Visions of Mold: An Interview with Neil Meschino

Avery Guerra talks with Neil Meschino, director of the new blood, muck, and tears horror flick, Mold! (US-2010; dir. Neil Meschino).

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Film Synopsis:

Set in 1984, when the war on drugs was at its height, the story concerns a strain of mold developed by the government to wipe out Colombian coca fields. Unfortunately, during a demonstration, the mold gets out of control and proves to be deadly to more than just vegetation. (IMDb)

[For an introduction to Mold! see the Undead Backbrain article “They Hope Mold Will Grow On You”]

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Avery Guerra: Thanks for talking to us, Neil. To begin with, how about telling us what you hoped to accomplish in making this particular film?

Neil Meschino: In making Mold!, I wanted to craft a film that would stand out from the rest of the pack. There are so many cookie-cutter zombie or slasher films being made and I just didn’t want to fall into an easily definable category. I think the title alone accomplishes that. When you see a movie called Mold! I think you know right away you’re in for something different. More than anything I just wanted to make an entertaining film. I want the audience to have fun when they watch it and the end result is kind of like a roller-coaster ride.

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AG: How did it come about?

NM: Mold! is an extremely independent project. I raised the funds myself through savings (borrowings) and loans. All the crew were friends of mine from film school. I put out an ad on Mandy looking for low-budget feature scripts and the reception I got was a little overwhelming. I received over 150 scripts in my inbox over the next few days. And let me tell you, in spite of the fact I stressed in the ad that they must be low-budget, I still got scripts with helicopter chase scenes, exploding buildings, an army of zombies and car crashes.

Mold! (written by Dave Fogerson) was the first one I read. The title jumped out at me. The concept was great and I liked that it could definitely be done on a tight budget. It was a single location script with a handful of “trapped in a box” characters. So after going over the pile of scripts (a few zombie films, some torture porn rip-offs of Hostel films, generic slasher films, etc.) I came back to Mold! Well, originally it was just “Mold”, but I thought the exclamation point really helped in translating the vibe of the film. Which is this half-serious, crazy romp that you’re gonna have a lot of fun with.

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AG: So, is Mold! a horror-comedy? What are its influences?

NM: Mold! toes the delicate line (successfully, I think) between taking itself seriously and letting go and being funny. And it’s a delicate line. I had to restrain myself from getting a laugh out of a scene at the expense of the character involved and the reality of the moment. I wanted Mold! to be funny but not slapstick silly.

As I was trying not to be pigeon-holed into any category, I can’t say Mold! is directly inspired by any particular film. It does take place in the 80s and there are plenty of references to films from that time: Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, etc. Its place in the horror world is likewise not easy to define. It is not really a horror film, though I think it will get the bulk of its love from horror fans. The plot is sci-fi, the tone is comedy. But it’s got its share of slimy, gory fun that will appeal to the horror crowd. I would say Mold! has the science-gone-wrong of Re-Animator, mixed with the black humor of the Evil Dead series.

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AG: From what I’ve seen of it there seems to be some political undercurrents as well.

NM: There are definite elements of satire present here — mostly in regards to our bumbling bureaucracy, slimy and hypocritical government leaders and ill-conceived military programs.

The War on Drugs theme is important but not overstated. It has a definite role in the plot, but takes a backseat as the movie unfolds and the chaos builds. Strategically placed Ronald Reagan election posters from 1984 call it back into existence from time to time.

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AG: What about the FX? Old-school hands-on or digital?

NM: All the FX are done practical. I was adamant that I wanted to do everything in camera. I am not a fan of CG at all and I think that, while it has its usefulness, it has been entirely overused and has been a big contributor to the downfall of storytelling. Rant over.

I hired Jeremy Selenfriend (Crazy 8’s, Aunt Rose, Blood Night) of Monster in My Closet FX. There are a lot of FX gags in Mold! Melting eyes, collapsing heads, exploding body parts, axe murder, moldy transformations. Life casts were taken, fake heads were created out of silicon, I think — I’d have to confer with Jeremy on that.

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Oh, and I built all the sets myself, in a rented warehouse on LI.

AG: So what’s the status of the production?

NM: Mold! is currently still in post-production but it is very near the finish line. I have not yet secured distribution though I’ve had offers. I wanted to finish it first before I shopped it around. So a release date is still up in the air. It will, however, begin making the rounds in the festival circuit this summer. The finished cut along with a trailer should be available for reviews by the end of the month to early June at the latest.

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AG: Thanks for your time, Neil. We look forward to seeing Mold! soon.

Gallery:

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