S. Joe Downing

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

S. Joe Downing
Actor in 2017 Official Selection “Conduit” and 2018 Best SciFi Short Film “Safe”

DG: What is your name and company URL?

SJD: S. Joe Downing, http://imdb.me/SJoeDowning, https://youtu.be/f1MJiyA-jS0,

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

SJD: Acting

DG: What are you currently working on?

SJD: I’m currently going to be working on a project called Days of Salvation by Amrik Pabla. It’s a series about a man who wakes up without remembering anything after a blast in a post-apocalyptic setting.

DG: Sounds fun. Who do you consider your mentor and why?

SJD: I’d say anyone who I can learn from can be my mentor. Life is about living and it doesn’t matter what sex, race or age someone is- I’m eager to learn.

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

SJD: I think people love that adrenaline and feeling of not knowing what will happen. They assume they know and sometimes they are right but sometimes they are wrong and they love that surprise and feeling of shock.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

SJD: I love working on different films and being able to bring something different every time. The psychology aspect of digging into a character intrigued me and it causes me to become more mindful in my own life.

DG: That is so very true! What do you dislike most about this business?

SJD: I’m not attracted to egos and people who flaunt success. I think we all have successes in the biz and we should be proud but not impose it onto others.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

SJD: I have a film called ECCO coming out in major cities that I was fortunate enough to be a part of. I only had a small role but it was a pleasant surprise that it’s being distributed to theaters.

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

SJD: It’s true what they say, “Never Give Up”, “Fail forward”, and “take one step at a time.”

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

SJD: I’m always looking for new opportunities and characters to play

DG: Thank you. It was great chatting!

Brian W. Smith

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Brian W. Smith
2003 and 2018 Screenplay Finalist

DG: What is your name?

BS: Brian W. Smith

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

BS: Screenwriting.

DG: What are you currently working on?

BS: A series of short horror scripts, a pilot and a couple of monster tales.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

BS: I was lucky to have a great support system in my family, my mother and older siblings. They encouraged reading, creative writing, art. My film and screenwriting idols are Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Paul Verhoeven, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Jordan Peele, Kevin Williamson and Brian De Palma.

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

BS: Horror/SciFi can offer scares and vicarious thrills for an audience, much like funhouses and rollercoasters. They can help us see our world differently and affect change. Horror can shine a light on plausible dangers to be aware of, like checking the backseat of a car before driving. SciFi can influence futurism and forward thinking. Inspiring people to look beyond what is in front of them and reach their greatest potential.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

BS: Right now it’s an exciting time to be a creative. There are many resources available online that can inspire and promote films, scripts and the creative process. Culture is constantly evolving, new technology is designed and artists can try their hands at any skill to push their stories along.

DG: That is so very true! What do you dislike most about this business?

BS: We still have a ways to go to recognize diversity in our culture and the creative arts. There have been strides made in recent years and they make great PR pieces, but there could be more progress made. Not a dislike, but more of an observation.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

BS: My script “Hallow’s Point” was a finalist at Shriekfest in 2018.

DG: Yes! It’s a good one! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

BS: Learn the rules first, then find ways to reinvent them. Make your scripts fun to read. Structure and pacing are key. Read lots of books and screenplays for fun and research. Be informed. Socialize. Watch documentaries. Listen to music. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Be open to it. There are no bad ideas.

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

BS: Keep writing. Keep creating and generating content. Short ideas can be an effective calling card as much as features. Submit to festivals that might respond favorably to your genre of choice and help promote your work.

DG: Thank you It was great chatting!

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Screenplay Finalists 2018

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SCREENPLAY FINALISTS

SHORT SCREENPLAY FINALISTS


  • Magic written by Kenny J. Wright
  • The Creaky Door written by Evan Baughfman
  • A Perfect Circle written by Evan Baughfman
  • Split Up written by Tom Radovich
  • Live From Toledo, Erin Darling Reporting written by Michael Gibrall
  • Miscreant written by Rocky Ramsey
  • Best Friends written by Edward Martin III
  • My Dead Sister written by Janet L. Loftis
  • The Legacy written by Renfield Rasputin & Jeffrey Stackhouse
  • H.P Lovecraft’s The Terrible Old Man written by Samuel Fisch
  • Hiking Buddies written by Megan Morrison
  • Finding Haven written by Jeffrey Stackhouse & Wendy Lashbrook
  • Past Partum written by Jeffrey Howe
  • In the Woods written by Rachel Greenhoe
  • Duet written by Lisanne Sartor
  • Mourning Meal written by Jamal Hodge
  • Prey written by Sergio Hira
  • The Sacrifice written by Judson Vaughan & Josh Torok
  • The Origin of Fear written by Mark Renshaw
  • Comedy Killer written by Stephen Kayfish & Daniel Nielsen

