by The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey
“#Victim 505” is a short horror film by Bay Area based filmmaker Antwon Rollins that is officially selected to screen in the San Francisco Black Film Festival this year. When people mention horror, they may think of Alfred Hitchcock or Stephen King.
Now we have Antwon Rollins, a Black man, whose mind is immersed in writing and shooting horror, but who is able to tell stories from a slightly different perspective: a common Black perspective. “#Victim 505” is a very heady, cerebral and artsy horror movie that gets straight down to business. Check out “#Victim 505” at the San Francisco Black Film Fest, as well as check out the filmmaker Antwon Rollins as he talks to us about filmmaking and “#Victim 505.”
M.O.I. JR: What made you want to get into filmmaking? When?
Antwon Rollins: Filmmaking for me started when I was a kid constantly touching the camera as my father recorded my brother taking batting practice. I always wanted to put the camera in my hand and move it around, but at that time moving the camera wasn’t important. Watching my father spending hours making baseball practice highlights was – using two VCRs, one for playback and the other for recording!
Over two decades later, I found myself picking up the camera to do a commercial for Alameda College. At the time, I did not know that I will be finding my new career and filmmaking.
The show never went according to plan and I found myself stuck with the footage and nothing to edit on; luckily a friend of mine had an Apple book computer and Final Cut program. I was forced to edit the project and shoot the project by myself. I knew then that it was time for me to get back into filmmaking.
M.O.I. JR: How did you come up with the concept for “#Victim 505”? How did you conceive the characters?
Antwon Rollins: The way I came up with “#Victim 505” was adapted from the true story of mine. As a young person, I witnessed many relationships being torn apart. I’ve witnessed people in my family – their marriages being torn apart.
Growing up in a large apartment complex, young people see things I shouldn’t see, like people fighting with their spouse, their spouse hanging with other people in the neighborhood that you know they shouldn’t be hanging around, seeing people being players. But you also seen the repercussions from people being getting killed, people going over to smoking drugs to overcome their pain, people drinking alcohol to forget about what happened.
The way I came up with “#Victim 505” was adapted from the true story of mine. As a young person, I witnessed many relationships being torn apart.
So years later I decided what if there was a monster that stopped people from cheating. So I came up with it and 505 and over-exaggerated everything. The way I came up with the characters were quite interesting. Mr. McBride is bipolar and schizophrenic. I needed to come up with several characters that represented his multiple personalities.
M.O.I. JR: What is it that you like about horror films?
Antwon Rollins: The reason why I like horror movies is because it gives you a glimpse into the animalistic nature that people have. It actually shows you the extremes that people will go through, for their personal survival. The rituals that people will perform, the sacrifices that people would do. To watch a fictional horror movie and the way a director executes the craft is always fascinating too.
The reason why I like horror movies is because it gives you a glimpse into the animalistic nature that people have.
M.O.I. JR: How long did this project take from start to finish? Who did your casting?
Antwon Rollins: This was originally a one-hour-long silent short film and was an adaptation of the 130-page script. The project probably took approximately two years to make. The longest part of the project was making a new set from the same world as if he was in the same space!
I initially cut down the movie to 35 minutes. It still wasn’t exciting enough for us, so I decided to make it nine minutes so I can get straight to the action, straight to the monster, and create a shock effect on the audience!
The casting was done by Thomas Carter. Thomas Carter was also the assistant director and a producer on the project.
I decided to make it nine minutes so I can get straight to the action, straight to the monster, and create a shock effect on the audience!
M.O.I. JR: Which filmmakers are you inspired by?
Antwon Rollins: My favorite movie directors that inspire me are Alfred Hitchcock, Guy Ritchie, F. Gary Gray and Tyler Perry; however, I seem to find myself loving the edits more than the movie! Watching a lot of foreign films and seeing how they’re edited, how they’re cut – with a lot of boldness and camera angles – is what influences me the most.
M.O.I. JR: What do you want people to get out of this film?
Antwon Rollins: When people watch this film, I would like for them to appreciate the set designs – and the unique and original characters will hopefully interest them. We plan to make movies for each character.
M.O.I. JR: Are you working on any feature length horror pieces?
Antwon Rollins: We are currently working on “Cursed Sabbath Massacre: Mr. Mcbride’s Revenge.” The script is complete and is currently seeking funding. There are several sci-fi short films we are working on and also several horror short films.
M.O.I. JR: Where and how did you learn how to use make-up and audio effects?
Antwon Rollins: I actually learned how to use make up from YouTube, watching tutorials and seeing what worked and what didn’t. From there, I passed it along to a makeup artist, and we worked together on it and hopefully came up with something worth looking at.
M.O.I. JR: How did you feel being accepted into the San Francisco Film Fest?
Antwon Rollins: Being accepted to this film festival is an honor and happens to be in the same city I discovered my talents, while walking the streets of San Francisco! I was transitioning from professional sports to the real world, and as I was roaming the streets of San Francisco I came across a childhood friend who was doing a commercial for his senior project at the Academy of Art!
This same freeing is the reason why I’m into film today! So to be a part of this festival, to me, is truly a dream come true, a vision coming forth!
M.O.I. JR: How could people stay in touch with your work?
Antwon Rollins: firstname.lastname@example.org
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, journalist, author and filmmaker, can be reached at email@example.com or on Facebook. And tune in to BlockReportRadio.com. The 2017 San Francisco Black Film Festival runs June 15-18; learn more at SFBFF.org.