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!

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