Billy O’Brien – I Am Not A Serial Killer

Fresh from sell-out screenings at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal and the Melbourne International Film Festival, Irish director Billy O’Brien’s South by Southwest (SXSW) smash hit “I Am Not A Serial Killer” is about to enjoy a limited theatrical release in Australia.

The dark coming-of-age thriller stars “Where The Wild Things Are” actor Max Records as John Wayne Cleaver, a teenager who works in the family funeral home – maybe not the best job for a diagnosed sociopath, but one that becomes an unexpected lifeline when a serial killer begins stalking his wintry mid western town and he must tap his own dark instincts to stop the killer before he strikes again.

“Back To The Future’s” Christopher Lloyd “Breaking Bad’s” and Laura Fraser co-star in the indie hit.

“I Am Not A Serial Killer” will screen in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane from September 29, and in the lead up I caught up with O’Brien to talk about the film.

I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER is based on Dan Well’s book. Can you walk us through how the film adaptation came to fruition?

Well, after I read the book I wrote to Dan Wells and something in my letter hit a nerve with Dan and so he granted us the rights. The main difficulty in adapting was what to leave out – the book is rich in character and setting and tone and the balance was not to leave out something crucial but as always books are longer then films. The main other change was not to have John do a voice over. The book is first person but I felt it was more edgy if you didn’t always know what John was thinking or what decision he would make. Make him more unpredictable.

Christopher Lloyd, and Max Records

How did the cast come together?

We met Max in 2011 when he was 13 and he was fantastic, we’re very lucky he waited for us as we slowly raised the finance. Chris Lloyd came from Robbie Ryan, my cameraman’s agents. Chris read and rang me and loved the character of Mr. Crowley. A lot of the other roles we auditioned in Minnesota where we filmed. Found some great first timers and character actors. Amazing talent there.

The film is being likened to DEXTER and DONNIE DARKO. Did you consciously draw on these projects for inspiration or did that style and tone come together organically throughout the filmmaking process?

I hadn’t seen Dexter when I first read the book in 2009, Dan Wells said there were parallels alright. The Donnie Darko comparison came out more after we finished the film and is owed I think in large part to Max’s incredible performance. Plus both are strange stories!

The film has screened at various film festivals, including South by Southwest and here at our own Melbourne International Film Festival. As a director, is it rewarding to screen your project in front of a festival audience?

Anywhere an audience gets to see it up big, with the sound washing over them, totally immersed and in a crowd, is gold these days. We work hard to make it look and sound amazing up big. I love that our little 16mm frame – size of a fingernail – projects up beautifully to the size of a house. Can’t get my head around the idea of people watching on their iPhones with most of the dozen or so separate sound and music tracks missing in their headphones!

What’s next for you? Have you got any upcoming projects?

Trying to multitask as this one took 6 and half years to get off the ground, so getting a few projects out there, see what sticks. I’m sure they must need another Star Wars director, they are making enough of them! Maybe Star Wars 16 or something!

Christopher Lloyd


I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER EVENT SCREENING DATES (followed by Skype Q&A with director Billy O’Brien and puppeteer William “Todd” Jones):

New Farm Cinemas, Brisbane:
Event Screening – Thursday September 22, 2016

Lido Cinemas, Melbourne:
Event Screening – Friday September 23, 2016


New Farm Cinemas, Brisbane:

Cameo Cinema, Melbourne:

Cinema Nova, Melbourne:

Lido Cinemas, Melbourne:

Dendy Newtown, Sydney:

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