"Scary Stories" Documentary Interview

Scary Stories Documentary
The documentary your school librarian disapproves of.
For many of us, growing up in the American school system meant there were certain children's and young adult books that were part of our shared experience. Alvin Schwartz's series of "Scary Stories" managed to send a collective thrill through a generation. I'm very happy to be able to talk with Cody Meirick, producer and director of a new documentary on these influential books.

What was it about the Alvin Schwartz books that made you think they warranted a documentary?

First and foremost I saw a great story to tell. I saw that it had a lot of great topics to explore regarding literacy, folklore, art, and censorship all wrapped into a single title. It has a great number of fans that are adults now but fondly remember growing up with these books. That along with the fact that they are arguably the most banned books of the last 30 years. It makes for a great story. Surprisingly, no documentary has taken on the subject.

Did you first become aware of them as a child?

Yes. I'm one of those who saw something online when I was in my 20s and the memory of those books came flooding back. I am in many ways the ideal age, mid-30s, to tackle them. These books really became wildly popular when I was 8-12 years old (late 80s, early 90s) when I was just beginning to read a lot.

Is this your first film?

This is my first full-length documentary.

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark
"The Grimms' Fairy Tales of our time."
How significant are these books to children's literature in general?

I think the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books are unique in a lot of ways. They got a lot of children reading while giving them their first taste of folklore at an ideal age. They are placed next to book series like R.L. Stine and many others, but they are unique because they are taken entirely from folklore and oral tradition. I liken them to being the Grimms' Fairy Tales of our time. The original stories from the Grimms' brothers were also quite dark and twisted. Along with that, these books are significant and unique because they became popular and controversial right when the censorship of children's literature was really beginning to be noticed, catalogued, and tracked in America. They aren't the first books to be taken out of schools and libraries, but for the first decade that we had any lists truly trying to track this information, they were #1 on the list. So I think they will always hold a special place in the book censorship movement in America.

Who have you interviewed for the film?

I have conducted nearly 40 interviews so far, but I'm not quite done. Interviews include family members of author Alvin Schwartz, including his wife Barbara who is mentioned a number of times in the books. They include R.L. Stine and a few more authors writing in the genre of children's horror. They include a number of prominent folklorists and scholars that have written about the scary stories we have been telling children throughout history. And they include some prominent names in regards to book censorship.

Wonderful Sausage, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark
Wonderful Sausage!
These books were banned in some cases. Is that still the case today? What are your feelings on censorship?

These books aren't challenged or banned as much as they were years ago. What you'll find is that there tends to be trends in censorship. In the 80s/90s/00s books with "occult", witches, and similar religious objections were higher on the lists of people who wanted to take books out of schools and libraries, but now we are seeing more titles with sexual situations and homosexual characters higher on the list. So it of course varies over the years. I'm looking at this documentary as a way to examine the banned books movement which in many ways truly began in the 1980s. So looking at the last 35 years, this book is in some ways the ideal book to use as an example. And you have to remember, the author passed away in 1992, so there hasn't been a new Scary Stories book in 25 years. The fact that it was so high on the list in the 90s and 00s I think says something as far as their staying power and cultural impact.

As for censorship, I've begun to shape my feelings in a lot of ways based on interviews. Overall, I think one of the biggest takeaways for me is that the topic isn't discussed and debated enough.

Do you have a favorite book? A favorite story?

I don't have a favorite book, since I think they blend together so much and people often remember particular stories rather than books. As for stories, I'm a fan of The Bride, The Toe, and more and more I'm warming up to Harold who is often mentioned as a favorite of people's.

The Haunt In The Cellar, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark
The Haunt In The Cellar
What do you know about illustrator Stephen Gammell? Were you able to interview him? Is there any possibility of HarperCollins reprinting with the original art again?

