Filmmakers wear a lot of faces: writer, editor, false church member, and pot-smoker, immediately come to mind. At least that’s what comes to mind when we think of Ronkonkoma filmmaker, Victor Bonacore. Long Island Art! got the scoop on some of the wild things Mr. Bonacore has done to get the right shot for the job, as well as some very interesting advice to share with other aspiring Long Island filmmakers.
Long Island Art!: I think the first thing we’d love to know is how you got started with film-making.
Victor Bonacore: I’ve been making little backyard horror films since I was a kid, like “The Ronkonkoma Slasher” with my brother and sister. Then I got my own camcorder for Christmas when I was twelve, I think. I started doing re-enactments from films I liked. Every summer I would make really bad zombie movies with my friends and never finish them. Then I decided to go to college for it and try to really learn the technical aspect of film making.
LIA!: Where did you go to school?
VB: First, I went to community college because I didn’t have the money to go away to film school or anything. I made a really bad movie called “Zombie Gangster Massacre” there. Then I transferred to Adelphi University in Garden City and really started learning about 16mm film and how to edit and shit. It was there that I was able to really learn how to tell my stories and make them look good. I actually learned a lot at Adelphi. Some of the professors there were pretty cool and pushed me to do what I wanted.
LIA!: And wow, do they look good! We saw your last video on your YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/chainsawkiss), “Cool Cannon and Sixx Five ‘Bout That Life’ Official Music Video HD,” was posted around two weeks ago. How long does a music video like that usually take? And what major steps are involved?
VB: Thank you. Well, all videos are different but the same. There is a lot of planning and such that go into it, a lot of writing sessions, and back-and-forth late-night conversations. Then, to be honest, once it’s the day of the shoot, there is a lot of on-the-spot decisions, and a lot of weed, which totally helps the creative process. I really like to do music videos and turn them into little movies, and drugs usually play a big part in that. An example is Johnnie Lee Jordan’s video “Robotripping Through the Gates of Hell:” all the weed is real, and a few of the girls were even downing that “ Robitussin.” It was a wild shoot. Sixx Five & Cannon shoot was really crazy and a little different: it was just me, a little white boy with a camera, going into the hood of Newark, New Jersey, and just shooting, shooting, shooting, almost documentary style.
LIA!: You must have done a lot of different takes, too, because we noticed that there were a lot of seamless transitions from one background to the next. Does that style of filming or editing have a name?
VB: It’s really just micro-budget filmmaking. You do whatever you have to do to get your shot.
LIA!: Would you suggest marijuana as a cure to a creative block for other aspiring artists?
VB: Absolutely. A great friend and artistic mentor to me once said, “Weed is your friend,” and it really is true. It can help take an idea you have and bring it to another level or open artistic doors in your mind. My favorite thing to do when I’m having writers’ block or editors’ block is to take a bowl and go for a long walk in the woods and just smoke a ton of weed. I just come up with the best ideas that way. For some reason weed and nature just ease me, and I can think freely.
LIA!: You’re probably not alone in that mindset. You mentioned doing what you have to do to get the right shots. What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever had to do to get the perfect shot, and which piece was that for?
VB: That’s a really good question, actually. For my my film, “Ice Cream Sunday,” which is about a pedophile priest cult, I really, really wanted to shoot in a church. How could I make a film about religion and not shoot in a church? We were shooting on 16mm so I thought it would bring the production value up, and I wanted all the characters in front of authentic stained glass. So, I started going to churches in my town and trying to find the right one. I really had no money, so I wound up going to this one church in town and became a member. I went every Sunday for a little over a month and became friendly with the pastor there. I asked if I could shoot a short there and they agreed — and for only $100! So I wrote a fake three- or four-page script about a girl who is inspired by a church song or some shit like that, because I knew that if they actually read the real script for “Ice Cream Sunday,” there would be no way they would let me shoot there. In the end, I felt a little guilty because the church ended up being pretty cool: they were the only church I had ever attended that openly accepted gays and lesbians, and everyone was really nice. But, I worship art, not religion.
LIA!: Did that church ever watch your finished video?
VB: No way!
LIA!: That’s probably for the best. Do you show your work to public audiences or attend festivals to showcase your work?
VB: Yea! I like to put together little screenings when I have something to show, and “Ice Cream Sunday” has played a bunch of film festivals and cool little screenings. But short films come and go, you know? People really want to see features. I have had two features in production for years, and when they’re done, I want to do the whole festival thing again. I really enjoy traveling to different places. You get to meet some interesting people.
LIA!: May we have a little peek into what these features might be about?
VB: Well, one is a documentary that I am very close to completing. It’s called “Diary of a Deadbeat,” and follows the life of underground filmmaker, Jim Vanbebber. I started documenting Jim around four years ago, and it’s been a wild ride. I have all my interviews done for it and have collected a lot of footage of Jim. Now it’s just the editing process. The other film is “Blood Wings: A Satanic Fantasy,” and it’s really my baby. I started making that one almost five years ago now, which is scary to even think about, but it’s true. I was living and working with a bunch of filmmakers at the time, like Jimmy ScreamerClauz, Joey Smack, and Ruby Larocca. I will finish it and will continue to shoot it on 16mm, no matter what. It’s just a matter of getting the funds together. I have a shitty desk job now and aim to save all my money to put towards my films. So we’ll see!
LIA!: Is it one of your aspirations to see your work able to support itself and you so that you can quit said job and be a career filmmaker?
VB: Yes! That is my aspiration!
LIA!: You have obviously been doing this for quite some time. Who was your original inspiration in the film-making world and who continues to inspire you today?
VB: Well, my older sisters got me into weird cinema really early. My sister, Tia, worked with underground filmmakers Richard Kern and Tommy Turner, and my other sister, Ami, performed with GG Allin and Kembra Pfahler from “The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black,” so I was introduced to that underground New York scene very early. But on my own I got into Stanley Kubrick and became obsessed with him when I was in junior high. As I got older and discovered more filmmakers, it was filmmakers like Frank Henenlotter and John Waters that really influenced me.
LIA!: That is quite the list of inspirations! It’s no wonder your work spans such a wide range of genres and styles. What is the best advice you can give to other aspiring filmmakers?
VB: Really, don’t conform. Make what you want and listen to everyone but don’t listen to anyone.
LIA!: Excellent advice. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
VB: Break the rules and be an artist. Take your art seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously. And never stop smoking weed.
LIA!: Who told you that?
VB: I can’t remember!
LIA!: It’s probably all that weed.
LIA!: Well, we hope you’ll keep us posted when you’re ready to show your features at festivals! I’m sure the art community would love to see the works you’ve been creating!
VB: Will do. I definitely want to do a big Long Island premier when I am done!
LIA!: That would be amazing for the Long Island art community. Thank you so much for speaking with us!
VB: Thank you for doing this!
Veronica Spettmann Reporting