Q: EVILMAKER 2 is a pretty direct sequel to the first, though it is conspicuously missing the first movie's main actress (Stephanie Beaton). What made you decide to proceed without her?
JOHN: Yes, it is a pretty direct sequel. For a while I was thinking about making a bunch on sequels, all self contained, each one a different story about the evil that surrounds the house and what it does to people who happen to stumble across it. But, I really liked the idea of just making a trilogy and then wrapping things up at the end of the third one. That's when I came up with the idea of a sister to one of the characters trying to find out what really happened since I couldn't bring Stephanie out.
Which brings me to the second part of the question. The sequel was shot very differently from the first. Part one, everyone took a week off from work and we shot it out in nine days. I, for one, could not afford to do that this time out as well as the rest of my cast and crew, so it was shot two days a month from June to December 2001. I could not afford to get Stephanie out here that many times. Even if we went the really cheep route and tried to buss her out here, at this stage of the game, still couldn't afford it. So, I decided to move on with the story in a different direction.
Q: What made you decide to cast Kylene Wetherell in the lead rather than use another established "Scream Queen" actress?
JOHN: For two reasons. First off, the money factor again. Getting someone from out of state to come in and do it would have cost a chunk of change that I didn't have. I could have waited I suppose and tried to save up the money, but I was hot to trot to make it and I didn't want to wait another year to do it. It took two years after the first one was shot to do the second. Which left me with the task of finding a leading lady.
A few years ago, my Director of Photography Joe Sherlock was working on a project called "The Eyeball of Fear" and Kylene Wetherell tagged along with one of the other actresses. I noticed her energy on the set and how much fun she was having and how much fun it made it for us, so I asked her out on location if she wanted to be in one of my projects. At that point and time, the project was "Dreamwalkers" and I shot with her for one day on that one. She was a great sport being drowned in a bathtub and being put through the rigors of zombie make up. She was quite the trooper. So, I had decided that one day I wanted to work with her again. When it came time to cast Evilmaker 2, she immediately popped into my head.
Here was the hard part, tracking her down. A couple of years ago, she had moved about two hours away from here and the people that I knew had lost contact with her. I tried calling information and could not locate her. Then it dawned on me that her older brother was still here in town, so I tracked him down and he gave me her number. I gave her a call and she was excited to do it, so I sent her a script and a copy of the first movie.
When it came time to shoot, each time she had to travel 2 hours here and 2 hours home. That's a serious commitment in my mind, and a couple of times she hit a deer on the way. She lives way out in the country. Each day she arrived with lots of energy and it was such a joy working with her.
Q: You seem to use the same core group of actors and you act in some of the productions yourself (and Joe Sherlock's). How did you find these people?
JOHN: In most cases I find them through Joe's movies. Such is the case of Kylene Wetherell and Shannon. How I had met Shannon was back in 97 Joe had asked me to be in a movie of his called "Monster in the Garage" and Shannon played my wife. I will never forget the first day I met her. We shook hands and then she said something to the point of "I will be showering with you in a few minutes. " She left me completely speechless and we have been great friends ever since, and I put her in most of my productions.
I met Felicia Pandolfi through my make up man Rob Merickel. It was actually at a Halloween party and Rob had told me that I should get her in one of my movies and at that time again, I was working on "Dreamwalkers". So, I asked her and she said she would have to see the script. She agreed and as they say, the rest is history. She has been in every one of my productions and she does an incredible job. She is such a natural, it's awesome. But, in the near future here, I will have to be select how I use her because she is moving out of state, so I will have to somehow get her back here to do things. It's not impossible, just a lot of planning. She still wants to act, she has fun doing these movies. I remember way back when we were shooting "Dreamwalkers" she was so quiet on the set and nervous. My, how she has grown into barely talking to me and the rest of the cast and crew into someone who jokes around and seems to like to kick me in the ass. She's a great person.
