Darren Callahan

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Darren Callahan
2012/2016 semi-finalist, 2017 semi-finalist & finalist

DG: What is your name and company URL?

DC: Darren Callahan
http://darrencallahan.com
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darren_Callahan
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1859933/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

DC: I’m mostly known as a writer, but I have also directed and scored films.

DG: What are you currently working on?

DC: BATTERY FILMTEXT has been releasing my screenplays as paperbacks as part of a series. Twelve volumes are out now and eight more release this year. (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=darren+callahan+collected)
I’ve also signed-on to score LVRS, directed by Emily Bennett, and a giallo by Ward Crockett entitled ALL THE FLOWERS THAT CUT THROUGH THE EARTH, both for 2018.

DG: Wow! Both Shriekfest friends! You’ve been busy! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

DC: So many have given me a boost throughout the years. It’s tough to name a single individual. Groups like Chicago Dramatists, led by the late Russ Tutterow, or Twilight Tales, a now-defunct genre series in Chicago, give you more sometimes than one person. I’m in the unfortunate position that no one with big power has really helped me directly (agents or lawyers just formalize stuff I’ve already brought to them). Raymond Benson (DIE ANOTHER DAY, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH) has championed my work to others, as have a few producers and directors. Sadly, my artistic mentors are not accessible to me. David Cronenberg just isn’t returning my calls!

DG: LOL Nor mine. 🙂 Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?

DC: When done right, horror says more about the human condition than any other art form. The sub-genre variety is greater and the urgency more palpable. Plus, people like something with history. No matter where you start in the genre, there is something before to trace back to and enjoy.
For sci-fi, it is similar to horror, though it tends to be less cynical, which is a relief. I’m not counting dystopian films, of course; they, too, can enlighten and entertain, even when depressing as hell. But nothing stops a great space adventure, such as STAR WARS.
I also really enjoy stories that blend the two genres, such as ALIEN, MONSTERS, or TIMECRIMES.

DG: Me too! What do you love most about this business?

DC: The little wins are nice. And it really does turn on a dime. Plus, I love meeting people who are interesting and fun to be around.

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

DC: Today, very few decisions are made without the marketing department. And marketing will not sign up for something unless there is already an audience. For example, no band today will get a record deal unless they already have one million hits on a self-produced video. Period. It’s the same for film. The days of people in power seeing and enjoying something, or sensing the potential based on instinct – well, that’s pretty much over. It’s a data-driven, Moneyball world.

DG: I hear ya! It is frustrating…the whole industry has put too much importance on the making of money instead of the making of quality work. It makes me sad. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

DC: In 2010, I wrote a stage play called DESPERATE DOLLS. No one would make it – too violent, too weird, too controversial. A few close friends said it was unproduceable. I decided to make it into a film. Came close, but it collapsed. Because of the interest in the film, though, I met producer Anderson Lawfer (PONTYPOOL) and he mounted an excellent stage production in Chicago in 2014 that did great numbers. Google it, as a few wars were started over the show’s content. It was, however, my proudest moment, because it took so much pushing to get done. The final play that thrived was the exact script that I was told was unproduceable. Art is weird like that.
Oh, and I spoke at Comic-Con. That was fun.

DG: Wow, very cool on all of those things! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

DC: I know so many people that create one film, or write one screenplay, and think, “Now I’m ready for the world!” It doesn’t work like that. It’s about a body of work. You keep going. Projects rise and fall – things catch and then die. I have released sixty-four records, knocked out a couple dozen screenplays, ten stage plays, scored a dozen movies, directed a bunch of shows, and only a cult handful has heard of me. But if I had stopped at just one or two projects, not only would the work kinda suck, but I wouldn’t have been able to explore all that artistic territory. As well, I wouldn’t always have irons in the fire. That can help you psychologically when you have a project die out. Well, you think, at least I have this other thing… Pivoting keeps your spirits up.

