Todd Bronson

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Todd Bronson
2005 screenplay finalist & 2006 and 2009 screenplay semifinalist

DG: What is your name and company URL?

TB: Todd Bronson, https://www.facebook.com/todd.bronson.9

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

TB: screenwriter

DG: What are you currently working on?

TB: Right now, I’m deep in pulp-horror, matinee creature-features and writing a rock-n-roll, atomic monster story. I love research, so I’m on the list to visit the Nevada atomic testing site. Hopefully, it won’t make my “kick the bucket” list.

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

TB: I had a screenwriting mentor for awhile who worked for the Paramount writing department during the seventies, but sadly he passed away. He would rip my scripts a good one and edit out my bullshit. He helped me realize “indie” could be commercial. I have many influences from Hitchcock to Carpenter with a sprinkle of John Waters

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

TB: Horror is a rollicking roller coaster. First there is the slow, ticking of the clock as the coaster car climbs the tracks. Your heart races knowing there is danger beyond the summit. Then the adrenaline kicks in as you free fall and race along the tracks. Every turn and cork-screw is excruciating excitement. When you finally brake to a comforting halt, you are relieved. – You lived. The scare is over. However, you are hooked as you run back in line and buy a ticket to the next horror film.

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

TB: Researching and writing a script is a blast. Characters, plot, tone, and dialogue are puzzle pieces that I can manipulate into a full story. It’s a form of recreation for me. That is the business I love. – The nuts and bolts. I dig the blue-collar writing of the script.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

TB: The screenwriting business is different than that of filmmaking. I’ve never had the opportunity to be where both converge. For me, one level of the screenwriting business is a hoard of hyenas picking the pockets of their screenwriting prey while laughing to the bank. The second level of screenwriting is beyond the hyenas and joining the filmmakers. Unfortunately, I still feel the need to feed the hyenas.

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

TB: I’ve had minor screenwriting accomplishments. A couple of scripts have been zero optioned. I’ve placed in numerous competitions and collaborated with a couple of produced directors. However, for me, any completed, well designed screenplay is an accomplishment and cause for celebration.

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

TB: My advice for any newbies… Don’t feed the hyenas! If you feel you need to feed them, make damn sure your script is kick-ass, professional, and well written. Make it strong and stick out from the herd.

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

TB: Write on!

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

Alex Bram

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Alex Bram
2012 screenwriting semifinalist & 2014 screenwriting finalist

DG: What is your name and company URL?

AB: Alex Bram, Panic Attack Films

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

AB: Director, Producer, Writer

DG: What are you currently working on?

AB: Finding budget for a werewolf film and another project about a supernatural cult.

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

AB: Two teachers who taught me to DIG DEEPLY when creating art. One was my 9th grade English teacher Jeff Slaby who taught me to appreciate Shakespeare and showed me how Macbeth is really a horror tale. He showed me how to rock and roll with reckless abandon. He was also a disc jockey. Then, more recently, acting teacher Gary Imhoff really made me realize that you should not let ANYTHING compromise your artistic vision. If it does, DEAL with it. Now. Invaluable advice I use on a daily basis.

DG: That is great advice! Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?

AB: However bad your current lot in life may be, at least you don’t have a three-headed demon chasing you down a corridor. Horror films make you feel better. They remind you: “It could be way worse…”

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

AB: The fellow artists I encounter on this journey who are all fighting the good fight. I also love meeting icons and people whom I have admired since childhood and discovering that they are just people too. And, the more talented they are, usually, the NICER they seem to be. It’s those “almost famous” people who tend to be the biggest jerks.

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

AB: People with no real pull who PRETEND they are big-time Producers and basically just waste your time.

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

AB: I have reached a point where my scripts are attracting great talent on their merit and marketability. It took me a few years to get there.

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

AB: Never settle for first draft. It’s tempting to look at the work and say, “Nailed it!” But often, it will take you YEARS to truly refine and even figure out what your story is and who the main characters are. This applies to writing and music composition and editing, acting and directing. Again, you can always DIG DEEPER. Laziness will not survive in today’s ultra-competitive environment

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

AB: I know they are yummy like chocolate, but BOYCOTT SUPER-HERO movies. I mean, do NOT purchase tickets. If you do, you will only feed the monster and they will keep churning them out. It’s a coin-operated cinema these days, in case you haven’t noticed. Stop plunking your dollars into comic book films. Also, SUPPORT ORIGINAL HORROR – films like “The Babdook” and “It Follows.” It doesn’t matter that those films are not perfect. What DOES matter is that those filmmakers tried to create NEW MONSTERS with new mythologies.

