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Funeral Kings Directors Matt + Kevin McManus Return to RI

Saturday, January 26, 2013


The hormones, angst, vulnerability, soaring highs and crushing lows of adolescence mark a time that many of us would rather forget about. Matthew and Kevin McManus have harnessed these themes and directed Funeral Kings, a gritty yet hilarious independent film set in Rhode Island. Born and raised in Warwick, the McManus brothers have pulled out all the stops and thrust a few Catholic school teenagers into a world of temptation, swagger, substance abuse, and hilarious chaos.

The brothers return to their RI roots this weekend for a showing of Funeral Kings at The Cable Car Cinema in Providence, they took some time to talk with GoLocalProv about this film that might be described as The Hangover meets Goodfellas for 14 year olds. 

This film was shot in Rhode Island and features many local Rhode Islanders serving as producers, crewmen, and extras. Do you feel that representing your home state through the cast, crew, and setting adds a special quality to Funeral Kings?

It's definitely special for us.  We shot in a lot of the same places and with many of the same people we used to work with when we were kids shooting movies with our dad's video camera. It's been pretty surreal seeing all of those same locations and actors in front of audiences in cities all over the US.

Matthew and Kevin McManus come home with their homegrow film: Funeral Kings, playing through Thursday at the Cable Car Cinema.

This film showcases a group of young actors taking on characters filled with angst, rebellion, humor and problematic curiosity. How did you feel about these young actors rising to the challenge of capturing those different qualities in their characters?

They definitely rose to the occasion. I remember a lot of those traits being pretty prevalent at age fourteen, so I think tapping into the angst, rebellion and curiosity was natural for these guys, on the other hand, there are moments throughout the film where our actors really had to let their guard down and allow themselves to be vulnerable.  That’s not something that is easy for any actor to do, never mind when you’re fourteen and feel like you have something to prove, but these guys gave it their all, which gave us a chance to see something, I think, that’s really honest.

What do you feel is the most refreshing aspect of working on an independent film?

It was the first feature for a number of people on the cast and crew, so there was a ton of great energy and excitement while we were shooting.  We've also had creative control through just about the whole process which isn't something you get in the studio system.

One of the qualities of Funeral Kings is its ability to combine a sense of reckless abandon and an immature innocence in a hilarious way. What do you feel was the biggest challenge in displaying that tension between irreverence and innocence?

Their irreverence and braggadocio really derives from their innocence, I think.  They spend every waking moment trying to prove to themselves (and everyone else) that they've been around the block a couple times, when in reality they have no idea what they're doing.  I think each kid really looks at their innocence as their biggest antagonist, so they act recklessly in an attempt to hide it. 

In one of the trailers, descriptive words such as brazen, volatile, and impulsive appear on the screen as Alex Maizus triumphantly walks down the street brandishing a gun and a lit cigarette. Do you feel that any of those terms applied to both of you when you were teenagers?

Haha, when I was in my element, I definitely thought I was those things.  That’s where Charlie is in that scene, he’s in complete control, and all the other elements of the scene is what's going on in Charlie's head.  That's the soundtrack blasting in his mind, he thinks he's volatile, he thinks he's brazen, he thinks he's impulsive, and he's proud of it.

This young actors draw audience members in by fighting against the convention of a “straight laced kid” through taking chances and pursuing what they think is most entertaining. Do you feel the quality of taking risks and fighting against what the majority considers acceptable is important in being a director?

One of the risks we took with Funeral Kings was having a pretty unsympathetic main character.  We avoided having what’s called a “save the cat” moment, where your protagonist does something early on that makes the audience go 'oh, underneath it all he really has a heart of gold.'

What we wanted to do was take a protagonist that is pretty much a punk throughout the film and have you eventually realize why he’s that way.  He's just incredible insecure, and this is his way of trying to make up for it.

People often warn others not to mix work and family. How would you respond to that statement considering the success of this film the sheer fun that it expresses? 

That's definitely not a point of view we subscribe to.  We've always made movies together, and I think there's a level of honesty you gain by working with a partner that you've known all your life.  The rest of our family make cameos throughout the film too, and helped out wherever they could.  My mom and sister, Michaela are also incredible actresses, so it's been fun putting them in our films.  I guess if your family members were terrible actors then it's something you should second guess, but we've been really lucky!

Funeral Kings is playing through Thursday at The Cable Car Cinema & Cafe, 204 South Main St, Providence. The McManus brothers will be on hand for a Q&A after the 7pm showing on Saturday. For more information, go here.


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