Unfortunately Stephen Gammell has a policy against interviews. I've tried; he is the first person I reached out to when beginning this documentary. I'm still leaving the door open and hopeful, but I also want to prepare people, since over the last 30 years it is my understanding that he has declined to be interviewed or involved in a lot of projects. If I'm not able to get that interview, I do have a way of including his voice in this documentary in a unique way that I think is the next best thing to an in-person interview. And certainly the illustrations will be discussed in great depth. As far as a reprint, the Schwartz family doesn't seem to have a problem with it, and it seems likely if they do move ahead with a film adaptation that a reprint with original illustrations seems like a slam dunk for when that happens. That said, it's really up to the publishers and the rights holders.

When can people expect to see the finished documentary?

There isn't a set distribution route yet. What I'm trying to do is get it ready for likely entering into festivals in 2017 and then we see what happens. That is a common path for documentaries such as this. So we'll see.

How can we stay up to date with the project?

You can sign up for my newsletter at ScaryStoriesDoc.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

.

(If you liked this interview, check out my talk with Patricia Coleman here.)

Man's Biggest Fear Has Risen Again In Davide Melini's "LION"

Davide Melini, Lion, cyoungmedia, Chris Young, horror, short film,
Up and coming italian director Davide Melini (Dario Argento's "Mother of Tears: The Third Mother" and "Penny Dreadful") has a new short horror film titled "Lion" coming this Halloween. It stars Pedro Sánchez, Michael Segal ("Colour from the Dark", "Anger of the Dead"), and Tania Mercader.

Synopsis: "An isolated chalet in a snowy forest... A man blinded by alcohol... A woman unable to rebel... And an 8-year-old child troubled and dark... The silent night is broken with cries... the start of a terrible nightmare..."

Shot with the Red Epic Dragon 6K this short also has some unusually prominent producer credits attached to it, such as Luca Vannella ("Thor", "Harry Potter", "Apocalypto", "Heart of the Sea"), Alexis Continente ("Thor", "Penny Dreadful"), Vincenzo Mastrantonio ("Titanic", "Moulin Rouge", "The Passion of Christ", "Romeo + Juliet"), Bobby Holland ("The Dark Knight Rises", "Game of Thrones", "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows", "007 - Quantum of Solace"), Ferdinando Merolla ("Troy", "Gangs of New York", "Hannibal Rising"), and Roberto Paglialunga.

Melini has been singled out by multiple horror sites as a filmmaker to watch. So make sure to check out the complete crew list on IMDB and follow the film on Facebook and Twitter for news and updates.

"Heir" Short Film Review

While writing this I still feel uncomfortable, like there's something unpleasant I need to clean up, a bad smell in the basement, something rotten in the wall, something dead I don't want to think about that might stink less if I ignore it long enough. It's a tenacious feeling that I've only felt once or twice before.

I've just finished watching the latest short film from producer Zach Green and director Richard Powell called "Heir" starring Bill Oberst Jr. and Robert Nolan. It was a little difficult for me to fully grasp what was going on the first time around (probably my fault, I can be a little slow) so I sat through it a second time and felt more up to speed. There is another layer of meaning running under the narrative that is not so much profound as it is brutally accurate, even insightful, or maybe the physical allegory is too distasteful for casual viewing. Whatever the case, it contains scenes that are not easily forgotten.

Robert Nolan's nocturnal emissions.

The story begins with a late night email, the screen casting the only light on our protagonist, Gordon, played with uncommon confidence and subtlety by Robert Nolan. There is the briefest exchange of messages in which a meeting is agreed upon, followed by a moment of uneasy contemplation. Gordon stares at an orifice in the palm of his hand that weeps a sticky mucous.

I don't believe it's in the best interest of first time viewers to say more. This short should be experienced without context or foreknowledge. I will say that Gordon's friend is played by the ever reliable Bill Oberst Jr. and I can't say that I've ever seen him give a more powerful performance. It is no exaggeration to say that he is absolutely riveting in his casual malevolence. It's also no small feat that Nolan holds his own quite well when sharing screen time with Oberst. I've discussed the short with Bill and his interpretation of the part, and he truly understands the nature of evil. Lucky for us, his earned mastery delivers an unforgettable portrait of depraved hunger. Someone needs to give this man an Oscar, already, dammit!

