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Home | Interviews | Exclusive Interview: Rich Mallery (Maid Droid)

Exclusive Interview: Rich Mallery (Maid Droid)

What made you want to get involved in the film industry? Ever since I was a kid I was always fascinated by movies. But I never imagined I would be able to actually make a film of my own. When I moved to LA about a decade ago, I had a few friends who were about to go into production on some things and needed help so I got thrown right into the fire doing all kinds of different jobs on set. I always tell people if you want to learn filmmaking take any job that’s available. PAs who work hard sometimes get their roles expanded on set, so you never know what you might get the opportunity to learn. Anyway, after that, I started writing scripts for other people and producing their films so I thought, why can’t I do this myself? So, I raised a few grand, maxxed out some credit cards and made Sociopathia. While I knew nothing about directing, I figured even if I completely screw everything up (and I believe me I did), at the end of the day, I’ll be able to say I directed a horror film and no one can take that away from me.

From script–to–screen, how close did MAID DROID come to its original vision? We ended up shooting the entire script, but the finished product is a lot creepier than I thought it was going to be. I didn’t really set out exactly to make a horror film with Maid Droid, but that’s how it turned out and I’m quite happy about it because it works in my opinion. Also, I tend to make films that focus mostly on female characters. With Maid Droid I wanted to switch it up and focus on Harrison, who is a broken man going through some heartache. However, Faith West, the actress who plays Mako (the Maid Droid) was so incredible the story quickly became her story. Even though she’s playing an android, she humanized the character in a way that you really feel for her. After the first few scenes we shot with her, I realized she needed to be the focus. She almost made me cry a few times she was so good.

What was your favorite day on set and why? I think the first day. Just seeing everything come together and watching the characters come to life for the first time blows me away every time. Plus, when you go into a shoot, there are so many variables, especially when you work with actors you’ve never worked with before. It was such a relief when we got into a flow right away, which made it a fun shoot vs. a stressful one.

What scene did you enjoy directing the most? There’s a scene towards the end where Mako meets Julie (played by Kylee Michael), who is Harrison’s ex/Mako’s rival, that was a blast to film. Most of the shoot up until that point was scenes between Harrison and Mako, so getting those two amazing actresses together was energizing. We also were in a real groove at that point, so we had plenty of time to get lots of coverage which was key since that scene takes place during the climax and I wanted to get it just right. It’s also one of the creepiest scenes in the movie in my opinion.

What is the biggest obstacle you faced while making MAID DROID? The time. We only had budget for four days of production, which anyone who’s made a film knows it’s nearly impossible to shoot a 90 minute movie in four days. However, if you schedule everything to the minute, keep it simple, and have actors who are prepared and ready to go you can make it work. You obviously can’t get everything you want, but you can still make something artistic and beautiful. A lot of people will bash low budget movies like this one online, critics included, but none of them realize how difficult making a movie is. Making a big budget movie has its own challenges, but I wish people understood what it is we go through on these low budget films. Maid Droid isn’t going to look like Insidious. We didn’t have tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of people working on it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good movie. Ultimately for me it’s about the story-telling. You do the best you can with the resources you have. I mean, even big budget movies have flaws and people are going to hate no matter what you do.

What was your proudest moment during production? The minute we wrapped. I’ve done these four day shoots before, but I always stress so much going into production that we’re not going to get everything or there will be some scene or shot that I forgot to get because things are so hectic. I usually start on editing immediately after shooting, but it takes a few days to get the footage and then another couple of weeks to assemble everything. That whole time I’m freaking out a bit wondering did I get enough coverage? How many times did we miss a boom shadow or something else like a mic didn’t pick up audio for some reason cause we were rushing and the take is useless? We’re doing long, exhausting back-to-back days, so no one’s looking at dailies to make sure everything is all good.

How do you get a film to stand out in the crowd in today’s landscape? If you know, please tell me. It’s nearly impossible without throwing money at it. My last film Felines, I was really lucky in that it seems to have found an audience as the distributor tells me it’s getting a lot of views/rentals and lots of people reach out to me about it all the time, however, if you search the internet it’s almost like the movie didn’t exist. We had no marketing/publicity budget and without that, most reviewers aren’t going to look at it as there are just so many new movies being released every day, so you’re basically at the mercy of an algorithm to get visibility on digital platforms. I’m hoping some people will discover Maid Droid and word of mouth will help it, but we’ll see. Like my last film, we have zero dollars to give it a proper push so thanks for giving us some visibility!

What other filmmakers inspire you to do what you do? I’m not the biggest fan of his last couple of films, but I’d say one of my biggest overall inspirations is Darren Aronofsky. I love how he tells character-driven stories, but in a stylistic way you’ve never seen before. Gaspar Noe is another director who just blows me away. He’s just a brave filmmaker who takes art to the next level with everything he does. I’m also a huge fan of Dario Argento. I just love his use of color and music. His older stuff anyway. Maid Droid in general though was inspired by Takashi Miike’s Audition, which is one of my favorite all time films. And lastly I can’t forget Gregory Hatanaka who is a maverick filmmaker who showed me you can make art no matter what the constraints are.

What is your favorite horror decade and why? I would probably say the 80s because that’s when I was discovering horror films. My tastes have changed since then and I’m more into the supernatural and psychological than the slashers that were dominating then, but I’ll always have a fondness for films that released during that time.

What is the next step in your filmmaking career? I’m currently in post-production on another film Borderline that I shot in tandem with Maid Droid. It’s a much different film as it focuses on a woman struggling with BPD and opiate addiction, and while it’s not a horror film in any way, it’s possibly the most horrific story I’ve ever told. It’s raw, dark and incredibly personal, which are the stories I want to tell. That one should be out in Sept, so look out for it. I also just finished writing a script which I’m really excited about that I’m hoping to shoot in the next couple of months. I don’t have a title yet, but that one is going to focus on a trio of women, deeply involved in BDSM who push each other to extremes. It’s going to be something no one has seen before and I can’t wait to tell their story.

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