Interview: Gabriel Diani

DF: For our readers who haven’t heard of The Selling, can you tell us a bit about the film?

Absolutely! THE SELLING is a horror comedy about a real estate agent trying to sell a haunted house. It's along the lines of GHOSTBUSTERS and SHAUN OF THE DEAD in terms of tone and features appearances by Barry Bostwick from THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW and SPIN CITY, Janet Varney who is the voice of Korra on THE LEGENDS OF KORRA, Simon Helberg from THE BIG BANG THEORY in a small role, and a brief cameo by HARRY GROENER who was the best villain of all time as the Mayor in BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

DF: What was your motivation and inspiration for making the film?

I was always a fan of horror comedies growing up. I loved it whenever the classic "scare comedies" like ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN or Don Knotts' THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN came on television and then when GHOSTBUSTERS came out I saw it five times in the theater, cut out an ad in the newspaper to make my own Ghostbusters business card, and dressed up as a ghostbuster for three different Halloweens. So when director Emily Lou asked me to write a screenplay and my first and best idea was to do a haunted house comedy. To my knowledge no one had ever done a non parody comedy in that genre where the ghosts were actually real and not some gangsters trying to scare away some pesky kids (or Abbott and Costello or Don Knotts).

DF: The Selling received excellent reviews from several showings at film festivals and recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for a theatrical release. How is the release coming along?

Fantastic! We've been targeting cities where we have some roots and so had our first screening in actor/co-producer Etta Devine's home town of Chico, CA. We got some great press and had a sold out show. We actually had to add a second show and turn people away which was a bummer but not as much of a bummer than if no one had shown up. We've got a number of other screenings lined up in North Charleston, Marysville, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Wichita, Seattle, and a couple more in the works. Details and ticket links can be found on our website: See how I worked in a plug for the ticket sales?

DF: When and how can one watch The Selling on DVD, VOD, etc.?

Right now! As with all movies (and especially comedies) it is best to see the movie with a crowd in a movie theater but not everyone can do that with our limited release. But it is available on website, itunes, Amazon Instant Video, VUDU, Youtube Rentals, and CinemaNow. We're not sure what all those things are ourselves but the movie is available there if you do. It will also be coming on DVD on October 23rd. Our Los Angeles screening at the historic Egyptian Theatre on the 22nd will be celebrating that launch. Barry Bostwick, Simon Helberg, Janet Varney, and the rest of the main cast will be there for a Q&A afterward. Tickets are available here.

DF: What was your favorite part of the production for this film? 

There are so many great aspects to filmmaking. The post production process really is where the movie is shaped through editing, sound, score, and color correcting but honestly there was something magical about the shooting process. It is the first film for both myself and the director and I remember the day before shooting began we went to the house and the crew was moving furniture around and laying down cardboard for people to walk on (so as not to ruin the floors) and I thought, "This is real. This is happening. We're making a movie. We have a crew. Who is that guy? What's his job?" And Emily Lou came up to me and said, "You have the biggest smile on your face right now." So I guess that was my favorite part.

DF: How was your experience working with Director Emily Lou?

Amazing. I wrote a play that she directed in college and we were great friends both before and after but like many of our friends your lives lead you in different directions. I was in Los Angeles failing at getting an agent and she was in Oakland succeeding at raising a family and one day out of the blue she told me she wanted to direct a movie and wanted me to write and star in it. She and co-producers John Friend and Etta Devine helped me develop the script and we collaborated at every stage of production. Normally writers are excluded from the filmmaking process but Emily was very generous in letting me be involved in the editing and post production end.

DF: Why do you think The Selling has received so much praise despite having a small budget?

Because the movie is awesome? It's hard to say really. We have been very fortunate that response to the film has been about 99% positive across the board from audiences, reviewers, and festivals but to be honest I don't know that we would have been all that surprised had it gone the other way. When you work on something for as long and as hard we did on this you begin to lose objectivity. Is this funny? Is that scary? Does that work? But I think in general people just want a good story and we really worked very hard on the script. Most audience members don't care what movie star is or isn't in your film (figuring out how to get them to give it a chance without movie stars in it is another story). They want characters they care about. And I think our movie has a lot of heart. We've got some good jokes and some good scares but nothing too gory so the preteen kids enjoy it just as much as their parents. There's no swearing but not in a prudish way. It has a mainstream sensibility but it's not the type of movie studios really make anymore. It has nostalgia factor for the kids of the 80s who grew up watching THE SHINING, POLTERGEIST, and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR on HBO when they really weren't supposed to but the getting of the jokes isn't dependent on having seen those movies. Maybe that's why people are enjoying it? I don't know. You tell me!

DF: Is this your first time venturing into the Horror genre?

Yes! But, to be fair, from a filmmaking standpoint it is my first venture into any genre.

DF: Do you have any future projects in the works that you could share with us today?

Absolutely! My someday wife/comedy partner/producing partner and I edited a version of Mark Twain's ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN where we replaced the "N-Word" with "Robot" (as a satire of people who have tried censoring the book in order to stop if from being censored). It's available in hardback and ebook formats on our website, Amazon, Kindle, and iTunes. We've also got three screenplays we need to figure out how to get money to make. One is a detective comedy set in pre-prohibition Iowa, another is a Sci-Fi comedy that's sort of how we imagine if Buster Keaton had made a "Buck Rogers" serial called SORRY, WRONG PLANET, and the last one is an apocalypse comedy where we play ourselves as comedians struggling to survive in LA who become human beings struggling to survive in a post apocalyptic landscape after civilization collapses called DIANI & DEVINE MEET THE APOCALYPSE.

DF: What is your favorite dark/horror film and why?

THE SHINING. Hands down. Didn't even have to consider it. The first time I saw that it scared the living hell out of me. Blew my mind in ways a horror movie never had before. The unrelenting sense of dread and creepiness of that movie is amazing. Also, is gorgeous to look at. Nicholson is at his over the top best. And poor Shelley Duvall. Poor, poor Shelley Duvall. You just want to give her hug and tell her it's going to be all right...and that she should have left her husband years ago.

DF: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us!

Thank you!

For more, check out our review of The Selling. Be sure to like their facebook page!

By Brett Mullins

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