Marinah Janello TROLL: A SOUTHERN TALE gives an insightful view into the mind of Tony, a hateful and angry online troll whose motivations you can’t possibly fathom before you defriend or block or send into some kind of cyber-oblivion, but not before they have infuriated you beyond any coherent and reasonable exchange of ideas. To paraphrase Michael Caine’s Alfred, “Some men just want to watch a Facebook discussion thread burn.” However, you can’t get that insight unless you get that person to open up, to reveal themselves, to let down their guard or their “act.” To her credit, Janello succeeds in short order in her film by letting her subject “have his say” seemingly on his own terms. But, if TROLL: A SOUTHERN TALE was your basic action film with Janello as bad-ass operative, she could easily walk away from their interrogation saying, “Thank you. You’ve revealed everything.”
- You described your film as following an “eccentric artist who navigates self-expression through his experiences living and growing up in the American South”. I think you left out the part of him being a near-nilhistic character taking a laconic joy out of trying to frighten people via his trolling, etc. In other words, he’s quite the charmer. How did you wind up in this guy’s orbit?
I travelled to Mississippi with the intention of finding someone to profile who has a unique view of the South. I connected with one of the programmers of a film festival I attended, and through her, I met Tony, our subject.
- How difficult was it to simply allow him to pontificate versus digging into his philosophies and forcing him to defend them on camera?
I was more interested in getting his perspective across and didn’t necessarily see the need for him to defend his actions. They are what they are and I didn’t want to make any judgment on his behaviors as a filmmaker and as a listener.
- Do you think he is significant as an avatar for or representative of the South?
I believe that an individual should never carry the burden of representing the place they inhabit. There are only individuals and Tony proves this. He inhabits a space but can only be accountable for his own self-representation. He puts in his two cents but again it is only an opinion that he is offering.
- Any inclination to “pick up a little” in some of the locations you filmed in? Maybe a little elbow grease with the 409 or Windex…?
I really liked the space we filmed in! I asked Tony where he likes to hang out and he immediately directed us here. The nature that was taking over the manmade structures (specifically the moss on the beds) really embodied the hot and muggy nature of the region.
- Who are some documentary filmmakers that have influenced your approach to filmmaking and why?
I am particularly inspired by filmmaker Harmony Korine, who in his long and short form narrative works ends up combining his own stories and opinions about living in the South.
- Curious because of the hat he wears: Do you think he was actually a Webelo Cub Scout or do you think he was just “posing”?
He in fact was a cub scout!
- Popcorn or Candy?
Having just screened at Slamdance, TROLL: A SOUTHERN TALE will continue its film festival tour with new screenings and dates posted in “news” on marinahjanello.com.