Q&A: "Red Luck" filmmaker Mike Olenick

Abernathy Miller, Columbus Alive

Columbus-based filmmaker Mike Olenick's latest project started with a nightmare. An unnerving dream served as inspiration for Olenick's horror short, "Red Luck," which is set to premier at the Drexel Theatre's Shock Around The Clock starting Saturday, Oct. 18. By coupling Hitchcock-inspired suspense with beautifully shot violence, Olenick hopes "Red Luck" will have horror hounds glancing over their shoulder long after the credits have rolled.

My first Drexel Theatre Shock Around The Clock horror marathon screening was "Eraserhead"; I've been in love ever since. I absolutely had to see that movie on the big screen. Shock Around The Clock is unique because there is always something for everyone. They screen a great mix of new films and classics that horror fans have seen a thousand times. It's unlike any other movie-going experience I've ever had. People get really excited and yell at the screen. It can feel like "Mystery Science Theatre 3000"; you're laughing hysterically at something somebody said, and terrified from the movie at the same time. I felt like Shock Around The Clock was the best place to premiere "Red Luck" because I wanted to see how movie-goers who appreciate horror and suspense react to it, as opposed to the "art crowd."

"Red Luck" is based on a crazy dream I had. I woke up one morning after having a weird dream about serial killers, super heroes and tin foil. It stuck with me for two months, and I began thinking it was the basis for a film. I wanted to make a surrealist psycho-sexual thriller where bad things happen to just about everyone in the film. It was shot entirely in Columbus, mainly around Harrison West, mostly during the early evening because I wanted to create the feeling that you can just be out in the world and something bad can happen to you.

I wanted to film violence in a beautiful way. I wanted to make a film that is suspenseful and mysterious to draw the viewer in, that was also beautiful enough that the viewer has a hard time looking away - even when they want to.

I addressed some of my own fears in the film. I was attacked once on the street by some people that I think wanted to rob me. They punched me from behind, so there is definitely this feeling of being stalked and attacked unexpectedly in the film. The film isn't autobiographical or anything, but I definitely drew on that fear.

Nobody working on the film knew what the film was. I didn't give anyone a script, and I filmed all the actors separately, even if they are speaking to each other in the scene. The movie was mostly in my head, so the biggest challenge was trying to communicate what I wanted the crew to shoot without the background context. It's not the easiest way to make a movie, but for this instance it pushed me in the right way. I just had to trust the vision and hope I pulled it off.

I'mtotallyexpecting mixed reviews. Because of the nature of the film, I expect some people will absolutely love it, and other people will hate it. I honestly just want people to watch it, and for the imagery to stick with them. "Tenebrae" by Dario Argento is one of my favorite movies, and though I've seen it 100 times, I'd have a hard time explaining the convoluted plot; but it's so beautifully shot that the images haunt you. Even if people don't like the movie itself, I hope they remember how it looked.

Age: 36

Hometown: Oakhurst, New Jersey

Current neighborhood: Harrison West

Day job: Video editor, film/video studio at the Wexner Center for the Arts

Currently listening to: Cosmos by Zombi

Playing favorites:

Favorite movie: A tie between "Hiroshima Mon Amour" and "The Birds"

Favorite TV show: "Twin Peaks"

Favorite restaurant: Udipi

Favorite beverage: Cucumber cayenne kombucha

Best way to spend $10: At Ohio Thrift

What's something interesting about you nobody knows? "I've been naked on Dutch TV."

What's your favorite thing on High St.? "The two train station murals by Greg Ackers - though sadly they have been covered up by Le Méridien."

Drexel Theatre's Shock Around The Clock

12 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18 through 12 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19

2254 E. Main St., Bexley