Film Courage: Where did you grow up?
Anthony de Lioncourt: I grew up on the south shore of Long Island.
Film Courage: What was life like growing up? Were your parents supportive of creativity or more toward academics?
Anthony de Lioncourt: My parents were really supportive in whatever I wanted to do. My grades were always pretty good so that never posed as a problem. My childhood is full of fond memories. The elementary school I went to was connected to an old cathedral church. It really had a haunting atmosphere. The school had this incredible looking library. It was like something out of a Harry Potter film. Well at least that’s how I remember it. There’s also some amazing parks out here and this old restoration village from the 19th century that I went to almost every weekend as a kid. I think being around all this at such a young age had an impact on me. It gave me a wild imagination. On the flip side of that, as inspiring as my surrounding were there seemed very little opportunity to pursue anything creative. Long Island is a beautiful place, but within that beauty it’s also a place where dreams go to die. There’s little culture or really any chance for the arts. You would have to take an hour and a half train ride to NYC for that. Even there though you’re a little fish in a big pond. Where do you even begin? Being young and not knowing how the world works makes you even more lost.
Film Courage: What were you like in school?
Anthony: I was rather introverted, then at times I wasn’t. I’m still the same today. I guess it all depends on my mood. When it came to school, especially in the latter years I just wanted to do my time and get home and work on stuff I thought was more important. Most of the extracurricular activities they had to offer never interested me. Plus most of my close friends went to others schools, so I didn’t want to be there longer than needs be. I had bigger plans.
“A lot of it has to do with fact I’ve never felt the world owed me anything. So if I wanted something I would have to work hard to get it. No one is going to care about your dream but you. You and you alone have to be the one solely responsible for that. You want to make it happen for you…….you have to live your art and that’s it. If you keep stopping to enjoy the party you will go nowhere. It’s easy to get caught up in this hollywood dress-up crap. Where we all pretend we’re something more than we are, like we’ve already made it. This kind of thinking will destroy you. I’ve seen this back in the day when I did music. Thinking too big and skipping steps 1 through 1000 leads to nothing. My friend and lead actor in The Protokon Jaiden Kaine thinks big, but always backs up everything he says and sets out to do. He never lets his dream of being an actor slip through his fingers. He makes it a reality. I really admire him for that.”
Anthony de Lioncourt
Film Courage: Did you have long hair in school? How was this perceived?
Anthony: Oh yeah! Everyone had buzz cuts and fades. I grew my hair down passed the middle of my back at one point. Part of me just wanted to see how long it would grow and the other part wanted to rebel I guess. Nobody really cared. After awhile when people would start a conversion with me like “Dude! You like Metallica?” It was time to cut it, and no I don’t like Metallica. As far as the cops, they stop everybody around here from old ladies to men in business suits. They’re equal opportunist!
Film Courage: You have a wonderful name – tell us the origin/lineage of de Lioncourt?
Anthony: Thank you! It’s French. I’m also part Italian.
Film Courage: What were your plans after high school?
Anthony: To pursue a music career. That’s really all I wanted to do at that point. I played a lot of shows (solo acoustic mostly) around NY and some out of state stuff. After awhile it felt like I was just pissing in the wind and stopped playing out all together. I grew to hate playing live. The whole idea of it is a joke to me. I wrote and recorded songs that meant something to me at that moment. To try and dig up those feelings in front of a drunk audience at some dive was just lame. So I just put out releases, and that’s it. A good friend of mine Scott (who was an amazing singer and mentor to me) always tried to help me out. He was rather well known in the music scene and even hooked me up with an ex manager of his. Again, I didn’t want to play live so there wasn’t much he could do for me. I did find some success with the underground CD trading world. I got into some zines and got some good reviews. In reality, that’s where my music fit anyway. It wasn’t some toe tapping type of thing. It was very dark and atmospheric. If I knew then what I know now I think I could have done a whole lot more with it. I have releases on Spotify and itunes under a band name I created for myself, but there’s no need to promote any of that stuff. It was another life.
Film Courage: What drives your work ethic? Do you take after someone in your family who has the same inner drive?
Anthony: A lot of it has to do with fact I’ve never felt the world owed me anything. So if I wanted something I would have to work hard to get it. No one is going to care about your dream but you. You and you alone have to be the one solely responsible for that. You want to make it happen for you…….you have to live your art and that’s it. If you keep stopping to enjoy the party you will go nowhere. It’s easy to get caught up in this hollywood dress-up crap. Where we all pretend we’re something more than we are, like we’ve already made it. This kind of thinking will destroy you. I’ve seen this back in the day when I did music. Thinking too big and skipping steps 1 through 1000 leads to nothing. My friend and lead actor in The Protokon Jaiden Kaine thinks big, but always backs up everything he says and sets out to do. He never lets his dream of being an actor slip through his fingers. He makes it a reality. I really admire him for that.
