Interview with Gabe Bartalos (“Saint Bernard”)

Interview with Gabe Bartalos (“Saint Bernard”)


naughty naughty it features a musical composer played by actor JD gray who it’s kind of left up to the audience what where’s mental illness comes from it’s hinted from drugs it’s also shown that it happens his head is messed up from before that as a child but we follow his descent into madness and I wanted to make a film that broke with convey convention in the sense that if I watch a film I usually could tell by the time when acts are going to be hit or when beats are going to be hit and that could be very distracting to me I’m already filling it in all right I know what’s going to happen I was very conscious about trying to fracture the the the time flow I’m a big fan of dreams i love how dreams fragment things but blend them together seamlessly so that in the dream you don’t question the yellow elephant floating by my head or the totem pole trying to pick my nose that’s all fine in the dream afterwards you kind of laugh and you go what the heck was that I wanted to capture that nonsense in the dream but work very hard at making it flow as a narrative and that became the challenge of learning the language of film and that became the greatest pleasure for me is how do you communicate this if to people who don’t know the same language or sitting together and you watch someone carrying bread fall you will both laugh even if you don’t understand his curse words so how could i create images that are universal and then more importantly how could i create a mood and a mood is very specific a mood is based on your your personal experiences so a mood that is set up is going to resonate with people differently and that’s okay that’s where a film becomes personal every person who watches st. Bernard is going to pull something different from it and I encourage that there’s a lot of work put into the sets and the production design in the film and I tackled that hands-on because it was just a way for me to continue sculpting instead of sculpting ahead of my stand I was now taking a sculptural aesthetic on the sense when the film is over you’re left with a spell and you may think what was that but hopefully while viewing it you are under the hypnosis of the film yeah the choice to do mostly practical effects / CGI is really i do practical effects and i want to do the fun stuff so if i gave the cgi to somebody else then i’m just a bystander I sometimes I think it’s strange that so many effects are given to the digital artist because the whole idea of filmmaking is to get out your images and if you know how to do it do it yourself if you’re a CGI artist I could understand making a CGI film being a practical artist that was my choice to do mostly things practical and I think that then the the message is in the medium the parachuting chickens if that was done digitally even at its best would just be digital to know it’s really happening for the audience to see that I think you laugh at many levels you laugh at the exhaustion that it must have taken to figure that out and to do it seems that challenge the imagination if it’s too controlled ie sometimes the laws that digital need you lose the impact that’s not Universal but for me at this point in my life I chose to do everything practical and for me I want to communicate with the public and that was a way that was very important to me my background is a special makeup effects artist is I started as a kid loving movies all films and I started to gravitate toward her fantasy films and I began to make my own films and realize somebody had to do the effects so I began to do them I love art and all aspects of it so I found myself making a chopped-off heads figuring out how to make blood I was growing up in New York I moved to Los Angeles knowing that’s where the industry was and I was lucky to get right to work I worked with Stewart Gordon on the dolls and from beyond and on the same production schedule was working with David’s molar film he was making with klaus kinski called crawl space this was great because it was early in my career and I thought all the actors were like Klaus Kinski but there’s going to be this dramatic time on all the shoots I got along with Klaus Kinski very well that amused to everybody of course Klaus gets along with Gabe and that was great we had great fun there in Italy this is where was them back in the United States I worked at a company called real effects on Friday the 13th part 6 and then got to work with Tom Savini on Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2 so there was a lot of cool films in a very short amount of time all this time I was also continuing to sculpt on my own and design characters and develop my own skills and I got to then work at Rick Baker studio Rick Baker was one of the most influential people to me growing up because I noticed very early on he took the left of makeup effects and elevated it and was working on films that I also liked so the two were together very well and so I was very excited the first job I worked with Rick Baker was gorillas in the mist and that was wonderful because I had known that Rick Baker was setting out to make the ultimate gorilla suit and I think on this project he had the time and the money to and I think we’re all very proud of that work it’s it’s I still think one of the best projects I’ve seen him do and very very strong strong work in that I stayed at Rick’s for about three years on coming to America something’s out there Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker and gremlins 20 in the TV show Beauty and the Beast I began to take on some of my own work at this point and began to get a relationship with filmmaker Frank Hannon ladder he first film I did with Frank was brain damage and then he got a two-picture deal for franken hooker and basket case too at that point in 91 92 was coming out leprechaun the Leprechaun film one was with Warwick Davis Warwick and I are the only two that were witness series all the way through and it was fun to design a makeup for Trimark Studios then that became Lionsgate to create a character that a studio could make a franchise and for them hopefully make a lot of money with Frank Hannon ladder we also did basket case three and then he took a hiatus from filmmaking I continued to be developing my skills i opened up my own studio Atlanta quest effects in 1990 I incorporated it during this time the bug of making my own films was beginning to scratch again so in 1995 I shot a short film called in the pool of darkness and it was in 16-millimeter it was a loose trailer to a script I wrote and it was about a female politicians fall from grace and in her spiral into madness a theme I like revisiting I guess so that was great it was a seven minute montage of images very high energy and it got me excited about shooting film again and I began writing a script called skin too deep about a house of horrors a group of murdering family that capture a girl pulled her and while I wanted to follow very traditional lines of horror narrative I found my own sensibilities going toward a little more bizarre a little more surreal look into the face of easy and pray for your soul give skin-deep was put out quite well by the company hard sharp that became artists alliance and they did a very wide distribution and it was great it it brought my name to a bigger audience I really like David Lynch’s film all films all of them from Eraserhead all the way up Eraserhead especially very early on struck me because it’s possibly as an entire film one of the only films that captures to me what a dream is like being a fan of dreams I thought that film is very interesting and its visual impact and its sound design and I think there are direct influences into into my work there’s a certain absurdity to dreams that’s really wonderful it’s definitely a surreal logic and I love trying to capture that it definitely makes it more interesting for me as a viewer and as a filmmaker some of the other references that are more underlying are maybe some of the slower films andrei tarkovsky’s a russian filmmaker i’m a big fan of his all those films and bela tarr a hungarian filmmaker myself being hungarian i’m always interested to see what the clan is up to both their films I lump them together though they’re very different in the sense that they found a different way to communicate well Lynch did also so maybe that’s where they’re all universal they are communicating visually but there is a resonance there is a echo again happening below the level that it’s a frequency that they caught and they understand it’s a human frequency and that’s something I would like to strive to that’s something that’s being at work and st. Bernard I think it’s even more impactful than an explosion an explosion will will hit your senses and it will do what you want but if you could create a mood or a spell that gets below the surface subliminally you’re talking real manipulation real connection at that point and that’s exciting to me because it gives you room to I daresay explore things intellectually while at the same time at least me I don’t take my self too seriously but I’d like to take the themes seriously in the approach

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