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

Jason D. Brawn

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Jason D. Brawn
2007 & 2008 screenplay semifinalist

DG: What is your name and company URL?

JB: Jason D. Brawn, http://jasonbrawn.weebly.com/

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

JB: Screenwriting

DG: What are you currently working on?

JB: On a stageplay titled The Revenant, which could also work well as a feature film.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

JB: Norman J. Warren, a cult movie director who made some well-known British horror films in the seventies. He knows his stuff, and he’s also helped me develop further as a writer.

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

JB: Because they are the best genre pictures around. Period.

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

JB: Having positive feedback from the industry, and entertaining people.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

JB: The lying and false promises.

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

JB: Having a comic book script in development with a 2000 AD related comic book series. Also, having a radio play accepted for production.

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

JB: Don’t give up and always have an open mind. That will help you grow as a writer or filmmaker.

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

JB: Keep creating

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

Michael J. Bowler

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Michael J. Bowler
2009 screenplay semifinalist, 2012 semifinalist, and 2013 finalist

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

MB: Michael J. Bowler. I have a website that highlights my writing, but not my filmmaking credits. Writing site is: http://michaeljbowler.com/

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

MB: Under the filmmaking umbrella, screenwriting has always been my passion. I’ve directed some films, I’ve run sound, I’ve acted in small roles, but writing is what I love most.

DG: What are you currently working on?

MB: I have a new horror novel releasing on August 5th called Spinner and I have already adapted it into a screenplay. The novel is based on an earlier screenplay – I expanded the story and fleshed out the characters more for the novel and then re-wrote it as a script. It has come full circle.

DG: Wow, that is cool! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

MB: I don’t think I have a mentor for writing. It’s something I’ve always done since I was a kid. I enjoy writing both books and screenplays, though it’s easier to get books out to the public than it is to get scripts produced.

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

MB: I’ve always loved both genres, and fantasy, too, even as a child. My parents thought there was something wrong with me for loving scary movies. LOL Adolescence and horror go hand in hand. Teens and young adults, as a rule, love the genre more than older people. In part, it’s because teens are always seeking new thrills, new experiences. They love to get the heart and adrenalin pumping, especially if they know they can walk safely out of the theater after it’s over. I also feel that these genres that are not “normative” appeal to kids, and adults like me, who have disabilities, are in some way “different,” or just think outside the box. We differ from the norm and such stories differ from the norm, so we gravitate to them. Look at how many horror films feature a kid who’s odd or different or possessed or threatened by nightmares that expose his secrets to the world. Then there are the many damaged characters in horror stories that literally hide behind masks. Horror often features the outsider kid, the one nobody likes because he or she is “different” as the hero, the one who saves the day when his or her “conforming” peers are getting knocked off one by one. The plethora of possession movies speak to teen fears of having someone inside themselves, i.e. the real human being, revealing itself to the world and not being accepted. For LGBT youth, this fear is profound because they know how society consistently rejects kids like them for being born “different.” Special Education (SPED) kids harbor a similar fear. As a teacher to disabled high school students, I know from experience that their greatest fear is for peers to find out they’re SPED. Horror allows people to explore some of their greatest fears without actually revealing them to others.

DG: I have never looked at it that way, you are so right, horror films do feature lots of people who feel like outsiders. Brilliant observation Mike. What do you love most about this business?

MB: I love writing first and foremost, in both formats – novel and screenplay. A well-written and plotted script makes a film far better than any special effects or even top-tier actors. Sadly, too many films these days have weak scripts with problems that are easily fixable if only the filmmakers and screenwriters would be as meticulous with the writing as they are with the directing.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

MB: It’s very difficult to make the right connections as a writer. An agent is usually required to gain access to the movers and shakers, but agents are next to impossible to come by (at least in my experience.)

DG: I know it’s tough, it can be next to impossible, but, not impossible. Cream rises to the top and your work is too. J What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

MB: I’m very proud of my epic 5-book Children of the Knight series because it deals with a great many subjects involving kids that most Americans would rather ignore. I’m also very proud of “Spinner” because it features teen characters with disabilities, something seldom seen in any genre, especially horror. And these disabled teens are the heroes who have to solve the mystery and defeat the evil with minimal help from adults or non-disabled peers. My film work from years ago doesn’t hold up so well today, but I think my work on “Club Dead” and “Things 2” still look better than it should given the scant budgets I had to work with.