Film Courage: How many years were you a singer/songwriter?
Anthony: I started singing, playing guitar and piano at age 14 and pursued it up to about when I was 25. I joined a bunch of bands early on, but soon realized being solo was the way to go. I got very disillusioned about being in bands. Nobody wanted to do the music I wanted to do and talked the talk, but never walked the walk. It was extremely frustrating. So I decided to be a solo artist playing all the instruments myself, writing songs and recording them myself. It was then that I grew as a musician and a realized that this was the right move for me. I was able to see my vision all the way through. That was the most important thing. It’s great to collaborate with others, but when they’re lazy, have terrible ideas, or are in cloud cuckoo land it limits you.
Film Courage: Where did your love for 80’s music/film begin?
Anthony: For me, the golden age of cinema was within the 70’s and 80’s. I love how those films look and think they are far superior to the stuff coming out today. There was just this dreamy vibe to them. It’s almost hard to explain. As a kid HBO really introduced me to that kind of cinema. I remember they had their own little TV guide type of thing that used to come in the mail every month. It would have screen shots of the films they were showing. Films like 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Blue Velvet, The Warriors, Looker, Burnt Offerings, Phantasm, Amadeus, Defiance. I remember how I couldn’t wait to check these films out. Then once I did they just blew my mind. HBO at the time showed some crazy musicals as well like Phantom of The Paradise, The Wall, Tommy, The Wiz. These were some weird and beautiful movies. I think that’s what gave me my love for art and experimental cinema.
With 80’s music. I really dug New Wave and Alt Rock. Stuff like Human League, early U2, The Smiths, Echo and The Bunnymen. One day I remember watching some religious shows on TV. They were talking about the whole “satanism” thing in heavy metal music. I found that very interesting. It was just so cool and mysterious. They always showed Iron Maiden album covers and I thought they were the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Shortly after I found a local radio station that played all different kinds of metal music. Most of it I didn’t like, but then they played Maiden. I was like “WOW! This band is amazing”. There’s not much to say, Iron Maiden is just awesome!
Film Courage: Favorite Cultural Icon’s from the 80’s?
Anthony: As for 80s icons in music, Morrissey from The Smiths without question. I relate so much with his lyrics. He’s a deep thinker and sees things for what they are. His song “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” in my opinion is the soundtrack for all young struggling artists. For film, it’s director David Lynch. Lynch’s The Elephant Man is the most beautiful piece of cinema ever made. It should have won the Oscar in ’81 over Raging Bull. Raging Bull is a good movie, but The Elephant Man speaks to your soul. John Hurt should have won best actor as well over De niro. That fact that Hurt could convey so much emotion with all the prosthetics and make up was just incredible. Hurt is an Icon in my eyes, even though he’s a bit of an unsung hero. Actor Jan Michael Vincent is another. To me he is the quintessential leading man of that time period.
Film Courage: What happened the day you said ‘We’re making The Protokon.’ Had you thought about it long enough? What finally prompted it?
Anthony: I spent about 3 years everyday getting good with the camera, my gear, editing and post work. Learning everything I could. Once I felt I was at a competent level is when the idea of making a film came to mind. I originally wanted to do a short, but actor Mark Mattson convinced me to do a full feature. I’m glad he did.
Film Courage: While you pursued a musical career, was it in the back of your mind to be a filmmaker? Or were you 100% focused on making it in music? Why did you stop seeking to be a singer/songwriter (except for film scores?)
Anthony: I never thought about making films. Though I did take an audio/video class in school, thinking I could make weird videos for my music. The cameras they had were all SVHS and BETA so you really couldn’t do anything with them aside from maybe interviewing someone. If you tried anything creative It would look like a home movie made with a camcorder. I know people say that it’s the story that matters, but really film is a visual art form, with an emphasis on the word “visual”. There’s nothing cinematic about camcorder footage or digital video that looks like digital video. DSLR’s changed that. For a decent price you can get a camera that can shoot in 1080P 24fps and produce wonderful cinematography due to the wide range of lenses you can use. It made achieving the look I wanted possible. When I found the Canon T2i is when my interest in film began. It was easy to walk away from music. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with it anyways. It never gave back all I put into it and I gave it everything. I also finally reached a point where with the songs I wrote I said everything I wanted to say with it. I needed to move on with my life and find another outlet that suited me. Filmmaking fit the bill.
Film Courage: How do you make an 80’s stylized Surreal Sci-Fi Independent feature film for $10,000? Wouldn’t the wardrobe and set design alone cost more than that? Not to mention the cost of the crew and post-production expenses. Can you break down the costs for us?
