Spotlight: Roger Mulcahy Jr.
Our latest Spotlight features local documentary filmmaker and a good friend of mine, Roger Mulcahy Jr. Roger and I went to college together and spent many, many hours working away in the multimedia lab on campus. He has recently finished his documentary Thompson Chemical and is working on two more docs. As if he is not busy enough, he and his longtime girlfriend Kim planned a wedding and are getting married next month. Without further ado, I present Roger Mulcahy Jr.
Tell me about yourself.
I am a documentary filmmaker that tells stories of subjects that are generally misunderstood or unknown by the public and shed some light on them and giving the audience a different viewpoint. I think documentaries have the potential of being stale if the filmmaker doesn’t look at a subject with a fresh gaze. There are a lot of docs that have similar subject matters but you can go down different avenues with the topic and produce something different. I real enjoy that process.
When did you realize you wanted to be a filmmaker?
It was when I made the decision that I was not going to be a writer anymore (at least full time). I was heavily into the writing process but then I took a media course in college and saw the power visual media could have on an audience. I fell in love with it and I started to play around with images rather then words.
Who are your influences?
So many to choose but I really admire filmmakers who are able to pull off setting a mood in their films. To me thats the bread and butter, to be able to give off a feeling in a skillful way. My influences are Errol Morris, Frederick Wiseman, Werner Herzog, David Lynch, Jean-Luc Godard.
Tell me about the first documentary you made.
I was in college and I wanted to make a film using videos I had from high school. My friends and I use to record ourselves doing an extreme sport that we made up called Scabbing (we would wear helmets and lay down face first on skateboards and go down hills all over Providence). We had a good size crew and we would all go after school to find places. Neighbors were annoyed, kids loved us, and the police thought we were crazy. So I had over ten hours of footage and I made an experimental documentary titled “Flesh Wounds and Scabs”. I am very proud of it. When I have some free time I want to revisit it. Some of my friends who were in it want me to make a longer version.
What are your current projects?
I have a few projects that I am working on. I had my directorial debut last month. Itʼs a historical documentary titled “Thompson Chemical” about a chemical explosion in 1964 and the effect it had on a small community in Massachusetts. We are currently shopping it around to festivals for next year. I am also editing and co- producing a doc on the tent city that was up in Providence, R.I. last year with my friend and fellow documentary filmmaker David H. Angell called Hope City. Lastly, I just finished shooting a doc in July about an older gentleman who is trying to promote the next Christmas character Blinker the Bunny. I followed him around on and off for a year and documented his trials of getting people behind him and his dream of getting character blinker to the children. I was attracted to the project because I thought it would be very interesting to follow another artist around trying to get his work seen by an audience. I found some similarities with him while documenting him. I will be working on Blinker & Bill and Hope City this fall.
What are your goals for the future?
After I finish up on all these projects I want to start researching and looking into producing short documentary vignettes on the web while I am in between projects. A lot of times the documentary process can take a year to get to a finished product and you can get consumed by the project and the world keeps spinning. I want to do something on a smaller scale so that I can keep my filmmaking chops and stay relevant. I think mixing the web and documentaries will be a good way to keep me experimenting.