top of page
AN INTERVIEW WITH Molotov Mitchell, Actor & FILMMAKER
As a filmmaker, please introduce yourself and let us know why you became a filmmaker?
I'm Molotov Mitchell, and I became a filmmaker because I wanted to tell stories in the coolest way possible. So it came down to mime or making movies. Makeup makes me break out, so I went with movies.
Give some more information about the films you have made so far?
I've made a lot of commercials, a couple of music videos, lots of political ads, a TV show, two web series, a few documentaries
and two action shorts. I'm really into action now because I'm a Krav Maga instructor, so I'm constantly fighting. Every day.
You draw from what you know and I know how to kill a man, so yeah! "WASTERS!"
Tell us a bit on how you got started in the film world. What sparked your interest in visual storytelling?
Well, a long time ago, I was at the North Carolina School of the Arts as a high school senior. They had a pre-college year for musicians,
dancers and actors, and visual artists. And I learned that if someone wanted to become a director, to get into their director's program,
that they had to go through several years of drama, first. That intrigued me. Because why would you need to do all that?
Of course, I know why now, but back then, it really mystified me. Or rather, it had a strong mystique around it, the directing, I mean.
And at that time, NCSA had an amazing film library that I took advantage of. I was in there every day, watching obscure films on the recommended list posted up at the front. Well, I eventually got kicked out of the program for being too...independent, let's say. And the next year, I decided to skip college. I'm not sure if you knew that. But I skipped college and instead, I got a job as an intern at a film company and sat in on film classes at UNC (Chapel Hill). Those were the classes I really wanted to take, the meaty stuff, you know?
As opposed to the usual, boring classes that I would have had to take as a debt-laden undergrad. And one of those classes was a film appreciation course at UNC. I asked the professor if I could just sit in. I told him that I wasn't a student but I wanted to learn, and he was cool. He let me sit in.
We saw a lot of spaghetti Westerns and samurai films, which are essentially the same genre, in many ways. And I think that's when I started to really understand what filmmaking style I liked best. And that's minimalist, straight to the point, but with a lot of unspoken storytelling swirling in the silence around a central hero, like the Man with No Name or Yojimbo. The strong, silent type. Of film, I mean.
And interestingly, with WASTERS, we see some of that in Cole, who only says three words and we definitely see it in Sawyer, who doesn't say anything at all. The heroes speak with their actions and the audience can only imagine what they're thinking or what brought them here or what made them like this. But I was thinking about those things and there are answers to those questions.
There's mystery weaved throughout the knives and bats and bones!
Why did you decide to tell this specific story in "Wasters"?
These days, people are really into the 80's and I think I know why. I think it's the same reason that Donald Trump was elected President, actually.
I hope that's not triggering for you or too many readers, but it's what happened, right? Honestly, I think Americans are sick to death of the confusion, second-guessing and passive aggressive crap that comes with political correctness as a whole. For goodness sake, yesterday
I saw an interview on CNN or MSNBC where a guest was saying that we shouldn't put a limit on how many genders people want.
Unlimited genders! So woke! But at the same time, the same people will tell you that there's a wage gap between the genders, and I'm like,
"Which ones?! There are like, fifty genders and counting!" It's confusing and utterly unnecessary, all of the PC doublespeak we're all
expected to adopt without hesitation. And the world is messed up because of it. Confusion, man. Chaos! That's the problem! But in the 80's,
under Ronald Reagan, things weren't that confusing. Everyone was proud to be an American. We had a clear enemy, the Communists. U.S.S.R., Gorbachev. And kids were king. I mean, there were more fun kids movies made back then and they didn't have weird PC agendas weaved
into the stories. You respected your parents. You said no to drugs, Mr. T pitied the fool and even though there was a lot of shooting and big explosions, nobody every got shot on "The A Team." The 80's were just the best! Oh yeah, the music! The music was actually creative and not
the same dubsteppy, mumble rap hooks we're stuck with today. So it makes perfect sense that "Stranger Things" was a smash hit. "
Atomic Blonde" was a smash hit. And "WASTERS" has been blessed with success, too. It's an 80's story with an 80's synth soundtrack,
so I think that has a lot to do with it, too. But it's straightforward and awesome, like the 80's. Well, I'm biased...you're the experts!
(laughs) You gave us several awards, so I'm assuming you liked it?
When we see the final version of "Wasters", it's fantastic! We're sure it was quite difficult to reach this level of perfection. Can you share what were some of the challenges you encountered while filming and how did you overcome them?
Wow, "perfection!" Wow, well...I think the most difficult part of production was probably making sure that every technique was being done just right. We had to do a lot of takes to get "perfection" when it came to the Krav Maga. And every move in the film is taught in the
Atlas Krav Maga curriculum. I mean, even smashing that boom box through that bad guy's face is a Krav principle.
Use your environment! So purity control with Krav was the biggest challenge, I think. At least it was for me, as the director.
How did the screenplay shift a lot before/during/after the shoot?
I wouldn't say that it shifted a lot. We had to do an extra week of shooting at one point, just to make sure that we didn't have to change it, and I think that was the right call. We did have to modify some techniques to make sure they fit the environments, once we were on location, but nothing drastic. We had to smash a cement block over a guy's arm instead of throwing it, because the room was small. That kind of thing.
Your actors made the story come to life! What was your casting process like? Did you have any actors in mind while working on the screenplay?
Thanks! Yes, we certainly did have an awesome cast! Thankfully, as the owner of Triangle Krav Maga in Durham, NC...shout out, y'all! (laughs) Because of that, we had a large pool of potential stuntmen and women to draw from. I was specifically thinking of Greer throughout the planning, though. She's not just beautiful, gorgeous really, but she's a serious Kravist. She looks like a delicate model. But...well, not delicate, I guess.
