Lou Simon

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Lou Simon
Director of 2013’s “Hazmat”

What is your name and company URL?

Lou Simon, White Lotus Productions www.whitelotusmovies.com

What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

I guess both. I started out as a screenwriter, but when I couldn’t sell my scripts, I decided to make one of them into a film. Now, I’ve written, produced and directed 2 features.

I love that! Do it yourself! What are you currently working on?

I’m developing a new feature film, “Agoraphobia.” www.facebook.com/agoraphobiafilm

DG: Very excited about this one! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

It would have to be Dov Simens. His 2-day film school is what convinced me that instead of waiting for someone to pick up my scripts, I should just go ahead and make them into films myself.

Wonderful! So true! Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?

I think that we all live very mundane lives. Horror is just one of the ways that we feel excitement and experience things beyond the norm, just like roller coasters.

Yes! What do you love most about this business?

The bond you form with the people you work with.

It’s so true, you become a family. What do you dislike most about this business?

Having to make decisions that will hurt people’s feelings, like who to cast and what crew to hire. (Just like you crying at the awards ceremony)

Oh gosh, yeah, I was a blubbering mess. It is hard, glad to hear someone else feels the same way. 🙂 What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

Having come up with the concept of my film [Hazmat] in October of last year, and in less than a year having a completed film that already has distribution in North America.

That is amazing! Truly! congrats! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

Be budget conscious when you’re coming up with an idea or are writing a script. I get people who send me queries about films that could not be made for less than a few million dollars. Only the big studios have that kind of money, and they’re not even going to look at your e-mail.

Great advice! Anything else you’d like to say?

If you want to be recognized as a filmmaker, make a really good short. It has a better chance of making it into film festivals because there are more slots for them. If you want to make money (not a lot, but something you can use to pay bills with), make a feature. And if you’re going to make a feature, the genre better be horror.

Great advice! Thank you Lou! It was great chatting!

Bryan Norton

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Bryan Norton
Director of 2006’s Best Short Film “Penny Dreadful” and 2013’s Best Super Short Film “Jack Attack”

What is your name and company URL?

I don’t have my own company, but currently I serve as the Chairperson of the New York Film Academy.

What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

Filmmaking is what I’ve studied and what my goal has always been. I’ve done a few films and won some awards and praise, but ironically it’s screenwriting for others that, technically, I would say that I am more of a “success.” Writer for hire basically.

What are you currently working on?

Currently, my little movie JACK ATTACK is doing much better than expected in film festivals around the world. As always, that leads to emails and calls from agents and/or distributors with the hopes of collaborating on something bigger. Most of the time, this is a dead end, but who knows this time. I am writing a feature-length film that includes JACK ATTACK as a subplot, but basically will be Greenwich Village in New York City on one crazy Halloween night.

Nice, I love it! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

I am a movie nerd and I always have been and my mentor was Julie Corman whose name I had always noticed on some of my favorite movies as a kid, and she came to be the chairperson of NYU Graduate Film for one year and we clicked. Since then, she has been a mentor to me.

Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?

Well, there will always be a place for scary movies. People like to be scared. Sometime we like to be grossed out too. Today it seems that dramas, comedies and sci-fi are all star-driven. Most of the posters of these types of movies are just the close-up of a famous person’s face. But for a horror movie, the genre itself is the star. You can go see the new Meryl Streep or the new horror movie.

Very true! What do you love most about this business?

I love geeking out with actors and directors who have the same love and appreciation of the stuff that I like. For many years, I was just that fan, but now a lot of them look at me like a colleague, which is wonderful.

What do you dislike most about this business?

What I dislike about this business is what I disliked about NYU Film School There are too many people who end up working in the horror genre, but have complete and utter contempt for it. Someone I went to film school with, who shall remain nameless, would scoff when horror movies were mentioned. Even criticizing why an audience would pay to see them. Now, of course, this person has directed four relatively big budget major studio horror releases including a sequel to an all-time classic which he probably hated anyway.