Bill Oberst Jr. eats everyone's lunch.
Director Richard Powell has crafted a Cronenberg style tale of degradation and temptation that is sure to hit all the wrong buttons in all the right ways for a body-horror short film. It took a while for me to finish this review and I owe Zach Green an apology. Fortunately dozens of other reviewers have already sung it's praises and they are well deserved. You owe it to yourself to keep an eye out for this short, and anything else coming from these filmmakers. They're dangerous and that's a good thing.




To find out more about films by Fatal Pictures, you can visit their site here.

"Peelers" Interview With Director Sevé Schelenz

Today I'm talking to Sevé Schelenz the director of "Peelers". This new addition to the stripper horror sub-genre will have its world premiere at the Palm Beach International Film Festival on April 9th. Can you tell us a little bit about the film?

You bet! "Peelers" is about the closing night of a small town strip club when some unwanted guests arrive and all hell breaks loose. We follow Blue Jean, the owner of the club, as she looks to get the final night off with a bang. Unfortunately, she gets more bang than she bargained for as patrons and friends around her begin to suffer from that nasty thing that seems to happen in all horror movies… "death".

Lisa DeVita is listed as the co writer. How do you two know each other?

Lisa (Devits) and I met in the industry while we were working at one of the biggest production companies in North America. She was employed as a Post Coordinator and I was a colorist. The funny thing was that we didn’t initially connect on making films together, it was actually through playing baseball. I’d been playing for a while on a co-ed team and we needed an extra girl for one of our upcoming games. I asked around the office and Devits told me she played. Once we got her out on the field and realized how good she was, she came back to play more games and then we got to know each other. I was just finishing my first horror feature titled "Skew" at the time, and we began chatting about films in general. Everything else seemed to develop from there.

Sevé giving his agent what he wants.
Where did the idea for "Peelers" come from?

After "Skew" did its festival run and distribution, my sales agent asked me, "So, what's next?" I actually had a number of features that I was developing (both by myself and with others) but most were either comedies, thrillers, or sci-fi. He told me flat out that I should do another horror. I did have a horror film I was developing at the time but it wasn't on the forefront of my projects (and it wasn't "Peelers"). I asked him what he thought would sell and I'd see if it interested me. He said, "More blood and more boobs." Well, quite honestly that didn't interest me. I was more into anticipation-building and psychological horror. But I went away and thought to myself, "I know I can get the blood in there, no problem, but what about the nudity?" I just wasn't interested in having gratuitous breast shots. There had to be a reason for it. So, I thought, "Where would we see nudity and accept it would be there... A strip club." So I did some research and it turned out there were not a lot of stripper horror films and of the ones I found, they just weren't that great. So, I felt there was an untapped sub-genre of horror there. I went to Devits and asked her if she would be interested in writing the script. I had three requests of her and they were: a strong female character(s) who kicked ass, a deft story and some good twists. Devits' eyes went wide and then she told me a story about something that happened to her while she was at a strip club in Las Vegas. From there, "Peelers" was born. Oh, and if you want to know that story, just ask Devits. She'll tell it the best.

Practical makeup rules.
How much did practical effects play a part?

Practical effects played a huge part in "Peelers". We definitely wanted to go with real effects over visual effects as much as possible. Not that I have a problem with VFX. As a matter of fact, we have our share of visual effects as well and they are crucial to the film. Trust me, without VFX we wouldn’t have had the chance to do many of the shots that just couldn’t be done practically on the tight budget we had. I worked with our amazing Special Effects Supervisor Keir Vichert on the practical effects. After he read the script, he was quite literally jumping up and down with excitement. Early on in our meetings, he brought so many suggestions to the table on how to do the shots. We also enlisted our main SFX vendor, MastersFX to provide many of the rigs needed to pull off certain shots. MastersFX has done special effects for Elysium, Robocop and Twilight: New Moon. Keir worked closely with them to create many of the unique effects you see on the final film.

Wren Walker knocks it out of the park.
What was the casting process like?

