/Interview by Alika Gasimova/
‘The Monster’s Club’ is a film about teenagers becoming adults. The director Federica Alice Carlino shared her opinion on the importance of the decisions made in this age. Actors Hechan Dasilva, Germano Blanco and Max Vector discussed the topics of truth and friendship. ‘Being a good person is more than just doing the right thing. You have to have the right intentions behind them as well’. This film brings up timeless questions and makes them relevant to the time we live in.
Why did you choose the topic of the skeleton in the closet?
Federica: I was inspired by the story that happened to me and my friends. A friend of mine decided to do a prank and he fell from a tree. He didn’t die, he is fine. But he broke his leg and now we’re almost in our 30’s and he’s still limping from that. So I always thought what would be if he died, what would happen? But I also wanted to talk about something that is still actual. Look at social media with all these challenges and all the incidents that are happening to people when they just to become famous.
What do you think about challenges on social media?
Federica: Some of them are cool and others … I don’t know if you remember the bird box challenge. It was inspired by a Netflix movie with Sandra Bullock. People had to wear the fold on their eyes. So the challenge was doing stuff but blindfolded. People lost their lives. For example, they were driving the car blindfolded. If you’re bringing your life in danger to become famous it is not worth it.
What did you search for in the actors while doing castings?
Federica: So, charisma for sure. It was different for the three of them because each character is different. Jackson is more of a leader. I saw that in the actor when he did the audition. Colin is very smart. I engaged in a conversation with him and he was really intelligent. He actually improvised some stuff and I liked the stuff that he did. And Max was so hilarious. His audition was amazing. He is kind of a relief in the story because the film is very heavy. His character brings up the feeling of this stress that everyone is feeling. I felt that also in his audition. I cast them first and then the adult version later. It was even more difficult because they are so particular and I wanted that in the adult version as well. That was very hard.
You wrote in your statement that you discovered a love for the casting process. What do you love about that?
Federica: I started to do casting with people in 2017. I was helping some friends with their project and some of them have social anxiety. They couldn’t even talk with the actors. I liked establishing this connection between them and the directors. I like to read the script and then finally to see this person live. So I finally have a face of the character. It is not just ink on the paper, it becomes now a real person.
Does the truth always come out?
Hechan: I think it is important to be honest and open with everything that you decide to do. Everyone has a feeling that they want to safeguard something from friends or family. It is important to have your truths and own up to your truths.
Max: I have to agree with that one. I see a lot of value when it comes to being honest with yourself because this is how you become a good person. Being a good person is more than just doing the right thing. You have to have the right intentions behind them as well.
Federica: I think the truth comes out almost every time. I think it depends on the situation. If it’s for someone’s sake it might be the occasion for that. I thought about the sequel of this story and I got it.
Germano: I think when you’re not being completely honest about something, it won’t end well. But at the same time, I think it’s okay to keep some things to yourself as long as you’re still being honest.
Which similarities did you find between you and your character?
Max: Well, I like food. I connected with Dumpster on the idea of really wanting to connect with your friends and to be able to do your part for the group. I am not so sure if dying is the full extent of that but I understand the motive behind it. The truth is that it hurts to be alone.
Hechan: I can agree with that. Even before we were doing our rehearsals and I was meeting everybody I enjoyed the dynamic. I enjoyed living as Colin. The way I connected with him was just by being an organizer of the group.
Germano: I was a lot like Jackson when I was a kid, I liked being the “leader” which was probably insufferable to my friends. Although one of the main differences between myself and Jackson is I would never leave my friends behind no matter the situation.
What did you feel after you saw the finished version of the film?
Federica: I am glad that it turned out as it turned out. We met so many times because I wanted to have this chemistry between actors. I could see this chemistry on the screen then so I was very glad. I wish I could continue the story and I wouldn’t change anything.
Germano: I’m really happy with how it turned out and proud to be part of it. Especially seeing the older versions of our characters and how they carried the rest of story was really cool to watch.
Why do you think Colin decides to uncover the truth so many years after?
Colin: I think it is difficult to sit on a lie for so long especially on the one that holds so much weight. Tragedy happens out of teenagers having fun together. There needed to be an end to this and the consequences need to be suffered for what is done.
Federica: I wanted him to wait for the right moment. Since Jackson had the biggest accomplishment for his career and Colin thought it was the best moment to let him pay for what happened.
What were Colin’s thoughts when he gave the tape, not to Jackson, but his wife?
Federica: He realized his responsibility that this action can ruin Jackson’s career, family, life. That is what he wanted. There was a kid planned in this scene as well. But it was already heavy.
Where do you agree and where do you disagree with characters?
Federica: I agree with Colin. But maybe I wouldn’t have waited for that much.
Hechan: Coming into this I didn’t have any expectation of what was right and what was wrong. I’d convince my friend that the truth needs to be told.
Max: I think that in the heat of the moment it is really easy to do it in the same way as Colin did. But after you’ve had years to go over it to turn it over I can understand his motives for what he did.
