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Interview with Sean McCarthy

By Marco Cerritos

The Sentinel

San Jose native Sean McCarthy is currently enjoying the success of his first venture as a filmmaker with the celebrated short film “Raging Cyclist”. It will make its debut next month as a part of the Cinequest film festival and judging from Sean’s reaction when we met to conduct his interview, he couldn’t wait for the big night.

The twenty-four year old filmmaker has worked hard to get to this point. Having experimented with making short films from a very young age. His love of the cinema stems all the way back to memories of being entranced with movies like “Gremlins” and “Ghostbusters”. Part horror and part fantasy, “Raging Cyclist” centers around a superficial character Ephraim Joseph who on his daily bike ride encounters a mythical creature in the woods. Obsessed with finding out its identity, our hero (also known as “the cyclist”) becomes fully immersed in his quest and eventually must find his own soul within the heart of the beast.

Shot on super 16mm, “Raging Cyclist” is a labor of love for McCarthy and his producing partner David Berg. They spent four years completing this film, mostly shooting on weekends and with a shoestring budget that included calling in as many favors as possible. The final product will be introduced march 4th as a part of Cinequests lineup as a special midnight screening at the camera 12 in downtown San Jose. That is only the first stop for the production team. The following week, “Raging Cyclist” will be show at the Durango film festival in Colorado and Sean hopes that it is followed by even more people seeing his film. The following is a transcription of a recent conversation we had regarding his success.

Marco Cerritos: What was your inspiration for making this film?

Sean McCarthy: well, I wanted something I could shoot on a low budget and make with the resources that I had. I read the Robert Rodriguez book Rebel without a crew and he spoke about working with what he had access to. I had access to a couple bikes and I knew how to move the camera, I just had to create a few devices to hold the cameras in place.

Cerritos: How did u make the available resources fit the story?

McCarthy: I was riding my bike and I thought you could make a lot of cool action scenes with a bike and tailor it to my taste, a goofy absurd movie. The basic outline was having a guy on a bike facing something in the woods all the camera rigs and other ideas just flowed naturally after that.

Cerritos: Since you self-financed this project how easy of difficult was it to raise the funding?

McCarthy: It was hell! It was a lot of work doing different jobs. I worked at a dumping ground, making sandwiches at a deli, delivering memory chips for computer companies just to save a small bundle of cash. Since I had good credit, I also got a bunch of credit cards and activated them all just to throw my hat in the game.

Cerritos: Would you be willing to self-finance your next project? Or look for investors?

McCarthy: investors. I don’t want to self-finance the next one. And the next one is such a big idea that I couldn’t self finance it even if I wanted to. This film was more of a calling card to show people what I could to and explain where my vision was and where I could take it in the future. Now, the people I work with later on can understand my vision and have something to judge for themselves when we work together on a project.

Cerritos: What’s your opinion of the current state of independent cinema?

McCarthy: I love film. Even before independent film became a marketing tool I was still into that style of filmmaking. But I don’t think independent film is independent film anymore. Ya, when you have a smaller budget you can take more risks to appeal to a certain audience, there just independent visions. You see a lot of bad independent films all the time and sometimes the more freedom you have the more mistakes you can make, so you end up getting a lot of pompous and pretentious filmmakers making bad movies on a small budget. Movies like “Casino”, “ The Royal Tenenbaums” and “Requiem for a dream” are independent films because those filmmakers, even though they have the support of a studio, still have complete control of their movies. If you’re uncle Joe is financing your 30,000 short film, uncle Joe is going to want to throw his hat in the ring and give you advice you may not need.