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  • Rev Horror

Emilio Mauro Interview (Director, Another Day in America)

The Horror Revolution: First off, what’s your favorite horror movie? What movie scared you the most?

Emilio Mauro: Actually, I find horror movies don't usually scare me. What truly terrifies me are things rooted in reality. One film that really got to me is the made-for-TV movie The Day After, which is about a nuclear war. 

THR: I’m in a little bit of a different boat with this interview (and the review) because the film isn’t horror, but as huge comedy fan and a lover of indie film in general, I was completely blown away by your movie. What inspired the film?

EM: I knew the ending before I wrote it; that ending was loosely inspired by a real event. So, I sort of wrote myself into a corner and had to write myself back to the center of the room. What led me there was finding the true idea of the film. This is a contemporary story; today's social and cultural commentary is dominated by internet content found on social media, happening in real-time. So, I wanted to use the power of narrative, the power of art versus what we are losing out against, which is the power of all the different forms of media. My approach was to take risks, break some rules, not hold back, and not pull punches. I kept reminding myself that art is supposed to be dangerous."


THR: There was so much about Another Day in America that I loved. The script was phenomenal, and I loved how you were able to fully flesh out such a huge cast of characters. How were you able to take such a large ensemble and make each character unique and interesting?

EM: That’s a great question. I know this will sound weird, but I legit black out when I write my first draft. And that first draft is everything to the DNA of the characters. The personalities and the behavior, the language.  It’s like I’m a courtroom stenographer, and I’m experiencing these moments; I’m just trying to keep up. I wrote 50 pages of all dialogue the 1st night I started writing this. I definitely feel like I channel it from somewhere, I feel it.  These characters sort of write themselves. Especially on that 1st draft, and my 1st draft is not ever something I would share. It's almost like the person that wrote that first draft is gone, and then on my other drafts, I’m rewriting that person.


THR: When you have a movie like this, it really does feel like an ensemble of talent. In your mind, as the writer, did you feel that there was one (or two) particular main character(s), or did you always envision it as a conglomeration of all of these personalities?

EM: It was always about many characters, representing as much as I could fit in one day. But I let my characters make decisions, and they went in those directions. In a normal script, you usually develop a spine for the story, the structure… I didn’t with this. It’s not written in a conventional way. It doesn’t have 3 acts and 5 turning points. I used episode breaks like chapters, and it allowed me to have more characters and different storylines. But that was a 2nd or 3rd draft thing.


THR: Indie film is fascinating to me in large part because you never quite know what to expect, but also because you can’t hide a lack of talent behind huge production values. There are so many filmmakers out there who lack the storytelling or scripting chops but get by on explosions or post-production camera tricks, and those options simply aren’t available for indie filmmakers. I was incredibly impressed with your work, and your translation from page to screen as a screenwriter and director was fantastic. Which role do you prefer, or do you feel that they work hand in hand to tell a complete story?


EM: Like a glove on a hand.  For years, I would write and no one would get my writing and I would get rewritten, or I would get awful notes. I was always a writer/director. I just had to find the courage to direct.  I have to direct what I write and I will probably never direct someone else's writing. Looking back, 70% of my direction came from my the script. It was pretty natural for me to direct my writing because I know it so well."


THR: One of my favorite indie comedies ever is Kevin Smith’s Clerks, and I felt like Another Day in America had a lot of similarities to that cult classic with its tongue-in-cheek (and sometimes not) critique on important social issues. What were the challenges in telling a story that could have been offensive in the wrong light while still delivering an incredibly important and topical message?


EM: That’s a great compliment; I love Kevin Smith. I think Chasing Amy is similar too. A few things. One, it’s called Another Day in America, so being offended is part of that American experience; the audience is part of that. Not saying it was intentional, but it’s part of the natural experience. Two, that natural feeling came from me not holding back. My characters spoke to me, and I didn’t want to censor them. And trust me, there’s some stuff on the cutting room floor. Three, this isn’t an op-ed; I’m not a journalist; this isn’t a podcast. Narrative goes back to the very beginning of human civilization. It’s an art form. I had to use that to its fullest. I hope more people do.


