Jen Badasci and Christopher Allan Poe

Jen Badasci and Christopher Allan Poe
BadPoe

Jen Badasci and Christopher Allan Poe

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

Our writer/director partnership is named BadPoe, short for Jen Badasci and Christopher Allan Poe. You can find samples of our writing as well as short films at https://badpoe.net/

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

Our first love is screenwriting. There is something about building worlds, creating entire Universes on paper that excites us. We’re driven by putting our characters into seemingly impossible situations and then sorta bearing witness to how they navigate their way out of it. We’re also passionate about producing short films. After years of producing sci fi/horror music videos, it seems like a natural transition to get into making narrative shorts in the same genre. We like to tell stories that are very visual, with as little dialogue as possible–more of a less is more approach. Shadows and smoke are so much creepier to us than showing the entire creature in full light. At some point, we intend to tackle a feature.

DG: What are you currently working on?

Right now, we’re working on writing and directing a short film in the same Universe as our screenplay, DARK NOISE. After that, we’ve got a new screenplay–mostly beated out–with a new concept that even our spouses don’t get to know about. Loose lips and all that 😀

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

JEN: Actually, I met Chris through our writing mentor, Bonnie Hearn Hill. She’s a California author who taught us how to write fiction and non-fiction for publication. She’s also the first person who showed us that we could have careers in writing. After I graduated from college, I called Bonnie to find out if I could come to her writer’s table. Although we kept in touch through email, I hadn’t seen her in 15 years. It was a three hour drive to get to her table, but I didn’t care. Like a lot of writers, my motivation to produce is driven by having deadlines, so the trek once a week was completely worth it. Bonnie said, “Oh my god, yes. I can’t wait for you to come meet your brother.” Which I thought was such a bizarre thing to say, but she was right. Chris was most definitely my brother.

CHRIS: Jen nailed it. Neither of us would be here without Bonnie and what she’s done for new writers. As far as our influences, I lived a decent amount of time in Maine. Most people regard King as the most prolific and successful horror writer of all time, but in Maine, he’s a god. Apparently, every person who ever lived in Maine was his neighbor at one point. Jen and I have both read him since we were kids. We also appreciate how much he’s willing to do for new talent. As far as directing, it’s John-motherfucking-Carpenter for both of us. Jen even got me a THEY LIVE poster signed by Carpenter. She has THE THING 😀

DG::Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

CHRIS: Shit, this dates back to the beginning of human writing. The Bhagavad Gita. Most of the Bible is a horror story. The Grimm Brothers. The Penny Dreadfuls. Red Riding Hood is a cautionary tale of wandering off into the forest. The kids who heeded that warning lived. The rest were wolf food 🙂 To add to that, these days, most people reach old age. In the absence of Darwinian law for humans, we crave living in those life-or-death moments that provide the visceral reaction that makes us feel alive.

JEN: I agree. I also think it’s about straight-up caveman shit. That primal part of our brain that forces us to ask ourselves what we would do in a situation like those in horror/sci fi films. Unlike almost any other genre, horror and sci fi tap into the foundation of who we are as a species. I think most of us are pulled into our innate sense of survival when we watch horror or sci fi, and if the film does its job well, we, as our caveman selves, will feel satisfied that we would have survived that situation.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

CHRIS: Pure creation.

JEN: Yep. It’s a great mixture of creating worlds as well as having an avenue for telling powerful stories that people can relate to.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

CHRIS: Dishonesty.

JEN: Yeah. There are a lot of bullshitters in this business. The closed system is also really disheartening.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

CHRIS: It’s not pandering when I say winning the award for Best Sci-Fi Screenplay at Shriekfest. Jen and I have won awards for different things, but we’ve never felt more at home or with our people than we did at the festival.

JEN: Ditto.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

There are gonna be a million people telling you what you can’t do. Ditch them and surround yourself with the people who are doing it, or at least willing to get out and help push the car. Also, take control of your own narrative. In other words, if you want to make a movie, make one. Don’t give up your power to the industry machine. Dictate your own terms.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

Denise, you’re a badass, and we appreciate all you’ve done 🙂

Samuel Peirce

Samuel Peirce
Journalist and Film Reviewer

Samuel Peirce

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

Samuel Peirce, but I usually go by Sam. I write film reviews under the moniker Listener Sam at http://theoverlooktheatre.com/ and as an occasional guest contributor to Bloody Disgusting at https://bloody-disgusting.com/author/samuel-peirce/

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

Screenwriting for sure. I’ve shot a few shorts and plan to shoot more, but it’s the writing and storytelling that appeals most to me.

