Avishai Weinberger

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Avishai Weinberger
2016 and 2019 Screenplay Finalist

Avishai Weinberger

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

AW: My name is Avishai Weinberger. I do not have a company, but my twitter account is @avishaiw.

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

AW: I’m largely a screenwriter, but I also direct and edit.

DG: What are you currently working on?

AW: I’m currently working on taking my feature script THIRD DATE (Shriekfest 2019 finalist), a horror story about toxic love, and getting it off the ground. I have a producer attached and I plan on directing. The goal is to shoot in June if possible. I’m also writing a couple of projects at the side that are in too early a stage of development to discuss right now, but I’m excited to see where they go.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

AW: Oh, boy, hard question. I’ve been blessed with a variety of mentors, from my time at NYU to various experiences at writers retreats and festivals. If I had to choose one, I’d probably say my screenwriting professor John Warren, who kept me (and my peers) honest with our projects, and without whom I don’t know if I would have completed WOLFSBANE (Shriekfest 2016 finalist), a script which opened many doors for me.

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

AW: I have all sorts of theories as to why these genres are important psychologically, but as for a large following… I think it has something to do with the fact that they’re transgressive. Sci-fi is about exploring far-out ideas, and horror is about exploring negative emotions. And in the process of exploring these things, we cross lines with regards to what’s realistic, how we treat other people, etc. To some people, those lines ought not to be crossed, and art that goes there doesn’t deserve respect. And to us genre fans, crossing those lines gives us a thrill. We like “going there”, and the question of respectability makes us feel like we own the genre. More than once, I’ve heard genre fans describe themselves as misfits and outsiders, and I think the association with sometimes-taboo stories increases that feeling of specialness. I also think that with horror (and, to an extent, sci-fi), you can expect art every time, regardless of the quality of the story.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

AW: THE PEOPLE. Always the people. I’ve bonded with so many new friends over storytelling, movies that feel personal to us, and shared experiences in the trenches.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

AW: The barrier for entry. I’m privileged– I don’t have to worry about rent or where my next meal comes from, and I can afford to produce films and fly to LA and attend festivals and go to writers retreats and all these various things that cost money. A lot of very talented people don’t have that privilege, and it takes them longer to get where they deserve to be in their careers.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

AW: I made my short film THIRD DATE (which the feature script is based on). That was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and seeing it come out the way I’d hoped, as well as seeing it embraced by so many people, always swells my heart.

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

AW: First off, the obvious: Keep writing, keep making things. Don’t expect to be perfect, but the more things you make, the more you’ll know for the next one. But deeper than that, I want to address the way people take notes. I see it with newbies a lot, and it’s totally understandable: A note can feel like an attack, and you might feel the urge to defend your artistic choices. Resist the urge to do that. Remember that notes come from an honest place, and the person giving notes wants nothing more than to help you. If you don’t like the note, just thank the note-giver for their time and simply don’t take the note. That’s valid– It’s your project. But do listen to the notes. If enough people give you one specific criticism, it’s probably worth investigating ways to patch that problem up. Try an edit, see what happens. If you vibe with the change, keep it. If not, don’t. No skin off your back.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

AW: Horror people are some of the nicest people I’ve met, and I met a lot of them at Shriekfest. Viva Shriekfest.

Jamal Hodge

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Jamal Hodge
2018 & 2019 Screenplay Finalist

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

JH: My name is Jamal Hodge and my company name is Hodge House Cinema, you can check me out at www.directorhodge.com and my Instagram is @directorh

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

JH: The truth is both. I’m a director, writer, and producer in that order. Directing is what I want to be remembered for when I die, Writing is what I do for the love, and producing is what I’m good at that I can do to help others.

DG: I love that! What are you currently working on?