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

MB: Never give up. If your dream is to write, then keep writing and, more importantly, keep re-writing. Re-writing is what makes good writing great. If your dream is to direct, start a YouTube channel and make little shorts that will garner some attention for your skills, as well as exposure to your target audience. But never ever quit!

DG: YES!!! Well said! Anything else you’d like to say?

MB: My personal hope for upcoming horror films is that they try to be scary and not gory. Gore isn’t scary; it’s just nasty. But engaging characters put into terrifying situations wins the day every time, in my opinion.

DG: I agree! So great chatting Mike! Thank you!

Jared Bentley

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Jared Bentley
2013 screenwriting finalist

DG: What is your name and company URL?
JB: Jared Bentley, Engenius Productions, http://covetous-movie.com/
DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?
JB: Writer and Director.
DG: What are you currently working on?
JB: Finishing up a short called The Conductor, which we will be submitting to festivals for showings later this year. Also in pre-production for an action thriller called “Hospice”.
DG: Nice! Who do you consider your mentor and why?
JB: I don’t really have one. No one has really taken me under their wing. Which isn’t to say no one has ever taken a chance on me, but I wouldn’t say I have any true mentors. I have people that I associate with that I respect and I seek their advice. Joe Menendez, is one of them. He has directed several features.
DG: Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?
JB: Because they work on so many different levels. Whether it’s suspense, comedy, or just pure entertainment. The scifi/horror audience are also a very hungry crowd. They devour content and are always searching for more. Above all, if a film is entertaining, these audiences love it. And a scifi/horror film has the best chance at being entertaining since they can work on so many different levels.
DG: What do you love most about this business?
JB: I love getting immersed in a project, in that world, and bringing it to life. Nothing beats watching your film with an audience for the first time. I also love the collaborative aspect of filmmaking. No one can make a movie by themselves.
DG: That is so very true! What do you dislike most about this business?
JB: Wow. Where do I begin? There are some great people for sure, next to the music industry, the film industry attracts the most shallow, talentless, and disgusting people this world has to offer.Plus, there’s a disconnect between the people making the decisions on what gets made and the people actually making the films. I find that the decision makers often come from marketing or business or legal backgrounds. Which hardly qualifies them to judge the merit of a project. I spend a lot of time taking orders from people who have never spent a day on a film set. But most of all, the subjectivity can be maddening. In most other professions, there are tangible benchmarks of success and talent. But the arts are highly subjective.
DG: Well said! What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
JB: Getting my film into Shriekfest of course!!! 🙂 Beyond that, being the exclusive video director and designer for The Jacksons on their ongoing world tour has been a huge honor, and it has taken me places I never would have imagined going. In addition to that, I am hugely proud of all of the films my company, Engenius Productions have made. The world of independent/low budget filmmaking is a mostly thankless and grueling road. So if you can come out of it with films that you are proud of, it’s a major accomplishment.
DG: Yes! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?
JB: The best way to learn about filmmaking is to make a film. It seems obvious, but many people don’t know this. Learn the basics of every major aspect of filmmaking. This way, when a sound recordist or DP is telling you something you know isn’t true, you can call BS. Once it becomes known that you are a person that knows what you are talking about, people will respect you and they will crave your respect.
DG: Great advice! Anything else you’d like to say?
JB: Don’t ever write or make something cause you think it’s what somebody else wants to see or it’s something you “should” be doing. Do what you know you are good at. And do what you yourself would want to watch. It’s the only way to have any sustained success.
DG: I agree! Thank you Jared! It was great chatting!

Laura Baumbach

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Laura Baumbach
2007 semifinalist screenwriter

DG: What is your name and company URL?

LB: My name is Laura Baumbach. I don’t use a pen name. I’m a full-time publisher, and author of m/m erotic romance novels and mainstream screenplays. My publishing company’s name is MLR Press, LLC which stands for ManLove Romance Press, LLC. (http://www.mlrpress.com) I’m a novelist and a screenwriter. While my novels are primarily m/m erotic romance, my screenplays have been a mix of mainstream sci-fi/horror and m/m contemporary. Adaptations of published novels of mine.

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

LB: Screenwriting. I got into it a weird way. I was writing fanfiction 15 years ago and got invovled in the making of a horror film. They needed a medical consultant and I am a RN who was working in emergency trauma at the time. I consulted with the script, got wrapped up in the film process and dove in head first. I had written fanfiction with the film creators’ permission and they asked to published the collection of my work to release with the film. It went on to win awards as a collection of short stories. I went on to write original fiction by the release of the film. I had several novels completed then but I was dying to write a screenplay after my experiences. So I adapted one of my sci-fi novels DETAILS OF THE HUNT which was originally titled TALOS’ BOUNTY. The script won a several awards and I was hooked.