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

DC: Shriekfest and other LA-based competitions are important places to grow as a screenwriter. The Page Awards, Cinequest, or some others are great, too, as they give you the judge’s feedback, which allows you to tune your script. Attending is also wonderful networking. If you can afford the submission fees and the travel costs — do it! If you can’t afford it, start a GoFundMe page. I’ve never attended a SF where I didn’t meet someone who was interesting and could potentially help bring my work to a larger audience. I met a director in 2012 and she later landed a producing job at a major indie; now we’re working on bringing a female-driven haunted house picture to the screen. It might take years of friendship and networking, but if you think of it as “cool people working on a fun project” and not “convincing others” you’ll have success, and much more fun.
PS – My dream project is to remake THE MAN THEY COULD NOT HANG, a 1939 pic starring Boris Karloff. I have a great adaptation that would be massive.

DG: Thank you for the sweet words and I’m thrilled that you have collaborated with people you met at Shriekfest! That is my favorite part of the festival! And your adaptation sounds cool! ! It was great chatting Darren!

Robert J Rogers

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Robert J Rogers
2015 & 2017 screenplay finalist

DG: What is your name and company URL?

RR: Robert J. Rogers

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

RR: Screenwriter. (Actually I’m a storyteller that writes in screenplay format)

DG: 🙂 What are you currently working on?

RR: I have the bones for eight features ready to go. But I’m not going to finish anymore plays until I sell one of my five features.

DG: Wow! You’ve been busy! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

RR: On the storytelling side, Alistare MacLean. (The Guns of Navarone; Where Eagles Dare) On the screenplay side, Edmond North (The Day the Earth Stood Still) When it comes to SciFi, he was ahead of his time. So was Cyril Hume. (Forbidden Planet)

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

RR: First and foremost, I love SciFi. I’ve earned over eighty awards worldwide. Right now horror is a phenomenal genre. I’ve written a couple horror plays and have earned over seventy awards.

DG: Wow, that’s a lot of awards! Congrats! What do you love most about this business?

RR: It’s fun to win festivals all over the world.

DG: I bet! What do you dislike most about this business?

RR: I’ve earned over two hundred awards worldwide, and not a sniff from Hollywood

DG: That is a bit crazy! What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

RR: Met a ton of great people. I’m published. And all the awards.

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

RR: You’re a storyteller first, and screenwriter second. The only thing that will change this is if somebody walks out of a movie and utters,”I really hated the spelling in that movie.” (Chuckle)

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

RR: Shotgun marketing doesn’t work. Carpet bomb a city, and analyze festival results. Good luck. Take care. Cherish time.

DG: I agree! Thank you Robert! It was great chatting!

Robert Rhyne

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Robert Rhyne
2015 & 2016 screenwriting finalist & 2017 Best Thriller Feature Screenplay for “Rational Panic”

DG: What is your name and company URL?

RR: Robert Rhyne. www.imdb.com/name/nm5526874.

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

RR: Screenwriting, primarily. And some production.

DG: What are you currently working on?

RR: I’m currently working on a new supernatural/horror feature spec and polishing a thriller spec.

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

RR: The UCLA Theater, Film and Television (TFT) Screenwriting Program – both the teachers and students.

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

RR: Beneath the gore and the jump-scares, great horror, thrillers, and Sci-Fi movies trigger the survival instinct in all of us. What would you do to survive? How far would you go to save your family? These genres speak to the survival instinct, and allow us to vicariously experience the what if.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

RR: The unpredictability — you never know what will happen. There’s almost a gambling aspect to it.

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

RR: Perhaps the late Tom Petty said it best: “The waiting is the hardest part”.

DG: So true! What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

RR: Several short films I’ve co-produced have won some Film Festival awards. And a screenplay I wrote, “The Intruder”, which just happened to be honored as a Shriekfest finalist in 2016, placed in another contest which published the screenplay as a book now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

DG: That is wonderful news! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

RR: Get professional advice on your screenplays from trusted coverage services or industry mentors. But remember that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Don’t just listen to one reader’s comments. Make sure several readers echo the same concerns before spending weeks, or months, on a rewrite.

DG: Great advice! It’s so subjective at times. Anything else you’d like to say?

RR: Film Fests — like Shriekfest (the coolest!) — offer great networking opportunities. Enter and attend. Often.

DG: I agree! Thank you Robert! It was great chatting!

