Mike Carrozza [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! And welcome back to Trainwreck’d Society for yet another incredible interview for your beloved eyeholes. Today we have one of my downright favorite comedians of the modern era. It’s Mike Carrozza, Everyone! I have to be straight up honest here, and let you know that I have only become acutely aware of Mike’s comedy over the last 6ish months. As most of you know, I listen to a LOT of podcasts. And many times, especially when a comedian is promoting a new album, I tend to hear the same guest on many of the podcasts I love. And this was definitely the case in regards to Mike for about a month stretch this last summer when he was promoting his debut comedy album, Cherubic. He appeared on 4 of my absolute favorites in just a months time, and then again on another a couple of months later. Specifically, I heard him on Who’s Your God?, Stand By Your Band, Dumb People Town, Doug Loves Movies, and Never Seen It. Now if, these sound familiar to you regular readers, that makes sense. These shows feature folks like Amy Miller, Steve Hernandez, Tom Thakkar, Tommy McNamara, Daniel Van Kirk, and Kyle Ayers….all past guests! And now, we are so excited to have Mike join the TWS family amongst some lovely company!

One amazing characteristic about Mike Carrozza, that we will definitely get into in the words below, is that he is just..so…fucking…NICE. It sort of hurts to say that a person’s general way of being is just to be nice is such a revelation, but sadly it is true. Mike has made a name for himself for simply being a kind human being. Which is a quality that sadly isn’t found that often in the world, let alone the world of stand up comedy. But to be fair, along with the names mentioned above, there is a solid group of very nice people. But, I would bet dollars to donuts (as another nice boy comedian and past guest, Sean Jordan, would say) that Mike Carrozza is the NICEST GUY IN COMEDY! There I said it, all caps. This dude is the best.

Mike also has two wonderful podcasts, xBummerxBoysx & We Didn’t Get A Rose, that he will mention below, and they have become a part of my regular rotation, and I highly recommend you all do the same. I would say that I demand you do it, but I don’t believe Mike would want me saying such a thing. See? He is rubbing off on me. Hopefully he does the same for the world.

So Folks, thank you all for dropping by, and please enjoy some incredible words from the brilliant and hilarious Mike Carrozza!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of comedy? Was it something you have strived to do since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I’d always been interested in jokes and making people laugh at a young age. I grew up watching some cartoons which mostly always had comedy in them and stuff like Whose Line is it Anyway? or Friends. I think most importantly, Just For Laughs tapings would air on The Comedy Network (Canadian Comedy Central basically) and I would watch those with my dad. So I was in it early. Pair that with the fact that I’m from Montreal and grew up there, where the Just For Laughs festival happens, I just gravitated to it strongly. My dad would always tell me street jokes or jokes he’d read online or whatever. I’d memorize them and tell them at school. I got a reputation for being a jokester and leaned in. Before I knew it, I was doing jokes at my elementary school recorder concerts between the grades. I hosted my elementary school graduation, lots of high school events, sketch and whatnot in college and university before doing stand up when I was 19. Honestly, I was doomed from the start, bud!

 

What was your first paid gig in the world of comedy? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work to date?

I really couldn’t tell you what my first paid gig was. I had won money from like little competition shows or open mics where the host would have the audience vote for their favourite and I’d won a few times. But honestly, the first time I got paid for comedy and booked with the understanding of being paid was when I started getting booked to host open mic night at The Comedy Nest and then weekends hosting or guest spots. David Acer’s really been good to me and The Comedy Nest is my home club. I hope they’ll be alright after all this. I love that place and the people there. Shout out to Sheila and Dougie and Ellie and Theo and Peter and Ocean and Justin and…

 

Back when the world was “normal”, what were some of your favorite unconventional spots to do comedy? Were there any cities and/or venues that you worked in that the average comedy fan would never have thought to be a great place for comedy?

I think what [Kyle] Kinane does by doing shows at punk venues is the coolest and the best. I love that. I think in the spirit of that, my favourite unconventional venue I’ve performed in would be a house show for bands I really like. I got to go up between bands whose work I was already a huge fan of like Gulfer, Secret Stuff, and I Love Your Lifestyle. Some of them were online friends because the emo revival/math rock community is relatively small. It was just so cool to not only see them, but to be on the lineup and watch the audience and my new friends laugh at my dumb jokes. I’d known the Gulfer guys for a while and shout out to them and their incredible new record. They’re so good, please check them out. Shout out to Jessica too, always.

 

You have one of the absolutely positive vibes when it comes to your social media presence, especially in the sometimes virtual hellscape that is Twitter. Yet, you work in a field that is often littered (sometimes even in a hilarious way) with negativity. So I simply have to ask…how do you do it? I can only imagine from what I have heard that your delightfully positive attitude is not simply a social media thing, but is just your nature. So, how the shit do you keep it together, Sir?

I think it has something with being sheltered and naive if I’m being completely transparent. I haven’t struggled with things too hard besides you know the emotional stuff. I’ve always had some support of some kind and people who believe in me. It’s also so much nicer to look on the bright side. I’m certainly capable of being critical and blunt and whatever, but I prefer it to be in service of bettering people’s lives. I don’t believe at this moment in altruism, but there are still so many stories that challenge that. From a personal perspective, I love being a nice guy and to give to others, to make them feel good, etc. However, it’s not entirely selfless because I know it makes me feel good. But there are stories of people out there just doing the right thing and sacrificing for others. I will also say that my online presence isn’t necessarily always positive, like i’ve had my share of tweeting about anti-maskers being absolute fucking morons or earnestly believing people who believe/follow Trump deserve to be punished severely for it. It’s not all positive, but I can say it is in service of making things more positive for everybody.

 

 

Can you tell us a bit about your podcast xBummerxBoysx? Besides the fact that it is practically a requirement these days to have a podcast, where did this premise come from? And how did you know that this was something that you could do really, really, well?

