Ian Sobel [Interview]

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? Why?

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? (THIS GOES LIVE IN OCTOBER)

The last show I wrote on was HELSTROM, which premieres 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.

Brandon Boyce [Interview]

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.

Brad Rushing [Interview]

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 learned 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 spring 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 complete 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.

Adam Horner [Interview]

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? (THIS GOES LIVE IN OCTOBER)

 

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 and on October 13, 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….

Tim Tanner [Interview]

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 units 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 psyc 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? Why?

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? (THIS GOES LIVE IN OCTOBER)

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.

 

 

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.

Thank you for letting me answer these questions for you. They have sort of opened my mind and heart up to get to the real meat of my passion for making movies!

 

GO FUND ME STUFF:

 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-short-film-quotkinquot-in-natchez-ms?utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_more

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. 

 

 

Josh Hasty [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 words from the great new filmmaker Josh Hasty. He is the man behind a brilliant film entitled Candy Corn that came out last year, and is absolutely fantastic. It is a very well made, and brilliant homage to all the things that we love about horror. Josh made his big break in creating the documentary about the making of Rob Zombie’s beloved 2016 film, 31, and has been on the move ever since, poised to be a legend in the world of horror. In my personal opinion, Candy Corn already lands the guy in the these reigns, as I truly enjoyed this film so much.

We were so excited to have Josh on the site today, so Folks, please enjoy some words from the brilliant Josh Hasty!

 

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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?

It’s definitely been an aspiration for as long as I can remember. As a kid I always enjoyed creating things for fun. I would watch movies and wonder “how did they do that?”. So to a certain degree the interest was inherent, but the process of eventually turning those interests into a career has been many years of calculated decisions and hard work.

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 in entertainment was a haunted house park that I designed and ran from 2012 – 2014. That was a life-long dream come true for me. Unless you’re in the industry you don’t realize running a professional haunted house is a full time job, all year long. Especially when you have three main attractions like we did. We bought a six acre farm with an actual haunted farm house and old barn on it. I lived there for two years while I worked with my family and friends on turning it into the award winning destination it became. I ended up leaving that world to focus on filmmaking full time. That led to my first big paid filmmaking gig – the documentary I did on Rob Zombie’s 31. I’ve learned a lot from everything I’ve done. I think that’s one huge reason I’m still so excited about what I do. Each thing pushes the needle forward a little more. There’s always something new to learn, and it becomes a personal goal to try and use those lessons on the next thing I do. Everything you see in my most recent work is always going to be a reflection of the lessons I learned on the projects that came before it.

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 horror genre is special because of the people that love it. It’s as simple as that. I can get into the psychology of WHY horror fans love horror so much, but I don’t really think that’s what makes the genre special. What makes it special is the love the fans, myself included, have for the work that’s produced from it. Everything in horror is so much deeper and stickier than it is with other genres. When you hate something, you REALLY hate it. And when you see something you love, you get it tattooed on you for life. There’s no other genre that can say that. There will never be conventions all year long for romantic comedies. For instance, look at the actors that work in every genre across the board, but spend their downtime at horror conventions meeting fans and charging money for their autographs. You can’t get that anywhere else. Horror isn’t just a genre, it’s a lifestyle.

Can you tell us a bit about one of your most recent releases, the frightening film Candy Corn? What made you want to bring this tale to the screen?

Candy Corn was a passion project for me. After I did the Rob Zombie documentary, I was in a position to direct a film of my own with some of the people I had met on set of 31. We didn’t really have any money at all, but we wanted to make a movie together, simply for the love of making a movie. So I wrote the script around locations I knew I had access to, and with the help of some dedicated friends and family we spent about two and a half years making the film. It’s an homage to some of the slashers I grew up loving. It’s a simple love letter to those films, and to the season of Halloween.

We planned on just making this little project and hoping someone watches it, but it really took on a life of its own pretty quickly. After a couple weeks of shooting, I edited the footage together and started getting it out to some people I know. This ultimately led to us casting some big names in the genre, including Courtney Gains (Children of the Corn), P.J. Soles (Halloween, Carrie), and Tony Todd (Candyman). That took everything to a whole new level and Epic Pictures ended up buying the movie and releasing it world-wide last fall.

It’s been interesting because people see the poster everywhere, they see these big names attached, and they think it’s going to be a big Hollywood movie, but it’s not. In that way the film arguably got too big for its britches. But I’ll never complain or view that as a bad thing. Candy Corn has found its audience and it continues to gain traction and fans from around the world. It’s truly an amazing thing.

 

 

What is your favorite scary movie?

Rosemary’s Baby. I know that’s controversial because Polanski is a verified pervert, but I have strong feelings on separating the art from the artist, especially in film. Over a hundred good people worked on that film, and it shows in every corner of the finished project. Rosemary’s Baby is perfect in my opinion. I can, and do, watch it regularly and always find something new to love about it. But I love a lot of horror films. It would be easier to give you my top twenty and explain why each are my favorite in their own way.

