STEVEN: I was born and started growing up in Alexandria Virginia, which is outside Washington D.C... I spent my teenage years in a place called Wilmington Ohio. My influences are Val Lewton, Wes Craven, Robert Wise (Whom I've met and had conversation with about working with Val Lewton, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi among others) and last but not least Clive Barker. I was heavily influenced by growing up in a military family. My father was over 30 years US Air Force and I did a four year hitch in the Navy. That's where a lot of my talent as a UPM and Line Producer comes from... that being highly organized and detailed.
Q: How did you first get involved with the horror/sci-fi genre of filmmaking?
STEVEN: I grew up on horror films. Also, unlike some of you, I wasn't discouraged from it. I remember my Dad first telling me about how he loved to go to the movies and see Lon Chaney Sr. as the Hunchback and Phantom of the Opera. Then, of course, the release to television of the Universal Horror films in the sixties. Every Saturday afternoon I was in front of the TV for Shock Theater. Dad always brought me home the latest FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine and I built most all of the Aurora Monster model kits. Then Dad always took me to the drive-in to see all the Hammer films. I also watched all the Corman Poe cycle, not to mention the American International films all first run in a theater or drive-in. Then, in the seventies, when I could drive and date I saw films like Wes Craven's Last House on the Left, Texas Chainsaw Massacre , Don't look in the Basement etc. Most all of these were, of course, viewed under the influences of any number of mind altering substances to boot... wild baby wild! Now I'll really answer the question: My first feature film was when I was a student at OSU Film School. I was the production manager and that would be Beyond Dreams Door year 1988.
Q: How long did it take you to complete the first movie you produced, from when you first started shooting to when you had the final edit?
STEVEN: It's still incomplete. It was stolen by the director and his roommate and it remains so today. It is the great unseen Linnea Quigley film Blood Church aka Fallen Angels. It's done and stolen and hidden under the bed of a want a be film director / writer in LA. Who now teaches film at some second rate community college film school in the Los Angeles area. Year completed 1989... I do have a copy of a cut of the film lets just say it's a pretty good potboiler about a satanic cult that takes over a small Midwestern town. Linnea Quigley was my idea and she was hot back then. We could have made some money on that one but the ego bag director didn't give a damn and his weasel roommate led him to believe that it might harm his glorious career in Hollywood. Actually, I believe Jay was more jealous of the fact we had Linnea in our picture and neither he nor his producer Dyrk Ashton had the insight or intelligence to put a name in Beyond Dreams Door and that is the down and dirty on that!
Q: Tell us about some of the movies you've worked on (BEYOND DREAMS DOOR, DINOSAUR BABES, HELLMASTER, IMMORTAL, and DRANIAC and PSYCLOPS).
Beyond Dreams Door Great learning experience, a nice looking film.
Hellmaster Bigger budget a joy to work on met some great people really not a bad film, kind of fun all in all. John Saxon and David Emge my first real stars to work with were interesting and brilliant. Too bad the producers have lately turned out to be scoundrels of a sort. I remember them when they where nice upstanding citizens. Their ego bags got the better of them.
They Bite A lot of fun. Met Brett and Bill Links on that film. They are still friends today. Ron Jeremy was fun and Charlie Barnet was good to work with. Here's a little known fact Linda Blair and Sandra Bullock were both up for the female lead in the film and Sam Kinison was going to play the MC for the wet T Shirt contest but we didn't trust him to make it. Imagine that!
Demented Weird experience fun sort of, I was glad to get Jim Van Bebber an acting role on that film though he isn't that happy with it. He is a friend and a great talent whom I have a lot of respect for. Jim's legacy is assured with Deadbeat at Dawn and The Manson Family lets all hope he keeps on keeping on! Catch him if you can!
Jamaica Stunts I directed this half-hour demonstration reel for a stunt team out of Florida its really pretty good. There are three episodes to the film one a biker bar two a martial arts studio confrontation and three a hostage liberation situation.
