Screenwriter, Producer, Director Kevin Machate on “Gloomy Sunday”

Although he began his film career as an actor, Kevin quickly moved into Producing and eventually directing and writing. Kevin’s films and screenplays have won numerous awards worldwide with his two most recent films having been screened in various cities in the US, Europe, South America, Oceania, and Asia.

He has directed six short films with the seventh shooting in February 2022, and his credits as a producer have exceeded 50 at the time of this writing. His recent works include three short series starring Golden Globe and Tony Award winner Barry Bostwick and Saturn Award Winner Doug Jones, along with a series of short musical and educational videos (With puppets!) starring Ed Helms.

He currently has two short horror screenplays in festivals – Gloomy Sunday, a short horror script about the real reason behind the “Hungarian Suicide Song” and Stranded, a distinctive combination of thriller, ghostly scares, and existential horror.

Recent projects include “Last Thursday,” a comedy about a bank robbery and “Come Along, Harry Higgins” which is based on a short story by O. Henry.

Kevin is a disabled veteran of the US Air Force and three-time Guinness World Record holder. He currently resides in Waco Texas with his dog, Moose, and works right next door to Waco’s most famous reality TV married couple.

NY Elite Exclusive Interview with Kevin Machate Screenwriter, Producer, Director

NY Elite: Congratulations on being an ISC finalist. What does it mean for your work to be selected at the International Screenwriting Competition in New York?

Kevin Machate: It is always amazing to be acknowledged. But to have ISC choose my script Gloomy Sunday as a finalist feels great. I am really very excited by the prospect and the opportunities that may come from it.

NY Elite: Can you tell us about the work that you participated with at ISC? What is the story about?

Kevin Machate: My short (30 pages) script is called Gloomy Sunday.

The story is about music teacher Jonah Horvath who comes to possess the original sheet music for the song Gloomy Sunday  (Original Hungarian: Szomorú vasárnap) written by Rezső Seress and poet László Jávor. The song is known for its legend that it causes people who hear it to want to commit suicide, especially in Hungary which is why the song is sometimes called “The Hungarian Suicide Song.”

Unbeknownst to Jonah, the song is actually under the “jurisdiction” of a demon called Dantalion. It turns into a battle of sorts between Jonah and Dantalion, and Jonah’s attempt to not become the next victim of Gloomy Sunday.

NY Elite: Can you tell us yourself and your artistic talents?

Kevin Machate: I am an independent filmmaker and screenwriter based in Texas. I began my film career as an actor, but soon realized that I preferred the be behind the scenes and sometimes to run the show myself. I began producing, which led to directing, and eventually writing. I started college late in life so I had to concentrate on that for several years. That led to having to find a suitable “day job” which allow me to write and make short films on the side.
I have been mostly writing over the last few years, but I am shooting my next short film called Milton here in Texas in February 2022.

NY Elite: What scripts have you written so far?

Kevin Machate: Too many to count. I write about four scripts per year. They usually start out as shorts (under 40 pages) but I have three features in various stages of being written.

I have written comedy, science fiction, drama, and horror. I would like to concentrate on the comedy scripts, but when one grabs me and demands my attention, that’s what I end up working on.

NY Elite: Top 3 favorite projects that you have been involved in?

Kevin Machate: I was an actor in a series called “The Guards Themselves” that we are now developing for two more seasons. These three seasons will span more than a decade in the character’s lives so it will be interesting to see how those develop. I will also be producing on the 2nd and 3rd seasons.

I am currently expanding the ISC Finalist script, “Gloomy Sunday” and I feel like it has the most promise to go into development once it’s completed. I have a few connections that I hope will be able to help with that. I really see this as kind of a cult classic if I am able to get it made with the people I have in mind. It’s a very exciting prospect.

Several years ago, I worked on a film called “Bernie” and got to work with Jack Black for a couple of days. He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Richard Linklater is too. It was a really great experience, especially for someone like me who was still new to the industry at the time. It really showed that you can remain a good/kind/generous person and still be a huge star.

NY Elite: What type of scripts do you want to write in your career?

 Kevin Machate: I have written several genres, so it’s hard to choose. I know I’m good with dramas, and I enjoy comedies, but horror seems to be extremely marketable. I feel like if I were to stick with one genre, it would be horror simply for that fact. While there are a lot of horror movies out there, I think taking a different approach to it than most would make them stand apart from the rest.

NY Elite: As a writer, what is the most important aspect of building a character?

Kevin Machate: One really has to know who these people are. What do they like? What do they hate? What is their favorite flavor of ice cream? One has to ask questions of them and learn what their personalities are like and how they speak. Creating characters is like interviewing. One really needs to delve deep and know how they would behave in any situation.

NY Elite: What projects are you currently working on?

Kevin Machate: I have two successful short screenplays that I am working on expanding into feature length screenplays. A horror script (The finalist at ISC) called Gloomy Sunday and a comedy called Last Thursday. I also have another short horror script called Stranded that I recently completed and has been well-reviewed so far. I hope to shoot that film later in 2022, but I may push it to next year. I am shooting my next short film, Milton in February 2022 and hope to have it in festivals by Fall.

NY Elite: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?

Kevin Machate: I started as an actor, but realized I wasn’t the best at it because I was always in my head, wanting everything to be “right.” So, I started producing and realized that is where one of my strengths was. Although it’s not as creative, I am able to make things happen. I also direct, but I don’t think that is my strongest skill either. Writing has been good to me so far, so I think I’ll just keep doing that.

NY Elite: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in filmmaking/writing?

Kevin Machate: Be persistent, but realistic. It’s very different for one starting out at 20 than it is starting at 40. Follow your dreams but trust your gut.

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