Last week we posted our review for My Master Satan: 3 Tales of Drug Fueled Violence. A day or two before that, I sat down with director Dakota Bailey for a few words about his killer debut feature.
L24: Alright a couple basic questions. I usually do interviews one question at a time so it will be a conversational method. No need to worry about grammar or spelling, I will go through all that later on. Two base questions, how old are and where are you from? In your own words, tell us a bit about your new film.
DB: I turned 21 this April. I am from Denver, Colorado. My new film My Master Satan: 3 Tales of Drug fueled Violence is a shot on VHS horror/trash/dark humor film that features three stories revolving around serial killer/druggie Alister & his equally demented friends.
L24: What would you say were your key influences for becoming a filmmaking? I know you made some shorts before MMS. Can you tell us a little about those and what it was like going from shorts to features?
DB: I have many influences, but when I go into a project I have a vision of what I want it to be & just do my own thing. I made two short films with Matt. “Scumbags A Day in the Life of a Drug Dealer”, I was only like 18 or 19 when we made that. It played at the Oriental Theater in Denver, & then a local TV station in Denver played it for 3 months, so it got us a lot of exposure. You’d be surprised of how many people know me from that short film. Then I made “Satan’s Coming for You”. I wanted to make a short horror film & had no intentions of it becoming a full length film. Then a few months later I went back to it and decided to make a sequel to it, build off the Alister & Bubba Characters, & create new characters. That’s essentially how “My Master Satan” was born
L24: Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process for the film. Did you write a full fledged script or did you allow your actors some freedom to come up with their own dialogue?
DB: I have the scenes written & I will tell the cast what to do & I tell them you need to say something along this of this & they take what I want them to say & say it how they would say it. I like this method because I feel that each actor has their own dialogue or set of words that they use in everyday life & they can just be natural on screen when it comes to dialogue. I have seen some films where all the characters use the same set or words or dialogue & I like to avoid that.
L24: Expanding on the last question. Do you like to shoot scene multiple times with different attempts at the dialogue and performance? Or do you prefer catching a single take to avoid it becoming to rehearsed?
DB: It’s usually done in one take because I don’t want it to be too rehearsed. I like to keep an unpredictable kind of feel when we are shooting.
L24: What was your shooting schedule like?
DB: The scenes with Wild Willy & Chuck were scheduled ahead of time. The scenes with Bubba & Charlie would happen when they’d come to my place & I would say “ok, today were gonna shoot” & we would shoot. It was very sporadic.
L24: Would you say the actors had a major impact on the way the film’s plot and thematics turned out? And on that subject can you tell us a bit about the kinds of themes you tried to inject in the film? Then branching off that, have you read any interpretations yet that you didn’t expect or intend?
DB: I would say that may be Wild Willy had an impact because he wanted to be a part of the film so I wrote the Woody character specially for him & I just feed off the vibes I got from Wild Willy as inspiration for Woody. But other than him, I would say no one else had a major impact. I already had the script of the film & whatnot, but I will say that I couldn’t have done this film without any of the actors. This film was truly a joint effort. Can you please elaborate on the questions about the themes & subjects? Like what? The theme of a life of the devil being in every man?
L24: Yes, that seemed like THE major theme within the film. Could you give us a little background on what inspired this? In terms of other interpretations, I myself took away more than I expected. I saw a darkly comic reflection of modern society, a play on religious morality and the express question of what causes evil.
Have any other reviews, or even audience members given you any other angles on your own work? Stuff you might not have intended or planned but worked out regardless? Would you say you want your work open to interpretation or are you attempting to display a singular message?
DB: The theme of the Devil being in every man was kind of intentional. I just had an idea of a story of 2 guys seeing Satan in an acid trip. I’ve heard people say that LSD reveals whats inside of a person. So if you are a serial killer or something along those lines you might actually see that or something similar. I’ve read forums online about people having ”bad acid trips” & people have seen all kinds of bizarre things so it essentially depends on the individual. I will also elaborate on the end of the film where it says ”Inside every man is a pice of the Devil. Some embrace it, others have yet to discover it”. What I was trying to say is that man has free will to commit good or evil. I think that every person is capable of committing evil & that sometimes they may not realize it. The film has a of dark comedy in it. I have seen some people laugh at the cat getting put in the box & ran over-but for some reason a lot of the stuff just comes off as funny. Like Daniel from the Rotting Zombie said it ”all come across as funny and bizarre, like an alternate reality where life is super cheap”. But, going into the project, I did not intend for the film to be a reflection on modern society or whatever, I just wanted the film to kind of have a nihilistic feel to it. As for the religious morality, that was unintended as well. The film just shows that the characters don’t give a shit & play by their own set of rules I have no problem with the viewer interpreting it their own way. I think that’s great if the film makes the viewer think because if you think about it, My Master Satan has a lot of meaning.
I did not intend for the film to be a reflection of modern society, it just turned out like that. That is a good observation you made because not many people notice that, but what scenes or scenes in particular made you realize that? I am just wondering because some people get it & some people don’t.
L24: It was basically at the end as I was sitting and thinking about it. Not to mention with all the hate going on in the world right now its hard not to relate a film about human evil to real world event’s.
DB: Yea, I agree
L24: Okay so we’ve talked a good amount about “My Master Satan” and since I don’t want to completely spoil it I think we can change topics and ask you a bit about what you have cooking up for us next?
DB: I am currently in the preliminary stages of a film called “American Scumbags”. It’s a full length film based off my short film “Scumbags”. It’s basically an anthology film about three petty drug dealing scumbags & their deaths. It’s in HD & is going to have more gore then “My Master Satan”. I have been studying up on special effects lately, so hopefully it pays off I am hoping to release it by the end of this year. Then next year (2017), I have a goal to release 2 full length films. One will be stylistically similar to “American Scumbags” & one that is similar to “My Master Satan” – just a pure underground horror film that’s trippy. But it’s going to have nothing to do with MMS. As a matter of fact, MMS is pretty much done in my opinion-meaning I feel as an artist I have done all I want to with it & it’s characters. But, sometime this summer (maybe September actually) we are going to have a showing of “My Master Satan” & I am picking a couple shorts by a few other Denver filmmakers to show before. It’s gonna be awesome & a good time for all the cast & crew, their friends, & their families to get together & watch MMS. Right now I am having fun doing all the interviews, making friends & selling my movies. That’s pretty much why I make movies is to have fun & express myself. I also like to say I hope any kid like myself or anything that sees MMS can watch it & say ”I wanna make a movie like he did” or that they realize you don’t need a HUGE budget to make a cool, entertaining film just use what you have & make a movie with your friends.
L24: Backing up slightly, before we finish up, what advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers trying to get a feature or even a short made?
DB: My advice (well I don’t feel that I am that big yet, or may be the best person for a filmmaker to get advice from) is to make movies. Learn through experiential learning. Even if you don’t have a budget, just go out & make a movie with your friends & do the best you can with what resources you have available to you. And another big piece of advice is to not give up & don’t let anyone discourage you. There will be people that don’t like your film-or just don’t get it- but there is nothing you can do about it. Just keep making movies, don’t give up & be persistent.
Our conversation actually continued on for a little bit after this but most of it didn’t pertain specifically to film or this conversation so we decided to call this the end until we talk again for his next film. My Master Satan: 3 Tales of Drug Fueled Violence is currently available on DVD for just $5.99