Anthony: It’s easier than you might think. Ebay is your best friend for getting costumes and props on the cheap. Most of the locations I already had access to. So it can be done. You just have to write for what you got. As far as a crew, it’s just me and I do all the editing and post work myself.
You say that you and actor/executive producer Mark Mattson paid for the production yourselves without crowdfunding or outside help, is there part of you that wishes you did go out and raise more money so that you could have had a bigger budget which would have better helped you realize your vision?
No, doing it the way we did it was the right choice. Mark and I both work for our money and it was an investment in our creativity. Everyone talks about how “independent” they are in their life, but when it comes to their art they want someone else to pay for it. Granted, I’m not apposed to doing a crowdfunding campaign. The time has to be right for it though. You have to build yourself to a point where there is some sort of public interest otherwise it’s just grandma cutting you a check. I don’t really see the point to bowvine your friends and family for $4,000 or $5,000 then patting yourself on the back like you accomplished something. That doesn’t seem right to me.
Film Courage: You filmed The Protokon with a Canon T2i, a tripod, dolly wheels, and 4 lenses, was that equipment you already owned before the shoot? Did you rent any equipment? Did you make any efforts to barter or borrow equipment?
Anthony: Yes! I own all my own equipment. I did borrowed a lens or two from Eugene Lin who on days he wasn’t acting in the film was the on set photographer. So his lenses were always around. Aside from that I like to work with my own gear. I know all the shots I want to get and know I can achieve them with what I have.
Film Courage: You say you wrote with actors in mind, did you already know many of the actors in The Protokon? How much of the script did you have written before you approached the actors? How did you audition them?
Anthony: Yeah, I knew almost the whole cast before shooting. I would alter the script I had to better suit the actor once I knew they signed on. Mark Mattson and Jaiden Kaine were the first to be cast. I’ve been best friends with Mark for years so I knew what he was capable of doing. I also am very close friends with Jaiden. He in many ways inspired his character in the film due to his ceaseless ambition. Another actor that inspired his own character in the film was Gary Marachek. I met him at an NYC film festival through friends. I remember we were talking about music and singing and keeping your voice healthy. It’s funny, one of the things he said to me was “Back in the day when I was younger….. I drank, I smoked, I didn’t give shit!”. He then nudged me with his elbow and started laughing. I remember thinking “This guy is awesome!” and it was at that moment I saw a character to create and write for. I had a great time writing for him. Eugene Lin was there the same night doing photography for the festival. I’ve only met him once before, but it was that night we talked about him being in the film. From there not only was he in The Protokon but got even more involved and came on as a producer. He did a lot for the project. I can’t thank him enough for that.
Film Courage: Can you share a story of being on set where your patience/resolve was tested and how you fought on?
Anthony: One time Mark and I were doing some pick up shots at this dumping ground area and we got greeted by a bunch of meth heads. They were really trying to start something with us. They winded up leaving so we were able to continue with the shoot, but for a while it looked like things were gonna go down. On another occasion it was Mark and I again and there was this kid on his bike that just wouldn’t leave. He just kept gawking at us. It was very distracting, but we just continued on. All in all that was the worst of it. Everything else went quite smoothly.
Film Courage: Tips on boosting cast/crew morale while filming? Tips on giving feedback to actors while on set?
Anthony: I like to kid around a lot on set. I think it’s important for everyone to feel good during the process so no ones self-conscious. If you have all those types of thoughts in your mind it’s very hard to perform. I’ve heard stories about directors screaming at actors and all, but does anyone really think after that they’re going to produce something magical? Probably not. That’s how I look at it anyways. It really helped to know most of the actors personally. I already knew what’s inside them and can lightly guide them to what is needed.
Film Courage: How do you organize your time? What’s your biggest obstacle to prioritizing what needs to be done/how do you work through this?
Anthony: My biggest obstacle is sleep. As far as prioritizing my schedule, I go to my day job, come home and work on the film till I can’t stay up anymore. Then on my days off I work on the film from the moment I get up and onwards. That for the most part is how I do it.
Film Courage: What makes you want to submit to a film festival? What is your criteria for doing so? How many did you submit to with The Protokon?
Anthony: In all honesty, it seems to be a necessary evil. It’s one step forward to getting your film some exposure. I was picky with the festivals I entered into though. I submitted mainly to the Fantastic, Sci-Fi/Horror type, and many that have a past track record of showing films in the same vein as mine. Ones that make sense for the film. Myself and Eugene Lin did a lot of research on them.
Film Courage: Tell us about the soundtrack for The Protokon? What’s your process for choosing what songs go where?
