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.

Brandon Boyce [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 an absolute legendary figure in the world of horror and suspense. It’s Brandon Boyce, Everyone! He is an amazing writer and actor, whos work include terrific films like Venom and Wicker Park. Another amazing project, quite possibly my favorite of his, is the brilliant adaptation of a Stephen King short story, Apt Pupil. I have always been of the opinion that this film is one of the few instances where the movie was actually better than the book. Coincidently, the same could be said for another short story entitled Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, another work from Stephen King. And clearly this is not a stab at the legendary author, because how the hell could I do that? What it really means is that a short piece of great art was lengthened and treated very, very well by brilliant screenwriters like Frank Darabont and our new friend, Brandon Boyce.

Not only is Brandon Boyce a wonderful edition to this year’s Month of Horror, we are simply extremely honored to have him join the TWS family as a whole. He is a brilliant artist, and has some amazing words to share. So Folks, let me shut myself up and share some amazing words from the great Brandon Boyce.

 

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

It was that combination of being the only thing I was good enough at to do professionally, and I liked doing it. There are other things I liked doing, but the writing was on the wall that it was going to be a long slog to try to make a go of them. Entertainment is slog enough.

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

I played Tiny Tim in a union production of A Christmas Carol at the Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk Virginia. I was 11, I think. We had eight shows a week and  I got to leave school on Wednesdays to do the matinee. I remember about halfway through the run, the stage manager said, “We’ve got some money for you” and he put a check for about $300 in my hand. Up until that point I didn’t know we were getting paid for it. So I learned there are things are that fun you can make living doing. But I also remember some of the lessons to this day: show up on time. Hit your marks. Know your lines. Nobody wants to hear about your bullshit.

You are one of the folks behind the writing of one of my favorite horror films of the last 20 years, the brilliant Venom. I really dig it. I am curious to know what it is that you enjoy about working in the world of horror? What sets it apart from the other projects you have worked on?

The joke with me is that horror films scare the crap out of me. But I can tap into that place that scares me. I try not to unpack it too much. I’m grateful that that film has found such a loving audience over the years. The script I wrote was my take on the great ’70s horror films. What came out in the theaters was a departure from that. It wasn’t until years later that I learned that a few weeks before production, the film’s budget got slashed considerably. That killed most of the set pieces I’d come up with. In that respect, I think what the producer, who’s a very good writer, managed to do with it was admirable.

Another wonderful project you worked on was the film adaptation of Apt Pupil based on the novella by Stephen King. And you did it brilliantly I believe. I am always curious about what it is like for folks to work on adaptations of one of the most popular and brilliant writers of all time? Is there a bit of pressure in working on a project like this?

It was the first script I’d ever written. I had just graduated from college and had nothing to lose. I wasn’t getting paid and was writing something I didn’t have the rights to—so in that respect I felt no pressure. But of course, as it came together, there was immense pressure, mainly to make something good. We had to go in a different direction than the book in some places. I remember hearing that Stephen didn’t like the film at first and of course that was disappointing. But years later I saw that he listed it among his favorite adaptations of his work. That was validating.

 

 

What is your favorite scary movie?

When I was in college, the film school did a whole class on horror. I wasn’t a film student then, but anyone could show up for the lecture and watch the movie, so I got a whole film education that way. I remember one night I walked in and the professor, a brilliant guy, was showing Ken Russell’s The Devils. As a horror film. I can tell you that to this day, that film stays with me and I always consider it to be a film that pushed the boundaries of what horror really means. My favorite film of all time is still Jaws, though, after all these years. Is it a horror film? It is in the scary parts. For pure terror, it’s tough to beat The Exorcist.

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?

LA is a good halloween town. The parade in West Hollywood is always a showpiece of creative irreverence. Sometime, usually in June, I’ll start thinking about what tasteless costume am I going to see twenty of in October. Of course this year is a bust. But I’m a dad now, so it’ll be a few years of pumpkins and princesses before she’s ready for the naked Trumps and bloody Britneys of the Boulevard.

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

I’m writing on a series for FX, based on the book Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer. Dustin Lance Black, whom I worked with on Milk, is the showrunner and executive producer, along with Ron Howard.  I was honored to write a couple of episodes. I’ve also just finished a new script for a film. It’s a thriller. That one I want to direct.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My eight-month-old daughter. She makes me smile everyday.

Adam Horner [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 the CEO of the wonderful Australian production company Ignite Pictures, which has been consistently putting out some of the best to be watched in the world of horror. He is also the co-star of the amazing new thriller The Last Exorcist, starring alongside the likes of Danny Trejo and our dear friend and past guest Rachel Brooke Smith. Horner has also been featured in and produced two other of my favorite horror films of 2020, Escape: Puzzle of Fear and Coven. All three of these incredible films are available now from Uncork’d Entertainment. Other works from Adam include the documentary Leftovers, which we have showcased in the past right here at Trainwreck’d Society.

We are very excited to share some words from this mastermind from the world of horror and beyond. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Adam Horner!

 

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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?

