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[Interview] Director Marcel Sarmiento On ‘The ABC’s Of Death’ And His Favorite Onscreen Death Of All Time!!

Magnet officially releases The ABCs of Death on various On Demand platforms (Cable VOD, iTunes, Amazon, Xbox Zune, Playstation Market, VUDU and Google Play) TODAY January 31st with a limited theatrical run set for March 8. The film has 26 directors, so to celebrate 26 different websites are running exclusive interviews with the film’s directors! If you do some poking around (Badass Digest, Slashfilm, HitFix, Latino Review etc…) you can find some of the others. Eventually all 26 interviews will be collected at the The ABCs of Death Tumblr.

I’m particularly excited about my interview. Director Marcel Sarmiento (the underrated Deadgirl) has fashioned one of the true highlights of the film with his segment, “D is for Dogfight.” It’s a truly incredible bit of visual storytelling, a complete narrative contained within a beautifully shot 5 minute sequence without any dialogue.

In this mega-anthology, “Twenty-six directors. Twenty-six ways to die. The ABCs of Death is perhaps the most ambitious anthology film ever conceived with productions spanning fifteen countries and featuring segments directed by over two dozen of the world’s leading talents in contemporary genre film. Inspired by children’s educational books, the motion picture is comprised of twenty-six individual chapters, each helmed by a different director assigned a letter of the alphabet. The directors were then given free reign in choosing a word to create a story involving death.

The ABC’s Of Death is out now! Head inside for the interview!

After Deadgirl and The ABC’s Of Death, do you plan on sticking around in horror for a while? Or is there another genre you’d like to explore? What about horror draws you in?

I’m drawn to ideas that stir things up a little. I like causing trouble, and horror has been a great way to do that – sometimes the only way to hit a nerve – especially when everyone’s exposed to so much already, online, etc… But I also like when horrific things are grounded, so no matter how unsettling (or ridiculous!) something may seem to be, I tend to look under the surface for my chills in real life. I never saw Deadgirl as a horror film per se, but as a really twisted coming-of-age story with horrific elements. I think one can find that in all genres, so that’s what drives my choices.

What’s the most important internal quality for an indie filmmaker to possess?

Being able to take a punch in the gut everyday from prep through post to screenings. The beatings never seem to end, so you better love what you do.

What’s the name of your short in ABC’s? What can you tell us about it?

It’s “D is for DOGFIGHT”. I wanted to do something sordidly visual and elemental, which eventually led to it being silent and in slo-mo. I knew a dog trainer (he did the Mask movies and the dog in I Am Legend), and I went and told him my idea, and he basically looked at me like I was crazy. We had no money, plus putting an animal and an actor in direct contact was one of the hardest things you can do apparently. As he’s telling me all the reasons why this will never work, I’m looking at him thinking, “Man, this guy has a great face!” So I say, “hey, why don’t YOU be the guy fighting the dog?” And he choked on his words a little and said, “Me???” But I knew I had him. Nobody had ever considered asking him to be in something, let alone play the lead. And you know what? He’s fucking fantastic. He’s so good! But that’s how we managed to pull it off. The trainer is the guy fighting his own stunt dog.

What’s your favorite horror anthology?

Tough question. Part of me wants to say one of the great British ones from the 70s like Asylum. But for me horror anthologies bring me back to the 80s. And that would have to be Nightmares and Bishop of Battle.

What’s your favorite onscreen death of all time?

Samuel L. Jackson in Deep Blue Sea. I mean, come on.

At what age did you come to understand what death truly means?

Well my best friend had his throat slashed when we were like in 3rd grade, so it’s not something I take lightly. I’ll never forget getting pulled out of class to be told he wasn’t coming back. I think in everything I do, horrific or not, my approach is to try and be quite sincere because, no matter how outrageous something may be, the core feelings are the same for me. People always ask why such disturbing stuff happens all the time, and my answer is because only then does one really get to the core of what it feels like to be alive.




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