Germano: I think I understood why Jackson made the decisions that he made and where he was coming from, so even though they were questionable – to say the least – I don’t think I every judged or disagreed with him for that.
Which challenges did you meet while filming?
Federica: For sure the scene in the woods. We were a couple of hours away from LA up in the mountains. Since we had a rifle with us I learnt about the process of having a rifle in LA on a set. We don’t have that many restrictions in Europe. If you have a fake weapon everybody knows it is just a fake weapon. We had a minor and a lot of other people on set. Once we filmed the scene with the rifle we had to hide it, leave it there, and let people play with that. For me it was heavy. America is very strict with weapons.
Another challenge was the scene where Dumpster is dying. He was fully covered with blood. We had different ways to film it. Initially, we had some capsules that he had to break in his teeth. But it wasn’t working.
Hechan: I think that was one of the hardest days when we were filming the police scene. I had felt that my life is over and I’m going to jail. Being in that space was heavy.
Germano: There was this one line I couldn’t get out when we were filming the night scene at the park. “Let’s leave tomorrow’s troubles for tomorrow.” I’ll never forget it now.
Max: Dying was hard. I was just holding liquids in my mouth. When it came to an actual scene I just spit it out. They got the strawberry flavoured one so that was pretty nice. Other than that it was still pretty difficult to be able to switch mediums of blood.
How did you feel about the idea that you have to die? Any superstitions?
Max: Knowing there’s gonna be a prop gun on set I was a little worried. For the most part, I was pretty thrilled. It is an actor’s bucket list to do a death scene. I thought it was cool.
What would you call the main goal you achieved with creating this film?
Colin: It was to be able to portray the importance of truth and respecting the boundary of your friends. Jackson had a lot of amount of control over both characters. He was like big brother who everybody looked up to. Once you abuse that control your intentions start being dishonest. You move further away from the truth.
Federica: The story is about the transition between being a teenager and becoming an adult. I hope it might teach a lesson to the teenagers that they need to think first. It is a very impulsive age.
Who would you call a true friend?
Federica: For sure a loyal and present person. A friend should be there not just for fun but also when you need it. Being present is the main quality.
Max: I would add being honest to that list. You can only become close and understand each other with honesty.
How do you see the lives of the characters if Dumpster stayed alive?
Max: I think Jackson would be a little less driven. I feel Colin would be less emotionally torn. He wasn’t able to move on because of all that happened.
Federica: I don’t know where Dumpster would be. Maybe he would do stand-up comedy or become a chief.
Germano: I think Jackson would have changed for the better and learned his lesson. Although, I don’t think they would still be friends either way.
What changed after Jackson had seen the video?
Federica: Everything. He now sees what he did. I saw him playing on this drama especially when he was a teenager ‘I’m very fragile, my friend died’. His real changes will start now. He now has a lot to lose.
Maybe, not even changes, but he will fight to keep what he got. How far can he go to keep what he has?
To repeat it, what is the message?
Federica: I didn’t focus on one main thing. But as I said for sure it is becoming of age. It is being responsible for what you do. It is also talking about society, about this hunger for fame that can push you to do something that is not necessary. I wanted to bring the message about weapons as well.
Max: I think it is the perfect blend of honesty, of the meaning of the friend and becoming famous. A lot of people can get caught up in their friendships. This movie shows the effects of not standing for yourself.
Which scene is your favourite?
Federica: The first scene where we have all three of them together. It was longer. I cared a lot about establishing the chemistry among them. They had more of these boys’ jokes and they were picking each other. My peers told me it was too long. I liked how we got it as a result.
Max: I thought the basement scene was a lot of fun. The script was fantastic and I like the dialogues we had with each other.
Germano: My favorite scene is the one where the police comes to Jackson’s house to interrogate them. I had fun shooting that one because I got to lie to a cop which I wouldn’t do in real life.
On the right: the director Federica Alice Carlino
What attracts you in cinematography?
Federica: I was three when I decided to go into cinematography. I was watching Jurassic Park and my Dad told me the dinosaurs were extinct. I was amazed by how they filmed the dinosaurs. My Dad bought the VHS with the backstage of it and I realized that I want to do this. Of course, I didn’t think that I want to be a director but I thought that I want to be in that field.
Filmmaking is something I have more control of than theatre. I like writing a lot, so I have a lot of stories that I want to tell. I’m pretty opinionated. Filmmaking is a way for me to show what I think without really saying anything but using my characters to say what I think. I always saw movies in general as a way to escape from normal life. I hope people that watch my stuff feel relaxed for those 15 minutes and focus on the things I want to say and forget about their problems.
Max: I used to watch a lot of movies when I was a kid. I loved Jackie Chan. Actually, the best thing about shooting is meeting people. When we were filming this there were people from all around the world. It is a great possibility to share love for movie making. Mealtime was my favourite time during the shoots because this is the time when you can talk to people and socialize.