Retribution (2010) – Mike Lordi as Ryan Mitchell
TMP: First of all, congratulations to you on Retribution being an official selection for New York’s New Filmmakers Festival. I understand it was selected to be the Feature film. Can you talk a little about how this happened and what your reaction was to the news?
Mike Lordi: Thank you. Yes, Retribution will be part of the New Filmmakers Festival in New York City. It will be shown Sunday, April 3rd at 8:15pm at the Anthology Films Archive at 32 Second Avenue at 2nd Street. When the movie was completed last September, I had two screenings for it, one in which we had about 250 people at the Darress Theatre in Boonton, NJ. I received a lot of positive feedback from both screenings. And not just from family or friends, true unbiased feedback. So from there I decided to explore the film festival circuit. Being from New Jersey (and proud of it) I chose to enter Retribution in a local festival and you can’t get any bigger than New York City. When I received word that it was accepted, it felt as if I was just nominated for an Oscar.
TMP: Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you got your start in filmmaking?
Mike Lordi: The only thing better than making movies is hanging out with my family. My wife Michelle and I have the three best kids- daughters Courtney (8) and Samantha (5) and son Jason, who is twenty months. They all share the love of movies and filmmaking. My start in filmmaking began when I was 4 years old when my uncle, Ron Lordi, who is also an actor/filmmaker, had a then-new black and white stationery Beta camera and started making videos, episodes, movies etc. I got a kick seeing myself on TV and was intrigued at a very young age by the whole process of making a movie. Flash forward about fifteen years and I started making my own movies. After writing and directing ten or so movies, I decided to make Retribution.
TMP: What prompted the idea for Retribution?
Mike Lordi: Up to this point I’ve made mostly horror movies, science fiction movies, thrillers… but I never made an action movie. So I began thinking of different scenes, different scenarios that involved some type of action whether it be a chase scene or a gun fight. I used a technique that I used in some of my previous movies and wrote each scenario on an index card. I laid the index cards out on a table and started formulating a story from there.
TMP: You wrote, directed and produced Retribution, and you also have the role of the protagonist in the film. What was it like for you to take on all of these pivotal positions in the film? What were your biggest challenges?
Mike Lordi: I enjoy every aspect of filmmaking equally across the board. With that said, the biggest challenge, by far is directing a scene in which I’m in. I’m going over the scene with the actors, telling the camera operator what to do, making sure the lighting and sound are sufficient. And on top of that I have to remember my lines. Which you think because I wrote the movie should be easy, but trust me it doesn’t always work out that way. There is a lot to think about, but I surround myself with great actors and great people that help out immensely.
TMP: Why was this such an important story for you to tell?
Mike Lordi: I wrote Retribution because it’s a movie that will grab the audience’s attention right from the beginning. There are characters and elements of the story that people could identify with. It’s also fun for the audience because during the movie they’re discovering something new just as the main character is.
TMP: Can you tell us about your approach to filmmaking?
Mike Lordi: My approach to filmmaking is pretty simple. For me it all starts with the writing. I’ll have a bunch of ideas for a movie and start writing. If I can’t get past page five or six, I’ll scrap the idea and go onto to another one. Sometimes that can take awhile, but once the story and screenplay are in place then everything from casting to organizing the shooting schedule to actually filming falls right into place.
TMP: As a filmmaker, how do you define success and how does that definition align with your own personal goals?
Mike Lordi: I never really thought about personal goals. I just love making movies and want to make the best movie possible for people to enjoy. I understand not everyone is going to like every movie I make. There are some movies I made that I know aren’t as good as other ones I’ve made. As much as I try to be a perfectionist, I’ll be watching my movie at the premiere and notice things that I could have done differently to improve a particular scene. And I beat myself up over it, but the key is to learn from those mistakes so I can make the next movie better.
TMP: Will you be taking Retribution to any other film festivals?
Mike Lordi: Yes there are other festivals that I would like to submit Retribution to. I understand it’s not going to get accepted to all of them, but I think it’s important to get the movie out there because you never know what can come from it.
TMP: What projects do you have lined up for the future?
Mike Lordi: I am currently in pre-production of a comedy that follows diverse groups of people that have a weekend planned in the big city. Little do these people know that their weekends collide in one crazy way. I’m co-writing it with fellow actor Stephen Cafone. The plan is to start shooting in June. The movie is geared to a vast audience group and I think everyone will be able to take something from it. People are always welcome to visit the Lordi Films website at www.lordifilms.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.
Retribution stars Stephen R. Cafone as Harris, Patricia Torres as Connie Bates, Rocky Pavicevic as Dmitri, Paul Torres as Marcos, and Mike Lordi as Ryan Mitchell.