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!

Winners 2014

Shriekfest 2014

BEST HORROR FEATURE FILM:
Berkshire County
Writen by Chris Gamble, Directed by Audrey Cummings

BEST SCIFI FEATURE FILM:
Time Lapse
Written by Bradley King & BP Cooper, Directed by Bradley King

BEST THRILLER FEATURE FILM:
Nightmare Code
Written by M.J. Rotondi & Mark Netter, Directed by Mark Netter

BEST SUPER SHORT FILM:
Drudge
Written & Directed by Kheireddine El-Helou

BEST HORROR SHORT FILM:
Let Me See Your Eyes
Written by Jack Nathan Harding, Directed by Derek Cole

BEST SCIFI SHORT FILM:
The Developer
Written by Horvath Aron, Directed by Robert Odegnal

BEST HORROR FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
Ghost of Vengeance
Written by Billan Lee

BEST SCIFI FEATURE SCREENPLAY:
The Big Beyond
Written by Tom Batha

BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY:
Hannah’s Birthday
Written by Juliet Bergh

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:
Forgetting How to Dream
Jason James & Rodney Hazard, (music video produced by Chaman Malhi)

John Kiernan

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

John Kiernan
Finalist composer of 2013 and 2014

DG: What is your name and company URL?

JK: My name is John Kiernan with John Kiernan Music LLC. My website is www.JohnKiernanmusic.com

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

JK: My specialty is music composition and Soundesign. I create the soundscapes for these visual mediums.

DG: What are you currently working on?

JK: Currently, I am working on a score for Anthony Mezza’s “Cut To Pieces” short horror film. I am also working closely with Helene Muddiman (The composer for happy feet and Franken weenie) and Elite Hollywood Composers on some upcoming projects, as well as promoting my debut instrumental rock album.

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

JK: Deborah “Zuke” Smith of ZukeTunes has been instrumental in taking my career to the next level. Has taken my business savvy of the industry and guided me into some next steps in my career. From a compositional on musical standpoint, Brian Tyler, Akira Yamaoka, Danny Elfman and Bear McCreary are all composers that I have looked up to and have been instrumental in my musical development, though I’ve never learned directly from them in person. Michael Zager and Alejandro Sanchez-Samper at Florida Atlantic University were big mentors to me and my college years and many of the lessons I learned from them have been invaluable.

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

JK: It’s a genre that challenges the mind, physically, emotionally, psychologically. It’s also a genre that lends itself to be wildly creative and explore possibilities that might not be able to be manifested in our day-to-day routine. These genres truly can be horrifying, funny, emotionally demanding, and over-the-top in ways that other genres like romantic comedies cannot be. When you have genres that can categorize series like Evil Dead, Dead Alive, Found., Silent Hill, Supernatural, The “Of The Dead” series and many others under one blanket and can do so much within each, there’s something special there. And then when you can masterfully craft that in ways like Guillermo Del Toro & many other greats, you truly have a recipe for an incredible genre base.

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

JK: Film scoring in music composition is often the glue that binds the visuals, dialogue, and overall tone/message of a film. It’s the position in the film that requires the most artistic versatility within one production. The score can change the direction of the film, I like being a harbinger of the film’s artistic direction. Also, the community of people within this business is a strong, tight knit one. Being part of a community of artists of all different styles Who all share the same passion for these genres is truly something special.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

JK: I guess having a background in rock and metal has made me dislike people who outwardly bash a product that has come out. I feel that peoples creativity, even if it’s not something that you agree with, should not be bashed just because you do not agree with it or do not find it satisfying personally. Rock, metal, Sci-Fi, and horror genre share fans and industry members who have a weak filter for being kind, sometimes. Golden rule, always. 🙂

DG: Yes, I think people can be WAY too negative. We need to all support each other. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

JK: Being part of Shriekfest for two years running is always a great accomplishment. And my time, I performed with many greats such as Slash from Guns N Roses and have worked alongside great composers such as Helene Muddiman and Michael Zager. I’m absolutely grateful for all of my opportunities.

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

JK: This is a tough industry, it has its violent lows and it’s heavenly highs. The violent low points can make it very easy to give up. But always keep your heart in it especially when it gets tough. Always come back to that place that made you want to do this and the place that elates you more than anything. So long as you can keep going back to that place of happiness and satisfaction, you can get over any hurdles. Also, not everything you write will be good, but don’t be afraid to sift through the garbage. Some of the best works have come from getting the bad ideas out, first.

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

JK: Always follow your dreams, be strong, stay creative, and keep it metal! I look forward to being part of Shriekfest this year, and I hope to work with and meet you very soon! Never be a stranger, feel free to reach out to me to Say Hi, as well!