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 really don’t. Of course as a kid growing up in Ohio, trick or treating was all I looked forward to. Then as I got a little older my brother and a few friends would set up a little haunted house in my dad’s garage for trick or treaters. Then in my early twenties I opened my haunted house, so for three years that was what I looked forward to. But in the last few years, Halloween has turned into something different for me. I’m usually working. Last year I got to spend the whole season on the road promoting Candy Corn in theaters. That was a dream I didn’t even know I had. This year I’ll be in development on my next feature film. And hopefully next Halloween I’ll be editing that film. As long as I can be dressed in layers and smell a bonfire, I’m happy.

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

I’m currently in development on my next feature film. You can find out more about that by following me on Instagram at josh_hasty. This new film is the thing I’m most excited about. I’ve been wanting to make this movie since we started Candy Corn over four years ago, but the stars haven’t aligned until now. It’ll be the first project I do with a real budget, so I’m excited to be able to work with less restrictions than ever before. On top of that we’ve got some exciting stuff happening with Candy Corn right now. Trick or Treat Studios released the official merchandise and costume line, which you can find at Spirit Halloween, Party City and Hot Topic, to name a few. And Dread Presents put out a new collector’s edition Blu-ray with a beautiful slip case, designed by my friends at Fright Rags. I’m really excited to see the fans enjoying all of that.

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

I was recently in the hospital, and they thought I had lymphoma. Fortunately it turned out to just be a very serious lung infection, which has been treated. But being hooked up to IV’s in a hospital for days and then being told you need to see a specialist for what might be cancer, was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. Nothing else compares.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Being told I don’t have cancer! Coming home from the hospital to my fiance and dogs, ready to move forward is the most I’ve smiled in a long time.

 

John Patrick Brennan [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 amazing filmmaker & musician, John Patrick Brennan. John has done some wonderful work in the world of horror, specifically for one studio that we have talked about and featured guests who work in it literally dozens of times now, the great Troma Studios. Think of a project you love from the Troma world from recent years, John has probably worked on it in some capacity. He is also the man behind the theme song, and other works, of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs which airs on Shudder that you should all be watching.

So Folks, please enjoy some kind and interesting words from the great John Patrick Brennan!

 

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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?

On Movies: When I was very young, 5 or 6 years old, in the 80s, my parents rented a video camera to capture our family’s New Years Eve festivities. It was brand new technology at the time; a heavy, clunky camera that recorded directly onto VHS tapes. The first thing I asked was, “Can we make a movie!?” I wanted to film something with karate fights in it. I tied toilet paper around my head, wrists & ankles (because I must have seen something similar on TV at some point) and tried to direct. Unfortunately, I have a very large family – nine aunts and uncles on my mother’s side, with countless cousins – so my karate movie didn’t come to fruition that day. The rest of the family ended up hogging the camera. But, this, along with my love of Star Wars and Indiana Jones, was the spark.

Then, when I was in high school, my parents bought a Hi-8 camera and I basically confiscated it on day one. My friends and I taped hundreds of hours of skits, parodies, and performance art over the next four years. I still have a lot of that material safe and secure in my personal archives. We had so much fun. It’s why I decided to pursue the arts for a living. After that I went to film school. From there, post graduation, I moved to LA to become a screenwriter. I failed miserably in that endevor and returned to NY eight years later. That’s when I got involved with Lloyd Kaufman and Troma Entertainment, and the real “shitstorm” soon began!

On Music:  My parents had excellent taste and started me out young on the good stuff. I had a 45 of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” and played it on repeat for hours on end using my Fisher Price vinyl record player. Still my favorite song. When I grew up a little, getting to grammar school, I became obsessed with Heavy Metal. It was the heyday of MTV and my favorite show was “Headbangers Ball.” Then in middle school I got really into rap. Cypress Hills, Black Sheep, A Tribe Called Quest. Music is the best! My top six favorite musical acts are: Ween, Frank Zappa, The Beatles, Wu-Tang Clan, Stevie Wonder & Madonna. As far as learning to play music, I had three guitar lessons in the 6th grade. The teacher taught me bar chords, first thing. Later, in high school, I taught myself open chords from a book of Beatles tunes. With that foundation of bar chords and open chords I started writing my own songs. I’ve written around 700 to date, 42% of them might be enjoyable. I home recorded music as a hobby for about two decades, until finally getting the chance to write and record the theme song for “The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs.” It’s been a blessing working on the show!

