Cory is an American writer, director, and musician. Best known for his first feature film, the cult-classic American Astronaut, and his band The Billy Nayer Show, McAbee is currently touring the festival circuit with Stingray Sam, a serialized project which consists of six 11 minute episodes. Part musical, part sci-fi adventure, and part western, Stingray Sam is the story of an anti-hero trying to make sense of modern society on his home planet, Mars. Along the way, Stingray Sam and his sidekick the Quasar Kid battle the boredom of bureaucracy at the Inter-Galactic Hall of Records and Trivia, struggle with the silliness of science at The Pregnant Man’s Institute, and entertain the insufferable wit of a wealthy twit, Fredward, the genetically malfunctional offspring of pioneer clone doctors Fredrick and Edward.
CORY MCABEE: Stingray Sam is a musical sci-fi western. It’s written and designed for screens of all sizes.
RF: The film references the classic good guy/bad guy dichotomy. What about this dynamic interests you?
CM: I was using classic Americana themes while drawing on today’s modern American environment as a landscape. It’s obvious who the heroes are and who the villain is, but at the same time my good guys are violent thieves and ex-convicts while my bad guy is sheltered and immature.
RF: The film has an underlying feminist commentary. With the future of genetic engineering and cloning, is it possible that we’ll encounter “powerful, upper-class” men who will simply want to reproduce themselves? Just how sexist is our society?
CM: The upper-class has always wanted to reproduce itself. That’s why it’s a strict tradition in some countries to marry within ones own class. In the US we are much more sly when it comes to drawing such lines, but we do draw them. As to how sexist our society is that would depend on what you would use as a gauge. If you compare us to some countries we’re doing pretty good. If you try to figure it out by looking at the publicized issues of modern American feminists, then you’re looking at the upper class again. The focus is usually on female executives competing for money with male executives. You never hear about the single mothers working in diners without any benefits or struggling on welfare so they can raise their own kids. Looking at how we treat poor women is the best way to gauge how sexist our society is.
RF: In the late 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s, the genres of musical and western existed simultaneously, then both faded out. Why revive both, and why, using both a historical and cinematic perspective, combine the genres into one movie?
CM: I like musicals, with the exception of most of them. I think it’s a genre that can still be explored. Westerns tend to reflect the styles and ideas of when they are made. The trend of the singing cowboy was huge in its day. There were a lot of them, but it’s not part of today’s collective conscious. It was the product of what we now view as a naïve America. The whole idea of a singing cowboy fits perfectly into what I was trying to do.
RF: Like other science-fiction comedies, Stingray Sam uses humor to examine current social and scientific topics and comments on what society might look like if the technology ran amok. Do you feel that technology such as cloning and genetic engineering represent a threat to future society?
CM: I’m pretty sure that some of their uses will.
RF: Are you a full-time filmmaker? If not, what else are you up to?
CM: Right now I’m scheduling Stingray Sam at festivals and accompanying it whenever I can. We’re also setting up an online store for all of our past film and music releases. We have a lot of new music that we plan to release as well.
RF: What is your next project?
CM: I’m hoping my next film will be one that I’ve written and storyboarded called Werewolf Hunters of the Midwest. I also have a couple other screenplays. I’ll have to wait and see what happens.