Many people enter the movie biz with the hope of fame, fortune, and worldwide recognition. So it's peculiar to think that a director would want to hide behind a mask. But that's just what Makinov does--even his actors don't know his real identity. The elusive filmmaker is promoting "Come Out and Play," a remake of the 1976 chiller "Island of the Damned" a.k.a. "Who Can Kill a Child?" In his version, a young couple, played by Vinessa Shaw and Ebon Moss-Bachrach, visit a remote island, only to realize that the adults have all been killed off by the local children.
To protect his anonymity, Makinov wears a red mask in a series of viral videos where he discusses his agenda with the film. As he says in his director's statement, "I have no interest in promoting myself. That is why I wear this thing on my head. I do want to talk about my ideas. For a time now I have been torn and disgusted of seeing stupid modern life. We grow confused at what really matters. We must remember we are made of blood. An old proverb says that it is better to murder during time of plague. I would say the same when we talk about cinema."
All right, then. So, Makinov--whoever he may be--did come out to answer a few questions for us via e-mail. "Come Out and Play" hits select theaters on Friday.
What attracted you to this story?
Makinov: Children rebelling against adults, taking control of an island. In the book it had some sort of evolutive explanation but I thought that in the vein of Hitchcock's “The Birds,” it was better to omit all causes for this sudden turn of the children against the adults. I wanted to see those images come to life, that's why I decided to make this film.
How did you go about casting the film? What was the audition process like?
Makinov: Ebon and Vinessa came through the producer. I just wanted American actors of a certain age, didn't really have anyone specific in mind. The process with the children was a bit more interesting. They would come and we asked them to tell us something horrific they could think of. The ones that told us the most horrible things got the most important roles. The worst one was the little one that takes the gun towards the ending, I couldn't repeat the things he said.
How do you work with children to get such emotional, chilling performances?
Makinov: We just let them be. Islander children are wild by nature. This specific place, Holbox, doesn't have any danger for children, so the children are let to roam free by their parents. The only difficulty was to calm them down after each shot. They would get so hyped and intense.
What was the most difficult part about making the film?
Makinov: I think all the difficulties we faced at the end helped to shape the film. I don't think there was anything particularly difficult.
Did you continue to wear a mask on set?
Makinov: I use the mask even to write; [it] is my filmmaking persona. Every process of filmmaking that I go through, I use the mask. I'm becoming more isolated each day. If I have to film with people again, I don't think I even want to be on set. In "Come Out And Play,” I experimented with the idea of an absent director and it worked.
Did that make communicating with the actors difficult at all?
Makinov: At the beginning, everyone was skeptical about the director that wouldn't show his face. But once we started working, they understood and accepted it.
What’s up next?
Makinov: I'm writing a film about animals becoming suddenly self-aware, but they can't communicate since they believe they are alone. I plan to do it with the few animals I have encountered while living in the forest.