Your new movie Ghostlight
- in a few words, what is it about?
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
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?
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
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.
were your inspirations when writing Ghostlight?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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
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!
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
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.
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?
Scissorhands, Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet, Detour,
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?
without heart, soul or passion.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
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movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
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,
for the interview!
Thank you for your support, and for
taking the time to watch and review Ghostlight!