Monday 4 March 2019

Interview with Minty Comedic Arts by David Kempf

When did you first become interested in writing and movie analysis? 

From a very young age I’ve always loved writing stories, I loved making up characters and wacky situations, when I was 8 at school I created a character called ‘Ninja Duck’ who of course was a crime fighting duck who used ninjutsu, hey it was the time of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I first discovered I liked analyzing movies at 10, and it’s not so much I liked it but something that naturally happened to me. All the other kids at school were talking about a movie called ‘Ace Ventura Pet Detective’ and how funny it was and re-enacting scenes and saying lines from the movie and I hadn’t seen it. I wanted to join in and asked my parents to rent it for me from the video store, and this is controversial but after watching it I felt outraged, I just felt what I had seen just wasn’t funny. It was obnoxious, and I was sitting on my bed in my bed room and my brain was reviewing the movie and calculating what it was exactly about the movie I didn’t like, and why it didn’t work for me. What redeeming features it had, how good was it from a film making perspective and yes without knowing it I had written my first review, only it was in my head. Apologies to those who love Ace Ventura.

How did you get interested in watching Fantasy/ Horror? 

I’ve always loved fantasy movies from as early as I can remember, even as a toddler I can remember watching VHS tapes of movies that my parents had taped off the TV like Ghostbusters, Goonies, Star Wars and the Indiana Jones movies. I loved them but the one tape that stood out to me from the bunch and got me completely consumed with love of fantasy and movies in general was Superman III (yes I know it’s not the most popular one of the bunch but I was a kid). I was just so intrigued by the idea that Superman can be two people and how he can go from Clark Kent to Superman and be the same guy but so completely different, looking at it from the perspective of an adult it’s a credit to the talents of Christopher Reeve. As for horror well this is more interesting, when I was about five I walked passed the living room at the family home in England and saw my eldest sister. She would have been a teenager at the time sitting on the couch all by herself watching a movie. I walked in and saw a shark fin on the TV screen, my parents ran in and carried me out and said I was not to watch the movie, it was a movie called ‘Jaws’ and children aren’t allowed to watch it or they will get in trouble. My parents then walked away thinking they had deterred me but I snuck back in the room and hid behind the couch my sister was sitting on and looked up at the TV screen. When I looked up it was the moment when ‘Jaws’ attacks the beach and the very moment I looked up was the shot of the man’s severed leg sinking to the sea bed. That right there was my introduction to horror; I had never seen anything like it before, it had the most profound effect on me. I was terrified but needed to see more, I gave a scream, my parents came back in the living room and told me that if I watch the film Jaws will come after me and eat me, and no joke for about a month I was scared of having a bath and sinks and taps in general out of fear Jaws was going to come out of them and get me, but it was that fear that was part of the joy of it all if that makes sense?

Is this a full time job?

No I wouldn’t say so, it takes a lot of my time and I enjoy it greatly because I love sharing my thoughts and perspectives of movies and I love the ability to communicate with people as communicating with people in real life is something I really struggle with . So it’s nice that YouTube has allowed me that platform of communication but I have other creative ventures that also takes my time that I’m trying to get off the ground. I do lots of photography and love taking pictures of natural settings/ landscapes and city graffiti or as I call it Street Art, depending on if it’s not crap and not just a squiggle. I also make a lot of graphic design artwork, which I’ve been doing for a very long time, way before the videos, and that is also another venture I’m trying to explore. For me never having a moment when I’m not being creative or making something isn’t really an option as I feel like I always have to be doing something.

How would you Classify the genre you most enjoy watching? 

Well the genre I enjoy the most is those crazy feel good 80’s movies which I think most people tend to like, you know movies like ‘Back to the future’, ‘Gremlins’, ‘Ghostbusters’, ‘Teen Wolf’,’ Bill and Ted’, etc. I think that in the 80’s there was a boom in fantastical movies that were outlandish, very pop (for their time) and were designed to make you feel good and happy and optimistic, and I guess this was a retaliation to the 70’s when cinema was very dark and gloomy. So that’s how I would classify the genre, it’s like pop candy, very high in sugar with hyper-activeness, very sweet, looks and tastes good and is so addictive people even now are trying to replicate the recipe.

Why do you think Horror and Fantasy books remain so popular?