Winners 2017

Shriekfest 2017


Best Horror Feature Film:
Gnaw
directed by Haylar Garcia

Best Thriller Feature Film:
The Glass Coffin
directed by Haritz Zubillaga

Best Sci-Fi Feature Film:
Curvature
directed by Diego Hallivis

Best Horror Short Film:
Burn
directed by Judson Vaughan

Best Sci-Fi Short Film:
The Things They Left Behind
directed by Sara Werner

Best Super Short Film:
Classified
directed by Kevin McMahon & Andy Dylan

Best Horror Feature Screenplay:
The Heebies
written by Andrea D. McGee

Best Thriller Feature Screenplay:
Rational Panic
written by Robert Rhyne

Best Sci-Fi Feature Screenplay:
Remote
written by Marc Roussel

Best Short Screenplay:
Dark Hour
written by Edward Martin

Best Music Video:
Chainsaw
by Craven Band, directed by Erick Melchiorri

Best Commercial:
Scream Queen Wanted
directed by Shane Cole

Justin Kornmann

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Justin Kornmann
Producer of 2017 Official Selection “The Shift”

DG: What is your name and company URL?

JK: Picket Fence Entertainment, No URL at the moment.

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

JK: Filmmaking, specifically producing.

DG: What are you currently working on?

JK: Currently working on the latest draft of our next project which is in the horror genre.

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

JK: I’ve been lucky enough to have several mentors who I have had the pleasure of working for. All of them have played an instrumental part in my growth as a producer. I’ve been able to learn from them while on the job while also being able to reach out to them on my own projects when I run into situations where I’m unsure on how to get the best result. I think every filmmaker needs a mentor. There is so much to learn in this business and there are many people out there who are willing to share their knowledge so you don’t have to learn everything by trial and error.

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

JK: I believe it’s because of the imagination that goes into those genres. There are always memorable lines, gruesome deaths, futuristic environments and situations that you can really put yourself in and then ask yourself what would I have done differently? We all are scared at one time or another and for horror films it’s a way to release those fears and live them without having to be chased by a psycho killer or some demonic force. With Sci-Fi, we all look to the future and are excited to see what type of technological advances may be on the horizon or we vision where our society will be in 10, 15, 20 years. It’s cool to possibly get a glimpse.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

JK: I love being able to play make believe for a living. We are literally getting paid to do something we did as children every day which is use our imagination.

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

JK: For one, the uncertainty that goes into all of this can definitely take its toll. But I think what I dislike the most is how so many things are out of your control. You do what you need to do to get things going and then there is always the hurry up and wait game that happens and that can be brutal.

DG: I hear ya! It is frustrating. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

JK: I’m most proud of completing my latest project. It’s always the latest completion. You learn so much from project to project and I feel you become a better filmmaker by every experience and you can take that with you for the next. So I’m proud of my latest accomplishment because it excites me to know I’ll be better on the next.

DG: I love that! It truly is a process and it’s exciting! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

JK: If this is what you love to do, don’t let anything get in your way. Don’t give up, keep going. Ultimately if you continue to pursue your goals and persevere you will get things done. Then it all makes up for all the day jobs, rewrites, rejections, etc. You just have to want it bad enough to not give up.

DG: Great advice! thank you Justin, it was great chatting!

Michael Strode

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Michael Strode
Director of 2003’s Best Horror Short Film “Black Gulch”, 2007/2008/2014/2016 Screenplay Finalist, 2009/2015 Screenplay Semi-Finalist

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

MS: Michael Strode.

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

MS: Both – I come from directing (MFA in Production at USC), and have focused on writing.

DG: What are you currently working on?

MS: ?I’m raising financing for Disturbed, a Blumhouse-style supernatural thriller (and Shriekfest screenplay finalist, thank you again) that inverts the traditional haunted house film. I’ve got key crew in place, talking to investors, and we’re looking to shoot next summer.

DG: ?That is awesome! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

MS: Kevin Chang is my good friend and sounding board. He’s been in development all over, most recently at Misher, and he gives great advice from that perspective.

