Tim Tanner [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Welcome to the 2020 edition of our Month of Horror. It’s almost humorous that we are showcasing the motion pictured displays of horror when it seems as though we simply have to look around us to see the natural horror that is enveloping our daily lives. But nevertheless, a quick escape from the surrealism of our daily lives is often appreciated. In this vein, we honor these wonderful folks who seek to only entertain us with a good scare and a break from the actual horror that is all around us. We have assembled a wonderful batch of actors, writers, directors & beyond, who have worked on so many different projects that you know and love. I am beyond excited to share them with you all throughout the month of October. Enjoy!

Today’s guest is a wonderful actor, writer, & director who actually brings us back to a section of the world of horror that has traditionally been a favorite of ours. It’s Tim Tanner, Everyone! And that world would be the internal mind of the legendary micro-budget filmmaker Steve Sessions. Our history would Sessions has been well documented, and dates all the way back to 2006 when a young Airman (me, Ron) happened to come across a film called Malefic and was blown away. So much so that he decided to e-mail Sessions directly to let him know how much he enjoyed the film. What would follow is Mr. Sessions sending copies of Southern Gothic and Cadaver Bay, the appearance of a lead character in the film Torment to be named “Sheriff Ron Trembath” (portrayed by past guest Ted Alderman), and a lifelong friendship, including a wonderful afternoon in Biloxi. I believe we had Sonic.

And with all that being said, Tim Tanner is a guy who has been living in the world of Steve Sessions for quite some time, and basically got his start in this proverbial magic kingdom. Tanner has appeared in 6 total films in Steve’s catalog, including At the House of Madness, Contagio, Dead Ink, Shriek of the Sasquatch, Sinister, & Aberrations. And beyond the world of Sessions, Tanner has moved into the roles of writer and director with a new short film entitled Kin, which he gives some great detail about below. He’s also a teacher, a husband, a father, and an all around wonderful person.

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Tim Tanner. Enjoy!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an early aspiration you can always remember having since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

Though I’ve never really been in the entertainment business, I’ve worked on and been involved with no to low-budget movies since 2007. I’ve wanted to make movies since I was at least 8 or 9. My sister, cousin, and I would make up sketches and record them on a video camera. Then in high school I played around with writing and doing some more recording with a newer model – now old-as-dirt – video camera. This fooling around mixed with my love for low-budget horror movies is what has always been my inspiration for wanting to make films! It’s been a struggle and I’m not really a part of this world yet – I’m a high school science teacher – but I am trying to get my hands on and get involved in as much as I possibly can!

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any kind of lessons learned from this project that still affect your work today?

During college and working towards my BS in biology, I emailed Steve Sessions when I found out that the movie, Dead Clowns, I had rented from, what the great historians call THE GREAT, Blockbuster. He told me that he did in fact make Dead Clowns and that I could come be a part of his next movie if I wanted. I did wanted. So, after that Steve would let me know when he had a movie that needed a background person or help and I’d show up. I didn’t get paid really for doing movies with Steve. I did get copies of the movies I was in, coffee when I was on set, and food. To me that is payment.

The first time I really got actual money to pay a bill with was last summer (2019) working as a background extra and a stand-in on the upcoming Tate Taylor movie Breaking News in Yuba County.

The lessons learned from working with Steve and the other folks is that the more I work on movies, the more I want to work on movies! Also, it’s OK not to know stuff. Being nice can get you a long way and helping people out is honestly the best payment someone can give. Movies are art. No matter what the budget. To be a part of that is exciting and something that I hold dear. I keep chasing the high that I got the first time that Steve let me be in his movie (At the House of Madness). Even though I’ve been on Hollywood union and non-union sets, honestly it’s all the same – people working together to create a piece of art.

You have worked on several projects from one of our most beloved filmmakers here at TWS, the micro-budget legend himself Steve Sessions. I am curious to know how you enjoy working with Steve? What does a Sessions project have that separates itself from other projects you have worked on?

Working with Steve is always fun! From the first time I showed up to work on my first film with him, At the House of Madness, Steve treated me like a friend and created a very friendly atmosphere on set. He always calms my nerves and keeps you grounded when you are filming. If I can, one of these days I’d love to fly him to a movie I’m working on so that I can repay him for giving me a chance to work on a movie. He helped fulfill a teenage goal of mine – to die in a low-budget horror movie – several times over. On Contagio I got to die multiple times!