She looks like a serious model, now that I think about it. She's got that deadly serious sexiness that pairs well with action.
A lot like Charlize Theron, to make a comparison. But yeah, to help her and the rest of the cast get solid on the techniques, I had to create a program called "Fight Dub," where I could teach them how to fight on camera. Safely, you know. But practical! No crazy,
spinning flip kicks or ripping somebody's heart out. It had to be authentic. Krav's best-known for being practical. Realistic.
How did you work with the cast to achieve such realistic performances? Was there any improv on set, or was everything done according to the screenplay?
We had to practice, as I said, a lot. That was the key. And also, there had to be toughness. Thankfully, all of our students are tough because of their training, so they were okay with getting banged up some. It was probably hardest for Greer, though. Again, realism was the point, even though it was set in a Mad Max-ish storyline. So even though a woman can do the same techniques as a man in Krav Maga, if she has a smaller frame, she'll take more damage. And Greer does. When you see Sawyer get laid out with a haymaker and booted across the floor, that really happened.
Of course, we did our best to minimize real damage, but she really did her own stunts. I think she did great. They all did!
The performances are phenomenal, especially Greer Mitchell who won Best Lead Actress. How did you approach casting for the film, and how did you work with the actors to achieve your vision?
She is amazing, isn't she? Real quick, I just want to say thank you to AGP for recognizing that action and stuntwork, at that level, how she performed it, is just as impressive as an actress crying when her love interest dies or whatever. Acting is not some highfalutin pseudointellectual event, right? Acting is simply convincing people that you really are something else, and that's what she did. Greer definitely convinced us that she was a wasteland warrior. And she was so happy when you guys gave her that award. We all were!
Your film "Wasters" was officially selected and won 3 Awards in the "American Golden Picture International Film Festival". What were some of the challenges you faced in making this film?
Yes, we were fortunate enough to win Best Editing, Best Lead Actress and Best Director. We're still over the moon about it, by the way!
It's not every day that you win several awards at the American Golden Pictures, so yeah. We're thrilled! As far as challenges, um, beyond the Krav training, which was huge, I'd say that the editing was pretty tricky. I did all of it, myself. I had to teach myself a lot of new things along the way, online courses. The process took about 2 or 3 months, but I really had a really clear vision and didn't want to hand it off to someone else.
If you want something done right, do it yourself! Unless you don't know how to edit. (laughs)
How was the movie accepted by audiences so far? What were some of the reactions?
Yeah well, the film has had some success, I'm very happy to say! So far, "WASTERS" has earned dozens of laurels and awards around the world, which is both humbling and an extremely cool reason to travel, (speaking in a snobby voice) "Sorry, can't make it, I'll be picking up an award in Italy that week. Sooorrryyyy." (laughs) But no, it's been great waking up to see what news is waiting for us. I mean, we just found out that
we won in Florence for Visual FX, we're Finalists in a festival in Nazareth this weekend and we're Nominees for Best Action in the
Bloodstained Indie Fest. So it's been pretty amazing traveling all over, attending festivals, meeting other filmmakers and picking up trophies.
If you can do it, I highly recommend it.
For you, what was the biggest lesson you had to learn?
I don't know if I've learned any big, life lessons this time around, but I did have to learn several special effects programs to get the
look and feel I wanted for "WASTERS." Ah! One thing that I did learn was to keep a short film under 15 minutes, because that's the
cutoff for a lot of these festivals. That was tough for us, because I did not know that when I was cutting, so the film was fifteen minutes and
thirty something seconds, by the time the credits were finished. So yeah, watch out for that, editors. Keep it fifteen!
The most important part is distributing the film. What did you do so far for distributing your film?
Actually, we don't have any distribution, and it wasn't our first goal, really. We just wanted to make an awesome film that showcased badass Krav Maga and a badass female lead to demonstrate how women can win. Realistically win a fight with men, you know?
But if you know anyone interested in distributing "WASTERS," I'd love to meet 'em!
Filmmaking is so hard, full of stress. What keeps you inspired to continue filmmaking?
It's a joy, teaching people how to fight, to protect themselves and their families. And so, making a film that presents what great fighting looks like is off the charts fun. as I said, it's a joy. A very difficult kind of joy, no doubt, but a joy nonetheless!
If you could speak to a younger version of yourself, what advice would you have for them? Is there a certain quality that you feel is essential to success?
Oh, man. I think most of the advice I'd offer wouldn't even have to do with film! (laughs) I've been divorced, been through depression,
I've died and come back twice. But we know that's not what you're asking, so yeah...I'd tell my younger self to enter more festivals, like yours.
Even though I've produced a lot of projects, hundreds now, I've only started hitting the festival circuit hard with "WASTERS," and it's been extremely gratifying. I wish I'd done this for other projects, too. As far as success, the quality you need most is perseverance.
Winston Churchill once said that continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential. And it's true.
Never give up is number one. And number two is "do it now." Don't put anything off, when it comes to your work.
As I like to tell my students, "you can always procrastinate tomorrow."
What are your filmmaking goals?
I'd ultimately like to make even more films set in the "WASTERS" universe. But we'll see!
What are you currently working on and what can you tell us about your next project?
This past week, I just started doing videos where I answer questions for viewers at We Are Thinking. We Are Thinking's an online Q&A platform for people who want credible, expert answers from certified experts and Mensans. My first video answered the question, "What factors determine which countries make the U.N.'s Most Developed Nations List?" People can check it out at www.wearethinking.com Additionally, we're about to start filming a new slew of new Krav Maga instructional videos. If people want to check that out, they can go to www.patreon.com/KravMaga Aaaaand finally, we hope to film WASTERS 2 this year, God willing. So stay tuned, folks!
GOOD LUCK Molotov
bottom of page