Because ever since the dawn of our existence we have loved telling stories and passing tales on to our young, from illustrations on the walls of caves from many thousands of years ago, to the creation of theater, to people sitting around the camp fire sharing tales and stories. We love to get enthralled into a landscape of make believe and tales that aren’t a reflection of our own lives but ones we can observe and psychologically live through. I think books for hundreds of years have been the main gateway to access this story telling phenomena to the stage where it’s naturally part of our day to day life routines, like car keys and bathrooms. And why horror and fantasy? Because people love getting a kick out of the unexplained, unfathomable, and terror, that’s why we go on scary rides at carnivals. I think there is something very healthy and positive about reading horror and fantasy books and am sure it will continue.

What inspires you the most about movies?

It would have to be the creativity, the fact that what you are watching has come from someone’s mind, the fact that someone wrote the story and that people crafted whatever particular movie you may be watching, made the sets, created the effects etc. I guess I really appreciate movies as modern art forms. Just look at The Shining, the whole movie is one walking talking masterpiece of art, so much, so that nearly 40 years later we still can’t seem to figure out exactly what the movie is about and are still trying to decipher the damn film. I love that power that movies have that they can bring that passion out in people and can motivate and inspire people. So to sum it up with a simple sentence the fact that movies tend to have very positive impacts on people’s lives and I guess become a part of their lives

What do you think the difference between American Horror and British Horror movies are? 

Well to me I think English horror tends to be very old school, take the Hammer horror movies for example, they had creepy haunted castles, lightening in the background, accents raging from posh to cockney, usually set in the 1800’s. I guess this was a trend set by Dracula and other such tales that ensued but that’s just a guess. Then along came three important Americans that actually changed and modernized the horror landscape, those being Stephen King who thanks to Salem’s Lot, took the vampires out of Transylvania and put them in a modern American setting. Stanley Kubrick who took the creepy ghosts in the old haunted house full of cob webs and bones and put the ghosts in a modern hotel in his Shining movie and of course Steven Spielberg who created the modern suburban ghost story with Poltergeist. So I think with America it’s all about putting the horror in the here and now. I think even modern British horror films have an old school feel about them in terms of presentation for example ‘Caliber’ or ‘Dog Soldiers’, whereas American ones do tend to feel more polished and modern. Also I think American horror does tend to be more ground breaking and pushes boundaries after all look at Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wes Cravens Nightmare on Elm Street, a new age of provoking horror which lead to the video nasty censorship in Britain in the 80's. Sadly, here in Australia we don’t really have a large selection of horror movies. I think the one that is most recognizable and the one that everyone asks me to talk about is ‘Wolf Creek’ which I think was made as a retaliation of the real life shock and fear created by what was known as ‘The Backpacker Murders’ which took place in Australia in the early 90's. Once again, that’s speculation though.

What are your favorite horror books?

Ah great question, now this is kind of cheating but I just love, and I mean love love love love love the 1950’s horror comics, you know the Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror and all that lot. I often visit a comic book store in Melbourne and buy a heap of graphic novels that are comprised of several issues of these comics, and each time I read a different story it never fails to leave me either shocked, or appalled (in a good way). I love the inventiveness and imagination, and the stories weren’t just about being gross and horrific just for the sake of it. They often had lessons in them about not being selfish or greedy, be kind and caring to others, always be honest, and never be deceitful. They were basically telling readers not to be an asshole and that life is better if you’re a decent human being and if you’re cruel to others then that cruelty you inflict on others will come back ten folds upon you, yea they could get pretty grim. That’s the power of storytelling, a story that can leave you with so many emotions and thoughts and feelings. One story that deeply affected me with these comics was the tale of an old man who wore a top hat who spent his life and a park bench challenging passers-by to a game of chess and each game without fail he would win. The word of his Chess genius ways spread and an organization wanted to hold an event to show case the old man’s Chess playing abilities, but he kept refusing and didn’t want the attention. He just wanted to live a quiet life playing Chess on his park bench and he was basically bullied into it, and at the start of the event the anthem started to play and the old man didn’t want to take his top hat off and people were giving him looks.  so instead of taking it off, he shot himself in the head with a gun he had in his pocket and it turned out underneath the top hat was like a joined twin double head on top of his own head. The story made me so sad, because he just wanted a simple life and didn’t want people to know his secret and because he was forced into this situation he felt he had no way out. I told the man at the comic book store how I felt about that story and he said “yes but isn’t it good that that one single story made you feel all those emotions.”

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

My favorite horror movie of all time is Poltergeist, I saw it for the first time when I was 13, it scared the hell out of me, and there are certain things about the movie I have really come to appreciate about it more in my adult life, namely the Jerry Goldsmith score. I mentioned it in a previous video but what it is about Poltergeist is its power, for example in the scene where Carroll Anne gets pulled into the other side through her closet Goldsmiths music is so epic. It’s almost Biblical and God like, its displaying that something beyond our compression and real of understanding is happening in this otherwise mundane suburban home, that really intrigues me and creeps me out. It’s actually my dream to go to America and visit the poltergeist house and film an episode of me standing out the front of it, I don’t maybe a 10 best Haunted Houses in movies list. My other two most favorite horror movies of all time is The Shining and An American Werewolf in London.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? 