Anthony: Most of the music was written right after I put the scene together. I would go right to the keyboard and immediately start composing the music based on the feel I got from the scene. I would write it, rehearse it for a bit, then record and track it out. A lot of the music I wanted a hypnotic pulse to it. Lots of minimalistic arpeggios that build. Other songs sway their way into nothingness. It was all written and based on feel. I’ve always loved music that through melody and tone took you to certain emotion, a certain place. Where you can visualize it in your mind and it’s almost like it was only meant for you to see. That’s why I loved music and why I did it for so long. It’s chasing those feeling and emotions and turning them in something sonic. A sound that’s a testament of your being.
Film Courage: In the process of making The Protokon, what have you learned about yourself in regards to your passion for making music and for making movies? Has your perspective changed? Do you plan to make more movies?
Anthony: You know, a big part of me never wanted anyone to know who I am. I kinda wanted this film to have that aire of mystery about it, like it just sort of formed on its own. Kubrick’s 2001 had that. I’ve come to realize though that I think it’s important for people to know me and the way I think to better understand The Protokon. That’s been a bit of a revelation as of lately. For awhile too I didn’t want anyone to know I used a Canon T2i, but now I’m proud of it. Using this minimalistic set up I have I feel it’s kinda punk rock, and I like that. It’s a stance against the idea that renting a super expensive camera will give more value to your project. If you can’t do it on a T2i, you can’t do it period.
As far as if my perspective has change, not really. I think my history with music helped mold the mindset I have today. I know the search for success never ends. The struggle never ends. You have to work on it forever. This is why I enjoy the process of filmmaking. Cause while I’m doing it, it doesn’t matter how much money I have or who will watch it in the end. Non of that stuff matters.
In regards to my future films, I don’t want to be known as “The Sci-Fi Guy”. I said what I wanted to say with The Protokon and that’s going to be it as far as making anything in that genre. As we speak I’m finishing up the script for my second feature called Thorns For Flowers. It’s a psychological thriller that takes place in the 70’s. A completely different esthetic from The Protokon. I hope to start that sometime late spring/summer for a 2016 release. My plan is to do a feature a year. I already have the concepts written out for two more films.
Film Courage: Best piece of advice anyone ever offered you? Worst piece of advice anyone ever offered you? Did you listen to either one?
Anthony: The best advice I got recently was from Sheri Candler. It started when I saw the interview you guys did with her. What an amazing woman! I immediately read everything I could get my hands on from her. Not only did she reinforce what I already felt I had to do as far as marketing and promoting my film, but she also put me in the right mindset. I’ve never met her, but if I did I would tell her that if it wasn’t for her my film would most likely fall at the wayside. She opened my eyes. I have a plan now and I know what needs to be done. Actor Ben Van Bergen gave me some wonderful advice on the paperwork and business side of things. As far as bad advice? I don’t think there’s enough time in this interview for that!
Film Courage: Parting words on the film and for indie filmmakers.
Anthony: For those who are fans of David Lynch and Alejandro Jodorowsky and who want a bit of Sci-Fi nostalgia and love films from the 70’s and 80’s then definitely check out The Protokon. I think you might enjoy it. We’re really trying to get the film out there, so hopefully anyone reading this that wants to see it will get a chance to. As for any words for indie filmmakers, just make the films you want to make. There’s always somebody that is like-minded like yourself. That will be into what you’re creating. The key is to find them. That’s what I’m doing now. It’s the next part of the journey.
*On Set Photography by Eugene Lin
Anthony de Lioncourt was born and raised in New York. He started out as a singer/songwriter before trying his hand at filmmaking. The Protokon is Anthony’s first film, which he wrote, directed, shot, edited, and scored. His style is influenced by late 70’s and early 80’s films, as well as experimental cinema. Recently Anthony and his film The Protokon was featured in a six page spread in issue 23 of Digital FilmMaker Magazine.
ABOUT THE PROTOKON:
In 1984 a mysterious organization The Order of The Circle made themselves known to the world bringing terror and sieged a global take over. With a technology known as The Dividian Process a perfect soldier was created enforcing The Order’s plans for population termination. This soldier is known as Project Midnight. The year is 2080. The Order of The Circle has put their final plan for total human extinction into action, but there’s a problem. Project Midnight has developed consciousness and is seeking to remember his once human life. Perhaps in a twisted state of events the once ‘Angel Of Death’ is now mankind’s only hope.
Mark Mattson, Jaiden Kaine, Samantha Strelitz, Eugene Lin, Jeff Moffitt, Gary Marachek, Loren Giron, Mark Moore, Danni Wang, Steven Komito.
Anthony de Lioncourt
Anthony de Lioncourt
Anthony de Lioncourt
Anthony de Lioncourt, Eugene Lin, Jaiden Kaine.