In the case of Jon Wilmot, he and I were friends in High School and soon after, we lost contact with one another. We were both heavily involved in theater and music. One day I was at McDonald's with my son and low and behold, guess who was standing there? Jon! We started talking and got re-acquainted and I asked him if he wanted to be in a movie. At that time I was casting "Werewolf Tales: The Bite" for Kevin J. Lindenmuth's Brimstone Media L. L. C. He had a ton of fun, so when it came time to cast Evilmaker 2, he came first in mind for the part of the down and out cop.
Warren E. B. B. I also got through Joe. He was in Joe's sequence for "Werewolf Tales: Hyde" as well for Kevin and Brimstone. He had belonged to a local college group of movie makers headed up by Alan Winston from Bravado Entertainment. Warren has quite a resume with them and I worked with him on Joe's segment and thought he would be cool in Evilmaker 2. He had fun, but I think he wished his part were bigger.
Betty Griffith, the lady who played Serena's mother in both movies, was actually my old boss from work. She is retired now, but still loved to play bit parts. I had become good friends with her and her family through work and I could just see her in the bitchy part (she is no way near that in real life) and I think she got a kick out of swearing a lot. J
Elana Morgana Smith is actually a friend of mine and one day I asked her if she wanted to help me with Evilmaker 2 and she was really excited about it. So excited in fact, I gave her the part of Lisa. She did an awesome job and was wonderful as the AD. She helped keep me on track on the wild shoots.
Robert L. Sumner is actually a close friend of my Associate Producer on the movie (M. Edward Hegg). He was showing up to the shoots, running a camera to get behind the scenes footage and when it came time to shoot the newscaster stuff, I still hadn't found anyone. Originally the part was written for a woman, but changed it for Robert. He did really well considering he had a ton of lines and no time to learn them.
Kelly Loux, who played Rebecca I actually had found through Jon Wilmot. They work together. At first I had put an add in the local college paper and it had generated quite a few responses. As a matter of fact, I had two people picked out and the night before we were going to shoot their scenes, they bailed out for different reasons. So, I pushed that part of the shoot back and cut the parts from two to one. That's how I found a lot of my actors for The Seekers, was putting adds in papers and then meeting and talking with people. I will definitely go that route again when I need to cast if my regulars can't do it. That's why I like working with my core group of people, they are reliable, know what it all entails and love doing it. Sometimes people have no clue that this is actually work, lots of hours and a serious commitment.
I first started out acting in Joe's movies and had so much fun in each one of them, I decided to take the next step and make my own. As an actor, I have a hard time watching myself, so I like being behind the camera better. But, I will keep being in them as long as people will write characters for me to play. I cast myself in Evilmaker 2 for lack of a better option. I discovered that sometimes it's harder to cast men instead of women. Odd, isn't it? It's different trying to direct yourself. J
Q: You are both a writer and a director; how does your screenwriting process flow since you know you're going to be directing?
JOHN: It's funny. When I write, I have all these grandiose ideas and I write it out that way and then have to go back and tone them down because I know I wouldn't have the money to do one scene the way I wanted too, or I know I wouldn't be able to get a certain location, etc. At this level, you have to write what you know you can do and direct. People have all kinds of ways of writing their scripts, some people start from the end and go back, some people have the acts written out on little cards. Me, I start from the beginning and go to the end, linearly. I am a very organic writer. I just sit down and do it, sometimes not sure in which way the script is heading until I get to the end. But, I do try to keep in mind what my capabilities are as a director and what I can get away with.
Q: How long did it take to complete the second movie as compared to the first? What was the biggest difference between the two?
JOHN: It's funny, the first one was shot in 9 consecutive days, but took over a year to edit. The first Evilmaker was a nightmare to edit in the since that I didn't have my own equipment, so could only do a few hours here and there and we were almost done putting it together and the equipment broke. So, there was a long waiting period until we could get back on it. We even went so far as to drive to a town 90 minutes away to use an editing bay to finish it up, but when we got out there, come to find out they had torn their decks apart, so we went out there for nothing and they didn't bother to call us.
