Today is a big day for Mr. Sam. He is going to reveal to his mother that he’s
finally found the love of his life. Mr. Sam has many secrets; but the biggest
one he’s managed to keep hidden from everyone for so long is discovered
when his best friend Sandra arrives earlier than expected and catches him
Luckily for Sam, all may not be lost. Sandra has a secret of her own, which
locks the two into a twisted pact. Life, however is not that simple. Sam nearly
breaks the pact and soon comes face to face with Sandra’s demon; and that
confrontation has deadly consequences. Sam must carry the burden for both
and for now, secrets remain buried.
But for how long?
A suspenseful yet stylish 29-minute short film, Mr. Sam follows the titular Sam, portrayed by actor, Christopher Piccione, whose job at a funeral parlor combined with his odd behavior, has earned him the nickname, “Deadman Sam,” a creep to be avoided at all costs throughout town.
The film deals with very emotional and sensitive issues that we as society still face today, including rape, incest, repress, mental health, spousal abuse, and pedophilia.
Real emotions. Engaging story. Compelling characters. This film embraces and injects the very demons our society unfortunately still faces today.
Grit Daily News spoke with the film’s director, John Zeus Kontoyannis about how the film came to be.
We learned that his original pitch for the film, centered around a character with a fetish for corpses. “He digs them up and disposes of them afterwards, but eventually falls in love with one of them,” Kontoyannis said in a statement.
Grit Daily News: What inspired you to be a director?
John Zeus Kontoyannis: I had the greatest inspiration of all: movies of the 80’s and 90’s! I started watching R-rated movies when I was 8 and I was always mesmerized by the stories and characters. Couple that with reading comic books, fantasy novels, playing video games and my imagination was running on all pistons all the time. Then along came Star Wars and I shouted to my parents “I want to do that!” When I was a little older a close friend, who was also a movie buff explained (generally speaking) the moviemaking process to me like this: “The guy who thinks up the story is the writer and the guy who makes it come alive is the director.” Perfect. I could think up the story and make it come alive at the same time. Done!
GD: How did you come up with this concept?
JZK: I have to credit my brother for the concept. I was struggling to put a feature together and looking back on that moment, it was in its death spiral. He was home for spring break and playing video games and during one of those major gun battles where beasts come at you from all directions, he says “you know what would make a great movie? What if you have a guy who has a fetish for dead bodies, so he digs them up, has sex with them then gets rid of them, but then one day he digs up a body and falls madly in love with it? I would totally watch that movie.” And thus Mr. Sam was born.
GD: Biggest challenge putting it together?
JZK: The original story is a feature film and really the biggest challenge was getting anyone to take the story seriously. Nobody wanted to touch the movie and I heard all the same things every filmmaker hears: “There’s no audience for it.” “It’s a hard sell.” “This is too out there for people.” “No one will watch this.” It was out of pure frustration I decided to make a short to prove it had legs and even then, finding cast was very hard. Logistically speaking, like most movies it was the locations that were a real pain to find, especially that morgue. That was brutal!
GD: What would you consider to be the most exciting part about this project?
JZK: We were able to pull off a short film that creates a full range of emotions and feelings for the audience to experience and not once do we let them off the hook. We shock you; we surprise you; we make you squirm and then bring you right back into the action. That was one of my goals for this film and I really feel we achieve that and then some!
GD: What do you want viewers to take away from this?
JZK: Three things. First, that originality and uniqueness in storytelling in the filmmaking world is alive and well. Second, I feel there is a misconception with one signature aspect of the movie that might dissuade people from giving it a chance. Sam was abused by his mother when he was a child.
This was only one part of his tortured youth that made him the way he is today. But his mother’s abuse did not make him gay. He was born a gay man. I realize this might turn some audience members off, but please know it was never my intention to have this be the message.
Lastly, I really want viewers to root for Sam. Yes, he does horrible things and we should vilify him for his actions, but these are actions caused by an upbringing fraught with incredible mental, physical and emotional hardships. Deep down, Sam is a wonderful, warm, kind human and we have to give him a chance.
Are We In a Position to Judge Sam?
We leave you with this question: as humans, are we truly in a position to judge? Our society has embraced the notion of judging before understanding. It’s not a good quality.
Should we judge Sam for loving a corpse?
The knee-jerk reaction is most often yes, that it’s gross and wrong. But understanding what led Sam to do twisted things behind closed doors was paramount for me.
The years of abuse and bullying doesn’t excuse Sam from his heinous actions; but when we make judgement, we have to understand the impetus and the person
behind the mask.
The film features Christopher Piccione (Daredevil), Catherine Ashome Bradley (Happy), Steve Blanchard (The Enemy Within), Matt Hopkins (The Misogynists), and Whitney Harris (YORT).