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BRANDON RHINESS Rising Edmonton Filmmaker

Updated: Oct 2, 2019


Photo by Kristin Zabos


Brandon Rhiness is a screenwriter and director from Edmonton, Canada. He also writes and publishes comic books and graphic novels through Higher Universe Comics, a company he co-founded.

Brandon has written in various genres and mediums including film, TV, reality and web series. He grew up in Wetaskiwin, Alberta and now lives in Edmonton.


He is currently working on his feature Grotesque Movie, I'm Haunted, Dumbbells with Julie Whelan, and his first novel.




Brandon Rhiness

Q and A by Blaine Schlechter



One look at your resume and it’s easy to see that you are a busy guy. Let’s talk about one of your recent projects – Hot Box. What can you tell us about it?


I originally wanted to shoot a feature length movie that I would direct myself; of course we didn’t have a lot of money so the idea was it was originally going to take place all in and around a car. There’s a car at some sort of house party or bush party and people would go to this car to smoke weed. All this drama and comedy would happen inside and around the car. That’s where it started, but it stated morphing into a bigger story where we would have inside stuff too, inside the house party, and so me and my co-producers started adding storylines and funny things that could happen and next thing you know it’s kind of taking on a life of its own and became a big story. A lot of it happens in a car, but a lot of it happens inside this house too and there’s all these intersecting storylines…kind of like love stories and a few other funny stuff, like a band breaking up and there’s a guy that’s trying to propose to his girlfriend and doesn’t realize that she’s cheating on him and there’s a drug dealer that’s having a crisis of conscience and decides that he wants to help the environment instead of being a drug dealer and all these funny, intersecting stories. That’s how it all came about.



You’re clearly a creative guy…writing not only for film but also your own line of comic books. Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?


It’s hard to answer that, it just kind of comes to me. I just kind of trained myself over the years that any new idea that comes to me, no matter how minor, whether it’s an idea for a movie or something or it’s just a cool title or phrase or anything, I just write everything down on a piece of paper, or email it to myself, and have compiled this list over the years, now in the hundreds and thousands of concepts. Once you train your brain to start thinking that way, then they come to you just like a flood; like everyday ideas come to me…I write them down. When it comes time to do the next project I go back and say ‘I want to do a horror movie this time’ so I read my list and ‘oh ya, I remember that idea…that’s kind of cool, I’ll go with that one.’ So things just come to me, I don’t really base things on real life, it’s more just scenarios. I don’t know if it’s a talent thing or something I’m born with or if everyone can do it, but it if you’re open to receiving it, ideas will just come to you and you can develop them from there.


I’m an Actor and can act, but people that can write always impress me, because it’s not an easy thing to do.


It kind of comes easy to me, so I just assume everyone can do it, but I guess that’s not the case. Kind of like with acting I’m sure. Actors are like ‘well, that comes easy to me’ and I can’t do it. I’ve had movies where I have one or two lines and I just butcher them. It’s not for me, I can’t do it, I just don’t have that skill and it’s not something I’m good at.


Photos by Kristin Zabos


Your based out of Edmonton, how is the film and television scene there?


There’s not a lot going on. It’s kind of different for me since basically everything I work on is projects that usually I initiate, so it’s not like I’m an Actor needing to work on others peoples projects, pretty much every project I work in is something that I initiated myself and if it’s not then It’s a script that I wrote and sold to someone else. I’m pretty much all doing indie stuff, I’ve never actually made or sold a script to any company for the tens of millions of dollars range, I’m not quite there yet. The indie world is a very tightknit community here and there’s lots of people and a lot of talent for sure. I wish there was more going on so more people could do this for a living. I’m trying to do my part by doing a lot of projects to try and get things going. It would be nice to see more bigger projects come through, there are a lot of talented actors here and they have to work day jobs because there’s not enough to sustain their acting career so I would definitely like to see that change.


Your sentiments speak for a lot of people in the industry. You have worked in a lot of genres (comedy, horror) do you have a personal favorite?


