For lifer horror fans like myself, we’re always looking for an original concept to immerse ourselves in. Well, rest easy, because that film has arrived in the form of the very first two dimensional animated horror, “Malevolent”. In what the creators describe as a meet between “Saw” and “Groundhog Day”, this has everything that a horror lover can enjoy from gore to sinister motive.
In the film we meet Miriam, who although she spends her life doing good in the form of a non-profit organization, gets pulled into a terrifying game of survival with her siblings by a clearly insane (and dying) father, Cyrus. As if fighting for your life in a “death trap” style scenario isn’t bad enough, imagine that your odds of survival are grounds for wager by rich galactic gamblers…but wait there’s more! If you think poor Miriam might have had a chance before, think again. Time and situations can be altered by a sinister and dangerously beautiful woman known as the Gamemaster, and are all monitored by the Overseer.
The project is currently featured on the popular crowdfunding site, Indiegogo, to help raise money for it’s completion through additional artists/animators, sound mixing, color correction, music, scoring, festival submissions, and more. The perks are pretty incredible as well – there’s even Deadpool items and producer credits! If you’re already skimming just so you can scroll down to the links to the film, just wait! The actors chosen to bring these characters to life are well-accomplished and are excited to be a part of it!
I got the chance to get to know Jim Cirile and Tanya Klein, the partners behind Coverage Ink, who are the master minds and creators of “Malevolent”! Read our interview below to get an even more in-depth look into the inspiration behind the film:
Comics and Cashmere (CC): You’ve been working on this project for quite some time! What inspired this story for you?
Jim Cirile (JC): Tanya and I were fishing around for another project that we could do indie. Our brand Coverage Ink films is all about ‘elevated geek.’ So after LIBERATOR, our multi-award-winning, gritty superhero short with Lou Ferrigno, Peta Wilson, Michael Dorn and Ed Asner, we were looking for a feature that would be similarly kick-ass.
Tanya Klein (TK): We were visiting New Orleans, and we went to this raucous loud nightclub and instead of dancing, for two hours we spitballed out-there genre ideas. Jim came up with the idea of starting the movie at the time when cliche horror movies end — with last girl, beaten and ragged, emerging from the wreckage with everyone dead. And since we were in new orleans, the idea of people being taken over by forces beyond their control, as in voodoo, went into the mix.
JC: Eventually we put a sci-fi spin on that — they’re under others’ control, but it’s our cosmic gamblers, not voodoo. So we created Gamemaster and her crew of intergalactic bastards who wager on human conflict and manipulate the ‘game’ as it plays out – and have the ability to roll back time. And boom, we had our concept.
CC: Making a hand drawn animation film seems tough, is there a personal connection to that style?
JC: I have a degree in animation and fine art and am a huge animation fan, but soon after college I realized I didn’t have the patience for it, and that my skills were better suited for writing and producing.
TK: It was actually our producers Cindi Rice and Paige Barnett who suggested doing Malevolent as an animated movie. They had done animation for Epic Level Entertainment, such as XOMBIE and the motion comic sequence from the hit FearNet/Machinima web series BITE ME. Paige thought that going animated would help us stand out. And we all looked at each other and the clouds parted, and it was like, wow, that’s brilliant. As near as we can tell, no one had ever done an animated horror movie in the US before.
CC: Getting the opportunity to work with the actors in this film must be a dream! Were these characters created with certain people in mind?
JC: We try not to write with specific actors in mind. We did of course have a list, and Morena was tops of that list for Gamemaster. We went in cold — we didn’t know anyone at her agency or management company — and incredibly, she responded to the darkness of the script and signed on. A real ‘pinch me’ moment.
TK: Ray (Wise) and Bill (Moseley) were such sweethearts — genuine nice guys and a real joy to hang with. The real long shot was William Shatner. We knew we needed a real legend, gravitas, to voice Overseer. Fortunately, we had a personal connection, and when he read the script, he responded. It was amazing. Everything just fell into place.
CC: About the story itself, how would you describe Miriam and the Gamemaster’s relationship?
