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Carl Rimi: The Stand-up Comedian Who Made a Horror Film

Carl Rimi began his journey in stand-up comedy 28 years ago, after his friend backed out of an open mic comedy night, and he took his place. After three minutes on stage Rimi was hooked. “I knew at that moment entertaining people would be my profession,” Rimi said.

After traveling the country performing in comedy clubs, doing small spots on Comedy Central, ABC, NBC, and ABC Family, he embarked on his new journey of performing stand-up comedy on cruise ships which turned into 10 years of his life.   

The party scene of a cruise ship entertainer appeared to be the ultimate job description. However, Rimi harbored a dark side that was hidden beneath the humor. “I turned to drinking to fight the depression I felt inside. I felt I was being creatively hindered and not allowed to express my true creative thought. I began drinking to forget the fact that I had sacrificed my potential for a paycheck,” he reflected. In 2013, Rimi decided to quit drinking, walk away from the lucrative pay, and stopped working cruise lines altogether. “I vowed to never go back, no matter how broke I was, or how difficult the transition from ships to clubs would be.” 

“Getting sober was the hardest thing I’ve ever accomplished. Quitting cold turkey made every cell in my body hurt. I began seeing and talking to people who weren’t there.” Rimi felt as if he might not pull through. Receiving professional help was the last step, but Rimi knew that whatever it took, he could not go back to that life. 

“Writing saved me during that time period as it gave my life meaning and purpose.” Rimi wrote several scripts including the feature film script, iPossessed, that he would eventually produce and star in, a psychological horror film written by a stand-up comedian. “I was able to utilize the obstacles I had overcome to add layers of truth to my character in iPossessed.” And many test-screenings later, audiences have resonated with the emotional journey of Rimi’s character in the film.

Carl Rimi portrays Tad Volo, an army veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who purchases a farmhouse that lies off the beaten path. What begins as a housewarming party for Tad, turns into a tormenting night, leaving each attendee grappling to face their past, haunted by their own worst regrets.

Rimi was asked to explain how he felt during the process of making iPossessed. “It was an exhilarating, terrifying, challenging, stimulating, exciting, painful, and oftentimes overwhelming process that I cannot wait to do all over again. Filmmaking has become my new addiction.”

Shot over the course of a month in 2021, primarily at The Barn at Paso Fino in Lake Placid, Florida, Rimi took on the responsibilities not only of head writer, but also producer, lead actor, and unit production manager. “I started the process four years ago and went through several rewrites. In 2020 we were ready to shoot, but COVID shut down the production for a full year before it even began. During that time we did a final revision and removed all comedic aspects to center our attention on making a psychological horror film. Our intention was to make not just a horror film, but something that struck an emotional chord, involving sensitive issues real people tend to struggle with in secret. Ultimately, I was determined to make a cool film that I would want to watch and have never seen the likes of before. It’s one of those films that you’ll catch new details as you re-watch it… I love movies that are even better on the second viewing.”

Rimi drew upon his own experience, as well as in-depth research, to bring his protagonist peak legitimacy. “Hopefully, the audience will feel some sympathy for my character while unsure of his true nature. I examined the nuances of military veterans coming home with PTSD and studied documentaries and consulted with a real army ranger veteran, to try and encapsulate their mindset.”

“In my experience, making an independent film isn’t a part-time project, it’s a full-time, full-out commitment,” states Rimi. “You have to be willing to immerse yourself and take risks,” Rimi emphasized. “No one is going to care about your film more than you, so you have to be ready to commit without hesitancy, no matter what the outcome or cost.” 

When asked for advice for indie filmmakers, Rimi had much to say, “The most important part of filmmaking is telling a great story. Write within your means. Be honest with yourself, if you plan on writing a war movie, make sure your uncle has a tank you can borrow. I wrote a one-house psychological horror movie mainly filmed at one location because this was within our means to produce. Preparation is paramount. Find a good crew who respects you and your vision and things will fall into place. There were some great people and crew members who have been a huge help on iPossessed and I plan on working with them again on my next adventure, which is already in the works.” Clearly, for Rimi, the creative mind never rests! 

What does the future hold for Carl Rimi? “I plan on using iPossessed as a stepping stone for upcoming projects. I have several scripts in the works, and my goal is to continue developing high-concept, high quality, low-budget films with mass audience appeal. As well as a comedy TV show I wrote that I plan to produce, direct, and star in called Mid-Life College. My biggest takeaway from this process is to stop waiting around for someone else to make your dream happen, trust yourself, and just go after it.”

***iPossessed will have an additional test screening at Sidesplitters in Wesley Chapel, Florida, on Oct. 29, 2023. Please subscribe to Carl Rimi’s mailing list for details: www.ipossessedmovie.com