I hear ya! It is frustrating…I know some people like that. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

When I was a little kid (remember I was a nerd), my dream was to someday work for Roger Corman which leads me to say – be careful what you wish for 🙂 But, I ended up doing it which is wonderful to me.

LOL Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

I’m seeing an awful lot of very undisciplined, cheap-looking stuff now because of video. Production values and good sound are important. Having just played Shriekfest, I was reminded of this. The short movies looked and sounded professional. And my other piece of advice is – you have to be the smartest person in the room. Film is a medium that is only a little more than 100 years old. Know the names of directors and actors (not just the famous ones).

Yes! Great advice! We always have really professional films! Anything else you’d like to say?

Today there are no excuses. Keep making shorts. Send them out. Play at festivals. Enter screenwriting competitions. Don’t be a victim. I’m learning that a strong work ethic and drive is actually more important than talent to get you in the door.

That can be so true! Thank you Bryan!! It was great chatting!

Diane M. Johnson

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Diane M. Johnson
Author & Screenwriter

DG: What is your name and company URL?

DJ: My name is Diane M. Johnson, no company name, and my website is www.autumnblood.com -or- www.dianemjohnson.com

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

DJ: I’m a screenwriter.

DG: What are you currently working on?

DJ: I’m currently working on polishing a couple of TV scripts for the WB Writers Workshop, reworking a feature spec and finishing a spec of a Cartoon Network show. I guess you could say I’m trying to broaden my palette to include more than features.

DG: Have you been a finalist or winner in any festivals or competitions?

DJ: Always a bridesmaid. Is that cliche? Yes! But my short PWNED was a Shriekfest finalist. The Body and Blood was a Table Read My Screenplay Comp finalist, and Blindsided was a D.C. Shorts finalist. All in 2011, the year I realized I could write a short. In 2012, I tackled TV and walked away a finalist from Scriptapalooza and The Austin Film Fest with my Supernatural series spec subtitled Intervention. Previous to that I have had several feature titles get recognized over the years. The ones that fall into the horror/thriller/supernatural categories include Autumn Blood, The Schoharie, Perfect Prophet and A Good Soul.

DG: Wow, that’s great! Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

DJ: There are too many reasons to count. I read somewhere on the Internet that horror movies arouse us, make our hearts beat faster and therefore burn more calories. So, there’s that. I’m all for burning calories.

DG: LOL. I’ve read that people who watch horror are healthier…interesting huh? What do you love most about this business?

DJ: I love the fact that horror has expanded in scope. You can have a light zombie comedy like Warm Bodies alongside a serious, thought provoking zombie drama series like The Walking Dead. The horror genre -the horror business- isn’t just about the cheap thrill anymore. It can be about deeper themes, more complex characters. And the genre is taken far more seriously than it was taken in its infancy.

DG: It really is great that horror is becoming more main steam with shows like The Walking Dead. What do you dislike most about this business?

DJ: I am easily defined as a recluse. I am not the best at self promotion, so thank you for this opportunity!

DG: Anytime girl. Self promotion is hard for many people. Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

DJ: Learn how to network. Learn how to self promote. It makes a huge difference. I think I’d be much farther along in my writing career if I worked more at it.

DG: Self promotion really is a big deal, you have to force yourself to do it, you really do. Anything else you’d like to say?

DJ: I wish I could say I had something in production. Instead, I’d like to promote a friend’s project in production if I can. It’s a short drama called The Dead Kid. I encourage everyone to look for it. Just google it. I’ve read the script, I’ve seen a rough cut. It addresses bullying. Just look for it… You’re welcome, Greg Goyins.

DG: LOL. Diane, it was great catching up! Thank you!