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

MS: They offer satisfying catharsis. It’s a chance to see our fears magnified, exaggerated, and reflected back at us. We go on that ride, have the adrenaline rush in the confines of the theater or living room, then see those fears defeated. It’s a primal, fight-or-flight experience that allows us to process negativity or fear in a positive way.

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

MS: The experience of watching something I’ve created with an audience. To see them react as you hoped is an incredible feeling.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

MS: The lack of professional courtesy that some people feel they can get away with.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

MS: Tough to choose, but getting my first check for filmmaking is up there – being paid to create communal dreams is pretty great.

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

MS: Everybody says this, but it truly is a marathon, not a sprint. The people who succeed are the people who don’t leave.

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

MS: I look forward to bringing Disturbed back to Shriekfest as a feature!

DG: Oh Michael, I so look forward to that! When I was compiling your history with Shriekfest above, I was shocked at how many years I’ve had the pleasure of seeing your work! I’m so very proud of all that you have done!

Robert J. Sexton

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Robert J. Sexton
Filmmaker, Producer, Director

DG: What is your name and company URL?

RS: Robert J. Sexton, Hollywoodasylum.com

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

RS: Prime Mover / Vision-Thing. That’s what my business card says at least. HA! Filmmaker. Producer. Director. Throw in a bit of screenwriting and anything else that needs to get the show completed.

DG: What are you currently working on?

RS: I just produced/directed a 360° VR video horror short, PSYCHO CITY, TX. – VR.
It’s an interstitial to a 2D episodic project that I’m currently in preproduction on. People are going to go crazy for Psycho City, TX.

DG: That sounds cool!! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

RS: The list of filmmakers who inspire me is endless, but off the top of my head…
Stanley Kubrick, for all of his work and for faking the moon landing. The storytelling acumen of Orson Welles. Mario Bava for the obvious. Terry Gilliam for whimsy and depiction of life’s absurdities. Alejandro Jodorowsky, for fever dreams. Jean Rollin’s, for scaring me and making me horny at the same time.

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

RS: People have a primordial need for stimulation and excitement. The audience needs to receive outside stimulus that is not user/self generated.
Fear, dread, anxiety, terror… Horror movies deliver that in controlled, manageable doses. The audience knows there is an escape. It’s safe.
That’s what I’m digging about my experiments in VR filmmaking. There is no safeword. There is no shelter. There is no way out.

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

RS: Eliciting reactions from the audience.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

RS: 1) People who talk about producing movies but don’t actually produce anything.
2) Going to to lunch with said people.
3) When the aforementioned don’t pick up the tab.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

RS: I really enjoy pushing buttons and envelopes. Virtual reality is allowing me to do things in a narrative environment that haven’t been done before. It’s a very exciting time in cinematic history.

DG: yes, it is! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

RS: Steal from the best and make it your own.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

RS: Check out my latest work, It’s not for the squeamish or the pure of heart.
What does not kill you, makes you stranger…
Download Psycho City, TX – VR and get the free VR app for Android and IOS .
http://www.bit.do/shoot_pctx
MUST have VR headset and earphones for the proper experience.
Keep watching the skies…

Venita Ozols-Graham

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Venita Ozols-Graham
Writer 2016 Official Selection “Used Body Parts”, 2017 screenplay quarter finalist “Spider Lake”

DG: What is your name and company URL?

VO: My name is Venita Ozols-Graham and my daughter Brigitte Graham and I have a production company called Wanderlust Films(US): www.imdb.com/company/co0395615/.
And there’s also our web site for Black Widows: blackwidowsthemovie.com/

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

VO: I’ve worked in film and television production for a long time but I’ve always been a ‘filmmaker’ and several years ago I stepped away from production to concentrate on writing and directing. I still have to produce to get our projects up and running but my heart is in the story, not the finances.

DG: What are you currently working on?

