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Ghost Canyon

Lance Catania   (Director - 'Cup Of My Blood') Lance Catania (Director - 'Cup Of My Blood')

'Drink Up, It's Time To Die!'

MTI Home Video, the leading independent home entertainment studio, along with their Studio Partner, Redrum Entertainment, will release the underwater frenzy 'CUP OF MY BLOOD' August 30th, 2005.

A seemingly random accident leaves photographer Jack Fender (Sullivan) in possession of one of Christianity's most Holy Relics. He must confront Evil's relentless assault of blood soaked murder and deceit for the preservation of an entire faith, and his own soul.

'CUP OF MY BLOOD' stars Daniel Patrick Sullivan ('Payback'), Janina Gavankar ('Barbershop 2: Back in Business'), Roger Anderson, Allie Smith ('Shut-Eye'), Lance Mulvaney ('Slave'), Circus-Szalewski ('Unaware'), John Turk ('Mortal Kombat' Trilogy), Brent Douglas ('The Prize Fighter'), Laurence Skorniak ('Lost Girls'), and Darryl Warren ('Spawn').

Chatting recently with the Director himself, Lance Catania, I first wondered how much research had been done for this subject matter to finally be able to bring 'Cup Of My Blood' to the small screen? "I grew up Catholic, but like a lot of people I fell away for a while. I found things difficult to relate to in our world. When I asked questions I always got the same response, that it is the way it's written. But no one would explain why. So, I just kept my sense of faith and went about my life. When I had a personal tragedy in my life, I came back to that faith. I suppose I went through the typical phases; anger, denial and acceptance, but during the anger phase is when the first draft of the script really came out."

"It was 250 pages of rage, frustration and anger, but over the new year, I kept re-writing. My anger bled into denial, and the script began to change and evolve. The denial turned to acceptence and the script became what it is now. I think it is a very pro-faith film. Reading the bible and study the history of the Saints you realize how incredibly violent the history of the Catholic faith is. I feel our film is very true to the Catholic faith. Men do horrible things to other men. Our faith separates us. The character of Jack seems to be passive, but he always has the strength of his faith backing him up. After everyone has betrayed him, he holds strong and realizes his place and mission. Even when it demands that he commit a dreadful act on it's behalf, he understands that it is his responsibility and that it is right for him to do it."

As it looked real, whose apartment (in reality) was it filmed in when we were with Jack? "Jack's apartment and studio are actually my studio in chicago, X-Ray Productions. When making an indy film, it's always good to write to things you already have. I have a studio, so I thought that it would be good to have the main character a photographer. By shooting in my studio, we have instant production value. The kitchen is a working kitchen studio where we shoot commercials, the living room is our actual client seating area. The scream room with all of the mattresses is actually my office, our conference room was re-dressed to be Jack's bedroom, and one of our edit suites was made into the red bathroom where Tina tries to committ suicide."

WOW! Now this has an intense opening few minutes, but were any of the death scenes harder to shoot than others? "All were difficult in their own way. Special effects always take lots of time. Working with blood pumps with too much or not enough pressure, mis-firing squibs, freezing temperatures and long days, wreak havoc on those shoot days. It's very tedious and time consuming planning an effect, but when it works, oh man it is cool! Shooting blood all over the set is so, so much fun! Our editor, Salvatore Pecoraro, stopped by the set while we were shooting some background plates of squirting blood to be inserted over existing effects. He was standing about thirty feet away from the spot where the pump was and when I called 'Action,' we hit the pump and blood shot all the way across the studio and splattered all over his new white shirt! I wish we could have had the camera on his face to catch the reaction!"

Who took the b/w photos on the walls of Jack's apartment ... and in his book collection? "I took all of those pictures. Black and white photography has been a passion of mine for many years. It also has helped in defining my visual style. Many of those photos were taken a couple of days before principal photography. We were originally going to hire another photographer to shoot 'Jack's' photos, but I was so clear in the vision I wanted for them, it was better that I shoot them. It also helped my relationship with the actresses, because it gave us the opportunity to bond before the film shoot. When shooting the stills we were able to work on their characters in a totally no verbal medium, only expressions and body language. That was huge, because when we got to the film set, their personalities were already developed. We didn't need to spend a lot of time on set working those intracies out."

And, who did the freaky-looking ones that were on display at the Art Gallery ?! "When we showed up to scout the location, those were on the wall! We went nuts as those would totally be the type of images that Alex would want Jack to see in order to screw wtih his head. The images were brilliant, but totally disturbing!"