DG: 🙂 Thank you John! It was great chatting!

Chaman Malhi

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Chaman Malhi
Producer of 2014’s Best Original Song “Forgetting How to Dream”

DG: What is your name and company URL?

CM: My name is Chaman Malhi, I am a co-founder of MJR LBL Media (Major Label), and VP of Business Development for Victory Square Labs. Www.victorysquare.com

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

CM: If I had to choose between the two, it would be filmmaking as a Producer. My specialty is the ability to develop high concepts, then put together and lead a team to build on and execute the vision. The directors, AD’s, performers, cinematographers, editors, colorists etc. – they are the super heroes, while I’m more like Nick Fury.

DG: What are you currently working on?

CM: Ten fingers and about as many pies! Film related? A short film entitled Zero Avenue. Zero Avenue is a road that borders US and Canada along Washington and BC and is often used to smuggle BC Bud to the US for more questionable substances. The film tells the story of a ten year old nickel bag weed dealer who finds himself on the frontline of BC’s international drug trade before he reaches adulthood. Horror sci-fi related? I’m seeking funding for a b-movie script and treatment I wrote called Zomborg – yep Zombie Cyborgs, that’s how I roll.

DG: LOL, love it! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

CM: I’ve never really had any mentors early in my life, and was forced to blaze a trail of my own at a young age. Back then, I was raised by The Ninja Turtles and Wu Tang Clan. When I worked with the bank cartels a few years ago I was introduced to the spiritual and quantum side of life by a self-made man named Kirk Davis and for that I am forever grateful. Today my role models are Muhammed Ali, Ari Emanuel and Kirk Davis.

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

CM: Endorphins. Sci-Fi stimulates the imagination and gets the synapsis in the brain spinning, while horror excites us in a more dangerous way. In the end, both are escapes from reality in a way that crime-drama’s, comedies, romance and even action could never offer. Besides, the animal in all of us is still addicted to blood.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

CM: Working with insane creative people in one hand, no-nonsense business folks in the other and managing both of their emotions while turning thoughts into things, paper into picture.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

CM: Working with insane creative people in one hand, no-nonsense business folks in the other and managing both of their emotions while turning thoughts into things, paper into picture.

DG: LOL, a love-hate relationship huh? What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

CM: And all this time I’ve been taking a tally of my failures! I am most proud of Zero Avenue. It is not finished yet, but I feel a buzz with this one and it’s the first project I have worked on with my childhood friends Benjamin Arce and Jason James. As a trinity we are MJR LBL and it’s been tough for us not to kill each other in the start, but I see all of our destiny’s unfolding with this one and nothing brings me more pleasure than empowering people who I believe in.

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

CM: I’m a year in the biz…I thought I was a newbie! It’s all about balance. Balance in your teams skillsets, knowing when to be driven emotionally and when to make a business decision. When to let go of controlling your stories so they can develop into something more than you could ever imagine by empowering others through ownership. We’re all just tiny specs of light and so are our ideas. It’s about connecting the dots.

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

CM: I’m creative by nature, but the business is a sickness. I dropped out of college and spent seven modestly successful years working in the bank cartels when I realized I needed to live in an evil closer to my creative heart. It was always a pipe dream to work in film and television, but I don’t wish I got into it earlier. We all have our path and the universe unfolds the way it should. You don’t have to understand it, only trust in it. Today I feel that my experiences prepared me to pursue my lifelong passion for creativity with sound business logic. If you’re a creative or an executive in the entertainment space, rest assured I’m a Producer who ‘gets it’.

DG: So true…it really is about trust. The journey will come when it’s the right time. Thank you Chaman! It was great chatting!

Barry Jay Stich

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Barry Jay Stich
2014 Original Song Finalist

What is your name and company URL?

For songwriting I don’t have a company name or URL really. I’m on SoundCloud. That’s about it.

What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

Screenwriting, songwriting. I love writing horror, it’s all I write. I do plan on producing my own horror in the coming year.

I look forward to it! What are you currently working on?

I co-wrote a horror movie and it goes into production end of October.

That’s great! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

I have many but John Carpenter comes to mind because he writes, produces/directs and of course scores and HALLOWEEN is one of my favorite horror movies of all time. Others include George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, George Romero, Sam Raimi, to name a few.

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

They’re exciting like a rollercoaster and appeal to such a wide range of audiences. They’re scary, funny sometimes, sexy, they often create completely new worlds we wouldn’t experience otherwise. It’s fun to be scared when you know inside nothing’s gonna happen to you.

