Q & A With Rolfe Kanefsky – Author of “MAKING NOTHING AT THE AGE OF 20

making nothing nothing out there q&a Rolfe Kanefsky

 Q & A With Rolfe Kanefsky – Author of “MAKING NOTHING AT THE AGE OF 20

Q: Why write a book?


A: Well, there’s an old saying, “Write what you know”. And “Making Nothing” is definitely something I know since it’s the story of my life through the development and eventually distribution of my first professional feature film, “THERE’S NOTHING OUT THERE”- “A Horror Film of Comic Proportions”.


Q: What was the inspiration of the book?


A: My judgmental college advisor. I was attending Hampshire College trying to major in film. While I was making Super 8mm shorts, I really wanted to make a feature. At the time, horror was the way into the movie business for first time filmmakers so I had written a script called “THERE’S NOTHING OUT THERE” in high school and decided it was a good choice for my first film. However, my advisor and film professors had no respect for horror movies and said I wouldn’t learn anything from making the film. Well, I didn’t agree with them and made the film. When I came back, I realized that I wasn’t going to receive any credit for writing and directing this film since it was a horror movie. I pleaded that I had learned a lot and they said I should write what I learned and maybe they would give me some credit. And that was the beginning of “Making Nothing At The Age of 20”. It’s a bit of a sarcastic title which fits with my sense of humor. I was twenty years old at the time and my movie had “Nothing” in the title.


Q: I was going to ask why call the movie, “There’s Nothing Out There”?


A: Because, being a horror fan, that is the most overused expression is almost every horror movie. At some point someone will say, “Oh, there’s nothing out there” or “I’m sure there’s nothing out there”. I had the line in the script and decided it was the perfect title since this whole movie is a horror film but also a send-up of horror film cliches. And since my college advisors said I wouldn’t learn anything, “Making Nothing” seems appropriate as well.


Q: What makes this “Making of” movie book different from many of the others out there?


A: A few things. First, I was only twenty years old when I was able to produce the movie which makes me younger than most first time directors. Second, this book was actually written over a period of 34 years. I started the book while I was in college in 1989. I then added to the book in 2000 when I was thirty years old and a professional independent filmmaker living in California. I finally finished the book this year, 2023 at the age of 54 to explain why and how this little film of mine keeps going and has turned into a cult movie. So, you get to see the progression of a film and a filmmaker over the decades.


Q: Who is the intended reader of this book?


A: I think anyone, whether they are in the film business or not, can enjoy this movie. However, I wrote it originally to other inspiring filmmakers. Even though I was trying to get college credit, I didn’t want to write it for my college professors so I address it to all the young filmmakers out there who are trying to get their start and wondering how I did it. I hope they find it entertaining and informative beginning with some naive 20 year old thoughts that grew into a “veteran” seasoned filmmaker reflecting upon the business and his career. Funny and heart-breaking, which pretty much sums up the world of independent movie-making.


Q: The world of film-making has changed a lot since 1989. Do you feel your advice is still current?


A: Well, I found the more things change, the more they stay the same. I have now directed 28 films and constantly run into very similar things as I did with “There’s Nothing Out There”. Studios, producers, and distributors always have trouble when you combine genres. A comedy/horror movie is a dangerous proposition. I was told it’s too funny to be scary and too scary to be funny so they don’t know what it is. That’s the same thing John Landis heard for ten years before he was able to make “An American Werewolf In London”. The funny thing is “There’s Nothing Out There” seemed to have aged really well and turned into a cult film over time. It’s getting more love and respect now than it ever did back in the early nineties.


Q: What are some of the subjects covered in your book?


A: I pretty much address every aspect that goes into the making of a movie from the writing of a screenplay to finding the money, getting the cast, the crew, shooting it, all the problems that occur on a movie set, and all that goes into post from editing to sound to music to foleys to advertising to pitching to selling to distribution to being screwed in distribution…. It’s very detailed because most of it was written as I was going through it. Not exactly a diary but it does have that aspect as well.


Q: What do you think is the funniest story in the book?


A: Well, it’s never that funny when you’re going through it but looking back now, all the things that went wrong and had to be solved while we were shooting. Plus I was the youngest person on the set and I was in control. I had to win over my cast and crew to get them to trust me that I knew what I was doing. That worked with most but one actress became very, very difficult. She wanted off the movie but we couldn’t stop. Trying to get her to show up and/or shooting around her was quite an experience.


Q: What is the strangest story in the book?


A: Pretty sure it’s how and why the film has finally turned into a cult movie after all these years. The movie was ahead of its time but was given a second, third, and fourth life after the blockbuster “Scream” came out. My film is now being credited as the film that started the whole meta-movie genre six years before “Scream”. And that gets more and more surreal as the book goes along. Especially when I found out that a nine minute documentary called “Copycat” was made starring ME and it was all about the history of “Nothing”. It gets really weird as I tell how I discovered the short and articles about myself. It’s almost like an out-of-body experience.


Q: Last Question. Do you feel this book is the final word about “Nothing”?


A: Probably not since the book ends with my full unproduced sequel screenplay called “THERE’S STILL NOTHING OUT THERE”- “If You Were Afraid Of Nothing… It’s Back!”Although that script will not be made, I did just write a brand new sequel that picks up where my original film ends and then jumps 35 years to the present and continues the story. With any luck I’ll find the money to make this new movie and if I do, there’s a good chance I’ll continue this never-ending story of my life with “STILL MAKING NOTHING AT THE AGE OF 55”! So stay tuned and I hope you read the book.

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