Saturday, July 1, 2017

Digging Up the Dirt with KillDozer and Bobby Miller, The Master Cleanse

San Francisco's Another Hole in the Head Film Fest is a beautiful and extremely diverse display of genre film that takes place in theatres all over the city each year. This year, as members of the media, the creatures of The Overlook Theatre were given the honor of receiving press passes, opening the flood gates for us to see and write about as many titles as possible instead of only choosing a few due to budgetary constraint. One title on the schedule was particularly interesting to me, as it was a directing debut and had something I hadn't seen in a while; an original idea. This film was The Master Cleanse written and directed by Bobby Miller. I was able to attend the screening at one of San Francisco's most intimate and unknown film venues, the New People theatre in Japan town. A decent sized audience was in attendance and seemed to be as excited as I was to see this Master Cleanse come alive on screen. The film played extremely well and has stayed with me since its screening as great art sometimes does.The plot is simple yet interesting and also relatable to anyone. Yes, anyone. Our main character played by Jonny Galecki connects with an infomercial of sorts that promises to help cure him of his human condition aka- loneliness, self doubt etc. etc. He is lucky enough to be chosen for the infomercial's retreat program only to find that " the course releases more than everyday toxins and traumatic experiences". I started spreading the word about this title and decided that I must know more about how it came to be. What better way then to reach out directly to its creator Bobby Miller. 

KillDozer: How did the idea for The Master Cleanse come about? Does the film and its characters tie into your own life and experiences or to the human condition in general?

Bobby: I had read about the real master cleanse diet and was intrigued by the notion of "toxins." Not only was this cleanse supposed to remove impurities from your body, but it also had the power to remove psychological or emotional toxins as well. The idea that you could reboot and restart your life was powerful to me, and I thought it could be funny, but also moving. We all struggle with finding happiness in our lives, and I figured, “Well, gee what better vehicle than a creature feature to explore this, am I right?” Clearly, these two things go together.

KillDozer: Did you always know what you wanted the "creature" of the film to look like ? Did you design it yourself or describe it to an artist so that they could render it for you?

Bobby: I had a general idea and worked closely with the incredibly talented Shreya Shetty.

KillDozer: Have you been able to see the film with an audience? Have you received the response you expected from The Master Cleanse?

Bobby: I’ve been fortunate enough to see it with festival audiences all around the world last year. Lots of laughs throughout and cringing at the goopy parts. There's always a few people who stick around to tell me they were moved by the ending which makes me happy.

KillDozer: After writing the film did you know you would direct it? Was directing the film a choice you made to keep artistic control over the final product ?

Bobby: To be honest, it's hard for me to write something and not direct it. And I think with my short "TUB" there was no doubt that I should from producers or financiers.

KillDozer: The film is beautifully cast. I have to ask, for an independent production how were you able to acquire such well know, tenured, and respected talent such as Angelica Huston, Oliver Plat, Kevin J O'Connor, etc. etc.? Were you very involved with the casting process?

Bobby: Johnny Galecki was the first actor on board, and then his agent at WME went to bat for the film and got it into the hands of lots of folks. I think the film is so different and strange that once actors read it, they wanted to meet me. At the very least to see if I was some kind of weirdo.

KillDozer: Did your short film TUB get you noticed as a talent to keep an eye on? Did it help you get support for The Master Cleanse?

Bobby: I think TUB assured financiers and producers that I could pull of the tone of the film. We actually shot a small test sequence with Johnny Galecki and his creature and shopped that around with the script and a look book. I’d say all of that combined to help get the film made.

KillDozer: What can we hope to see in terms of a release? What do you help the special features to be when released?

 Bobby: All I can say is that we’ve have plenty of offers. It will come out at some point and I will happily record a commentary track and get together any scraps of behind the scenes stuff that I have! I'm actually a bluray nut...Scream Factory...Criterion...Physical media is very much alive in my house!

KillDozer: My experience with this film was both deeply emotional and darkly comical. Do you find it hard to write/direct something that touches people emotionally but also makes them laugh? How do you create that balance?

Bobby: Thanks, that’s what I was going for! I think humor is a great way to open the viewer up a little bit, but if you go too far or get too cartoony, it will be hard to get them back for a tear later. So, it’s this very small window that you operate in. I've always made funny things, and it wasn't until later in life that I became interested in smuggling in other stuff inside of the comedy. It's a nice challenge.

KillDozer: Do you have any on set stories you would like to share? Working with practical effects and experienced actors must have brought up a challenge or two.

Bobby: We shot the film in something like 19 days, so every day was a challenge! There are several puppet and animatronic creatures in the film and those things take time. At one point one of the creatures got water in its animatronics and freaked the F out. That was pretty good. Until it keeled over and didn’t operate anymore.

KillDozer: Do you have any new projects in the works that you can share with us?

Bobby: I just shot END TIMES with Robert Longstreet. It's about a guy who finds a dying squirrel in a park and has an existential crisis about it. It was a short script I wrote after TUB, and I finally decided to make the damn thing via Kickstarter: Outside of that I'm always writing feature scripts, but those things take so damn long and I didn't want my directing muscles to atrophy.

KillDozer: I know this is a trendy question but I am wondering if your stories have a "universe"? If so do you plan on expanding it?

Bobby: Someone on set said that we should do a TV show that followed the gurus of this cleanse. I think that’s a fun idea, but usually l like to do a thing and move on.

KillDozer: Where can fans of your work go to check in on what you are working on (Facebook, Instagram etc.)? Do you like to use social media?

Bobby: Social media is a necessary evil for me. I'd actually rather be a private person and have films just exist without the social media build up. But, I also think I need to just relax sometimes and post a damn set pic. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and

KillDozer: Would you have survived the "Master Cleanse"?

Bobby: Well, I survived the making of it!

KillDozer: On IMDB your films have been described as "secretly sad", do you agree? Do you ever think they are secretly happy?

Bobby: The Master Cleanse has a happy ending to me. I guess I hope that my films are funny on their surface and secretly something else too. Whether that’s sad or weird or happy.

KillDozer: A cute creature battle to the death! Who would win, Gizmo or baby master cleanse creature?

Bobby: Oh, boy. Well, Gizmo had that bow and arrow in the second one…So…

KillDozer: What is one film that blew your mind last year?

Bobby: I’m going to cheat with two. I saw The Handmaiden and Raw at the Sitges film festival, and both were amazing with that crowd.

KillDozer: If they made a film about your life who would do the score and why?

Bobby: This is totally self-serving, but the guys who did the score for The Master Cleanse did a beautiful job. I joked at the last screening that if you hate the film just close your eyes and listen to the music. So, even if my life story sucks at least you get a nice score!

You guys can keep up with Bobby's work on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and

He's also on YouTube, where you can see his short film TUB. Enjoy!


1 comment:

  1. I saw the MASTER CLEANSE in Los Angeles at the Chinese Mann. I laughed, I cried. Great movie.