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

The creative forces, the great scary movies, ability to create your own movie and get somewhere with it. The possibilities are endless! And that low budget WELL WRITTEN horror has made a place for itself… opening so many doors for a lot of us who love writing them.

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

Torture Porn. Gross isn’t scary to me. As for the business side, it’s challenging to get seen and read and produced, even with great screenplays. I still do not understand how some screenplays make it to the screen, sometimes right under the noses of incredibly talented people. Boggles my mind. There are some horror movies I can’t get past the first 20 minutes of and wonder how did they ever get this far.

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

Co-writing the horror movie that’s being produced this October. Co-founder Barry’s Bootcamp. Have had some songs in the background of some TV stuff. Was on the charts with a tune back in early 90’s. That was cool

Nice! You’ll have to tell me which song from the 90’s! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

Never, never, never give up — keep working at your craft and networking. That’s what I was told and that’s what I’m doing

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

I am so thrilled to have made it as a finalist and grateful you actually have a song category. As for horror – I love it when the ending isn’t all wrapped up and pretty. I personally prefer the endings like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD where the protagonist dies. Horror ending in tragedy is something I love – as long as it’s only in the movies.

I agree! Thank you Barry! It was great chatting!

Guillermo Arredondo

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Guillermo Arredondo
Producer of 2012’s “Chemical 13”

What is your name and company URL?

I am Guillermo Arredondo, and I am the founder of GArredondo PRODUCTIONS, you can find me and my company on IMDb at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4486615/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1 and http://www.imdb.com/company/co0375810/?ref_=fn_al_co_1

What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

I specialize in producing films and cinematography.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on two projects. Both are short films in the Horror genre. The first short film is called Hide & Shriek and is still in production, in which I am collaborating with Dark Sunny Entertainment. The second short film is called Out of Breath, which is now in post-production, in which I have collaborated with 112 Productions.

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

I really haven’t had a mentor per say, everything I know I have learned from either school, or I have picked it up along the way. I strive to do my best at what I do, and I hope that by my films being in film festivals, it shows my success.

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

I believe this genre has such a large following because people love adrenaline. Watching these movies, or even going to haunted houses during Halloween time allows people to feel that adrenaline and fear without truly being in harm’s way. There’s a sense of safety while also feeling that intense sense of fear, and I think people enjoy that feeling you get

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

I love that you can start with an idea, and by the end of the process it is on the big screen with people watching it and being entertained by it.

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

I haven’t really come across anything that I dislike.

I love that attitude! What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

The one accomplishment I am most proud of (so far) is having a time-lapse video that I made in Costa Rica while on vacation of the Arenal Volcano (made as a personal video) make it into the feature film Runner Runner. I am most proud of this because they came to me, and wanted my footage, and to see that footage in a feature film was amazing.

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

Be yourself, don’t try to be something you’re not, and ALWAYS trust the people you’re working with.

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

Going forward from here, I hope to branch out into other genres as well. While I enjoy the horror genre, I am looking forward to broadening my horizons.

Thank you Guillermo! It was great chatting!

Dave Bailey

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Dave Bailey
Director of 2002’s “Night of the Not So Living Dead Guy” and 2002/2003 screenplay finalist!

What is your name and company URL?

Dave Bailey

What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

Specialty is screenwriting with a side of short film producing

What are you currently working on?

I am currently/always working on multiple things. I have 2 scripts entered in Shriekfest as well as working on a webisode for this year’s competition featuring killer cicadas.

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

My cousin and I have been writing fan fiction since we were in high school so I’d say we’ve been co mentors for each other.

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

Horror has such a huge following in my opinion because of the same type of reaction in comedic movies. You see a comedy to enjoy life and get a good belly laugh that makes you squeeze tears of joy from your eyes. As a collective, it is fun to be scared. Just look at the success of haunted houses around the country. Immersing yourself in a horror movie let’s you be scared, but survive. Even if you’ve had sex at some point in your life. Ha! Even rule breakers can survive!

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

Seeing a good horror flick. Awesome that it is still possible with all this reality TV drivel around, that projects like The Walking Dead and The Conjuring are still possible. It’s also fun to scare people and “die” in movies.

What do you dislike most about this business?

Trying to sell scripts once they have been written.

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. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am still trying to win that Shriekfest award!! But, other than that I suppose winning a Chrysler Sebring convertible for a video I wrote, shot, and edited is pretty cool. Oh, and supposedly Stephen King read and passed on an adaptation I wrote of his short “The Fifth Quarter.” Kind of a cool reject letter if you have to get one.

