Your new movie Creeper
- in a few words, what is it about? And what can you tell us about your
character in it?
a look into the disturbed psyche of a sexual predator (or 2 or 3
actually), my character, Oliver, being the lead pervert. He suffers from a
sexual disfunction that turns him homicidal, until a woman enters his life
that he feels like he can truly love and overcome his demons.
What did you draw upon to bring your
character to life, and how hard was it to identify with some of the darker
aspects of Oliver's nature? And without meaning to be mean, how much of
Levi Anderson can we find in Oliver, actually?
are two parts to Oliver, the quiet and forgettable version of Oliver that
goes to work everyday, and then there is the disturbed predator that comes
out at night. I think everyone has some disturbing thoughts, fantasies,
and curiosities. How do you
know what is proper or behavior if you canít identify what is immoral? A
lot of personal and social problems that people tend to deal with come
from blocking those things that may be offensive or disturbing to them,
rather than facing them and dealing with them head on. With the character
of Oliver, I had a chance to dig into some of the darker parts of myself
and explore what would make someone behave like this, and also ask
where/how do the rest of us honestly know where to draw those lines that
keep us on a moral track? It may be hard to believe, but I am quite an
introvert, especially when developing my creative material, and then I
switch on to become fully animated when I perform.
So that part of Oliver, the passive-aggressive man that he is, that
was something I could draw from easily.
As to the sexual perversionsÖ well, I was a ďlate bloomerĒ
myself so I dealt with quite a bit of sexual frustration as an adolescent.
I had a very depressed heart for a long time - not a broken heart, but
more of a suicidal one. If I
hadnít eventually gotten laid (with willing participants, mind you) in
college, who knows if I would have turned a darker corner, as Oliver does.
you get involved with the project in the first place?
have been active in our local film community in Southern Oregon for years
now, mostly behind the camera. Iíve been a cameraman and key grip on
most of the jobs where Iím not on-screen, and I crossed paths with Ron
Huffstutter interview - click here] while working on some short films in the area. I think he was
actually a production assistant on the short Self Inflicted that I
co-produced and starred in for a good friend director Ross Williams.
After that I shot a short film Prowler for Randy Granstrom of
Killer Valley Films, and in that short Ron was on-screen in the opening
scene and then helped out behind the scenes for our other shoot days. He
and I had a similar sense of humor and affection for film. Ron isnít
afraid to just say whatís on his mind and doesnít shy away from
controversial topics, which is something I could really appreciate.
I canít remember when he asked me to read for a part in his debut
film, but when I asked if I got to show my ass or masturbate at all, he
said ďOh hell yeahĒ and I was sold.
what extent could you identify with the film's horror theme, and is that a
genre at all dear to you?
up, I was in love with reading scary stories and watching horror films.
Probably at an unhealthy early age, as by the time I was reading Stephen
Kingís It at 10 years old, I was already obsessed with Freddy
Krueger, had a solid stack of EC Comics in my collection, and
From the Crypt the TV series had just started airing on HBO.
I think Scream was the last horror film that I thought was
any good for years, as the genre had seemed to just become crowded with
gore & torture, but no scares. The
Blair Witch Project was the first to
scare me like a kid again, I think cause so much of the monster is in your
head, and I tapped back into when I saw the first Nightmare on Elm
Street movie when I just couldnít fall asleep for days.
When I got into filmmaking around the year 2000, so many of the
projects I was involved in were horror themed. I think itís because we
all had no budgets, and you can have a lot of fun on the cheap with zombie
makeup and lots of fake blood & guts. I got drug back into the genre,
slowly. I still wasnít watching horror, but I was making a lot of it,
and I loved being able to just ignore the last decadeís films and think
ďWhat would Wes Craven do?Ē I think when Sam Raimi came out with Drag Me to Hell I fell in love with watching the genre again, and
have now been catching up with a lot of the underground and indie stuff I
missed while I was on my horror hiatus.
What can you tell us about
director Ron Huffstutter [Ron
Huffstutter interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like?
remember there was a lot of touching. Heís a real hands-on director. For
example, when rehearsing for the first masturbation scene, he gave me a
demonstration and we Dutch-Ruddered for a good hour or so to find the
right grip and pacing for Oliver in that moment of his story.
Just kidding, but honestly, even though we were dealing with dark
subject matter, behind the scenes we were having plenty of fun. Going back
to that first masturbation scene, we were shooting in the garage of our
Gafferís parents, and just before the camera started rolling, his dad
came out and asked if he could watch a little behind the scenes.
