Exclusive Interview with Apostoly Peter Kouroumalis – Filmmaker
Apostoly Peter Kouroumalis-Works under the name pen name TOLY A.K. Graduated in 1996 from the film animation department and has worked on and off in the film industry. This low brow artist, the movement founded by Robert Williams and Coop, the art often borders on the extreme but always has regard for showing the way things are in a given moment in time although often taken as fantasy, and borrows from comic book art exposing as far away as Zurich(Artbox) 2019& Barecelona 2021. Toly A.K. has had some success in showing in Cannes short film corner with a film called “Ascention” and his book “All Purpose” is currently being marketed through Writers Branding. You can find his experimental films at the Cinematheque Quebecois, distributed through the CFMDC and his books at the Bibliotheque Nationale archives.
NY Glam: Tell us a little about yourself, growing up and your passions.
Growing up I had a busy childhood, working from a young age and going to school. I always enjoyed drawing, writing, making music and film making. When I would get a chance I would pour through every book I could get my hands on, from Burroughs to Dark Horse comics from DC, like “OINK” and I knew I had to approach the art world with the aesthetic of a woodpecker and as a guy who would quote Linus Pauling, a Nobel Prize winner from the 40s and proclaim to have the cure for cancer since 1940- as I walked into a bar.
NY Glam: Did you have any specific influences growing up that lead you towards the film industry?
I read a lot of comic books and watched a heck of a lot of films, although it is something you do with a girlfriend more I admit but I was watched films I was not supposed to watch from a young age like Roger Corman films with Vincent Price and later was influenced by the avante garde greats like Michael Snow and Bruce Connor in University.
NY Glam: What are you currently working on?
I would like to say I am making my own feature but I am not, although I have written many, the only one The Arts Council of Quebec(CALQ) has funded was Goin Ape a medium length non commercial film I made for 25 000$
NY Glam: What were your main responsibilities on this film?
My main responsibilities were getting the film made as director I had to wear many hats from grip, camera to editing and even acting as the lead while maintaining full creative control over other aspects of the film as stipulated by the non-broadcast grant.
NY Glam: Can you tell us about your experience in working with your team in this film?
My team was comprised of Concordia University and UQAM University graduates. It was a great to be on set with everyone and have handle on what was happening all the time, seeing I had no production manager or line producer, I had to break down the script the way an AD would and I shot in super 16mm , with hopes for a for a 35mm blowup in theatres, I had to story board each scene carefully and pay attention to film rules and try to break a few like the 180 degree rule, by shooting around each figure 360 degrees as they argued, thus increasing the tension point. I had a very small crew of about eight men and women. Half the film was shot by a female DOP Stephanie Weber Biron who shot the action sequences and the first half by Michael Weiss, a Concordia university professor. I also had a chance to collaborate with Paul Spence from “FUBAR” fame in a small cameo in the film “Goin Ape”, and many other s like Michael DiSalvo former lead vocalist from Cryptopsy and other east coast actors and musicians.
NY Glam: What was the most important thing for this movie to achieve from a narrative and character standpoint?
“In a world gone mad the insane will seem sane”- This said I knew my film had to stand up to big budget films, so I paid particular attention to the lead, Ape’s, character arc. He is introduced to as a driven man with no compassion even for his wife, played by Genevieve Guay DiSalvo it is only until he cathartically thrown into a brawl does he emerge broken but with more depth.
NY Glam: What makes a film interesting for you? What are three qualities that you look for in a movie?
I am of two minds- what I mean to say is I do not mind being entertained by a “Transformers” film but would rather watch “Cry Baby” by John Waters. Usually something dark, maybe with an anti-hero and with a good aesthetic toward cinematic practice is important, after all it is two hours of my life I am giving up to watch this film.
NY Glam: What project helped you launch your career?
I think “Ascention” which screened at Cannes in 2006 was a crowning achievement. A film about a loss of innocence and the end of “the dream”.
NY Glam: What criteria do your team?
I have been lucky and people have found me, either through union calls or casting but I have a couple people I still work with that I met in the desert while travelling through the United States, Nicholas Syracuse, a great photographer who captures essence of times real well. The Montreal School of performing Arts and Josa Maul help with casting my projects although I am working with Maven Management and ACFC in BC as well.
NY Glam: What are you most proud of? Describe your biggest accomplishment to date?
I am most proud when I make people laugh, cry and become exhilarated and angry with a paragraph of writing, which I think I did in my book “All purpose” distributed by writers branding-it took over ten years to write and began as an exercise in automatic writing encapsulating my deceased father’s ww2 stories and aspects of my own life whose career may be ruled by Gazoo from the Flintstones but if he were a serial killer.
NY Glam: As a screenwriter, what is the most important aspect of building a character?
I lived in the Mission in San Francisco for a little while, I firmly believe that using your imagination is as important as having real life experience, “mark my words – the future of space travel is in magnet engines.” A character must have charisma and an arc to come full circle, some kid of epiphany or catharsis.
NY Glam: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I would like to get a film optioned by someone with a large budget, maybe get a traditional publisher, seeing I have a lot of books written and books about my paintings as well.
NY Glam: Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re super excited about?
I am excited about a project I am tinkering away with in my basement but It is not near completion although I did write a 96 pg film, “Legal Crime” which won silver overall at Bridge Fest in BC. That I feel would make a nice picture.
NY Glam: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to enter the film industry, especially as a film director?
“Leave the Canolli – take the Guitar.” Iconic imagery of a 1960s flower being placed in the gun barrel in University assembly comes to mind – luxury is fleeting and things can go sideways real fast.
NY Glam: Can you discuss any future projects or direction you are taking in regard to film making?
The future of my projects is up to producers higher up as is the case with most indie film makers who need a little money but often become more about money than art. The balance between art and pretention often blurred by greed which is what most of my films are typically about. When I paint, I attack the canvas like a possessed version of Norman Rockwell where art and books are written by victors and seldom by the underdog, in age where some belive it is the end of days- why did a rooster crow at midnight?