The Red Man is a surreal look into the frightening reality of the human psyche. Directed and written by Jimmie Gonzalez, the film stars Daniel Faraldo, Daniel Diamond and Michael O’Neal, amongst a list of other up and coming actors catching their first feature break in this psychological thriller. Protagonist Ian Doughty experiences the ecstasy and depravity in the life of a contemporary DJ. The Red Man dives into the difference between Doughty’s traumatic experience and the façade he puts on for his fans.
However, it’s the presence of John Acquaviva as executive producer that alerted the eyes of Beyond The Drop. The house and techno selector has been at the forefront of almost all things DJ culture since his break into the techno archives with Richie Hawtin in the early 90s.
“It was about three years ago that Jimmie [Gonzalez] told me about this story—it’s a great look into the perspective of someone who apparently has it all,” Acquaviva tells Beyond The Drop. “The more I looked into it the more I fell in love with it and I realized that I wanted to participate.” Acquaviva has been friends with Gonzalez for over a decade he says, not unlike a few others to work on the film.
The film’s score is a prime example of terrifying techno. Crafted by acclaimed producer, Olivier Giacomotto, the film’s suspenseful soundscape is nothing short of an expert production. Definitely a darker divergence from his usual output on labels like Definitive, Giacomotto pushed himself to extreme lengths, says Acquaviva. “During the shooting he got so involved and immersed that he was on the edge of exhaustion while matching sounds with the scenes.” Giacomotto’s versatility and depth are put on display, especially for those interested in the film’s subtle nuances.
While there are obvious themes of isolation and self-doubt in The Red Man, the subtleties extend far beneath the surface. Doughty (O’Neal), is a DJ facing the twilight of his career, abound with indulgence and luxury. However, the film goes much deeper says Acquaviva. While the film was shot largely in Las Vegas over a month, “It’s a very surreal movie, it’s not set in a particular time or place and there is a reason for that,” says Acquaviva. There are clues that suggest all is not as it appears.
Whether it be the Dali-esque clock on the wall or the cover of a book titled Medicated Puppets, a significant attention to detail is required. “It’s an homage to films in the Giallo style, as well as early Roman Polanski films,” says Acquaviva. “We can all feel like puppets in this capitalist world and you have to realize that you can always fuck up—this film explores that.” With attention finally being paid to the mental struggles experienced by isolated DJs, often travelling across multiple time zones, for weeks on end, the film’s timing could not be better. “There are a lot of elements that are personal to just about everyone who watches this and certainly me,” Acquaviva tells BTD. “This film will be around for some time for the generation who understands DJ culture and can appreciate a DJ as a protagonist.”
Although the Canadian DJ and Producer is a rookie to the film business, it wasn’t only his first film. “There are almost no real film people behind it,” he says. “Other than the director of photography, pretty much all the actors are new young actors and the set designer is an erotic porn artist.” With nothing but praise for the team involved, Acquaviva says teamwork has long been a theme of his professional life from founding Plus8 Records, to Traktor and Beatport.
Not a fan of popular culture in general, Acquaviva says he is glad the film has stayed off of the mainstream film market, opting for showing on the festival circuit instead, including an appearance at Cannes. Considering the film’s subject matter, The Red Man will be released directly to video-on-demand sometime in October. To Acquaviva, it’s an archives film and it will be around for a while, he says. “It’s certainly not an attempt at some zeitgeist play.”
You can catch John Acquaviva play in Toronto on Saturday at Bambi’s.
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