Austin Film Festival 2017 – Short Film MUST KILL KARL Interview

"Everyone has “that” friend – The one who shows up uninvited, drinks all your booze, and hits on your girlfriend – Who we all secretly hate and wish would just go away. One night, a group of friends decide enough is enough and there’s only one way to get rid of him for good – They MUST KILL KARL."

Short Film MUST KILL KARL is apart of SHORTS PROGRAM 6: THE OUTSIDERS.  The Writer Karen Moore, Director Joe Kicak, and KARL – Mike Lobel took part in an email questionnaire to discuss the film, the behind the scenes and a lot more!

Here is our Interview with Director Joe Kicak, Writer Karen Moore and Star Mike Lobel of MUST KILL KARL.

1.  Let's start off by figuring out if there is an actual party or event that sparked the plot?  Aka is there a true dildo story?

 KAREN MOORE: There (unfortunately?) isn't a true dildo story… BUT there was a party where a group of my friends discovered that we all hated the same guy that always seemed to be around and had that moment of: "Holy shit – you hate him too?? What do we do about it?". The IRL answer: Nothing. Hence the dark fantasy version that became the film.

JOE KICAK: For me, there were a number of events with my "Karl" that sparked the discussion. However, they were mostly shitty things he said and did… including the horribly insulting "fat chicks" line in the movie.


2.  How long was the shoot and for each of you, is there a specific moment that stands out?  What did you shoot on?

JOE: We shot the whole movie over two nights from dusk till dawn. We shot four stories up on a rooftop patio and we used two Sony A7sii because of their sensitivity to exposure. We were able to see nearby apartments and sky that we didn't have to light. It gave the set a lot of depth.

The moment that stands out for me was when Mike came out with the dildo on his face. He did his lines and then started to improv. No one could stop laughing, which are all reactions we kept in the film. It was when he put it in his mouth that I couldn't handle it anymore.

KAREN: The moment that stands out to me was when Mike did the first take of his heartbreaking Karl monologue. The whole cast was there (not on camera) to support him, it was 4am and pouring rain, and by the end of it he had us all in tears. The rest of the shoot was about laughs and dildos, but that moment gives the movie heart and it was amazing to see Mike just kill it.

MIKE LOBEL: Joe and Karen brought me on board a little while before shooting MKK, which only took a couple days. They invited me to take part in the pre-production process, to hear my ideas for Karl, and to prepare a kind of vibe and collaborative culture for the shoot, considering we had such limited time. I'm really grateful that they put a lot of trust in me and really valued my ideas. They did this with the entire cast before the film and also they made a point of bringing all of us together in the same room to just be, get to know one another, and bond. We were all fast friends and that made the relationships really ring true on screen in my opinion.


3.  Mike what drew you to this role and how much fun was it to let loose?

MIKE: I've always been curious about the shittier parts of my personality. I tapped into it for seven years on Degrassi playing Jay Hogart and I guess I got a taste. I think it's liberating, being given permission to tap into that part of yourself, without fear of self judgement, especially when you're using it to do art. Heck, maybe it's even therapeutic! Joe and I have been best friends for many years, and best friends possess an incredible ability to see their friends clearly, for all of your strengths, but also for your flaws, and if your best friend makes movies? They're eventually gonna have a part for you that they KNOW you can play. So thanks Joe. I take it in part as a horrible insult, and as the greatest honour. 

4.  You utilize a great cut-away scene to the water.  Where did you shoot that?  Also can you talk about landing the home/apartment the film is located?  Is the balcony a different place?

JOE: The water cut-away was in Lake Ontario in about four feet of water. Nobody wanted to go in because the lake is infamously dirty and has fairly constant E-coli warnings. Our DOP conveniently forgot his bathing suit on the day. I of course brought spares. We picked a spot that didn't have any boats or shoreline that you could see and had to remove floating garbage around the actors.  This was the great part about casting friends, you can force them to do things…

The apartment and the balcony were found through We searched for months to find a balcony large enough for the cast, and high enough to kill someone in the event of a fall, and have a sliding door to an interior space. There were a lot of elements in the script that relied on the space. This place had it all except the decrepit balcony. Our production designer, Rosalie Mackintosh, and her team actually built a shitty deck on top of a nice deck in an incredibly short timeline.


5.  What was it like finding out you'd be included in the AFF lineup?  With it being a writer's festival Karen how important was this for you? 

KAREN: Awesome! We were looking or a home for our US Premiere and are totally thrilled that AFF turned out to be that home. I knew AFF had a conference component to the festival, but I didn't realize just how extensive and impressive the line-up of writer-focused events would be. We can't wait!

JOE: It's an extreme honour to be included in the Austin lineup because of how massive the festival is and how many great presenters will be in attendance.  It's actually overwhelming how many seminars and screenings are going on that I want to be at.


6.  Have any of you been to Austin previously for festivals (SXSW, AFF or other)?  Or Texas in general?

MIKE: Oh wow, yeah I love Austin. Fell in love with it a few years back, while I was simultaneously premiering "Suck" and also performing in my band at SXSW. In the film I actually play the drummer of a (vampire)band, which was a real meta head trip, if you can imagine. It was, needless to say, the greatest moment of life, and I have incredible stories and memories of Austin.
KAREN: No! And I've literally only heard unanimously great things about Austin.

JOE: I haven't been either, but so many of my friends have and told me about how awesome it is.


7.  What was the casting process like for the couples?

KAREN: Most of them are actually real couples that I wrote to specifically. Scott Cavalheiro and Claire Stollery (Paulo and Alison) are both very talented improvisors, so we wanted to let them feed off each other. Peter Mooney and Sarah Power (Aubrey and Charlotte) are the sweetest humans alive, so it was fun to give them these annoyingly, over the top in love characters. Both couples have gotten engaged & married since the shoot… so… we obviously take credit for that.

As for Jamie Spilchuk and Stacey McGunnigle (Owen and Molly): They are professional actors.


8.  You already have TV release for the short, can you talk about having it screen on Bravo and CBC's Canadian Reflections next year? 

KAREN: We produced the film with a $50,000 grant from Bravo, and part of that grant included the first window for broadcast. CBC's Canadian Reflections has been airing short films to a national audience for 30 years — we grew up watching it — so it's a huge honour for us to be included in that program. We'll be on Bravo in March 2018, then CBC in April 2018. Exact schedule TBA — we'll update our website: with details when they're available.


9.  Can you tell us about what you personally have next?  Joe and Karen love to hear about the CBC digital series?  


KAREN: We're continuing the festival run with "Must Kill Karl" and developing the feature version. I recently finished a draft of the feature script and will be working on rewrites in the coming months as we move toward financing deadlines.

Joe & I aren't allowed to say much about the CBC digital series other than that it's a kid's adventure web series that we're planning to shoot next summer. We're producing a 2-minute trailer for the series in November, that we'll be sharing online in February/March 2018.

JOE: I also have another short film on the festival circuit now, "Frigid". It's a thriller about postpartum psychosis, and very different from "Must Kill Karl".

MIKE: Right now I'm more music focused. My band, Future Peers, is currently putting the final touches on a new labour of love, that will be released at the beginning of next year! And now that you got me thinking about Austin, I'm really looking forward to the possibility of coming back down to experience the exquisite weirdness again soon!


Must Kill Karl plays in SHORTS PROGRAM 6 on Saturday October 28th at 2:00pm at THE ROLLINS THEATER & on Tuesday October 31st at 6pm Galaxy Highland.

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