Samera Entertainment's Q&A with
Arthur Egeli: Director of Murder on the Cape
Written by Chloe Brown of Chloe's Chronicles
Visionary Director/Writer/Producer and Fine Artist Arthur Egeli stopped by to talk to Samera Entertainment and the Chloe Chronicles about his newest film Murder on the Cape, as well as, his passion for film, ties to the New England area, and his visual arts background.
Q: Arthur, many of your film projects over the years have featured an overarching theme of or lived in the realm of mystery, crime, and historical content. Why have those films and story genres fascinated or influenced what your creative vision gravitates to?
A: Well, honestly it comes down to the fact that as humans we are drawn to real-life events, like robberies or murders, they catch our eye. Seeing a real-life or semi-relatable story that is complex, messy, and unexpected that isn’t ours is oftentimes truly captivating. But, that peak of initial interest is just the tip of the iceberg. The truly fascinating part is the journey of discovering all the separate events, life paths, and conflicts that lead us to the “now” of the crime or the mystery. Often we find the opposite of what we thought happened and therein lies the real drama.
Q: Something a lot of people might not know about you is that you are also a critically-acclaimed fine artist as well. How does the visual art side of yourself play a role in the conceptualization of a story when you are creating/making a film?
A: I always try to tell a story with my paintings, similarly to my films. So, whether the painting is the story of a sunset or a fishermen pulling nets, I try to find the simplest but most powerful image to convey that narrative. My films become a series of these images, almost like a cinematic flipbook of the story, I am telling. Now with this knowledge and utilization of fine art training, I find that my learning to paint was also simultaneously teaching me how to make films.
Q: The Egelis are a well-known family of artists, especially in regards to Classical Painting styles. How did the artistic environment you grew up in influence you as an individual creator, both in the mediums of visual art and subsequently film?
A: In my family, the art of painting was held above anything else. My father told me I could go to any school I wanted to as long as it was an art school. From a young age, it was instilled in me that the making of your own art was the most important pursuit. According to his Father in law, a logistical man didn’t have a practical bone in his body. He didn’t understand why only art mattered to my father. That though was what was made important in my household, and that’s what I came to know and believe.
Q: What made you intrigued with filmmaking, and was there a defining creative moment that led to that or came from that?
A: That’s such an interesting question! Well, when I was a teenager I was being pulled in two starkly different directions. One direction was being a “cool” high school student, playing football and being one of the guys. The other direction was captained by my parents – and was for me to attend art class and follow the family tradition, which I didn’t want to reveal to any of the high school crowd I was running with. These feelings of being conflicted turned into a poem, that became a play, and before I realized it, I found I had a story worth telling in the most powerful medium of our time – a screenplay. I ended up receiving a full scholarship to college for this screenplay, “The Hands of a Dancer,” about a boy torn between his father’s ballet company and the hopes of his football coach.
Q: Arthur, your latest film Murder on the Cape is based on/inspired by the actual Christa Worthington murder case, why did you want to tackle this storyline? And what was the challenge of doing so?
A: I had known the future prime suspect in this case for years. His name was Tony Jackett and he appeared as an extra in my film The Art of Passion. He was the kind of man that everyone man wanted to be back then, good-looking, well-liked, and a man who women flocked to and men envied. So, you can imagine the surprise and shock I felt when I saw him on television as a wrecked man. His passions had been taken him and now he was a suspect for capital murder. This was the story I wanted to tell.
Q: Was there any apprehension taking on this topic, and what do you think was the hardest part of filming, or a scene that you particularly felt the need to handle with the most care?
A: The hardest part of telling this story was knowing that the relatives would see this film. My wife, who co-wrote this film with me, knew Tony’s wife but we also knew the family on the Worthington side. The media though had quickly painted each side in a negative light. When it comes down to it though Christa Worthington was seeking love and nothing else, and Tony Jackett was seeking to find the man he had lost when he lost his livelihood as a fisherman. These were two passionate people who unfortunately took their passion one step too far.
Q: You are from Provincetown, Massachusetts and have spent a lot of time in Cape Cod, how did that change or affect the way you wanted to tell this story and portray the setting?
A: I have been an artist in Provincetown for 25 years. I wanted to show not only a beautiful town but a town with a soul. I didn’t want anything about this beautiful town to be seen as tainted. On an artistic level, the weather changes daily here, so I also tried to use these moods to tell the story.
Q: You have used Cape Cod, as the setting for Murder on the Cape (for accuracy reasons) but also for one of your first films Unconditional Love (1994), so, what does this mean for you and how does it serve as a creative touchstone for your life and work?
A: I find Provincetown to have everything any artist would ever need to tell a story. And everything I would need to tell in my stories. It’s beautiful because, in the summer, tt’s green and crowded and full of laughter and recreation. The town is vibrant and alive. Yet, when it’s winter it’s artists like me who spend their time telling these stories and trying to find meaning in our lives.
Q: What would you say the distinction between your visual art creative process and filmmaking creative process is? And in what ways do they overlap?
A: I find filmmaking and painting to be two horns on the same beast. Painting to me though, out of the two is the rather simple one. It’s just you and a blank canvas and you are ready to create your art. Filmmaking is a little more complicated, but essentially the same exercise.
Q: What is the next for you, what can we expect from you in the near future? What would you like to explore next filmwise or what is already in the works?
A: I have always looked for projects that combine my life as an artist and an art dealer. Next, we are working on a story about the 1990 robbery of the Isabella Gardner in Boston, where more than $500,000,000 of paintings were stolen. Rembrandt’s only seascape and a priceless Vermeer were among the lost pieces. They have never recovered these works. Years earlier, a young man had walked into a local museum posing as John Vanderbilt. He told the director of the museum that the family would like to endow his institution “Could you show me your security system?” he asked. The rest is history. I believe this will be a “must-see” type of film.
Sharry Flaherty of Samera Entertainment acquisition Murder On the Cape for Vision Films. Make sure to keep up with all things Samera by following @SameraEntertainment on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up today to be the first to receive their published newsletters