Read More

Winners 2012

Shriekfest 2012

BEST HORROR FEATURE FILM:
Nailbiter
Directed by Patrick Rea

BEST SCI FI FEATURE FILM:
Found in Time
Directed by Arthur Vincie

BEST THRILLER FEATURE FILM:
It’s in the Blood
Directed by Scooter Downey

BEST SUPER SHORT FILM:
The Sleepover
Directed by Chris Cullari

BEST HORROR SHORT FILM:
Blackout
Directed by James Bushe

BEST SCIFI SHORT FILM:
A Light in the Darkness
Directed by Fed Wetherbee

BEST HORROR FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
Nevermore
Written by David Beran

BEST SCIFI FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
When the Sleeper Wakes
Directed by James Van Fleet

BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY:
The Last Rung
Written by Matt Mintz

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:
Push ’em Down
Matt Mintz and The Ghosts of Electricity

WINNER OF THE BECHDEL TEST AWARD:
With Child
Jeff Kacmarynski

Winners 2011

Shriekfest 2011

BEST HORROR FEATURE FILM:
Absentia
Directed by Mike Flanagan

BEST SCI FI FEATURE FILM:
Pig
Directed by Henry Barrial

BEST SUPERNATURAL FEATURE FILM:
The Dead Inside
Directed by Travis Betz

BEST THRILLER FEATURE FILM:
Isle of Dogs
Directed by Tammi Sutton

BEST SUPER SHORT FILM:
Certified
Directed by Luke Asa Guidici

BEST SHORT FILM:
Negative Image
Directed by Karl Holt

BEST HORROR FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
Shut In
Written by T.J. Cimfel and David White

BEST SCIFI FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
Time Wreck
Directed by Larry Whatcott

BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY:
Hear No Evil
Written by Ryan Gilmore

BEST WEBISODE:
31 the series
Directed by Lucy Cruell

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:
To All The Youth

BEST UNDER 18 FILM:
Molly and the Masked Storm
Directed by Ben Kadie

Winners 2010

Shriekfest 2010

BEST HORROR FEATURE FILM:
Ashes
directed by Elias Matar

BEST SCI FI FEATURE FILM:
Transfer
directed by Damir Lukacevic

BEST SUPER SHORT FILM:
Rise of the Appliances
directed by Rob Sprackling

BEST SHORT FILM:
Serum 1831
directed by Anand Kanna

BEST UNDER 18 FILM:
On the Other Line
directed by Saya Date

AUDIENCE CHOICE:
Grey Skies
directed by Kai Blackwood

BEST FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
Dead Crows
written by Chris Todd

BEST UNDER 18 SCREENPLAY:
Ain’t No Wolves ‘Round Here
written by Ethan Steers

BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY:
Carbon Dating
Written by Louis Rosenberg

BEST WEBISODE:
Shady Texas
directed by Jack Daniel Stanley

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:
Rekindled

Winners 2009

Shriekfest 2009

BEST HORROR FEATURE FILM:
Dark House
directed by Darin Scott

BEST FANTASY FEATURE FILM:
Spike
directed by Robert Beaucage

BEST HORROR SHORT FILM:
Death in Charge
directed by Devi Snively

BEST SCI-FI SHORT FILM:
Enigma
directed by The Shumway Brothers

BEST SUPER SHORT FILM:
Rift
directed by Andrew Huang

BEST HORROR FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
Dead After Tomorrow
written by Benjamin Pollack

BEST SCIFI FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
Upgrade
written by Louis Rosenberg

BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY:
Seekers
written by L.C. Cruell

THE PRETTY/SCARY AWARD**:
Death in Charge
directed by Devi Snively
(Award sponsored & chosen by
PRETTY-SCARY.NET)

BEST ACTING PERFORMANCE:
Dameon Clarke in
How to Be a Serial Killer

AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD:
Lo
directed by Travis Betz

BEST UNDER 18 FILM/SCREENPLAY:
Lock (ed) In
directed by Lea McMahan
and written by Peter Jones, McKenzie Cupp, Molly Morgan, Katie Herbst, Ali Gianutsos, Jean Jamison