But, yeah, Steve is like a long lost friend that I didn’t know I had until I got to know him. What separates his projects from others I have worked on is that he is the writer, director, producer, camera, sound, FX, score, and everything and everyone on set pre, during, and post-production. It’s enough to make most people want to give up or at least vomit all over the place. But Steve keeps going and thinks about things on the fly when certain shots don’t work out. There’s not a lot of prepping that can be done when you have almost no budget, so run-and-gun or guerrilla filmmaking is what he is great at. He can see a scene unfolding at a location at the drop of a hat.

 

 

In your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is that makes the horror genre special? What sets it apart from other genres you have worked in?

Other than being my personal favorite genre, I feel like horror unites people – both in the theater/at home and during the production. I say this because horror infects our minds a certain way in that it let’s us feel like what is going on during the movie can and does affect us in that moment.  Our brains psych us up to think that the slasher is in our house or in the theatre going to kill us. With that sort of connection to a horror film, I feel it helps us unite with the makers of the film and those watching the film with us. You could make an argument that every type of film does this to folks, but there’s just something special when it comes to horror. Something so special, I honestly don’t have the words.

What is your favorite scary movie?

My favorite scary movie would be the original Dawn of the Dead. As the late, great Dennis Hopper says on Land of the Dead, “Zombies, man, they freak me out.” I have to agree. Growing up, ghosts, demons, and zombies were what scared me. However, zombies were more “real-world” than anything else. Zombies could actually happen – or so I always thought. And if zombies could happen, then the nightmares that Ramero brought forth for us would be real. Of course, now as an adult I see this movie differently as it’s not just a horror movie, but a social commentary. With the pandemic going on and the crazy way people have reacted to it, I see the human reactions in this movie – and almost all Ramero movies – being played out eerily similar.

I know this year may be a bit different, but I am curious to know if you have any sort of Halloween traditions? Anything you would normally do each year?

I love Halloween! My students usually describe me as “the Halloween guy” because around September 1st, I start decorating the room for Halloween. I usually start getting candy and going through my trusty Halloween watch list. This watch list includes but is not limited to: Halloweentown 1 – 4, Hocus Pocus, Halloween (original), Halloween 3, Trick R Treat, Tales of Halloween (newer addition), and anything else that is horror related. My wife and I generally get a pumpkin or two and carve it. This year we probably will carve one with our 3 and 1 year old.

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

I feel like the future holds a lot more opportunities for me than I thought existed in the past. Yes, this year has sucked majorly and many plans have been abandoned or pushed back. But something about having kids and being on a Hollywood set last year solidified my pursuit of making films. Before then I didn’t take making movies too seriously because I really have not been able to do much because I have to work and all other types of excuses. After seeing, talking, and getting to know folks that are fully employed by the film business, I no longer feel like this is something that I have to just play around with and tell myself “this is just a dream that will never really happen.”

I am also directing a short film that I wrote last year at the end of this year titled “Kin.” We were going to shoot it in March or April, but with COVID-19 and people backing out, I went back and rewrote it. So we are most likely going to shoot in December. I got an awesome crew and cast lined up. I’m excited. We’ll be shooting here in Natchez, Mississippi at, hopefully, a couple of the old mansions that are around the area. We hope to be able to enter “Kin” into a bunch of film festivals. We did a GoFundMe for some money for a few props, food on set, and expendables and was fully funded. Many who helped were people in my community. It really boosted me that so many folks are behind me and my crew. It’s awesome to have people believe in you and push you to do what you love.

 

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What was the last thing that scared the hell out of you?

I guess the last thing and the thing that doesn’t seem to go away is COVID-19. More specifically, COVID-19 infecting my two children. This is a major concern of mine and a fear that just keeps coming. My wife and I are on top of taking precautions for this, but it doesn’t always make me feel like we’re totally safe for our children. I’m sure that most parents feel this way. I would say all parents, but throughout my life I have learned that there are people who have kids and care nothing for them.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was probably my daughter. She is funny – takes after me – and is constantly clowning around. For a 3 year-old she is very attuned to her mother and I and usually can tell when we aren’t feeling all that happy. Honestly thinking about my kids has just put a smile on my face. That’s what they do though. And it is for them that I am determined to try and get into film full-time. I want them to be able to see their father pursue his dreams instead of settling for what he can get. Even if I fail, which I have a lot, at least I could show them the importance of following your heart. That is something that I do not think that I was ever exposed to growing up.

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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