Director Robbie Bryan ("iMurders")
Whedonopolis: Tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are, where you came from…
Robbie Bryan: Well, my name is Robbie Bryan, I’m a filmmaker and director of the movie “iMurders”, and I’ve been in the business as an actor and stuntman for about 15 years, and about seven years ago, I decided I wanted to storytell, because as an actor sometimes too many people determine whether you can get to do something, and if you create your own project, you create your own project. I formed a company, “Good To Be Seen Productions”, named after—my mother had MS and she was in hospital, and when I went to see her, I said, “It’s good to see you, Mom” and she replied, “It’s good to be seen”. She passed away, so the name is like a tribute to her and I know I’ll always have an angel with me because of that. The first movie we made was called “The Stand-In”; it was a $400K budget film with Kelly Ripa, Judith Ivey, David Ogden Stiers from “MASH” and Lou Myers from “A Different World”. It’s about a kid who dreams of becoming an actor and he befriends a former baseball player in the Negro Leagues, who is in a nursing home and never had the chance to play in the Major Leagues, and therefore is very bitter. It’s a movie about believing in your dreams, and some people get them, and some don’t. Last year I co-produced a movie called “Man from Earth”, a sci-fi film written by this great (and now deceased) sci-fi writer, Jerome Bixby, who wrote many “Star Trek” and “Twilight Zone” episodes. It was a great piece of work, we shot it very low-budget, and just got distribution, so we’re real excited about that. And now we get to “iMurders”, which basically came up when I was promoting “The Stand-In”, my first movie. Before we got distribution, we were setting up a website, and so I’d go into chat rooms and say, “Hey, if you like Kelly Ripa (or whoever), come check out our movie”. And I found this whole culture of people who just hang out in chat rooms and they don’t even know each other, yet some of them are best friends. I found that very fascinating.
W: You just saw that, because I’d never met her before. (Right before the interview, an online friend had come up to say"Hi" to me.)
RB: There you go! You meet and it’s like you’ve known each other forever. I just think that that’s an amazing concept, because as the movie develops, you don’t know who you’re talking to, and you can meet some amazing people, as I’m sure the person you just met is, but also with the online predators and stuff… you know, you have a lot going on too, so I’m a big fan of Agatha Christie and I thought, “What a great way to do a murder mystery and update it into the cyber world”. So I wrote that, and then it evolved into a MySpace site, just to update the genre even more. At one point, actress Krista Allen was attached to the project, and she’s the one who suggested the MySpace thing, and I didn’t know the MySpace world at that point and thought, “This is just perfect!” because you have thousands and thousands of friends and—What’s funny to me is that, on my page, my 8 Top Friends are the eight main characters on my movie (because I made profiles for all of them) and they get hundreds of friend requests (especially the hot girl), and even some dates, and I say, “This person doesn’t exist!” It’s an amazing thing! So we’re gonna shoot it in a month, and we’ve started attaching people and sending out scripts. Linda Hamilton agreed to do it, which I was very excited about, and also probably the reason we’re here today, Anthony Stewart Head just agreed to come on board after two months of wooing, and we’re really glad that’s happening. He’ll be flying in from England, and they’re just waiting for the dates we have to give them, so unless he gets “Titanic 2” or something that pays a whole lot more money, he’s doing our movie. The ladies seem to be very excited about this too, so I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it.
W: Can you tell us an idea of the plot without giving too much away?
RB: Absolutely! I’m not gonna spoil it, especially as it’s a “whodunit.” It’s very Agatha Christie-esque. I’ll set it up for you: A woman walks in on her husband, who is cheating on her. An argument ensues, there’s a gunshot and somebody is killed. That’s the opening scene. Push ahead, it’s a year later, and there’s eight people in this sort of MySpace chat room, where once a month they play in this contest that Mark Sanders (who runs a special effects company, very Vincent Price, “Show of Shows” like) organizes. In the game, if you get knocked out, you’re eliminated, and what they don’t realize is that people are actually being murdered. They all think it’s part of the game and flamboyant Mark is just playing it up, because he’s the first person they see killed, for he does it on a webcam, so they all think, “Oh, it’s just Mark being Mark!” Only he’s just been murdered, so it’s this whole murder-mystery that obviously has something to do with the opening scene. It just delves into, again, a lot of hurting and loneliness, as these characters don’t feel comfortable communicating outside of a computer screen, so it deals with my take on the world today where we’re constantly messaging people, and it’s all we do with text messages, and email, and you’re lucky to get a phone call, let alone a face-to-face meeting. It’s all very impersonal, so it kinda reflects on that, but it’s going to be a scary fun ride, and a whodunit, with lots of twists and turns, and hopefully you’ll like what we do with it.
W: Brilliant! We’ll obviously be supporting this, so make sure to keep us posted about new developments and casting…
RB: Absolutely, and since I know your site is very partial to Anthony Stewart Head, here’s a bit about his character: He plays a college professor, one of the guys in the chat room playing the game, but he’s also a little bit lecherous, he loves the young ladies, he’s having an affair on his wife, so there’s also a little game of deception that he’s playing, that may or may not have something to do with the murder. He has a really fun role, where he gets to be flirtatious, and handsome, and charming, and I know it’s a big stretch for Anthony, so it should be a lot of fun!
W: Can we have an idea of the budget?
RB: It’s definitely still in the low-budget area, even if it’s more than in any of my previous films (which was $400K). They don’t like us to mention it yet, because of distributors and such, so let’s say it’s more than $500K and less than $2 million.
W: Okay! Lots of special effects?
RB: Not so much. There’ll be lots of special effects makeup, but not so much in t
erms of photography. It’s straightforward storytelling, with really great special effects makeup and just “hanging on to the edge of your chair”-type fun.
W: Making people turn into Kenny from “South Park” from sheer fear!
RB: Exactly, which is perfect!
W: How long do you plan the shoot to be?
RB: It’s a 24-day shoot, so it’s four 6-day weeks, and we plan to start in September. So we created this really great buzz, the MySpace thing is phenomenal—like I said, 5,000 friends already, and really it’s just me going out and promoting the movie. We’re running a couple of contests, like the one were we’ll fly five people from all over the world to the premiere, wherever that takes place. We’re down to 70 people, and later today at the booth we’ll eliminate 15 more, which we’re gonna film. People have been buzzing about the contest, and we shot a teaser trailer that’s on the MySpace site. We’re actually shooting a more advanced trailer that tells more about the story, so it should be fun.
W: Thanks very much for talking to us, and we’ll keep an eye on your page to promote the project as it develops.
So now you know. Visit iMurders on MySpace to find out more about the movie, and keep watching our site for the latest developments as we get them.