1) Tell us about yourself--what got you interested in moviemaking, et cetera...
I always loved movies since as far back as I can remember. What was unusual though is that I not only liked all types of movies (Horror was my favorite) I always wondered how they did that? And oh cool shot. I was amazed with any shows that had behind the scenes and the making of type of shows. Then came along the 70's slasher flicks and I said "Hey I can do that." So for my 14th birthday I was given a video camera and no one was safe in my neighborhood. All movies were about 30 minutes of my friends and neighbors getting killed by masked killers on the block I lived. Karo syrup, red food dye, raw meat and fake limbs were everywhere. But we wanted to do a feature, that should be easy... ... ... ... ...
2) How long did it take you to complete your first movie, from the time you first started shooting until you finished editing?
Our First movie was a remake,"Hell On Earth: Arena Of Death" a sequel to a little movie we made back in the early 80's called Hell On Earth! It was a mix of Mad Max, Last Man on Earth, and the Dead movies. We started in the fall of 1986 and completed it in the fall of 1992. You say wow six years. This was my Waterworld. We went through 6 years of grueling filming, one arrest, broken and bruised bones, almost a 100 cast members and 7 hours of rough footage. It was to much to do for our first movie at such a low budget but we were determined. We spent six months scouting and readying a script.
Myself and partner at that time, Mathew O'connor almost didn't Finnish but did and will never experience true B filming like that again. We decided on an old W.W.II army base for our Hell, and an Abandoned Bath House as our Arena of Death! It was very hard getting people to dress up like mutants for this futuristic apocalyptic world we were portraying, and then scaling walls and fences into places that said no trespassing. But all was done and the movie has become our underground cult classic!
3) You were the first to introduce the world to Debbie D... how did that come about? (and I don't know if we should be mad at you about this! LOL )
We met Debbie D while casting for Burglar from Hell. We saw her name in a photography magazine and contacted her. We were taking by her beauty and also her ability to act. Her famous scene in Burglar from Hell were she is being tutored by a nerd, and the killer breaks in and rips her shirt off, revealing for the first time her well rounded assets. It Was classic exploitation but tastefully done. She shows true emotion and carries the part well. Before she is killed she kicks the decaying killer in the groin, making it fall off. She played it straight and the rest is history. All of a sudden America was falling in love with Debbie D. She was pretty, could act, and did not mind showing her naked body. We loved her and brought her back for 2 more movies. "Jacker"(next door neighbor who gets killed in shower) and her most demanding and well received role in "Tales Till The End" (A tease who uses her husbands best friend to cart her around town to have sex with everyone except the poor best friend, who is secretly in love with her). We are hoping if schedules permit and budgets allow to get her in a future movie. She has exploded and has become a permanent fixture with Wave movies ,http://www.wavemovies.com .She also has her own website to get movies and pics http: //debbied.net. She is a fun person and great to get along with, and a pleasure to work with.
4) Everyone has horror stories from making low budget movies... what's the worst thing that ever happened in a production?
The worst that ever happened was getting back to Arena of Death! We were filming in a forbidden area, an old abandoned bathhouse. It was the dead of winter and getting dark. One of the cast members said hey a light switch and lit up the whole place like a Christmas tree. Not only the 600 foot walled and towering creepy bath house but the outside lights. needles to say in about 5 minutes the place was swarming with park police and helicopters with guns drawn. We managed to escape through a secret escape exit, but one guy was identified by a chopper pilot as being on the roof. He was arrested and let go with a fine. Needles to say we were spooked and stayed away fro a few years but returned to finish and not get caught. Lesson learned ,"Do not put lights on when you are trespassing!!!
5) What is your favorite movie that you made and why is it your favorite?
My favorite movie was Tales Till The End. It was an anthology about three friends who get stuck in an old abandoned fall out shelter. They are awaiting the end of the world and tell stories of the past year of there life. It was a great experience because the three guys were myself and two other partners (Ben Stanski and Barry Gaines) of Falcon Video. We all got to write, direct, and star in our own stories. It also starred a lot of good looking women, most notably Debbie D and Nancy Feliciano! The three stories that mad up the anthology were:
1: The demonic knife: An ordinary man finds a knife and gets possessed and go on a killing spree.