FEATURE SCREENPLAY FINALISTS


  • No Child Left Behind written by Daniel Shea
  • A Quiet War written by Carroll Brown
  • Pervert written by Rona Mark
  • Where the Devil Resides written by Travis Heermann
  • Blackwood Falls written by Jennifer Nicole Stang
  • The Motherless written by Ron David Ray
  • From Natural Causes written by Martin Blinder
  • Stay the Night written by Christopher Courtner & Sara Polton
  • An Idiot’s Tale written by Michael Mortimer
  • Hallow’s Point written by Brian W. Smith
  • Shaky Shivers written by Andrew McAllister & Aaron Strongoni
  • Tenant Zero written by Kirk Anderson
  • Horror Fest written by Rolfe Kanefsky
  • Requiem written by Daniel Abatan & Thomas R. Burke
  • The Dark Spiral written by Morgan R. Tegtow
  • American Backwoods: Verhaunt written by Flood Reed
  • I, Phiend written by Jeff Bassetti
  • Area 54 written by Aaron Barrocas
  • The Coldest Horizon written by Jeffrey Howe
  • Black Goose written by Janet Hetherington

Elliot Feld

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Elliot Feld
Director of 2018 Official Selection “Killer Kate!”

What is your name and company URL?

Hello! My name is Elliot Feld, and my company is Feld Films. You can visit our site at www.FeldFilms.com.

What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

I am a writer, producer, and director. I work a lot in the commercial world, producing some pretty cool projects.

What are you currently working on?

Most recently, I produced a first-look at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It was a great project, and we had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time in the park. On the narrative side of things, I’m currently working on a satirical web series that I hope to film within the next few months.

That’s very cool. Who do you consider your mentor and why?

I suppose I have two mentors. Steven Spielberg is my filmmaking mentor and idol. I aspire to reach his level of technique one day. He’s an amazing director and artist, and he’s worked in all the different genres, which I love. I interned for Randal Kleiser (Grease,White Fang, Flight of the Navigator) for about 2 years, and I learned a lot from him during that time. He became a mentor to me as a young filmmaker. I can’t thank him enough for his help on multiple projects.

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

Horror is the most accessible genre, I think. It’s relatable, and people like the thrill of horror. I always compare horror movies to roller coasters or theme park rides. It’s the unexpected that keeps you gripping your seat with your eyes glued. We want to be surprised, and we love to be scared.

What do you love most about this business?

My favorite part of the business? Working with all the cool people. The film industry draws a great crowd. From the crew to the cast to the fans, it’s so much fun to interact with all the different folks. It feels like a big family reunion every time we walk on set, and I love that!

That is so very true! What do you dislike most about this business?

The politics behind the camera are my least favorite part of the business. I don’t like that people are often put in positions where they must sacrifice their ethics in order to keep their job. This part is slowly being exposed, but I’m not sure it’ll every completely go away. I hope it does!

What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

I directed a film called Killer Kate! which actually premiered in Los Angeles at Shriekfest. It’s always been my goal to direct, and having the opportunity to work with my entire family was incredible. It was huge for me. Additionally, working in the commercial industry as a Line Producer has been very satisfying and I’m proud to work consistently on both sides.

That’s wonderful! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

My advice to young filmmakers is simple – stay busy. Keep working, and keep the gears moving. The more you work, the more you’ll network, and the picture will come more into focus. This industry is a marathon not a sprint. Keep your chin up and keep swinging.

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

Nope! Thank you for the chance to interview, and I look forward to the next festival.

Thank you Elliot, It was great chatting!

Damien LeVeck

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Damien LeVeck
2016 Winner of Best Horror Short Film “The Cleansing Hour”

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

DL: Damien LeVeck, Skubalon Entertainment, http://www.SkubalonInc.com

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

DL: I am a Writer/Director. My production company, Skubalon Entertainment develops a variety of film, TV, and alternative media content, focusing primarily on horror/thriller/action.

DG: What are you currently working on?

DL: I am writing a pilot for a horror anthology series based on true stories that were recorded in Ireland. The series is similar to Black Mirror, except each involve demon possession and exorcism. I am also writing a larger scale horror/mystery feature that simultaneously investigates the paranormal and deeply-guarded secrets within the Vatican.