Yah, those are basically my favorite…kind of horror first and then comedy. People always assume that since I like horror and comedy that I would like horror/comedies, which is really not the case. I just generally don’t like the ones like Shaun of the Dead type thing where it’s funny horror…I don’t like that. Which is kind of funny, because the new one I’m doing, Grotesque…were shooting that in June, I sent the script to my co-producer Julie Whelan and she read it and said ‘Oh I was laughing my ass off, it’s so hilarious’. I though well, it’s kind of funny, like American Psycho funny, where it’s not really funny but it kind of is. So she’s promoting it as a horror comedy and I thought ‘great…I’m doing the one thing I swore I would never do’. But I guess its ok, as long as it’s an entertaining script people will like it, I guess I can live with that. But definitely horror, comedy and thriller I guess would be my big ones, but I’ve written in everything and I’m willing to write in anything. Except for musicals (laughs).


Looking ahead at some of your upcoming projects, I know you’re probably excited about all of them, but is there any particular one that you are most excited about?


Yah, it’s got to be Grotesque. It kind of all came around really quickly. It was actually while we were at a screening of Hot Box, the rough cut of Hot Box. A couple of the main producers and the main team came over to my place to watch it and when it was done we were sitting around chatting and I sort of had this idea of doing a low budget, campy slasher movie so I pitched them the idea of Grotesque. It is basically about a woman who has an abnormally large nose and then she goes to get a nose job but she can’t afford a real plastic surgeon so she goes to this back alley plastic surgeon and he botches it so basically she loses her nose. She snaps and goes on a rampage killing anyone in her life that has ever offended her, everyone from her cruel co-workers to the boyfriend that cheated on her in grade 9, basically anyone that’s ever done anything to her. The script turned out very well, Julie said it’s the best thing I’d ever written so everyone kind of got on board with that. We were planning to shoot another film, One Night Drunk, we were planning to do that in May but then we started thinking, it’s very similar in tone to Hot Box and we would be doing two of the same thing back to back so we wanted to switch it up a bit, so it was just two days ago we decided ‘why don’t we shoot…even though we were already in pre-production (on One Night Drunk)…why don’t we put that off and do Grotesque this summer instead’. As soon as we did that, the vibe changed and everyone was way more excited to do something different. So all of a sudden these last two or three days we’ve been casting some of the roles and things have been coming together and we’re trying to raise some money for it and so that’s definitely the one I’m most excited about. We’re shooting a trailer for it on the 23rd of this month and then we’ll find money somehow and get it made and it’s gonna be a gore fest that day…part hilarious and part horrifying.


The concepts you come up with are really unique and nothing I’ve heard before so I’m looking forward to seeing some of them. You’re doing some awesome work up in Edmonton and you’re doing great things for the industry, not only in Edmonton but in Alberta and there are big things ahead for you.


Thank you so much.


One look at your resume and it’s easy to see that you are a busy guy. Let’s talk about one of your recent projects – Hot Box. What can you tell us about it?


I originally wanted to shoot a feature length movie that I would direct myself; of course we didn’t have a lot of money so the idea was it was originally going to take place all in and around a car. There’s a car at some sort of house party or bush party and people would go to this car to smoke weed. All this drama and comedy would happen inside and around the car. That’s where it started, but it stated morphing into a bigger story where we would have inside stuff too, inside the house party, and so me and my co-producers started adding storylines and funny things that could happen and next thing you know it’s kind of taking on a life of its own and became a big story. A lot of it happens in a car, but a lot of it happens inside this house too and there’s all these intersecting storylines…kind of like love stories and a few other funny stuff, like a band breaking up and there’s a guy that’s trying to propose to his girlfriend and doesn’t realize that she’s cheating on him and there’s a drug dealer that’s having a crisis of conscience and decides that he wants to help the environment instead of being a drug dealer and all these funny, intersecting stories. That’s how it all came about.


You’re clearly a creative guy…writing not only for film but also your own line of comic books. Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?


It’s hard to answer that, it just kind of comes to me. I just kind of trained myself over the years that any new idea that comes to me, no matter how minor, whether it’s an idea for a movie or something or it’s just a cool title or phrase or anything, I just write everything down on a piece of paper, or email it to myself, and have compiled this list over the years, now in the hundreds and thousands of concepts. Once you train your brain to start thinking that way, then they come to you just like a flood; like everyday ideas come to me…I write them down. When it comes time to do the next project I go back and say ‘I want to do a horror movie this time’ so I read my list and ‘oh ya, I remember that idea…that’s kind of cool, I’ll go with that one.’ So things just come to me, I don’t really base things on real life, it’s more just scenarios. I don’t know if it’s a talent thing or something I’m born with or if everyone can do it, but it if you’re open to receiving it, ideas will just come to you and you can develop them from there.