“Really really well”? Thank you, that’s so nice! xBummerxBoysx! We have the Xs there to make it look like a dumb hardcore band! We started it literally right before the pandemic. Alex Kolanko (my co-host) and I had been talking about music for a long time and one day hanging out we both said it’d be cool to just talk about tunes on a podcast where we can have friends on or even people we haven’t met but admire. We were thinking like “Oh, man! Spanish Love Songs are gonna be in town in April and I have a connection to them, maybe we can get them on the podcast!” But then we ended up reaching out to Dylan (SLS’ singer) deeper into the pandemic, because why not! And he did it and it ruled and I can’t believe it sometimes! I love his band and to just hang out and be funny with someone you admire and appreciate, what a feeling!

The premise is that we talk about songs that made us sad that week and also talk about one nice thing from the same week. When we have a guest, we get to know them and their relationship with music before talking about our selections and why they made us sad.

I did however start a new podcast at the beginning of 2021 called We Didn’t Get a Rose with me and Chris Mejia. It’s a Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise recap show and maybe if Are You The One? comes back, we’ll cover that, too. It’s been really fun and honestly having two podcasts to focus on has been very good for me. This has absolutely been the roughest time of my life as I’m sure plenty of people can relate. I essentially built my life and self-worth into how I can help and impact people. Comedy makes me feel great because laughter is my favourite feeling and I assume those who seek it out feel similarly. That’s the quickest validation that what I do has a positive impact on people. Now that that’s gone (and Zoom shows, while they can be fun, they caaaaaan’t replicate the feeling), having two chunks of time a week where I can hang out with friends and cool people I’m meeting, make some laughs happen, talk about stuff I like, man it’s a good feeling.

 

 

If you were handed the opportunity, with an unlimited budget, to write/direct/star, whatever you would like basically, in the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

This is a good question and I have no idea how to answer it. The Canadian in me wants to say “hmmm why American huh?! They already get to dominate our sitcom slots to the point that our country doesn’t invest into its own art or identity or star system! Why should it be an American!” but also realizes “The reach!”

That said though, the first person to come to mind was Chris Farley. I have a fondness for how well loved he was and his legacy, but those final years definitely have some room for a truly dramatic turn that I am eager to sink my teeth into. I have a degree in Theatre with a specialization in Performance and what can I say, I miss it! But I think if I was to take a day on this question, I’d pick another person, but then keep changing every 15 minutes. Either way, agents out there if you’re reading this, first of all thank you, second of all, I’m money on the table. Get me in the rooms and I’ll bake us some bread, baby!

 

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

I have an album out called Cherubic available wherever you get your music (Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, etc). I’m really proud of it. It was included in the 2020 comedy roundup The Comedy Bureau put out and Jake wrote some really nice things that made me smile. Please check it out!

My podcasts xBummerxBoysx and We Didn’t Get a Rose are weekly podcasts so subscribe to those please.

I’m sure I’ll be doing more Zoom shows here and there so follow me on Twitter or Instagram @mikecarrozza I’m way more active on Twitter.

I’ve gotten to do some pretty cool stuff last year despite everything. I worked with my favourite comedian, appeared on some of my favourite podcasts (Doug Loves Movies and Dumb People Town, I couldn’t believe it when I got those emails), I got to play Magic: The Gathering with friends all over the world, I got to play Magic DnD with Rachel Weeks, Dan Sheehan and Sheldon Menery (one of the guys who came up with the Magic format I play! Isn’t that nuts!). Hopefully, 2021 will lead to more cool stuff. But I learned that I’m just going to have to ask for things I want. So follow me on Twitter and keep up :).

 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I was going to be cheesy and say this question because it did lead me to reflect on a bunch of cool stuff that I ultimately mentioned in the last question.

But truthfully, the last thing that made me smile was just earlier today I started laughing because as a joke to myself I started learning Danish on DuoLingo. It’s a wild language, it’s so strange and funny sounding to me. But it’s so cool. I did it because I got a screener to see Druk starring Mads Mikkelsen (good movie!) and I thought it might be helpful. But now I’m on my third day of Danish and I was doing a few levels on DuoLingo before getting to this questionnaire and I had a hard laugh at the fact that I’m now invested. Like I’m actually learning Danish. WHAT?! Hahaha isn’t that the silliest turn? I was so amused by it.

But if you had asked me right before then I’d have probably said a tweet or something. It’s a nightmare hellscape of a site, but it has made me laugh.

Anyway bud hope this was good enough for ya! Fart city, baby!

Thanks for asking me 🙂 love and appreciation

Rebecca Matthews [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! We have another wonderful interview to share with you all today. We have an absolute genius from the world of horror, fantasy, and beyond, it’s the incredible Rebecca Matthews! To begin with, Rebecca wore multiple hats (from producer, director, casting director, & more) on two of my favorite horror films from the last Halloween season, Cupid and The Candy Witch. Both of which are amazing and you should definitely check out ASAP. Don’t wait for October for a good scare, as the world is scary year round. You might as well have some fun with it. We talk about these films in the amazing answers that Rebecca passed along to us.

I did commit one act of damn tom foolery though, I must admit. At the time I was making up the questions for Matthews, I somehow failed to realize that she is also the mastermind beyond the absolutely incredible film, Pet Graveyard. Before I get too into the details of what I loved about this film, be sure to check out our review from 2019. But it is suffice to say that I absolutely LOVED this film, and while it may have been titled with a circumstance of requirements for sales, I will forever attest that it is a brilliant stand alone film despite any sort of supposed likeliness to any other film that could have possibly been remade and released in the same year. In fact, I would highly recommend it over any other hypothetical project that might have been around in that same year.

