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DVD box. Designed by Robert Anthony Jr. Photos: James Dimaculangan, Jason Rose.
|Directed by||Matt Pizzolo|
|Produced by||Katie Nisa,|
Kings Mob Productions
|Written by||Matt Pizzolo,|
David R. Fisher,
|Distributed by||HALO 8 Entertainment|
|January 13, 2006|
Threat (2006) is an independent film about a straightedge "hardcore kid" and a hip hop revolutionary whose friendship is doomed by the intolerance of their respective street tribes. It is an ensemble film of kids living in New York City in the aftermath of 9-11, each of them suffering from a sense of doom brought on by dealing with HIV, racism, sexism, class struggle, and general nihilism. The intellectual issues are played out amid an aesthetic of raw ultraviolence that has earned director Matt Pizzolo both accolades and condemnations (such as Film Threat's rave review stating "great art should assail the status quo, and that is what Pizzolo and Nisa's film has skillfully accomplished"  in contrast to Montreal Film Journal's scathing review saying the film "openly glorifies murderous revolt, literally telling the audience to go out and beat up random people, just because"). Unlike past urban dramas, the film does not outright condemn its characters' violent outbursts. Although it does show harsh consequences for acts of violence, numerous critics have pointed out that it is unclear whether or not the film intends to glorify violence and/or class conflict.
White, straight edge hardcore kid, Jim (Carlos Puga), and black, hip-hop radical, Fred (Keith Middleton), become friends living on New York's Lower East Side - both of them with the hope that their newfound brotherhood will bring solidarity to their disparate communities. Instead, the alliance triggers a violent race riot that spills into the city streets with devastatingly tragic consequences.
The film was produced by Kings Mob, a team of neophyte filmmakers in their late teen and early 20s. Director Matt Pizzolo was the eldest member of the crew: 21 years old when he wrote the script and 22 when shooting commenced. Pizzolo met filmmaking partner Katie Nisa at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Both were enrolled in the school's Dramatic Writing Program. Pizzolo left the program and lived out of a backpack in Manhattan's Lower East Side while writing the first draft of Threat. Still at NYU, Nisa recruited film student Benjamin Brancato to join the project as cinematographer and NYU business school student Carlos Puga to play the lead role. Pizzolo recruited fellow Long Island native Ben Knight who was still a teenager at the time and put him to work as a production designer for the film. Nisa also cast Keith Middleton when she saw him walking on St. Mark's Place. Unknown to Nisa, Middleton was on his way to perform in the popular dance show Stomp.
Kings Mob shot the film in a DIY style that sharply contrasted with other more polished independent films of the mid 90s (sometimes referred to as Indiewood). The DIY style focused less on aesthetic and more on authenticity. This style later picked up traction with various DiY-Video movements including the mumblecore scene of the 2000s. Unlike most movies of the DIY-Video era to follow, Threat was shot on 16mm film.
Pizzolo interned at NYC film co-op Film/Video Arts, where he cleaned up after film classes in exchange for free access to cameras and lights while not in use. Nisa waitressed at East Village diner 7A to pay for production supplies that "couldn't be borrowed or stolen." Initially, sound recording was to be handled by one of Nisa's film student friends. When he couldn't make it to the first day of production, he instead gave Nisa a 15-minute lesson on how to run the nagra. She went on to be the film's sole sound recordist for the first months of production.
At the start of production, the crew consisted solely of Pizzolo, Nisa, Brancato, and Knight but over the course of production it grew to include over 200 young people from 5 different countries.
Although shot without permits on a shoestring budget by a team of non-professional first-time filmmakers, some critics have compared Threat to such iconic films as The Warriors,Do the Right Thing,American History X,Slacker,Clerks,Romper Stomper,Kids,Doom Generation, and Suburbia. Critical response ranged from "easily one of the most important films of the decade" to "there is no explanation, no logic, and no reckoning."
Produced largely in the New York metalcore and hardcore punk scene, Threat features guest appearances by members of Most Precious Blood from the Trustkill Records label. Trustkill also contributed music to the film's score from Most Precious Blood, Bleeding Through, Eighteen Visions, and Terror. Most of the film's score, however, was composed by Alec Empire and his band Atari Teenage Riot. The score was constructed by jungle-music producer queque.
In keeping with the punk and DiY ideologies of the movie and their production company, Pizzolo and Nisa eschewed distribution offers from Hollywood studios. Initially, the film was released as an underground VHS tape and toured across the US and Europe, playing at non-traditional venues such as record stores, hip hop clubs, skateparks, and music festivals. One of the more notable non-traditional screenings took place during the Sundance Film Festival at a Doc Martens shoe store across the street from Sundance's flagship Egyptian Theater. International press for the Sundance screenings launched years of touring which culminated with an appearance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where music-video distributor HIQI Media signed on to distribute the film to theaters. Soon after, Pizzolo formed the punk rock cinema label HALO 8 Entertainment and released Threat on DVD.
Threat's soundtrack consists mainly of digital hardcore courtesy of Alec Empire's DHR label, and metalcore courtesy of Trustkill Records. The soundtrack was released by HALO 8 Entertainment in January 2006.
In addition to the Threat soundtrack, Halo8 produced and released the compilation Threat: Music That Inspired the Movie. In the tradition of soundtracks featuring collaborations/remixes, from such films as Spawn and Judgment Night, the album consists of mashups of hardcore punk and metalcore with breakcore. The album was released by HALO 8 Entertainment in January 2006.