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An Interview with Tony DeBenedetto, Producer of Once, When I Was Dead

by Mike Haberfelner

June 2015

Films produced by Tony DeBenedetto on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Once, When I Was Dead - in a few words, what is it about?


Once, When I Was Dead is about an artist who has lost her creative way. She has become complacent and her artwork suffers has a result. She hits rock bottom and has to face her inner demon to reignite her passion.


How did you get involved with the project in the first place? And to what extent could you identify with the film's artworld setting?


Scott W. Perry [Scott W. Perry interview - click here] had shown an interest in working on another project together. He showed me a couple of scripts and I was drawn to the script of Once, When I Was Dead. I felt it was a story with which most people could relate whether or not they had an artistic background.

I am an art collector personally so I have a deep respect for how artists pour their time, sweat, tears, and in the case of the script, blood into their artwork. I have seen how competitive the art world can be and how discouraging it can be to the artist when they feel the art is not widely accepted.


What were your main challenges when producing Once, When I Was Dead? And did you have any creative control over the movie as well?


I would have to say that the most challenging aspect was logistics. I am located in the Houston, Texas area. Scott is in New York. We brought in two wonderful actresses, Gabrielle Stone (Amelia) [Gabrielle Stone interview - click here] and Tiffany Shepis (Lucy) [Tiffany Shepis interview - click here] from Los Angeles. Kaylee Williams (Alice) [Kaylee Williams interview - click here] was brought in from Chicago. Trying to coordinate a schedule in which all of the actors and production crew were available at the same time had its challenges.

I tried to leave the creative control to Scott, Steven-Mark Glassner (cinematographer) [Steven Mark Glassner interview - click here], and Shay Cully (art director). I would make minor suggestions on occasion, but for the most part I tried to stay out of the way.


What can you tell us about your director Scott W. Perry [Scott W. Perry interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like? And how did the two of you first meet, even?


Scott is a very passionate individual. Once, When I Was Dead appears to me to be a mixture of Scott's various personality traits. He had told me that he had tried to make this film multiple times over the years. For various reasons, that dream had been unsuccessful. To be honest, that made me a little nervous at the beginning. I was concerned that he was too close, too personally involved with the script. The similarities between the script and his personal life were so intertwined that I wasn't sure if he would be able to be receptive to any suggestions that would allow the story to be told on film. In the end, I believe he was able to tell the story, the way he envisioned.

Scott and I met at the Macabre Faire Film Festival held in Long Island, NY back in 2013 [Macabre Faire Film Festival interview - click here]. He was there screening episodes of his In Fear Of series. I was there representing a film I helped produce entitled Jacob. It was written and directed by Larry Wade Carrell [Larry Wade Carrell interview - click here], starred Grace Powell, Dylan Horne, and Larry Carrel with appearances by Michael Biehn and James Hampton.


What can you tell us about the shoot as such? And how much of a hands-on or hands-off producer were you?


What can I say about the shoot?  It was Murphy's Law at its finest. The original shoot locations fell through so we had to scramble to find new locations. We had a mechanical failure with the camera jig on the first day so there were several shots we had to forego as a result. It also caused us to have to deviate from the production shoot list which caused some confusion for makeup and wardrobe. We definitely had to stop, take a breath, and regroup. Tensions were high. At that point, I probably became more hands-on than I would have normally been. I would say that for at least two or three scenes I started directing traffic; telling which actors needed to be in make-up, re-organizing the shot list with the director and cinematographer, setting time limits as to when the next scene had to be set up and ready to shoot. It wasn't long before everyone got back into their respective grooves. We can laugh about it now.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I do have some projects currently in the works.

Hell of a Night is a feature film by writer/director Brian Childs out of Dallas, TX. It is a story based on a house that was built as a funeral parlor in the 1920's and the experiences of the family that currently live in the house.

Good Family Times is a full feature film in which I have teamed up with Blanc-Biehn Productions out of Los Angeles. Meet Beatrice. She's happily married, has a darling young son, and is a talented artist. Her home is a happy one. Beatrice dotes on her family, and they love her back. Too bad her husband and child are not exactly alive. When Beatrice comes into some money, another family - one that's not quite so happy - decides it's more deserving of the dough and sets out to rob her by breaking into her home under the cover of night. In the course of that one evil evening, both families soon learn the true meaning of "blood relations".


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


I have always loved the film and theatre industries. I actually stumbled into a producing opportunity with the movie Jacob. They were in post production and still needed funding to complete the audio for the film. I decided to invest to help the film get completed. I also used some of my contacts in the convention scenes to help promote the film and book screenings. After that I was hooked. I formed Javelina 98 Productions, Inc last year as a result of the numerous projects I have been fortunate to be associated with.

I have not had any formal training within the film industry, but I deal with project management and contracts on a daily basis within my day job. There are a lot of similarities.


You have also been a producer on Scott W. Perry's [Scott W. Perry interview - click here] In Fear Of series - so you obviously have to talk about that experience for a bit?


The In Fear Of series is a great concept. I suppose my first involvement with the series was a contribution I made to a crowd funding campaign related to the series. Scott had been interested in working with Larry Carrell. Larry and Scott collaborated on a script and it was decided that they would shoot Autophobia (Fear of Abandonment) in Texas. It was funny because they picked the month of August to film. That was the hottest month possible. I'm surprised Scott didn't melt. That turned out to be a great shoot. It was also a great opportunity for Scott to taste "real" barbeque.

Scott and I later discussed producing a television pilot for the series. We came to an agreement and produced the Fear of Clowns episode (also known as The Red Balloon on the film festival circuit).


Other films of yours you'd like to talk about?


Treachery is a full feature film that has just signed a distribution deal slated to be out in October. Keep an eye out for it. This film is more of a drama.

The Lincoln is another Suspense/Thriller that is scheduled to shoot in late July or early August for a 2016 release.


Producers, filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?


There are so many great inspirations. I would have to say that the one who has inspired me the most would be George Lucas. His vision helped develop so many different facets of the movie industry... sound, animation, special effects, and marketing just to name a few.


Your favourite movies?


Some of my favorite movies include Star Wars, The Five Deadly Venoms, Enter the Dragon, Children of the Corn, The Wall, Ben Hur, Nightmare on Elm Street.

I was also a big fan of television series such as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.


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


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Films like art are subject to interpretation. I don't know that I can say I deplore any film.


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


You can checkout my other projects on my imdb page at Tony DeBenedetto -

Follow me on Twitter @javelina98

Email me at

I'm on Facebook under Tony DeBenedetto.


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


Along with the movie production, I have teamed up with Elsie Ginsberg, aka LC Macabre [LC Macabre and Alan Ginsberg interview - click here] and TwitchTwtch Productions to bring 2 events to the Long Island, NY area. The first is the Haunt-Faire scheduled for August 1st and 2nd. This event is for Haunters who love haunting. You can pre-order tickets at The second event is Immortal Con. This event will be more of a comic/anime convention where partial proceeds will be donated to a local charity benefiting Breast Cancer awareness. Follow me for more forthcoming details.


Thanks for the interview!


Thank you for the opportunity to share what's happening in my world.


© 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