Jeremy Long [Interview]

Welcome to Day 9 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Annual Month of Horror Showcase! We have a fully loaded month of all things horror for you fine folks! October is our favorite month for this very reason, and we are so excited to share 31 full days of film showcases and interviews with some of the finest folks from the world of horror, just as we have been doing for the last 5 years. What started as a simple 5 day showcase, has now blossomed into a full blown month long event. You’re going to love this! Enjoy!

Hello Everyone! We have another wonderful interview for you fine folks here today! Jeremy Long is first
and foremost and absolutely brilliant writer and stand up comedian who we are so excited to hear from today. Secondly, he is also the co-writer of one of our favorite films, horror related or not, of 2018 that happens to be co-written and directed by our favorite creative team that has been featured on the site on several occasions, the great Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein! The film is Clickbait, and it is AMAZING! We will be sharing a special on the film on this coming Sunday, so we thought we would tease you all a bit with some wonderful words from the person who conceived the idea to begin with, the great Jeremy Long!

Jeremy was so cool to share some deeply insightful and touching thoughts on everything from how he found his way into the world of comedy, his thoughts on the world of horror, and the multitude of ways he has managed to scare the shit out of kids. A past time we all know and love here at Trainwreck’d Society. So without further babbling, I hope you enjoy these great words from a truly brilliant person! Enjoy!

What inspired you to get into the world of film and television? What was it about this world that, to you personally, really drew you in?

I watched a lot of film and television as a kid. And by a lot, I mean constantly. While other kids were playing football outside, I was inside watching Three’s Company or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Which, now that I look back on it, probably made me seem very lazy and/or anti-social. Oh well, I still managed to have many friends, most of whom were not imaginary, so it’s not like I was destined to be the next Dexter or something. I think I turned out alright. I’m getting off track.

The cliché answer is the one I just gave. The fact that I have simply always loved film and television and studied it immensely. Not just by absorbing so much of it, but by studying it on my own time. Studying the actors in my favorite films and shows, what other projects they worked on, how certain things were done and what went on behind the scenes. Stuff like that. I was always interested in learning more about this crazy industry of entertainment. Hell, even as a child when watching cartoons, I would study the actor’s who did the voices! I knew all the voice actor’s names and every different voice they did in all my favorite shows, which I do not think is normal for a wee lad, but that is how my mind operated. Ask any of my family and friends, I have basically always been a walking human version of IMDb.

The more technical answer to your question is a little harder for me to pinpoint and nail down enough to give you an in depth response. Suffice it to say, I am naturally a creative person. It is in my blood and bones. That is why I did all that crazy shit as a kid and why I am in the industry today. I believe most creative people will agree (whether that creativity is acting, writing, painting, dancing, music, etc.) that it is hard to trace the origins of the feeling, yet impossible to deny the feeling. The great German philosopher Martin Heidegger (philosophy being my other other love) once coined the term “Geworfenheit” which he used to describe to describe the phenomenon of humans’ individual existences “being thrown” (geworfen), or hurled, into the world. With that in mind, I believe creatives experience Geworfenheit into this crazy world because of a natural instinct they cannot deny and because they simply can’t imagine doing anything else with their lives.

And I understand that you are an accomplished comedian working in L.A. How did you find yourself in the world of comedy? And what is it that inspires you to continue getting up whenever possible?

Well, thank you for noticing. I have always been a bit of an exhibitionist. Not a class clown. Never liked that term. And, even if I did, it wouldn’t apply to me. I never got in much trouble and I took my studies seriously. However, I certainly was an attention seeker and would always be going to great lengths to make others laugh and smile. Because that is what made me happy. I discovered early on that making other people laugh brought me joy. So, then, when I found out there was a whole career structured around this premise; well let’s just say I chose to obey Occam’s Razor. Furthermore, not to once again give the stock answer, but I did also watch a ton of stand up comedy as a child/teen as well and it very quickly became a huge part of my life.

How I actually got my start in comedy is a whole other story, however. It actually started off as a dare in my sophomore year of high school. There was a big talent show happening and a friend dared me to sign up for it and do stand-up. Well, he didn’t so much dare me as he simply said, “Hey, you’re funny, you should sign up.” But, it felt like a dare to me because even though I loved to make people laugh, I still had horrible stage fright at that time, so it was quite a challenge for me to actually sign up and get out there and do it. I often joke I was truly thrown into the deep end because most comics get there start at a open mic or bar somewhere in front of a dozen or so people while my first time was in front of thousands of my peers.