We threw out a wide open net for the casting. With having so many characters to fill, we really wanted to see as many actors as we could. When I made Skew, the pool of actors was quite low. I think it was a really busy time for production in the city and we struggled to find the great cast that we ended up getting. For "Peelers", it seemed the opposite. We had a good range of actors audition for several of the roles. Surprisingly, we had a lot of talented girls show up to auditions. I say “surprisingly”, because we were worried that actresses would hear “stripper horror” and think ditzy, damsel-in-distress types with fake boobs, when really we were going for something different, something against type for "Peelers". We wanted characters with brains, women you could sympathize with who come in all shapes and sizes, confident in their own skin. So, we were worried there would be a lack of actresses interested in the roles because how could they know this coming in to cold auditions? Well, we were wrong because selecting our female roles was a bit tough due to all the talented options. However, when it came to the lead character, Blue Jean, we actually had difficulty casting her. None of the girls really fit the role. As a matter of fact we really only had two viable options in terms of who could play her. Funny enough, Wren Walker came in late into the audition process because her boyfriend saw our ad and encouraged her to read for Blue Jean. She almost didn't come in. Luckily she did, and she nailed it. Wren just owned the Blue Jean role right off the bat. When we made our final decisions and offered her the role, she was ecstatic.

A different kind of "red light district".
Was your direction influenced by any other films or filmmakers?

There really are so many amazing directors out there, both big and small. I have learned so much not only from making films myself but by watching others as well. I would say Tarantino has a huge influence on me. From storytelling to composition to long shots to characters owning the screen. What he brings to the screen, every time, is a pure passion and love for filmmaking. Whether you like all his movies or not, you can’t argue against the fact that he absolutely loves film. On the flip-side, I think Robert Rodriguez has a great command of frenetic storytelling. He seems to approach it from an editing point of view, which is where it all began for me, in the edit room. It’s funny because "Peelers" is being described as Tarantino meets Rodriguez, which is a huge compliment for me. As for specific films, I have been influenced by so many. I’m not a one-genre guy at all. I love to see all types of films. As a matter of fact, Oscar season is one of my favorites. No matter how you cut it, this is the time of year when the best of everything comes out. A good script is the number one important thing for me and when you have that, you have the beginnings of a great film.

Sevé still bugging people about film after all these years.
You have served as an editor, colorist, digital artist, producer and more, on multiple projects. How did you become so involved in the industry?

I began “filmmaking” when I was a young teenager. This involved constantly bugging my parents to buy me a camera and after months of pestering, they finally broke down and got me one. Back then the only affordable camera (and really the only video camera) for home use was a VHS. I filmed constantly, day and night with both my friends and family. I think they were pretty sick of it by the time I left for university so they were glad to see me go. Of course, I enrolled in film school, at York University in Toronto, Canada. After that I got a job doing dubs at a post facility, not exactly the glamorous filmmaker path I had envisioned right out of the gate, but that pesky thing known as rent kinda got in the way. From there though, that opened the door to working in editing and eventually color correcting. But the one thing you learn pretty quickly as an indie filmmaker is the old adage: “If you want something done, you have to do it yourself.” So true. When you can’t find anyone to fill a role, that role goes to you. I had to learn on the fly how to do production design, VFX, sound, just to name a few. You become an expert at jumping in and learning as you go. In the meantime I was meeting so many different people in the industry and writing scripts at home. Eventually the two worlds came together and I had a chance to work on some of my own projects. I have to say, if you want to achieve anything in this industry you just can’t quit. As a matter of fact, that’s the message that pops up on my phone screen, “Never Give Up.” Every time I hang up the phone, it pops up and reminds me. It helps me get through those really tough days when you’re not sure if the film will ever get finished. Nothing can stop positive determination. Nothing.

Can there ever really be enough stripper horror films?
Do you have any other movies in the works?