DG: What are you currently working on?

I’m currently sharing a feature-length horror western, SALT WEST. I’m also working on revisions on MESSIAH COMPLEX, another feature about a cult in an apartment complex. I’m also outlining another feature, THE CENOTE, about a honeymooning couple who become trapped in a Yucatan denote, and researching a historical piece. I like keeping a lot of irons in the fire. I get bored when I’m not telling stories.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

Luis Camara (Writer/Director of Steel Trap, Silencio, and writer of You’re Killing Me Susana) — As a freshman in college, I took a course that he taught on Creative Storytelling. At that point, I was studying biology, and while I’d done some creative writing in the past, I’d never been introduced to the screenplay format. We bonded over a mutual appreciation for horror (including his own goofy flick, Steel Trap) and Luis taught me about screenwriting and sewed the seeds that grew into the passion I have now.

DG: Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

With regards to horror, I think taboo plays a major role in creating such a large and cohesive community. It’s a genre that allows for films that are transgressive in a way that other genres aren’t, and the films that get made tap into subject matter that’s often unpleasant to talk about. Because of that taboo, horror fans and creators latch on to one another to share their love of topics that others don’t as readily accept. I think sci-fi has a large following for similar reasons, but instead of being transgressive, it explores stories that can’t exist in other genres by design.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

The people. I’m normally a pretty introverted guy who’d rather spend his time somewhere isolated writing page-after-page than going to a social gathering, but without fail, I’ve found friendship and camaraderie at horror festivals. Seriously, horror filmmakers are the best.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

The hustle. I’d much rather just spend my time writing and seeing people enjoy my work then have to split focus into marketing myself.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

Earlier this year I optioned my screenplay THE SUBURBAN KALEIDOSCOPE.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

Make writing a habit like showering or brushing your teeth. Write even if you don’t want to write, and write even when what you write sucks. Eventually, you’ll find the good stuff, and if you don’t, don’t be afraid to start over.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

Thanks so much for the interview! If anyone wants to connect you can find me on twitter @samuel_peirce

Stuart Creque

Stuart Creque
Screenwriter, Director, Producer

Stuart Creque

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

Name: Stuart Creque, Company: Creque’s Alley Productions, www.creque.com

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

I’m mainly a screenwriter, but I have directed one short and produced another.

DG: What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on producing and directing another short film and am writing and rewriting several feature scripts and a pilot.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

My mentors are Biff Yeager (who produced and directed a short I wrote, and who let me on set during production), Scary Cow Productions (a filmmaking collective in San Francisco), and Roadmap Writers (an educational services company for screenwriters).

DG::Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

Horror satisfies the human need to feel mortal fear and danger while letting us survive the experience, while sci-fi tells us that no matter what the future holds, humans will always remain human.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

What I love most is seeing my work on the screen and hearing the audience react the way I hoped they would.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

What I dislike most is the struggle to get my work onto the screen.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

My proudest accomplishment is adapting a short story my daughter wrote into a feature screenplay, and then seeing the resulting film on the screen.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

My advice to newbies is to keep creating new projects and to make some of them yourselves, if you can find people who want to help you make films.

Tracy Charlton

Tracy Charlton
Screenwriter, The Building (2009)

Tracy Charlton

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

My name is Tracy Charlton. No company at this point!

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

I’m a screenwriter.

DG: What are you currently working on?

I’m revising my screenplay NANO with my friend and co-writer Martha Chang. It’s a sci-fi thriller that takes existing nano technology and runs with it. I’m really excited about its potential!

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

I was lucky enough to be one of the winners of the inaugural Meryl Streep/NYWIFT writing lab 4 years ago. There were 12 writers — chosen from over 3,500 scripts! — and we became good friends. We read each others scripts and try to help each other in any way we can. I consider all of them to be co-mentors.

