The Night Market: “What is The Process?” – A chat with Filmmaker Neil Edwards (Part 2)
By: Jay Kay
Perhaps no organization holds more of a mysterious and infamous image then “The Process Church of the Final Judgement” from 1960’s through the 1970’s. Traveling around the world, multiple gods including the Devil, final judgement, unjustified connections to the Son of Sam and the Mansion Family. Shifting through the truth and fiction, one filmmaker has brought light through the darkness with his ever evolving documentary on the organization. “The Night Market” here on “Tom Holland’s Terror Time” welcomes in filmmaker Neil Edwards in the first of a two-part chat.
Terror Time / Jay Kay: As always great to continue to speak with you about this incredibly crafted retrospective of one of the most infamous movements and organizations in “The Process”. Thank you Neil for taking the time out to enter and speak with me in “The Night Market” on Tom Holland’s Terror Time!
Neil Edwards: You’re very kind, Jay. Always fun to speak to you.
TT: I am huge fan of the score and soundtrack to this film! Having George Clinton of “Funkadelic” not only give his insight into organization but to provide music crucial to the era, movement and as a foundation to the film. It must have been huge for the project! Can you talk about Father Malachi work on the linear notes and his input on two of the LPs Clinton released and how much they impacted the film?
NE: Thank you. When George Clinton agreed to be interviewed, I was high as a kite. That was a complete thrill. ‘Maggot Brain’ and ‘America Eats Its Young’ are 2 incredible and hugely influential albums. Both albums have Process writings on the sleeves and songs inspired by Process ideas. On the second album, Father Malachi is thanked for his ‘inspiration’. That’s pretty damn cool.
TT: What is the story behind director John Waters being a part of this documentary and how much levity and common sense does he bring to this film?
NE: John Waters mentioned his encounter with The Process in one of his books. I tried to secure an interview with him when he was over in the UK, but his schedule was too busy. However, he said he’d be eager to see the film. So, a little later on I sent him a copy. He was kind about it, and agreed to be interviewed at his Baltimore home. Another thrill for me (I’ve had so many great experiences making this film!). His contributions get guaranteed laughs at every screening. He’s so witty. But I think his humor also brings everything into perspective nicely. He’s such a sharp chap, and I’m really grateful for his generosity in being involved.
TT: What has been the most surprising and most shocking part of this project for you as a filmmaker, journalist and investigator? In your opinion, was the fear justified surrounding “The Process” with Manson, the devil and their perception of final judgement?
NE: The Process were very provocative. The Process were also somewhat secretive and mysterious. In combination, I guess that’s a good recipe for conspiracy theories.
TT: Neil, you have talked about this project being an ongoing work in progress with new interviews, editing and content. You have screened this film around the world at a variety of venues and film fests. It continues to have reactions both positive and in the negative with fans. Can you talk about those reactions that I would think continues to shape this project? Has the infamous past of this organization been a road block to the ability to screen?
NE: I have been two screenings in Philadelphia at the “Philamoca” and in Boston at the “Boston Underground Film Festival”. They are different crowds and different perspectives.
TT: At both screenings, you have been joined by different cast. What has it been like to have actual members and those influenced by “The Process” be a part of the panel discussions after the film screenings?
NE: It’s been wonderful. I loved Boston, such a fantastic group of people running that festival, and I was privileged to be able to screen at the Harvard Film Archive in a beautifully brutalist Le Corbusier lump of concrete. That felt special. Cinedelphia had an altogether different but equally wonderful atmosphere. I loved the Philamoca venue – a former tombstone showroom – and the audience members were a great bunch. Having guests is important to me. I set out to tell the story in the words of the people that were actually there. There’s a risk with the Q&As that I might start to impose my own narrative on the conversations. Having someone to bounce off helps control that – and I inevitably still have questions myself that I want to ask!
TT: What has been your overall emotions with the entire documentary? How has the pressure been for you bringing this comprehensive documentary to life? What does it mean to keep evolving the documentary at each screening?
NE: I’ve loved making the film. The best part has been the new friends I’ve made both former Processions and folk like yourself, Jay, who I’ve met through the festival process. I really hadn’t considered the notion of public screenings when I began – I just wanted to make the film– but I can’t tell you how rewarding it’s been. I guess I’m too old to play in a band anymore, but it does provide a similar exhilaration to a gig. The fact that it keeps evolving is both brilliant and frustrating. Frustrating that I didn’t have all the elements when began that I now have, but brilliant that it wasn’t locked down so I’ve had the ability to enhance. It’s also been great because through the process of repeated screenings, further conversations with the subjects, and Q&A’s with the audience, my own interpretation of the story, the themes, and life, have grown and developed.
TT: Where can we find out more about the documentary? Where will it be screening? When will it be released?
NE: I’m relatively good at keeping the website, Facebook and twitter account up to date so they’re the first port of call for info re screenings and events. As soon as I have any release news, it’ll be announced on those sites. Next dates will be in Portland, OR, a couple of exciting events in London, and Melbourne, Australia before the year is out.
Thank you so much Neil!
You can follow Jay @HorrorHappensRS