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An Interview with Josh Heisie, Director of The Prospector's Curse

by Mike Haberfelner

February 2012

Josh Heisie on (re)Search my Trash


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Your upcoming short The Prospector's Curse - in a few words, what is it about?


Set in the 1890’s, The Prospector’s Curse is the cautionary tale of two criminals who stumble across a mutilated Prospector, dying on Indian ground. They promise to give the old man a Christian burial and deliver his gold to his widowed sister. Of course, the fugitives break their oath and steal the gold, but that night the Prospector’s corpse returns to make them pay!


How did the project come into being in the first place?


I have always loved horror movies, and became interested in the characters and lore surrounding the Yukon Gold Rush after reading the book Klondike by Pierre Berton. In the Summer of 2011, Cinematographer Michael Jari Davidson expressed interest in collaborating with me, after watching my short comedy film Mail Order Bride. Originally intended to be an extremely low-budget “calling card” film, Michael’s involvement and contacts quickly transformed The Prospector’s Curse into the professional, feature-quality short it became.


From what I've gathered, The Prospector's Curse has a certain urban legend (or rather rural legend?) flair to it. Something you can at all agree to, and are there any actual legends your film was based on?


The film isn’t based on any specific legend, but it has an intentional campfire ghost story feel. It’s a simple morality fable, a mashup of clichés and archetypes, but presented in an interesting new way.


There is also a strong Western theme in The Prospector's Curse - a genre at all dear to you?


I am a huge fan of Spaghetti Westerns and HBO’s Deadwood. Everything is bold, gritty, dirty and in your face.


Other sources of inspiriation when writing The Prospector's Curse?


I drew inspiration from everywhere, including horror comics, radio shows, old cartoons and classic monster movies. The two lead characters, Jack Smith and “Tubby” Ellsworth, are inspired by the comedic relationship between Abbott and Costello, and the horror scenes are influenced by the Evil Dead-series.


To my understanding (and I might be totally wrong here), The Prospector's Curse also has a strong comedic edge to it. How would you describe your and your film's brand of humour?


There are no one-liners or banana peels, but the film is certainly a dark comedy. The humor comes from the characters’ relationships, the lovable ignorance of the drunken, murderous protagonist, and the over-the-top gore and horror when The Prospector wreaks his revenge. The actors did a wonderful job of walking the fine line between cartoonish acting and genuine emotion, creating believable and humorous characters.


Michael Davidson, Robert Nolan, Josh Heisie

How would you describe your directorial approach?


It was a very collaborative process and the film changed organically as we went along. I would approach the cast and crew with my original vision, and they would throw back their own creative ideas. I would try to decide what fit best into the overall project. I also draw inspiration from as many sources as possible, combining or rehashing ideas from the great genre films that inspired me.


A few words about your cast and crew?


I was honored to work with a very talented, professional and dedicated cast and crew. The Prospector’s Curse was a self financed labor of love (read: nobody got paid) but everyone donated their blood, sweat and tears to make a great film. Our team included Director of Photography Michael Jari Davidson (SICK), Producers Bruno Marino (Anything Goes) and Teodora Ilie, Special Effects Makeup wizard Carlos Henriques (Red: Werewolf Hunter), David Roberts (Curious and Unusual Deaths) as Tubby, Johnny Quinn (Mind’s Eye: The Series) as Jack, and the great character actor Robert Nolan (Worm) as The Prospector [Robert Nolan interview - click here].


What can you tell us about the actual shoot and the on-set atmosphere?


I’m convinced that the production was actually cursed, because shoot was a hectic, grueling experience. We battled countless disasters on a remote ranch near Ponty Pool, Ontario, but the cast and crew stayed optimistic and professional throughout. We showed that curse who was boss.


The $64-question of course: When and where will the film be released, tentatively?


The Prospector’s Curse will be released this Spring, probably in April. We plan to submit to select horror-themed film festivals, and release it online, reaching as many horror fans as possible through websites, blogs, social media, etc. Bruno Marino and I intend to pitch the film as the first “chapter” of a horror anthology feature (i.e. Tales From the Crypt and Creepshow) so we want to generate as much interest and positive feedback as possible.


Let's go back to the beginnings of your career: What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?


I’ve been making comedy and horror films with friends and cohorts since high school, and graduated from the Advanced Television and Film Program at Sheridan College. A lot of pies have been thrown and blood spilled.


You have scripted a short with the wonderful title Abra Cadaver. You just have to talk about this one for a bit!


Abra Cadaver is the melodramatic tale of a deranged Magician who cannot comprehend the difference between illusion and reality. This means when he saws his lovely assistant in half, he can’t put her back together again! Finally a streetwise hooker teaches him a lesson he won’t forget. The short was produced by Kurt Ogilvie and directed by Jay Macbeth.


Another film of yours is called Mail Order Bride. A few words about that one?


Mail Order Bride is a silent comedy short about a hapless bachelor who applies for a mail order bride, hoping that a foreign beauty will be the answer to his loneliness. Instead a burly, grouchy Eastern European woman is delivered in a crate on his front lawn, and mayhem ensues. It stars Devin Upham and Dina Dametto and was produced by Anam Abbas. The short will be available online soon.


Any other films of yours, past, present or future, you want to talk about?


I have several more shorts written for the horror anthology movie. Each story takes place in a different time period and pays homage to a genre of B-Movies. The Prospector’s Curse is the Spaghetti Western, and the others will include a Film Noir thriller called The Skin, a 1950’s Creature Feature entitled Ravage Me and a psychedelic slasher flick featuring sexy teens and a murderous butler.

You have also worked on numerous films as a designer and/or set dresser. A few words about that aspect of your career and some of the films you have worked on?


I love the ‘magic’ of working in the Art Department where you can transform a bunch of wood, paint and foam into a castle, cave or space station. I prefer to work on period films and horror movies. Picking wallpaper and hanging draperies isn’t my bag, but if I’m building a Yukon prospecting camp or a zombie-killing all-terrain vehicle I’m usually having a great time. Most recently I designed the zombie feature SICK directed by Ryan M. Andrews (Black Eve) [Ryan M.Andrews interview - click here].

I'd also like to mention that in your pastime you are quite a skilled cartoonist. Want to talk about that skill of yours for a bit?


Classic cartoons and comics are a big influence in my writing and directing style, and I enjoy drawing and learning the craft in my free time. Hand drawn cartoons and animation are a dying art form, and I try to incorporate them into my Art Department career as much as I can. My portfolio is available on my website.


Any other talents of yours we should know about?


I’m the world’s greatest lover.


Directors who inspire you?


Feeling lucky ?
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Find Josh Heisie
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Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

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(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Josh Heisie at

Usually I’m more inspired by specific movies than directors, but I admire Sam Raimi, Sergio Leone, Quentin Tarantino, The Coen Brothers, John Kricfalusi, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and early Steven Spielberg, amongst others. They’re all geniuses in their own right.


Your favourite movies?


I love movies with an emphasis on unique characters and an interesting point of view, rather than big complicated plots. Some favorites include The Shining, Night of the Hunter, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Detective Story, Pulp Fiction, Rear Window, The Big Lebowski and There Will Be Blood.


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


I deplore anything that’s really pretentious or whiny.


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


Keep updated on The Prospector’s Curse Fan Page here, and my personal website is An anthology movie website will be coming soon. Hold onto your hats!


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


I think I’ve ranted enough already. Thanks for the interview!


Thanks for the interview!



© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



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



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
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Michael Haberfelner


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