Q: It looks like you started your career on TV and then got into the movies...
Yeah, I did a TV show. Actually, the first movie I did was HOOK, when I was a little kid. I was one of the Lost Boys and it was my first big Hollywood thing. It was cool, man, because I got to meet Steven Spielberg, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins and Dustin Hoffman. It was like a dream come true. And that's where Dante (actor) and I met. And Dante Bosco, he's in BLOOD RIVER. So we're long time friends.
That was the first big gig I got and then went to school and all that stuff, come back to L.A. from New York and got a TV show called JUST DEAL. Basically, we replaced SAVED BY THE BELL. It was a teen Saturday drama show. I was one it for about four years. It was a trip because I got an offer to do the first horror film after FAT ALBERT and that was called DRIVE THRU, a clown film. And I loved it. I've always been a fan of big time horror movies and when I got the opportunity to do that film, for Lions Gate, I jumped on it. It was a trip because we've be having lunch and here I am with my face all bloody, like burnt hamburger and the girl next to me is cut up and we're just talking normal, like "So, how are you?" It was kind of trippy. But I definitely love the horror genre. I think it's hot.
Q: So, with GRIZZLY PARK, which you're in, I'm assuming it's about a killer grizzly bear...
It's about a group of kids who are delinquents and have to go up to the mountains to pick up trash and it's kind of loosely based on reality. They leave the Park Ranger they are with and get all murdered and killed by this Grizzly Bear.
Q: Is it a normal bear that goes crazy or a mutant/giant?
He's a normal bear. But bears are HUGE. When we met this bear he stood like nine feet tall.
Q: That's intimidating. I know there was a handler, but how close did you come to the real bear when you were shooting?
The thing was, with the bear they have rules that say you can only be thirty-feet close to the bear. It was crazy. They had a wolf on set, too. And we could only be thirty-feet away from the wolf. There were these two guys that were with the bear and they had these "shockers" in case the bear got out of control, and had the trailer there. They'd knock on the trailer door, the bear would come out, look around, smelled the air and everything.
They told us not to eat bananas the day before we see the bear, not to eat onions or any sweets because they said the bear can smell the sweets coming out of your poresâ€"and it makes you taste good to the bear. So I was like, "I'm just going to eat some Doritos all day, I'm not eating any bananas, no nothing for me".
This bear was unbelievable but he was so calm and gentle. When he walked by, even thirty feet away, you could feel the ground shake. One of his arms was like my two legs put together. And in the movie I actually get caught in a bear trap and fly forty feet in the air. What happens is that the bear bites my head off. They had to fake it. It was cool, though.
Q: With BLOOD RIVER, you both wrote and directed the movie?
Q: How did that movie come about?
Basically, I was thinking that there was such a big thing going on with THE SECRET, everybody's so hooked on this book, the whole process and premise of you being able to imagine and think positive. So, that's the big thingâ€""if you think positive good things will happen and good things in your life will come to you"â€"and then I thought, "What if you think negative?" Will bad things come to you? If you have fears, will those happen? So, I said "I need to write a story". Right from there I sat down and started writing it. Basically, BLOOD RIVER is the premise of your fears coming to life. It's just like THE SECRET except it's the opposite. Whatever you think bad will happen. You have to control your fear...
Q: Why a river?
The reason it's the river, the River accentuates your thoughts, so it's kind of like fear in a way. Remember that movie with Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone and Samuel Jackson?
Q: Ah, THE SPHERE...
It's kind of like that. The River is the thing that accentuates their thoughts. In the film, there's one guy, Dante, who has a fear of bugs. A fear of cockroaches crawling on him and he feels like that's how he's going to die, somehow. So when he's walking out in the River, it happens to him. But he's the only one who can see it happening. It's all in his mind. So he's all freaking out and the camera shows him through his eyesâ€"and he sees thousands of roachesâ€"and when we see the other people's perspective they see him freaking out by himself and asking "What's going on with you?"
Q: How did you do the cockroach effects?
