Ian Sobel [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 one of the absolute best folks in the world of modern television. Seriously, Folks, over the last decade, Ian Sobel has worked on some of the finest series out there including his most current gig on the recently-premiered Hulu series Helstrom. Other work include 12 Monkeys, Siren, and the one we are always the most excited about, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series. Sobel joins the ranks of wonderful folks we have spoken with you also worked on the series in some capacity. These ranks would include directors Dwight H. Little and Eduardo Sanchez, and writer Sarah Wise. And we are so excited to have him as a part of our Month of Horror series as we begin to wrap things up.

Ian Sobel, in words alone, is a kind and incredible human being with a wonderful story to tell. And we are so excited to share his words with you all today. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Ian Sobel!

 

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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?

I always thought I wanted to be an actor. I enjoyed performing at a very young age, landing the role of Peter Pan at YMCA summer camp. You can imagine that the competition was fierce. I had always loved movies, and started using my mom’s VHS camcorder to make short films. They were usualy full of fake blood and guts — me and my friend Mike often being an assassin who killed his target and then we’d swap — but Scorsese and Tarantino were a major influence, so what else was to be expected. It was actually in film school that I got more into writing, getting to write my own short films as well as sketch material for the improv group I was in.

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?

When I first moved out to L.A., I was an intern at HSI Productions, which no longer exists. They did commercial and music video production. That was back when I thought I wanted to be a music video director right around the time that the internet was killing the profitability of music videos, so I was really behind the 8 ball on that one. As an office intern, not only did I get to learn a ton about producing a great deal of content at a rapid rate, but it was also my first opportunity to be an on-set P.A. I got to witness, and participate in, actual big budget productions, which was like a dream for me, having only known a student film scale production at that point.

We have spoken with some wonderful folks you who worked on From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (Dwight Little, Sarah Wise, Eduardo Sanchez), and they have all had wonderful things to say for different reasons. As somebody who was there through the entire run, I am very curious to know how your experience was working on this phenomenal project? What set it apart from the other projects you have worked on?

Dusk was my first paid gig as a television writer. I was lucky enough to be working for showrunner Carlos Coto, who I had assisted on the shows 24 and Nikita, before he hired me and my often writing partner Matt Morgan to be staff writers on the series. Carlos wasn’t just a great boss to me, but also a mentor — and still is. Carlos made the Dusk writers room a safe environment where everyone could participate equally, openly share thoughts, and freely disagree — as long as you didn’t “No” everything without an alternate pitch. Also, getting to play in Robert Rodriguez’s world was a fantastic ride. His whole Troublemaker facility in Austin, Texas, where we shot the first two seasons of the show, provided all of the production tools anyone might need to make a kick-ass show or movie. And his entire team, who have been with him for many years, are top notch professionals, creative thinkers, and crafty problem solvers.

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?

Well first of all, who doesn’t love to be scared? Even the people who say they don’t and refuse to watch anything horror-related, I think they’d have to agree that there’s something about that jolt of fear coursing through your body that makes you feel alive, and when you’re not in any real danger at all. Maybe they don’t like that jolt, but it’s effective nonetheless. Then of course there is always the notion that with horror you’re able to explore some pretty weighty issues through a metaphorical supernatural lens. It’s great to be able to examine heavy themes and current societal issues through a well-crafted story with compelling characters who just so happen to be tackling a creature (and maybe even dissecting one) that represents an idea rather than just dissecting the literal idea itself.

What is your favorite scary movie? 

I think The Exorcist will always hold a special place in my heart for being able to make me deeply uncomfortable no matter what my age. When I was younger, the TV mini-series version of IT led to many a sleepless night. I still don’t think you can top Tim Curry’s version of Pennywise. Also, the music video for “Thriller” had me watching it from behind a pillow pressed over my face. More recently, I think The Conjuring is a fantastic haunted house story with some of the best scares I’ve ever experienced in a movie theater. James Wan is a master of the jump scare misdirect. He’s like a magician the way he uses his camera to get the audience looking one way when the scare comes at you from another direction.

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?

While I love Halloween, I hadn’t made a big deal about it recently, but then my daughter was born. Last year we got to take her out trick or treating for the first time and it was a lot of fun. She looked adorable in her pumpkin costume, and of course I benefited from all of the candy that cuteness raked in. This is year it’s going to be a little more tricky — pun intended — because of the inability to get close to anyone, but luckily masks are already part of the custom, so we hope to find a way to still enjoy a version of the Halloween we all know and love

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

The last show I wrote on was Helstrom, which premiered on Hulu on October 16. All ten episodes drop at once. It was an awesome experience to be a part of, and I think we created some really creepy, cool stuff for both comic and horror lovers to enjoy.

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

Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much scarier than the news these days. But since I don’t want to end this interview on a depressing note, I’ll say that I watched a short horror movie on Shudder recently called HOST that I thought was fun, scary, and pounced on the pandemic Zoom phenomenon before any of those spec scripts I’m sure everyone is writing could even flood the studio gates.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

That one’s easy. My daughter Ava. If there’s been one positive thing to take away from being a recluse the majority of this year, it’s that I’ve gotten to spend more time with my family and watch my daughter grow and develop. From being able to babble, to saying “Daddy,” to saying “No,” which is a word that no child should ever learn.

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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