When I was younger my parents used to take us to the Pantomines every Christmas. I used to remember as a young kid always watching and wanting to be on the stage. Then when my younger sisters started dance lessons, every year we went to see their annual show at a theatre and asked my parents to sign me up too! The rest is history!

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 would say my first “Paid” gig in entertainment was when I decided to start busking, in the town of Windsor in Western Sydney! I remember going out with my two band mates at the time, and singing old Rock classics! I think we made just under $100 in our first day, which we though was pretty good going at the time! I remember someone handing me a $20 note that day and offering to be my manager on the street.

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?

Horror is special because of the fans. Horror fans are special. They’re often the most dedicated fans. They’re the reason why Horror performs so well at the Independent level. Horror fans are generally, from my experience, true movie buffs!

 

 

What is your favorite scary movie?

I would say my favorite is still It Follows. A simple concept, executed amazingly well. I could watch that movie back to back! Get Out is another one that is just a fantastic piece of cinema. They’re pretty close.

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?

Not really to be honest!! Halloween in Australia and England isn’t really like America. It is more of a kids holiday for Trick or Treating. So I tend to decide what I’m doing on the day, and it just tends to be what ever my friends are doing!

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

I’ve had a movie recently released which you can check out on all DVD and all major digital Platforms called Coven, which I star along side Emmy Nominated actress Teri Ivens [as well as] The Last Exorcist, in which I star opposite Machete himself, Danny Trejo! Very excited about the release of that title.

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

The 2016 US election results…

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Some news that I recently got about a new Television show that I produced alongside the Thriller Films and Masterkey Studios team CYPHER. More about that soon….

 

 

Barry Jay [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 we have some wonderful words from the brilliant writer & filmmaker Barry Jay. One of his most recent films, Killer Therapy, is an absolute must see for any die hard horror fans out there. It’s highly original, and just a god damned delight! Other works include his debut film The Chosen, as well as work on other projects like Patient Zero & Ashes. He’s a delightful person, and we are so excited to have him as a part of our Month of Horror.

So Folks, as we keep trucking along and nearing the end, I hope you are enjoying what we have brought to you this year, and please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Barry Jay!

 

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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 have been a voracious horror fan since I was kid living in NY. I was however always parking in community theatre and managed to teach myself piano and to write songs. I tried the acting thing in NY for a while but ultimately it wasn’t for me. Once I was 20 years old, I decided it was time to move to Los Angeles and pursue songwriting. I’ve had very minor success in that field, nothing to live on really and stumbled into a job at a PR company. That job lasted about 6 years before I was let go.  Being a fitness enthusiast at that point, I took at job at a local fitness studio. There I met friends who would become my biz partners and we opened Barry’s (aka Barry’s Bootcamp).  I went back to songwriting for a bit on the side, but my love for horror was haunting me — no pun intended. I started writing scripts.  Many many scripts.  And I met some friends at Barry’s that were in the movie biz and one of them asked to see my scripts.  He suggested we write something together and that script became The Chosen.

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?

Well I made little bits from here and there from songwriting along the way. Got a song on Ugly Betty that paid well.  But The Chosen was my first script I sold and it was an incredible experience! I loved being on set, it was a very upbeat environment and I got a rush from rewriting on the fly to improve scenes as we shot them.  That was produced by Terror Films and they hired me to write the wrap around for Patient Seven after that.  I learned a lot about what worked well, how a happy set is a productive set (and just more fun!) It was in a way film school for me and gave me the confidence to know I could write/direct Ashes, my first film I produced.  I would say creating a positive environment and surrounding myself with extremely talented people is something I learned and keep with me as I grow as a person and director.

 

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 feel something when I watch horror — my blood flows, my heart races, its the only genre where screaming at the character on screen is acceptable and appreciated! To experience fear, like a roller coaster ride is something unique to horror movies. Also that old adage what you don’t see is scarier doesn’t always apply with other genres — you need to see the light saber battle in Star Wars. But not knowing where the killer is in the house… terrifying.

What is your favorite scary movie?

Okay — so I go back and forth between Halloween (1978) which is a master class in horror filmmaking IMHO.  And Night of the Living Dead, a movie that has inspired me in so many ways since the first time I saw it. George Romero putting everything he had into that movie reminded him many days that its worth betting on yourself.

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?

For a while I was known for my way-over-the-top Halloween parties — think big then multiply that by 10.  However, they were a LOT of work (we’d start planning in July) and costly and messy… so we stopped.  Other than that I watch the iconic horror every night of October, and I can be found at UNIVERSAL HORROR NIGHTS about 3 or 4 times a year. Also on Halloween night and the night before I write, love to work on script on those days. (The night before Halloween was called GATE NIGHT where I grew up and I wrote a script with same title)….

 

 

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

Killer Therapy was released on September 15 for North America and Canada, And other territories will be released on December 4th.

My latest script Aroused, a psycho-thriller is in pre-production.  And I am really excited about this one!

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

It’s 2020 — take your pick.  BUT in terms of horror…. sadly nothing yet this year in films. But the trailer for Unhinged did get my blood pumping. Can’t wait to see it.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My pups — I can always count on them for that.