I’m an Actor and can act, but people that can write always impress me, because it’s not an easy thing to do.


It kind of comes easy to me, so I just assume everyone can do it, but I guess that’s not the case. Kind of like with acting I’m sure. Actors are like ‘well, that comes easy to me’ and I can’t do it. I’ve had movies where I have one or two lines and I just butcher them. It’s not for me, I can’t do it, I just don’t have that skill and it’s not something I’m good at.


Your based out of Edmonton…how is the film and television scene there?


There’s not a lot going on. It’s kind of different for me since basically everything I work on is projects that usually I initiate, so it’s not like I’m an Actor needing to work on others peoples projects, pretty much every project I work in is something that I initiated myself and if it’s not then It’s a script that I wrote and sold to someone else. I’m pretty much all doing indie stuff, I’ve never actually made or sold a script to any company for the tens of millions of dollars range, I’m not quite there yet. The indie world is a very tightknit community here and there’s lots of people and a lot of talent for sure. I wish there was more going on so more people could do this for a living. I’m trying to do my part by doing a lot of projects to try and get things going. It would be nice to see more bigger projects come through, there are a lot of talented actors here and they have to work day jobs because there’s not enough to sustain their acting career so I would definitely like to see that change.


Your sentiments speak for a lot of people in the industry. You have worked in a lot of genres (comedy, horror)…do you have a personal favorite?


Yah, those are basically my favorite…kind of horror first and then comedy. People always assume that since I like horror and comedy that I would like horror/comedies, which is really not the case. I just generally don’t like the ones like Shaun of the Dead type thing where it’s funny horror…I don’t like that. Which is kind of funny, because the new one I’m doing, Grotesque…were shooting that in June, I sent the script to my co-producer Julie Whelan and she read it and said ‘Oh I was laughing my ass off, it’s so hilarious’. I though well, it’s kind of funny, like American Psycho funny, where it’s not really funny but it kind of is. So she’s promoting it as a horror comedy and I thought ‘great…I’m doing the one thing I swore I would never do’. But I guess its ok, as long as it’s an entertaining script people will like it, I guess I can live with that. But definitely horror, comedy and thriller I guess would be my big ones, but I’ve written in everything and I’m willing to write in anything. Except for musicals (laughs).


Photos by Kristin Zabos


Looking ahead at some of your upcoming projects, I know you’re probably excited about all of them, but is there any particular one that you are most excited about?


Yah, it’s got to be Grotesque. It kind of all came around really quickly. It was actually while we were at a screening of Hot Box, the rough cut of Hot Box. A couple of the main producers and the main team came over to my place to watch it and when it was done we were sitting around chatting and I sort of had this idea of doing a low budget, campy slasher movie so I pitched them the idea of Grotesque. It is basically about a woman who has an abnormally large nose and then she goes to get a nose job but she can’t afford a real plastic surgeon so she goes to this back alley plastic surgeon and he botches it so basically she loses her nose. She snaps and goes on a rampage killing anyone in her life that has ever offended her, everyone from her cruel co-workers to the boyfriend that cheated on her in grade 9, basically anyone that’s ever done anything to her. The script turned out very well, Julie said it’s the best thing I’d ever written so everyone kind of got on board with that. We were planning to shoot another film, One Night Drunk, we were planning to do that in May but then we started thinking, it’s very similar in tone to Hot Box and we would be doing two of the same thing back to back so we wanted to switch it up a bit, so it was just two days ago we decided ‘why don’t we shoot…even though we were already in pre-production (on One Night Drunk)…why don’t we put that off and do Grotesque this summer instead’. As soon as we did that, the vibe changed and everyone was way more excited to do something different. So all of a sudden these last two or three days we’ve been casting some of the roles and things have been coming together and we’re trying to raise some money for it and so that’s definitely the one I’m most excited about. We’re shooting a trailer for it on the 23rd of this month and then we’ll find money somehow and get it made and it’s gonna be a gore fest that day…part hilarious and part horrifying.


The concepts you come up with are really unique and nothing I’ve heard before so I’m looking forward to seeing some of them. You’re doing some awesome work up in Edmonton and you’re doing great things for the industry, not only in Edmonton but in Alberta and there are big things ahead for you.


Thank you so much.

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