VO: We’re in post production on a short thriller Brigitte wrote and directed, ‘Angel’. Dark, stylized, very cool. On this one, I just produced. I’m also in that hell called putting together financing for two feature length scripts I wrote so I can direct again. Also, I wrote another short, ‘Only If They Smell Blood’, that we’re shooting next week. Gotta keep those Shriekfest entries going 🙂

DG: 🙂 Wow! You’ve been busy! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

VO: Hmm. I’d have to say Roman Polanski because his early films spun my head around in film school and made me want to make movies. I guess that’s more of an inspiration than a mentor? Kenny Johnson was more of a hands on mentor…I was his First A.D. on many sic fi projects like ‘Alien Nation’. I learned so much standing next to him. He’s a generous teacher.

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

VO: I was just giving that a lot of thought the other day…the real world is actually barely a step away from what we see in horror movies. Just walk through certain parts of any big city and you feel like you’re on the set of ‘Night of the Living Dead’. We’re genuinely terrified about the potential for horror in real life so it’s a relief to experience our fears in a controlled setting, where someone won’t tear off our arm and eat it. And sci fi…it’s the (potential) future. Who doesn’t want to take a peek into what’s in store for us?

DG: LOL very true! What do you love most about this business?

VO: The insanity and intensity. Working on a set is like being part of a huge (sometimes dysfunctional) family. It’s a wild, all consuming ride that you experience with every cell of your being and then you get spit out. Not saying there aren’t spells of outright boredom (will that actress EVER get out of makeup???) but I can’t imagine a career that’s more challenging on so many levels.

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

VO: The insanity and intensity. lol. Actually, at the moment I’m seriously disliking the mercurial nature of film financing. Give me a task and I’ll accomplish it but putting together financing is like trying to capture quicksilver. You get a bead on this aspect and this other one slips away. I see now why it can take a decade to get a film made.

DG: I hear ya! It is frustrating. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

VO: I’m most proud of getting the movie ‘Black Widows’ made and distributed. What a challenge! Even though I’d been in production a long time, arranging financing, producing every aspect of it, casting extraordinary actors with no money, directing, dealing with 23 musicians on the soundtrack, post production, deliverables, publicity, on and on…it was a crash course in film making.

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

VO: Write. And then write some more. And get together with your friends and make shorts. Prove yourself and they (producers) may knock on your door. No one’s going to knock if you don’t show them you can do it.

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

VO: Yes. Thank you. Shriekfest was truly my favorite film festival to be a part of. For upcoming filmmakers, festivals are the stepping stone to making a career in filmmaking a reality. Can you imagine how sad it would be if they didn’t exist? You’ve created a celebration of film for all of us who love making and watching it! Very grateful.

DG: thank you so much Venita! It was great chatting!

Michael Raymond

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Michael Raymond
2007 screenplay winner, 2007 & 2014 finalist, 2011 semi-finalist, & 2016 quarter finalist

DG: What is your name and company URL?

MR: Michael Raymond – screenwriter (http://www.imdb.me/michaelraymond)

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

MR: Screenwriting

DG: What are you currently working on?

MR: A sci-fi action thriller that I refer to as “The Dirty Dozen” meets “Mad Max Fury Road”… it’s right on the heels of a little sci-fi drama that I pitch as “Stand By Me” meets “The Road.”

DG: Oooh, sounds fun! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

MR: I don’t have what I would call a “go-to” person for creative deep dives, but I certainly have some locally based writers and filmmakers that I consider dear friends and value their friendship because we’re like a jazz band where we all get together and jam creatively. It helps me realize everyone else is just as neurotic as me, which is incredibly reassuring. My influences (different than mentors I guess) are varied, but I’ve always been smitten with the work of Australian filmmaker Peter Weir and a more contemporary influence is Jeff Nichols, whose minimalist writing style I greatly admire and wish I could emulate more often with my own work.

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

MR: It offers unique and clever ways to express (creatively) things that are happening in society or with current events, but in a completely different context… without being overly heavy-handed about it. From a popcorn movie perspective, the other reason is we simply love being scared in the dark by our own very primal fears or just awestruck by other worlds and visions.

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

MR: No matter how down I sometimes get about work, someone always comes along and does something incredible that inspires me and pulls me out of it. Either that, or they make me think to myself, “Gee, I wish I had thought of that.”

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

MR: People making too many decisions based on the fear of losing their job or giving more weight to commerce. Also, decision-makers sometimes use silence as a form of communicating. I would rather someone told me my baby was ugly or simply give things proper closure.

