The Mansa Mojo Brothas might have the Paranormal Activity of 2016 on their hands with Lilin’s Brood, which releases on iTunes and Amazon on February 12th. In the film, a “New Media” news coverage team (W.H.I.S.T.L.E.) is stranded near a beleaguered brothel in the middle of nowhere; recovered footage will reveal what happens when they encounter a group of women with a terrifying secret. We caught up with the ‘Brothas’ aka P.W. Simon and Artii Smith to talk up everything Lilin’s Brood…
First of all, how far do you guys go back? Have you been working together from the get-go?
Smith: Phil and I met few years ago when we both first moved to Los Angeles. Both of us were starting up our producing careers. We instantly clicked because we had the similar drive and passion for the film industry and all that is encompasses. From that point on we barrelled forward and started creating stuff. We’ve done 4 short films and a feature film in the few years since we’ve been here and we have more stuff planned to come your way.
Now who takes credit for the initial idea? Did someone dream up the scenario before you both set out to write it?
Smith: Phil initially brought the idea to me. The next day after we first we met he invited me over to talk to me about some movie idea he was thinking about doing and we watched a movie he was using as inspiration. It was a totally different idea at that point. For about a year and half, we molded the idea several different ways and added so many different elements to the story that it looked almost completely different from the original idea. But by that time we had something solid that we were ready to shoot
Most found footage movies have been influenced by both the film itself and the success of Paranormal Activity. How much of an influence did it have on Lilin’s Brood?
Smith: Paranormal Activity, and let’s not forget Blair Witch are practically the wise old Sages of the Found Footage genre. So naturally they had an influence on the movie, it’s even evident because anytime you talk about found footage those movies pop up in every conversation. But during our time of creating the structure for the movie, we watched over 200+ found footage movies to better understand the pacing, the story structure, cinematography style, purpose of camera and character development in those movies. That is what really helped us shape everything
And for those that haven’t yet seen the trailer (which can be found here), how would you describe the movie?
Smith: It’s a dark and mysterious movie. The whole entire film is about these characters trying to unveil a mystery and we follow them as they peel back each layer of this mystery until they stumble on something they didn’t quite expect. Once the truths of this mystery are revealed it becomes a creepy, sadistic and life-threatening situation they can’t just walk away from. If you have a surround sound system, there is also special treat in it for you.
Simon: Think art house meets psychological horror. This film will be dope and a definite treat for found footage fans and fans of movies alike.
How did you handle co-writing? Did you send the draft back and forward between each other on a computer? How does co-writing work?
Smith: Co-writing was pretty simple for us. We did a bunch of things. For this first time around, we created an intense treatment for the story so we really knew how the flow of the movie would go. Then we split the story into pieces and we each individually took the pieces into our own dungeons, wrote them, came back connected them together and did intense revisions as a group.
Do you feel that one of you is better at the other than something – say, maybe one of you is stronger at writing characters than the other is at writing dialogue or vice versa?
Smith: We like to use the term ‘weave’ in a basketball sense. Just like a 3- man weave, or in our case 2-man weave, we trust that we can pass each other the ball and equally handle each writing, directing or producing task. I wouldn’t say we are better than each other at any aspect, we are still at the beginning of our career with one feature film under our belt as a collective. We are still learning our strengths and weaknesses, but as we are learning we have absolute trust in each others skills, work ethic and talent. We could revisit this question after we do couple more projects, then we’ll have a better grasp on it. I could tell you what I seem to focus on a lot more than usual. I put a lot of work and focus into dialogue and description. I love painting a world with worlds, it’s so much fun to me.
How would you describe the tone of the film?
Smith: The movie has a suspenseful, dark, mysterious, and sexy feel. The movie continuously builds on each moment, but there’s also a bit of humor in it to give it even more life. We’ve been told the tone of the movie reminds them of a from dusk til dawn feel. Most women will probably actually love the messages and knowledge that Madame Plu dishes out. It’s dark and it’s edgy but also has an underlying message of empowerment for women.
What are they using for blood these days? Did you guys have to invest in corn syrup?
Smith: The make-up artists we worked with on the film kept that information proprietary, so I don’t officially know but I do know it looked good.
Simon: Yeah, ditto.
Were you already thinking about the next film while working on this one?
Smith: Yes, absolutely. We have multiple projects we are ready to move on in multiple genres.
Simon: Mind is like a bumble bee and each has a different mind. So it’s possible that one of the bees may have thought on the next project. However, I’m sure other bees were working diligently on the task at hand…lol.
What is the next one?
Smith: We do have a second script that takes place as a follow-up in the “Lilin’s Brood” universe that we have finished and are ready to shoot.
Simon: Depends on the alignment of the stars…
How many given projects might you have on at any given time?
Smith: I’m not sure what you mean by “on” but we do have about 4 to 5 projects we are ready to move on.
Lilin’s Brood is released on iTunes and Amazon on February 12th.