Back to IndieWire

‘Blood Moon’ Echoes Greek Tragedy in a Wicked Comic Spirit

‘Blood Moon’ Echoes Greek Tragedy in a Wicked Comic Spirit

Kenneth
Kokin’s brilliant directorial debut Blood Moonis an engaging and gripping tragedy that’s worthy of being seen.
Written by Oscar Nominated Nicholas Kazan, ‘Blood Moonstars his daughter, Maya Kazan (‘The Knick’), Frank Medrano (‘The Shawshank Redemption) and James Callis (‘Battle Star
Galactica, ‘Bridget
Jones
s Diary).

Kokin also produced and directed second unit on several award-winning
films that include the The Usual Suspects, Captain Abu Raed,The Way of the Gun and Mortdecai’.

Haunting,
yet stylistically beautiful, the story follows a young woman who is raped and
how she executes retribution on her attacker. 
It explores the transition from of a perky, pretty teen-ager to someone
who is forever warped from abuse and degradation. ‘

Blood Moonis a culturally relevant story and a
reminder that the issue of rape is too often ignored, especially in a country
where abortion sharply divides its people and where women have to pay for their
own rape kits to gather legal evidence – the equivalent of having to pay the
police to dust for prints in a robbery. 

Kokin first
learned of ‘Blood Moon’ in Larry Moss’s Master acting
class. It was written and produced in the 1980’s as an off-Broadway play and
starred a teenage Dana DeLaney.

Kokin
reflects on the story and working with Kazan:

Moss’s
comments on the piece were so provocative, that I was compelled to run out and
read it the next day. Even now, the ending continues to haunt me. I knew if I
could get this play made into a film, it would be impactful for viewers…

It was an
honor to work with Kazan, because I have so much respect for him as a
filmmaker. His support was a blessing, and his material gave me tremendous confidence,
because I knew it could hold itself up. 

I felt like
we were on the same creative plane. We went through the screenplay
word-by-word, and always agreed on the nuances that we found interesting and
humorous. 

Writer
of ‘
Blood MoonNicholas Kazan shares the history of ‘Blood Moonand its adaptation to film:

I couldnt
make a living writing for the theatre, so I moved from San Francisco to Los
Angeles. I started to write for film, and eventually was fortunate enough to
get some films made. Over the past 15 years, Ive mostly been writing my own scripts and selling them when I can.
Thats how I enjoy my life. 

The play on which this film is based was done in New
York in 1983. First I wrote plays in Berkeley, for the Magic Theater;
subsequently most of my plays have been 
done in New York and Los Angeles. This play has been produced in New
York, Washington DC, California, and many other places. It will
have have a run again in New York in the spring.

One of the difficult things about a play is that you cant edit it. In film, you can edit
it and pick the best given take of any moment. 
You put all the best takes together and, you hope, end up with something
fairly reasonable.


Why did you write ‘
Blood Moon?

I was told this story in college about a girl who was
raped, which is essentially the first act of the play. I didnt even know if it was a true story, but it
stuck in my imagination. And then the second act of the play, the womans revenge, was my dramatic
conceit. 

How has the audience responded over the years?

Some people receive it as a piece of theater –
especially when its well
done – and the response has been very good. Occasionally, there have been a few
people who are horrified by the second act. In the theatre, what the protagonist Mayna does is
justified. It has its roots in Greek myth. Theres an ‘eye for an eyequality
to it.

Was it challenging to change ‘Blood Mooninto a screenplay?

There are some things that work better in theater than
they do on film. In the film, we had to intercut between the two acts, which
you obviously dont do on
stage. 

Theres
a tradition of tragedy on stage, where you watch in horror as you realize whats going to happen. Thats the definition of tragedy – youre horrified, and then you watch
it happen. Thats the first
act of the play, then in the second act, you dont know whats
going to happen, but you know shes
going to do something. You dont
know what it is until the very end.

In the film, we had to intercut between the two acts because
the first act, the tragedy gradually unfolding, just didnt work as well on film. In the theatre,
youre having a communal
experience where youre
witnessing this awful thing. On film, youre not a witness. By intercutting, we brought an element of tension
to the whole that made it work. 

What has been the overall response to ‘Blood Moon?

Sometimes there were nights when people didnt understand what was happening until the
play clearly revealed it. There were other nights when people got a sense of it
earlier. You would know it because someone in the audience would go ‘oh my God!with a gasp. It was really
similar to the way that laughter is contagious in an audience. One person would
gasp, and then youd feel
other people wondering what they were gasping about. And then theyd go ‘Oh My God’ and get what was happening on
stage. The play worked either way: it’s
a communal experience, so it didn’t really matter when the audience “saw” what
was really going on.

This Article is related to: Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,