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My Friend Max

An Interview With Filmmaker Mikeal Burgin

GorramNerdHour GorramNerdHour Nearly a year ago, as submissions opened for the Phoenix Comicon Film Festival I became aware of Mikeal Burgin. He's a man of many talents. He began his film career as an actor and began to feel compelled to start writing and directing. I first found out about him through a mutual acquaintance named Pierre Schantz, a talented and very young filmmaker I had the pleasure of interviewing for a stop motion film he made. Pierre and his mother Lisa knew Mikeal through the film festival circuit. So when submissions opened they let him know about Phoenix Comicon and he sent us his short film entitled Special starring his talented daughter Kaylynn. We loved it an accepted it into the festival. We at The Gorram Nerd Hour had the pleasure of interviewing them both recently.

Jacob: Mikeal, Kaylynn, nice to meet you both.

Mikeal: Hey Jacob, how's it going?

Kaylynn: Hi

J: I was really hoping you would have been able to make to Phoenix Comicon this year for Special but unfortunately you weren't able to make it, huh?

M: Yeah, you know, with so many festivals it's hard to save money up to hit them all.

J: First of all, the way that you came onto our radar was because you submitted Special to the Phoenix Comicon Film Festival. We really liked it and we were very happy to have into the festival. I was really impressed with it and felt it was a very well put together short film.

M: Thank you very much. I'm honored that you guys enjoyed it. We really thought it was a very strong story and it came together really nicely for us.

J: I know you're both related and it seems you are working together a lot. Mikeal, do you often write your films with Kaylynn in mind?

M: The last couple films I've done I have written for her. The films I had been making previously are definitely in the horror genre. And they were films that were not really appropriate for Kaylynn to watch. So after we returned from the Snake Alley Festival one Summer representing our film called Shift she had expressed some disappointment of not being able to go with us and share in that kind of excitement. So, as a result, I used that as motivation to write a kid friendly horror film, Bring Me A Dream, that I wrote specifically for her. It's kind of like a Goosebumps episode. That really kind of took off and played over thirteen different festivals.

J: Wow

M: That was her introduction to acting and filmmaking and she took to it like a duck to water. Of course she was growing up all around it. She just really hasn't stopped since then.

J: The family thing is always fun. I dabbled in filmmaking myself and I always end up putting my nieces and nephews in them. (Jeremy from The Gorram Nerd Hour chimed in to say "Free labor")

M: After we did Bring Me A Dream and she realized how films were made we then cast her as the child in Special which was definitely not kid friendly but it was something that she could definitely handle after that. It worked out really well for her.

J: I'm glad to hear it. And I do have to say, Kaylynn - I really enjoyed your performance in Special.

K: Thank you.

J: I can't wait to see more. Now, this new film, My Friend Max, which is what you're currently trying to get funding for right now. Tell me a little about that story.

M: Well, My Friend Max is a step in a different direction for me as a filmmaker. I co-wrote with a screenwriter I met out of Nebraska. His name is Chuck McCann. I kind of pitched him an idea about a young, misunderstood bullied girl and an imaginary friend she has. We really began to develop the story kind of like a cross between Drop Dead Fred and Let Me In. Instead of really getting under people's skin and trying to disturb them as much as possible we tried to make it as heart wrenching as possible. The audience reaction is always something I have in mind when I'm making something.

J: And you have Doug Jones attached to this as well?

M: We are very fortunate to have Doug Jones attached. He's gonna be playing the lead role of Max opposite Kaylynn.

J: I've been a big fan of his for years. I love the fact that people are finally actually allowing him to show his own face in a movie as well as actually use his own voice.

The Many Faces Of Doug Jones
The Many Faces Of Doug Jones

M: His ability to demonstrate emotion through physical movement is mesmerizing.

J: It really is. That moment in Pan's Labyrinth was just beautiful, when he was the creature with the eyes on his hands.

M: The pale man, yeah.

J: You guys are doing crowdfunding, right?

M: We are on IndieGoGo, actually, yeah.

J: You had sent me something on Facebook about IndieWire actually choosing your film as the independent project of the week.

M: That was about a week and half ago, I think.

J: That's amazing that they're recognizing that right off. I really want to see what My Friend Max ends up being.

M: We're really excited to show it to everybody once we have it finished.

J: Can people watch your short films online?

M: Bring Me A Dream is available on YouTube.

The IndieGoGo campaign is still going. Please support Mikeal if you can in his efforts. Personally, I am a big fan of the "Imaginary Friend" sub-genre of films like Harvey, Drop Dead Fred or even Heart & Souls (It almost fits...just let me have that one). You can go to and get more information.

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