Ron asked if I felt comfortable with that, and of course if
youíre going to pretend to masturbate in front of 6 people, why would a
7th make any difference? As soon as he saw me start tugging it out next to
his workbench, he said something like, ďHuh, no different than what I do
out here most daysĒ and we all just cracked up.
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
production was a great time. We have a real tight community of indie
filmmakers here in Southern Oregon, and itís really like an extended
family. When youíre shooting
without a budget, everyone has to lend a hand wherever they can, and the
great thing is that with this cast & crew, everyone did just that.
There were times our director was holding the boom mic, and times when I
helped set the lighting - it was truly a team effort.
future projects you'd like to share?
got a number of things in the works, right now. I have been active in the
film industry for years, behind the camera, but I havenít directed
anything narrative since my early college films, so Iím really excited
to direct 2 ďmini-featuresĒ as I call them for Tunnel 13 Films this
spring and summer. I canít
really let the cats out of the bags yet, but I have a feeling these are
going to be a ton of fun, both for us to make and for our audience to
enjoy. The first will
definitely be on the campy side of the horror genre, but with some very
deep questions about the social responsibility we face with current
science & medical knowledge. The second will be more of an action
thriller with a touch of sci-fi/fantasy. Aside from those, I am anxious to
pursue more acting gigs.
What got you into
acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the
formal education, no. I was the Crooked Tree in an elementary Christmas
Play one year, no lines, just did a little dance. In middle school I never
was drawn to drama, and our high school was too small to even have a drama
department. I did run the
spotlight for a school play one year, but that was mainly because my buddy
and I could get out of study hall and got to sneak candy and girls up into
the spotlight booth during rehearsals. We were late on most of our cues,
haha. I was always the class clown, though, so I guess I was still looking
to be in that spotlight even without a venue. When I enrolled in college I
signed up to major in theatre on a complete whim (my cousin had just
graduated from a theatre program and thought that I had a knack for
performance). Once I was in the program, though the professors were real
downers. They browbeat the students, denied me acting classes until Iíd
done nearly two years worth of study and other theatre aesthetics classes.
I know their theory was to weed out the weak players, but I just thought
that the took all the fun out of it, and my drive to perform waned. I
dropped out of theatre altogether, but stumbled upon some video production
classes. The professors there were a complete turnaround from the theatre
department. They gave us a quick rundown on some camera gear and
3-point-lighting, and then just set us loose with full creative control.
It was completely eye-opening. From there I took every video production
course they offered, and used my student loans to buy a camera and
computer to shoot my own stuff. I forgot about being in front of the lens
for a few years, but was performing stand-up comedy once a month with my
buddies, so eventually we started filming short skits. I basically did
slapstick, funny faces, and pratfalls in every video until a dark comedy, Self Inflicted gave me the opportunity to explore a real character,
a sado-masochist at that. I
think that is the film that Ron saw which got him interested in casting me
as Oliver in Creeper. Iím glad he did, because itís awakened a
desire in me to really pursue bigger roles now, and I hope to get more
chances to expand my range.
Besides being an actor, you're also a
cinematographer, right? So what got you behind the camera, and what can
you tell us about your approach to cinematography as such?
I kind of covered the first part of this question in my last answer, but
Iíll take this chance to give thanks directly to Howard Schreiber and
Mark Chilcoat - the two professors in that video production department at
Southern Oregon University that really pushed us to take creative control
and become our own artists. I
nearly got them fired with one of my student films, when a boner scene
Iíd filmed offended a few classmates. They stood behind our right to
expression and defended us to the Dean, but I decided to pull the shot
anyways (well, I changed it out to a wide shot instead of a close-up), as
I didnít think it was worth them putting their jobs on the line just so
we could laugh at a boner scene in a student film. They were very
supportive of every student, and I think that teachers like those are real
far as my approach, I think of the cameraman as another actor in the piece
- the hidden character. He or she is the fly on the wall of the scene, and
you have to be intimate with the other performers without getting in their
way. I love to be moving as a cameraman, whether that means handheld,
steadicam, dolly moves, or whatever. In film noir particularly, the
cameraman is the storyteller - you only get as much information as they
are putting in the frame, and thatís how the story evolves.
You canít be afraid to get in the dirt, either.