THR: Your cast was phenomenal! How accurate were their portrayals of the characters you created to what you had envisioned when you wrote the script?


EM: I agree, great cast, great performances. Everyone came to play and play hard.  When I wrote the first draft, not that close… but over the other drafts and the tweaks and sometimes complete overhauls of characters very accurate. But what's on the outside doesn’t compare to what's on the inside. The inside is what matters, and that was always there in some aspect, regardless of the draft.

THR: There were a bunch of really deep messages within the film, incredibly poignant and important critiques of a toxic masculine workplace and of mental health from two different and realistic directions. I didn’t want to delve too deeply into those areas for my review because I didn’t want to get in the way of the ending of the film, which I think will really strike home for a lot of people. How difficult was it to contrast the lighthearted humor from the bulk of the film with the serious topics that are discussed later in the film, and do you think you pulled it off how you wanted?


EM: I wanted to keep the audience engaged and knew that it mostly had to be with dialogue. I think I’m good at that. But I had that ending. That’s the story. The ending was the story. And I had to do it in a way that was shocking, yet made sense. So I just tried to keep it entertaining. 

So, I knew the ending. I knew that it was one day in an office, and I knew that the night before leaks into the office. And I didn’t know anyone else. So I had this blank page, and I said to myself, what’s this movie about, then the title hit, and that's when I wrote 50 pages. But tone was challenging. Because of the ending I had to lead its way to the end with cultural and social bread crumbs.  And like I mentioned use whatever I could to keep you engaged enough to get to the end, not see it coming, but still have it make sense.  That was the goal.


THR: What inspired you to want to become a director? Were there any particular films that made you know this is what you wanted to do?


EM: I never wanted to direct. It wasn’t until I was watching an old interview of Federico Fellini, and I had the same exact experiences as him. He didn't want to direct, no one got his writing, always rewritten, and that’s when I said I’m going to direct this. I didn’t write this to direct it; I was going to try and hand it off again. But I love directors and their films. PTA, Scorsese, Tarantino, Spike Lee.


THR: If you could work with anyone in the industry, alive or dead, who would it be and why?


EM: Great question. You know I really don’t dream about those things. I never really thought of it. Obviously I’m a fan of so many actors… I love love love Denzel, Brad Pitt, Tom Hardy, Jodie Foster… and James Gandolfini is someone that passed and is someone I would have loved to work with. But you know who’s awesome, I think I would create magic with is Paul Walter Hauser. He’s so great.


THR: What’s next for you? Do you have any exciting upcoming projects you can talk about?


EM: The actor who played Anthony in Another Day in America, Damian Di Paola, we have something cooking. At a Cinequest dinner, we were throwing out ideas, and I mentioned something, and now I’m writing that something.


It mainly takes place in this Italian-American neighborhood in Boston called the North End, which is the Little Italy of Boston.  Anyways, it takes place there and it’s the week following the murder of George Floyd, there were protests nationwide, and those protests also ended up in Boston in the days after. The riots in Boston got violent, very expensive neighborhoods were looted and raided, and that violence was heading to this tight-knit historic neighborhood. And that’s all I can say for now. But it’s a true story. It has this Spike Lee Summer of Sam feel.  But things in my pre-first draft stage… I’m getting ready to black out… I also have a script that's written by me and being produced, which I’m directing. It’s called UNSOLVED. It’s about a young female detective who becomes an overnight celebrity for catching a brutal serial killer. Then fame threatens her relationships and career, and now she's directly tied to a new string of killings that recreate famous unsolved L.A. murders. This script is done and ready to go to cast."



THR: Finally, what’s the weirdest food combination that people put together that you just can’t get behind?


EM: I know this might sound lame and unoriginal.  But fruit, like pineapple on pizza…. And ketchup on a hot dog - 

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