WAXING FILMIC WITH CRANE FILMS
THE FOLKS WHAT REMADE DRACULA
Y’all may recall, few years back, this film came out what had
to do with a bloke with fucking ridiculous hair getting all
scary and so on and generally being all the unpleasant in the
world. He was a king or something once upon a time, but was
now reduced to sucking the lifeblood from his acquaintances
and trying desperately to recapture something of his past.

Man, that Francis Ford Coppola. What a sad story that was.

Anyway, the thing is, that Francis Ford character had made a
film about
The Dracula, based on the book what was written by
Bram Stoker, a fella none too shy about writing stories about
camp old motherfuckers keeping young, handsome males locked
up in a castle so as to feast on his goodness every now and
again.

Homoerotica, motherfucker.

The Duke actually quite enjoyed this film what went by the
name of
Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula,
sometimes known as
Dracula, or The One Where Gary Oldman Has
Hair Like An Arse
. The film was awash with gothic
playfulness, an abundance of style over not very much else,
despite the literary origins. Visually, the whole affair was
stunning, is what.

But it turns out some other folks were just as impressed as
The Duke by all this gothic malarkey with the werewolf-sexing
and the
Matrix chap looking all bewildered and the Hair Like
An Arse.

Whilst browsing through the forums over at
The Harry Knowles
Digest, as is my wont of an evening, I found a posting by
some individual yacking about a remake of that there
Dracula
film about the Arse-Hair. Some folks might say, “pfft” and so
on, other noises about they sure as fuck ain’t gonna be
clicking on no links about the
Dracula, but The Duke was
intrigued.

Turns out this remake is an amateur type affair, created by
the malcontents at
Crane Films, with the screen filled with
any number of very young individuals wearing coats what have
the patches on the elbows, and slitting wrists and then
drinking blood and so on. You might think it’s no different
to, say,
The Real Cancun or one of those flicks about The
Youth, but I’d go as far as to say this one is actually
worthwhile.

It’s a fucking incredible piece of no-budget camera pointing,
is what
The Duke would like to suggest.

Imagine, if you will, a remake of that there flick with the
Arse Hair, based exclusively on the original screenplay,
utilising the same score, replicating many of the locations
and awash with that same sense of Gothic melodrama. Except,
y'know, these folks had no money. Well, maybe a couple quid,
or dollars, or whatever you American lot use for to make
purchases, but hardly enough for to stage an epic film about
werewolf-sexing and the homoerotica.
Thing is, they totally pulled it off. Two years in the making,
this here goes so beyond the stigma of Amateur Student Pissing
About as to be at least several states away. Like someone in
Florida looking across at folks in Kentucky, going, hey man. I
used to be one of you Kentuckians, but now I’m away over here
in the Florida. Sorry, Kentuckians, but I had to move on, on
account of this here film about the Dracula. Sorry. Mind you,
the new Loretta Lynn album is fucking amazing. So thanks for
the new Lynn, Kentucky, but I gotta go now.

Something like that. Something on a par with that cross-county
hypothetical conversation.

Anyway, so intrigued was
The Duke by these shenanigans, that I
got on the old Electric Mail or whatever, and contacted the
folks behind it, specifically Kyle Crane and Brady Crane, the
latter being not only the director of the opus, but also the
one what plays the Vlad, ie, the Dracula, except without the
Arse Hair.

First thing
The Duke wanted to know, was what the fuck, man.
What possesses folks of your age and finances to attempt
something like this here flick about the vampires? I was
expecting a response along the lines of, I dunno, “Shit,
motherfucker, pointy tooth bitch” or something, something like
what you hear the “youngsters” say on the “television”. Turns
out, these folks aren’t just incredibly skilled with the
cameras, but also very well-mannered and also quite eloquent.

“I read the book
Dracula when I was 12 and it hit me like a
ton of bricks”, says Brady. “I had plans to adapt my own
script, but I wanted to have it done before I was 18 (I was 16
when we started). Writing my own and getting it right would
have taken about a half a year. Well, 18 finally rolls around
and we're still not done, so I just began changing (the
original Coppola/Hart screenplay) here and there to make it my
own as much as possible.”

In other words, Brady read Stokers novel at the tender age of
twelve, and had one of those deals when the thing crawls
inside your head, like when you fall in love with any piece of
art, or when you fall asleep on the beach.

He explained to me how much he loved Coppola’s version (“my
head almost blew up”), and rather than spend years trying to
better it, he just remade the script.

You might be thinking, ah, come the fuck on
The Duke. That’s
just cutting corners right there. Well, if this instance of
script-recycling might be seen as a cut corner, I can assure
you, everything else about the project is 90 degrees each
side. Enough to slice a motherfucker’s finger on, is what.