Never compromise a shot because itís easier to shoot it another
way. My favorite trick -
Iíve been doing this since shooting The Partisan in college, is to
lay prone in the back of a car, shooting out the back and have your talent
chase you. Pickup trucks work,
but a small car with the seats down is better, because youíre at a lower
height. Itís such an easy
trick, and really effective.
read in your filmography that you worked on Bruce Campbell's My Name is
Bruce - so in the name of all fanboys (me included), I just have to
ask you, what was it like working with the man?
few years before My Name is Bruce, the Bruce Campbell came to our university
and gave a short lecture about indie filmmaking. His whole approach was
basically, donít accept any excuse not to do it, or else youíll never
make your movie. Just go for it. Get one friend with a great story, one
friend who can act fairly well, one friend with a camera, and then make
sure to find one friend who knows business.
Make your movie, just do it and get it done, one way or another.
Iíll just assume you know the history of the ďShempĒ in the Evil
Dead movies - when they ran out of money and their actresses bailed on
them, they stuck wigs on each other and kept shooting.
They got their movie done. But
now that theyíd made Evil Dead - how the hell were they going to
make their investorsí money back? Thatís
where your friend that knows business comes in.
Get someone on your team who can navigate the business world to
help sell your film, somehow, someway, any way, so that you can make
another one. You donít have to be in Hollywood if you are dedicated to
making your movie. Itís
great advice, and it really hits home in our Southern Oregon film
far as working with him on set, I canít say I interacted with him
directly much, as he was producing, directing, and acting in the thing,
and I was only there to rig lighting and run power cables.
But watching him direct, I was totally impressed. I know heís got
a good thing going for him as a performer, but I honestly think he would
do great work directing more, if he was so inclined .
He was focused, he didnít take shit from anyone, and he pushed
for what he knew he wanted out of the production. Another thing I
respected him for was that he made sure to bring in as many of his good
friends that heís worked with since the early days, when they were all
broke and doing it just cause they had to. That speaks a lot to the
family you develop in this industry, and being able to have a team you can
have fun with, but also trust to do good work.
fun anecdote from set for you: A few months after we wrapped, a small crew
of us came back to shoot 2 days of pick-up shots.
At that time the Bureau of Land Management was doing controlled
burns in the forests around us, and in addition we used a lot of smoke
machines for the scenes. Just
as we wrapped our last shot at the end of the last day, my nose had had
enough smoke and just started gushing blood. Our set was of course a fake
town, so I was searching for some running water and paper towels to stop
up the flood, and of course the person that I literally ran into was
Bruce. I just bled all over his shoes asking if he knew where the medic
was, and he did not hide his disgust.
I honestly doubt he remembers my name or my face, but if I run into
him again, Iím sure heíll remember that! Actually, when I saw the
nosebleed scene in Drag Me to Hell, I wondered if Sam Raimi got that
idea from Bruce telling him the story about some dipshit electrician
bleeding all over him on the set of My Name is Bruce. Iíll just
pretend I was the inspiration, even if I wasnít, lol.
you tell us about your other filmwork prior to Creeper
(in whichever position)?
wrote and directed my own stuff in college, but after graduating I had to
work my way up the ranks on other people's projects.
I started as a production assistant on commercials, got a gig as a
grip on the feature film Conversations With God in 2005 or 2006, and
then worked as a grip and/or an electrician on Babysitter Wanted, Rogue River,
Heathens and Thieves, and some other bigger
independents. I really love
shooting, though, so did as much camera work as I could on short films
with my colleagues, and am proud to say that 2 films I shot, Vampire
Camp and Masked, each won Best Film awards at select film
festivals. I also really love
the role of assistant director, which is a crucial position that is often
taken for granted on small-budget indies, and likely the reason many of
them suffer. I recently just
A.D.íd a short film for director Eric England (Contracted, Madison County and
Roadside) and the horror/thriller feature Besetment for Barbed Wire
Films, which is in the final stages of
editing right now.
How would you describe yourself
as an actor and as a cinematographer - and how do these two jobs
complement one another?
mentioned earlier that as a cameraman, I feel like the hidden performer in
the scene. We bring the audience into the story through that lens.
