Kill Me, Deadly

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How would it be like watching an old Hollywood movie nowadays? Now we can watch a noir film with a comedy part, shot in some real locations.

“Kill Me, Deadly” is about a private detective, Charlie Nickels, who gets involved in a case, in which a lady was found dead and her diamond has disappeared.

The story has been performed on stage and almost the same cast is trying to make “Kill Me, Deadly” to become a movie.

In a conversation with The Outsider Argentina, Darrett Sanders, the director from “Kill Me, Deadly” spoke about the movie and the decision to make a Kickstarter campaign.

What is “Kill Me, Deadly” about?

The film is about a not-so-bright private detective who gets involved in crazy case about a cursed diamond. He is first hired by a super wealthy widow (Lady Clairmont) who will be played by Lesley-Anne Down.

She is getting death threats and hires Charlie Nickels (Dean Lemont) to protect her and the rare diamond in her possession. Several hours later she is found dead and the diamond has disappeared. Charlie has quite a few guilty looking subjects to investigate including the two children of Lady Clairmont. They have a huge empire to inherit and so they have quite a motive for getting rid of the old dame. The son, Clive, is a bookish nerd and the girl, Veronica, is a seductive siren who we have patterned after a young Lauren Bacall. There is also Lady Clairmont’s butler who has amassed a huge gambling debt and has men hunting him down including the well known Bugsy Seigel played by Joe Mantegna. Bugsy wants that diamond to help pay for his new resort in Las Vegas. In the midst of all this he meets a cocktail waitress and lounge singer named Mona Livingston played by Kirsten Vangsness.  Charlie falls hard for Mona and they start a love affair that will eventually bring Charlie face to face with the real killer. Mona is beautiful, dynamic and fatal. Just like the femme fatales of the film noir classics. The body count escalates as Charlie gets closer and closer to the truth.

The story has been already performed on stage by some people of your team, including yourself, how did you come up with the idea of making a movie?

We had a great time doing the play and performed it to sell out houses for several months. Audiences just loved it. The laughter filled the house and never stopped. We kept talking about how much fun it would be to actually shoot it as a film since it was a parody of the classic Hollywood film noirs of the 1940’s. So Bill Robens the writer of the stage play went home and did just that. He came back with a screenplay that eliminated some characters and streamlined the story. The play was published is currently being done all over the USA and was recently performed in Dublin, Ireland. We even saw a college production of it and it was a blast. But the film had to be told a bit differently since we can actually go to the locations in the script instead of just changing the lighting on stage to suggest a new place. Now it was getting exciting. We can re-create old Hollywood on a very modest budget. Fortunately there are places still around. We shot a big scene in the famous Musso & Frank bar & grill. This place has been open since 1919. Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks used to eat and drink there. Talk about old Hollywood. And they have not changed it much since the 1940’s so it was a perfect place for us to shoot the Tony’s Liquor Lounge scenes. It is the scene where Kirsten sings “Rainbow Dreams”. Shemar Moore plays her piano player. Turning it into a movie has been a true joy. We can actually shoot it in the style they shot those old film noir films.

Why did you make the decision to shoot it in black&white?

We had too. Those classic noirs are just so gorgeous. The hard shadows and silhouettes. The beautiful eye light that hits the girl in the perfect way. The cinematography of those old classics are just stunning. I am a photographer and have shot some other films and I love composition and framing. This has been a real gift for me. I love to plan the shots and re-create the feel and mood of the many classics I have been researching.

Now we were concerned at the beginning if we could pull it off. Could we combine this noir visual style with comedy? But that concern went away after we started seeing the footage. It’s just funny stuff.

What can you tell us about the main characters?

Lady Clairmont is quite wicked. She has so much money that she fears no one and treats everyone quite nasty. She enjoys being mean and demeaning to her kids and help.

Mona Livingston is a concoction of beauty, danger, adorableness, quick to anger, and can turn on a dime. Kirsten is pitch perfect for this role. She was outstanding on stage and she is knocking it out of the park in the film version.

Veronica Clairmont (uncast at this time) is our sexy young Lauren Bacall type. She looks to inherit a fortune and her and Charlie have some great scenes together.

Louie Shorts (who I play) is a very lovable goon who has a tender spot for Charlie even though he has to rough him up on occasion.

Bugsy Seigel (Joe Mantegna) is based on the actual Las Vegas investor who built the Flamingo Hotel in Vegas. In our version he is desperate for cash for his venture and needs Charlie’s help in getting that diamond to fund his business deals.

Jaime (Paul F. Thomkins) is the super educated gardner of the Clairmont estate.

Dewey & Jonesy are the L.A. cops who are hot on the trail of the murders and are always giving Charlie a hard time. They are both dumb as rocks.

How important it is to have some actors that made the same character on the play and in the movie? Is it easier to direct?

This is a creative family project and we wanted to keep as much as the original cast as possible. When you are doing a stage play within a company of actors you can get away with some people not being the right ages and such. In doing the film we knew we needed to cast closer to the reality of those characters. We needed a grand dame of a lady to play Lady Clairmont. Someone who could seduce you with her beauty and power. Lesley-Anne Down came in and did just that in her audition. She is super classy and we can’t wait to shoot her scenes. We also wanted to offer some roles to some more established actors and Joe Mantegna was a perfect choice for Bugsy. He rocks! But for the most part we are working with actors who already know the roles and can do them so well. It makes directing them so much easier and allows us to move quicker when shooting.

Kill Me, Deadly is not only a criminal movie, but it also has a comedy part, what can you tell us about that?

Bill Robens (the writer) took the style and tone of some of the great film noir films and created a wonderful parody of those characters and situations.  Usually they are told darkly with very little humor, if any. Bill is a genus at parody. All his stage plays have done this. He did a Posideon Adventure parody, Towering Inferno, (based on action disaster films from the 70’s) and some others. He just loves playing with those genres. What is usually played dramatically he twist and makes funny. But in a very loving way. It is played straight not jokey. It is a great blend.

You have already filmed a part of the movie, what do you need to continue making it?

We have a large chuck of the cash needed to complete it but we still need a bit more to pay for it all. Doing a period piece is expensive. We have to build sets and such to make it look right. Locations cost money. The salaries of all the people making the film takes a lot of money. You gotta pay people for their talent and effort. We are a new group with no track record in film. The industry is not going to give us money. They will tell us how cool it all looks but then they run away. The film is primarily funded by a very small group of very dedicated folks involved with the film. As it should be on a first feature of this kind. We need at leas another $200,000 to finish principal photography.

Why did you decide to make a kickstarter campaign?

Two reasons. We need the 200,000. And we wanted to build a fan base for the film and get people excited about it. We were not going to go to Kickstarter and ask for a million dollars but hoped we could build enough excitement to get us to the next phase. We have to finish principal photography this summer. We just can’t push it back any further. Trying to raise money takes so much time. We hope that the 30 day campaign will get us to the next phase.

If you want to make “Kill Me, Deadly” come to life, you can pledge here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1768614175/kill-me-deadly-a-film-noir-comedy?ref=live

Samantha Schuster

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