DG: What are you currently working on?

LB: I’ve just finished a revision of my script MOONLIGHT BAYS, a werewolf story. With romance. lol. I love writing paranormal. Vampires are so powerful and dark. The original sexy loner. Werewolves are the original passionate outcast who mates for life. I embrace that.

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

LB: If I could write like Joss Wheldon I’d die a happy woman

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

LB: People loved to be scared. Adrenaline spikes, tension is high, we become hyper-aware and sensitive. It’s all very sexual in a non-obvious kind of way. Fear and arousal are closely related responses biochemically. Scifi stretches our imaginations with infinite possibilities. Arousal and worlds were anything could be possible, who could ask for more?

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

LB: The high degree of creative energy. Just when you think you have seen it all, someone gives you a plot, a solution, a character you never dreamed of on your own. It’s inspiring. It make you want to do more with your own work, reach further with it.

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

LB: How hard it is to get your work noticed. It’s a jungle. And it’s not the lions that will get you, it’s the dense undergrowth you have to battle through to reach sunlight. To get your work seen.

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

LB: In the romance world I’ve made a few accomplishments I’m proud of– breaking down doors to gain acceptance for my category of romance, having my m/m romance work win awards up against other mainstream novels, and founding the first RWA chapter for LGBT romance, even as a straight woman, being recognized by ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE as ‘ a pioneer of the m/m genre’ is at the top of the list. As a screenwriter, I’m thrilled even more when my scripts win awards than when my novels do because I know the screenwriting world is a much harder environment to accomplish things in. Every award translates to visibility in the field, which is more important in a way than the actual award. Your work has to been seen by the right person at the right time. That means getting it out there — as often as possible — to be seen in the best light by as many people in the industry as possible. Again and again.

DG: I love that! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

LB: Have faith in yourself, in your talent. There will be a lot of times when you feel like you are the only one who does. Work at making others feel that belief.

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

LB: I think bringing enjoyment to others is one of the best gifts a person can leave behind in life. It’s a reward unlike any other when you find out something you put out there brought joy and inspiration to another human being. I think that’s an authors gift, novelist or screenwriter. We are gifted with imagination and ability to share. Let one or a million people get lost in a world you created. You’ll make a mark on them.

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

Harry Bauer

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Harry Bauer
2006 and 2011 screenwriting finalist

DG: What is your name and company URL?

HB: Harry Bauer, https://www.youtube.com/c/HarryBauerGeekORiffic

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

HB: Screenwriting

DG: What are you currently working on?

HB: I’m in the middle of writing Wild, Wild Amusement Rides, which is about a man who had amazing magical adventures when he was a kid and finds himself going back to that forgotten place to save a friend. I also have been writing, filming and acting in short videos that I have been posting on my new YouTube channel, Geek-O-Riffic. In addition, I’m shopping around my screenplays Action, Character Sheet and Dragon’s Bane.

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

HB: My #1 mentor goes way back to my pre- and high school days. Allyn Sitjar was the artistic director of a wonderful creative haven for kids, Youth Theatre of New Jersey. Her passion and enthusiasm was infectious. She would place no boundaries on creativity. She gave me the building blocks and foundation for crafting stories and performances that sticks with me until this day.

DG: That is really awesome! Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?

HB: They, along with fantasy (where I also hang my hat), embrace the heart of escapism. If we are going to step out of our lives for a moment, why only take only a tippy-toe? Why not leap into another universe? Whether it’s going into the far reaches of space or a twist on our own world where werewolves can actually exist.

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

HB: The opportunity to create a story or moment that can get me giddy and then open it up for people to see, to share a creation.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

HB: Locked doors. Propensity for clinging to formula.

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

HB: I think my greatest accomplishments are yet to come, but my most treasured moment steps outside of film and screenwriting. I played Sebastian in main stage production of Twelfth Night at Indiana University. I had one moment where I did a take to the audience and every night, it got a huge laugh. Feeling the laugh of that packed house rise and swell with every subtle movement of my face was an amazing feeling. It’s like the gold standard for I want to emulate in audience experience for my writing and acting.

DG: I love that! I didn’t realize you were so into acting! Awesome…my first love as well! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

HB: Keep making stuff. Keep taking risks. And keep putting it out there for foreign faces to see. Listen to those voices. Digest good critical feedback that will help your material grow and evolve.