So here we are, with an extremely talented producer, director, editor, and so much more. Beyond the couple of films we talk about in the interview below, as well as the beloved Pet Graveyard, Rebecca has worked on several incredible projects. Some I have watched in the past, but sadly didn’t get a chance to cover here, as well as a some (at least one) film that is forthcoming, and is absolutely wonderful! So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the amazing Rebecca Matthews!

 

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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’ve always had aspirations to be involved in the world of showbiz ever since I was a youngster, so it’s something I’ve always strived to be involved with in some way. I had originally done my training in theatre before exploring other roles and avenues in the world of film, so this was something that I ended up gravitating towards in the end.

 

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?

I did A LOT of unpaid work before I ended up getting a paid gig. I had to build up my experience, knowledge and professionalism so these unpaid jobs actually ended up being some of the most valuable experiences I’ve ever had in a roundabout way. I feel like there were many hard lessons learnt on my first fully paid feature film as a producer — the results actually weren’t that great as an outcome so a lot of lessons were learnt. I find that with each new project I’m learning something new – it never stops – but that keeps me on my toes and makes the jobs even more rewarding to know that you are learning and growing after each project.

 

I recently really enjoyed one of your most recent films, Cupid, which features our friend and past guest Sarah T. Cohen. I am curious to know what drew to Scott Jeffrey’s insane story?

Scott had the idea of doing a Cupid horror movie a while back so it was great to be involved in the development and production of this. I was excited by the premise and concept as it’s something that hasn’t really been seen from any movies I have knowledge of – where Cupid is being depicted as a monster over valentines day. It was fun to take the myth of this figure and put our own little spin on it.

And another recent project you also worked as a director as well as a producer is the film The Candy Witch, which is also phenomenal! So what was it about this project that made you want to bring it to the world?

Ah thank you for the kind words! I am a fan of supernatural ghost horrors so I was really excited to be able to direct this kind of movie as it’s something I hadn’t done myself before. It was a huge challenge as we only had 6 days to shoot the entire thing! But the team were amazing and I’m pretty proud of the outcome given the restrictions we had to work with.

 

 

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?

I love working with horror because there is so much to be played with – the emotional stakes for the characters are always high, there’s drama, action, thrill, supsense, gore. It’s like a filmmaker’s dream to dabble with all of that in one movie and that’s why I love it as an audience member too. Horror has so many sub genres too – be it supernatural, slasher, psychological etc – it’s so varied and interesting from project to project. I love delivering content to horror audiences as well – it’s a great audience to be working with.

 

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

I’ve been delving into the action genre recently with some upcoming releases in 2021 – including HellKat and The Gardener which I’m pretty excited about. I’ve also worked on a heavy CGI monster movie which is hopefully getting a release in 2021 too, that was definitely a new challenge for me. Upcoming projects, I am co-directing another supernatural ghost horror early this year which I hope can be turned around in time for a late 2021 release – plus a couple of Shark movies – it’s going to be a crazy year!

 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Doing this interview – of course 😀

Zed Cutsinger [Interview]

Hello Folks! Welcome back to another wonderful interview here at Trainwreck’d Society. Today we have an absolutely wonderful guest. It’s Zed Cutsinger, Everyone! Zed is a former amateur wrestler, and current podcast co-host of the brilliant shows Views From the Vista & The Male Gaze, both alongside our dear friend and past guest Steve Hernandez, as well as the latter being co-hosted by another past guest of ours, the great Allen Strickland Williams. They are two of my favorite podcasts for very different reasons, both of which I never miss each week.

Zed is an absolutely hilarious human being and we are so excited to have him grace our digital pages. He’s just an overall sweet man, and it is an absolute joy to have him with us. He is also delightfully devoted to his wife, and also co-host of Views From the Vista, Honor Nezzo. So I offer my sincerest apologies if the above photo of Zed might have gotten you all riled up. Please try to control yourselves.

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Zed Cutsinger!

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you have aspired to do since your youth, or did you just happen to find yourself in this world one day?

My first tastes of “entertainment” were in high school. When I was a freshman I ran for class treasurer. I was thirsty for power. For my speech I just wrote a few minutes of inane drivel. Just a laundry list of reasons I should be elected: how I treated old ladies nicely, I always tied my shoes, etc. Really stupid stuff. It got a reaction and from that point forward my thirst for power could only be clenched by laughter. I never thought it was something I could do beyond the audience of a classroom until I lived in New York and took an improv class at UCB in 2006.

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

The first I can recall was in NY, it was an anti-piracy PSA commercial ~2010. During the audition I was supposed to be peddling bootleg DVD’s and I made some joke about Leslie Nielsen (he had died that day). At least one of them must’ve loved The Naked Gun as much as I did. The video was shot in Union Square during a cold period (Fall?) and I sat in a van with crew members waiting to do my “scene”. (It was just a couple lines.) There was some bigger name talent that had to go first and the whole ordeal took so long I never ended up doing my part. I still got paid. My big lesson: Pirating is good.

Can you tell us a bit about one of my new favorite podcasts, Views From The Vista? How did you link up with our new friend Steve Hernandez to create one of the best movie podcasts in the game right now?

The Vista Theater is the Greatest Movie Theater Ever. (GMTE). Their matinees were $6.50 so every friday I’d see the first showing of whatever was playing there because why the hell not. I kept running into Steve Hernandez (I liked to save money, I’m not sure what his excuse was). During one of our run ins, I was making him laugh an average amount (LOTS) and when he finally caught his breath he said, “We should do a movie podcast together.” At this point I had never podcasted but something about Steve made me say, “Yes.” We had my girlfriend on for episode ten and from that point forward she, Honor Nezzo, has been a co-host and eventually my wife. When we first started I liked movies but now I love them more than anything (including Honor by a LOT).

What would you say are some of the most difficult genres of films you have covered on VFTV?

