Most films take at least a few months to film. In one week, though, actors, a production team and a director united together in Denton to take on a project titled “Nosebleeders.”
Cole Mitchek, the director of “Nosebleeders,” came to Denton from Denver to shoot the movie on Aug. 19 and wrapped filming on Aug. 25. The movie is based off the real life experiences of the Denton band, Matthew And The Arrogant Sea. Matthew Gray, vocalist for the band and writer, co-director and producer for the movie, told Mitchek a story that spans from 2005 to 2009, a story that Mitchek said needed to be told.
“He started going more in depth as [the conversation] progressed and regarding everything that happened, his story, family story and people he knew evolved,” Mitchek said. “He wanted to talk about his truth and so from there I wanted to explore more and hear everyone’s side of the story and all this crazy stuff that happened to the band 10 years ago. It just sort of evolved into this big thing that eventually became this movie that we filmed in a week and it was pretty awesome.”
Between 2005 and 2009, during the band’s early days in Denton, Gray said they had paranormal and other-worldly things happen to the group. They were recording music at haunted cabins and grave sites because they were trying to seek something supernatural. Gray noted that they were trying to seek spirits, but it ended up being much deeper than that.
Gray said that after he told Mitchek his story, Mitchek was so fascinated by the band’s experience that he wanted to make it into a movie. Gray described him as determined.
“I don’t think I ever sought out to make this movie, but it was more I was encouraged and it came together in the right way and that was my whole thing: If we’re gonna do this, it has to be done correctly,” Gray said.
Mitchek and Gray knew each other prior to the film from working together on previous projects for the band. Mitchek said their first collaboration was filming a series of music videos called “A Bump on the Head in Three Parts,” and these videos were directed to tell a short story.
“Before this movie, we had made six music videos together in a span of 10 months,” Mitchek said. “That was some of the stuff we did leading up to ‘Nosebleeders.’ And it was cool because we were always creating things and everything we were working on was leading to this movie.”
Mitchek said there was a big difference between filming the music videos with Matthew and the Arrogant Sea and filming a movie about Gray’s life. He said filming a movie is obviously a larger project, so it required a production team to put it together. The production was paid for by fans of the band. Mitchek also said he had less freedom filming the movie than he did with the music videos.
“With music videos, we go to a location and experiment a lot of the time and make the most creative thing possible,” Mitchek said. “But with a movie, especially with one that is based off a true story, you don’t have as much freedom with just doing whatever you want to do because it’s real people’s lives. You’re trying to tell their stories in an honest and truthful way, you don’t want to do anything wrong. You wanna keep your full crew and actors happy. It’s just a larger thing that you’re taking on, so you have to be more careful with how you approach it, and it was really refreshing and inspiring to film this movie because that is what I always wanted to do.”
Mitchek said directing this movie was a difficult challenge because it was his first film, and they were restricted by a limited budget and a need for the film to be shot in one week. Gray said almost all of the cast members were skeptical of whether the film could be completed in that time frame.
“I was worried about [filming], feeling it was tough to get everything we wanted to get done each day,” Mitchek said. “But what was reassuring about the shoot was that we were ahead of schedule almost every single day and that left room for a lot of creativity and improv, and all the actors were musicians so we filmed a lot of jam sessions. Which, realistically, is a thing that would’ve happened, which really gave it a natural feel. I’m proud of [the movie] coming out of it because it felt like a success and we had time to get pretty much everything done that we wanted to accomplish.”
The director of photography from Denton, Tanner Tovar, said he did not feel stressed with the time frame they had to shoot the film, but his challenge was getting the correct angles to shoot a scene.
“We got some underwater shots, which is hard because I have to stay underwater the whole time,” Tovar said. “[But] if you know your equipment and know what scenes you’re shooting, it should be pretty easy.”
Dylan Tarver, Denton musician and actor, played young Gray. Tarver discussed how he was able to get into the role of playing the younger version of Gray because they are both very similar. He went into detail about getting into Gray’s state of mind and channeling the paranormal experiences the band went through.
“When that week was over and it was time to become Dylan again, it felt like coming home after a week long trip even though I never left Denton,” Tarver said.
Gray said it was neat to watch the film come together and said he is happy with how well filming went.
“I give all that credit to Tanner and Cole,” Gray said. “Cole is a monster of a director, when he sets his eyes on something, he gets it every time and keeps us on schedule.”
Mitchek also praised Gray and said he was glad to have Gray on set with him. Whenever he had a question about what a character was feeling, he said, he could go to Gray and ask.
“It made it more authentic and that is what I found that was really special about this movie,” Mitchek said. “You can get the locations you want and get actors who can play the characters in really beautiful ways, bringing your script and lines to life. For me, it’s exactly what I want to be doing.”
Mitchek said the plan is to release the movie in 2020. He and Gray intend on submitting it to film festivals and premiering the movie in Denton.
“It was a beautiful and surreal experience witnessing one of your stories come to life, one of your personal stories,” Gray said. “It was definitely a beautiful experience and I’m very happy with how the story was portrayed.”
Featured Image: Tanner Tovar, “Nosebleeders” director of photography, and Matthew Gray, co-director, stand inside Denton County Brewing Company on Sept. 15, 2019. Image by Hope Alvarez