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An Interview with Jeff Ferrell, Director of Ghostlight

by Mike Haberfelner

June 2014

Films directed by Jeff Ferrell on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Ghostlight - in a few words, what is it about?


Ghostlight tells the story of one man's terrifying night alone in a haunted theater, and the horrors that befall him and his family after he encounters it.


With Ghostlight being a ghost story - is that a genre at all dear to you, and some of your genre favourites? And how do you approach your subject at hand?


Ghost stories have always been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. As far as films go, some of my favorites are The Innocents, Carnival of Souls, The Haunting, The Haunting of Julia, The Changeling, Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa), Ju-On, Dark Water, Mario Bava's Shock, The Whip and the Body and Black Sabbath [Mario Bava bio - click here]. I like to approach the supernatural as if it is an absolute reality when I am making a film about it. I think you must allow yourself to enter that world and believe in it completely and wholeheartedly. None of us really know what lies beyond death, but I think we all have ideas and hypotheses about what may be waiting for us. We have a fear and desire of knowing what that may be, and I like to explore ideas about that subject, as I feel close to those themes, and I believe much of the world does too.


What were your inspirations when writing Ghostlight?


My biggest inspiration was the location where we filmed it, which was the Historic Everett Theatre. The entire story was born out of my visiting that place and spending the night alone there. I took inspiration from my experiences there and the surroundings, and created the story from that, along with injecting a lot of my own feelings about life, death, and what may lie beyond both.


Do talk about your movie's look and feel!


I wanted to give the film a classical type of look and feel, with careful lighting, composition and camera moves. I wanted to soak in the atmosphere of the location and let the suspense build slowly for the audience as it does for the main character. I also wanted to use the many shadows in the film to help build the sense of fear and mystery. Also, the story dictated a lot of the specifics of how I chose to film it, such as the black and white sequences and the contrast between the fairly bright and sunny first act of the film with the dark and sinister final two acts.


What can you tell us about your key cast, and why exactly these people?


Many I had worked with before and had written the parts especially for them, such as Dennis Kleinsmith, Lisa Coronado and Russell Hodgkinson. Others I was lucky to find after the script was already written. The movie has only 8 people, and I feel that everyone fits into their characters and the story quite perfectly. Ramona Freeborn and I had performed a music show together, and she is a great singer in real life. When she told me she was also an actress, I knew she would be perfect for the role. As for myself, I just couldn't find anyone else in town who was creepy enough, so I went ahead and did it.


You of course have to talk about your wonderful location for a bit, and how did you even find it?


I first went to the theater on a location scout for a music video that I directed for the band The Staxx Brothers called "Sugarwalls". As soon as I set foot in there, I knew it could be a great location for a movie, but I had no story. After hearing it was haunted, I asked the manager if I could spend the night alone there with my video camera. He agreed, and I did it, had some pretty incredible experiences, and began writing the script soon after.


What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


We shot the movie in only 10 days, which is a very short schedule for a 90 minute movie. The cast and crew were very minimal, but it was a dedicated group of friends and collaborators who all came together in service of a story that we all believed in. It was a beautiful experience of collaboration and creativity, even though it had its moments of extreme stress and difficulty, like all movie shoots. When a group of people come together to make something they all truly care about, no matter how difficult it may be, it will always be a wonderful and rewarding journey in the end.


A few words about audience and critical reception of your movie so far?


The movie played in theaters in Seattle and Portland, and the live audiences have really seemed to enjoy and embrace it, especially in a theatrical environment. There have also been some very kind reviews from the press, along with some not so kind ones. But I never wanted to try and please everyone. I really wanted to make the kind of horror film that I would want to see as a viewer, and to make something from the heart, which I hope other people can enjoy and relate to.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I recently directed a music video for the band Witchburn called "Der Hexenhammer" which is a medieval witch-hunting mini epic. I am also a musician, and my debut solo album Color in the Black will be released in early July on CD and digital (iTunes, Amazon etc.). I just finished shooting a short film/music video for my song "Little Girl Lost", which is a very creepy gothic ghost story shot in an actual castle, and which will be released very soon.


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?


I went to the Seattle Film Institute in 2008, which is where I made my first short films and met many of my future collaborators. I had always loved movies for my entire life, especially being impacted by the films of Tim Burton and the classic Universal and Hammer horror films as a young child. I had always been interested in filmmaking, but spent most of my life before that focusing on acting, music and performing in the theater. Until one day, I realized that I needed to make films, and so I decided to go to film school. And I've been making films ever since.


You of course have to talk about what I believe to be your directorial debut Morella for a bit!


Morella was a project I was lucky enough to shoot on 16mm film while I was in film school. I wanted to make a film in the classical gothic style of the Roger Corman Edgar Allan Poe films [Roger Corman bio - click here], so I decided to adapt my favorite Poe story, Morella. I was lucky enough to get a cast and crew of mostly volunteers, costumes and locations for free or cheap, and the use of the school's equipment. So even though the film is highly stylized and lush visually, it had almost no budget behind it. We shot the whole film in about 16 hours total on an old Arriflex camera from the 60's, and we ran out of film on the last shot. I was also lucky to meet many of my future collaborators including my composer Semih Tareen, and Dennis Kleinsmith, who is the Vincent Price of our generation [Vincent Price bio - click here]. I've also written a feature screenplay version of Morella, which I hope to one day make into a feature film.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


I come from an acting background, so I work very closely in collaboration with the actors to find the correct emotions and nuances of the performances. I cherish this part of the directing process. I also am in love with visual storytelling, so I am very specific about how I like to tell my stories from a visual standpoint. I write, direct, produce and edit all my own films, and to me each step is just an extension of the previous one in order to tell the story I want to tell. I am in love with the entire process of filmmaking.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


David Lynch, Dario Argento, David Cronenberg, Mario Bava [Mario Bava bio - click here], F.W. Murnau, Ingmar Bergman, Orson Welles, Roman Polanski, Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Powell, Carl Theodore Dreyer, Fritz Lang, Lucio Fulci [Lucio Fulci bio - click here], William Castle, William Friedkin, Samuel Fuller and Guillermo del Toro to name just a few...


Your favourite movies?


Sunrise, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet, Detour, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Let's Scare Jessica to Death, Vampyr, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Fall of the House of Usher, Burnt Offerings, The Godfather, Persona, and Once Upon a Time in the West to name a few...


... and of course, films you really deplore?


Anything made without heart, soul or passion.


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Germany (East AND West)

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Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Jeff Ferrell at

Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


I would like to thank anyone who takes the time out to rent or buy Ghostlight on DVD or On Demand. It is hard for small independent films like ours to survive out there, but it is the support of people like you who help us to keep going and allow us to make more movies. So, thank you.


Thanks for the interview!


Thank you for your support, and for taking the time to watch and review Ghostlight!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD