Written by Luke Barnes
Hey Everyone! I recently had the chance to interview Mike Morelli, about this award winning feature film Sh*thead, which is about a man selling his friends baby, so that he can afford to go and see his favourite musical artist. We talk about, wild quests, dancing, and the death of cinema- I hope you enjoy.
Q: If you were to sum the film up in one word what would it be?
Q: Do you have any funny production stories?
A: We rented a drone for the concert scene but there was some mix up with the rental house, it came in after we were supposed to shoot with it, so they just let me have it for a full week. We ended up improvising and playing around with that thing literally non-stop the whole week, just trying to get whatever wide-shots I could with it. I had Jordan’s costume and from far enough away, if I put it on you really couldn’t tell as easily Jordan suddenly got like 6 inches taller. I did a ton of those shots, and most of the actors weren’t available on short notice so a lot of times I’d program a route for the drone, run into place and try and get the shot all by myself. It always felt like some bizarre silent film routine.
At the end of the week, I had literally done as many shots as I could possibly think of they were coming out so good, I had one night left with the drone, I was just like, alright, you know what if we get really far away and it’s kind of dark, maybe I could pull off doubling as Janeé too? I had Erica’s costume and a wig, so, yeah I put it on, stuffed some balloons in my chest and set out at 4AM to try and sneak some night shots where no one could see me.
I did like four or five shots, and it really wasn’t working no matter how far away you got you just could tell – that’s no lady. There was no way anyone was gonna’ buy that was Janeé. Ever.
To do the shot, I’d have to program the drone, run into place and then I’d have 30 seconds before it starts. And I remember, I’m right in the middle of doing one of my last takes and this van full of young, construction guys probably going off to a super early morning job pulls down the road before I had time to hide. And they just stop. And stare at me. And they see this crazy man, dressed as a lady with balloons in his chest, flying a drone. At 4AM. Filming himself.
They didn’t laugh, they simply stared at me for like a full minute trying to piece together what the hell their eyes were seeing. The looks on their faces, thinking about now I’m dead.
None of the shots made it into the film.
Q: What inspired you to make this film, what was your drive, your catalyst?
A: I made a short called “SHITHEAD” that this is loosely based off. I sold weed when I was younger, and I was always fascinated by the delicate juggling act that went into balancing out a serious illegal drug habit. Drugs aren’t free and by the very nature of the activity, they need to be replaced fairly often. So, it becomes this game of constantly trying to make money, find drugs, take the drugs, run out of drugs, repeat.
Now take that dynamic and tell it like a raunchy, Preston Sturges screwball comedy. That was the idea, at least.
Q: Does your film have a message and if so what is it?
A: Don’t sell your baby. Use Birth Control. Liberate Taiwan.
Q: Who is your filmmaking influence?
A: My older brother, John. Authors like Charles Willeford and James Ellroy loom large in the stories I like to tell. There are so many filmmakers from around the world I could name drop to make me sound smart, but I’ll stick with that.
Q: How would you describe the film’s sense of humour?
A: Juggalo Crack. I guess that’s really what Chenko is, anyway.
Q: Have you ever been on any wild quests of your own?
A: Making this movie. Without a doubt the most epic quest that I have ever been on. And I’m still talking about it, right now…
Q: If you had the sum the production up in a word what would it be?
Q: If you could travel back in time to when you were a young filmmaker just starting out what advice would you give yourself?
A: Learn to dance. I’d tell myself that, hey, by the time you’re able to release your first feature film cinema as you know it, conceptually, will be dead. Monopolistic corporations will destroy a lot of the things you hold so dear, and people’s attention spans are going to dwindle to below a minute. Maybe less.. So learn to dance and Tik Tok. It’s your best shot.
Q: If you ever win an award who will you thank in your acceptance speech?
A: I probably wouldn’t attend any awards ceremony. I actually just won something and am trying to get someone to attend virtually in my place. Nobody knows what I look like, it would make me laugh so hard if they cut to a speech by me and it’s like a 90-year-old man from Wisconsin or something.
We did win some awards for Sh*thead, I never attended any of those ceremonies to thank anyone.
That’s not because I’m not grateful, far from it. Making an Independent Film is tough, and you need a lot of passionate, motivated people for it to work. And we had a lot of talented souls come together to make Sh*thead. I really am deeply thankful for so many people. Of course, I gotta’ thank Johnny Smith who is a genuinely great person and good friend of mine. Johnny lit up our film, everyone on set loved being around him so much. And people don’t realize, Johnny had severe back issues from a car accident, he was in a lot of pain during the shoots. And Tom Valentino and Erica Everett, I gotta’ thank them so much, they stuck with the film, and me, to see this through. I’m grateful to everyone that helped make Sh*thead happen, thank you all.
You can watch Sh*thead on Amazon Prime, Google Play and Vimeo and as always my review of the film is up on site right now!