Comedies. My natural inclination is to break down the jokes like math and figure out what and what didn’t work about them but I can see that being boring to listen to. And It’s hard to joke about jokes? If that makes sense. Also, since we’re in the world of comedy, belittling/criticizing a movie might come off like we’re better than it. I’m not better than anything (including Honor by a LOT). Then there are movies that are SO humorless and serious (AND NOT GOOD) that it can be a struggle to discuss. (2016’s The Birth of a Nation comes to mind.) We try not to review movies that we dislike. I’d rather recommend something than push someone away from something they might enjoy. I straight up feel bad when someone asks me what I thought about a movie and I say something bad to find out they loved it.

You also co-host another podcast, also with Steve Hernandez, as well as other former guest Allen Strickland Williams, entitled The Male Gaze? Same question as before, sort of. How did this show come to life, and what could our readers expect to hear on it?

Steve and Allen were trying to make a horny podcast with a focus on the news. Honor guilted Steve into having me co-host it with them. She was my girlfriend at the time. But she should’ve been my wife. Since day one. Then we asked Brodie Reed to join us. We do discuss what’s going on in the world but it’s mostly us just gabbing. We’re four dudes… but we’re sensitive. That’s the hook. The only sensitive guys ever. We have a lot of fun. And you will too. Just listen to us already.

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

That’s the question! Watching movies and making people laugh by accident. Hopefully by then (tomorrow) I’ll figure out why they laughed. Check out my two podcasts, Views From The Vista & The Male Gaze, and my Letterboxd as well: @zedcutsinger.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

When I was answering your questions, Honor was watching Bridgerton on Netflix. She got my attention during an intense sex scene. (“Zed! Look!”) That made me smile. And it’s the last thing that’ll ever make me smile. I’m done.

Jonathan Katz [Interview]

Photo by Michael Fein

 

Hello Folks! And welcome to 2021! Isn’t it great that everything is all better now?! Phew, what a relief! Just kidding, we are still living in a tunnel of misery, but the remote possibility of an end is (sort of) insight. Anyway, let’s kick this year off with an even more special than normal version of our signature interviews here at Trainwreck’d Society. I am really, really, excited for this one, Folks.

To kick off the year, we have some amazing words from the absolutely brilliant man and a legendary figure in the world of comedy. It’s Jonathan Katz, Everyone! If you’re a 90’s kid who grew up on mid to late 90’s Comedy Central (which sounds specific, but oddly I believe there are a lot of you out there), then you will definitely recognize Jonathan as the one and only, Dr. Katz. This was such an ideal show for me growing up. I knew a little bit about stand up comedy at that age. But, I was more on a level, say around 96 or 97, where I was wondering why all the comedians didn’t smash fruit with a mallet as a finale? But, through Dr. Katz, I discovered that what was happening was essentially just a few minutes of stand up, infused with a story line and additional characters. It was revolutionary to me at the time, and still holds as one of the greatest achievements in comedy history.

Basically, Dr. Katz started it all for me just over 20 years ago. I’ve stated my love on this site regarding past guests for pre-South Park Comedy Central, that held so many gems but didn’t really catch a ton of attention until South Park, and later The Chappelle Show. Don’t get me wrong, these shows are classics. But I, being the unknowing hipster that I am, was well into the channel before Viacom realized they have a sound investment on their hands.

Of course, I am rambling on about one single facet of the 40 year career of Jonathan Katz, a man who has an illustrious career both on and off of television. In fact, Dr. Katz has been turned into a wonderful Audible Original series, and he even has bigger plans in the near future. Jonathan was kind enough to take some time out if isolated yet busy schedule to share a few words with us below about how he got into comedy, the legend of Dr. Katz, and what the future holds for him. We are honored to have Jonathan with us to kick off the new year.

So, without any further babbling, please enjoy these amazing words from the brilliant Jonathan Katz!

 

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What initially drew you into the world of comedy? Was it something you were passionate about from your youth, or did you just happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I guess I discovered as a kid that I had a talent for making people laugh.  Before comedy I was drawn to the world of music. While I was living in Chicago, I met a Japanese jazz singer, named Debie Sabusawa and we formed an act called Sabusawa and Katz. I was Katz. In the late 70s, I formed a band in NYC called Katz and Jammers. I was Katz. That led to working as Robin Williams musical director and then, ultimately, to stand-up comedy.

What was your first paid gig in the world of comedy? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work to date?

I performed in a red-neck part of Connecticut. The  crowd consisted of a softball team that had just been defeated and they were very drunk. They hated me and after a few minutes the owner of the club came on stage, he took the mic out of my hand and said “You have no business being on stage you. You should get a job in factory” I said, “Wait! I have the administrative skills.”  What did I learn? My comedy is an acquired taste and not everyone has acquired it by the time they get to the club.

With close to 40 years of experience in the world of comedy, and the advancements in technology since you first began, there are clear and obvious differences in the way that comedy is produced and consumed. With that in mind, I am curious to know what aspects of the world of comedy have actually remained the same since you first began? At its core, what do you feel are some applicable characteristics in 2020 that were similar to 1981?

My comedy has always thrived on long pauses and well-crafted jokes. The only thing that has changed is that I’ve gotten better at it.

In my early days and for years, almost my entire act was pre-recorded. I held a guitar in my hands but I wasn’t playing it. The guitar had a tape-recorder built in which could play back on cue.  In fact,.  So the use of technology has always played a part in my act and I still love the challenge of combining comedy and technology.  Right now, I’m doing it on a much larger scale, performing virtually during this pandemic.

I grew up loving Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist on Comedy Central, and it remains one of my all time favorites. I am curious to know what it was like to develop this genius show? Where does an idea like the premise of the show come from? And what would you personally believe to be the ultimate legacy of the series?

Dr. Katz had two creators: Tom Snyder and myself. When we met I had been doing stand-up for 15 years. Tom had built a very successful educational software company.  We had very different skill sets but we both loved comedy. We did several projects together but Dr. Katz was the one with “traction.”