Winners 2008

Shriekfest 2008

BEST HORROR FEATURE FILM:
Bane
directed by James Eaves

BEST THRILLER FEATURE FILM:
Alien Raiders
directed by Ben Rock

BEST SHORT FILM:
Kirksdale
directed by Ryan Spindell

BEST SUPER SHORT FILM:
Eel Girl
directed by Paul Campion

BEST HORROR FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
The Great American Nightmare
written by Tom Manning

BEST SCIFI FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
Scavengers
written by Diana Kemp-Jones

BEST FANTASY FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
The Hercynian Orchid
written by Melisa Ford

BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY:
Making the List
written by Jesse Kyle Reisman

THE PRETTY/SCARY AWARD:
Side Effect
directed by Liz Adams

BEST ACTING PERFORMANCE:
Rhoda Jordan
in “Rule of Three”

AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD:
The Open Door
directed by Doc Duhame

BEST UNDER 18 FILM:
The Perfect Victim
directed by Eric Badger

BEST UNDER 18 SCREENPLAY:
Big Kids Play Manslaughter
written by Kelsey Bollig

Winners 2007

Shriekfest 2007

BEST FEATURE FILM:
The Chair
Directed by Brett Sullivan

BEST SUPER SHORT FILM:
No Sanctuary
Directed by Dan Lovallo

BEST SHORT FILM:
A.W.O.L.
Directed by Jack Swanstrom

BEST FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
The Lost Girl
by Michael Mongillo

2ND PLACE FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
Horror World
by Rolfe Kanefsky

BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY:
Safe Passage
by Michael Raymond

THE PRETTY/SCARY AWARD:
The Cellar Door
Directed by Matt Zettell

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Death’s Requiem
Cinematography by Carl Robertson, Directed by Marc Furmie

AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD:
The Cellar Door
Directed by Matt Zettell

BEST ACTING PERFORMANCE:
James DuMont
in The Cellar Door

BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS IN A FEATURE FILM:
Atom Nine Adventures
Directed by Christopher Farley

BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS IN A SHORT FILM:
Postcards From The Future
Directed by Alan Chan

BEST KEY ART AWARD:
Zombie Love

2ND PLACE KEY ART AWARD:
House of Fears

BEST UNDER 18 FILM:
Vanilla County
Directed by Nick Diramio

BEST UNDER 18 SCREENPLAY:
Empire of Wonders
written by David Siudzinski

Winners 2006

Shriekfest 2006

BEST HORROR FEATURE FILM:
The Other Side
directed by Gregg Bishop

2ND PLACE HORROR FEATURE FILM:
Unrest
directed by Jason Todd Ipson

BEST SUPER SHORT FILM:
Itsy Bitsy
directed by David May

2ND PLACE SUPER SHORT FILM:
The Boarder
directed by Susan Bell

BEST HORROR SHORT FILM:
Penny Dreadful
directed by Bryan Norton

2ND PLACE HORROR SHORT FILM:
Avatar
directed by Lluís Quílez

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Penny Dreadful (the feature)
directed by Richard Brandes

BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS:
Itsy Bitsy
directed by David May

BEST MAKEUP EFFECTS:
Night of the Leben Tod
directed by Eric Forsberg

BEST ACTING PERFORMANCE:
Amy Beth Sherman
in Desperation

AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD:
Bad Reputation
directed by Jimmy Hemphill

BEST UNDER 18 FILM:
Reposessed
directed by Dustin Murphy

BEST FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
The Next Plane
written by Christopher Moro

2ND PLACE FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
Reincarnate
written by Carl Melchior

3RD PLACE FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
I, Detective
written by Dean Alioto

BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY:
Adrian of Death
written by Terence Brody

2ND PLACE SHORT SCREENPLAY:
The Last Request
written by Joe Randazzo