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

DL: My friend Craig Titley is a film and TV writer from my hometown of Mattoon, Illinois. Since I moved to LA almost 20 years ago, he has been one of the most kind and supportive people I know, helping me every step of my journey into the entertainment business. Craig is not only incredibly smart and talented, but he’s a genuine and kindhearted person—a rare combination in this industry.

DG: Very cool. Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?

DL: Fear is an emotion experienced by every human being across all cultures and religions. It is the only emotion that forces us to confront our own mortality. I believe supernatural horror has such a large following because it speaks to the very essence of the audience’s existence—this inbred awareness of our dualistic nature. We are physical and immaterial. Supernatural horror can raise the age-old question of what happens after we die? And, what if unseen entities in our universe are malevolent and dangerous? Films like this give the audience permission to delve into a dark and philosophical world where they can live vicariously through characters for 90 minutes and then retreat to the apparent safety of the reality with little to no consequences. That’s a fun ride, a guilty pleasure and I think the reason for the genre’s popularity.

DG: Well said! What do you love most about this business?

DL: The challenge. Every aspect of making a film is challenging and difficult for varying reasons. It keeps me on my toes but also increases my gray hair by the day.

DG: LOL. What do you dislike most about this business?

DL: Mean people and those who prey on others’ vulnerabilities are the worst part about this business. We’ve all worked for horrible people, and if you haven’t, you haven’t worked in entertainment long enough. It can be a traumatizing experience. The silver lining is that it can be edifying to teach you how NOT to behave. Regardless, I am saddened and disgusted when I hear any stories of abuse of any kind by people in authority. It’s deeply immoral, and I am proud of everyone who is taking a stand against it. I hope we are ushering in a new era of snuffing out bullies.

DG: I agree! What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

DL: In the last three and a half years, I made an 18-minute short film (THE CLEANSING HOUR), had two children, and made the feature-length version of the short, which will be released later in 2019. People like to talk about the challenge of parenting one child much less two or more. However, I can say with confidence that writing and directing THE CLEANSING HOUR feature was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my entire life—and it is the one thing I am the most proud of. However, it would not have been possible without the love, support, and hard work of my beautiful wife and producer, Natalie, and my bulldog producers Shirit Bradley and Dan Clifton. It was this collaboration that enabled me to make a movie that I am proud of while also doing the more important job of being a dad and husband.

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

DL: Work harder than everyone else with a positive attitude, mindful of the fact that there will always be somebody willing to take your place. Be excited to work for free. Have a “yes” attitude, joyfully working through every obstacle and challenge in your way. So many young people today are entitled and think they are above low-level, hard work. This is a destructive attitude. Starting at the bottom and paying your dues will shape your character, work ethic, and build wisdom that lasts a lifetime.

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

DL: Skubalon Entertainment is accepting open script submissions for low-budget horror feature films at skubalonentertainment.com.

Set a Google Alert for “THE CLEANSING HOUR.” It will be released later this year. I recommend you don’t watch it alone or in the dark.

DG: Thank you Damien!

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Evan Baughfman

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Evan Baughfman
2017 and 2018 Short Screenplay Finalist

What is your name and company URL?

My name is Evan Baughfman. (Pronounced BOFF-man—although BUFF-man helps with my self-esteem.) My website URL is: http://www.evanbaughfman.com/

LOL. What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

I’m a screenwriter, and I’ve also had success as a playwright and as an author of short horror stories.

What are you currently working on?

Right now, I’m working on a horror stage play for teenage audiences. I teach Theater and Creative Writing at a middle school, so I write for a variety of age groups. I’m also 75% done with a gory Y.A. novel chock-full of bloodthirsty monsters. In addition to this, I’m outlining a full-length haunted house screenplay. I have a twist on that sub-genre that I don’t think has been done before.

Wow, you are busy!!! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

Currently, no one’s advising me, but the works of Edgar Allan Poe have inspired me from a young age. Many of my award-winning short screenplays are set at fictional Edgar Allan Poe Middle School.

In other words, I don’t really have a mentor…yet! But I’m more than willing to learn about the ins and outs of horror filmmaking from anybody who wants to take me under their leathery batwing! I live in the L.A. area, and I’m ready for the next step of my filmmaking journey.

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

These genres lift the veil on the unknown so that we may take a little peek at it. They offer intriguing explanations for the unexplained, exploring places and characters that otherwise only exist in our dreams or nightmares. Horror/science-fiction stories are some of the purest examples available of imagination set free.

Nicely said! What do you love most about this business?