Kyle Crane elaborates on the film’s gestation period; “Brady
IM-ed me one day saying that he was going to make
Dracula,
finally, and I thought he was joking. He said, "Everything in
my life has led up to this moment." He got a lot of laughs for
that, but when we all saw how dead-set he was we had to help
him. He used the
Bram Stoker's Dracula script from James V
Hart to save time because he didn't know anything about
writing a screenplay at that point. The goal was to not copy
anything aesthetic from the visuals or the performances in
(Coppolla’s film). Brady got the money he needed for the set
and started working on it. The funny part is that it took us 2
and 1/2 years to complete it but we essentially shot every
scene twice on 2 different occasions.”

Apparently, this dual-shooting farrargo, like when Woody Allen
had to completely reshoot
September, stems from the actions of
a particular actress, an individual whom Kyle asserts to have
been, “Jerking us around. She wasn't into the part so we cut
her from the project without telling her. It took her about a
year to find out. Funny thing about that is we still used
footage of her in the movie, uncredited.”

The first thing the potential viewer might notice, is the
incredible scope of the project, especially as far as location
shooting goes. There is one shot in particular, the first of
the film’s ventures to “London”, that seemed so perfect I
assumed it had been a model. Brady tells
The Duke that, in
fact, “That's the clock tower at L.S.U. It lends itself
visually really well. We shot there the day after Christmas,
like, 2 years ago, and the weather was perfect. Gray overcast
sky. That was very important in this movie. That’s one of the
reasons it took 2 1/2 years to shoot. We spent most of the
time waiting on the sky to change.”

I was curious, though. Most folks, as far as
The Duke is
concerned, when faced with the opportunity to make a film with
no budget, no professional actors, none of the financial
safety-nets, in fact, that the business-funded variant enjoys,
seem to go for more low-key affairs. Something along the lines
of a bloke sitting in a room thinking about stuff. Maybe he’ll
think about ghosts or mathematics or “life”. Maybe he turns
out to
be a ghost. Maybe that’s the twist. These guys, though,
they take on a literary adaptation which, whilst certainly
allowing for lots of sitting in rooms thinking, also has a
fair amount of train journeys, sword-through-guts malarkey and
damsels jumping into rivers for to die. Why didn’t these
fella's just, y’know, sit in a room. Maybe think about “life”?

Thankfully, the fellas explained.

Brady; “The grander the scope, the better. Yes, it meant I had
to bust my ass for 2 1/2 years, but that’s what making movies
is all about for me. It’s not always about memories, friends
and 8 by 10's. Sometimes it’s about blood, sweat and tears.
Not enough amateur filmmakers are willing to throw away
everything in their life and literally tackle the shit out of
what’s posing as an obstacle. That’s the only way to ever get
anything accomplished.
Dracula is an epic. It involves things
that you couldn’t do in a movie about a bloke sitting in a
room. If I was making
Death Of A Salesman”, he considers,
“Then I might have gone that direction.”

Kyle agrees with Brady. “For us, the issues that a filmmaker
would approach by doing a small one-room/one actor movie are
the same ones that we approached with
Dracula. Essentially
we're searching for the same things as artists.
Dracula was
just the thing that we were looking to do at the time. It was
what Brady needed to do to satisfy himself, to prove that he
could make a big movie with lots of actors and costumes.
People who calculate their first movie based on how easy it is
to shoot, aren’t artists, unlike the ones who have to do
something because they can't rest until it is done. Eventually
we will do that "one guy in a room" movie, though.”

The film has made various appearances at Amateur Filmmaking
Festivals, and has scooped an enviable number of honours.
Kyle; “As of right now it won the Best Feature at the Santa
Barbara Film Festival's Digital Days expo. Brady won best
Director at Outhouse 5. Jamie (Crane, who played Renfield.
More on him in a minute) won Best supporting actor at Outhouse
as well. It felt great that people liked it. The actual awards
are an honour, but they go up on the wall and we don't really
think about them again. We're too busy thinking about what
comes next. We were invited by the Santa Barbara film festival
to attend the festival and Brady entered his movie not knowing
what kind of festival it was. There were no other features, in
fact most of the other movies were either kids screwing around
or were film school projects. Brady's was just this kid who
wanted to make a movie and turned in a two hour epic.”

Kyle has no doubts with regards what the finest of the
accolades might be; “The greatest honour was hearing that
The
Duke
loved it, though.” He adds that their more recent effort,
Man Of The Hour, just picked up the Silver Outhouse.”

These festival shenanigans even led to some of the folks
involved in the Coppola film, specifically Wojciech Kilar, the
film’s composer, getting all intrigified with regards the
Crane Films adaptation.

Kyle explains; “Kilar contacted Brady a few months ago about
getting a copy. We haven't heard back since then so we can
only assume that American Zeotrope's lawyers are seeing if
they have a case. We hope that isn't the situation. We'd love
it if the copy got passed around the offices and they were
like, "Hey! These guys really liked our movie! Let’s keep an
eye on them." If they liked it then we're overjoyed. If they
hated it, I hope they don't think it’s worth their time to sue
Crane Films.”

