Michael Bilandic fell into a bit of luck a few years ago when he released his debut film, Happy Life, a story about a struggling DJ and music store owner who decides to throw a rave to save his livelihood. After having done a stint under director Abel Ferrara, Bilandic worked up the nerve to ask the New York indie legend for any support. Help arrived when Ferrara agreed to come on as Executive Producer of that film. The film went on to have a weeklong theatrical run at the now defunct reRun Theater in Brooklyn.
Now Bilandic is back with a follow up feature, Hellaware. In this film, actor Keith Poulson (Harmony and Me, Listen Up Philip) plays Nate, a fledgling photographer who becomes sick and tired of watching his less talented peers make it in the Brooklyn art scene. After catching a YouTube video of a Delawarean Goth rapper band called Young Torture Killers, an Insane Clown Posse knock-off, Nate decides to make them the subject of a photography project. When the project gains traction and Nate begins to see some potential success, it goes to his head and he soon alienates his two friends, played by Duane C. Wallace and Sophia Takal (subject of another Keyframe article).
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The film brings together two disparate worlds, death metal music and the pretentious art community in Brooklyn. Filmmaker Bilandic, an East Village denizen, admits to being intrigued by both worlds. Clearly he makes little distinction between high and low art, and finds the tension in between what makes Hellaware such a solid comedy. Bilandic brought back Sean Price Williams who also shot Happy Life for him. The film had its New York premiere last spring at BAMcinemaFest and will have a theatrical run at Cinema Village in NYC, just blocks from the director’s home.
Editor’s note: While Hellaware is currently streaming on Fandor, it is only viewable in New York at Cinema Village for the duration of its theatrical run.