Earning my Silver Play button on YouTube. All my life I’ve never won an award or trophy or certificate or anything saying “job well done.” I struggle with certain things due to being on the autism spectrum and having certain learning disabilities, I was always told by teachers and doctors that I won’t really amount to anything and no joke at Parent teacher Interviews events at school (which is when parents meet up with teachers to talk about the child’s progress). The teachers would often flat out tell my parents I was “dumb”, hey, it as the 90’s a completely different time. So it’s nice to have this special unique thing that actually acknowledged that I’ve achieved something and done a good job. I hate to give a Hallmark Card answer but I hope that my other great accomplishment is being a good son/ brother/ uncle, special shout out to my dear sweet sister Beckie.

Do you have any advice for new writers? 

I don’t think I’m in a position to be handing out advice as I’m only a YouTuber with 160k subs. So I’m no ‘Pewdie Pie’ but if I was, I would say you just need to engulf yourself with a ridiculous amount of determination and set out knowing you will be the best that you can be no matter how much others may put you down for it. Each time you have a setback use it as a motivation to keep going and to do better, but above all enjoy yourself, if you’re not having fun then what’s the point? Fill what you do with your own love and passion.

What is your opinion on current YouTubers? 

Ah man I love YouTube and there are some channels that I adore, yes I do like the movie and review related ones. I’ve always adored The Angry Video Game Nerd, I can still remember seeing his ‘Back to the Future’ review for the first time and it changed my life and made me discover this strange world of online video reviews. I really enjoy ‘Oliver Harper's Retrospective Reviews’ and I’m glad I discovered his channel. It showed me and I think others in the YouTube video review community that movie reviews don’t have to be the comical screamy shouty sketches like you would get from the Nerd and the Critic. I really liked how he uses an almost documentary style, I every now and then chat with Harper and consider him a friend and I know he’s working on a documentary at the moment so best of luck to him. I also love videos that aren’t anything to do with movies, I love ‘Exploring with Josh’, who is this young lad with an almost Vanilla Ice hair doo who goes to abandoned places and just looks around, he’s even been to Chernobyl which is amazing. There’s an Australian channel called ‘How Ridiculous’ which is basically three very funny guys dropping things from great heights, and I love it. I think there are many wonderful and talented people on YouTube and I’m thankful the YouTube platform is there so I can see these peoples content and what they have to offer the world.

What are your current Projects? 

Well basically just being a decent person and ready to lend a hand where I can, I plan to keep making videos, trying different kind of videos here and there and I like to keep things fresh by out of nowhere reviewing a movie no one would have ever thought I would do. Every day I get at least 30 requests of movies to look into which is really nice because it’s nice to know what I’m doing is having a positive effect on people, so please keep them requests coming. I’m thinking about starting an art show with some of my artwork and calling it ‘Expectations’ or some artsy title like that which will make me look unique and intelligent when in reality I don’t really know what I’m doing, jokes aside I just hope people will enjoy my art pieces. And I hope to continue to learn more about photography and perfect the craft of it, but I think photography is something of a side project for me, if anything more of a hobby.

Please in your own words write a paragraph about yourself & your work. 

Minty Comedic Arts is (hopefully) a fun positive place and experience where all are welcome where lovers of pop culture can get together and celebrate movies (and pop culture in general). I like to think I have a unique take on movies and love to share my thoughts and opinions on them by unearthing information I have found out about them. In order to get more understanding about said movies so we can maybe get an inside into their creative processes, if anything explore a movies DNA, after all movies are kind of like time capsules of the time they were made in so maybe we can learn more about the world at that time in general. I like to mainly focus on movies that I feel have been over looked over the years. I want people to watch these underrated films and, to give them a fair go. I think there are movies out there that have been shrugged off as being no good as they didn’t make much money in the box office or no one understood them at the time. It could also be because they came out at the same time as bigger franchise movies, I like to get those movies (and put them on public display) and show that they do have merit. Above all I hope I make people happy. I know I just talk about Pop Culture but I know how tough the real world is. My message is a simple one, no matter how tough things get, no matter how sad your heart may feel at times, no matter those tears that roll down your face, just remember this one thing, everything will be ok, the best is still to come.

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