The part of the show that Tom and I liked best was the relationships between Ben, Dr. Katz, and Laura.

 

 

Back when we were allowed to leave our homes, you performed your genius comedy all across the globe. I always like to ask comedians about some of the more interesting rooms or locations that they have worked. Especially within the “fly over states”. So, what are some of the unique places that you have done comedy in? And what are some places that were incredible that most people may not realize are great to do comedy at? 

My favorite place to perform was at Catch a Rising Star in Cambridge, MA – great crowds. The Improv in NYC, where I cut my comedy teeth and learned how important it was to connect with the other comics. Their acceptance meant so much to me. It’s like being part of a club. One of my best night in comedy was opening for the legendary jazz singer and pianist, the late Mose Allison, at the Bitter End in NYC. That club had such an amazing history, with incredible musicians and comedians passing through. It was great feeling like I was a part of that.

In contrast – sometimes I’d be doing a one-nighter in a remote Mid-West town and it felt like I was wearing a Tutu in front of a bunch of pirates — I just wasn’t who they had in mind.

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

I’m looking forward to the vaccine.  In the meantime, I’m working on a new virtual show being streamed by a company called RushTix. This will be the “home version” of Dr. Katz Live.  All my patients and I will be performing in our own homes. Laura and Ben will be part of it and I’ll probably have 4 or 5 patients — TBA.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

A video of my 29 year-old daughter that cracks me up every time I see it. I watch it at least once a day.

 

Be sure to check out Dr. Katz: The Audio Files, only at Audible! And stay in touch with everything that Jonathan has going on a jonathankatz.com.

 

Brian Markinson [Interview]

 

Hello, Folks! Welcome back to another wonderful interview here at Trainwreck’d Society. Today we are sharing some words from a guy who not only appeared in one of our favorite film’s of 2020, but an absolute legendary star of stage and screen for over 30 years. It’s Brian Markinson, Everyone! 

Brian can be seen, as of last week, in the truly heart-warming film All Joking Aside, where he plays a down and out stand up comedy vet who is hired by a would be open mic-er to work on her act. It is a heart-warming tale that moves along brilliantly to get to the bottom of who these characters are deep down. Brian has the delivery for a true road dog comic with a no frills catalyst for dealing with people’s nonsense. The film is great, and that is by all means thanks to the work of Markinson, as well as the rest of the stunning cast.

Brian has done so much other amazing work, which he will discuss below, including 3 different Woody Allen projects, acclaimed Canadian TV series such as Continuum, Shattered, and the most recent, Tribal. Brian was kind enough to give us a little bit of back ground on his career, working on All Joking Aside, and looking ahead towards the future. 

So without any further babbling from me, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant actor, Brian Markinson!

 

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What initially drew you to the world of entertainment? Was it something you have wanted to do since your youth, or did you simply happen to fall into this world one day?

I got started in high school. I had a great drama teacher who made the process safe and fun. I was also drawn to the community of people that were involved in the program. I decided then that acting was going to be the path I pursued.

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affects your work to date?

I got my equity card doing a play called Nocturne at a fantastic theatre in New Rochelle, New York called East Coast Playhouse. It was a theatre dedicated to the development of new work. Wonderful playwrights like David Rabe and Percy Granger workshopped their writing there. It had a great subscription audience and critics were not allowed. A very safe place for a writer, director and cast to develop a piece to its full potential. I learned about the importance of collaboration. Art can’t really flourish without it.

You have appeared in 3 different films from one of my personal favorite filmmakers, the legendary Woody Allen. I am curious to know what it is like to work with such a legendary figure. What sets a Woody Allen project apart from the plethora of other filmmakers you have worked with?

I loved working with Woody. He has immense trust in his cast. There is nothing precious about the work. He doesn’t concern himself with vanity. He doesn’t shoot a lot, and much of what he does shoot is in the master shot, so actors can play a scene in real time without the scene being edited to bits. Feels more like theatre. Woody and I played a scene in Curse of the Jade Scorpion walking out of a jazz club in Harlem where he set the camera up across the street and just let it run. No coverage. I think we did 2 or 3 takes and that was it. Absolutely thrilling.

Can you tell us a bit about one of your latest projects, All Joking Aside. What can our readers expect to see? And what made you want to bring this story to the world?

I was approached by the director, Shannon Kohli, who I adore, when we were working together on another project. She asked me to read the script, and I loved the guy, Bob. I said yes immediately. It’s a student/mentor story set in the world of stand-up comedy. It takes a deep dive into the struggles of a young woman, played by Raylene Harewood, who is trying to make it in the world of comedy, and hires an older, retired comic who has heckled her off stage to teach her the ropes . Heart-felt. Funny.

 

 

If you were given free range to create and/or star in the biopic of anybody from U.S. history, who would it be?

I am fascinated by Roy Cohn, who was chief-council to Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Army- McCarthy hearings in 1954, then went on to be one of the most feared attorneys, representing Fred Trump and his son, the 45th president of the USA. Cohn was the template for the Donald Trump we know. Weaponizing fear and lying until the lie becomes truth. I played him in the play Angels In America, and would love another run at him.

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

I am currently in Calgary, filming season 2 of the TV series Tribal. We are filming 10 episodes that will air sometime in 2021.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ victory speeches.

 

 

Brandie Posey [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Today we have some wonderful words from a full blown KILLER in the world of comedy. It’s Brandie Posey, Everyone! I have been a fan of Brandie’s comedy for quite some time, ever since I first heard her on the Trainwreck’d acclaimed podcast Who’s Your God, hosted by our dear friends Amy Miller and Steve Hernandez. It’s been close to two years since this one singular episode, but it has been a staple in my mind, as I have followed Brandie’s career closely ever since and it has been an absolute delight.