Because of my screenwriting, I’ve met some really awesome people and gifted storytellers. It should be more general knowledge that people who make horror, in particular, aren’t “scary” or “weird.” They’re some of the most supportive and open-minded people I’ve ever met.

That is so very true! What do you dislike most about this business?

A few of my short screenplays have been recognized at different horror festivals and competitions. But it hasn’t been easy to get these scripts into the hands of interested directors and producers. It’s maybe expected that I’ll have to direct my own script, when I don’t really have the knowledge or background yet to competently do so.

It can be difficult at times, but keep persevering! What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

I had two separate scripts, “The Creaky Door” and “A Perfect Circle,” place as Finalists in the Shriekfest 2018 short screenplay competition. Both are adaptations of original stories from my personal catalog.

Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

Read a lot of screenplays to see what’s worked for others and how you can make those things work for you. Also, just write as often as you can. It doesn’t have to be a screenplay or even horror/sci-fi related. Do whatever you can to keep those creative juices spattering onto the page.

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

I’m ready to collaborate on new projects with anyone who’ll have me. I promise I won’t bite. I dulled my fangs down during my last dental visit.

LOL. Thank you. It was great chatting!

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Michael Rich

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Michael Rich
2016 Official Selection and 2018 Winner Best Super Short Film “Cabin Killer”

What is your name and company URL?

My name is Michael Rich and my personal website is michaelrich.me.

What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

I’m a director who dabbles in screenwriting.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on developing a horror feature film, as well as a short film titled “The Man Who Returned” based on a 1930s pulp story.

Who do you consider your mentor and why?

I had an interesting film professor in college named Gil Bettman, who helped me make my thesis film, which played at Shriekfest 2016. He taught me a lot about camera placement and lenses. He’s a straight forward guy and helped me realize what’s actually important to telling a story and to just ditch all the nonsense that doesn’t matter.

Great advice! I loved your thesis film “Ambulance”! Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?

Horror and sci-fi movies are just so much fun to watch! I dread watching a bad drama, or romantic comedy, but horror films always deliver the goods in at least some regard. Whether it’s gross-out effects, or cheap scares, they’re worth a watch. And when they happen to actually be well-made, that’s just a cherry on top.

I agree! What do you love most about this business?

The camaraderie. That moment when someone believes in the vision you have and is willing to go along for the crazy ride that is filmmaking.

What do you dislike most about this business?

I see a lot of lower level workers get exploited and demeaned. I had a boss tell me I should just “move back to where I came from” because “I don’t have it.” It was totally vicious and mean, but I promised myself I would never treat anyone like that if I’m ever in a position of power.

Wow! No one has the right to do that to anyone. I’m so sorry that happened to you! What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

Winning “Best Super Short Film” at the 2018 Shriekfest. I wanted one of those bloody reel trophies so badly!

I love it!!! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

I’d say just do it! If you want to make movies nowadays, the only barrier is yourself. Grab a cell phone and run around the backyard with some friends and try and tell a story. Don’t worry about reading how-to books or watching YouTube tutorials. Just shooting movies is the best way to learn.

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

Long live Shriekfest. And please take 10 minutes to watch my short film “Cabin Killer” here: https://youtu.be/ecEx98bjpeU

Thank you so much Michael! It was great chatting!

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Janet Loftis

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Janet Loftis
2009, 2012, 2017, 2018 Screenplay Finalist and 2015 Semifinalist

What is your name and company URL?

Janet Loftis, writer. I don’t really have a company/URL, but here are the links to my e-book on Amazon, and my WordPress blog.

http://smile.amazon.com/Skin-Bones-Janet-Loftis-ebook/dp/B00E19DQHA/

https://janetloftis.wordpress.com/

What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

screenwriting. preferred format: shorts (for now…)

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just started a new short for Shriekfest 2019 (of course). And I’m in the process of adding a couple of new stories to my horror/dark fantasy collection “Skin & Bones” which currently is only available in e-book format. Once that’s done, I’ll be creating a print option.

Nice! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

I’ve had several over the years, from teachers to friends, and even friends of friends (who I’ve never met in person) who were generous enough to read & critique. And a special nod to my friend, Xina Uhl, who is the one who encouraged me to try e-book sales. We often give each other virtual “kicks-in-the-rear” to get back to work.

That is so important. Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?

I think horror/sciffi offers the most variety, incorporating every other genre in any combination – where else could you create a story about a time traveling amphibious alien serial killer who falls in love with Rasputin, his next intended victim? Hmm…now there’s an idea I haven’t tried yet.

LOL What do you love most about this business?

