Recent television, film and new media graduate Matthew Rocca is ramping up production on his festival-bound, feature-length vampire crime epic, “Bullets, Fangs and Dinner at 8.” The independently funded San Diego-based production boasts a number of San Diego State TFM students in the cast and crew. Rocca spoke to The Daily Aztec about vampire stereotypes, fostering mutual understanding and how SDSU students can get involved with making the film.
The Daily Aztec: You describe your film as “Dracula” meets “The Departed.” What else can you tell us about the plot?
Matthew Rocca: Without giving too many of the twists away, whenever I say “vampires” in the script, I use a quote unquote because the vampires in our story are human beings. Picture this in real life, if a group of people got together who were extremists and were very obsessed with vampire movies and vampire lore. And they believed that if they kept drinking blood they would become immortal eventually. It’s more about this story of a cult of human beings who are causing all this mayhem as opposed to the stereotypical, supernatural story like “Twilight.”
And there is a whole war that breaks out between the church and the vampires. What’s interesting, and a huge reason why this movie is so important to me, is the church and the vampires find the dark side of one another and also the humanity. So it’s reflecting what I believe is important. And that is accepting others’ belief systems. It’s not just a typical good-versus-evil tale. And that balances out all the bloodshed, awesome, fun, action gore that accompanies the movie.
DA: What inspired you to make a realistic vampire film?
MR: Before the (vampire) craze, back in 2008, I was taking a walk with a filmmaker friend of mine. And we were talking about different Halloween, scary monsters and to me, vampires were always the scariest; the primal construct of it and invading someone’s body and taking their blood like that.
Then as we were talking about this, we came across some homeless people. We tried to help them out, give them some food, but one of them was kind of persistent and getting in your face asking for more. And then I said to my friend, “Wouldn’t it be creepy if that guy started biting your neck?” And that started to put the imagery of the movie (together). And then I started to form it from there.
DA: How far into production are you?
MR: Right now we are at the beginning of production. We started production in January and we’ve been shooting since. But since most of the crew are TFM majors, everyone has had a lot going on the last couple months with finals. But now that it’s summertime, we are going all out with production. And that’s also the point of these fundraisers: to give us the money we need to get real intense instead of just every other weekend.
DA: What are your plans for the film once it is complete?
MR: We have a plan to release it to as many film festivals as we possibly can. And, fingers crossed, we’re planning to do some select theaters here in San Diego and possibly one or two in LA. And, as far as online, I’ve heard of indie filmmakers making twice their budgets by putting their movie up online and on iTunes. This would be a great strategy for us because we already have such a fanbase and we can continue to expand it.
DA: What made you want to make this film independently?
MR: When I first started writing the script, I was a student at SDSU and that’s where I first started gathering up crew. At first it was a matter of practicality. Where do I have the most connections? Who would be the most interested in helping me out? And then that extended after graduation.
And then as an artist, it’s better for me, because if I were to submit it to a studio, they could like the story but then they could do whatever they want with it. And the story is so important to me that I wouldn’t want to see it in someone else’s hands at this point.
DA: How are you financing the film and how can those who are interested contribute?
MR: In addition to the fundraisers, we have our Facebook website “Bullets, Fangs, and Dinner at 8.” On Facebook, they have a little button called “FBML” under the info (section). Clicking on that takes you to PayPal where you can donate as small or as much as you want. And also, I’m starting up a “Kickstarter” website. And Kickstarter is really well-known for financing films.
DA: With summer around the corner, how can people volunteer with production?
MR: We are looking to expand our crew. Really, any department can use some assistance. It’s a great opportunity for people who are really interested in the industry because having a feature on your résumé really helps with opening doors. We’re looking for assistants in the camera department, gaffers and grips and we’re looking for production design help and audio would be a huge one. And also, for people who simply don’t know enough about film and still want to be a part of it, we’re always looking for production assistants. There’s lots of ways for people to get involved.
I should also mention for actors: This is one of those movies that has a lot of scenes with different extras and scenes with small dialogue parts so we’re looking for a whole range of people for that as well. There are so many interesting but small roles. Actors, and even non-actors who just want to have their face featured in a movie, we’re definitely looking for that.
For anyone interested in volunteering or donating, go to “BFD8” on Facebook or contact Matthew Rocca at email@example.com. Trailer and sample scenes available at vimeo.com.