Cult Classics - An interview with Dan Mirvish
Movies like the Killer Tomato four-part trilogy (Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Return of the Killer Tomatoes, Killer Tomatoes Strike Back, and Killer Tomatoes Eat France), Pulp Fiction, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and Fargo are viewed as cult classics because it takes intelligent individuals (such as me) who enjoy “B” and independent movies to enjoy them.
I frequently peruse the cult classic section in video stores looking to expand my mind. It was while looking for Killer Tomatoes (yeah, you think I’m talking about the movie) that I came across Omaha (the movie). The title intrigued me because I’m from the Omaha area and it was of course in the cult classics. Wanting to broaden my cult classic experience, I rented it.
Omaha is a serious story about a young man who leaves his television-addicted family for Nepal to seek spiritual enlightenment. He comes back a year later, finds his family still addicted to television, and runs into an old sweetheart. Together they face the evils of Omaha (cars, kick-boxers from Des Moines, Colombians, telemarketers) and it all builds up to a nirvana at Carhenge.
I was so impressed that I wanted my own copy and upon finding it I also came in contact with Dan Mirvish, who wrote, directed, and co-produced Omaha (the movie). He also co-founded the Slamdance Film Festival. Mr. Mirvish and I corresponded via email for a few days and he agreed to do this interview. (Note: this is really Dan Mirvish, not some made up interview. Give me some credit I do have integrity and would never make up an interview let alone interview myself, that is just tacky.)
CHAD KLUCK: Did you play around with film as a kid?
DAN MIRVISH: Yes, my friends and I made a Super8 film when we were in 7th grade at Lewis & Clark in Omaha. It was called “Beyond the Ray of Death” - which basically consisted of us blowing up my friend Harold's train set.
CK: What other movies have you made?
DM: OK, now you're just getting mean. I did a few other shorts at USC [University of Southern California] and as an undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis. I've also done a couple of music videos. I NEARLY made a film called “Stamp & Deliver” which you can read more about at: http://www.slamdance.com/Stamp.
CK: Who did you do music videos for?
DM: [They were] not for very big groups: “Ben Zona” - a New York based group whose lead singer is from Omaha (they did the closing song and some other music in the movie), Lisa Colvin (no relation to Shawn), and an Austin based singer and one other one in L. A. (I forget the name of the band).
CK: Do you know if any of the actors/actresses from Omaha (the movie) have gone forth in acting careers?
DM: Well, a number of the key actors continue to have flourishing stage careers in Nebraska, but none have particularly done much more in film - though a few of them were going to be (and hopefully still will be) in “Stamp & Deliver.”
CK: What is your connection with Omaha, or Nebraska for that matter?
DM: I grew up in Omaha - graduated from Central High in 1985. A number of people who helped make the film went to high school with me. But I hadn't really lived in Omaha much for the eight years or so between high school and when I made the film. (Did you read this page? http://www.slamdance.com/war_stories/Omaha.shtml)
CK: Actually yes I did and I recommend my readers to read it also. It is an interesting behind the scenes look at the creation and distribution of the movie. Speaking of which, some of my friends, and I especially, have taken up a serious interest in writing, not necessarily screen plays but more on the lines of literary works. I know you were heavily involved in selling the movie (taking on the job of attracting audiences, selling the video tape etc.) Do you have any words of encouragement for anyone thinking about venturing out into the world of selling themselves for success in their movie or book? Namely me?
DM: Good luck! I don't know much about the book world, but I imagine some of the basic lessons are the same: You're going to have to live with your product for a long time, so it better be something that you're proud of and won't get sick of. Also, you must be a shameless self-promoter - I'm proud to say that I wore a sandwich board in front of an L. A. theatre for 13 weeks!
Thank you Dan. For more information about Slamdance or Omaha (the movie) visit http://www.slamdance.com. Until next time I’m Chad Kluck.