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Catching Up With The McManus Brothers At The SXSW Film Conference & Festival

Group photo at the SXSW Film Conference: The McManus Brothers (Kevin & Andrew) with Moderncine Founder Andrew van den Houten (center left), and "Final Destination writer Jeffrey Reddick (center right)
Group photo at the SXSW Film Conference: The McManus Brothers (Kevin & Andrew) with Moderncine Founder Andrew van den Houten (center left), and "Final Destination writer Jeffrey Reddick (center right)
Courtesy of Maura Tompkins

When a director has the freedom to create a film with his or her personal vision in mind, it is amazing how well the film gets made. Today in Hollywood, large budgets and special effects can get in the way in which a director is trying to portray a story. When a smaller scale and more intimate film makes an impact on the media, it's a breath of fresh air

Enter, Kevin and Matthew McManus; two young, writers and directors who happen to be twin brothers. The McManus brothers made a sensational splash with their critically acclaimed "Funeral Kings," which debuted at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival. "Funeral Kings," is based on personal experiences and won over a lot of people, not only at the festival but around the country. With the right project in hand, the McManus brothers are able to showcase their incredible talent as artists.

In this special interview below, the McManus brothers and I discussed "Funeral Kings," what inspired them to make films, how they work together as twin brothers and their involvement with the recently launched crowd-sourced production studio TentSquare.

Can you tell the readers about what inspired you both to become writers/directors?

K & M: Our mom is an actress back in Rhode Island, and she used to take us back stage to show us all the props and sets when she was doing a production. On one in particular, they used blank guns, sugar glass bottles that would shatter, and trap doors. It was really exciting to be able to see just how they pulled everything off. I think it was those first experiences with live-action storytelling that got us into the idea of telling stories of our own.

How do you go about working on a project together? (i.e. do you write separately or together?)

K & M: It’s different for every project. Sometimes we write together, sometimes one of us will write and the other pops in when we get writer’s block, the process is always changing for us.

Your film “Funeral Kings” has received a lot of critical acclaim. What was the inspiration behind the film?

K & M: It’s based on a scam our dad used to pull when he was a kid. He was an altar boy and he used to serve funerals during class time. Afterwards he and his altar boy buddies would skip class and goof around, knowing their teachers would have no idea they were playing hooky.

From what I’ve read, your casting for the film is very inspired. Was the decision to feature such a young cast a decision you both made early on?

K & M: The film is all about the Napoleon complex you have as a 14-year-old who hasn’t reached puberty yet, and all the stupid things you do to try to make up for it, so casting kids that were pre-pubescent was pretty critical for it. We were incredibly lucky to find such talented kids in that age range.

What is it like seeing a movie you created (wrote, directed, produced) in front of an audience?

K & M: The first few screenings are always really nerve racking. You’re so close to the material that most of the time you’re completely insecure about whether it works or not. When you hear that first laugh from the audience, most of the pressure seems to lift.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

K & M: We are lucky to have each other. We can jump in when the other guy is struggling. That’s what’s cool about TentSquare. When you’re struggling with a beat, you can throw ideas out to the community and have them weigh in.

Let’s talk about TentSquare. What made you want to get involved in the project?

K & M: Andrew is a great friend of ours, and he once he told us about it, we were excited to get involved. It’s an incredible opportunity to collaborate directly with your audience.

The “Screenplay Development” competition category just ended with Comedy being the chosen genre for the first short film. Are you looking forward to writing the screenplay?

K & M: Hell yeah!

Do you think it’s harder for film students or non-film students whether it’s acting, directing or writing to break into the business now more so than ever before?

K & M: I don’t know that it’s ever been easy to break in. The nice thing now is that it’s a lot cheaper to make a film with high production values. There’s also more opportunity to get your films seen, and get involved with projects. Whether you’re posting to YouTube, or competing on TentSquare, there are a ton of avenues now for creating content, that didn’t exist just a few years ago.

There many aspiring writers/directors in this world. What advice would you give to those trying to succeed in the filmmaking industry?

K & M: Just keep making content that you believe in, and support other filmmakers in your community. It takes a lot of people and support to make a movie. The more you give, the more you get.

Please visit the official "Funeral Kings" website @

"Funeral Kings" is available to purchase @

Please visit Kevin & Matthew's official website for updates on their latest film projects as well future ones @

Here are Kevin & Matthew's Bio:

"Kevin and Matthew McManus's first feature film, Funeral Kings, was an Official Selection at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival. It premiered in the Emerging Visions Category which highlights "audacious, risk-taking artists in the new cinema landscape." The film has gone on to win
awards across the country on its way to a theatrical run in select cities.

They graduated from the BFA program at Emerson College in 2009. Prior to graduating, Kevin and Matthew had seven short films officially selected at several film festivals across the United States.

They currently reside in Los Angeles, CA and are represented by ICM."

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