Rarely will you encounter an artist who is so extraordinarily open and completely original. Richard Anasky is a producer, writer and director seemingly teleported from the 70’s, and he personifies independent film. With psychedelic colors, quirky humor, subliminal messages, and hippy soundtracks with overtones of doom, Richard Anasky’s work is unmistakable.
Richard Anasky on Inspiration behind his Films:
It came down to an unrelenting desire to walk among the figments of my own imagination. I was fascinated with the idea of seeing the dream-like worlds and the characters who inhabited those worlds manifesting before my eyes… seeing those characters I created coming to life and being taken to new levels through the actors unique interpretations. The allure was just too much to resist. It was, and still is, all about the thrill of creation and the love of the art. Beyond that, I’d really just conjured up a very idealistic vision of what making movies would be like, mainly based on reading so much about the making of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968).
The actual catalyst for my getting involved in video came via an issue of Film Threat Video Guide back in 1995, which featured an insane, gory cover story and interview with director, Leif Jonker. This magazine and Leif’s interview detailing the making of his film DARKNESS (1993) introduced me to the micro-budget do-it-yourself level of independent filmmaking. All of a sudden, making a film wasn’t like some far-out unreachable dream. There were people from all over that were out there following their dreams and visions and making their movies through sheer determination. Man that was my “aha” moment; my sign. I wanted in and from that moment on, every step I took was directed towards satisfying that need to make movies of my own.
That heartfelt desire would soon lead to an amazing assortment of meaningful coincidences presenting themselves. I was led to the right books, the right people, the right places and the right things. Everything needed to assist in paving my way just began to magically appear. I was also helped massively by indie filmmakers and mentors such as Tim Ritter, director of KILLING SPREE (1987) and Ronnie Sortor, director of RAVAGE (1987). Each was a wealth of helpful information and they really took the time to help me get started.
My main sources of movie-related influence comes from psychedelic films like THE TRIP (1967), PICK-UP (1975), ANGEL, ANGEL DOWN WE GO (1969) and ALICE IN ACIDLAND (1969), 1960′s roughies such as SHE CAME ON THE BUS (1969), MONDO KEYHOLE (1966) and just about any Mike Findlay film, classroom scare flicks of the 50′s through the 70′s with NARCOTICS PIT OF DESPAIR (1967) being my absolute favorite and the whole vibe/style of Russ Meyer incredible legacy of films. For fun, I also love to shoot the type of scenarios you’d find on the covers of those old detective magazines and men’s adventure magazines from the 1950′s through the 1970′s.
Richard Anasky on Overcoming Obstacles:
I try to overcome fears or struggles by doing my best to shift my attention towards things that inspire me as opposed to dwelling on things that could distract me or affect my motivation. I prefer to keep a sunny disposition. Wanton pleasure seeking is so much more thrilling then wasting precious moments provoking emotions that drag you down.
As for regrets regarding missed opportunities, if you asked me this in years past, I could’ve gleefully provided enough material to fill a book with things that went “wrong” or didn’t play out in the manner I’d hoped. Now I view regret as a monumental waste of time because what’s done is done and you can’t physically go back and change a thing so best to make use of the lessons learned and move forward. I also don’t believe in missed opportunities anymore as I feel that there’s always a new and better opportunity waiting to present itself.
Any success I’ve enjoyed is all thanks to the players I’ve surrounded myself with. I’ve been very fortunate in that the majority of actors I’ve collaborated with in the past have been very nice people and they’ve been very open and receptive to what I’ve asked of them. Those sort of people make it all seem easy and truly a pleasure. I only wish there were far more actors coming from such a sincere place. Beyond that, I just do my best to treat people the way I’d want to be treated, as cliché as it may sound. That’s really the best example of true leadership I can come up with. I treat the folks I’m co-creating with as true friends and I enjoy chewing-the-fat with them and getting to know who they are as individuals long before the camera rolls.
I also think it’s good to set a proper example by being upbeat, enthusiastic and passionate about the film because that vibe will spread to your team and create an atmosphere perfectly conducive to creating. Last up, appreciation is everything. It’s important that the people who’ve joined the production know that their efforts and their involvement on the project are sincerely appreciated. Think of how nice it feels to be valued, to be appreciated, to know that your contributions matter. Those are things that everyone craves on some level, so give praise and appreciation and mean it. Spread the credit around and keep everyone involved 100%! Really this is all just common sense stuff. Give and be what it is that you’re looking to receive. It’s SO simple. Empower.
Richard Anasky on Advice for Future Filmmaker:
For starters I guess I’d say to approach it from the right place, meaning write and create the film for yourself and for the love of doing it. Getting wrapped up in thinking about money or fame is a sure recipe for disappointment. I think it’s best to approach any art form from that pure place of just needing to do it. Beyond that, I’d advise them to keep their cast small and to take the time required to find an open-minded and preferably optimistic/upbeat troupe of real actors who possess a true passion and respect for their craft and the indie filmmaking process. Making independent film requires a real team effort, so finding actors who can adopt the team concept and thrive in it are essential even if it requires being patient and delaying the start of a project until the right actors are located. There’s nothing more important than surrounding yourself with a group you can count on, so if they’re finding folks who weren’t keeping up or are tough to get in contact with, then it’s best to cut the ties with them long before the camera rolls. Any sign of unreliability should be seen as a red flag and a universal nudge to find someone better suited to the project.
Next up I’d encourage them to just make the best movie they can with whatever they currently have access to as it’s WAY too easy to get hung up on what you don’t have in regards to money, the latest technology or whatever else. It’s better to just be satisfied with where you are in the moment and to just toss caution to the wind and GO for it. To be an artist and take creative chances, no matter how outlandish, experiment and not be afraid of making ‘mistakes’ because it’s all part of a learning process. I’d also say to shake off any advice that encourages conformity. Individual self-expression is a beautiful thing and it should be embraced. It’s always better to find your own unique style and to stand out from the crowd. People will either like what you do or they won’t and it does no good to be attached any particular outcomes regarding the film as it’ll take you out of the moment and negatively impact how you go about things. I’d definitely advise the aspiring horror filmmaker to be true to themselves (and their film) and to just let the rest take care of itself.
Last up I guess I’d remind them to keep it all in perspective. I’d tell them not to take it all so seriously. It’s best to just go wild and have fun creating the craziest, most imaginative little horror movie they can conjure up. Making independent horror films can and should be an amazing experience for everyone involved. It should be enjoyed to the fullest! The film will be what the film will be, but the experience of making it should be amazing.