AN INTERVIEW WITH THE MCMANUS BROTHERS

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE MCMANUS BROTHERS: Marybel Gervais speaks with the creators of Funeral Kings
By Marybel Gervais
(Translated by Adam Abouaccar)

When the creation of a film is a family affair, the process does not follow the traditional path. Since their debut in the film industry, Matthew and Kevin have been inseparable. The pair wrote, directed and produced three short films before making the leap to feature filmmaking. Funeral Kings demonstrates a surprising expertise as much in its direction as its writing. A film both funny and touching about the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Andy, Charlie and David are, at first glance, three young alter servers. Thanks to preconceived notions, we would be tempted to describe them as wise, kind young men. It is imperative not to trust appearances. Far from being lost causes, they are nevertheless on the path of delinquency that many young people have taken before them. At the centre of their tale is the discovery of a Pandora’s box, a trunk filled with contraband (erotic magazines, fireworks, guns, etc.). The experiments they conduct with its contents will lead them to understand that while dabbling in delinquency is fun while it lasts, we must inevitably face the consequences of our actions. Wanting to grow up too fast, we are eventually faced with adult problems, without the understanding needed to know how to deal with them.

Spectacular Optical sat down with brothers Kevin and Matthew McManus to discuss the complicity needed to develop a long-term project and to talk about their latest collaboration.

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Where do the ideas, the stories put to film in Funeral Kings come from? Are they inspired by personal experience?

Our dad was an altar boy growing up, and he told us a story once about how he and his buddies would serve a funeral and then skip their next class.  They would always go out and do something pretty harmless like grab a donut or something- so we took this and ran with it, pushing the characters about as far as we could into delinquency.

I read that it was important for you to hire actors the same age as your characters (which is refreshing!). Why was this so crucial?

Finding talented kids that are as young as they are in the film can be pretty daunting, so there was a moment where we debated using 16-year-olds to play 14, but after a couple auditions we realized the movie just wouldn’t work.  The movie is all about the insecurities that every boy has when they’re 13 or 14.  You feel older, and want to be taken seriously, but your body just hasn’t caught up yet.

Your three protagonists (Andy, Charlie and David) appear on many occasions to be suspended in a tug-of-war between good and evil. One could argue that this is simply a part of adolescence. Why did you want to talk about this period in one’s life that is so engraved with insecurities?

There are a lot of coming-of-age films about kids that are either aged up or aged down. We would talk a lot about how either 14 year-olds were portrayed as just trying to hold a girl’s hand and take her to an ice cream social, or they’d be doing hard core drugs and sleeping with women.  It just never rang true for us.

I remember back then I just wanted to be treated like an adult.  So you’d try to prove to everyone else (and yourself) that you were mature, and you always ended up doing it in the most immature ways.

What was your approach to this film? The film exudes authenticity and appears to have been assembled with great sincerity.

Thanks, that’s nice of you to say!  We tried to ground the film by shooting it with a documentary feel. We wanted every shot to be handheld with a telephoto lens to make the audience feel like they’re just peaking into these kids’ lives from far away.  Which was a little harder than it sounds because the camera was 40 or 50 pounds.  Our DP, Alex Disenhof, came up with a rig to give the “hand-held” feel without breaking his back.

From personal experience, I find that co-writing a script is not kind to a film’s continuity. Funeral Kings displays no such problem. What was your modus operandi?

Every film is a bit different.  We’re finding lately that our best way to work is heavily outlining and then taking turns writing scenes, and adjusting the work the other guy just finished. The most important thing for us is to just be totally honest with each other.

Can you tell us more about your career? Besides your three short films listed on imdb.com, where did you learn your craft? Do you have mentors?

We’ve been making movies since we were 11 or 12 with my Dad’s old camcorder.  We shot so many movies with it, that it just stopped working all together.

We’ve had a ton of mentors along the way.  Our college professor, Robert Patton-Spruill at Emerson was a huge influence on us.

How does filmmaking work when it becomes a family affair? I imagine that you have good chemistry together?

We’ve been lucky enough to have been making movies together for a long time, so we’re usually on the same page.  Our sister and mom are also really talented actresses, so it’s really cool when we can work with them too!

Do you see yourselves revisiting the experience of co-writing and co-directing a project in the near future?

Definitely.

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Funeral Kings Trailer from McManus on Vimeo.

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FUNERAL KINGS has its international premier July 22nd at 7:55pm and plays again on July 23rd at 2:50pm in the J.A. De Sève Theater.  More info on this film HERE.


About the author:

Marybel Gervais

Marybel Gervais has written for Spectacular Optical, Sinistre Magazine and Horreur-Web.

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