How I got from that first show to where I am now, as a working LA comic, would take far too long to explain in this interview. But, to answer your second question, at risk of repeating myself, it is the joy that I get from doing standup that keeps me getting up on a weekly basis out here. I think most comedians agree that, after you’ve been doing it for some time, it gets to a point where you feel more comfortable on stage than off. And that is where I am at. Not that it gets any easier. After all, like the age old saying goes, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”

I am curious to know how your involvement in our dear and personal friends, Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein on the insanely wonderful comedy horror film Clickbait?

Wow, what a story. Well, first of all, Mike and Sophia are indeed really great, aren’t they? It was a pleasure to work with them and a real joy to get to know them throughout this process.

It is interesting how the film Clickbait came to be. It actually all started back in the summer of 2016. My, now, friend Brandi Aguilar approached me on social media searching for someone to write a script. I forget exactly how she found me, but I knew she liked my writing and thought I would be the person for the job. I had done a few short films and sketches and also had some scripts floating around. I was honored that she came to me and took the job because, why not? Writing is my passion and any chance to write a new project is something I jump on. For Brandi, I know, the intent behind her getting someone to write a script for her is so that she could play the lead. I later learned from Michael that this process of actors hiring writers to write a script that the actors can then package themselves as the lead when trying to sell is a fairly common practice nowadays. If I remember correctly, I didn’t get too much specifics from Brandi. Just that she wanted it to be a horror film about a girl who is a vlogger. Long story short, I wrote it and Clickbait was born. However, it was a fairly different version of Clickbait, especially tonally and thematically, than the version you see today. However, the basis of what you see today (the characters, the dialogue, the plot, etc.) was all there.

After I wrote it and sent it to Brandi by her deadline, I heard absolutely nothing about it for over a year. I honestly got to the point where I assumed nothing was going to happen with it. Then, I believe it was September of 2017; I get a message from Michael telling me that he is interested in making the film and would like to get together with me to discuss the script. Michael and I met at a coffee shop in NoHo and discussed notes he had on the script and changes he wanted to make on it. I liked what he had to say and signed over the rights to Clickbait. From here on out I am not too heavily involved, so I would defer you to Michael for the rest of the story. I know Mike did some rewrites on the script for a while based on the notes and ideas he shared with me. Director rewrites are a very common thing and I trusted Michael’s vision, so I wasn’t too worried about my baby. Plus, Michael usually kept me fairly up to date with his process and the changes he was making if I remember correctly. Then I know they shot the film in December of 2017. I also had a small cameo in the film that I was happy about, so I was there for a few days of shooting. Then it went to post and now it’s in the festival circuit. I had a feeling my script was in good hands with Michael and Sophia and, flash-forward a year later, turns out my instincts were right! I love the finished product and couldn’t be happier with the film as a whole.

I read in a previous interview you did that you grew up in a small town as an only child, which lead you thoroughly digesting the world of film and television. Which are three things I can specifically relate to on a personal level. So with that, I am curious to know if you ever had a group of TV siblings that you always wished you lived with? Or is this just a weird thing that I did, wishing I lived with the Winslows of Family Matters?

HA! I love it! This is such a great question. Probably the coolest question I have ever been asked in an interview. Especially for the specific situation we can both relate to. Hopefully some of your readers experience the sad upbringing of being an only child in a small town and will be able to relate as well.

To answer your question, I don’t think I ever wished to be part of a TV family, but rather part of a TV friend group. For example, I recall often pondering how awesome it would be to be in the friend group on How I Met Your Mother. Or hang in the basement with That 70’s Show. Or be part of the Scooby Gang on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Even if that last one involves confronting some scary demons, I was fine with it as long as I got to stand next to Sarah Michelle Gellar.

What are your thoughts on the world of horror? It’s not exactly where you work the most, but you have been involved with a couple of comedy-horror films, like the aforementioned Clickbait. So have you ever thought about getting into the world of horror? Has it ever interested you as a genre for your own storytelling?

