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The Michaels

Vancouver Producing Tandem Creates New Horror Movie Franchise

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Story by Joe Leary
Photos by Luke Morrey

Among Vancouver’s film community they are referred to collectively as “The Michaels”: two men with the same name, albeit different spellings.

The tandem both write, produce and edit, but while Micheal Bafaro adds “director” to his titles, Michael Mitton adds “actor,” as he has a large screen presence in film.

“Don’t Look Away”

Definitely, there is, says Mitton of the popularity of the genre. The industry keeps saying horror is out but every year it comes back, and there’s a great interest in it, adds Bafaro.

Their latest collective venture is “Don’t Look Away,” a captivating, potentially new horror film franchise released earlier this year.

And while the big battle at the box office during the summer was largely between “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” it appears there is always a hunger among moviegoers within the horror category.


The Michaels formed the Supersonic International Picture Group partnership in 2018, and with this latest effort the plan is to go forward releasing more within that branding.

The pairing of the Michaels came about somewhat by chance.

When I met Micheal I had just graduated fi lm school at San Francisco State, adds Mitton.I was making my student film and got robbed at gunpoint. I had no money and I was bummed, so I came back to Vancouver, and my mom introduced me to him because she had seen him around the neighbourhood and knew he was a filmmaker.

I started going to him for advice. I realized that I was writing really stupid stuff that was never going to get made and asked what I could actually make that had a shot. He told me horror/action—that sort of thing.

We started working together and giving me a better education than four years of school did.

Before you know it we ended up becoming business partners, adds Bafaro of his connection to his fellow Michael.

Initially we had another movie in mind called “The Rain Man,” but that one was going to eat up a good portion of the budget, because the way we conceived the fi lm it was going to require a lot of CG work. We started pitching the story and everyone loved it but it came down to cost.

By all means, take the title seriously. ‘Don’t Look Away’—you might miss something scary, funny, and pretty good.

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So we thought we could do something else. That’s when we came up with a mannequin.

Described as “Hallowe’en with a Mannequin, Don’t Look Away tells the tale of a group of friends that cannot escape the gaze of a mannequin and its trail of imminent horror.

People are really enjoying it, and a lot of the reviewers have gotten the movie that we made, because on paper it’s a bit diff erent because of the tone we take. We were heavily inspired by a lot of 70s Italian movies and we wanted to have a bit of humour in there as well.

But it’s not a horror comedy like “Evil Dead”; it’s more inspired by the Giallo Films, which a lot of filmmakers are inspired by. Giallo is a reference to a style of Italian-produced mysteries in the horror/thriller/suspense genre that can also include slasher violence.

The name derives from the yellow page, pulp novels published in the sixties and seventies. ‘Don’t Look Away’ pays homage to this style and has been extremely well-received.

We’re on 300 screens in the U.S., and that’s a big deal,” adds Bafaro.


It’s a fun, well-presented concept and has no shortage of positive review fan buzz online, raking in some glowing praise.

Palpably scary, atmospheric and chilling. One of the best horror films of the year. One can revel in its disturbing disco bloodbath scene. By all means take the title seriously. ‘Don’t Look Away’—you might miss something scary, funny and pretty good.

Released on Video on Demand in October, ‘Don’t Look Away’ was shown on over 300 screens among two major US chains.

And the Michaels suggest that their creative process clearly sees more films in the “Don’t Look Away franchise going forward. It’s set up for sequels— for sure,” says Bafaro. We’ve kept the mannequin.

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