Brandie has co-hosted the incredible podcast, Lady to Lady, for going on 9 years. It’s a wonderful program, and has featured some of our wonderful friends in the past. She also hosts the truly original show Face to Face, that is an absolute must see as well. She digs into these projects and much more in this wonderful interview below. We are so excited to have Posey join the TWS family. It’s truly an honor. With that, please enjoy some amazing words from the great Brandie Posey!

 

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What initially drew you into the world of comedy? Was it something you had aspired to do since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I’d always been a big comedy fan – me & my friends in middle school would watch SNLSeinfeld with notepads & write down our favorite lines, then bring them into lunch the next day. I wanted to write sketch & went to film school where I argued with my professors about the genius of Ace Ventura (I’m a 90’s kid, sue me) then when I graduated I moved to LA & fell in love with alternative stand up at places like the UCB. Paul F Tompkins & Maria Bamford blew my mind & I wanted to be in that world.

What was your first paid gig in the world of comedy? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still impact your work to date?

I’ve always treated every gig like I was getting paid, even though I’ve done a LOT of free shows over the years, ha. My first paid gig out of town was probably on my first solo tour in 2014 & I learned a ton during that 6 weeks on the road. I am always thankful for a paying audience, they’re more invested a lot of the time than a free audience because they want to get a good night out of what they pay for. I think more shows should charge, and more comedians should really think about what their act is worth to their audience.

As a comic who has been across the country making folks laugh, I am curious to know about some of the more obscure places across the land that you have managed to perform at?

I’ll play just about anywhere, last week I did my first outdoor show in quarantine at a minor league baseball stadium an hour outside of LA. But I’ve playedcemeteries, bowling alleys, dance studios, yoga studios, a truck depot in Central PA – you name it I bet I’ve done some version of it.

And what have been some places that were surprisingly great for stand up comedy? Places that people would not believe are gold mines, or at least good, to perform? 

My favorite show a few years back was in Whitesburg, KY. I’m a huge fan of the Leftist podcast Trillbilly Worker’s Party & had an extra day on tour so I reached out to see if they wanted to meet up & throw a show that night, we were close to Halloween. My openers were a Dolly Parton cover band & a Latinx gal painted like a skeleton dancing to Dia De Los Muertos songs. The audience was a bunch of Appalachian witches & college kids from the surrounding area, it was a total blast. I’m the first comic to ever come through Whitesburg & I’d recommend it to anyone worth a shit.

I am very intrigued by your show that you have taken across the country entitled “Picture This”. Could you tell our readers a bit about this project? How did this idea come to fruition?

“Picture This” is a show that I co-created with Sam Varela my producing partner, it pairs up comedians with animators who draw their jokes during their set. It’s like dealing with the most talented heckler of all time! Remember that old Bugs Bunny costume Duck Amuck where Daffy keeps getting erased & redrawn as different things? It has that vibe haha. We’ve been doing the show in LA for over 9 years now to sold out crowds & in NY for about 6 years now too. We’ve taken it to a ton of festivals & even played the Kennedy Center twice. Now we do the show monthly over Zoom which has been great because we’ve been able to merge our artists & comics from around the country onto the same show. It’s the most fun I have in comedy.

 

 

And since it almost seems mandatory these days, you have a wonderful podcast entitled Lady to Lady, which you have had several guests that were also kind enough to grace the TWS pages (Martha Kelly, Blair Socci, Steph Tolev, Christine Lakin, & more!). Can you tell us a bit about the show for those readers out there who may not be familiar?

Lady to Lady is myself, Babs Gray & Tess Barker. We’ve been going for over 9 years now too & every week we feature a different female identifying comedian (although every once in a while we’ll have on French Stewart haha). We goof off & play games & answer advice & it’s like being at the funniest brunch of all time. We also do ridiculous stunts like we were sent a sex machine by a PR company a few years ago & we sold it off to raise money for a party bus for some listeners & us to go to Magic Mike XXL in Last Vegas, which was a total blast!

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

I’m waiting patiently for live stand up to come back, so you can’t really see me live any time soon, but Lady to Lady drops every Wednesday & we have been doing really fun Zoom shows even 2 months as well – our next one will be on 12/6! “Picture This” is on Zoom every 2nd Saturday of the month & you can get those tickets at https://www.littlefieldnyc.com/. Plus just come follow me on twitter & insta at @brandazzle, I have a cute dog & goofy jokes.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

This morning I was looking at this old picture of my dog with me dressed up as the East Bunny, it kills me every time.

 

Jeffrey Reddick [Interview]

Photo by Joseph D’Urso

 

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!

Folks! As per usual, we saved the best for last in this year’s installment of our Month of Horror. All of our guests have been amazing, but today’s guest is extra special for so many reasons. It’s Jeffrey Reddick! 20 years ago Jeffrey rocked the world of horror by penning the now infamous film Final Destination, that has turned into an extremely captivating and successful franchise. In addition, he’s the man who penned the incredible 2008 reimagining of George A. Romero’s film Day of the Dead feat Mena Suvari and our dear friend and past guest Christa Campbell. More recently, Reddick wrote, as well as directed, one of not only the best horror films of 2020, but best films overall, the brilliant Don’t Look Back. I sincerely recommend this film so damn much. It’s as clever as it is frightening.

Having Jeffrey with us today is also special for a couple of other reasons. First of all, Reddick will go down in history as our 600th interview! And I couldn’t think of anyone better to mark such an occasion. Well, maybe 666th would have been more fun, but nevertheless, it’s pretty great. Also, as you may have already noticed, Jeffrey opted to go the vocal route with his interview by sending his answers in via a recording. We’ve only done it this way a handful of times, but every time it is a real delight. We would love to be able to do these things in person, but time zone constraints have made it mostly impossible. But, with that being said…….