I, or I should say, “we” have many projects in the works. I’m working on some of my own films and some with others. Right now we have a finished script that’s a family comedy and a draft of the first book in a sci-fi trilogy, which is meant to eventually go to screen. We also have a handful of other projects in different stages of development. From comedy to thriller to sci-fi to another horror, it’s all there. When story is your number one concern followed by character, you spend a lot of time in the early stages of creation to make sure you get it right. It’s important to know you can only hope to make a good film if the script is good. That is mandatory.

Where can people go to keep up with your latest projects?

With so many projects in the works, it’s hard for fans to know what stage many of them are at because they’re always in flux. The best place to keep up with things is on IMDb. Just check out my link here to see what I’m up to. For "Peelers", we’re at a very exciting place right now with the beginning stages of film festivals and will follow this up with distribution. This will probably be about a year ride for the film. Just go to www.peelersthefilm.com for all the details. Our Facebook page is also updating all-things stripper-horror on a dally basis so make sure you follow-up there too.



Stripper Horror Comedy "Peelers" Gets Premiere Date

The makers of the Independent Cult Horror Feature SKEW (2011) step it up a bloody notch as they begin their festival run with their follow-up horror flick PEELERS.

What starts out as the last hurrah on the closing night of an infamous small-town strip club, quickly turns into a night of bloodshed when a crew of coal miners shows up and with them a deadly contaminant. Former baseball player and current club owner, Blue Jean Douglas has decided to hand over her bar to a new owner and leave town for good. But Blue Jean’s plans are thwarted when she discovers the magnitude of the epidemic that has been unleashed. With victims piling up, Blue Jean must step up to the plate to protect her family, her friends, and her bar before it's too late and she loses everything she holds dear.

PEELERS destroys the cliche stripper horror sub-genre by giving us a story packed with exciting twists, baseball, strippers of unusual talents and a strong female lead. What’s being described as “Rodriguez meets Tarantino” and “Not just a great indie film, but destined to be one of the funnest films of 2016”, has Director/Producer Sevé Schelenz pretty stoked about giving genre fans a whole new ball game of horror.

The world premiere will be at the Palm Beach International Film Festival in Florida on April 9th, 2016

"Harvest Lake" Interview: Tristan Risk

(Tristan Risk is a multi-talented performer, creative and all-around creative exotic. Recently she added her considerable talents to the film 'Harvest Lake'.)


Tristan Risk


Brian K. Williams has said you accepted a role in 'Harvest Lake' after reviewing the script. What was it about the story that convinced you to get involved?

It had tentacles, need I say more? No, I kid. There's far more to it than that. There was a number of factors that attracted me to this story, all retractile humour aside. It wasn't a straight up horror film, it offered some fantasy, some science fiction and elements of horror. I've not seen anything quite like it, and I knew Scott Schirmer of 'Headless' and 'Found' fame was involved, so I knew that this would anything but typical. The writing was clever too - the dialog was snappy and I appreciate some good patter between characters. And because: tentacles.

What kind of preparation did you undergo for your part?

I worked closely with both Bryan Williams and Ellie Church before I got to set. Ellie and I had a large number of scenes together, and so talking to her about our parts and our interactions was the best prep. I also watched a lot of 90's films that had the bitchy chick in it that you were supposed to hate, but you kind of had a crush on - think Nancy from 'The Craft' and you will likely catch my line of thinking.

Tristan Risk, Ellie Church, Harvest Lake
Tristan and Ellie together again in 'Harvest Lake'.
You've worked with Ellie Church in the past. Can you tell us a little about that as well as your working relationship in 'Harvest Lake'?

Ellie and I have had some pretty crazy adventures together and this is only our third production together, and I hope not the last. The last time we worked together was when we were in Atlanta on James Bickert's 'Frankenstein Created Bikers'. Because neither of us had scene together, and there was a lot to shoot, she and I got to spend quite a bit of time together. So you can imagine when Sugar and Spice are hanging out, unsupervised, on a set, then the pair of us can get up to no good. There were a large number of raids to craft services, pestering other folks on set, and impromptu photo shoots. It's a sad thing that we live so far apart, because she, and so many other people on set, were folks that I'd actually go out of my way to spend social time with, were geography not a major factor.