 

 

 

Anna Shields [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 we have some wonderful words from the brilliant actress, writer, and producer Anna Shields! Anna is the star and writer of not only one of my favorite horror films of 2020, but one of my favorite films overall. It’s entitled Monstrous, and it is extremely intriguing. On its surface, it’s a “Bigfoot movie”. But, as Shields will mention below, it’s so much more. To me, and I’m sure many others, it’s about the human condition and how me manage trauma. In this case the monster is physical, but sometimes it can be metaphorical. And I believe this film covers it all. She also is the executive producer of another film that looks promising and extremely intriguing entitled The Retreat that will be out soon.

Anna is a phenomenal human being, and we are so happy to have her be a part of this year’s Month of Horror. So, please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Anna Shields!

 

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? 

Acting has always been my passion as far back as I can remember. I come from a family that loves movies so I was always watching something new. I found myself memorizing lines and practicing them alone in my room. Growing up in the Berkshires, I was surrounded by regional theater. Luckily, I was able to explore acting from an early age because of that. It was during college that I gained some confidence in the screenwriting world. I was 21 when I wrote, co-directed, and starred in my first feature film called Little Bi Peep. I had the experience helping with pre and post production and I learned so much from it. 

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? 

My first paid gig was back in elementary school for a theatrical production of The Miracle Worker at Berkshire Theater Festival. I played Blind Child #3 and I had such a blast wandering around stage pretending to be blind. I took it so seriously and even practiced with a blindfold at home. I’ve seen some actors kind of blow off “small” parts but I’ll always remember that feeling of absolute joy to say three lines. I keep that thought with me for every project no matter how “small” the part may seem. 

I really loved one of your most recent projects entitled Monstrous. I am curious as to how you came up with this very surreal story, which is a whole new look at the world of Bigfoot? 

It’s funny, the script was actually based on a short story I wrote which was a psychological thriller and had nothing to do with monsters of any kind. I wrote the original screenplay off of that. I’m close friends with the director, Bruce Wemple, so we worked together during the development stage. When we pitched it around, we got some feedback to turn it into a horror as opposed to a thriller. We decided it would be a fun twist to add a monster. Bruce was actually the one to suggest Bigfoot. I was hesitant at first because a lot of times Sasquatch can have a sort of silly connotation and that wasn’t the tone I was going for. It dawned on me that this could actually be a good thing. I had an opportunity to take what an audience expects and completely twist that into something fresh and original.

 

 

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? 

When I watch movies, I’m doing it to feel something- whatever emotion the filmmaker was trying to communicate. Fear is such a universal feeling. No matter who we are or where we come from, at some point we’ve all felt fear. So, we start out knowing we’re going to have that basic primal feeling we all recognize. That way, when we follow the character’s journey, the stakes are upped so much more. It’s all about having strong characters that we as an audience can truly care about. That way, when they’re put in such an extreme situation, we’re invested in their survival. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate movies of all genres, but horror definitely stands out to me because it makes us question ourselves and people in general. How would we react in that kind of insane situation? It can help us learn about what makes us human and in that way, we can become more empathic to others. 

What is your favorite scary movie? Why? 

I’d have to say The Hitcher, (the original from 1986). I find that one so intriguing because of the complicated relationship between the protagonist and antagonist. You have this typical guy being hounded by a psychopathic murderer, yet there are so many moments that seem like they’re just trying to understand each other. It goes back to what I was saying about questioning who we are as people. We’re all so quick to judge each other, particularly now with social media. But, when we see these two wildly different people desperately trying to understand each other, that’s something we can take with us and try to use in our own lives, whether or not we agree with someone else’s opinion. 

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? 

Before COVID-19, I really loved going back to my mom’s house on the east coast and handing out candy with her. We’d blast scary music and every year she’d wear this hideous reptilian mask. We also had a dog who was super territorial so he’d howl like a 

banshee inside the house. It was hilarious watching kids debate whether or not candy was worth coming up the porch. 

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

I have a lot of projects in the works but the newest to come out is a feature I helped produce called The Retreat. It’s written and directed by Bruce Wemple. The story centers around a close friendship between two guys that’s become strained since one is getting married and moving away. They decide to spend his bachelor party hiking a mountain peak but encounter the Wendigo spirit there. The Wendigo was such an interesting monster to play with because you’re able to get a physical creature while also incorporating a supernatural element that torments the characters on a psychological basis. In short, there’s something scary there for everyone. 

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

This one’s hard because honestly, I scare pretty easy! An obvious answer would be COVID-19. Everyone was suddenly thrust into this terrifying new life with an illness we still don’t fully understand. Our lives were completely flipped upside-down. I’ve heard a lot of comparisons to it being like a zombie apocalypse, since it’s this infection that makes you have to isolate from everyone and plays on your paranoia. It’s easy to relate the whole situation to a horror film in that sense and yet, we’re all trying to learn the best way to handle it together. 

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

Last night, another person told me how much they enjoyed Monstrous. I always stay far away from reviews, but I get so happy knowing it resonated with someone. That’s the whole point in making films! It’s really satisfying.