If street-artist-turned-cultural-icon Banksy has taught us anything, it’s that anonymity can be a powerful marketing tool. The artist has kept his real identity a secret for years – something that’s worked to help his “brand recognition” every bit as much as his artistic talents. The whole “mystique” of Banksy’s real identity has made him recognizable to a world full of people who’ve never seen his art up close and in person and have no clue about what goes on in the street-art community.
It appears this fact was not lost on Belarussian filmmaker Makinov. The enigmatic director has garnered international attention from the horror community for his film Come Out and Play (currently featured as a Midnight Movie selection at the Toronto International Film Festival), primarily because he shoots his films in a very creepy mask to hide his identity.
Horror filmmakers have occasionally used anonymity and other means of notoriety to gain attention, but Makinov is taking it to a whole new level. Vomit Gore Trilogy director Lucifer Valentine hides his identity online and in interviews, but we’re pretty sure the cast and crew of his productions know what he looks like. Such is not the case with Makinov, who refuses to reveal his true identity even to those working with him to create his art.
In fact, pretty much all anyone knows about this guy was culled from the biography that accompanied Come Out and Play’s submission screener.
“Makinov was born in Belarus. The elusive director refuses to disclose his first and last name. He began his career as a focus puller in Russia, and later traveled to Mexico to study and shoot two documentary films on Huichol shamanism. After what he describes as a near-death experience, he forged a new identity, referring to himself as Makinov. He believes that by punishing the ego through anonymity, he can command the wisdom of being one with nothing. Come Out and Play is his latest feature film.”
When you take that and add in his video manifesto (check it out below), it’s easy to get the feeling that Makinov is little more than a piece of performance art. If that’s the case, it’s working -- the fact that he shoots films looking like the star of Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a great gimmick for horror fans.
In the spirit of fairness, it’s too soon to say if Makinov’s anonymous horror-philosopher style is a cleverly constructed act or not – we just don’t know enough about the guy one way or the other. And, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. If this turns out to be a bit of theater of the macabre to distinguish his films in a sea of other low-budget horror flicks, then we tip our hat to him (particularly if the films are good – we’re still waiting to hear buzz on last night’s screening of Come Out and Play). If he genuinely believes the things he’s talking about, it’s even more interesting – horror can always use more filmmakers with a vision, and this guy certainly has one. Personally, I hope the latter turns out to be true.
It appears that more audiences will get a chance to decide for themselves because Cinedigm has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Come Out and Play. They’re eyeing an early 2013 theatrical run, followed by a VOD rollout for the film, which finds a couple going to a remote island for the birth of their child only to discover that the island is inhabited solely by children. They try to figure out why – and wind up in a fight for their lives. Sounds a bit like a cross between Children of the Corn and It’s Alive 3: Island of the Alive to me. The film will also screen at Fantastic Fest, so we'll let you know what we think of it.
What do you guys think? Is this Makinov guy for real or is this a clever marketing ploy to help get his name out there in the horror community? If you feel it’s the latter, does the gimmick lessen your interest in his work? Share your opinion with us in the comment section below.
[via THR and TIFF Midnight Madness]