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Director Mike Tully (Cocaine Angel) Interview from September '06

Originally published 9/06

Forget Factotum man, if you want to experience some modern (not 35MM holly-indie-foreign- wood weak reflections of) down & out seedy existence complete with substance addiction & prostitution, and of course Bukawski esque humanization of the afflicted, go check out Mike Tully's Cocaine Angel. The movie will most likely make yourself feel a lot better about whatever partially self-created & temporary indie hipster tragic situation that your life may be at the moment. Whatever it is, the kids in CA got it worse. A well made movie, here's an interview with the director Mike Tully:

Sujewa - Hey Mike, how do you feel about the upcoming NYC premiere of Cocaine Angel at the Brooklyn Independent Cinema series? [note, this happened last year,2006]

Mike - we feel very excited about it, of course! to be honest, i haven't really thought about the film or watched it for quite some time, so i'm a tiny bit nervous about how it's going to play (too much expectation is always a bad thing), but we're still proud of our accomplishment and that feeling will never go away. obviously, we hope people "enjoy" it (if you've seen it, you know why i put that word in quotes).

Sujewa - Was Cocaine Angel influenced by Charles Bukowski?

Mike - Cocaine Angel wasn't influenced by Charles Bukowski, but the excessive debauchery in my twenties certainly was. this is a question for Damian, as the writer, but i think i can safely say that Cocaine Angel was influenced and inspired by real life, not fiction, poetry, literature, music, or cinema.

Sujewa - How & why did you get into filmmaking?

Mike - i really don't know. i kind of wish i didn't. but here i am. honestly, it just feels to me like the most challenging, exciting, inspiring, lively way to express myself, and i have always felt the need to express myself.

Sujewa - You seem to have a love/hate relationship with NewYork City, please elaborate.

Mike - i just hit a wall with New York City. for relationships, they say it's the two-year mark, right? the point at which you either break on through to the other side or call it a day. or maybe i'm just making that up. with New York City, i do feel like i've read somewhere that the wall is around seven years. for me, after seven years, i was simply exhausted by the noise and subconscious energy i expended on a daily basis. of course, if i were making a living with my creative projects and didn't have to supplement my income doing the exhausting daily grind, i wouldn't want to live anywhere else. but i really liked the slow living in Maryland and look forward to settling down outside of the city within the next few years (unless the movie making catches on and i actually get paid to do it as a day job, that is).

Sujewa - What were some of the best/worst parts of making Cocaine Angel?

Mike - i remember one day Shawn Lewallen, our life-saving DP, and i were driving around going to some seafood restaurant to treat ourselves right on an off day, and i had this true appreciation of the fact that i wasn't in a cubicle, i was on a crazy mission, and i felt like i was exactly where i was supposed to be. not hiding behind anything, not sitting in a cubicle because the rent had to be paid, not wishing i had the balls to make a movie. i even felt like i knew what iwas doing. of course, all credit goes to Damian for trusting me with his vision. without him i would be a far more tormented soul right now.

Sujewa - How do you like your new home Brooklyn?

Mike - i lived in Park Slope for a few years before leaving, but this time i actually found my dream set-up. great roommates in an impossibly great brownstone, and it's just steps from the entrance to the park. so maybe the world doesn't hate me after all. it's like, i always talk about when i'm going to 'live the dream,' but if i'm honest with myself, i'm pretty damn close to living it right now (at least as far as my living situation goes).

Sujewa - How do you feel about the new school of filmmakers (Weiler, Ekanayake, Swanberg, Bujalski, etc.) attempting to reclaim indie film through D.I.Y. distribution?

Mike - more power to you guys. (we must also mention Arin and Susan in that list, because they're really pushing it to the next level.) it exhausts me just reading about it. i simply don't have the energy to play that game. making the film is all i can get excited about. i worry that this means i'm not one of the chosen few, because nowadays it's like you truly have to be an all-in-one enterprise to be an actual player. and if that's the case, that's fine with me. but i hope that i find some support that will help me out with those later stages when i finish future projects.

Sujewa - Will you engage in any self-distribution activities in the near future?

Mike - very casually, if at all. i hope i find that spark at some stage, but right now it seems like a time-draining exercise in futility and i don't know if i'm up to banging my head against that very stubborn wall.

Sujewa - How much money do you need to make your next film?

Mike - well, i guess the Silver Jews documentary i just shot is technically my next film, and there won't be much money needed for that. so that's a good thing.

Sujewa - What kind of projects are you thinking about trying to film in the near future?

Mike - the plan is a mid-budget film set in New York City, a low-budget film that takes place throughout the south and west, and a big budget movie that will be made on a much grander scale. my hope is to make any and all types of films, with all types of budgets, in all types of genres.

Sujewa - You complain quite a bit on your blog about not having luck with women, is this true or is this a part of an elaborate down & out rejected artist persona that you are carefully cultivating in order to make millions of $s from consumers who find that image appealing/representative of their own identities?

Mike - my complaint is that i wish i would meet and fall in love with that oh-so-special someone, not that i 'don't have luck with women.' maybe i misrepresented myself on my blog. maybe i should stop whining about being lonely on my blog. thanks, Sujewa, this has been very illuminating. i'm going to go stuff my head under a pillow now.

Sujewa - Why should everyone go see the excellently made Cocaine Angel on Mon 9/4 @ 7 PM? [again, already happened in 2006]

Mike - i don't know if you should see it actually. check it out if you're into that sort of thing. or stay home and watch the US Open. but seriously, this might be one of the few chances you'll get to see it on an even somewhat "big" screen and we worked hard on it and think we captured a special little moment in time. but if you do come, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thanks Mike!

Also, I forgot to mention that Cocaine Angel was selected by the '06 Rotterdam Film Festival & several other film festivals.

- Sujewa


Brian said…
Hey Sujewa. I checked out Mike Tully's "Cocaine Angel" out last night at Barbes in Park Slope, Bklyn. I enjoyed it very much. It was great that I only live six subway stops away now. I plan to go to more Brooklyn Independent events.
The Sujewa said…
Hey Brian,

Glad you had a good time. Talk to ya soon.

- Sujewa

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