Your new movie The Ghost Club: Spirits Never Die
- in a few words, what is it
about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?
The Ghost Club: Spirits Never Die is a tongue in cheek homage to the
ghost hunting reality shows we love so much. We based our show on
the historic Ghost Club founded in 1862, which had members such as
Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock
Holmes. We modeled our ghost
hunting techniques off of the shows you can watch at almost any time of
day or night on cable.
It's the final episode. The team is investigating a haunted house in the
south. The theme of the movie is basically, "be careful what you
wish for." I play the team leader, Jimmy, who is also the team's
lead skeptic--in our world, The Ghost Club is made up of believers, and
skeptics. Jimmy is more concerned with putting together a good TV show
than he is with finding evidence of ghosts. Unfortunately for him, but
fortunately for the audience, it doesn't really matter what he's
interested in, because they find a lot of evidence.
did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much of Jason
Nunes can we find in Jimmy? And did you actually write him with yourself
I did write the role for myself. And there's a lot of me in there. And
Hank Blumenthal [Hank
Blumenthal interview - click here] brought even more out through his direction. I come from a long
line of skeptical scientists (my grandfather was the Nobel Prize winning
physicist Edwin M McMillan - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_McMillan)
hence skepticism, and a hubristic belief in logic, and the scientific
method kinda run through my veins. I don't ever remember a time when I
believed in Santa
Claus. And I thought it would be really fun to put
that kind of rigid character--me--into a situation that made him
question everything he believed in... his very foundations... and see
what happened next.
How did you get hooked up with the project in
the first place, and how did you end up one of the movie's producers as
In another life, Hank Blumenthal and I worked together on some really great and
innovative interactive projects. We were hanging out at SXSW when he
pitched the idea of making a movie together. He already had the basic
idea--a reality ghost hunting show that encounters real ghosts--and I
loved it. He asked if I wanted to get involved, and what I wanted to do,
and I said "I'll co-write if I can be in it." Hank liked
that, and so we started working right away, passing the script back and
forth until we had something we thought would be fun.
And then I got deeper and deeper involved as we went, designing
graphics, the title treatments in the film, and working on a lot of the
transmedia elements that we put together to create the storyscape of the
world, such as The Skeptic's DIary, a webcomic I created to explain
Jimmy's backstory - http://skepticsdiary.tumblr.com/
some ghost hunting hot-to videos such as this:
The producer title came from doing a lot of that work.
Have you ever been on an actual ghost hunt, and do
you believe in ghosts as such?
I have done several ghost hunts. I actually rigged up a solo ghost
hunting kit, with a GoPro camera strapped to my chest. I chronicle some
of this in The Skeptic's Diary, with some fictional elements thrown in
of course. And the location where we shot The Ghost Club was an actual
haunted mansion that's appeared on several hunting shows. We may, or may
not have had an encounter or 2 while filming (insert spooky music here).
Do I believe in ghosts? That's a tricky question. What I believe is that
we radically change our understanding of the fundamental nature of
reality every hundred years or so, and so I don't think we can say
definitively what's possible and what's not. But I don't believe in the
traditional view of ghosts. If they exist I'm more inclined to think of
them as echoes.
Clark Sarullo, Jason, William Forsythe
As you've also been one
of the writers of The Ghost Club: Spirits Never Die
- what were your inspirations when
writing the movie, and what was the writing process like?
question # 3. The way Hank Blumenthal [Hank
Blumenthal interview - click here] and I work on scripts, is that one of us will
take a first pass, furiously writing away, and then, when we hit a natural
stopping point, we'll hand it off, and let the other person have a go. I
think we came up with some fun things that way. Of course, once we started
shooting, some of the script was discarded, because Hank really wanted to
capture the feeling of us being in a real ghost hunting show, and a lot of
what they do is improv, and riffing. That was a lot of fun.
can you tell us about your director Hank Blumenthal [Hank
Blumenthal interview - click here], and what was your
collaboration like during the shoot?
Hank was great during the shoot. He really wanted a very specific feel
for our performances--he wanted the feeling of a reality TV show that
just dissolved into chaos and fear when things start getting a
little too real. And I think he got exactly that. He gave us a lot of
ideas to play around with as actors, and encouraged us to do a lot of
research, and improv. I can't tell you the # of seasons of Ghost Hunters
I watched prepping for the shoot. Hank also liked to throw some
surprises into the mix as we were going, knocking things over, or
pouring a bucket of water all over the floor right before a take just to
see how we'd react to that. It was a lot of fun.
And of course we'd be shooting all night, and then I'd rush back to the
hotel, and furiously write new dialogue, or fix some of the plotting,
which had to change based on the location, so I was kinda cranky a lot
of the time. Perfect for Jimmy actually. Hank put up with a lot from me,
and we're still friends.
Do talk about the
shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
The cast really
had a lot of fun. We all had such a great time on the shoot, but it wasn't
the most comfortable thing I've ever experienced. We were shooting in a
real haunted mansion, in the middle of the night, in the middle of summer.
It was hot, and dirty, and dark, and, sometimes, actually really scary.
Which was perfect for our performances.
projects you'd like to share?
I'm always working on
projects. I've got several dark comedy scripts that are in various stages
of development, and Hank and I are talking about working on a science
fact/fiction romance that plays with some interesting ideas based on
What got you into acting
in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the
I've always loved acting, from my first play at age 5 to the present.
I'm more of a writer now, but I attended the University of California at
Santa Cruz, and got a degree in theater. While at UCSC I did 2 seasons
of Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and got to act, run lights, build sets, dance
around a redwood forest in a tutu, and fly through the air. It was one
of the most fun times of my life.
What can you tell us about your filmwork prior
to The Ghost Club: Spirits Never Die?
In the 1990s I moved to LA and worked in the art and props departments
of some of the best/worst straight to video horror films ever made such
as Return of the Living Dead III, Leprechaun II, Necronomicon,
Pumpkinhead II, and Ghoulies 4. I got to build sets, make props, and
spray fake blood, bile, cobwebs, and dust all over everything. Needless
to say it was a blast.
After that I moved to San Francisco where I worked as a broadcast
designer, and compositor, doing special effects for videos, and TV
commercials for ILM commercial productions, and many others. I gradually
got sucked into the burgeoning world of the internet, and eventually
left the sfx world behind, but I couldn't quite quit the world of
In the 2000s I started to write screenplays. I won some awards, had some
scripts optioned, and some projects produced.
I'm still writing, acting, doing some special effects, and producing.
It's a hell of a lot of fun.
Actors (and indeed actresses) who
I'll tell you what, it was intimidating, and really fun acting with
William Forsythe. I'd been a huge fan of his since Raising Arizona (and
Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead, and American Me, and and and)
so it was really exciting for me to be on camera with him. He's really
generous, and a great actor, and I learned a lot from watching him.
As for other actors who inspire me, basically anyone whose ever been in
a Coen Brother's movie, oh, and Bruce Campbell in Evil Dead
II. He's one
of the great slapstick actors of our day.
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
My 2 favorite films are Alien and
Blade Runner, but I love so many
movies. Everything by Pixar.
Jodorowsky's Dune. Anything by the Coens,
or David Lynch, or Darren Aronofsky. Recently I really loved It
and I just saw Diary of a Teenage Girl, and I thought it was amazing.
Basically I love movies of all kinds.
and of course, films you really deplore?
feels phoned in, and I'm getting really tired of movies which destroy New
York City. A) it's boring, and B) I live here. I don't like seeing my city
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
for the interview!