I love the family feel, the inclusiveness. I met so many incredibly nice people at Shriekfest who welcomed me with open arms, instantly making me one of their own.

That makes me happy! What do you dislike most about this business?

I’m not sure. Probably the same that others dislike: how hard it is to break in – what does it take to get that one break? that leap from finalist to winner to getting a script made into film?

What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

My last two finalist placements in Shriekfest, especially since, I must confess, I wrote each of those two days before the final deadline.

Wow, that’s impressive! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

Sit your ass down in a chair, move the cat off the computer keyboard, and write.

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

See you in October!

Thank you! It was great chatting!

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Renfield Rasputin

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Renfield Rasputin
2014 (LaLaurie) and 2018 (The Legacy) Screenplay Finalist

What is your name and company URL?

I go by my penname, Renfield Rasputin. More people recognize that name more than my birth name.

What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

Screenwriting. I’d like to try my hand at filmmaking but I have no one near me with acting ability, a camera, mics, software, or locations.

What are you currently working on?

Jeffrey Stackhouse and I are both hard at work on turning “The Legacy” into a feature screenplay. Plus I have a few short stories, two novels, and even a children’s book that I need to finish.

Wow, you aren’t busy at all! 🙂 Who do you consider your mentor and why?

Jeffrey Stackhouse. Hands down. He’s got a way of bringing out more to any story when I look at it and think it can’t get any better. I only think I get into the minds of characters but when you talk to him, HE IS the mind of the characters. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around how he is able to write like he does.

Yes, Jeffrey is pretty awesome! Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?

Everyone has a (for the lack of a better word) dark side and we want to explore it – even if we don’t stay there long. It’s for escapism. We’re curious. Some of us stay a bit longer and live out the dark side by maybe dressing the part or looking the part of the role because we’re comfortable with that side of us. Maybe we can relate to the last girl or sometimes, maybe even the villain.

What do you love most about this business?

Writing screenplays allows for me to branch out my creativity. I wrote my first screenplay because I really wanted to see it as a movie. There wasn’t a movie done about it at the time so I wrote it myself.

I love that! What do you dislike most about this business?

Corporate know it all’s. Enough said.

What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’m a Filmquest Film Festival winner and a Worldfest Remi winner.

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

I’m going to quote Anne Rice, “To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself.” Take risks.

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

School are slowly weening out art programs. We can’t let any aspect of art be eliminated whether it’s writing, painting, sculpting, or whatever. If you have a skill, teach a child to draw, paint, take a photograph, or write. And help support independent talent.

I agree! Thank you. It was great chatting!

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Alex Noyer

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Alex Noyer
Director of 2018’s Official Selection “Conductor”

What is your name and company URL?

I am Alex Noyer. My company is You Know Films (Youknowfilms.com)

What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

I am a film producer, writer and director.

What are you currently working on?

I have a feature eco-thriller called “Sielu” in late stage development. I also have 2 further genre-bending features I am writing. And I am certainly not done with my main character from ‘Conductor’.

Awesome! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

I would say my lawyer has mentored me the most throughout the development of my original projects. He flagged up so many obstacles and potential mistakes and truly sharpened my producing approach.

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

It’s a mix of escapism and madness. Audiences see life exacerbated and the surreal approached without boundaries. Genre films are liberating for film makers just as much as they are for the audience. Heightened creativity also gets truly committed audiences on your side. Look how ‘Mandy” was received this year. It is well under way to being considered cult. Genre audiences are capable of that level of passion.

I agree! What do you love most about this business?

The productive ‘Ruthlessness’. I love the competitiveness but also the persistence you must show. A project is such an undertaking to get off the ground that you really have to make a go out of it. If you can’t take the heat then get out of my kitchen.

Exactly! What do you dislike most about this business?

The ruthlessness similarly has a very dislikable side. The dirty tricks and dishonesty you often encounter is disheartening. I loathe the part of the business that wants to seize ideas and credits from others. There are many entities that bank on the lack of protection film makers get early in their career.

Having said that when you do have an unfortunate encounter with that side of the business it teaches you as much as any of your career breaks. Again you have to take the heat too.

It can be brutal. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

I produced the feature documentary ‘808’ about the legendary TR808 drum machine and it was the first feature documentary licensed by Apple to be available on their music streaming service Apple Music.

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

Read the fine prints. Read them twice.

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

Just a big thank you to Shriekfest and all the wonderful festivals that welcomed ‘Conductor’ so enthusiastically this year.

Thank you! We were honored to have you involved Alex! It was great chatting! Happy New Year!

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