JH: Right now we have 8 projects in development. I’m a Producer on an animated feature film called ‘Pierre The Pigeon Hawk’, I have a feature film version of my award winning short film Knockout Game in development, and a horror movie based on a Bram Stoker Award winning poem called Mourning Meal that we are submitting to the best festivals in the game like Shriekfest itself. The mourning meal script was a finalist at Shriekfest in 2018 and won the NYC Horror Film Festival 2018

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

JH: My writing mentor is Linda Addison, the most decorated black female poet & short story writer in the game. I grew up reading her in dark matter and was like one day she will teach me everything she knows!! Lol
In Television it’s Diana Sperazza she is a executive producer at Discovery Channel and is one of the female pioneers in journalism, her wisdom and bluntness is unparalleled, but also her generosity.
My only male mentor is dead. Luckily he left an epic body of work and a philosophy concerning cinematic suspense and mood that I live by. Alfred Hitchcock.

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

JH: Honesty. Horror is the last genre where the creator can be as completely provocative, offensive, and savage as he or she wants. It lends itself to both entertainment & truth in a way no other genre can. Audiences appreciate that. It’s a safe space to be primal, to be hurt, to be afraid, to see behind the veil.
Sci-fi I believe gives us a future. It’s is prophecy in many ways, but also shines a mirror on both the past and the present by displaying those parts of our nature that time will never change and then either celebrating it or cautioning us to weary.

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

JH: The awards of course. Nah, lol, seriously? The work itself. The collaborative nature of the art form, the discovery of the moment. It is a series of revelations that take form in manifestations that can be enjoyed by millions.
Collective alchemy.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

JH: People. 😆 Aren’t they the best and worse thing about everything?

DG: Ha ha…sometimes! What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

JH: That’s a loaded question. There’s many that I hold dear. My top 3 would be going to Cannes twice in the last 3 years for my short films The Kind Ones and Knockout Game, winning twice at The NYC Horror Film Festival, and directing the entire first season of Primal Instinct on Investigation Discovery.

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

JH: If you’re going to do this you will have to forfeit a normal life and embrace a path of pain and uncertainty, of perpetual pregnancy. Money and success will ease this slightly, but creation is inherently painful and uncertain. That will never change.
Be courageous, constantly learn everything you can, learn to love broken people, and most of all maintain a personal standard no matter the circumstances.
You’ve chosen a hard life, but one with the ultimate reward: the projection of your inner divinity into other hearts and minds.

DG: Wow, well said! Anything else you’d like to say?

JH: I think I’ve said enough.

DG: LOL Thank you Jamal! It was great chatting and I love having you in the Shriekfest family!

Travis Heermann

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Travis Heermann
2018 & 2019 Screenplay Finalist

DG: What is your name and company URL?

TH: Travis Heermann. My author page is www.travisheermann.com

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

TH: At this point, screenwriting, but I’m hoping to produce and direct a short over the next year or so.

DG: Nice! What are you currently working on?

TH: Right now, all of my immediate projects are fiction. Just finished a novel edit, getting ready to start a new novel series, and doing some ghostwriting. I’m also percolating a script for the short film I’d like to make next year.

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

TH: I have a few notable mentors, writers Kevin J. Anderson, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and James Artimus Owen. None have yet emerged on the filmmaking side, but I feel like I’m only beginning to venture into that.

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

TH: Because they allow people to step outside of the real world and experience things that are beyond their humdrum lives. In the case of horror in particular, it’s like riding a roller coaster. It’s scary, but you know you’re safe. You’re pretty sure you’ll leave the theater alive.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

TH: Right now, it is the companionship of passionate people. Filmmaking requires a level of drive, ambition, and determination that few other occupations can match. I hope soon to have the experience of watching one of my stories come to life on the screen, but that hasn’t happened yet.

DG: It will happen soon, don’t give up!! What do you dislike most about this business?

TH: How soul-crushing it can be. In the publishing industry, you will at least receive a rejection, even if it’s a form letter. The film industry doesn’t even offer that simple courtesy. This bleeds over into the general flakiness of so many people involved.
Me: *delivers a heartfelt pitch*
Rep: Oh, wow, that sounds amazing!
Me: So can I send it to you?
Rep: Next!
It all seems incredibly disingenuous, and makes me wonder how anyone accomplishes anything they didn’t do 100% themselves.

