A: I'm not sure where my interest in filmmaking came from. All I can say is, I ran away from home when I was about 9 years old with the intention of going to Hollywood, and I wasn't coming back. I was gone for one night before the cops found me and took me back home. It scared the shit out of my parents. When I was about 15, I made my first movie with my brothers and some neighbor kids. It was a silent, six-minute, 8mm movie called, "The Chase." We built sets and set up special effects that were real extravagant for a limited, little project. When I, finally, bought a video camera, my best friend and I went hog wild making crazy, short films to show everyone. At that time, I never really thought of doing it for a living. I was just having fun. For me, it was like a magic show. I loved hearing people say, "how did you do that?" I loved freaking them out - still do.
Q: THE DEAD LINK is an ambitious project that works extremely well, due to the actors (yourself included) and the special effects. How did you cast the actors and how was it directing yourself?
A: I have a lot of confidence in my acting and directing abilities, so that was no problem. Of course, It makes it a lot easier to direct yourself when you have a good team behind you.
I'd worked with Jose Rosete (Bungy) on another movie project, so I knew he kicked ass. He's about 210 pounds of muscle, so when he turns into a possessed, murdering creature it works real well.
I had this "Betty and Veronica" thing worked out for the female leads. I wanted a blond and a brunette and they had to be hot! That's what I told Terry Valenzuela, who did the casting. She screened over fifty local actresses. I just did the final picks. We went with Maya Salibi and Sarah Seider. They were perfect.
They have the kind of looks and personality, where if you don't like one, you'll definitely like the other.
Connie Padilla plays the 64-year-old grandmother who gets beat to death, and I play the lead character, Ray. Actually, originally, I was only going to direct the movie. The cast had been rehearsing for over a month and they were getting restless. Then, a couple days before we're ready to shoot, the lead man drops out with girlfriend problems. The whole cast ganged up on me. "You know the lines! You should play the lead!" Actually, I'm a big ham anyway so I didn't mind.
Q: Talk a bit about the special effects, particularly the spider-dog and the possession makeup.
A: The spider-dog was one of those effects that I wrote into the script, and had no idea how I was going to pull it off. It ended up being a meticulous project that I constructed on my back porch. It took four people to operate it, because it was heavy, all of its parts moved, and it drooled. It turned out awesome and it kind of frustrates me that it's in the film only briefly. We used old school techniques as far as makeup goes; a lot of foam rubber and latex buildup. We took close-up pictures so we could reconstruct the same look day to day. A lot of the effects were created through trial and error. I would try different things at home until something looked right, then we'd do it on the set. One of my favorite effects is when the evil spirit leaves Bungy's body. It was a skull in Halloween spider webbing, filmed underwater, up side down, and played backward. Proving, once again, some of the simplest ideas can be the most effective.
Q: How did the idea for the movie come about?
A: I had this idea, for a long time, of someone finding an unidentifiable creature in the desert. Something about that intrigued me. I don't know what it was. Being from Arizona, I've heard stories of the Lost Dutchman's Gold all my life. Then I thought, "What if this thing had something to do with the reason why nobody's ever found the gold?" The story developed from there. I wanted it to be gritty, but I also wanted it to be fun. So, there's a lot of disturbing situations, but it doesn't dwell on them too long before moving forward.
Q: How long did THE DEAD LINK take to shoot and complete (from when it was first shot to it being finished editing)
A: It took a year, almost to the day.
Q: Do you have any future production coming up?
A: I'm putting the finishing touches on a "serial killer" screenplay entitled, "The Stone Watchdog." I plan to shoot it around April of 2003. It's a disturbing, erotic thriller with very human characters in weird situations. I want people to hate themselves for liking this movie.