Your upcoming movie Paranormalice - in a few words, what is it
In a few words, it is an introduction to a small southern U.S. town filled
with dark secrets and its haunting past which creates the darkness within. The
film follows a Kentucky based writer who travels to a small Alabama town in
search of information about a local legend. He meets a gentleman at the local
roadside motel who tells him four stories about the town.
I've seen Paranormalice labeled "Southern
Gothic" - care to elaborate, and do you think the label's at all
There are plenty of self-appointed literary
experts and cinephiles who will likely argue that the film isn't Gothic,
because people create their own ideas about what things are or aren't. To
answer your question - by traditional literary standards, while the film
is mostly set in modern times, Paranormalice is in every way a southern
Gothic tale. Labeling Paranormalice just a horror film despite the fact
that there is plenty of horror elements within, is cheap packaging. This
is a film with things going on under the surface and there's a certain
haunting romanticism within. It hits a majority of the basic Gothic bullet
points, and that wasn't by design. When the screenplay was finished
however, upon review it was clearly a southern Gothic piece.
What were your sources of inspiration when
Ultimately it was
inspired by my love for anthology cinema. Unlike most anthologies however,
I wanted to establish character development and tell stories rather than
serve up vignettes.
Going segment to segment, Evil She is inspired partly
by the DC Comics character
The Spectre, as written in the Adventure Comics
run of the 1970s by Michael Fleischer. The Spectre is one of my all time
favorite comicbook heroes.When Paula Marcenaro Solinger [Paula
Marcenaro Solinger interview - click here] read the script I
sent her comicbook diving and she definitely brings out the subtle
inspiration from within the story.
About The Neighbor is a reference-heavy
piece. Director Chuck Hartsell trimmed some of that on set for time and
for timeliness (and that was a good decision), but ultimately it's Rear
Window meets Risky Business. It doesn't parallel either film, but there is
definitive influence if you're looking for it.
Sirens of Black Woods was
inspired by the short story The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell and
the most modern take on that work, Ernest R. Dickerson's film, Surviving
the Game. Like the other segments, it has its own thing going on but there
is clear influence and inspiration within.
The Virgin Witch Of Mosswood is
inspired by two pieces that I absolutely adore, Nathaniel Hawthorne's
classic novel The Scarlet Letter (which is my all time favorite novel) and
Robin Hardy's masterful film The Wicker
Man. I assume since your readers
are horror fans, they won't get that film mixed up with that atrocious
piece of shit Nicholas Cage did. Our frame narrative is a classic horror
anthology wrap around. We get information in the beginning and we meet two
characters. Stories are told and those stories find themselves relative to
the character telling them and the one listening to them.
Boogie Dabney in the
segment The Virgin Witch of Mosswood
You produced Paranormalice
together with Jeremy Crowson [Jeremy
Crowson interview - click here] - so what was your collaboration
like? And how did you two first meet even?
We met in high
school. He and I had several mutual friends. We didn't hang out a lot but
I think we always felt a certain kinship to one another. Eventually
through the power of social media we reconnected. Through a mutual
acquaintance we both discovered the other was actively dabbling in film.
That led into discussions about a partnership which became a plan of which
step one was a short film entitled Is This You?, which can be
seen on YouTube now, and step two is Paranormalice. We work well together
and balance one another out. If there's a spat, we go to the woods with
various tools cut each other into pieces, compromise, and put each other
back together. That ultimately is why the partnership works. I can be my
pretentious, ridiculous, and overly optimistic self and Jeremy can pull my
head out of the clouds, bring me down to reality, stomp me in the spleen,
and make sure my vision is intact while making sense out of budget and
about your segment of Paranormalice, The Virgin Witch of
Mosswood, for a moment: What is it
On the surface, The Virgin Witch of Mosswood is
about a town of small minded people who have allowed gossip and paranoia
to consume their spirits and humanity. They target a beautiful woman,
Alice Parsons, who has seemingly never aged despite being in her thirties.
She is the object of affection for several townsmen and of jealousy for
several townswomen. When four children are presumed poisoned the town
blames Alice, who is known for baking apple pies and handing them out to
children and other people in town. What ensues is a tragedy that causes
the town to implode.
What can you tell us about your directorial
approach to your story at hand?
The Virgin Witch of
Mosswood is an actor's piece. My main goal was communicating the message
of the story to my actors while allowing them to develop the subtle traits
of their characters. The casting of the segment was so specific and
discriminative, once the cast was in place I felt the best move was to
give the character development to those performers. As a writer/director
my philosophy is, if I've written the story and the words the character is
going to say, the blue print is established. Once the actor has that it is
up to them to construct the rest. My job then is to trigger their emotions
and to place them in the best opportunities to deliver what they've
created internally. If I've cast someone I am trusting them to know the
character better than I do by the time they arrive on set. That allows
everything to be more organic. Visually, I translated my intent with the
cinematographer, David Brower, and explained to him what I wanted and why.
