Then work, girls, and children happened, so another shift in my focus was needed, and that put on hold all sorts of creativity for many years.
It was only by chance I became involved in film again. A lifelong friend asked me if I wanted to go with him to a premier of an independent film.
I wasn’t used to the term independent film back then, I knew nothing about this movement of talented filmmakers out there, which had sprung up without me noticing.
Watching that film and seeing the faces of these devoted people whilst feeling the excitement of the occasion reignited my passion for movie making, I’ve been involved (to a larger or lesser degree) in indie film ever since.
Me: Awesome!, can your music be heard anywhere?
MR: Haha, I’m sure it is still echoing around some traumatized souls mind.
We did record a fair bit, but all the recordings are on old cassettes, so the sound isn’t great. I may get around to digitizing it all one day.
We never released anything apart from a couple of albums on cassette sold in a local store, one was called 99 1/2p and the other was called a short pain pack.
A couple of copies may well still be lurking in a dusty box in a dark attic somewhere.
Me: I know how that is!, lol, so you have a film called wasteland, tell us about that
MR: Ooh I wish it was mine, haha. No, it’s the property of Light Films. Directed by the brilliant Tom Wadlow and produced by the lovely workaholic Chrissa Wadlow. Although, I have to say I was in it and did my bit behind the scenes.
Written by award winning screenwriter Tommy Draper, it tells the story of Scott, a guy trying to survive in a world gone mad. Yes, it is a zombie film, but it’s so much more than that, it is a story of hope, survival, and love. If you want a gore fest, this isn’t going to be your bag, but if you want a film that is thought provoking, intelligent, as well as a disturbing and bleak film, then you’ve found your film. I’m very proud of my involvement in this movie, it’s an achievement I shall always remember, it has also helped me forge some wonderful friendships. All the hard working cast and crew were brilliant, and I do mean everyone, that’s just one more thing about indie films, the feeling of community and belonging it invokes between everyone involved, from the director to the runners.
Me: And you were an actor/producer/boom operator/runner, so you were involved everywhere
MR: Yeah pretty much, haha. I was kept pretty busy, which is what I love. I was also the voice of the TV reporter, did a bit of foley, driver, helped the extras get to where they were supposed to be, got release forms signed, all sorts. I am a jack of all trades and a master of none, I suppose, haha.
Me: Awesome!, and before this, you made 2 shorts?
MR: Yeah that’s right, caught in the headlights by Chris Bevan was the second film in which I had a minor, but important, role as the voice of a man who had been having an affair with the main character’s wife. Thankfully the audience doesn’t get to see me.
The short comedy Shelf stackers was a three day shoot, I loved it, it was my first taste of proper indie filmmaking. We had an intense schedule of very early starts coupled with very late finishes, but it was magical. Again, I had to wear a few different hats on this shoot too, set builder, runner, props, and assistant to the very talented Sophie Black.
I again met some brilliant people, the DP was Neil Oseman, who is a wonderful cinematographer and is extremely knowledgeable, you should all check out his YouTube channel. I think indie film is all about the people who make it happen, they are the lifeblood of creativity. After all, indie film is the future of cinema.
Me: You seem to do alot of running around and assisting, so you mentioned checking out his YouTube, what’s Neil’s channel?, and do you have anything on YouTube?
MR: I keep meaning to, but I never seem to get chance to do it, one day I will. I have ideas and projects I want to do at some point, but for now, it’s a bit hush hush and on the back burner. I shall let you know as and when anything changes.
Neil Oseman can be found by just typing in his name on YouTube or look at this Stop/Eject: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA99EC1B2D79F7008 for an idea of what he’s about.
Me: Awesome!, so according to your IMDB, you’re married to an author, any chance of her turning any of her books into a movie?
MR: I really do hope so. Nikki is a wonderful writer with a vivid imagination. She has fourteen fantasy novels under her belt at the moment, eight of which are a series about the adventures of Tamara Black, any of which would make a fantastic film, if given to the right director.
If the lottery ever manages to pick the same numbers as those on my ticket, then I would love to make these films and do them justice. Take a look and see what you think-
Me: Very awesome!, but it would take a bit of money to make?
MR: Yeah, I would expect so, most fantasy films do. Anything with weird and wonderful creatures, alternate universes, and a time skipping storyline tend to cost a bit, but if possible, I’d like to do it with as little CGI as possible, in fact, none would be great. I love the lo-tech approach to this kind of film, if it could be done well enough to be convincing.
Me: Well we definitely look forward to seeing what happens!, would that be your dream project?
MR: For the moment, yes. It would consist of eight films, so like the Harry Potter series, but better and longer. That would keep me busy for the next few years, but I have other ideas as I said earlier, smaller projects, but still quite exciting.
I also enjoy watching talent grow and mature, there are loads of young filmmakers out there that are so exciting to see and watch make their brilliant contributions. I think if Mr Lotto did come calling at my door, I’d like to do more to help these young people realize their dreams.
Me: So your dream production company would cultivate newcomers?
MR: Absolutely. If money and freedom would permit, I’d love to enable young people to follow their dream and to bring in other like minded people to help them achieve it.
In my home town of Derby (UK), we have a big indie film community and an independent cinema that is happy to display these films on the big screen, it’s a great way to get everyone including the public involved. Films are shown regardless of age etc, I wish this had been around when I was a kid.
Me: Definitely sounds like an awesome place!
MR: I think Derby on the whole is a good place to be for indie filmmakers at the moment. It has lots to offer as well as being on the doorstep of the beautiful peak district national park. If you want dramatic landscapes, it has pretty much all you could want. Parts of Wasteland were filmed there.
Me: Awesome!, so back to wasteland, where was that filmed there?, and where can people watch it?
MR: Wasteland was filmed in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. The main interior set (Scott ‘s shack) was built and filmed in Tom’s (Wadlow) garage. It was absolutely freezing in there, as most of the interior scenes were done in the winter, but the exterior shots were amongst others along Derby’s city streets and areas of abandoned buildings. One location was on the land of a lovely holiday guest accommodation in the peak district, they were brilliant and didn’t mind us walking around covered in blood with various limbs missing, haha.
The film went to cannes and got a great response. It has it’s DVD Release in the USA next month I believe and talks are ongoing as to it’s UK/Worldwide release. Keep checking out Light Films and Wasteland on Facebook and Twitter and also go check http://www.lightfilms.co.uk for updates and more information.
Me: I look forward to seeing it next month than!, lol, is there anything else your fans would be interested in knowing?
MR: Yes. Watch out for a Derby filmmaker named Lucy Young. At only 18 yrs old, she has made quite a collection of films.
I’ve been watching her films for a couple of years and she is very imaginative and has progressed at a great pace.
This prolific filmmaker will be big news one day soon I believe. Keep your eyes peeled. Remember where you heard the name first.
As for me, I’m going to keep on tweeting the projects that excite me. Like Lucy Young’s new film, and The Evil Twins @LadyLunaWolf @Missy_Poison1 with Vampire Coven Movie, both of which have just finished their campaigns on a crowdfunding site. I Wish all the girls the best of luck with those films. I shall also be working on new ideas and looking forward to future collaborations.
Me: Hopefully you’ll be able to work with them someday!, thank you so much for this interview!
MR: I hope so, and many others too. As I said, indie film is the future of cinema, and I truly believe that.
Thank you Bryan, it’s been a pleasure talking to you.