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

HB: Thanks for reaching out to me, Denise! Being a two-time finalist in Shriekfest has definitely been a highlight. Not just for that honor, but for finding and being part of this awesome group of people!

DG: Thank you Harry! It’s been an honor having you as part of the Shriekfest family! It was great chatting!

Daryl Anka

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Daryl Anka
2008 screenplay Finalist for “Solstice”

DG: What is your name and company URL?

DA: My name is Darryl Anka. I’m a writer-director-producer. My wife and producing partner, Erica Jordan, and I own and operate Zia Films LLC, our production company at www.ziafilms.com.

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

DA: I’m a screenwriter and, as a writer-director-producer, I’m also a filmmaker. With a background in miniature effects, set design and storyboards, I can also sometimes apply those skills to my filmmaking as well.

DG: What are you currently working on?

DA: We are now in post-production on a documentary that explores various metaphysical topics, such as UFOs and channeling. We’re also forming a partnership with another production company to develop a sci-fi cartoon series as well as developing a live-action sci-fi TV series. In addition, we’re now budgeting a horror-comedy and I’m currently writing a screenplay for a very different kind of morality tale that takes place in the Old West.

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

DA: There are several people I look up to and have learned a great deal from. Producer Gary Goldstein (Pretty Woman, Mothman Prophecies, Under Siege) has been instrumental in helping us develop one of our scripts and I’ve learned a lot about filmmaking by watching the films of Clint Eastwood, Christopher Nolan and Sam Mendes, among many others.

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

DA: I believe people love to explore their fears as long as it’s in a safe environment. It can be very cathartic. Regarding sci-fi, it allows people to stretch their imaginations and opens up possibilities and new ways of understanding our own reality by seeing it from a very different perspective. The large following is most likely because the genres are very cross-cultural and strong in concepts that anyone can understand. After all, we all have similar fears and similar hopes and dreams.

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

DA: Creating whole new worlds that can be realized on the screen and that can impact people with new ideas.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

DA: The politics that happen when people get caught up in trying to protect their jobs. That and the lack of communication and common courtesy that some people feel makes them appear more in control when, in fact, it’s a sign of insecurity.

DG: That is frustrating. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

DA: Having gotten to the point of simply taking action and making movies however we can instead of waiting for others to determine what we are or are not capable of doing.

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

DA: In our experience, there are five important principles we’ve learned that can help move your career forward when making movies:
1. Passion: Do what you love and love what you do. Making movies is a tough job. You might as well face challenges doing what you love instead of what you don’t.
2. Project: Make sure your project is the best it can be. You want to produce a great concept and script, not just merely a good one.
3. People: Surround yourself with the best cast and crew if you’re producing or directing. Get people who know more than you do and who are collaborative and communicative. They’ll help you make the best movie you can.
4. Preparation: Do your homework. Read great scripts. Study films and filmmakers. Know your stuff. Learn from the best. Don’t wait to get what you think you need to make that film, make the film for what you’ve already got if at all possible. It will take you to the next level.
5. Persistence: In the words of Galaxy Quest: “Never give up. Never surrender.” Just keep moving forward. Treat every challenge as an opportunity and you’ll find a way through. I speak from experience. And remember: If writing scripts or making movies is truly what you’re passionate about, then that passion will go a long way to helping you persist because, when it comes right down to it, would you rather be doing anything else? If the answer is “no” then keep at it. You don’t need to give up your day job if that’s the only thing supporting you at the moment, but at least do something every day to move your dream forward.

DG: YES!!!! I ditto all of that! Great advice! Anything else you’d like to say?

DA: Filmmakers are a community. Make friends, make connections. Share what you know and learn what you don’t know from others. Learn by doing, by helping others get their projects off the ground, and take full advantage of opportunities that could give you the best chance to live your dreams. The opportunity that Shriekfest and other organizations provide to submit scripts, discuss filmmaking, such as in this interview, and make industry connections is invaluable. Now go write that script or make that movie!

DG: Darryl, well said! Thank you!! It was great chatting!

Marwan Abderrazzaq

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Marwan Abderrazzaq
Director of 2013’s Best Horror Short Film “Desolate Road”

DG: What is your name and company URL?

MA: Marwan Abderrazzaq, Director – Waterwell Pictures, site: https://www.facebook.com/DesolateRoad

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

MA: Filmmaking. Directing.

DG: What are you currently working on?