 

 

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 came about during my senior year of film school. I was hired to produce a documentary for an insanely rich man, who had made his fortune in software. He wanted to make a documentary about heroin addicts switching over to methadone in order to get themselves clean. It was kind of the dawn of digital video back then, so affordable editing software was able to run on home computers for the first time ever. I got to learn as I worked. The subject was very interesting to me. New York City’s mayor at the time, Rudolph Giuliani, had come out and said he wanted to abolish methadone clinics, which caused a huge uproar for an entire community of people in recovery. I put a small crew together and we interviewed local politicians, clinic workers, recovering addicts, and addicts that had sadly relapsed.

The shoots went smoothly and we purchased a bunch of stock footage from local news sources to fill in the information blanks. Unfortunately, about two weeks into editing many months worth of material, the rich man showed our Final Cut Pro timeline to his friend who was visiting from Texas. Unfortunately, my co-editor and I weren’t present. The two of them couldn’t make heads or tails of it, mainly because we were at the dawn of the edit. We needed at least a month to get a watchable rough cut together. Instead, I received a phone call from him saying he wanted to try and edit it himself. That was that.

About a year later I received a VHS tape of the finished product. There was literally no editing on the final product at all. The entire piece was just raw interviews with no discernable theme, context, or cohesion. He sold maybe a dozen copies. I guess the lesson here is that people with money can do whatever the hell they want, right or wrong! I was simply too young and inexperienced to argue with the guy. I do sometimes wish we’d been given the time to properly put that project together. It was a juicy and compelling subject. Could have been an interesting documentary.

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?

What makes the horror genre special is that it takes a shit load of imagination & skill to create, produce, and execute the best ones, but even the worst ones usually have some redeeming qualities (great special FX work, schlock, etc.). This isn’t true for all genres. A bad romantic comedy is just BAD. A bad horror movie is most likely watchable.

Horror is easily the biggest escape from reality in cinema for me, even films that deal with real life events or socio political commentary. There’s usually enough fantastical elements contained within to help me forget about life for a while and just enjoy the ride.

And, what sets horror apart from other genres I’ve worked in? Honestly, the craftsman that goes into creating practical FX and CGI FX. Watching those elements come to life over the course of different projects has been truly special to behold. There are so many incredible creative people in this industry. I can’t wait to continue working with the artists I know, and meet new artists to collaborate with.

You have done some amazing work with one of our favorite studios in the world of horror, the great world of Troma. I am curious to know how you found yourself in this world? And what sets it apart from other studios you have worked with?

Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz have been my greatest mentors in the entertainment industry. Some people talk trash about Troma – low pay, etc. – but I had extraordinarily valuable experiences there. I started with the company as an editing volunteer in 2013, working on Lloyd’s “Make Your Own Damn Movie” lessons for YouTube. My mindset was to treat Troma HQ like a second film school. I worked hard, gained credits, and networked. Troma is perfect for that. If you go in thinking you’ll co-write and co-direct The Toxic Avenger Part 5 after three days volunteering, you’re mistaken. I encountered some impatient people there who thought that way. Troma wasn’t for them. For any aspiring filmmakers who have extra time in their week, within commuting distance, volunteering at Troma is an awesome opportunity. You’ll get to know like-minded artists, and you’ll work closely with Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma Entertainment and Creator of The Toxic Avenger. He’s very accessible and takes time to collaborate with anyone who helps in the office.

After about a year and a half volunteering at Troma, Lloyd asked me to be his personal assistant. This meant I’d get paid to do every job from scrubbing the toilets to producing the movies. During my time as his assistant, Lloyd taught me the entire process of making a film, from the dawn of an idea all the way through post-production. Invaluable. Besides this, Lloyd is a skillful improviser, a fantastic on-the-fly joke writer, and a master punster. Gleaning bits of his Uncle Lloydie persona – observing the way he handles situations from crafting a promo to interacting with fans – without a doubt, helped sharpen my skills as a performer and a writer. Lloyd is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. I laughed every day I worked at Troma. I cried, too, but the tears were worth it!

Michael Herz, Co-Founder and Vice President of Troma Entertainment, is an expert lawyer and an experienced businessman. He taught me how to read and understand contracts. He showed me how to catch complicated wording that isn’t in your favor, and how to negotiate licensing deals. Before working with Michael, my eyes would have crossed three lines into reading a contract. Now, I have a basic understanding of flowery legalese. Thanks MH!

On top of all this, if it wasn’t for my time working at Troma, I would have never gotten involved with The Last Drive-In. I met the show’s producers, Matt Manjourides and Justin Martell, back when they were Troma employees. Not only did we become good friends pretty soon after meeting, but many years later, knowing I’d written and home recorded hundreds of hours of music, they asked if I wanted to submit a demo for consideration as the new Joe Bob Briggs theme song. I did! It was approved in less than 48 hours. This proves the power of networking!

 

 

What is your favorite scary movie?

It’s hard to pick just one favorite, so here are ten in no particular order (and the originals where apporpriate, not the remakes): The Exorcist, The Thing, Cannibal Holocaust, The Lost Boys, Frankenstein, The Haunting, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Alien, Evil Dead 2.