We had to use CGI. We wanted to use a real bug wrangler. I called him up but he said it was $10,000, to fly him there with all his bugs. I was like, "What happens if the bugs get out?" We couldn't get the permits and all that stuff. The thing is, once you let them out they stay in whatever area they're going to be in. So we said, "We'll just go CGI".
Q: That makes sense.
I would have loved to see real bugs. The actors, at the same time, kind of gingerly brought it up, so it wouldn't have worked anyway.
Q: So, what happens in the movie?
It's a fun movie, man. It takes place mostly in an RV. Kind of like a road trip, and they get to this river and weird things start to happen. All their fears start to come to light. So it was really fun to make it. We did it up in Northern California and we were on some Native Reservations because one of the premises is that this river is called RED RIVER by the Native Americans who came there 25,000 years ago. There were fifteen thousands people who lived around the river and they all mysteriously died and no one could figure out how they were eradicated. And they believe it's because of the curse of the river. They all killed themselves.
Q: That always works pretty well in a movie, the Indian curse. Plus, that's the whole basis of any horror movie, to begin withâ€"dealing with fear.
Q: What was your favorite part of working on that movie?
I'd have to say the prosthetics. I have a prosthetic head that they used for one scene. We went to the special effects place, Synapse Effects, and what they did was they had to make a cast of my entire head. In the film, what happens is that a screwdriver goes through my cheek from the side, and I wanted to show it in slow motionâ€"and they were like "We have to make a head cast". So I sat in this chair for two hours while they put this gook all over my face and enclosed me in this cast of my head. I can't see, I can't hear, can't talk or anything. You really have to trust who you are around!
Q: Are you claustrophobic?
Yeah, I'm a little claustrophobic. They got two straws and stuck them up my nose so I could breathe. But I'd say that was the best part of the movie, when I got to see my (fake) head, because you normally don't see what you look like. I'm looking at it like "Is that me?" Wow, that's a trip. They kind of murdered my head up and it looked kind of cool.
Q: Was it difficult to both direct and be an actor in the film?
It definitely wasn't easy. It was challenging. The thing is, I've been doing this for so long and I've been making all my own films since I was eight years old, so it's a dream to finally get the opportunity to really show what I can do with film. For me, that was the biggest blessing, the biggest gift that I could ever have. And my dream is to be like Sylvestor Stallone and Clint Eastwood and Bruce Willis and George Clooney and all those guys who are doing it like that. They're the new way in entertainment, to create your own film's and also be in them. If you can do it I say go for it. That's my big thing. I say go for it.
Q: Why did you do a horror movie for your first film?
For my first film I wanted to do horror because I absolutely love it. I love the genre. I think it's going to be scary but not so gory. It's a nice, campy horror film that people are going to be able to get into mentally and the CGI and all that stuff will be great. It's going to be cool.
Q: When is the release date?
Well, right now it's in editing. So probably next Summer. I still have a couple of months to edit and do all the sound work...
Q: What's the idea for your next horror movie?
I have a couple other ideas that I can't give away just yet, but I definitely want to do another one.
Q: What are your three favorite horror movies?
Q: Only three.
Definitely FRIDAY THE 13th, the first one. It's a classic. I really like 28 DAYS LATER, and... ..DAWN OF THE DEAD.
Q: The ORIGINAL, right?
Definitely, the original. If I have to choose only three I say those three.
Q: Those are good choices. Is there anything else you want to mention about your movie?
I had a really great time, my actors are all veteran actors, it was a pleasure to work with them. I got the opportunity through Jeffrey Taylor and Deon Reed and they have Taylor/Reed entertainment and I signed a deal with them. And the guys really believe in me and it's a great honor to be making movies and do what I do.
I guess I just say to everyone else who aspires to make movies, or even fans who watch them, is to keep supporting horror. Keep supporting these films because it's up and coming guys like me who will hopefully be the next Speilbergs and make good movies for everyone.
Q: Cool. Well, thanks. It was good talking with you.