It is with somewhat sad news that I announce that Jeffrey Reddick will also go down in history as the very last interviewee ever in our Month of Horror series, as this will be the last month that we do this. In fact, by the time next October comes around, Trainwreck’d Society will be cease to exist. Calm down, there is good news here. I (Ron) will be relocating back to the states (sort of, Anchorage, AK) very soon. And with that, the world of Trainwreck’d Society is in the stages of…..wait for it….becoming a podcast! The entire concept of the podcast is not being announce just yet, but suffice to say, as we mentioned earlier, we are looking to conduct Skype/Zoom interviews, which have ironically become all the rage these days for reasons we could have never seen years ago. More information to follow.

We are so excited to share this space with the legendary Jeffrey Reddick on the scariest days of the year, which happens to be one of the scariest years we have seen in quite a long time. He is an incredible human being, and has shared with us some of the best answers we have ever received.

So Folks, have a listen to some wonderful words from the great Jeffrey Reddick! Enjoy!

 

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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.

Brad Rushing csc [Interview]

Photo by Alex Rinks

 

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 for our Month of Horror is another absolute legend in the world of horror and beyond. For over 30 years, Brad Rushing has been working as a cinematographer & director on some of the most terrifying films to be made in the last few decades. Including the super cool voodoo doll horror movie directed by Jeff Hare with VFX by Spooky Dan Walker, shot as Unbound, but released on Lifetime for Halloween in 2018 with the title Killer Under The Bed, featuring the wonderful Kristy Swanson. Others include 1998’s brilliant David DeCoteau-directed Shrieker.

Beyond the world of horror, Rushing has also done some very amazing work in the world of music videos having worked with some of the biggest names in pop music from the likes of Eminem, Moby, Dido, George Michael, Nelly, & just so many more.

We are so pleased to have Brad joining in on the Month of Horror with his very thoughtful and inspiring words. So Folks, please enjoy some words from the great Brad Rushing!

 

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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?

One of my earliest favorite pastimes was drawing.  My parents were talented artists and they encouraged me.  Growing up I studied art in school and eventually began to learn music.  I attended Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts surrounded by diverse artistic peers where I majored in fine art, indulged in musical collaborations, and was introduced to making moving images.

The first time I recall aspiring to an entertainment career was while writing and recording my own music during and after college at University of Houston.  I decided that, between art, music and filmmaking I would go with the career which paid me first.  That happened when I learned of a local home shopping channel which was looking to hire camera operators.  I left college without graduating to start work and have never looked back.  

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?

The camera operating job with the home shopping network was my first paid gig.  When I started the camera operators were young people, fresh out of college like me while the directors and producers were more experienced.  Those more experienced people soon left for better paying opportunities and my peers and I began to rotate through the jobs of Directing, Technical Director, Tape Operator and so on.  It truly became a case of the inmates running the asylum.  To be fair everyone learned quickly and we all did great.  On the few occasions where someone slipped up it wasn’t a catastrophe; after all it was only home shopping and we would all laugh it off.

It was a great training ground to learn to see the live TV production process from the perspective of the different roles.  The lack of strict supervision left the path open to some fun experimentation and to break the formulaic monotony I would often try out ambitious camera moves, encouraged by my peers.
I learned by experience the process of attrition and moving up the ladder which is such a fundamental part of the business.
When the company folded after about a year and I was considering what I wanted to do next I decided that it was NOT live television.  I had been drawn to motion pictures to tell stories.  So I set out to meet some local filmmakers and found myself volunteering in a variety of capacities on a 16mm film that was being made on credit cards.
 

Beyond the world of feature films, you have worked on several music video projects featuring the likes of Blink 182, Eminem, Mariah Carey, and many more. I am always curious to know how the experiences differ? What would you say is the biggest difference between a feature film with more time than a quick shoot of a music video. And do you have a preference?

There are two big differences from my perspective.

 

The first is that with a feature film, usually, the images are going for a certain “reality” even if that is fantasy or illusion or unreality.  You want to capture the imagination of the audience and keep their suspension of disbelief engaged.  On music videos anything goes.  The imagery is motivated to appeal, surprise and arrest attention, ideally searing iconography into the audience’s brain to build the artist’s brand.  You can make images that simply look terrific with no worries about grounding them in a context of reality.  You can break continuity wildly in ways you would typically never do in a narrative structure.

 

The second difference is time.  Usually your prep on music videos is limited to a few days and a single day of tech scouting.  Then you shoot one day, or maybe 2 or 3 if the production is extra ambitious.  With such a tight schedule it’s imperative to have a tight game plan and execution.

 

On a feature you usually have a week or two at least to prep with multiple scout days.  There is time to discuss, consider, meet, reconsider and revise to an extent not possible on a short music video.  Once you begin shooting a feature because of the much longer schedule we can often make adaptations as we go like shuffling the schedule.

 

On a music video I order all the equipment I will need delivered right from the start.  While it happens a little on music videos it is more common on feature films that I will day play extra cameras or specialty equipment that I only need for certain days and scenes over a matter of weeks and I need to keep track of those comings and goings with production.  Same with crew where I might day play a Steadicam Operator, Crane Operator or additional G&E and Camera Crew for heavier days.

In addition to feature films and music videos I also shoot commercials and television series.  To choose a favorite would be like “Sophie’s Choice.”  Each one has unique appeals and I do love them equally.  To only have one would be like eating the same meal every day forever.  Not my jam.  In a perfect world I would shoot 3 – 5 narrative projects every year and in between a mix of commercials and music videos.

 

 

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?

The most enchanting thing to me as a movie fan is to be taken somewhere or some time that I cannot access by walking out my front door.  So horror and science fiction and period films all hold a special place in my heart.  That those genres often overlap is even more fun.