MA: I am actively working on a short film that I hope to shoot in the coming months as well as 2 feature scripts. One is the feature based on the Desolate Road short film and the other is a baseball themed movie based on a true story.

DG: So cool! I can’t wait to see Desolate Road the feature! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

MA: The only hero or mentor I have ever had was my father. He taught me about the true meaning of hard work and dedication and never giving up. I take everything he ever taught me and try to apply them into everything I do.

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

MA: Because they tap and ultimately affect the most powerful of human emotions. They tend to bring to life the things we are most afraid of and if done right, become memories that stay with us for a very long time.

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

MA: To me it’s always been two things. Story of course, but the other is memories. I have always found that memories are one of the most important things I carry with me. So many of my best memories as a child come from the films I have seen. I remember my older brother taking me to see Jaws, Raiders, Star Wars, Aliens, Field of Dreams, and Platoon amongst other films and those films have stayed with me till this day. The idea of being able to create a special memory for people is the ultimate challenge and something that’s pretty special.

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

MA: The lack of courtesy with follow-up, especially after a relationship has been established.

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

MA: I have been able to start my production company Waterwell Pictures with two of my best friends from college (Jason Masek and Bill Bant) and that we have produced some solid work so far. Doing that plus being able to manage my career in the video game industry at the same time.

DG: Yes, I love the balance! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

MA: Work on things you care about and stay laser focused on them. Also, don’t waste your time!

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

MA: Don’t let the industry or people (no matter who they are) scare you. If you have a story you really want to tell, you’ll figure out a way to do it. Good Luck!

DG: I agree! Never give up! Thank you Marwan! It was great chatting!

Travis Betz

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Travis Betz
Director of “Lo,” 2009’s Audience Choice award and 2011’s Best Super Natural Film “The Dead Inside”

DG: What is your name and company URL?

TB: Travis Betz – DrexelBox Films – www.TravisBetz.com

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

TB: I am a writer/director of the weird and wonderful.

DG: What are you currently working on?

TB: Oodles of fun stuff! I’m currently finishing up my horror-comedy novel, Stabbers, as well as a number of new horror, comedy and thriller scripts. I am seeking funding for a new horror anthology I want to direct, and I also have a horror-thriller in development. I wish I didn’t have to be so vague, but at the time of this writing I shouldn’t be saying much more. But really cool things are on the horizon.

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

TB: I never really had a single person I would consider a mentor. At least no one that I knew personally who I worked alongside. Two of my biggest influences growing up were Sam Raimi and John Landis. When I started actually making movies, establishments like the New Beverly Cinema and The Cinefamily were two of the best mentors I had. I cut my teeth on the French new wave at the New Bev, amongst other things. I’d go every week by myself and just experience all walks of cinema. To me, sitting in those theaters watching great films was the best inspiration and education I could ever get.

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

TB: Perhaps because horror and sci fi films have the ability to create communities and fans. When’s the last time you geeked out at a drama convention and had a nerdy discussions about The English Patient? Genre films allow us to dream as big as we desire. It lets us open forbidden doors and peek inside without getting hurt. They are beautiful, violent, grotesque and meaningful. I mean…I love them.

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

TB: Probably that I’m surrounded by like-minded artists whom I can gab the night away with about cinema.

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

TB: The lack of risk taking. Seems, in many cases, the only thing your original script is good for is to get you into the meeting for the over-processed, market tested, re-hashed ideas that they want you to make. It’s a real challenge to make something new, and can be very disheartening. But this is the path I chose…so be it.

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

TB: Honestly, I’m most enthusiastic when random strangers send me messages about how much they loved my movie, and how much it means to them. Those are worth the most to me. I’m a weird filmmaker who makes bizarre little films. I accept that the mainstream is not where I swim. When I find people who love and get what I’m going for it lets me know I have an audience who appreciate the same things I do. It makes me happy that there’s a place for my stories in the world.

DG: I love that! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

TB: I guess it depends on what you want out of your art. You wanna be a big time studio director and work deep inside the system? I guess you need to play the game. Meet people, work as a P.A., get an agent and manager. If your interests are being an artist and making your own stuff…well then pour your heart and soul into it. Be open and listen to criticism, but only use what you feel applies to better the story. Write every day, knowing you’re gonna fail over and over – but the one time you do win it will be worth it. Actually, the latter advice should also be applied to the first bit of advice. Passion, confidence and a good work ethic will get you far in any world you want to be a part of.

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

TB: Can you buy me a drink?

DG: LOL Thank you Travis! It was great chatting!