by Scott Oakes
My Bloody Banjo is a dark-comedy horror feature film. Protagonist Peltzer has a demanding girlfriend, ruthlessly harsh colleagues and a bizarrely dramatic boss. Fortunately for Peltzer, he has an imaginary friend named Ronnie, and Ronnie wants revenge… violent, bloody revenge.
We spoke to writer/director Liam Regan to find out more about this wonderfully horrific film.
Peltzer is dealing with some serious psychological trauma, how did you approach tackling mental illness?
Peltzer is pretty much 90% me, apart from that I don’t have an imaginary friend or want to shoot up my workplace. So to write for that character was very natural; I pretty much placed what I’ve gone through in the 29 years of my life and structured it into a screenplay. The first few drafts were much darker, Peltzer would self harm and be suicidal throughout. Part of me wishes that I had retained that darkness for Banjo.
What was your reasoning for filtering out those darker aspects?
As a first movie by a very new first-time filmmaker, I felt like I had to compromise to get certain talents on board, and filter and self-censor myself when it came to the screenplay. It’s one thing I regret now, however at the time, getting the movie made was more of a priority. I wish I didn’t self-censor, and recommend any artist always go with their gut instinct.
If you could sum up the experience of bringing My Bloody Banjo from script to screen, how would you describe it?
I would say the experience was, miserable? I snapped the banjo string on my penis in 2011 and I turned that into a short film in 2012, then we shot the movie in 2014 so its been nearly a six year journey and it is just coming on Amazon Prime. I would say Bloody Banjo was my film school, I don’t think you can learn what I did in film school and not on a film set. I would recommend anyone trying to get into film making to get as much experience on a film set as they can.
With My Bloody Banjo now available on Amazon Prime, when will the DVD/Blu-ray release be?
Thanks to Hex Media and Lawrie Brewster, we’re able to have Bloody Banjo on Amazon Prime. Now there will be a limited edition, numbered Blu-Ray/DVD release this summer which will include the original 107 minute Cannes film festival cut that hasn’t been seen outside of France. As well as over an hour of deleted footage, this will be individually numbered and will be for sale for an extremely limited time. It will too be on VHS in limited number format.
What is the likelihood of a sequel?
I would love for there to be a Banjo sequel, if someone else paid for it. Unfortunately with my career in film-making you only get to make your passion project once. Then you realise it makes no money.
I love the Banjo characters and I have ideas for a sequel but unfortunately I feel that if I ever make another movie, it has to put a dent into the horror genre. Unfortunately, funny doesn’t make money.
Speaking of future projects, are you working on anything at the moment?
I’ve been working on different ideas and outlining a lot of films for the past two years. I was originally going to make a rape revenge movie called Parents Evening which I lost all interest in. There was another project titled Dolly Love, an incest story a guy accidentally kills his sister during a sexual accident then puts her soul into a customised sex doll. I really don’t know what to do next, maybe I’ll make Banjo 2 if nothing else.
It’s safe to say the world of film is full of uncertainties then?
Completely, definitely full of uncertainties. I thought that making My Bloody Banjo would have got my budget back and I thought I would get funding for the next film but that isn’t the reality. Even though from the outside, people would see a film playing festivals, gaining really good reviews – it doesn’t equate to revenue. The advice I would give really is, make the film that you want to make, however, look at it from a marketing standpoint, look what is already out there and don’t replicate what Hollywood is doing. Make something that shows you as an artist with a voice.
What initially appealed to you about filmmaking? Is it something you have always wanted to do?
I’ve always been hooked on film making since I was a kid. My mum used to take me to the video shop and I would get goosebumps looking in the horror section. I guess when I started watching Troma films at eleven years old, I always wanted to make films. Before that, I wanted to be a writer, then I wanted to do something with special effects as I love horror films so much. It wasn’t until I saw Toxic Avenger 2 at 11 years old that I actually wanted to be a film maker.
What’s the best piece of advice you have had so far in your career?
Anything that Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma stands for, I can echo. I don’t think I would be making movies without him. I’m always learning, Bloody Banjo was my first movie and I made a million mistakes and I’m sure I’ll make another million mistakes given the chance to make a second one. The idea is to learn and grow as a film maker. Personally, my advice would be to just do it, stick to your original vision, don’t compromise but ultimately know your audience.
Do you have a memorable moment from filming My Bloody Banjo, be it good or bad?
The first day of shooting. It was an elevator scene where Peltzer runs out and I noticed his shoes were wrong, someone had given him brown shoes and they should have been white trainers like in the trailer. Once he got those white trainers on, that’s when it was like wow, we are actually making the movie version of Banjo.
My Bloody Banjo is out on VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray this summer for a limited time and is available to stream on Amazon Prime now.