Sometimes that required extended explanation. I was very open to most of
his ideas except in the way I wanted the tribunal shot. I wanted to cheat
the audience out of certain angles for a specific purpose and very few
folks on set, including David, understood why. Regardless, he gave me what
I wanted. The lighting and framing of that segment are absolutely gorgeous
and that is 100% David Brower who made a T2i do magical things.
Do talk about your cast,
and why exactly these people?
I'll begin with the first
actor cast in the entire anthology, Carl Donovan. Carl was the first
person we cast for Paranormalice. I adore this man's ability to translate
character and his cadence is mesmerizing. He's a classic actor.
approached Nicole Kruex initially about directing the piece but after I
decided The Virgin Witch of
Mosswood was a story I wanted to tell, that changed. I offered
her the role of Alice Parsons instead and she became it. After some
lengthy discussion Nicole began developing the aspects of her character
which weren't scripted, the emotions which needed to be under the surface.
Nicole has a lot of irons in various film and video fires. While she's
gifted and respected in those other areas, she's a born actress. I am
certain she and I will work together again, but I honestly just hope to
watch her perform more often as a fan, not only a filmmaker. She owns the
screen. If I am the only one casting her in the next several years, so be
it. That's everyone else's loss. That girl can play a wet paper sack in a
city street and leap off of the screen.
Once I saw Boogie Dabney's
audition it was clear he possessed the proper soft strength the character
of Reverend Thomas Waits needed. He's a bit of a character in real life,
but one hell of an actor. He also seemed to place a great deal of
importance in giving me what I wanted and at times went well and beyond to
deliver it. His talent is undeniable as will be seen.
Jason Henry and Rich
Mansfield have relatively small roles but both are enormously important to
the story in Pilate and Judas style characterizations. Jason was a bit
concerned about playing a straight role as he is more or less a character
actor, but Jason pulls it off splendidly. Again, a character who when
given something important took it serious. Rich is an improvisational
comedian and that worked out perfect for his role. He didn't do any line
improvisation but his mannerisms and delivery are his own. The scene he is
in plays as a stand off with Carl Donovan's character, and they go at it
like verbal heavy weights. It was a fun thing to watch but it was a
pleasure to edit.
What can you tell us about
the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
not unlike any low budget indie film trying to be bigger than its britches
was a hard shoot. We had some enormously long days. If I am not mistaken
one of the days for Evil She ran 18 hours consecutive with only meal
breaks. As much as I hate to use the term "passion project" that
is what the set atmosphere was like. Almost every person working on this
film from the leading actors to the production assistants to the extras
treated this like it was their project, and it is. I want to make that
clear, every single person involved was inexpendable. We literally made
miracles out of mustard seeds. We have all remained friends. Most of us
stay in touch and everyone seems to be looking forward to seeing the
payoff. It wasn't a party but most of the time it was a team effort that
usually maintained high spirits, a few laughs, a ton of fond memories, and
most importantly - set stories.
to the anthology as a whole: What can you tell us about your fellow
directors, and what was your collaboration with them like? And as a
producer, how much of a say did you have (or demand) when it came to their
approach to your stories?
Each of the directors generated
their own versions of the scripted material. They all honored the script
but when a compromise was needed to be made they asked and I obliged their
creative efforts in almost every case. As I said as a director when I cast
someone it is their role to develop internally. Otherwise there is no
sense casting them. If you don't trust the actor to give you the
character, don't bother. It is the same as a writer/producer with other
directors taking your work. If you don't trust them to give you what is
best for the story, then there was no sense handing them the script or the
director's chair. They are all professional and deeply talented. They
essentially ran their own ship. I essentially helped out and answered
questions. In some cases I spoke to the actors about their character
before they got on set, but on set the film belonged to the segment
The $64-question of course,
when and where might the film be released onto the general public?
are submitting to some film festivals right now. You'll have to follow the
Paranormalice Facebook page for updates as to if it has been accepted,
what it has been accepted to, as well as when and where to see it.
Obviously we're seeking distribution but we want to create a buzz first.
We're trying to prove ourselves.
future projects beyond Paranormalice?
future seems bright, but I haven't put on shades, yet. I am currently
heading up an anthology entitled American Horror X which
features ten segments from ten film makers across the U.S. Jeremy and I
are actively talking with investors about a feature I've written entitled Confessions of a Graverobber which is a sequel of sorts to
Paranormalice but isn't an anthology. I'll be directing that. I'll also be
directing a 1970s period exploitation style film entitled Blood of
My Blood. At the same time we're in the process of shopping a script
that I am enormously proud of, a romantic thriller entitled The
Broken Margins. And that's just a handful of things I'm working on.
