If you haven’t seen director Erik Kristopher Myer’s film Roulette, you have missed one of the best independent films to come out of the District, Maryland and Virginia area in many years. The film was recently screened at Beltway Movies 6 in Baltimore. Don’t simply take my word for it, let Myers, and his producer Corey Williams, tell you a little more about the film.
Q – What is Roulette all about?
When three very different people (Mike Baldwin, Will Haza, Ali Lukowski) from three completely different worlds begin a deadly game of Russian Roulette, they soon discover that their pasts are a trilogy of overlapping events that have brought them together for one last session of group therapy.
Q – Do you consider Roulette a dark film?
Yes. ROULETTE is a very, very dark film. It deals with heavy and sometimes troubling subjects like alcoholism, spousal abuse, terminal illness, gender identity, abortion, etc. If you are making a film where people are trying to commit suicide, there has to be a genuine motivation. I couldn’t tiptoe around the subject matter or the characters wouldn’t be genuine and the film wouldn’t resonate with viewers.
Since it is an independent film without big name stars, I also needed to make something that would make an impression, and spark word of mouth. The last ten minutes of the film, specifically, have caused quite a reaction from critics and audiences alike, due to the very controversial nature of several plot threads and their respective
Q – What inspired the film?
The film was inspired by the true story of politician Budd Dwyer, who committed suicide on national television, shocking the nation. I started thinking about what would drive someone to do something so extreme, and so publicly. With suicide as the lynchpin, I began exploring the “social” nature of Russian Roulette, and how it demonstrates
severe co-dependency even as one feels they have nothing to live for. From there I was free to follow the downward spirals of the three respective characters, and ask social questions based on the decisions I allowed the them to make within the story.
Q – (For Corey) How did you come to produce the film?
Erik had contacted me after the film was finished to see if I could introduce the film to distributors and to get more people interested in the seeing the film. Once the distribution deal was complete, I thought it would be a great idea to screen the film with people
who interested in seeing the film and at the same time record a Q&A session after the screening so it could be used for the “Behind the Scenes Commentary” for the DVD and Blu-Ray release.
Q – Why have people responded so strongly to it?
I think people respond strongly for several reasons – one, that the issues addressed in the characters’ lives are real, and relatable (you’ve gone through it, or know someone who has), and because there are some shocking moments and twists, which makes the
film stick in people’s minds. It is also different from other films being produced in the area in that it’s so intensely moody, so that in itself is unexpected. And, of course, there’s the so-called “Baby Scene” at the end, one which people either love, hate, or have a
severe allergic reaction to.
Q – How did you finance the film?
The film was a no-budget project. My wife and I purchased the camera, computer and editing software on credit cards. Our other equipment was donated by our DP Jamie Bender and various crew, all based solely on the strength of the script. Everyone worked
for back-end, because they believed in the project. People brought their own lunches, and drove long distances. They forfeited sleep and gave up paying gigs. We are grateful for everyone’s commitment and generosity, and for the high standard of excellence they
brought to the film.
Q – How long it take to film it?
The initial filming lasted about four months, but because of a contractual dispute with one of the actors, we had to reshoot about 25% of the film. It was only a few weeks of shooting, but the scenes involved spanned three seasons (one of the ways we tried to
make the film look bigger budget than it was), so we had to stretch the reshoots out for several more months. All in all, the filming lasted about 2 years.
Q – What’s next for Roulette?
ROULETTE has recently been sold for distribution to R2 Films. We turned down numerous offers from distributors who wanted to neuter the film due to its controversial and topical content; but R2 has embraced the film and its disturbing nature, much to my
great delight. You can look forward to owning it on DVD and Blu-Ray this September. From there, the sky’s the limit!