DG: It can be frustrating! What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

TH: In screenwriting, it’s the awards my scripts have garnered this year. I have two super-cool trophies from GenreBlast and Crimson Screen Film Festival, and a cool plaque from the Famous Monsters Silver Scream Festival, and several other finalist placements to crow about. It encourages persistence.

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

TH: As I’m still very much a newbie in the screenwriting/filmmaking realm, I don’t know that it would be worth much, except I am a professional author, so I know how a story works, and why. One of the deficiencies I see fairly often in film festival short films is a lack of understanding about what constitutes a story. Many times a short film is a just a vignette, or an intro. It doesn’t have a beginning, middle, and end, or sometimes it doesn’t have a plot that makes sense, or characters that feel real. I think this is why filmmaking is such a difficult art form. It requires SO MANY disparate skills.

DG: Anything else you’d like to say?

TH: If you’re a horror or sci-fi screenwriter, submit to Shriekfest. It’s a gem.

DG: Aww, thank you Travis! It was great chatting!

Mark Renshaw

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Mark Renshaw
2014 and 2015 Semi Finalist, 2017 and 2018 Finalist, 2019 Quarter Finalist, Finalist, & Best Short Screenplay “Ganglers”

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

MR: Mark Renshaw – www.mark-renshaw.com

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

MR: Screenwriting, plus I write prose and dabble in producing.

DG: What are you currently working on?

MR: I am adapting the Cyborn feature screenplay which was in the Shriekfest finals into a novel. The first draft should be complete by Christmas.

DG: Wow, that’s impressive! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

MR: This may seem an odd answer but there is a website called Simply Scripts which has a forum for screenplay writers. We are encouraged to upload our scripts there for peer reviews and I pretty much owe most of my writing development to the guys who frequent that place.

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

MR: People want an escape from the norm. Horror and sci-fi may include characters and elements we all identify with, but they definitely are not the norm. They are a safe way to experience the extraordinary.

DG: What do you love most about this business?

MR: The creative side. At the end of the day, this is all about telling stories. Collaborating on a creative endeavor is so fulfilling.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

MR: The business side. The business element treats the work as a commodity and what it can do for people personally in terms of wealth, notoriety etc. rather than what is best for the story.

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

MR: This is more of a hobby for me until the day I can turn it into my day job, but so far I’m proud that some of my stories have been published, some scripts produced and I’ve won competitions that have taken me to Pinewood Studios, the Houses of Parliament and wonderful venues such as the Nashville film festival.

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

MR: Keep writing, keep on getting your work out there and seeking honest but constructive feedback. Learn from it and improve. Rinse and repeat.

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

MR: Time is the fire in which we burn. If you are waiting for something to happen, all you are doing is burning time. Be brave, go out there and make something happen.

DG: I love it! thank you Mark! It was great chatting! I hope you and yours have a Happy Holiday season!

Stephen Kayfish

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Stephen Kayfish
2017 Quarter Finalist, 2018 Finalist & Semi Finalist, and 2019 Quarter Finalist & Finalist with “The Craving”

DG: What is your name and company URL?

SK: Stephen Kayfish

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

SK: Screenwriter

DG: What are you currently working on?

SK: Currently I have 2 feature screenplays in the works, the first is a political thriller about an ancient evil force who takes the form of a U.S. President. The second is about a young bullied boy who is pushed to the limit of exacting bloody revenge on those who have wronged him.

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

SK: I’ve followed the three stooges religiously all my life (John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper)

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

SK: I think most people like them for the same reason I do, they’re fun, they’re a roller coaster ride of emotions, and they’re ballsy.

DG What do you love most about this business?

SK: I love the idea of creating something out of nothing and I love people are passionate about the art in which they create.

DG: What do you dislike most about this business?

SK: People who are fake or who are not authentic. Honesty and passion are a necessity in my opinion.

