What is your name and company URL?
JS: Jeffrey Stackhouse (and the lovely Wendy Lashbrook standing behind me, making me look better on-the-page). We have a company that represents our combined efforts called Shadowland Productions which has a web-presence at ShadowlandOnline.net
What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?
JS: Screenwriting-R-Us, although we’re Associate Producer on a couple of upcoming films, and still help people develop new musicals.
What are you currently working on?
JS: We’re through the notes on a piece we’re working story-by with another writer named Richard A. Becker called Handful Of Dust. It’s a small-budget horror feature set during an American Desert War engagement (because California has no shortage of arid wasteland!) that releases an ancient evil. Think Three Kings meets The Descent. Also a horror novel set in a college about calling a dead god to Earth and the true nature of existence and sacrifice, lol.
Wow! They both sound great! Who do you consider your mentor and why?
JS: Wow, no real mentors for us, although screenwriter Donald Martin was very gracious with his time on a phone call when I needed some moral support, David Richter has been very kind and professionally encouraging, and I find myself using David Trottier’s The Screenwriter’s Bible at least once every time I write. — As far as influences, David Cronenberg is very strongly in my mind, and Brian Duffield & S. Craig Zahler have styles similar to mine, and so I try to read their work whenever I can. Cormac McCarthy’s literary voice is a strong influence on my dialogue. — And Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, the best mentors a boy could have! Wendy and I came through stage work, and mostly opera and new-music composers, so I think we both think very strongly in iconography. I’m not, at the moment, the one you come to to write The English Patient, but if you want characters who are on the verge of becoming legends, I’m your man.
LOL Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?
JS: Once you get beyond the spectacle of a character who can go through an on-screen metamorphosis, or the glitter and expanse of space, or ropey strands of entrails, what you have at base is a character who embodies some essential imprint of humanity, an archetype that resonates with an audience, some legend waiting to be born. Archetypes and resonance, yeah, that’s the short answer. Hey Wendy, edit me, would ya?
LOL What do you love most about this business?
JS: Well, it ain’t bad if it leads to being interviewed by one of the most influential women in horror. But, the interaction with other creative types is part of the fuel we use to get through the dross and nonsense that the world will hand you on a daily basis, and sometimes the only thing that leaves you with enough energy at the end of day to pull yourself out of your own self-involved ass and see the beauty that still stands, all around you. On a tighter focus, the writing itself is an incredible source of energy: I get to spend hours with folk I find thrilling, those who are more kind or strong or villainous than myself. I spend my nights-into-morning as a god, only running out of steam when the sun rises. Who wouldn’t want that, if they knew?
I love that! And thank you for the sweet words. 🙂 What do you dislike most about this business?
JS: The slog, the realization that there are incredibly talented folk out there who simply haven’t gotten their break because they don’t have the right connection. In NYC it often seemed that eventually, Talent Will Out. On the Left Coast, it really seems it’s about the connections. — You’d better be ready, better have your A-game lined up when those connections finally pan out, though!
I know, it’s a shame. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
JS: I was lucky enough to have Tom O’Horgan, the original director of Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair and Lenny commission and direct a jazz-opera for me, so that was pretty cool, and Wendy and I have both worked with some hugely accomplished composers who wrote other pieces just for us. — Once again, it seems to come back to that opportunity to create something brand new, whether a script or a character. As far as screenwriting, two months ago it would have been being a Shriekfest Finalist, and now we’ve been lucky enough to win a Bronze in The PAGE Awards on our Spaghetti-Western script, Forsaken, so there’s that.
Congrats on all of it! wow! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?
JS: – Write. Write crap if you have to, but write every day. It’s a muscle that gets stronger with exercise. Market yourself: we have webpages with trailers and such at http://shadowlandonline.net/Forsaken.htm and http://shadowlandonline.net/Haven.htm (see what I did there?) *Find* people. I’ve hunted down addresses and personally handed scripts to kind folk who now champion me with quotes and connections. I’ve sent scripts in packages amazing enough to get Jeff Bridges to send me a note to tell me how he “wishes everyone would send scripts like this.” Protect your heart, but pick yourself up when you get knocked down: it’s how many times you get back up that’s important. Be nice. Past what you want to be, be nice. Pay attention, here, that’s the important one. And purely personally, if you can write in collaboration, do it. Wendy and I have a terrific relationship in that we can toss ideas back and forth until we have a coherent story down, then I write until the wee hours filled with I’m-A-God! moments. She gets up in the morning and eviscerates it, paring it down to the meat, essentially making a roux from my weak sauce. It’s a frustrating and invigorating process, and creates something better than I could ever come up with on my own.
Great advice! I love that! And, I want to point out that you post some amazing quotes on our Shriekfest page and I am truly grateful for that! Anything else you’d like to say?
JS: I just got permission to say that we have a Feature Screenplay optioned with Allied Artists Film Group, so watch for another one of our scripts in production this spring or summer. We’re seeking Representation and have a kick-ass Television Horror/Adventure Pilot & Bible! And we’re sweet. Thanks, Denise. You were the best part of the Fest, for me.
Thank you Jeffrey! Congrats on it all! It was great chatting!