There are lots of quick-shock-startling moments here, but was there ever a point when you yourself thought enough was enough on that front?! "I hope people will see the film and really think about it. I want it to stick with them, make them think about what frightens them. Not a cat jumping out of a closet kind of scare, but what scares their soul. There are many layers to the film. It's not a "guy with a knife chasing coeds around" kind of movie. I wanted to create a mood that was deeper than that. I love the genre more than anything, but most horror films are totally disrespectful of the genre and the people who love it. Throw more blood on the naked chick and then make a snappy comment about how silly horror movie conventions can be! I'm really offended by filmmakers who exploit the genre and fans by making shitty movies in order to make a quick buck. I've read interviews from mainstream directors and producers who have gotten into the business by making a cheap exploitation film, just to get their foot in the door. Then later in their career, they are embarrassed and dismissive of the very work that got them in the business in the first place!"

There must have been a few behind-the-scenes secrets, so please tell us one that we could look out for when watching the film? "I wrote the original screenplay two years before I met the actors that eventually played the roles in the film. After filming began, we were all shocked by some amazing simularities between the actors and their characters. When beginning pre-production, I had a meeting with Shawn Reynolds, the artist who created all of the religious iconography for the film. He commented how interesting it is that the femme fatale of the film was named Iona. I didn't know what he was talking about. It was just a name that came out of my head as I was writing. He told me that there is the legend of an island that was the hiding place of the Holy Grail and other religious artifacts. It was the Isle of Iona. Wow, I immediately used that and rewrote some of the script to include that story."

"Actually, it becomes a very important plot point. While shooting in the church, we did a close up of this beautiful crucifix near the alter. While setting up for the next shot, Dan Sullivan, the actor who portrays Jack, walked up to me. His face was white as a sheet. He hands me a pamphlet that the church gives out to it's parish. It explains that the crucifix at the alter is an antique replica of the actual crucifix from the Isle of Iona. Twenty crew people stopped what they were doing and looked at each other. For about two minutes nobody said or did anything, they just kind of went into their own heads. We then just said, "okay, lets go", and kept working without bringing attention to it."

The box that held the Holy Grail was enscribed 'Kyrie,' but that was never questioned. Was it a homage to the 1990 Mr. Mister song of the same name, or something more sinister?! "I know the song you're referring to, but it's actually the latin word for "Lord". We discussed making it a plain box, no inscriptions, but it just felt right when the word popped into my head."

For the most part, 'Jack' looked and acted rather like the great Liam Neeson ... did any one else notice this, including himself?! "He gets that a lot! Also he gets Noah Wylie from ER! It could be worse, people could say, "Hey, you look like Marty Feldman, or Eli Wallach."

WOW! The ending was as intense as the opening, if not more so! Did it cinematically all come together as it was written on the page? "It was very difficult to shoot, because we were shooting different parts on different days with very complicated blocking and timing. The final twenty minutes of the film are actually three mini-climaxes before the eventual climax. It was a difficult to maintain that intensity over the course of the shoot. I'm very satisfied with the outcome. It's almost word for word from the script. The only thing I might do differently, would be to make changes in tone with performances or camera. But I'm one of those guys who is never satisfied with their own work. I could always improve or create somethng more effective. I think as an artist, you need to always challenge yourself that way. If you don't, you become stale and your art has no relevence."

Seriously though, could someone REALLY survive a gun shot to the eye from such close range?! "Sure, people survive gunshots to the head all the time. Bullet trajectory bouncing off the skull could re-direct the direction of the bullet just enough so that ... you would if you were GOD'S chosen protector of the most Holy relic!"

What new projects are you working on that we can look out for?"We have optioned the rights to the Edward Lee novel, 'Messenger.' I just finished the screenplay and am beginning pre-production. It's a totally out of control, balls-out horror film. Very extreme, very controversial. We will need to have an unrated cut of them film. Edward Lee is a master of horrific situations and imagery. His novels are haunting in their violent excess and sense of dread. We see the world very much alike. Then, we have a film noir style thriller entitled, 'Call Back,' that we are also beginning pre-pro on. I've also begun writing a pilot script for a supernatural thriller style TV show. I can't say too much about it yet, but it will definitely push the envelope of what you can do on TV! It would be an awesome Sci-Fi channel show. Or if we are able to make it more extreme, it could really work as a Showtime or HBO show. We are already in talks with a major distribution company for it."

Lastly, please tell us more about a recurring nightmare of yours! "There is nothing more frightening than man's inhumanity to man. Look at our collective history. We are a brutal and savage species who will stop at nothing to get what we think we deserve. Look at what is going on in our world right now. A war that's goals are unclear and in question, genocide happening in africa, starvation, corporate greed and "never satisfied" profits commanding people to work 60,70,80 hours a week to keep their jobs. The family falling apart because both mom and dad are putting in those insane hours to satisfy the corporate black hole. Mankind scares the shit out of me ..."

" ... and so do zombies! And 'The Mummy,' but not the new CGI one, the old universal 'Mummy's Curse' mummy! That scared the crap out of me as a kid!"

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

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