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

There is no such thing as overnight success for the most part. If I even attain the status I’m reaching for, it will have been because of what I call the “longest homework assignment in history.” What is that you ask? From 1991 until 2012 I wrote a fan fiction mixture of Dark Shadows and Friday the 13th the series, with a yearlong appearance of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was a few thousand pages long. I read back on some of it and cringe. But, there’s something about writing and creating a world that only one other person on the planet will ever read and experience for all times. I had to deal with deadlines, writing through the brick wall of writer’s block. I grew as a writer as I watched my character and world grow and the stories begin to come alive and tell me what should happen instead of vice versa. Many people fancy themselves writers. The thing about being a writer is you have to write. You have to write when you don’t want to, when you’re ideas are zapped. You have to sacrifice time with family and friends. In the end you have to dedicate yourself to this love, for it is the only way to break through the stage of being someone who wants to write….and someone who does. Regardless of if you’ve sold anything you’ve written or not. That is the advice I’d give to newbies.

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

Walking Dead is the best horror show ever. And I don’t like to knock other writers, but the storyline for Jason VS Freddy is so simple how could I have been the only one to come up with it? A bunch of teens who live on Elm Street are being targeted by Freddy. The kids are all so freaked out that their parents get pissed and send them off to summer camp……at Crystal Lake. It’s so simple and easy! How could it not have happened? Oh, and why don’t you hire Betsy Palmer to play Jason’s mother? She was still alive? Okay. That’s my rant! Happy Halloween!

LOL Start writing my friend, I want to see that flick! Thank you Dave! It was great chatting!

Jim Barker

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Jim Barker
2006 screenplay finalist and 2008 semifinalist

What is your name and company URL?

Jim Barker – no url!

What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

Screenwriting.

What are you currently working on?

I just finished going through a number of scripts, polishing them and getting ready to query – one of which was a finalist here a few years ago that eventually won 1st place in another competition. Writing (and re-writing) itself will only get one so far and I’ve had to devote a lot of time on the marketing side which, in turn, lead me to studying a lot of neuroscience and the science of storytelling in general as opposed to just the art and “how to” of it.

Interesting! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

Gosh, there are so many story gurus out there that I’ve read and learned from over the years, it would be too hard to single any one of them out – so I’ll go with a revered filmmaker instead: Akira Kurosawa. Although his films aren’t horror/thrillers, they’re very humanistic and touch upon universal themes that lend themselves to horrors we can all relate to, whether it’s the horrors of war in “Ran” or the quiet, existential suffering a man is subjected to once he learns he has stomach cancer and has only a year to live in “Ikiru”. Those humanistic elements, when applied to horror or thrillers, elevate the material to an entirely different level.

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

I think I touched in some of that above, but with sci-fi – especially good sci-fi, we’re able to see and experience the human condition in ways and contexts that we may not have thought about previously. “Her” is a blend of genre-types, sci-fi being one of them, but it unfolds in such a way – taking a potentially alienating idea and allowing us to experience the humanistic side of it. Good horror can work in much the same way, often as a mirror held up to society with a message contained within (a movie like “The Exorcist”, for example, is really about a priest having lost faith and forced to find it again in order to save a little girl).

What do you love most about this business?

The art and creativity – having something to say, finding a somewhat unique and compelling way to say it and having other people praise your work and want to push it up the ladder is gratifying.

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

That ultimately it is a business and that you have to understand the wants and needs of others. There’s also a lot of hypocrisy in that readers will often lament on something you’ve written as perhaps not being original, yet you go to the local cineplex and there’s nothing but sequels, remakes and reboots galore.

I hear ya! It is frustrating. The remakes so very rarely work. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

At this point, as noted above, having others love your work enough to pass it along – whether it’s to someone at WME or to a manager, it’s a telling sign I’m on the right track. Although I’ve won several contests and been a finalist in numerous others – as well as having strong considers on my first five scripts that were passed along to others, including one that was a very first draft, I have not personally made the effort to get my work out there because I have my own standards… but it’s flattering to have others believe my stories are ready!

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

If this is something you REALLY want to do, know that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Pace yourself. Learn as much as you can, but also outside of screenwriting itself: pick up books on psychology; learn how people behave and why they do the things they do. And most importantly, have something to say (writing with a theme in mind) – because that’s going to be part of “your voice” and help separate yourself from others, ESPECIALLY if you’re writing from something that’s personal and comes within.

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

You only get one shot to make a first impression and luck is when preparation meets opportunity, so make sure you’re well prepared when a door does open! Many writers have concepts that draw interest and open doors, but if you haven’t mastered storytelling – and there’s a LOT to master – you may end up finding the experience of success short-lived.

Well said! Thank you Jim! It was great chatting with you!