TK: Gamemaster (Morena Baccarin) is a kind of supercilious, all-powerful manipulator — but she is also dispassionate, or so we think. At times it seems as if she shows some compassion for what Miriam’s (Dani Lennon) going through — after all, she’s personally responsible for getting her into this nightmare in the first place — that’s all her crazy father Cyrus (Ray Wise). Perhaps going through this episode with Miriam helps Gamemaster become more human.
JC: Perhaps not.
CC: Miriam has to relive these challenges, as they continue to change. How would you say her character evolves, or changes, throughout the film?
JC: Ah, character arc! Miriam starts off as a very interesting mess. She’s got this terrible upbringing and this 800-pound monkey on her back, which is her sociopath billionaire father. She’s trying to fight back against his influence both in her work and her private life, but it’s like trying to sweep the ocean with a broom. She’s barely holding it together and in fact is teetering on the edge of stability. As the story plays out, Miriam has to confront her fears one by one.
TK: And kick the shit out of them or die. She has to walk through the fire to find the way out of both her physical and emotional situation. She may, or may not, pull it off. That’s the great thing about horror. There isn’t necessarily the expectation of a happy ending. She we can do whatever the hell we want. One thing’s for sure, it’s a hell of a journey!
CC: For everyone that is interested in donating to this project, what is the money going towards?
TK: As we joke on our crowdfund page, it turns out that making an animated movie is actually expensive and time-consuming. Who knew? Going back to your point from earlier, we’ve been in production for two years and have a team of 20-plus artists and colorists around the world. We have internal financing through our parent company CoverageInk.com, but we’ve hit the limits there and need the crowdfund to get across the finish line.
JC: In short, that $45K gives us the resources we need to get it done. We have artists, colorists and animators to pay, as well as sound design and post. If we hit a stretch goal or two we may even hire an orchestra, which would be insane.
CC: Aspiring creators are out there! What would be your advice to someone that’s just starting out in this industry?
JC: This is actually our day job — empowering writers and creators through CoverageInk.com. The single most important thing is: learn your craft. Full stop. It’s one thing to have big dreams, but quite another to be able to execute at a high level.
TK: We develop scripts with writers, producer, and managers and help hone that material and those voices until they’re nice and shiny. The number one issue we’ve seen is, as Jim said, writers not learning the rudiments. There are so many resources out there — online classes, blogs, books, YouTube, etc. It’s easier than ever to learn what you need to learn to be a writer/filmmaker. I took online producing classes recently through one website. Don’t be afraid to rewrite! That’s where the magic happens. Malevolent literally took I think 23 drafts.
JC: Yep, literally submitting it to our Coverage Ink readers for analysis draft after draft until it finally was racking up those ‘considers.’ So don’t be afraid to go for it, and understand that it’s always a learning process. Filmmaking and writing are crafts. They can be learned.
CC: I love the horror genre! What are your favorite horror films?
TK: I have to give it up for Army of Darkness. A great combination of genres.Brilliantly anarchic. I’m more of a literary horror fan — King, Koontz and so forth. Sean of the Dead was another great one.
JC: Evil Dead II, The Fly (remake,) Alien & Aliens, American Werewolf in London, Dawn of the Dead, Texas Chainsaw I & II, Serpent and the Rainbow, Jacob’s Ladder, The Thing (Carpenter)… it’s a pretty big list, but I tend to like horror films that bring something unexpected or out of the box to the genre. Zombies, vampires, etc., all bore me.
CC: Lastly, I just want to say that this concept and animation style is so exciting! What would you like to say to everyone reading about it?
TK: Thanks, Jennifer! We’re trying to do something amazing. We’re a small indie pushing the envelope and putting it all on the line to do so. Hopefully we’ll set a precedent and there will be more adult-oriented animated movies. Hopefully we’ll make a little bit of a splash and give the fans a really off-the-chain experience.
If you haven’t already rushed over to their page to donate or share, all links are below! With just a few days left, any shares can help!
Indiegogo: CLICK HERE!