The Exorcist, when I was a child, and Cannibal Holocaust, when I was in my twenties, were the two that hit me hardest and changed my life forever.

I’ve also been really into The Conjuring universe lately. Absolutely loved The Nun.

I can easily list a hundred more favorites! (for adventurous types, definitely seek out the shot on video classic Splatter Farm).

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?

 

Like a lot of horror fans, I do a month long October marathon of genre films, seeking out a bunch I’ve never seen before. I still receive Netflix DVDs in the mail, so some of the ones I have lined up in the queue are: Onibaba, The Sinful Dwarf, Wishmaster 1 & 2, The Toolbox Murders, Woodchipper Massacre, Gutterballs, The Man Who Laughs, The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again.

I’ve also discovered a perfect Halloween double feature that’s fun for the whole family: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken & Ernest Scared Stupid.

Halloween season is my favorite time of year! Cannot be beat!

 

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

 

Lloyd Kaufman’s #ShakespearesShitstorm, a movie I produced in 2018, had its virtual world premiere as part of the Fantasia Film Festival Aug. 29th, 2020. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from both fans and critics alike! We have a lot more festivals lined up and we will definitely do a proper theatrical release once the world returns to normal. This is for sure one of Lloyd’s best films! Stay tuned to http://shakespearesshitstorm.com/ for updates and screening dates.

Besides that, The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs continues to air on Shudder. We have a Halloween special scheduled for October 23rd, a Christmas special in December (date TBA), and Season 3 in 2021. Keep an eye on my social media – @badtechno on Twitter & Instagram – for updates. Also, subscribe to https://www.shudder.com/

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

A tropical storm ripped through my area at the end of the summer and dropped a humongous tree onto my neighbors house, and half onto mine. My girlfriend and I were in the room at the time, right next to where it hit. Felt like the scene in Poltergeist where the tree comes alive. I almost shit my pants. We had no power for three full days. Totally sucked. Thankfully no one was hurt!


What was the last thing that made you smile?
This scene from “Serial Mom” directed by John Waters:https://youtu.be/HvUZvcppVXo

“Fuckin’ Don Knotts”

“He’s the coolest”

Hannah Douglas [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 wonderful actress Hannah Douglas, who can be seen in the wonderful indie horror film Clownface, that is available now on DVD and VOD. Hannah’s other work include a role in Andrew Douglas’s 2013 thriller, U Want Me 2 Kill Him?, as well as a lead role in the upcoming film Lapwing, which sounds absolutely captivating. Douglas is also an acclaimed stage actress who is currently on tour with a production of Othello. 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?

I actually don’t remember making the decision to become an actor, I’ve been doing it since I was a kid! Apparently I went along to my big sisters ballet class when I was 2 years old and started joining in. That was the moment my mum gave up all hope of me getting a “real job”! 

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 couple of jobs as a child… but my first paid gig as an adult was a very small part in the BBC version of Little Dorrit, as a Music Hall dancer. I was still in my second year at drama school and it was an amazing experience. It definitely prepared me for life on set!

I really loved one of your most recent projects entitled Clownface. I am curious to know what drew you to this very insane story?

I liked the fact that it was a very female led story. It’s still quite rare, especially in horror, to have more than one strong female character. I am also a big horror/thriller fan!

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?

Oh that’s hard! I think horror is really addictive… I feel like it’s a bit like eating spicy food – you build up your tolerance and you crave more and more. You need the next one to be scarier (hotter) than the last! I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone else except me, but there you go!  

What is your favorite scary movie?

Also a tough question… I’ll name a few! Midsommar was amazing. The Babadook really got me as it was about grief. I really like Insidious. In fact, I like that whole world of films. The Haunting of Hill House (I know it’s not a movie!) on Netflix was brilliant. Pans Labrynth (is that classed as a horror?) is one of my favourite films ever, its so dark and beautiful… oh and I feel I would be a bad sister if I didn’t mention The Amityville Horror, which my big brother Andrew directed!

 

 

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 specifically. I do like dressing up and carving pumpkins though… Oh and watching Hocus Pocus, cause it’s the best!

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

I am currently playing Desdemona in an international theatre production of Othello (I’m so grateful to be part of theatre making a come back during this time!) and I’d also like to tell everyone to watch out for feature film Lapwing, which has just been finished and will be released next year. It is a beautiful yet brutal thriller set in Tudor England. I play the lead role of Patience and it also stars Emmett J Scanlan and Sebastian De Souza.

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

I woke myself up by shouting out in my sleep the other night. That was both terrifying and embarrassing…!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My fellow Othello cast mates make me smile every single day on this tour… but if I am being really honest, it was probably the really cute dog I saw about 10 minutes ago!