2: The filmmaker: The trials and tribulations of getting a indy film made. By the way this is loosely based on our experiences of making movies. Fans and Indies alike have praised this segment. It also has special cameos be renowned film makers Kevin Lindenmuth(Brimstone productions) And Joel D. Wynkoop (Creep)
3. When a Man Loves A women: The tragic tale of love and how far a man would go to get his true love before he snaps. A sexy and brutal tale of love gone wrong!
6) Who is your favorite film director and/or favorite movie (need not be independent)
My Favorite Film director is John Carpenter. From the beginning my tow favorite films that inspired me to make movies were; Assault on Precinct 13 and Halloween. He took simple premises and put shock and suspense along with eerie camera work to reality. These movies were made on shoestring budgets and little known casts and have become learning tools on how to make b-movies. I feel John has sold out in the last few years with the big Hollywood movies, but started out by making grade Z movies. Take a look at most of today's B movie makers and there is always a paid tribute to john in everyone's movie. The heavy breathing killer, the dark scene with camera flowing through the dark hallways. The screaming heroine. Which is of course the scream queen, who everyone bases themselves on the original Queen Jamie Lee Curtis!
7) How do you think all these cheaper DV cameras coming out will affect low budget productions?
I think cheaper DV cameras coming out will not affect low budget productions. I think these cameras and the cost coming down will improve Low budget movies. A complete set with editors included are under $5,000. You can have a complete studio for that price and pop out movies even faster now. I have seen some Digital work and find it quiet good. The only problem with some companies using it, there abusing all the digital effects and movies are starting to look like MTV videos.
I have chosen not to go that way, but will have to soon. Everyone is making there movies and you can see the difference, it is crisp and clear and minimal generation lost when making copies. The problem now is not digital or video or and format, it is quality. It is getting so hard to get movies done at this level. People are backing out left and right and there are very few originals in the game at this level. There are fewer and fewer B makers sticking together. Instead the ones that have given up making movies have websites and blast and critique existing filmmakers. They forget what it was like to get a frame of film complete let alone a feature, I always say the worst movie a B maker can make is better than any Hollywood A list production. Why? Because they made it themselves. Most Indies write, produce, direct and star in there own stuff. They don't have million dollars budgets and everyone doing stuff for you. You as an indy do it yourself. So to all those blind critics remember that next time you review a movie with a budget under $10,000.
8) Any current projects? I heard you contributed a segment to a recent film that also included B movie actor Joel D. Wynkoop...
My last projects were the anticipated sequel to Jacker. It was called Jacker 2: Descent to Hell. It was our second best seller and has motivated us to maybe do one more. The concept that hits home to everyone is very simple ,"Carjacking" What makes it real scary is that you can relate to it as being reality and not fiction. Jacker 2 also was proud to have Marilyn Ghigliotti from the classic Kevin Smith movie(Clerks). It was our first real star and was great to have her on board. She was professional and turned out another winning performance.
I also did a segment for 4th floor pics called "Deranged Fan" for a movie called "Tales for the Midnight Hour" hosted by Joel D. Wynkoop. Joel is the Michael Caine of B movies he shows up in every other feature, how does he do it? My short Deranged fan gave me the opportunity to work with Nancy Feliciano as a Deranged Fan. I was honored to be with her in her most revealing movie yet and the acting was totally convincing. It was wonderful working with Ryan Cavalline from 4th Floor a true professional and a master at scaring and making B movies. He and his company are ones to watch for in the future. there latest movies Shudder is out, and will make you check the doors while watching. A true suspense movie in the tradition of all those haunted house don't look in the basement type of licks!
9) Anything you want to add? (Website, email, etcetera)
To all the Indies out there, keep going and don't give up. Grab that camcorder and keep making movies. No matter how bad they are as long as you complete it, they are winners. So many people start and don't Finnish you never know what will make it. For God sakes look at "Blair witch Project". That should be inspiration for anyone, that could have been any of us. We are currently working on a few scripts and I myself doing cameo work for other Indies. I am ready to play an Army captain for an alien flick from Morbid productions. And have something coming up with 4th Floor pictures to. I am keeping busy. We hope to start shooting a movie by the fall after the profits for our last movies are tallied.