2008 screenplay finalist, 2009 screenplay semi-finalist, & director of 2012’s Official Selection “The Employer”
DG: What is your name and company URL?
FM: I’m Frank Merle, with Lone Morsel Productions, which can be found at LoneMorsel.com.
DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?
FM: I’m a writer/director, so while I am a screenwriter, most of what I write is meant for me to director. But I’ve been writing at a faster rate than I’ve been able to complete my films, so some of my scripts might make their way into other hands soon.
DG: What are you currently working on?
FM: I just completed work on #FromJennifer, a found-footage horror/comedy featuring Derek Mears and Tony Todd in unique roles that I think will really surprise and delight their fans. I’m also in pre-production for my next film, a farm thriller called Broken Oaks that will film later this year. Incidentally, the script for Broken Oaks was a Shriekfest finalist a few years ago, but back then it was called Graves Farm.
DG: Wow! That is awesome!!!! Who do you consider your mentor and why?
FM: I once heard Francis Ford Coppola discuss violence on film in such an elegant way, it really inspired me to embrace the darker stuff without worrying that it might make me a psycho. I can’t do justice to his wording, but in general, his point was that it’s okay to abhor real-life violence and still portray it truthfully in film. Whatever it takes to serve the story you’re telling. Coppola can’t watch the violent parts of his movies, he closes his eyes!
DG: I never knew that…I love it. Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?
FM: Everyone has fears, and if we let them, they’ll destroy us. To stay strong enough to get out of bed each day and face whatever may be lurking in wait for us, I think we need constant practice at confronting fear, in a safe environment, in order to better handle the real horrors that are bound to come eventually. That’s why horror fans live life so fearlessly: they’ve already survived the worst that we filmmakers can throw at them, so they’re ready for whatever curve balls life might try try to throw their way.
DG: Well said. What do you love most about this business?
FM: It’s such a vibrant community of the most creative people I’ve ever met. Not everyone in the business is nice, or on my wavelength, but that’s okay. We can all pick and choose who we want to work with and hang with.
DG: That is so very true! What do you dislike most about this business?
FM: The financial reality that there’s never enough money to do it right. The billion-dollar movies in my head are awesome, but unfortunately I have to figure out ways to make them for less.
DG: I hear ya! It is frustrating, but lack of money usually brings on the creativity and that can be very exciting! What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
FM: I’m proud of the fact that actors who work with me are always eager to work with me again. I consider myself an actor’s director: I put a large focus on helping actors craft the best possible performance, and they are usually very appreciative of my support. I personally believe that performance is the most important aspect of a good film. If a movie is beautifully shot, but with bad acting, it’s not a good movie in my book.
DG: I love that! We need more directors like you!! As an actor I know what it’s like to work with directors that don’t direct. 🙂 Any advice you’d like to give newbies?
FM: Stay humble. Even if you think you’re pretty great, which is fine, just remember that the people around you are pretty great, too. The best work is being done by those who see themselves as servants to something larger than themselves. The movies you make are going to become part of the Collective, the combined history of cinema. Your goal should be to not just add to the Collective, but to hopefully improve it with your unique contribution.
DG: Ooh! Yes! Great advice! Anything else you’d like to say?
FM: We’re living in a great time for horror, aren’t we? There’s some surprising and exciting new stuff happening these days. I’ll always go back to the classics from time to time, but I’m extremely encouraged about what’s ahead. Respect the past, embrace the future.
DG: I agree! Thank you Frank! It was great chatting!