From a pure adrenalin point of view the thrill of horror is super fun – seeing fantastical, chilling, terrifying imagery, the thrill of dread, the rush of being shocked.  I also like how some of the very best horror can be allegorical, like the ID creature in “Forbidden Planet.”

My favorite genres of horror tend to be psychological and classic horror.  I am not a fan of sadistic or cruelly misanthropic horror. 

 

What is your favorite scary movie?

Like picking my favorite child (if I had children)!  If you can keep it between us and not tell the others – it has to be Alien which is also my favorite movie period.

I saw Alien when it first came out, right at the beginning.  This was in 1979 with no internet.  Word of mouth was slower, and since I saw it immediately I hadn’t heard or read anything.  It was a genre I loved, a cool title, and intriguing poster – I couldn’t wait.
I’ll never forget sitting in that dark theater by myself experiencing the haunted-house-in-space world Ridley Scott created, watching Kane peer cautiously into the egg sack deep in the bowels of the derelict spacecraft.  Then … BAM!!!  That fucking thing sprang out and scared the shit out of me!!!  For the first time in my life I literally jumped out of my seat in the theater.
And you never forget your first time.

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?
That has changed over the years.  I have super fond memories of Halloween as a child.  My brother’s birthday is October 13 and mine is October 27, then Halloween.  October is the beginning of the long holiday season and several family birthdays.  It’s also the beginning of fall, and living in Houston (and now California), I have always preferred the cooler months.
When we were young my parents would take us Trick-Or-Treating.  We had some great costumes.  My Mom would often make them.  There is a photo somewhere of my brother Jeff and me in black panther outfits which our Mom had made.  She also crafted some custom Halloween decorations.  I specifically remember a pair of awesome scary face covers she made to go over two lamps in our living room.
Since moving to California in 1990 I had a run of going to Knott’s Scary Farm for a few years in a row, which was great fun.  I have also enjoyed Disney’s Halloween transformation and Universal Fright Night.  A couple years ago we did the terrific Haunted Hayride in Griffith Park.  I really loved the Old Town Haunt in Pasadena, but sadly they did away with that in 2013.
My most recent favorite Halloween experience was seeing The Nightmare Before Christmas at the Hollywood Bowl with a live orchestra and an encore with Danny Elfman performing live music, including Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party.”

What was your first introduction to the horror genre?

Dark Shadows. Dan Curtis’ late 1960s / early 1970s gothic soap opera featuring mesmerizing vampire Barnabas Collins.  It was groundbreaking, unlike anything before or since.

I was so lucky to be watching television at that time, with iconic shows like the original Star Trek, Mission: Impossible and Dark Shadows whose influences continue to shape our culture half a century on.
Dark Shadows was thoroughly fun and spooky and Jonathan Frid is one of the very best vampires of all time.  He was threatening and sympathetic, charismatic and complex.  In addition to the show I collected the novels by Marilyn Ross (actually William Edward Daniel Ross under a pseudonym), I had the Milton Bradley board game and the MPC model.  Recently I indulged by acquiring the prodigious deluxe complete DVD series housed in a coffin-shaped case.
Dan Curtis also directed the fantastic Trilogy of Terror written by Richard Matheson and William F. Nolan, and starring Karen Black which features that terrifying sharp-toothed Zuni fetish doll in one of the three stories.  It was released on Blu Ray this year.
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What is your favorite undiscovered or “lost” horror film?

Eyes of Fire.  I saw this fantastic period horror film when it first came out in 1983 and was absolutely smitten by the subtle and supernatural atmosphere that pervaded the story set in colonial America.

I don’t know what happened with that film.  It was released on VHS, but never on DVD or Blu Ray.  I wrote Criterion and several other companies to suggest they acquire the rights and release it.  But so far no one has.  I also have tried emailing and writing the director Avery Crounse who directed two more movies, his last in 1996.  But I have never gotten a reply.
Eyes of Fire is a unique, fun and creepy movie.  I highly recommend people give it a look.  Search “eyes of fire 1983” to find it on YouTube. 
 

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

Look for the feature film A California Christmas coming to a major streaming service this holiday season.  I shot the movie starring Josh Swickard and Lauren Swickard (she wrote the screenplay) in Petaluma, CA with my friend director Shaun Piccinino in July.  It was a nice break from quarantine and we followed strict SAG-approved COVID safety protocols.  I had a fantastic time with the wonderful cast and crew, executive producer Ali Afshar and his production company ESX Entertainment.  Shaun and I locked the color grade last week and I am incredibly happy with the result.  There’s a terrific variety of lighting styles in the movie, which appeals to my vanity. Ha ha.  The feedback from audience previews has been overwhelmingly positive and I am super excited for it to be set loose soon. 
 

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

I wish I could share a “fun scare.”  The last thing to scare the hell out of me was the death of my father in November 2018.   My mother had died prior in October 2011, and as sad as that made me it’s not the same kind of completely ALONE as losing them both and being an orphan.
From the time I was a young child losing my parents has been a great fear of mine.  As recently as a few years ago I would have nightmares that one of them had died and then wake up to the unsettled relief that it was only a dream.
I was always close with my parents and they were my first and best supporters and cheerleaders.  It’s a profound paradigm shift to live in a world without them.  I am still disoriented at not being able to call them, which I frequently have an impulse to do, and heartbroken at the times something happens I’d like to share, or questions and advice I’d like to ask them.  It always made me feel better to talk with them, no matter whether we actually discussed what was going on or just chatted about their day.
It’s the most permanent scary thing that has ever happened to me and I get by so far by putting it out of my mind in a kind of denial.  
 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

 
All the compliments I got from people for my work on A California Christmas.  It wasn’t even color graded yet and in it’s raw form I felt it looked kind of crappy.  Wait til they see the magic colorist Keith Roush, Shaun and I did to it in the color grade.  They may have liked it before, but now it goes to 11.

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.