Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘Black Magic For White Boys’ spells it out in dark humor.

BLACK MAGIC FOR WHITE BOYSOnur Tukel is truly one of a kind in his IFGAF honesty and deliciously bizarre approach to storytelling. (There I go again with the tasty metaphors. This all started with Applesauce.) At this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival, Tukel has given us another smart indie with Black Magic for White Boys. The film uses the power of magic to heighten the toxic masculinity, racism, and misogyny of white men. Tukel brilliantly plays Oscar, a manchild with an inheritance who thinks he can command the uterus of his new girlfriend. Jamie Block plays real estate mogul, Jamie, trying to undercut and oust his rent-controlled tenants. Ronald Guttman as French magician Larry, in desperate need of ticket sales, utilizes a book of ancient spells to the benefit of all three men. Black Magic for White Boys is a not so subtle metaphor for the gentrification of New York City and perhaps the state of our country during this truly hideous period of our history. Every great/disastrous recent newsworthy story is integrated shamelessly (a total compliment) into the dialogue. The modern-day Greek chorus of bus riders making social observations is perfection. Performances across the board are nuanced and raw, funny and wild, in your face and effed up. Shout outs to Franck Raharinosy, Brendan Miller, Colin Buckingham, and Eva Dorrepaal specifically.  Therein lies the cinematic magic of Tukel. Putting himself in each of his films is also essentially my favorite thing. Watching him transform from role to role only reminds me our how insanely talented he is as a writer, director, and actor. Ultimately, like each of Tukel’s films, this stands as a unique experience packed with insight, bold ideas, humor, and a grab ’em by the balls mentality. No surprise, I loved it.

BLACK MAGIC FOR WHITE BOYS

Review & Interview: ‘APPLESAUCE’ writer/director talks total weirdness and hilarity.

Applesauce Poster

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Just one seemingly innocent question is the spark that ignites the entire rest of one quirky and fantastic film. Onur Tukel’s APPLESAUCE will get under your skin and inside your psyche. applesauce Dylan Baker

Synopsis:

 Every Tuesday night, radio talk show host Stevie Bricks invites his listeners to call in and share “the worst thing they’ve ever done.” Tonight, Ron Welz (writer/director Onur Tukel) is ready to share his story.  But soon after he confesses on the air, someone starts sending him severed body parts. Ron becomes paranoid, terrified. His life begins to unravel. His marriage begins to fall apart. He has no idea who’s tormenting him. Is it his insolent high school student? Is it his best friend? His own wife? In a city like New York, there are eight million suspects and each one could have a bone to pick with someone like Ron.

Applesauce still, Onur, copsOnur takes upon the role of Ron with hilarious gusto. After he answers “the question”, someone begins to torment him by sending him “gifts” that remind him of what he did. The question not only effects him but his wife and their best couple friends, when they answer the question, as well. Everyone is angry but each is guilty of being haunted by their own past. The fallout spreads like a virus, spoiling the sanity of these four individuals. The circumstances get weirder and weirder, but you’re already along for the ride. This cast clicks and whirs like a well oiled machine. Tukel’s script is filled with pop culture digs and the realities of intimate relationships. It’s a crazy give and take between bizarro land and total nonchalance. I was all in from the beginning. APPLESAUCE_web_1


I had the pleasure of interviewing this multifaceted artist about this truly unique indie. Enjoy.


Liz: Firstly, this is some wacky and wonderful stuff. I’m gonna need more asap. Just throwing that out there. What in the world was the inspiration for this unique story?

Onur: The inspiration was a true story that happened to a friend of mine in college.  We were at a party together and he accidentally cut a stranger’s finger off.  He was haunted by this event for years.  We’ve visited this story dozens of times – over dinners, at parties, at various social gatherings – and it always captivates whoever’s listening.  We always wondered whatever happened to the injured person, how it changed his life. My friend and I also agreed that having a character tell the story over dinner would make a terrific starting point for a film. This was, indeed, the lynch-pin. I started with that and the script wrote itself.

Liz: You wear a ton of hats in making your films. Do you find that’s been a necessity or for the love of the project?

Onur: When you make a really low-budget film, yeah, you have to wear a lot of hats.  I was the costumer, the production designer, co-editor, writer, co-actor, and co-producer.  The DP was also the operator, best boy, gaffer, and grip.  The producers are handling props and also working on production design and script supervising. The PA is doing the work of six people. Everyone’s wearing a lot of hats. You have no choice! Of course, love factors into the whole process. But when people get over-extended, it becomes stressful, and that sucks. Still, when that camera rolls and you get a take that really pops, it’s all worth it. Then, in the editing room, when you start piecing it together like a puzzle and it starts to come to life, it’s magic. On the next one, I hope to have a bigger budget and crew so I can focus exclusively on the writing, directing and editing. This will give the other crew members a chance to focus on fewer things, as well.

Liz: For Applesauce, specifically, what was the length of time from page to production? Shooting to wrap?

Onur: I finished the first draft of the script in August of 2014 and rewrote it over several months. We went into production in November and wrapped on December 31, 2014.   Just four months later, it premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in April.  The schedule was nuts: fast-paced, chaotic, exhilarating and at times, infuriating.   I made a vampire movie when I was 26 in Wilmington, NC and we were rushed into production, much like we did on Applesauce.  The entire crew of six decided to abandon the movie because they thought we weren’t ready.  I recruited the camera operator Bryan Kupko and asked him if he wanted to make the movie with just a two-person crew.  He shrugged and said, “Sure.”  And that was all I needed to hear.  I just wanted a camera rolling; wanted to hear that purr of the film threading throughout the CP-16 as it burned itself up at 24 frames per second.  The crew eventually came back on board and we dug in and got the movie made, but I was ready to go with one person.  I feel alive on a film set.  A group of creative people working together to make a movie is a beautiful battlefield.  Even when it seems like films may be losing their cultural significance, it’s an honor to be called a director.