I do enjoy horror very much as a consumer. I especially like horror movies done right, but even enjoy the cheesy ones that become unintentional comedies. And, while I have worked on some comedy-horror films (key word being COMEDY-horror), like Clickbait, I would not say it is my forte in the industry or as a writer. I appreciate that the horror medium is a fantastic way to bring attention to important issues and topics in a crazy, surreal and sometimes gory way. And, other times, it can simply be just a fun thrill ride. However, that form of storytelling is not exactly in my wheelhouse right now. That’s not to say I won’t ever write a straight up horror film, because I truly do love horror movies. But, for now at least, my brain and skill set seem to be more in the ball park of comedies and dramas and, dare I say it…dramedies.

What is your favorite scary movie? 

Oh man, probably the toughest question yet. I want to say Cabin in the Woods. Aside from being right up my wheelhouse being the epitome of a comedy-horror film, it is also just truly unique and unlike anything I’ve ever seen prior. Perhaps that is just me not having seen as many films as some (although I have seen a great deal), however I would like to believe that is because it was written by two of my favorite writers working in Hollywood today, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, whose work I truly admire, both as a viewer and from a creative standpoint.

But, just for shits an giggles let me tell you a few of my other favorites…because it is just so hard to truly pick one favorite.

I very much love a lot of the classics such as The Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween franchises. Other classic favorites include Suspiria and The Shining. I believe 1408 is not only the greatest Stephen King film adaptation of all time but also one of the best mind-fuckery films of the 21st Century. The Final Destination franchise has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. As far as recent films, I am really digging the Conjuring franchise and, even better yet, the Insidious series. While we’re on more recent horror films, here’s three more that I believe are very original and creative and feel they didn’t get enough recognition: Oculus, The Final Girls and It Follows.

What are your plans for the upcoming Halloween? Any kind of traditions you try to uphold each year?

Oh, gee, probably just having a small gathering and watching our favorite horror films! That sounds like a good time to me and it is what I did last year, although I wouldn’t exactly call it a tradition. I used to do the whole trick or treat thing until I got too old of course, but even then I would sit on the front porch with my family and scare the kids. But, then I moved to LA where I no longer have a front porch and trick or treating doesn’t seem as popular.

I guess I would say, if I have any Halloween tradition it would be making my own costume from scratch. I have been doing that for as long as I can remember. Last year I was Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World. Not that hard of a costume to make and also not scary unless you’re talking about how terrifyingly long it has been since Mike Myers made a new comedy film. One year I was doctor. They’re scary, unless you live in one of the literally dozens of countries with free healthcare. I remember one year though, I made this really makeshift costume where I wore a black trench coat, a V for Vendetta mask, a Rorschach hat and Wolverine claws. Ha! It was last minute but it was surprising effective. Boy, did I scare a lot of kids that year! But, then again, another year I dressed up as an old man complete with suit, grey beard and mustache combo, and cane. Look kids, how scary! If you don’t stop and sniff the roses once in a while, before you know it, you’ll turn around and you’ll be old and you won’t recognize yourself in the mirror anymore and you’ll have little to no control over your bowels. Is that what you want?! Boy, did I scare a lot of kids that year.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Thanks for asking. I am working on a new script. Still very much in the early stages, but that is my main focus right now. I am also working on another short film, which is a lot easier to get off the ground as I produce them myself. If you haven’t seen my first two, please look them up. They can be found on the Internet and are titled Tied to the Past and Retired Cupid; the latter of which won an award at the Global Shorts Film Festival.

Aside from that, I am continuing my stand up all over LA, and sometimes out of town as well. If any of your readers are in the area, or anywhere nearby, and enjoy comedy, I would love for you all to come see a show. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Testimonials include the time my friend Andy Dick saw my show and told me afterwards that my comedy was a mix of Jerry Seinfeld and Mitch Hedberg but not as funny as either. More testimonials: “You actually are funny, who knew?” –  friend Jim O’Heir when I told him a joke over lunch. “Great set, kid. We’ll be in touch” – Club promoter I never heard from again. “Well, what can I say, you performed tonight.” – A “friend” when asked what they thought of my show.

If you want to come to a show and possibly be added to the list of testimonials, follow me on Instagram at @jeremylong, where I post all my upcoming gigs and other humorous stuff.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Awe, what a sweet question to end on. I was at the supermarket this morning and they had a 2 for 1 deal on Peanut Butter Ripple ice cream. If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, I don’t know what will!

Check out the trailer for Clickbait, which will surely be at a festival near you, and in VOD soon:

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

One Response to Jeremy Long [Interview]

  1. Pingback: Sunday Bloody Sunday: Clickbait [Interview] | TRAINWRECK'D SOCIETY

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