DG: I hear ya! It is frustrating. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

MR: My Nicholl Fellowship Finalist placement for a script I was told, “Don’t waste your time writing something like that.” Honorable mention for winning Shriekfest and Austin.

DG: Woo hoo! congrats! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

MR: Always write. Every day. It’s probably the one (and only) thing you can really control in this business so always be working on something. Stop making excuses and get your butt in the chair every day as part of a regular routine.

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

MR: Relationships are important. And that concept (to me) is a different animal than the concept of “networking.” Maybe you worked on a project with someone that never quite got traction or someone read a script of yours they really liked… they will remember. Be decent and honest with people even if it’s not always reciprocated in this business. You just never know how something might circle back around (in a good way) somewhere down the road.

DG: Well said Michael! Thank you! It was great chatting!

Frank Merle

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Frank Merle
2008 screenplay finalist, 2009 screenplay semi-finalist, & director of 2012’s Official Selection “The Employer”

DG: What is your name and company URL?

FM: I’m Frank Merle, with Lone Morsel Productions, which can be found at LoneMorsel.com.

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

FM: I’m a writer/director, so while I am a screenwriter, most of what I write is meant for me to director. But I’ve been writing at a faster rate than I’ve been able to complete my films, so some of my scripts might make their way into other hands soon.

DG: What are you currently working on?

FM: I just completed work on #FromJennifer, a found-footage horror/comedy featuring Derek Mears and Tony Todd in unique roles that I think will really surprise and delight their fans. I’m also in pre-production for my next film, a farm thriller called Broken Oaks that will film later this year. Incidentally, the script for Broken Oaks was a Shriekfest finalist a few years ago, but back then it was called Graves Farm.

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

FM: I once heard Francis Ford Coppola discuss violence on film in such an elegant way, it really inspired me to embrace the darker stuff without worrying that it might make me a psycho. I can’t do justice to his wording, but in general, his point was that it’s okay to abhor real-life violence and still portray it truthfully in film. Whatever it takes to serve the story you’re telling. Coppola can’t watch the violent parts of his movies, he closes his eyes!

DG: I never knew that…I love it. Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?

FM: Everyone has fears, and if we let them, they’ll destroy us. To stay strong enough to get out of bed each day and face whatever may be lurking in wait for us, I think we need constant practice at confronting fear, in a safe environment, in order to better handle the real horrors that are bound to come eventually. That’s why horror fans live life so fearlessly: they’ve already survived the worst that we filmmakers can throw at them, so they’re ready for whatever curve balls life might try try to throw their way.

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

FM: It’s such a vibrant community of the most creative people I’ve ever met. Not everyone in the business is nice, or on my wavelength, but that’s okay. We can all pick and choose who we want to work with and hang with.

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

FM: The financial reality that there’s never enough money to do it right. The billion-dollar movies in my head are awesome, but unfortunately I have to figure out ways to make them for less.

DG: I hear ya! It is frustrating, but lack of money usually brings on the creativity and that can be very exciting! What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

FM: I’m proud of the fact that actors who work with me are always eager to work with me again. I consider myself an actor’s director: I put a large focus on helping actors craft the best possible performance, and they are usually very appreciative of my support. I personally believe that performance is the most important aspect of a good film. If a movie is beautifully shot, but with bad acting, it’s not a good movie in my book.

DG: I love that! We need more directors like you!! As an actor I know what it’s like to work with directors that don’t direct. 🙂 Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

FM: Stay humble. Even if you think you’re pretty great, which is fine, just remember that the people around you are pretty great, too. The best work is being done by those who see themselves as servants to something larger than themselves. The movies you make are going to become part of the Collective, the combined history of cinema. Your goal should be to not just add to the Collective, but to hopefully improve it with your unique contribution.

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

FM: We’re living in a great time for horror, aren’t we? There’s some surprising and exciting new stuff happening these days. I’ll always go back to the classics from time to time, but I’m extremely encouraged about what’s ahead. Respect the past, embrace the future.

DG: I agree! Thank you Frank! It was great chatting!