Nevertheless, Ellie is an exceptional actress and an icon in genre film with projects like 'Time To Kill' and 'Headless' under her belt. Her talent is palatable from when you see her on screen, and her warmth comes through in spades, even when she's splattered with blood, which is not something that one could say of every actress.

Tristan Risk, Kirsten Hogan, Happily Ever After
Kirsten Hogan and Tristan in 'Happily Ever Evil'.
You were the writer for the short 'Happily Ever Evil' and are a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and others. Do you have any aspirations to write / direct a feature of your own?

Actually, I should clarify that point: Kate Kroll (Calamity Kate) and I co-wrote 'Happily Ever Evil'. It was on the last tour I did with my former band prior to me quitting, and we were locked into a three month long tour across North America and Europe. Tensions were high, and so we would take off to cafes while in Germany to work on it. It was our way of avoiding the others and venting, and it proved to be very therapeutic. When we got home, Kate pushed to make it into a short film and directed, produced and had a cameo role in it, which I was really impressed by. It wasn't her first film, either. Her documentary 'No Fun City' that she co-directed about Vancouver's punk scene is good viewing, and she continues to dazzle onstage with her troupe The Lost Girls. A legit Renaissance woman, all around!

I have written a number of script treatments, mostly shorts, but two features. I've been sitting on them for a while but this year will be the one where I tentatively dip a toe in directorial waters. It will be based on a short story I wrote that was first published in Malevolent Magazine, and I'm excited to bring it to life. I'm not certain how or if I will succeed as a director, but it will all go towards experience. Besides, I figure if I wind up being a terrible director, I'm happy to step back in front of the camera again and let someone else drive. As for a feature, if I can show myself that I can handle a short, I might just grow a pair of iron ovaries and go out and see about financing for the feature in my hot little paws called 'Skynn'.

Do you have anything in particular that inspires or motivates you when you run into difficulties? What is your Muse?

When I hit a wall I dig deep in my brain to find common experience to whatever my character is facing and just go deep into that head-space. It's oftentimes my go-to, and while not everyone likes this method of 'method', so to speak, if I'm truly struggling I hit up the director. I feel thankful that this isn't a problem that I've really had to deal with (yet) since the larger bulk of my directors and crews I've had the pleasure of working with are pretty on point and 98% of the time we've all shared a really good rapport.

Tristan Risk
Is there anything personally or professionally you would like to do that you haven't already accomplished?

Of course! There are so many interesting characters to portray from an acting standpoint alone that I don't think there's really adequate space to talk about it at length. Suffice to say, I still have a lot of work ahead of me in what I hope to do from an acting standpoint. I don't think I'll be able to look at the film version of my curriculum vitae and think, 'Well, shit... I've done it all. I'd better go learn to fly a helicopter or something."

Outside of acting, I've recently started to do more circus training in acrobatics and aerial hoop, and it's refreshed my passion for the stage and touring. My circus troupe, Caravan Of Creeps has a number of tours lined up for this year, and I've been really enjoying collaborating with jugglers, sideshow freaks, contortionists and what-have-you. It's definitely rekindled my love affair for touring with this company. As well, I'm hoping to release a series of highly stylized fetish videos, either direct/write/produce short films out of my own writing, and publish a book this year.

So yeah, I'd say my work is long from being over.

You appear to have successfully created a rather unique life for yourself. What advice do you have for others who want to blaze their own trail?


I think that you just answered my question for me there, to be honest. If you want to blaze your own trail you will. It will be borne out of a need to create something and express myself. I was told that there was a myriad of reasons why I couldn't model. Instead of moping that I might not be good enough, I went out, found photographers/make up artists/fashion designers that wanted to collaborate, and we made art together.

Tristan Risk
The same with burlesque, as when I started there were no classes or schools that taught it - I just went out and put together outfits out of whatever I could scrounge, and got stage time opening for bands and later found other people who were doing the same and teamed up. Hell - I had a website that I learned to code HTML because that WAS your social media at the time! Now there are infinite resources available, which is awesome, but it strengthens my heart when I hear about people putting on shows and parties because they want to - not because they took all the classes.

