Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Say Hello to the Cast of the All-New, All-Female 'Ghostsbusters' movie Say Hello to the Cast of the All-New, All-Female 'Ghostsbusters' movie Review: Nuance-Deprived "Race" Movie 'Black or White' is Actually About White Frustration (Opens Friday) Review: Nuance-Deprived "Race" Movie 'Black or White' is Actually About White Frustration (Opens Friday) Trailer: Musical Take on the Gospel According to John the Apostle w/ a Black Cast (Harry Lennix, Chaka Khan, Mali Music, More) Trailer: Musical Take on the Gospel According to John the Apostle w/ a Black Cast (Harry Lennix, Chaka Khan, Mali Music, More) ABC Picks Up New Pilot From Shonda Rhimes' Shondaland Titled 'The Catch' ABC Picks Up New Pilot From Shonda Rhimes' Shondaland Titled 'The Catch' First 'Fantastic Four' Reboot Trailer Surfaces! Watch It Now! First 'Fantastic Four' Reboot Trailer Surfaces! Watch It Now! Ava DuVernay & David Oyelowo Make It a Trifecta as They Re-Team for Katrina-Set Love Story/Murder Mystery Ava DuVernay & David Oyelowo Make It a Trifecta as They Re-Team for Katrina-Set Love Story/Murder Mystery Review: Lifetime's 'With This Ring' - So What Did You Think of It? Review: Lifetime's 'With This Ring' - So What Did You Think of It? Review: Nzingha Stewart Guides Lifetime's 'With This Ring' (Premieres Saturday, January 24th) Review: Nzingha Stewart Guides Lifetime's 'With This Ring' (Premieres Saturday, January 24th) Here Are 10 Reasons Why Many of You Aren't Going to Movie Theaters Anymore, According to a New Study Here Are 10 Reasons Why Many of You Aren't Going to Movie Theaters Anymore, According to a New Study 'Empire' Breaks Fox TV’s 22 Year Old Ratings Record 'Empire' Breaks Fox TV’s 22 Year Old Ratings Record Alexandra Shipp Has been Cast as Storm in 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Alexandra Shipp Has been Cast as Storm in 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Open Casting Call - 2 Male Leads in New Feature Film From the Producers of 'Pariah' & 'Yelling to the Sky' Open Casting Call - 2 Male Leads in New Feature Film From the Producers of 'Pariah' & 'Yelling to the Sky' "Stakes Is High" in First Trailer for Season 2 of STARZ Hit Drama Series 'Power' (Returns This Summer) "Stakes Is High" in First Trailer for Season 2 of STARZ Hit Drama Series 'Power' (Returns This Summer) An Open Letter to My Sister, Ava DuVernay An Open Letter to My Sister, Ava DuVernay Watch Teaser for 'Being Mary Jane' Season 2 + Details on Story, Guest Stars Watch Teaser for 'Being Mary Jane' Season 2 + Details on Story, Guest Stars Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Macy Gray, Bryshere Y. Gray (aka Yazz The Greatest) Will Have An Affair In Lee Daniels' 'Empire' Macy Gray, Bryshere Y. Gray (aka Yazz The Greatest) Will Have An Affair In Lee Daniels' 'Empire' It's A 'Hustle & Flow' Reunion! Taraji P. Henson Joins Terrence Howard In Lee Daniels' 'Empire' It's A 'Hustle & Flow' Reunion! Taraji P. Henson Joins Terrence Howard In Lee Daniels' 'Empire' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Exclusive: Mischa Webley Talks Making Of War Vet First Feature 'The Kill Hole' & Festival Momentum

Shadow and Act By Vanessa Martinez | Shadow and Act July 20, 2012 at 9:00AM

Mischa Webley’s feature debut The Kill Hole has been making the rounds at several film festivals this year and earning accolades along the way; the film last won the best narrative feature at the New Jersey Film Festival.  
2
Mischa Webley-Kill Hole

Mischa Webley’s feature debut The Kill Hole has been making the rounds at several film festivals this year and earning accolades along the way; the film last won the best narrative feature at the New Jersey Film Festival.  

Just a few years ago, during the time Webley worked the night shift as a cab driver in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, he was also working on a short documentary piece about his grandfather’s experiences as a World War II veteran.

