FAULT Focus: filmmaker Michael Mohan (‘Save the Date’ director) on his latest short, ‘This Is How You Die’

Imagine a machine existed that could tell you exactly how you will die. The machine, as commonplace as the automatic blood pressure monitors one finds in pharmacies, takes a small sample of your blood and, upon examination, discharges a small slip disclosing your mode of death.


Michael Mohan, the 33-year old filmmaker behind 2012 romantic drama Save the Date, explores this theme in a series of short films he adapted from the upcoming anthology This Is How You Die, edited by Matthew Bennardo, former film school buddy David Malki ! and Ryan North. The book of fictional tales — released this past Tuesday (July 16th) — is the second volume to 2010 best-selling anthology Machine of Death (or something along these lines). . The shorts, now featured on Funny or Die, are the first film project Mohan’s released for some time, and one he’s unabashedly excited about.

“I’m very lucky to have surrounded myself with a team of people who just have my back whenever I try to make something, no matter the budget” says Mohan, who co-wrote the script with Malki ! and tapped his network of friends help complete the project.

And, the shorts are about as short as short films get. One clocks in at just 23 second, to give you an idea. The death scenes depicted in Mohan’s shorts are so gratuitously violent they possess the creative sensibilities of an Alanis Morissette music video remixed by Quentin Tarantino; each death becomes a new punchline in the jocular narrative of a rather dark but humorous anthology of short stories.


In the first 47 second-long short, a young female on a jog comes across a death machine, decides to give it a go and receives a slip reading ‘old age’ as her cause of death. Delighted at the prospect of having many years ahead of her, she continues her jog only to be hit by a car driven by a confused old man.


Mohan says his favorite short is the final and most absurd of the bunch, titled BEAR. In this short, a man receiving a white card with the word ‘bear’ printed on it goes about his life fearful of bear-shaped honey jars, camping trips and gummy bears. He’s eventually killed during a routine day at the office when a bear jumps out of a recycling bin and attacks him. Mohan’s only regret as far as releasing these shorts online — BEAR in particular — is that he won’t be around to see the reactions of his audience.

“With that one especially, I would love to be in a packed theatre to hear the groans at the end,” says Mohan.



The addition of the This Is How You Die film adaptations to Michael Mohan’s body of work speaks volumes about the young filmmaker’s versatility. His cinematic endeavors — which also include visually-striking music videos and even a racy and emotional short film, Ex-Sex (2011) — make it difficult to pigeonhole him. More telling of his vision is that, despite very formidable professional alliances (Mad Men’s Alison Brie and Party Down’s Lizzy Caplan were both featured in Save the Date; New York Times best-selling comic Jeffrey Brown created the movie’s illustrations), Mohan still actively explores more obscure themes and styles in his work.

Mohan is certainly no household name; he’s not a filmmaker chasing fame, either. Yet, given his talent, commercial success could very well find him.



Words by Carolyn Okomo