DG: Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

They take you to a different place from the ordinary world in fun and scary ways. Horror is so primal — it’s like when you’re a little kid and you’re afraid there’s a monster under your bed. And with sci-fi you can just let your imagination run wild. I love all the crazy stuff you can play with in a sci-fi script.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

Telling stories and getting to work with other creative people.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

Pitching! I’m the worst.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

My spec thriller script THE BUILDING was made into a TV movie starring Erica Durance.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

Find your tribe. This is a tough business and it makes all the difference in the world to have a group of people who have your back.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

Never stop learning, revising, trying to get better. Those little moments of perfection we’re all trying to create in film only come from a lot of hard work.

Ray Kermani

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Ray Kermani
Writer, Director and Screenwriter

Ray Kermani

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

Ray Kermani, Shadow Pictures

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

Film director and screenwriter of short films. I really like to direct my own screenplays.

DG: What are you currently working on?

At this moment, I’m working on three new horror short films. “Ghost Bloggers”, “S.O.S. Monsters” and “Bad Moon.”

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

Being a huge fan of John Carpenter and Sam Raimi I kind of consider these two directors as my mentors. I admire Carpenter’s pefect atmospheric scenes as well as his way of storytelling. Raimi on the other hand, is a master of camera work and sound design. He knows how to create a compelling viewing experience.

DG: Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

Basically, we all love to be scared or just be intrigued by the “unknown”. Whether it’s by a story or a film.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

The thing I love the most about this business, is the fact you get to meet new people. The US festivals have always been so good and generous to me. I’m very grateful to be recognized in America.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

I live in Belgium and that is probably one of the worst countries as a horror filmmaker to live in. Horror and scifi are definitely not popular over here. Luckily, my movies are being very well received outside of Belgium.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

Right now, I’m promoting disability in horror. There’s just not enough diversity in horror and scifi films. We’re all the same people on this planet and it’s no effort for filmmakes at all to work with everybody, no matter what your ethnicity, gender, disability or religion is.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

Get yourself surrounded by passionate and ambitious people who elevate your film to a higher level. Make as much as short films as you can. Consider making short films as your learning school. You’ll sure make mistakes, but mistakes make you only a better filmmaker.

Dave Bundtzen Test

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

DB: My name is Dave Bundtzen. My company is Flix Digital. All of my horror short films are available at my YouTube Channel Flix Horrorhttps://www.youtube.com/c/FlixHorror

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

DB: I am a writer, producer and director.

DG: What are you currently working on?

DB: am prepping a new horror short film titled Widow Maker. I hope to premiere it at Shriekfest next year.

DG: Nice! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

DB: I have had many mentors over the years so I could not name just one. I find that mentors suddenly become available at the exact point I need them. It’s funny but it has happened time and time again. I am always so thankful for their guidance and insight.

DG::I love that! Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

DB: I think of all genres horror has always been considered the red headed step child. Films in the past have been done for lower budgets and without major star power. Film critics usually dislike horror films as a rule. Yet the audience over the years accepts this and loves them. The audience for horror is very passionate. This is why I love it so much too. I have made other genre films, from comedy, drama etc, but horror is always the most fun and I love to watch the films with an audience.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

DB: Making the impossible happen. Creating a story in your head and then down the road seeing it play with an audience is an amazing experience. I love it.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

DB: Egos. I am not a fan. I try to work with cast and crew that leave their egos at the door. Egos just get in the way of the process for me.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

DB: I have built my career on always learning, being a good person, working hard and having fun while doing it all.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

DB: We are in the best stage ever to be a filmmaker. Make movies often and post them for feedback. You will be amazed by what you can learn and the vast audience that you can reach.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

DB: I want to thank Shriekfest for the amazing opportunities it has brought to me. I am so thankful that I have been a part of the festival. Thank you!

DG: Dave, the pleasure is all mine! Thank you for chatting!

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Dave Bundtzen

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Dave Bundtzen
Writer, Producer and Director

Dave Bundtzen

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

DB: My name is Dave Bundtzen. My company is Flix Digital. All of my horror short films are available at my YouTube Channel Flix Horrorhttps://www.youtube.com/c/FlixHorror

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

DB: I am a writer, producer and director.

DG: What are you currently working on?

DB: am prepping a new horror short film titled Widow Maker. I hope to premiere it at Shriekfest next year.

DG: Nice! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

DB: I have had many mentors over the years so I could not name just one. I find that mentors suddenly become available at the exact point I need them. It’s funny but it has happened time and time again. I am always so thankful for their guidance and insight.