Darc of the Night Pilot episode for a horror host (Mr. Darc) like the cool ghoul or something. I produced and helped direct the wrap rounds while he tossed quips at the movie PLANE 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. Its fun and really whacked. We used this Orlando haunted house attraction Terror on Church St. for our locations. It aired locally in central Florida during the mid-90's.
Immortal First time I worked with music as live performance in a film. Luckily my friend David K. Kneesly, who had worked sound for the R.E.M. Tour film, came to the rescue. Great film, really. As usual I believe they got themselves into some bad distribution with Spectrum. Spectrum did do nice box artwork for them, though. It has been re-released by Sprocketz out of North Carolina. It a much better duplication of the film the sound and picture are now what they were suppose to be.
Dinosaur Babes Great looking women and they were great to work with... the producer George Barnes sucks the big one and is another thief that's out there so one and all beware. Did meet a real fine friend and production manager on the project though and that would be Vic Hunter. Brett hates George's cut of the film. So Brett has distanced himself from the whole thing. It's really not a bad film on a lot of levels its quite entertaining and fun to watch.
DRAINIAC! Publicity and promotion also provided some of the financing for the project. Now more advise never let your film go into the hands of Max at Rounds Entertainment. He does not know what he is doing and probably worse. Brett now has the film with a new sales and distribution entity. Psyclops
Brett's new feature film now being posted at Edgewood Studios in Vermont. Still more to come on this one.
Q: How did you team up with director Brett Piper?
STEVEN: On They Bite we met and I was the go between for he and Bill Links. I kept things running smoothly. As they were not getting along well at all. Brett appreciated that and other things I have helped him with all along at times in his life, he likes the way I get things done.
Q: What was the weirdest thing that happened during the shoot?
STEVEN: One day I and Ron Jeremy where standing outside his Mexico Beach, Florida hotel room talking. When a big black car comes pulling up fast, out jumps two big linebacker looking dudes in dark suits and sunglasses. They flip open their wallets and stick them in my face (as Ron is inching his way back into his room) DEA was the logo on the cards in their wallets. They questioned me up and down about drug usage-mine, the crew's, the cast's, and any one else's they thought might matter. Suddenly they got satisfied (by this time Ron had disappeared back in his room) and jumped back in their car and left--back to the set of MEN IN BLACK... only kidding! Turns out the condo Bill had rented (on the cheap) for the crew was owned by a convicted drug trafficker notorious in that part of Florida.
Q: What do you think of the current state of independent film making?
STEVEN: It's in flux. Let's hope it shakes out as to where the producers making these digital (video) wonders end up paying cast, crew and themselves someday. They also need to make sure they get the money with profit back to the investors. These and other low budget independent films need to face it and start casting name talent. That's something Edgewood Studios gets right.
Q: What are the new projects you are planning?
STEVEN: On one hand a lot of that depends on Brett and what he can work out with Edgewood. And on the other hand I am back here in Ohio at this time taking care of my aged and ill father. He has pancreatic cancer. I have also have had the great fortune to become a juror for the Columbus International Film and Video Festival. I judge educational films like, you know, PBS and the History Channel type of shows. I am also in negotiations with Marcus Cook (LOVE IN A STRAIGHT JACKET) out of Cleveland to help him produce a zombie holocaust type feature film. It's a great script and he's even spoken to Tom Savini about doing FX. I would really like to direct a feature film someday--something substantial that would make its money back. Maybe a rural crime gangster film like Bonnie and Clyde or Dillinger. I have a lot of old newspaper clippings about a famous gangster from Cincinnati named Bob Zwick. Still, I have this hang up about one and all getting paid and the project making money for the people who put the money in it to begin with. Gee, imagine that. I must be too idealistic.
Q: Anything you want to add?
STEVEN: My best advise is to put the distributors/sales people you think you are going to choose through the wringer up front. Check them out and don't be desperate or afraid to ask the tough questions and get the true answers. Also, on the other hand, give them the elements they need to sell the film. At least some names in the cast proper running length and for God's sake make sure to have the film ready technically so it can compete in the market place before you put it out there.