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

SK: Winning the grand prize at Film Empire and being a finalist at Shriekfest among other screenwriting competitions in the U.S. and abroad. I’m from Edmonton, Canada and it feels great to be acknowledged outside of the country. Now I have to work on a getting a script optioned 😉

DG: It will happen! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

SK: There is no formula to success just hard work and perseverance. Learn to love the art and craft of filmmaking and take whatever opportunity you’re given no matter what, big or small. Oh and finish your projects if you’re a writer. You must finish!

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

SK: Thank you again to Denise and team for this interview and giving us nobodys a place to showcase our work. There is a lot of closed doors in this business.

DG: You aren’t a nobody Stephen! Thank you for sharing your tips! It was great chatting!

Marc Cartwright

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Marc Cartwright
Director of 2017 Official Selection “Savor” and 2019 Best Thriller Short Film “We Die Alone”

What is your name and company URL?

Marc Cartwright – https://www.glasscabinfilms.com/

What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

Filmmaking – I am a director and also produce some of my content.

What are you currently working on?

Currently the film I directed, We Die Alone is in the beginning of its festival run so I am excited about traveling with that project in the coming months. This screened in Shriekfest 2019 as well. I am also working with my producing partner Baker Chase Powell on developing two features. We are each taking aspects of our lives and creating stories that we will assist each other in producing. My goal is to direct both films.

Nice! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

I think I have a few different people that I look up to and trust depending on what aspect of my filmmaking I am exploring on any particular day. At the moment, I don’t think there is one person I go to for all mentorship. My friend Q. Allan Brocka is a phenomenal director and I enjoy speaking with him about the business. I like advice from people that have achieved the things I look forward to achieving.

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

Horror and sci-fi audiences, to me, feel more community based. The horror genre speaks to a very accepting and open mindset, so I feel the draw is as much about the experience of being with other horror fans as it is about watching the movies. The Drama or Comedy genres, for example, tend to be about individual projects, where as horror feels more like a general coming together, in a safe environment, to share, express or experiment with life’s darkest “what if” moments.

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

I have always thought in the past that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. I really love that this business has taught me to open up and trust others to share in creating a particular vision or something that was important to me. I have learned a lot about myself and others through working on various projects and have gotten to meet a lot of interesting people in this business.

What do you dislike most about this business?

On the flip side of that, because you can’t do films all alone, you have to rely on others and not everyone approaches each project with integrity. That can be frustrating when there are so many moving parts that rely on each other for success. Through working with people, you learn who your team is, but you also learn some valuable and sometimes expensive lessons along the way.

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

I was really excited to have my short film SLOVEN play on PBS. It was my first time seeing my work on television and that I got paid for a broadcast. I was able to watch with my family, who have always been my biggest champions. To see them proud is always a career goal that I look forward to.

How nice. Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

Anything you agree to do, do it well. Just because something isn’t important to you, doesn’t mean it’s not important to someone else. How you do anything, is how you do everything. Be clear in your communication and expectations with people. Always put it in writing!

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

Visit me on social media: Personal – @mcphotog, Glass Cabin Films (production company) – @GlassCabinFilms, Latest film WE DIE ALONE – @WeDieAloneFilm

Thank you. It was great chatting!

S. Joe Downing

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

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

DG: What is your name and company URL?

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

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

SJD: Acting

DG: What are you currently working on?

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

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

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

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

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

DG: What do you love most about this business?

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

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

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

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

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

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

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

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

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

DG: Thank you. It was great chatting!

Brian W. Smith

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

Brian W. Smith
2003 and 2018 Screenplay Finalist

DG: What is your name?

BS: Brian W. Smith

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

BS: Screenwriting.

DG: What are you currently working on?

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

DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?

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

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

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

DG: What do you love most about this business?

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

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

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

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

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

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

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

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

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

DG: Thank you It was great chatting!

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Elliot Feld

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

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

What is your name and company URL?

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

What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

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

What are you currently working on?

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

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

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

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

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

What do you love most about this business?

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

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

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

What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you Elliot, It was great chatting!

Damien LeVeck

SHRIEKFEST INTERVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

DG: What are you currently working on?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DG: Thank you Damien!

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