DG::I love that! Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

DB: I think of all genres horror has always been considered the red headed step child. Films in the past have been done for lower budgets and without major star power. Film critics usually dislike horror films as a rule. Yet the audience over the years accepts this and loves them. The audience for horror is very passionate. This is why I love it so much too. I have made other genre films, from comedy, drama etc, but horror is always the most fun and I love to watch the films with an audience.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

DB: Making the impossible happen. Creating a story in your head and then down the road seeing it play with an audience is an amazing experience. I love it.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

DB: Egos. I am not a fan. I try to work with cast and crew that leave their egos at the door. Egos just get in the way of the process for me.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

DB: I have built my career on always learning, being a good person, working hard and having fun while doing it all.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

DB: We are in the best stage ever to be a filmmaker. Make movies often and post them for feedback. You will be amazed by what you can learn and the vast audience that you can reach.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

DB: I want to thank Shriekfest for the amazing opportunities it has brought to me. I am so thankful that I have been a part of the festival. Thank you!

DG: Dave, the pleasure is all mine! Thank you for chatting!

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Sara Caldwell

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Sara Caldwell
2019 Feature Screenplay Finalist with “Raven Dock”

Sara Caldwell

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

SC: Sara Caldwell House of Gorey Productions, http://www.houseofgoreyproductions.com

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

SC: I’m primarily a producer/writer but have also directed short films and worked as a 2nd A.D.

DG: What are you currently working on?

SC: I’m working as a producer on a new online series called Moms N Tots that will begin airing in spring 2020. I also just completed a new horror screenplay, Mother, Maiden and Crone. Yes it involves a witch!

DG: Nice! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

SC: My father, who showed me that you can succeed as a writer and live an independent life without the 9-5 shackles of a traditional job.

DG: Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

SC: It’s one of the few genres that’s always blossomed in the independent world and star power isn’t necessary for its success, so filmmakers can afford to go there. People also love to be scared – it’s cathartic as long as it’s safe.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

SC: The creative and collaborative aspects – it’s so much fun to be on set, all focused toward the same goal.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

SC: It’s highly competitive and risky. I’ve seen many of my former students really struggle in the real world and some give up because it’s just too tough financially.

DG: Very sad. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

SC: Getting into the WGA certainly made me proud, as well as having four books published over the years. Also, becoming a lecturer in Film & Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara has been a fantastic experience.

DG: Wow! That’s impressive! Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

SC: Find your own voice. To quote Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

DG: Yes!!! Anything else you’d like to say?

SC: Thanks for hosting such an awesome film festival!

DG: Thank you Sara for your kind words and being in the Shriekfest family!

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Susan McCauley

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Susan McCauley
Writer/Producer of 2019 Official Selection “The Murdering Kind”

Susan McCauley

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

SM: I write indie films and I write novels and short stories that have been published by different companies. My website is www.sbmccauley.com.

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

SM: I’m a screenwriter and fiction writer. I mainly focus on the genres of horror, supernatural, and dark fantasy (for adults and kids).

DG: What are you currently working on?

SM: I have two feature films in development: The Murdering Kind and Forsaken. My second novel will be released worldwide in February 2020.

DG: I’m so excited that The Murdering Kind will be a feature now! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

SM: My mentor was the British theatre and television director Robin Midgley. Sadly, Robin passed away in 2007. However, in the years I knew him, he was a tremendous guide and support to me and my writing. Even when I wasn’t on the right track with what I was doing, he understood what I was after and was able to help nudge me in the right direction. He really “got” me as an artist. I miss him greatly.

DG: Wow, he sounds amazing. Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

SM: I think there is a long answer to this questions, but, in general, I think the biggest reason is that horror and sci-fi gives us a safe opportunity to feel scared. In the expanse of human evolution we were naturally in survival situations on a regular basis. Since the industrial revolution and the modernization of the world (especially with advances in medicine, technology, and engineering), we don’t use those fight-or-flight responses as often, which is what our bodies were designed to do. So, I think being able to see horror, sci-fi, and even action films (or read books) in a “safe” setting is a way for us to feel those natural feelings, which we need, without being in any real danger.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

SM: I love the ability to create and work with talented people.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

SM: The sharks. Those who take (or try to take), but aren’t able to contribute in a meaningful way.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

SM: I guess I’m pretty happy about the recent release of my debut novel, The Devil’s Tree, which came out in October 2019. It’s been doing well and getting a good response from readers. So, I’m very happy about that.