Liz: The dialogue is delicious. Super natural, which leads me to think there was a lot of improv involved?

Onur: Delicious. Super natural. You’re delicious and super natural, Liz. Hope that doesn’t sound creepy. Yes, there’s always improvisation in my movies, but it’s always very scripted at the beginning.  We will improv a scene if the words don’t sound real or the dialogue feels flat.  I always want the scene to have life and that usually means severing a sentence or two, rearranging some lines, or tossing the dialogue out all together. Sometimes we’ll use 100% of the dialogue. Sometimes 70%. Sometimes none. Plus, I’m rewriting the script during production, so it’s always changing.  I just want it to feel real, whatever it takes.  If what I’ve written works, great.  If it doesn’t, the hell with it!

Liz: Loved the structural choice to use Stevie Bricks as a transitional catalyst. It made for some quick relief from the adult realness (even as those scenes funny as hell) You totally could have gotten away with just having him as the opener. Talk about utilizing that character throughout, if you would.

Onur: The brilliant Dylan Baker gives such a great performance. I used him like a one-night stand. Literally. We had him for eight hours. I squeezed as much as I could out of him during that time, knowing we would edit him into the movie as much as possible.  He was very busy working on another project and I gave him maybe 10 pages of dialogue the night before his shoot.  He came in and nailed it.  I just sat back and watched.  I threw in a couple suggestions here and there to feel like I was a big shot and so I could tell people, “I directed Dylan Baker,” but I didn’t do a thing.  I didn’t really direct anyone in the movie.  That’s why it’s pretty good!

Liz: How does casting generally work for you? Do you have people in mind while writing or do you use a more traditional route with casting directors?

Onur: I wrote the role of Kate for Jennifer Prediger.  She’s a dear friend, but I was a fan or her work before I met her.  It’s easy to write for her because we kind of speak the same language.  We’re self-effacing, jokey, over-histrionic at times, charming when we need to be, yet self-aware when we’re both being sniveling little assholes. I was also friends with Trieste Kelly Dunn long before I cast her.  We both have connections to North Carolina, which might be one of the reasons we find the same things funny. North Carolinians can bullshit about anything.  I could probably talk to Trieste about a blade of grass for two hours.  I always have a blast in her company. The great Max Casella and wonderful Dylan Baker were brought on through a casting director named Stephanie Holbrook. The thought of making a movie now without her is terrifying. I won’t do it. She’s absolutely indispensable. She also happens to be a sweetheart. Lots of lovely people on Applesauce.

Liz: What advice can you give writers/artists in a world saturated with naysayers and Youtube clips/fleeting attention spans?

Onur: Read as many books as you can. The act of reading is creative. Whatever damage technology is doing to our attention spans can all be reversed with reading. Of course, this is easier said than done. Reading is a luxury for those with time. Outside of that, you better use your free time doing your art, whether it’s writing, drawing, recording music, playing music, making movies, etc. After all, if you ain’t doing that, you ain’t an artist.  If you are creating art, don’t be self-important. You’re not special and you’re probably not that good.  I have to tell myself this all the time. Every now and then, someone flatters me with praise. It’s nice to hear, but the day you start believing that stuff, you’re done. Before you know it, you’re lecturing people on how to make art like I’m doing now. I’m so ashamed.  I’m the last person who should be giving advice.  You should see my apartment. It’s like Hooverville for roaches in here.

Liz: I want to say THANK YOU for taking the time to chat with me. I cannot wait to see what’s next!

Onur: Thank you, Liz.  It’s an honor answering your great questions!

 
Starring Max Casella, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Jennifer Prediger, Onur Tukel, and Dylan Baker
The Disturbingly Riotous Tale of Secrets, Lies and Severed Body Parts Comes to VOD and EST Digital on November 24, 2015

Trailer for Tribeca Film Festival’s ‘Applesauce’ has great potential

Applesauce poster

Perhaps too quirky? This trailer for Applesauce does scratch the indie film itch and was one I wanted to see at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. I’m curious to see if it can live up to its potential.


In rising filmmaker Onur Tukel’s latest provocative comedy-drama APPLESAUCE, a married man is severely tested after a string of twisted, mysterious and frightening events. Following a world premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, the enthusiastically reviewed film comes to digital EST and VOD from Dark Sky Films on November 24, 2015.

Every Tuesday night, radio talk show host Stevie Bricks invites his listeners to call in and share “the worst thing they’ve ever done.” Tonight, Ron Welz (writer/director Onur Tukel) is ready to share his story.  But soon after he confesses on the air, someone starts sending him severed body parts. Ron becomes paranoid, terrified. His life begins to unravel. His marriage begins to fall apart. He has no idea who’s tormenting him. Is it his insolent high school student? Is it his best friend? His own wife? In a city like New York, there are eight million suspects and each one could have a bone to pick with someone like Ron.
Take dark comedy, mix it with noir, add a original and unusual movies of the year.
APPLESAUCE, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, co-stars Max Casella(Doogie Howser M.D., Inside Llewyn Davis, Blue Jasmine), Trieste Kelly Dunn (Banshee, United 93), Dylan Baker (Spider-Man 2 and 3, Secretariat, Happiness), Jennifer Prediger(Apartment Troubles, A Teacher) and Karl Jacob (Pollywogs, The Dictator).