Maine Film Maker Debuts Comedic Take on Richard III

Jun 13, 2014

Maine-based writer and comedian Michael Miclon has chosen a serious subject for his first foray into movie-making: the life and death of the Richard III, the last English king to die in battle. Miclon's take on the story, however, is not quite so serious as William Shakespeare's.

Excerpt from movie trailer: "Boo Dog Films presents a new comedy - Richard 3, everything you'd expect from Shakespeare's classic tale - well, except for all the boring crap."

"Richard 3" is a tale of war, intrigue, betrayal, murder and bad teeth.

Excerpt from movie trailer: "First we must deceive the King," - "check" - "kill your brother Clarence, hoodwink the townspeople," - "easy" -  "become King - and then take over the world."

Richard 3 is having its "first-cut premiere" this weekend at the Emerge Film Festival in Lewiston. Although the movie is about folks "from away," Miclon says pretty much everything else about the project has "Maine" stamped all over it.

Michael Miclon: "My director of photography is from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, but everybody else - all my cast, crew, are all Mainers. I didn't do a casting call, I literally asked everyone I wanted, and everyone of them said yes. So everybody in the film was my first choice, which I feel blessed by. But they're all are some of the top physical comedic actors in the state of Maine, and I just happened with work with them."

Tom Porter: "What of the funding challenges of working in Maine?  We hear a bit about the incentives not being as good here as other places."

Michael Miclon:  "There are no - honestly - I think it's 6 percent, where if were you go to Canada, it's 25 to 35 percent. And once Canada did that it killed the film market in the state."

Tom Porter: "But you decided to do it here."

Michael Miclon: "I did. For me it's one of those things where it balances itself out - because of the funding challenges you have, you go, 'Well I can work locally where I have more control as a producer to get locations like Fort Popham in Phippsburg or the former St. Patrick's Church in Lewiston. We got those locations for free, just through connections and people that I know, and people helped get those places - we didn't have to pay for them. But if we had gone out of state we'd have to pay for hotels and meals, and this way we could shoot a lot in-state and provide our own, so it made it more affordable."

Tom Porter: "Let's talk about the genesis of this, it goes back quite a while - well, it goes back to 1483 - Shakespeare wrote comedies, why did you pick Richard III, which is not a comedy originally?"

Michael Miclon: "I'm not kidding - I was doing a tour with friend of mine in Germany back in '97 and we were supposed to do, like, 14 shows and we ended up only doing five when we got over there.  So we found ourselves sitting in hotels for hours waiting around - for days, actually."

And during this time, says Miclon, they watched a lot of movies, including a documentary called "Looking for Richard" by Al Pacino, about the relevance of Shakespeare in popular culture, with particular reference to Richard III - one of the bard's greatest history plays.

Miclon was captivated. "This story is an amazing story, it's a wonderful story. But my natural inclination is, 'How can I make it funny?' That's what I do."

Miclon eventually wrote a popular stage version of Richard 3. Three years ago, he decided to turn it into a movie.

"This story, where you have a character that talks to the camera all the time, is something we know now in modern times of, like, er, I'm blanking on the film -  Ferris Bueller! Ferris Bueller talked to the film. But Shakespeare invented that, where the lead actor tells you things that nobody else is picking up on," Miclon says. "And that's a very comedic thing, that's a very great opportunity. So I used that like crazy in this film, because Richard's constantly talking to the audience, and he's getting caught talking to the audience. So people are constantly going, 'Who's he talking to?' and that happens throughout the film."

Excerpt from movie trailer: "Now to head back to the castle and see what trouble I can get into." "Who is he talking to?"

Richard III is definitely one of history's more controversial monarchs - some like him, some hate him - and in Richard 3, Miclon says he's going with Shakespeare's portrayal of Richard as a bad guy.

"Really great comedic bad guys are so much fun to play and obviously I get to play him," he says."But Richard as this maniacal guy is such a fun character and he's so bad. I mean what he does is he looks at the camera and says, 'Let me tell you what I'm going to do.' And then after he does it, he's like, 'Did you see what I did there?'  It's just so - and that's the art of Shakespeare, he always had that in him, he's such a dark character."

The first cut of Richard cubed is being screened Saturday at the Emerge Film Festival in Lewiston.

Learn more about the film.

Learn more about the Emerge Film Festival