Rick Masi: A Self Taught Filmmaker with Style
FAME: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Rick: My name is Rick Masi – I’m a Buffalo based filmmaker. To date I’ve made 2 feature films ON THE LEVEL (2015), FREE FALLERS (2017) and have an ongoing webseries called TALES OF DARKENED LIGHT (2016-present).
FAME: What was your inspiration for your short film "TALES OF DARKENED LIGHT"?
Rick: I’m a huge fan of suspense/supernatural series that have deep character arcs and twists at the end. So “The Twilight Zone”, “Tales from the Crypt”, “Are You Afraid of the Dark” were all influences for the TALES OF DARKENED LIGHT series. For this episode in particular, I drew a lot of inspiration from “JAWS” when it came to character development. Most of the time you ask a person what that film is about and they’ll say that “it’s about a killer shark”; I don’t see that as completely accurate. It’s about Brody, Hooper, and Quint. It’s about their interactions, journey, and them as people – and that’s why’re we’re so invested in them. The one scene in particular that always strikes me as the most memorable is the scene where Quint is telling the story about the USS Indianapolis – the dialogue is so riveting and it holds your attention. The characters in “A Friendly Wager” have such conflicting ideologies but such strong opinions; I wanted each of them to have a “Quint–like” story so that the audience would understand where they might be coming from. Also, because it is so dialogue heavy I studied a lot of Tarantino films to see how he balances the dialogue without overkilling it.
FAME: What was the biggest challeges you faced and most rewarding experiences in creating your film series?
Rick: The challenge in this episode in particular (“A Friendly Wager” ) was making the idea of two guys with opposing ideologies who sitting & arguing with each other seem interesting for 20 minutes. By design the camera shots are very static – each opposing idea on each side, and the one guy caught in the middle keeping the peace. It’s a bold choice that could come off as amateurish, but filming it any other way wouldn’t create the divide I was looking for. The biggest personal challenge for myself was trying to come off with a convincing Cajun accent. If it doesn’t sound remotely authentic or somewhat close it could completely kill the vibe of the short. I still cross my fingers hoping it lands.
FAME: What do you want people do take away from watching "TALES OF DARKENED LIGHT"
Rick: Each episode of TALES OF DARKENED LIGHT addresses a “fear” or some type of “morality” issue. For me, it’s very personal because they’re all very humanizing fears we all struggle with. As an example, we currently have 6 episodes available online – each addressing a certain topic. “A Friendly Wager” came from an internal existential battle within myself on the topic of science vs. religion and whether they can coexist. Our award winning episode “Runaways” is about the fear of losing someone you love, “Granduer” is about feeling shackled and losing your identity and independence, we have a future episode titled “The Folly of Man” which deals with this delusion about having “all the time in the world”. The best thing I can hope for is someone watches an episode with a sense of enjoyment, whimsy, and finds some kind of perspective.
FAME:What have you learned from making "TALES OF DARKENED LIGHT" that might be of value to aspiring filmmakers?
Rick: I think the first thing is mindset – the minute you say to yourself “I am a filmmaker” you have to believe it wholeheartedly. I am a firm believer that if you’re passionate, if you’re earnest, and you’re willing to do the work people will notice, they’ll encourage you and they’ll support you. I have no real formal education in filmmaking – but I spent about 18 months of independent research learning how lighting works, how to color correct, how to create mood for a scene – and I learned all of this by watching my favorite films, reading books on filmmaking, and watching any type of educational or tutorial video on Youtube that would help. The Youtube channel Film Riot was a godsend for me. Also, don't worry so much about what "the other guy/girl" is doing - if you spend too much time worrying about competition you'll never get anything done.
FAME: Any current or upcoming projects that you are working on?
Rick: We have 2 episodes left for Season 1 of TODL titled “Goings On” and “Ernesto” before our Season 2 premieres Halloween night 2017, and that episode is titled “Endless Mike”. I am also planning my next feature which is the biopic of a fictional 80’s hair band named Boy Elroy. The working title of that film is “An Ode to Self-Destruction” and is in the development stage, possibly 2020 release.
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