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
I've been writing stories in my
head since early childhood. I've been an obsessive film fan most of my
life. One day I woke up and realized this was what I wanted to do, nearly
25 years later I'm talking about my first feature film. As far as
training, film school is a waste of money. You are either a visual story
teller or you aren't. There are a lot of people in this industry
(specifically on the low budget level) who are not honest with
themselves. There's a ton of folks who don't have the skill or the
instinct for this. Ultimately you have it or you don't. As much as I adore
Kevin Smith as a personality and as a writer/director, his statement that
any monkey with a camera can be a film maker is complete horseshit. But
if you have it you do need experience, you do need to learn, and you do
need to hone your craft. If you want to learn how to make a film, read
books, listen to film makers you admire, buy a camera and spend some time
as a guerrilla filmmaker learning every aspect, take a couple of
non-paying or low-paying indie film jobs as a production assistant. That
is how I learned to make a film. I self taught myself how to do everything
and most importantly I am still learning. If you ever feel that you've
learned all there is to be learned you're a rank amateur at best. I spent
a decade as a regular Joe working regular jobs and doing guerrilla film
work then I got myself on a few indie sets and now I'm running with
scissors. That's not a success story yet, but my story won't begin with
"so I dropped forty grand for some pretentious ding-bats to tell me
why Kubrick was a genius (despite his inability to keep a fucking budget
or set time in order, artistically superb or not) and how everyone rips
off Hitchcock, Ford, or Lean. I can get that nonsense online at any
cinephile circle jerk with a stack of Woody Allen tongue porn in the
center. If you want to be a filmmaker and actually know how to tell a
story, go make a fucking movie. Only have ten bucks? Spend it on a pizza
to feed folks and borrow a camera from a buddy. Sure it will look like
crap, sound like crap, and your edit will likely be crap but the
experience you got from ten bucks and some blood on the slate will be
worth ten times what you could have gotten for forty thousand in the film
school rip off game.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Paranormalice?
shooting The Virgin Witch of Mosswood
background is guerrilla filmmaking. I produced, directed, shot, and
edited a feature length documentary in 2007 that never saw the light of
day due to legal issues. It did have a premiere showing in front of a
small audience. Before that I did music videos for unsigned artists, and
short films just to hone my craft. Is This You?, a short film which was my
first collaboration with Jeremy was my first film where I wasn't the
entire crew. Paranormalice is my second professional film and Confessions
of a Graverobber will be my first professional feature length film where I
am the sole director.
you describe yourself as a director?
I approach directing
as the job that it truly is. Essentially a director is a manager of the
various parts to a production. Far too many directors take credit for what
a cinematographer does. A cinematographer is the one who makes the pretty
pictures. Yes a director approves the shots, and yes he conceives the
shots but making it work is the job of the cinematographer. The most
important job of any director is to inspire their cast. If a performance
is stale and the actor is talented, that's usually the result of a
thoughtless director. I'm a manager and actor's director. I conceive shots
and plan out my structure, but I let people do their jobs and find ways to
trigger their talents for the best end result. My job in that capacity is
to inspire the artists not to be the artist.
writers, whoever else who inspire you?
I could probably
name a hundred film makers who have inspired me without blinking. Those
who have inspired me the most are: Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Brian
DePalma, Martin Scorsese, Mario Bava [Mario
Bava bio - click here], Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter,
Dario Argento, David Cronenberg, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Nicholas Roeg, Quentin
Tarantino and Clint Eastwood.
Writers? Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan
Poe, Thomas Hardy, William Faulker, Tennesse Williams, Rainer Maria Rilke,
Dylan Thomas, O'Henry, Hunter S. Thompson and Stephen King.
Christ and tragic figures.
The films that have inspired me the most, that have
maintained a certain reverence are: The Virgin
Spring, Jaws, High Plains Drifter, Blow Out,
True Romance, Suspiria,
The Wicker Man, Cool Hand
and the original Texas Chainsaw
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
deplore films with no story. I don't really feel like throwing anyone
under the bus. Completing any film is a worthy and notable accomplishment.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
The website for
Suncrow Productions as well as Paranormalice
is forthcoming. Right now you
can keep up with both on their individual Facebook pages. And here's a
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Horror X! We're all filming now. This project will include segments
written, directed, and produced by Marcus Koch (100 Tears) [Marcus
Koch interview - click here], Mitchel A.
Jones (After The Dawn), Daniel Emery Taylor
(Camp Massacre), Shane Ryan (My Name
is A by anonymous) [Shane
Ryan interview - click here], and Jakob Bilinski (Three Tears On Blood
Stained Flesh), as well as others from across the country.
for the interview!
Thank you. I'm sorry if I talked your ear off but I'll place
it in a box and Van Gogh away now.