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MONO CINEMATIC: Talking in stereo with the makers of the ambitious locally-made film "Mono"

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Lindsay Fritts as Molly in the indie film "Mono."
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OKLAHOMA CITY—As the Oklahoma City filmmaking scene grows, so do local filmmakers and their need to grow as artists, becoming more experimental and pushing the boundaries with each new project.

From homemade animation to 48-film projects, while the results may vary, few cities are branching out cinematically the way the Metro is.

Five of those acclaimed filmmakers—Cait Brasel, Jacob Burns, John Burton, Laron Chapman and Mickey Reece—have come together to craft the anthology film with a decidedly singular vision titled Mono. The story of a day in the life of woman named Molly (Lindsay Fritts), told from five unique points of view, Mono will have its world premiere on Thursday, January 18 at 7 p.m. at the Tower Theatre, 425 NW 23rd St.

All five filmmakers, along with actor Fritts, recently sat down with Red Dirt Report to discuss the film, their approach to making it and how they believe it will impact audiences, as well as the filmmaking scene.

Louis Fowler: What was it about Mono and its concept that drew you to the project?

Laron Chapman: I had just wrapped shooting on my feature directorial debut when Mickey and Jacob recruited me to collaborate on this unique project. I was excited about the prospect of working with these two prolific artists and impressed with the work of all the respective directors. I was also very intrigued by the concept of the film. It encompassed creativity, ambition, and originality and I couldn’t wait to be a part of it.

Lindsay Fritts: There were a few things that drew me to the project, one being the opportunity to work with 5 different directors, including my good friend Cait Brasel who I always welcome the chance to collaborate with. The other component was the completely original and unique nature of the project. This is truly the most innovative film I’ve ever had the privilege to work on. I was excited to take on the challenge of creating a character and maintaining who she was through the process of filming five different segments in five different genres, directed by five different people.

What do you feel that you personally, as an artist, brought to the project?

John Burton: I think each of us brought our unique styles, and the movie definitely reflects that. I think unfortunately if I try to explain my own style or approach that might become its own kind of spoiler. But I hope you get the sense, while watching my chapter, that you're not being talked down to as an audience member—that you’re being treated like an adult. I think (I hope) that if my chapter works, it’ll be because you’re encouraged to figure things out on your own, rather than being spoon-fed everything.

Mickey Reece: I went into it not really thinking of my particular chapter standing out as being its own thing but rather as the middle section of a feature film. I think there had to be a certain degree of blind trust between us all to pull this off and the result is engrossing, if anything just for the sheer execution of it all. I’m still surprised we were all able to pull this off with no real arguments or disagreements. We put our egos aside so to speak. I wouldn’t say I was breaking new ground with my piece, cinematically speaking, but I think what we did benefits the film as a whole and the Molly character immensely.

Was it hard to keep your own style and identity while still crafting a linear film with other filmmakers?

Jacob Burns: While we did have a few self-imposed requirements for each segment in order to build to the whole, each filmmaker was really left to their own devices. We’re all fans of each other’s work, so we didn’t want anyone to sacrifice their own unique voice, because that uniqueness is why we wanted to bring them together in the first place! All of us read each other’s scripts before we started shooting, and we worked together to make sure each segment would transition to the next smoothly, but all the stuff in between the beginning and the end was left up to the individual filmmaker. As a filmmaker who has primarily made dark psychological thrillers recently, I personally decided to use this as a chance to experiment and possibly expand what my filmmaking identity is by making something more lighthearted and fun and reminiscent of the types of things I watched as a kid.

Cait Brasel: I don’t believe any of us looked at making our own films as some kind of distinct challenge—style and identity come with the territory. No one had their hands in anyone else’s project, and really it’s when you have someone looming over your head calling shots that maintaining your own artistic vision can be a challenge. Everyone involved was very open to each other’s scripts, and merely read them to know on which beat to pick up their own film. Until our first screening I had not seen any other film, so I very much enjoyed how each filmmaker’s script came to life on the screen. Lindsay is definitely the thread that holds it all together.

To follow up on that, having seen the final product, what do you hope audiences come away with after watching the film?

Jacob Burns: I hope they’ll be inspired to not only create their own things, but to seek out collaboration with other filmmakers. We each tend to create our own little filmmaking bubbles, and what excited me about this project in the beginning was the opportunity to work with other directors outside of my bubble, and be a part of whatever cool thing they were doing. The only way our filmmaking community will survive is if we work together, cheer each other on, and look for new cool ways to create things.

Cait Brasel: I want audiences to enjoy the ride! I believe this film is a testament to how unique and original indie films can be - and that our independent film community is one of support and collaboration.

It is my hope that this will be the first of many such collaborations, which bring the filmmakers, actors and artists together, while giving back to the local community that supports us. I hope it shows that the arts are strong here in Oklahoma, and growing every day.

Laron Chapman: It was definitely a unique and unorthodox writing process, but we were all given free range to carve out our own self-contained story within the larger narrative. After seeing the film, I think the audiences will have a strong sense of the style, language, and vision of each respective director. It is both a unified body of work and a tribute to each director’s unique cinematic voice.

Lindsay Fritts: I really hope everyone takes away something different. For me, making this movie was very personal because I related to Molly in a lot of ways, not in relation to specific things that happen to her in the film but more so her perspective and mental state throughout. She’s been experiencing a sort of numbness and disconnect in her life and much of the time feels very passive instead of being an active participant. For a lot of people I’ve talked to, it seems that that’s a common thing when you’re progressing through early adulthood and trying to find your place and everything. So I would hope that if anyone is experiencing a similar thing, that seeing this movie might help them feel more validated in what they’re going through. Also, I just hope people have fun trying to guess who directed and wrote which segment.

It’s a really fun ride and I hope what we’ve all made inspires even more creativity and innovation as to how far you can go with film!

John Burton: I hope everybody has a fun evening. We did a cast/crew screening, and part of the fun was that many cast and crew members had only been part of one chapter, and had no idea who had directed which of the other four. They had a good time trying to guess, and I hope that’s part of the fun at the premiere.

Mickey Reece: I’m into the idea of handing the project off to another group of directors and making it a yearly thing within the film community. It would be cool to have spearheaded an ongoing experiment that allows everyone to sharpen their blades much like the 48 hour film project does so well every year.

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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