Q: Why did you pick this particular Jack Ketchum short story to adapt?
It's a quick, aggressive story with a great twist at the end and a nice, kind of figure-eight structure. I'm really interested in first-person filmmaking, which I didn't really do in my debut feature, RULE OF THREE, so it was also a chance to follow one character around and try to get into his mind. I'm close with Lee Schall, who starred in RO3 and returned for MO, so I knew we'd have the kind of communication needed to access Howard's thoughts.
Q: What was Ketchum's reaction to it?
He was gracious and supportive. He complimented the way it was shot and was pleased to see such an internal piece of material brought out in legitimate dramatic form.
Q: You previously made a feature--why make a short? It's usually the other way around.
Sign of the times, huh? When I was getting into filmmaking as a student in the 90s, do-it-yourself filmmakers would debut with an ultra-low-budget film and then get a studio or mini-major to bankroll the next one for a couple million. Those days are over, though, or at least on pause; the bubble burst when everybody in the universe started making a film. So when I got impatient trying to finance a follow-up, it was time to do something new, even if I had to go shorter. Too much time had gone by with me trying to keep the editor and DP and everyone else hyped. It was all talk. Rhoda Jordan [my wife and producing partner] and I had even tried to launch Ketchum's RIGHT TO LIFE, but it was a rocky road. So to cleanse the gateways, I went for a short. Great timing, too, since we're finally looking good on our second feature...
Q: How would you compare the two productions? Did the short pose any specific problems?
I was more confident on the set this time. Since RO3 was generally well received and got good distribution, I had more credibility and got more cooperation from my collaborators. Technically, the short was actually more ambitious. We got something like 110 shots in three days; whereas on the feature we got 140 shots in 12 days.
Q: How did you cast your actors?
The two leads, Cerris Morgan-Moyer and Lee Schall, are veterans from RO3, which was important since we all trust each other. The actors deserve a ton of credit -- they really go for it in body and spirit, which is a lot to request for a 16-minute film. And it's interesting to see Schall as a leading man, since he's more of a character guy. He comes across as an Ebenezer Scrooge type, or Richard III. Kind of a runt, but with grandeur since he's at the story's center. And with Cerris, it was something completely different, 'cause we're seeing her through Lee's eyes the whole time. So she had to be prepared for the camera to gawk at her voyeuristically, and she gave us all of herself. She's very bold.
Q: What's happening with the film now?
Right at this moment, we're examining streaming options. We want to make sure it's actually seen, and not just tossed on Vimeo as a curiosity. It had its world premiere in late September at Fantasycon in the UK. On October 30, it's going up at the Long Beach Comic Con's Might & Fright Film Festival, and more festival communication is underway.
Q: What are your other current projects?
Big Screen Entertainment Group, headed up by Kimberley Kates, optioned an apocalyptic screenplay written by Rhoda and I called GIRL ZERO, which we're totally juiced about. It's a fast, colorful, bug-out story, which unlike RO3 and MAIL ORDER has something they call "likable characters" in it. That'll be a breath of fresh air. Rhoda and I are set to co-direct.