Two brothers in Medieval Italy re-unite after a long war. As it turns out, one’s wife is in the hands of the other after his presumed demise. An inevitable conflict threatens to start a new war altogether, until the only sanity that can prevail is deadly single combat on the spot, and without fanfare.
CULT CRITIC- Marcus, first of all I would like to congratulate you for the huge success of your film “Blood Brotherhood”. It has been screened almost every part of the world and received so many awards. What actually provoked you to select the subject Long distance Relationship?
MARCUS – Thank you! It was a real pleasure to join the cult critic awards. I was always fascinated by the European History, I grew up around it and as my first film I wanted an historical subject. The middle ages is definitely the historical period that fascinates me the most, maybe because we know very little about it. The long distance relationship between the characters inherited the values of chivalry, which I find extremely fascinating. The courtly love that we have inherited from the troubadour poets in the great medieval poems faces the harsh reality of the middle ages, poetry vs reality is the main theme of “Blood Brotherhood”. Lorenzo and Ermengarda stand by the values of courtly love, but their affection has to face the harsh reality that Alfiero carries with himself, war!
CULT CRITIC – Would you please tell us how did you start your filmmaking journey?
MARCUS – I come from the theater world, I started acting since early age in England and Italy. When I moved to America my dream was still to just be an actor, so I graduated from the American Academy Of Dramatic Arts. Along the way I’ve met so many great directors and filmmakers that inspired me to put my own stories on the screen. I went to the New York Film Academy where I’ve learned filmmaking, but I also met so many talented people, some of which eventually went all the way to Rome to help me out on the set of “Blood Brotherhood”. I’m always thankful of my dramatic background; I think being an actor has helped me developing the sensibility a director should have when he deals with his characters.
CULT CRITIC – I must say, you got a gifted music composer for “”Blood Brotherhood”. I think a blind man can also enjoy your movie equally like us. What do you think, how important is the back ground score for a film?
MARCUS – I think Soundtrack is truly half of the movie! Can you think of any great picture that doesn’t also have a great soundtrack? Imagine any Morricone’s film without his melodies. Music accompanies feelings, opens emotional doors where images cannot reach. In my case I wanted the audience to be totally immersed in a medieval atmosphere. I worked with a great group that actually studies ancient music scores and tries to replicate the music of the time with the accuracy that the manuscripts give us. Unfortunately none knows what medieval music exactly sounded like but the songs were all written in the XIV century and performed with the same instruments we used; that’s as close as we can get.
CULT CRITIC – I find many Indie filmmakers saying they don’t believe in grammar of filmmaking. They just want to break the rules and to be creative? What is your opinion?
MARCUS – I think being creative it’s important. I wanted to be creative when I choose an historical theme for my first film, but breaking the rules should somehow serve the story, when the story serves creativeness we enter a risky territory. The real rules of storytelling are few, even the Greeks back at the times of Aristotle were able to figure them out, all the others that are often passed off as “rules” are in the opinion of the individual directors. As a sort of compass to always keep me on track I like to ask myself honestly if the movie I’m shooting is something I’d like to go watch on a saturday night with my friends, something that they would actually enjoy.
CULT CRITIC – Our viewers would like to hear about your perspective on your film “Blood Brotherhood”
MARCUS – “Blood Brotherhood” has a call for more, it wants to be a feature, this one that you see is only a scene in the bigger picture of a full movie. With this we wanted to only give a taste of the potential behind it. I hope me and the rest of the crew succeeded in this effort, to take you back in time for few minutes.
CULT CRITIC – How was the filming experience? Are you professionally trained? Was there a script?
MARCUS – The filming experience was very fun but also very formative. When you’re a director you are the captain of the ship and everyone comes at you with many questions and requests, you have to face unexpected problems and make decisions right away, you’re never ready enough until you do it. I think any historical show needs double preparation than any other genre, for months I went researching for a great story to tell, first at Gradara (home of Paolo and Francesca) and then in the archives of Rome. I have to say the Netflix’ show “Medici” gave me a boost of excitement to make “Blood Brotherhood”! Eventually I decided to take inspiration from all and create my own story. I wrote the script, but that was only step number one, when I draw the storyboard I had to dramatically change it! Time on set then dictated the final version that you saw. Location scouting took a long time as well, I finally found the location at the Poggio Catino’s Castle, but it would have been impossible to record a good audio, so I had to opt out for an indoor set, which is where we finally shot.
CULT CRITIC – Will you tell us a bit more about the relationship nature of Alfiero and Lorenzo? Audience will love to know the director’s perspective behind portraying the relationship in between Lorenzo and Ermengarda? Are their lady love is responsible for “Blood Brotherhood”?
MARCUS – The film is inspired by the story of “Paolo and Francesca da Rimini” told in the Canto V of Inferno’s Dante in the “Divine Comedy”, my personal favorite chapter. Paolo was killed by his brother Gianciotto for having an affair with his wife. I was always impressed by this couple that keeps on loving each other even in hell. I thought it had a strong influence from the courtesan love, which of course, at the time was just an ideal. So I wanted to insert the love of Lorenzo and Ermengarda into the brutality of the middle ages. In a way even between the two brothers we can glimpse at a lost affection they had for each other, before Ermengarda came between them. It is a story as old as the world that I wanted to re propose in a new, more realistic key.
CULT CRITIC – As an Independent filmmaker can you talk a little bit about some of the specific production and screening challenges
MARCUS – Production development took a long time because we had to find the right costumes and armors. With the help of historical research groups like “Di Santi e fanti” we were able to dress like in the XV century, we ended up having more costumes than needed actually. As for the weapons and armors, they’re all accurate reproductions from the Italian army inventory of the early 1400’s. The duel scene was definitely the most challenging part, eventually we found some interesting shots to make, but none of that was premeditated. My brother, who is an historian, helped me out decorating the set that you saw, I wanted to give the audience the impression of being in a real medieval fortress. I really had a blast shooting “Blood Brotherhood” and I wish we had the budget to turn this into a feature film; what we really wanted to show the world is that even historical films can be shot with low budget when you have great ideas.
CULT CRITIC – Your work has received positive feedbacks and the film was awarded from several festivals: how much importance has for you the feedback that you receive in the festival circuit? And how do you feel previewing a film before an audience?
MARCUS – It is always important to listen to all feedback, good and bad, but eventually you gotta remind yourself you make movies of your own tastes and hope that people that share your interests might like it. For me the biggest reward was to know my friends and family liked my work, but I was also honored to receive so much recognition from the international community, that was really not expected in these proportions! And I’m always grateful for it!
CULT CRITIC – One more question please if you would, before we say good-bye: What message would you impart to young filmmakers? Thank you so much for your time Marcus. From the entire Cult Critic team we wish you the best.
MARCUS – I don’t feel in a position to give many advices yet, I think I’m still very young and I have a lot to learn, but one thing I’d recommend to any filmmaker, moreover to any artist in general would be to follow your bliss. When you have a story that burns inside your heart there’s a call that only you can answer, not Spielberg, nor Michelangelo can tell your story, so of course watch the work of the greats but then follow your own tastes.