Indie Horror Online recently had the pleasure of speaking with director Erik Kristopher Myers and actress Rachel Armiger from Butterfly Kisses. Here’s what they had to say…
Q: Tell us a little about Butterfly Kisses…
Erik: The idea first came to me in the fall of 2014, when I was out for a walk. I had just seen a trailer for an upcoming found footage movie, and as is typical of the way my mind works, I immediately began pulling the concept apart. I tend to overanalyze things. In this case, I began thinking about the general conceit of these types of films, in which we are told we are watching discovered video detailing the death or disappearance of the filmmakers in an alleged supernatural incident, and I asked the question that I’ve never seen answered: Who found the footage? How? When? What was the path that led to an audience having the opportunity to see it? From there, I constructed a documentary inside of a documentary, in which we see the journey of failed filmmaker Gavin York (Seth Adam Kallick), and his obsessive quest to prove that mysterious footage he has uncovered is true, and make a million dollars off the sale.
Q: Who is Sophia Crane and what was it like to play her?
Rachel: At first, Sophia Crane is a film student determined to ace her college film project, but as she and Feldman delve further into the legend of Peeping Tom, her goal shifts more towards uncovering the mystery behind the urban legend. It was fun to portray her, not only because she was relatable as a filmmaker, but because she’s also a strong female, with a lot of resolve; it was refreshing to portray a character with some edge to her. She isn’t afraid to do what it takes, although as we discover in the film, takes things a bit far.
Q: Did you initially try to make people think the film’s events were real?
Erik: Sanchez and Myrick had fun with this back in 1999 with The Blair Witch Project, which is not only the inciting film in the modern wave of found footage movies, but the one Butterfly Kisses is most a response to. So on the one hand, I knew it would be foolish to attempt to play the “is it or isn’t it?” game, which is in fact the whole premise of Butterfly Kisses: it’s been done, people have seen that, we’re all too savvy now. Who would fall for it again? However, as an homage to what those guys did so successfully, and in attempting something similar, but a little different, I tried to keep the film, the premise, and the cast under wraps, and simply promote Butterfly Kisses as a documentary during production. The only participants we mentioned were those playing themselves — actors were left mysterious. In fact, Kallick’s character, Gavin York, was given a Facebook page (updated in real time!), a wedding videography website, and other fun online Easter eggs. Even the Peeping Tom/Blink Man entity, who was created specifically for this film, was given some online presence through the fabrication of historical presence. Fake articles written under pseudonyms, that sort of thing. The goal wasn’t to trick people, but rather to build buzz during our festival run, and to encourage viewers to go down the Google rabbit hole. “How much of this is real? How much is fake? Who are people playing themselves, and who are actors?” It’s a weird, meta-film, in which we never try to convince you the found footage is real — quite the opposite, really. But how much of the documentary wrapped around it is authentic? That’s the question, and therein lies the fun.
Q: You’ve worked on both sides of the camera. Did that help with this role?
Rachel: It’s interesting, I started my career out in acting, and initially decided to take some classes behind the camera to become a better, well-rounded actor. I wanted to get a glimpse into the minds of directors, producers, et cetera, so I would say that it definitely helped with the role! While Sophia does step in front of the camera, I think she’s more interested in the process of telling a great story, and if that means going in front of the camera for a bit, great! It was nice to understand the process of filmmaking as a whole, which hopefully translated on screen with the character. These days I mostly focus on my work behind the camera, but if the opportunity to act presented itself again, I wouldn’t necessarily write it off.
Q: What did you do to make this movie stand out from other found footage films?
Erik: Rather than simply adhering to the tropes and conventions of the genre, I wanted to comment upon them. Butterfly Kisses is fun entertainment, but at the same time, it’s also a self-conscious criticism and analysis of the format and storytelling techniques that began with The Blair Witch Project. Typically, an audience is predicting story beats when watching any film, regardless of genre; my goal was to beat them to the punch.
Q: What was it like working with the cast?
Rachel: It’s funny, while the film had a ton of other awesome actors, (some I just recently met at a screening, where have they been all my life! Ha!) Reed Delisle (Feldman) was sort of my ride or die during the filming process; he was there on pretty much every shoot day, since Feldman and Sophia are a filmmaking team thrown together for their project. I’m not sure if initially it was his idea, but he totally went along with it: we chose to dive into this project more along the method acting route — we never read an entire script and Erik would give us our script pages for filming a few days before the shoot. I appreciate that Reed was up for the challenge, and if he initially thought it was a crazy idea, he totally went along with it! (Reed, if you are reading this, thank you for being a good sport!)
Q: What advice do you have for anyone making a found footage film?
Erik: Do something different! Have fun with the format. It’s easy (and admittedly profitable!) to make a film that obeys audience expectations, but it’s so much more satisfying to subvert them — both for the filmmaker, and hopefully for the viewer. But with found footage in particular, there is such a deep well of potential realism and surrealism that can be mined, as the documentary format can literally be anything. Found footage has barely scratched that potential.
Q: What kind of movies do you like to watch?
Rachel: This has to be the most fun question ever, seriously! Have had this not-so-secret list of my top five favourite films waiting in the wings for moments like these:
1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
2. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
3. Phantom of the Opera (2004)
4. Thelma & Louise (1991)
5. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Rachel: I have a friend who can psychoanalyze people based on their top five favourite films; he did that and it seemed incredibly accurate. Maybe a little biased in saying this, but all of these films have incredible acting, along with great stories. Never really thought about it, but I suppose they all fall under the drama category.
Erik: Anything and everything! Except musicals. Musicals make me puke, and then choke on the puke.
Q: Do you have some favourite horror films?
Rachel: I can be a total baby when it comes to scary movies (as a teenager, I once watched Silence of the Lambs with my younger brother, and had to have him tell me when certain scenes were over… probaby should have been the other way around!) but to me, the classics have always been the most enjoyable. The original Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, even The Exorcist. You can tell there’s a lot of passion behind them, along with fun storytelling, and it just seems like both the actors and filmmakers are having a great time. Sometimes, more modern films don’t seem to have this same heart to them, so it’s refreshing to watch and see that.
Erik: That’s a hard list to narrow down, but if I had to choose my top three, it would be The Exorcist, An American Werewolf in London, and the original Nightmare on Elm Street. I think you can see shades of each in my work (or at least I hope so!).
Q: Thanks for your time! Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Rachel: Thank you for taking the time to check out the film! It’s been a fun ride, and always interesting to see what people think of it. I know Erik worked on the film for a few years, and appreciate him giving me the opportunity to get inside the mind of Sophia. If anyone is up for following my latest adventures, I can be found on Instagram…
Erik: Thanks for giving us the opportunity to share the film with you, and with your readers! If there’s anything I’d ask of those who have discovered Butterfly Kisses, it would be a rating, whether on Amazon, IMDB, or wherever. Ratings, reviews, and social media mentions are so important in the world of independent film, where you don’t have a studio publicity machine behind you, trailers playing before the new Marvel movie, or Happy Meal tie-ins. So please, check it out, tell a friend — and hit us up on Facebook and Twitter, and let us know what you think! There is nothing more gratifying than discussing your work with someone who digs it.
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