Evilmaker 2 took seven months to shoot, a weekend here and there, but only took three months to put together. So, they each took about the same length for different reasons. I guess the biggest difference between the two was how they were put together. For part one, we used a ¾" editing deck and we and to edit everything linearly from begging to end. If you messed up, you were hosed, so it was a long process. There were no transitions, effects (other than gore) and the like. For part two, I edited it on a computer and it was much quicker. You can move things around, play with things until you were happy with them, etc. Plus, I was a lot more relaxed with the sequel. I have been through all of this before and knew what to expect, etc.
Q: What was the weirdest thing that happened during the EVILMAKER 2 shoot?
JOHN: It's funny. Nothing really weird happened on the shoot other than Kylene kept hitting deers on her way to the set or on the way home. I guess one weird thing that happened was one night we were shooting and there was a tremendous storm going on outside and the lights were flickering on and off, but when it came time to shoot each scene, things would calm down a bit, and then flare up again after we got done shooting a scene. If you listen closely in some of the scenes you can hear the thunder in the background. I am very familiar with the locations now, so they weren't nearly as freaky this time out as they were the first time. My imagination didn't run away with me. J
Q: Your special effects in the movie are very well done---who does your makeup and digital effects?
JOHN: Rob Merickel has been doing my make up effects for years and he is a true genius. I just tell him what I want and bam! It's done. He went through a lot of this one, because not only was there gore effects, but there are three different versions of the Rachel character (played by Felicia Pandolfi) and sometimes he would be putting two to three different make up and costumes on her per night. Plus, he did the make up on everyone else, so he was a busy guy.
This is the first time I have ever dealt with computer effects and I handed that job over to Thunderhead Entertainment's Benjamin Cooper. I sent him the footage and descriptions and the result was amazing to me. The guy is flat out good. At one point when he had the footage, I had talked to him and asked how things were going and he said the things he thought would be hard to do turned out to be easy, and vice-versa. I am so happy with the way they turned out. I remember at one point he told me he wasn't quite sure what I had wanted with this one scene, so he told me to tell him what was happening with the scene and he would make it work. When I got the footage, my mouth dropped open. He had gotten something to happen just the way I had envisioned it. For those of you who see it, it's the scene with the two girls holding hands and the angelic glow comes out of them. All the computer effects were so cool. I will definitely be using Ben again.
Q: There's also a rumor of a third movie to complete the trilogy and the ending to part 2 really lends for a resolution. Tell us what happens in part 3 and which characters will be returning
JOHN: At the end of part two there is a scene that is somewhat disturbing that will lead into part three. The people returning in part there are Kylene, Felicia, Jon, Elana and Warren, plus the introduction of some new characters. Part 3 is going to be called "Birthright" and in a nutshell, Kylene's character is attacked in part two and she ends up pregnant with…something. I don't want to give it away, but whatever is born will have a strong desire to find the house and carry out it's "birthright". That's all I'll say, but it will wrap up the series.
Q: You've also been working on some other projects, tell us a bit about them…
JOHN: I have two other projects coming out this year aside from Evilmaker 2. The first is Dreamwalkers which is the story about a guy who has an obsession about a woman he keeps dreaming about, so he creates a machine that will record his dreams so he can watch her at any time he wants. One night, something goes wrong with the machine and he end up getting locked into his dreams. Come to find out that the dream world as we know it, isn't really true. It's not in our heads, our souls actually get transported to another place beyond explanation where there are rules and regulations and people who actually create dreams and nightmare for us. The biggest rule is that no human can experience any feelings while visiting this other place (like physical pain) and since the main character is there under different circumstances, he can now feel everything, including pain. When the lord of nightmares finds this out, he comes after the guy full force, trying to kill him in nightmares. It's a different story about fantasy and reality, but deep down it's a love story. I hope to finally have it done by summer.
The Seekers is my other one and I hope to have that done by Halloween. It's the story about a man who's life falls apart and he encounters a strange woman who tells him that she has all the answers to life and the questions we seek on a video tape. But, he must sign a contract in order to see it, and if he breaches the contract, not too many nice things are going to happen. That's all I'll say about that one.
Plus, later this year I plan on finishing out The Evilmaker series and then who knows from there. The field is wide open.