DG: Congrats!!Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

SM: If you’re a writer – read as much as you can and write. Just keep doing it. Take classes and get to know good people who can lift you up. It can be a very discouraging business (in film and fiction). There is SO MUCH rejection. You need to remind yourself that if you keep working at it you will get better and better (I hope and pray that I will get better at writing every day and with every project for the rest of my life). You also need to remember that what you write or create as a filmmaker will NOT be for everyone. There will always be some “haters” out there. There will always be people who don’t love the genres you do. For me, if I’m able to create something that I’m truly happy with and that the majority of viewers or readers enjoy, then I think I’m on the right track with what I’m doing.

DG: Excellent advice! Anything else you’d like to say?

SM: I hope you’ll stop by my website or visit me on social media and say hi.

DG: Thank you Susan for chatting!

Avishai Weinberger

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Avishai Weinberger
2016 and 2019 Screenplay Finalist

Avishai Weinberger

DG: What is your name and company name and URL?

AW: My name is Avishai Weinberger. I do not have a company, but my twitter account is @avishaiw.

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?

AW: I’m largely a screenwriter, but I also direct and edit.

DG: What are you currently working on?

AW: I’m currently working on taking my feature script THIRD DATE (Shriekfest 2019 finalist), a horror story about toxic love, and getting it off the ground. I have a producer attached and I plan on directing. The goal is to shoot in June if possible. I’m also writing a couple of projects at the side that are in too early a stage of development to discuss right now, but I’m excited to see where they go.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

AW: Oh, boy, hard question. I’ve been blessed with a variety of mentors, from my time at NYU to various experiences at writers retreats and festivals. If I had to choose one, I’d probably say my screenwriting professor John Warren, who kept me (and my peers) honest with our projects, and without whom I don’t know if I would have completed WOLFSBANE (Shriekfest 2016 finalist), a script which opened many doors for me.

DG::Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

AW: I have all sorts of theories as to why these genres are important psychologically, but as for a large following… I think it has something to do with the fact that they’re transgressive. Sci-fi is about exploring far-out ideas, and horror is about exploring negative emotions. And in the process of exploring these things, we cross lines with regards to what’s realistic, how we treat other people, etc. To some people, those lines ought not to be crossed, and art that goes there doesn’t deserve respect. And to us genre fans, crossing those lines gives us a thrill. We like “going there”, and the question of respectability makes us feel like we own the genre. More than once, I’ve heard genre fans describe themselves as misfits and outsiders, and I think the association with sometimes-taboo stories increases that feeling of specialness. I also think that with horror (and, to an extent, sci-fi), you can expect art every time, regardless of the quality of the story.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

AW: THE PEOPLE. Always the people. I’ve bonded with so many new friends over storytelling, movies that feel personal to us, and shared experiences in the trenches.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

AW: The barrier for entry. I’m privileged– I don’t have to worry about rent or where my next meal comes from, and I can afford to produce films and fly to LA and attend festivals and go to writers retreats and all these various things that cost money. A lot of very talented people don’t have that privilege, and it takes them longer to get where they deserve to be in their careers.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

AW: I made my short film THIRD DATE (which the feature script is based on). That was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and seeing it come out the way I’d hoped, as well as seeing it embraced by so many people, always swells my heart.

DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

AW: First off, the obvious: Keep writing, keep making things. Don’t expect to be perfect, but the more things you make, the more you’ll know for the next one. But deeper than that, I want to address the way people take notes. I see it with newbies a lot, and it’s totally understandable: A note can feel like an attack, and you might feel the urge to defend your artistic choices. Resist the urge to do that. Remember that notes come from an honest place, and the person giving notes wants nothing more than to help you. If you don’t like the note, just thank the note-giver for their time and simply don’t take the note. That’s valid– It’s your project. But do listen to the notes. If enough people give you one specific criticism, it’s probably worth investigating ways to patch that problem up. Try an edit, see what happens. If you vibe with the change, keep it. If not, don’t. No skin off your back.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

AW: Horror people are some of the nicest people I’ve met, and I met a lot of them at Shriekfest. Viva Shriekfest.