Dr. Mantis is a practicing psychotherapist but a full time praying mantis. Often, she doesn't know where one ends and the other begins. But the truth is, she doesn't really care. You see, satisfied patients make very satisfied Praying Mantises. Take Dr. Mantis' patient, Fred. Fred is a transitioning caterpillar who bugs her. So much so that, this time, Dr, Mantis made Fred pay in advance.
Interview with Director Brandon Mikolaski
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I had worked with this team in the past and once the idea was pitched to me, I knew I had to do it! It ultimately just felt like it would be a lot of fun and it happened to land in my lap at a time when I was looking for a new project.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Because it's only 3 minutes. And it's funny. And if you're in the audience already, put your phone down and look up for 180 seconds. Then go back to looking at your phone.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Interestingly enough, I always wanted to be a psychiatrist, though I've never been to one. But as a comedian, we're all very self-conscious and typically will discuss our emotional problems and inadequacies if given the proper podium. Also, i can relate to Dr. Mantis, because I pride myself on being a good listener. A friend of mine once told me "We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason...we should listen twice as much as we speak." It's deep, but I'm pretty sure he didn't come up with it.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
Well, like most scripts, it was pretty fat, so we just kept trimming as we went along. The goal was to always keep the film under 5 minutes, as that seems like a lifetime these days. And we would constantly go back to the illustrator to request new frames to be drawn if we realized we couldn't pay off a shot the way I had imagined, or if we simply were looking to create added complexities that weren't apparent to us earlier in the process.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
My Mom laughed, and that's a big deal. She's brutally honest with me, and when I watched her watch the film, I knew it wasn't shit. Haha.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Not yet, it's still just making the festival rounds and I haven't been able to attend all of the screenings. But people who have seen it are asking us to take the story further, which we are now looking to do. Maybe that's a longer film, several shorter films, or maybe even a merchandise line! Wouldn't you love a Dr. Mantis washcloth??
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I think everyone who had a hand in the film, and it really was a small staff and very independently spirited, just wants everyone to laugh. I've read that the only two kinds of videos that work on the Internet these days are heartwarming or funny. Dare I say I think this achieves both in a rather unexpected way. It's as aspirational as it is comical.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
All of the above, except producers. I wouldn't trade in Gary Grant for the world. He's cool, easy-going, and loves what he does. Allows everyone to be themselves and gets you whatever you need to succeed. But if you could hook us up with someone at Netflix, we're open to breaking bread and talking about the future.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Hmm...impact. It's short, and meant to just brighten up someone's day in between sending emails or waiting in line for a coffee. I think in a perfect world, we'd just want the audience to say 'that was pretty funny. I hope they do more of them.' And then we'll do more of them. We're all very aware that this film wasn't discovering an underground prostitution ring run by corrupt cops. It's a cartoon, and we hope you like it.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
'Can I buy you something to drink?' I think the biggest question most people have about the film was how it was created. And the honest answer is that I really did receive these amazing drawings which were created brilliantly by hand, and then we deconstructed them in Photoshop and started the editorial process for pacing, then moved to animation.
Would you like to add anything else?
Just wanted to shout out Rob Bartlett. He's truly a comedy legend, and his voices always have so much personality and his portrayal of Fred in this film was absolutely perfect. Fred's so relatable, and fragile and unsure of his place in this world. Rob can do so much with his voice, it's a joy to work with him.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
We are working on more Dr Mantis scenes as we speak. We are not yet sure as to how we'll be distributing them, but it's a project we wanted to pursue further. I directed a couple of music videos last fall for Jesse Malin and The Tenors, and I am currently working on some copywriting projects for a creative studio in Little Italy.
Interview: May 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Dr. Mantis, Insect Analyst
Director: Brandon Mikolaski
Producer: Gary Grant
Writer: Rob Bartlett and Andrew Smith
About the writer, director and producer:
Gary Grant is a life long New Yorker who has been nominated twice for an Emmy Award and is partnered with Ruthless Spectator and the creators of Dr. Mantis: Insect Analyst. Gary Grant is credited, created by and executive producer of Dr. Mantis.
Rob Bartlett (Writer/Fred) is a New Yorker, Actor, Writer, & Comedian who provided voice characters for The Imus in the Morning Radio Program for 30 years. He has starred on Broadway in CHICAGO, Little Shop of Horrors & the Odd Couple & has guest starred in multi episode character arcs on
Law & Order SVU and The Good Wife.
Key cast: Megan Simard and Rob Bartlett
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):