Interview – Michael Coulombe

Can you imagine working 135 films? It seems nearly impossible doesn’t it? Well, not if you’re Michael Coulombe!

I was fortunate enough to connect with Michael recently following his release of The Purpose of Apples, and offered to write a review of the film. As we began chatting, I quickly learned Michael had worked on another film I recently reviewed, Bereave, so I asked if I could interview him as well. After all, one glance at Michael’s IMDb page and you wonder if he ever sleeps. Seriously though, Michael is a script supervisor for well over a dozen films and TV series EACH YEAR for the past few years, writer, director, actor, co-founder of Big Bear Horror Film Festival, and a published author. All this said, he’s generous enough to take the time to talk with interviewers like myself, who are interested in the film-making process.

Researching you on IMDb made me exhausted looking at all of the work you do, all of the films you’ve been script supervisor for in just the past few years…its astonishing. Can you share with me what these past few years have been like with all of the films you have been a part of?

There are days I look back on my career and it feels like it happen so quickly. I had an office job for almost eleven years and it felt like it lasted for decades. Nine in this industry and I feel like I just started. Then I look back on all the movies I have done – and I have so many wonderful and amazing memories – and friends that I have made and I realize just what exactly I have been a part of.

Share with me a little bit about what a script supervisor does.

I wish this was a simple answer. It is such a complex position. A script supervisor essentially tracks the continuity of a movie and logs all the information on set that post production uses to edit the film. We film movie out of order, our job is to provide the information that the editor uses to cut the picture.

What have you loved the most about it? Any fun or hilarious experiences you can share?

I learned the skill of script supervising because I wanted to be a script writer. I never actually meant to do the job itself. I needed a reason to leave my full time job and follow my passion and I figured script supervising would be a good transition job, except I was having so much fun. I do have many stories to share. Several actually and it’s hard to sit next to me because I tell them all frequently. Perhaps I will write my memoirs some day.

You’ve recently written and completed your first few films as a director. What has that been like and what has been the inspiration for you to make that transition? Can you share a bit about each as well?

Making the transition into directing was fairly natural actually. Script supervising is a good stepping stone into directing and writing. I learned script supervising because I wanted to be a script writer. Being on set has just been such great training for me. After nine of making movies I have learned quite a few things – mostly what works and what doesn’t work…and how to adapt on set.

Two of the films I directed I had written (Ax and The Purpose of Apples.) I was just writing to start honing my craft. I never really thought about being a director at first. I just wanted the films to be true to what I had written. The third film I directed (The Wrong Profile) was written by my friend Kenny. It was a good experience to direct something that was not written by me.

I know you love the horror genre. What are some of your all time favorites? You’ve also worked with Friday the 13th Creator Victor Miller. Can you share with me how that collaboration came about and what it’s been like working with him?

I have to be honest, I am new to horror. My cousin is a HUGE horror fan and used to make me watch them when I was younger. Secretly, I liked them…I just didn’t know it then. A few years ago, when the economy was slow, my friend and I decided to start a film festival. So we launched The Big Bear Horror Film Festival in Big Bear Lake, California. It was a way to stay involved in film.

2010 was the 30th anniversary of the original Friday the 13th. We decided that year to host an anniversary screening. I ran into Harry Manfredini, the composer, at a birthday party of a filmmaker friend. I asked Harry to be a judge that year of the festival. From there I reached out to several people from the film. One such person was Victor Miller. We invited him to come down and be a speaker. Having him and Harry there was a rare treat – as they had not seen each other in 30 years.

From that weekend I struck up a friendship with both gentleman. We managed to keep in touch. Somehow over the course of talking we just decided to write a script together. We wrote a film called Eden Falls with another friend of mine Martin Rogers. Both Victor and Harry are amazing people to work with. I could dedicate a whole chapter in a
book to just the wisdom these two men have given me. Not to mention the stories they have! I was honored to be attached to Rock Paper Dead, where I also met co-writer Kerry Fleming. All three men have become friends and mentors.

Your recent film, The Purpose of Apples is actually a drama, what made you decide to
write and direct a drama?

Well I have always been drawn to drama because I love good stories with good characters. Plus I love to challenge myself as a writer and a director. I know that if I expect my actors and crew to challenge themselves on set then I must expect the same from myself.

Tell me a bit about the actors you worked with. And, what about festivals…will we see
the film making some rounds?

After nine years and a 135 movies as a script supervisor I have worked with so many actors….and we do not have the space to talk about that!

As a director, I seem drawn to actors I could see myself being friends with. That ease and comfort on set really creates a great productive environment.

My two latest films are just now hitting the festival circuit so stay tuned for announcements as to where the films will be playing.

You and I chatted a bit about how being on set is really magical. I love to share with people what makes it so great, for those who don’t get to experience it. What are some of your favorite aspects of being on set?

Did I really say magical? I suppose I probably feel that it is. I worked in an office for many years before leaving that world to do freelancing. I got tired of working in an environment that didn’t respect me or what I had to say. That is not the case anymore. People always ask my advice. I suppose in some ways I have become a mentor to some just as Harry Manfredini and Victor Miller have become to me. Just for the record, I am in NO way comparing myself to those two. I should be lucky to achieve even half of what they have accomplished.

As for being on set….I find it exhilarating…exhausting….overwhelming…..up-lifting….inspiring…..

Anyone can see just how much you have accomplished, but in your own words, what are your greatest achievements so far? Future goals in film?

Oh people tell me all the time how successful I am. I don’t see it….but that is probably because I am always striving to grow and challenge myself. I think it’s safe to say I may never be content at where I am.

The film festival my friend and I created is one of my most proudest moments. It lasted a few years (and I would love to bring it back) but I look back on it fondly. For a person just starting in the industry then it was great to have launched something so successful.

As for my future….I continue to always write and direct great films…and I will always continue to
assist people in making their own films!

Could you share more with us about Bear Claw films?

Well it started off as just a company I was using to make my own films. But it has become the brand of Michael Coulombe. My goal is to grow it with me as I grow….and start branching out to other aspects of filmmaking. Keep your eye out for more from me and Bear Claw Films. www.bearclawfilms.com

 

Thank you, Michael!

For more information on Michael Coulombe:

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