As an actor, I initially was way too aware of the camera. Actors
really have to ignore that lens and let themselves go in the moment. Too
many times I caught myself worrying more about how much I could move while
staying in focus, when I should have just gone wherever the character
needed to go. Roger Deakins
said in an interview something along the lines of, ďyou can get a great
performance from the actors, but the lighting is off, or the cameraman
lost focus, and as a cameraman, itís hard to see your perfectly framed
and focused shot get scrapped because the actorís performance is better
in the shot that was out of focus - but that performance is what is better
for the film, overall.Ē Iím
paraphrasing here, but I agree with that. Now, as an actor I get a little
cocky and I challenge the cameraman to keep up. If he (or she) is as good
as me, theyíll get the shot, haha. And as a cameraman, I like to
challenge myself just the same - if a director asks whether I can get a
difficult shot or whether we should try different blocking, I generally
say ďLetís go for itĒ and try to get that shot. If I fail, then we
can look at different blocking, but if I succeed, then weíve got a
killer shot for the film that people are going to talk about.
You're also a standup comedian,
right? So what can you tell us about your brand of humour, your shows, and
how does this help you with your acting, and vice versa?
is a whole different beast. My persona on stage is still a character, but
itís mostly just an exaggerated version of myself. Iíve tried doing
other characters in my comedy, but it doesnít really work, I really just
have to be myself. It does
help with my acting in the sense that to step up on a stage, by yourself,
and make a roomful of people laugh is very intimidating. And I have not
always succeeded. But one
thing I learned during a particular set when I was just bombing, is that
if Iíve already lost the audience, Iíve got no one to entertain but
myself, so I might as well just get crazy with it and make myself laugh.
Iíve had the same joke kill one night, and only get crickets
another night - because every audience is different, and even the way I
deliver the same material can be different. The same thing applies to
auditions - every director is different and wants something that I may or
not have, but as long as Iím delivering a performance that I believe in,
then I can go home happy, and if it was the right performance, I may even
get a call-back. And if that
happens and I actually get a part, having the ability to ad-lib or improv
in a scene is another great skill developed from my stand-up that can
really take a performance up a notch. I try to do most of my ad-libs in
rehearsal, so the director can say yes or no then, rather than on set
where it could be more distracting.
actors, comedians, filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?
Brooks - one of the funniest writers and directors I can think of.
Robin Williams is true inspiration. There is an episode of Mork
and Mindy where, as an alien, he explores all the different emotions
that humans go through in one scene, from humor to rage to sadness to lust
to envy ó one after another, just like flipping a coin. The range that
that guy had, and how evocative he was with it, is just astounding. He
stands alone as a performer to me. I
also love the comedy work of Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, and old-schoolers
like Tim Conway, Dick Van Dyke, Leslie Nielsen.
Iím a big fan of Michael Keaton, also a kind-of hyperactive
actorÖ Iím starting to see a trend here.
Dante, Roger Corman [Roger Corman
bio - click here], Sam Raimi, George Miller, Wes Craven, John
CarpenterÖ those guys are some of my favorite directors.
King, as a storyteller in general, has always inspired me to create
(1989) defined my childhood, and Batman Returns is still better than
any of the reboots. The Mad Max films are awesome, and action-comedies
like Beverly Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon, and The Other
Guys are always fun.
a James Bond fanatic - I grew up with the Roger Moore films on
as a teenager the campiness was great, but as I got older I realized that
the darker films with Timothy Dalton never got their due, and are now
amongst my favorites. Goldeneye
was an awesome way to bring Bond
back, though the rest of the Pierce
Brosnan era kind of fell apart. Sean Connery is the essential Bond, but I
think Daniel Craig has done a great job as well, and the recent Bond
bring it closer to the realism of those Dalton days. My favorite Bond
movie of all, though, remains On Her Majestyís Secret Service with
the quickly forgotten George Lazenby playing Bond
for his one and only
was a big fan of the first Nightmare on Elm Street and the original
Poltergeist - those would have to be my favorites of the horror
genre. Those and the Tales From the Crypt and
Vault of Horror
movies from the 70s. Actually,
those two led me to a serious fondness for the anthology horror films,
like Catís Eye, Creepshow, Twilight Zone, V/H/S.
can watch comedies like MacGruber, Pooty Tang, Walk Hard:
The Dewey Cox Story, Airplane,
and Austin Powers a hundred times and still laugh.
... and of course, films you really
I found a copy of Return to Salemís Lot in a thrift shop one time.
Iím a huge Stephen King fan, and read everything he wrote up until
Dolores Claiborne, and watched every movie based of any of his works, for
better and for worse. Iíd never even heard of this sequel, and about 10
minutes in, I realized why. I tried to suffer through more, but just
couldnít stomach more that 15 minutes or so, it was just horrible.
Your website, Facebook, whatever else?
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I can usually talk about myself for days, but I think Iíve covered quite
a bit already. Thank you for
the interview, and thanks for supporting indie and underground cinema!
for the interview!