“He confided in me about a number of things and experiences during the war that he never told anyone for decades including my mother,” says Webley of his grandfather, whose stories served as inspiration for The Kill Hole’s fictionalized dramatic narrative, “I was humbled that he confided in me in that it sparked a curiosity about the wars that are going on now and I wanted to explore the world of returning soldiers.”

Webley realized early on that his project about a Vietnam veteran (Chadwick Boseman) suffering from PTSD and sent on a mission to annihilate an AWOL Marine Corps (Tory Kittles), was ambitious, especially for a first feature. He describes the circumstances of finding support serendipitous, I moved back to Portland with the script, ready to beg, borrow or steal to raise a few bucks and do it on my own. I was connected to my producer, Zach Hagen, and he saw that it really needed more than that. Our budget wasn't a lot, but it wasn't a shoestring. I'm glad, because that allowed us to do the material justice.”

The filmmaker also says he was fortunate to get the support he needed with modest resources, and he took advantage of affordable, yet highly competent technology accessible to filmmakers, hence his motto to “Do a lot with a little.”

 Part of the challenge for Webley was pushing the film’s envelope creatively and stylistically. The filmmaker developed three different aesthetics in the film, “There's a straight thriller narrative; there's a poetic, voiceover element too, and then there's a documentary element that takes place in a veteran's support group that the lead character, played by Chadwick, goes to.”

In order to film the veterans’ support group scenes, actual veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were brought on board; in those largely improvised sequences, these non-actors opened up to the counselor character played by Billy Zane, “What we caught on camera were some really powerful, raw, honest accounts of their military experiences. Some really great scenes,” says Webley.

Webley acknowledges the misnomer that Black lead characters will label a film as a “black film” or that such film wouldn’t have an audience, “It’s frustrating.” He says that race of the lead characters wasn’t a starting point for him, “My focus was just to try and draw interesting, complex characters, to sort of transcend that whole issue of race entirely.”

And although Webley anticipated some pushback from studios and distributors, it wasn’t a significant concern, “I think audiences in general are a lot smarter than marketers and distributors give them credit for and people respond to compelling stories, no matter what race the characters are. I just ignore the people who say that a black cast won't sell.”

An important and very relevant fact that Webley highlighted during our interview is that the military is largely comprised of Blacks and Latinos, “In movies, they’re almost always portrayed as white soldiers or veterans. There’s Reality and then there’s what is represented on film.”

To cast for the leads of Lt. Samuel Drake and the AWOL Marine, Webley worked with New York City casting director Adrienne Stern, “Chad [Boseman] had a read on the character that was just spot on,” says Webley. Tory Kittles, whom Webley talked to over an hour over the phone before casting him, “had an in depth understanding of the character without me ever meeting him.”

The director welcomed the actors’ own take to the material; he says he likes to be surprised, and indeed he was, after witnessing the way in which Boseman and Kettles brought personal elements to their characterizations, both quite challenging due to their intense emotional natures.

“They’re the type of actors who throw themselves completely and we’re dealing around issues of PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder]. Chad’s character had nightmares from what he went through. You sort of have to give them the space to really be there. It was interesting. There were some themes that we were asking and demanding a lot from them and they went all the way,” says Webley, who was impressed by how much emotional ground the actors accomplished to cover during a very tight 22-day shooting schedule.

Webley, who is currently working on a second feature film, and developing a comedy web series based on his experiences as a cab driver in Portland to begin production this winter, says he has seen a good amount of interest among distributors for The Kill Hole, You have to be selective. I want to find the right company that will not treat it as one more title; you just want to work with good people. I found really good people in all aspects of the filmmaking process, so I want to continue to do that.”

Distribution prospects are bright, and highly plausible for this indie drama, if only the festivals’ reception of The Kill Hole this year are any indication – awards, packed screenings, and engaged audiences of all demographics. Webley says, I remember a Vietnam vet in the audience stood up at a Q&A and told us we hit a nail on the head as far as representing military service men and their experiences, and that meant a lot because that’s hard to get right. Since then the ball started rolling, I just feel very fortunate we got some momentum and it’s been received really positively. I’m enjoying it and trying to continue to push forward.”

"The Kill Hole" Trailer from Eric Billman on Vimeo.

This article is related to: Interview


Shadow & ActNewsletter