Brady seems most awed by the honours bestowed upon him by The
Outhouse Festival. “Outhouse is right here in town once a
year. People who had seen me go through depression, divorce,
physical strains, the collapse of my 130 square foot set,
among many other things, were giving me an award for hard work
and pulling off a feature length film before I was 20. Jamie
picked up the award for best supporting actor that night too.
And everyone was in agreement that he damn well deserved it.”

Yes, this Jamie character. For those what might be thinking,
“Who in the fuck is this Jamie that they’re all banging on
about”, let me explain. Jamie is Brady’s younger brother, who
picks up where Tom Wiats left off and brings an amazing
performance to the picture as the long suffering, mentalist
cockroach chomper, R.M Renfield. Who knows, maybe he’ll even
do a version of
Rain Dogs.

Honest to God, this kid is alarmingly good. So good, in fact,
that I was convinced his dialogue was dubbed. Turns out
The
Duke
was all the wrong in Kansas about that there assumption,
though. The one about the dubbing. “That voice is all his”,
says Brady, “No alterations.”

Brady continues; “He's quite literally the Marlon Brando of
child actors. He's brilliant, but very hard to work with. He
makes demands on when he shoots and all kinds of bullshit, but
it’s the price. He spent about an hour before shooting his
first scene sitting in the dark in a corner mumbling to
himself to get into character.”

What the fuck’s up with “The Youth” anyhow, is what
The Duke
was thinking. Kyle yacks a little more about this young
upstart what has the method-shenanigans down to a T. “He would
sit in our mom's garage for hours ducking his head in a corner
till he would become the character. He took aspects from the
Tom Waits character in Coppola's version and parts of Dwight
Frye's Renfield too. I think that he borrowed from both but
they way he played the whole character was his own thing.
Brady made friends with Dwight Frye's son before he passed
away and was dubbed "the next Renfield" by him. Quite an
honour. Brady was saddened to see his passing.”

Obviously, I had to have a yack with this youngster. A quick
flinging of the E-Mail later, I get a lovely response from the
Brando of child-actors.

“Well”, he explains, “I would sit by myself for at least an
hour before we started shooting. I would sit and read over my
lines, and then I would talk to myself, try and make myself a
little wild and crazy. Even when I’m not in character, I still
act strange.”

It seems he’s got his eyes set on the carry-on’s behind the
lens, also. When I asked what he thought of the finished film,
he expressed his immense pleasure, before noting that; “There
are a few changes I would have made if I were directing it,
but I didn't call the shots. I wont lie, there was a little
controversy on the set between myself and other actors, the
director and I argued a few times, but when I first saw it I
was surprised. It was really good.”

I asked Jamie if he had plans to work with the others again. I
was somewhat surprised by the response. “Yes!”, he exclaims.
“I'm writing a film called,
Lycanthrocondriac, a psychedelic
slasher movie, and we plan on starting to shoot in mid-summer.
I also plan on working on other films like the two others we
have coming out next year, and later this year. I hope I can
be able to make the first horror film at Crane Films. I love
horror and I have a few ideas for some movies. I have also
planned on pitching an idea for a prequel to the
Halloween
movies to the other cast members at Crane Films.”

Holy shit, man, is what
The Duke thought. The method-acting
upstart penning a script by the name of
Lycanthrocondriac, a
bona-fide
Title Fit For To Be Canonised, if ever was one, and
also yacking about a Halloween prequel.
Turns out there’s plenty on the cards for Kyle and Brady also. At
the minute, they continue work on the upcoming
Dracula and Man Of
The Hour
DVD’s, whilst also working on setting up a proper
studio. “We have the crappiest equipment in Baton Rouge”,
explains Kyle.

“I just finished directing
Man of the Hour: The Brandon
Buttersworth story
”, says Brady, “A true story about a local Icon
who didn’t even exist.” And the next directorial effort? “A world
war two drama called
Sansou Tomodachi. It’s about unlikely
friendships in war.”

Still no signs of one bloke in a room, then. Oh well.

I was impressed with
Dracula to say the least, or the least I can
say about it whilst still getting across that I was impressed. I
guess the leastest of the least would be to smile and yack about
cornflakes. But I was impressed even more with the dedication
these folks put into this enterprise, something that could have
easily fallen apart, or been ridiculed as just another example of
folks flinging a camcorder around.

It truly is an exceptional piece of work.

“You can sound a little proud or arrogant about it”, muses Brady,
“But that’s how the song goes. If more people did this, they
would know.”

“The best way I can describe making
Dracula”, he concludes,
“Would be to tell you to tie two sandbags to your wrists, sink
yourself to the bottom of the deep end in a pool and try and swim
up to the surface. If you can do that, you can easily make a
feature length film with everything including rainy weather
working against you.”

And hell, even if you can’t, those Olympic motherfuckers would be
all the impressed in the world, is what
The Duke is thinking.

It was a pleasure yacking to these fellas, and if you want to see
what got
The Duke in such of an inquisitive state in the first
place, then you can see the entire film
HERE.

Good work, upstarts, and
The Duke looks forward to the world war
two epics and so on. And also stuff about a guy in a room.
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