If there is something you want in life, you won't wait for it to drop into your lap. I find that kind of laziness vastly irritating and the sense of entitlement of a lot of folks saddens me. Anything worth having or doing is worth pursuing on your own terms, and while it might not always be easy, or financially viable, or handed to you, if you have the drive you can make it happen.

What is the best way for people to keep up to date with your many pursuits?

I have a website that I tend to spend more time with my thoughts on and where I am unencumbered by the limitations of social media. You can check out my writing there at www.littlemissrisk.ca and I like to liberally sprinkle it with interesting NSFW photos. If you prefer the ease and access of social media I am on both Twitter and Instagram as @littlemissrisk, and you can usually find me on some form of stage in a state of undress as well!

__________________________________________

(If you enjoyed this interview, you may like my conversation with Ellie Church here.)

"Harvest Lake" Interview: Brian K. Williams

Brian K. Williams, Headless Movie
Brian as "Slick Vic" in "Headless".

(Brian K. Williams is best known for the festival award winning contemporary grindhouse favorite "Time To Kill" and it's equally lauded short "Play Me", both starring Ellie Church. He recently performed producer, cinematography and editing duties on "Harvest Lake". The initial Special Editon Blu-Ray of "Harvest Lake" has already sold out.)

Harvest Lake, Ellie Church, Tristan Risk, Movie Poster
Hello, Brian. It's great to have you with us today to talk about your latest project: Harvest Lake. How would you describe the movie?

"Possession", meets "Society", meets "Picnic at Hanging Rock", meets an Abercrombie and Fitch clothing commercial. It's different, it's not like anything I've seen before, which excites me. It's erotic, sexy, thought provoking, much different to what people would expect from the people that brought you "Found", "Headless", and "Time To Kill".

Besides shooting and editing the film, what were your duties as producer?

I financed half the film, spent a lot of time casting, location scouting, wardrobe, basically Scott (Schirmer) and I both worked together very closely all of the way through the entire movie, from deciding on a concept, to final delivery, and now marketing. We would meet up daily, for hours, during pre production, and post, discussing every tiny detail, and deciding together.

The trailer is very dreamy and atmospheric. Is this indicative of what we should expect from the film?

We think so. We struggled thinking of a trailer concept, since it's such a different kind of film, and ultimately Scott edited the trailer, and I did the color for it. We knew we needed to be honest with the trailer, and not attempt to make the film look like anything it's not. We wanted to convey sexuality, sexuality of all kinds, dreamy, beautiful images, beautiful people, otherworldly vegetation, a good portion of the trailer comes from my favorite part of the film, which is a very dreamlike, atmospheric, score heavy, dialogue free section.

Headless, Movie

What is your relationship with Scott Schirmer?

I have known Scott for a couple years, and first got the chance to work with him on the film "Headless". He's a perfectionist, and hard worker, and likes taking about movies as much as I do. He's a great guy to work beside, and a good friend.

Was "Harvest Lake" influenced by other films or stories?

When we were first brainstorming about the film, before the script, we talked about many different influences, and stories. Ultimately the film evolved, several times, even in production, and in post, to become what it is. I think it's influenced by a lot of things.


How did Tristan Risk become involved?

Ellie Church had worked with her in a couple movies very recently. Being married to Ellie, I can luckily get the scoop straight from the horse's mouth so to speak, so I knew of her passion, her fire, and her knowledge and work ethic. I had met and spoken with her briefly on set previously in.2015 on another film she and Ellie were in together that I played a brief cameo in. I also got a huge recommendation from James Bickert, writer/director of the upcoming "Frankenstein Created Bikers". I mentioned her to Scott, and after talking it over, decided to email Tristan's agent with the script and an offer. Tristan loved the script, and accepted the role, and she was a delight to work with, and I can't wait to work with her again.

Harvest Lake, Movie
Something watching at the lake.
How much of a part do special effects play in the film?

Interestingly, we wanted very little effects in this film, and went into it with that goal. Effects are expensive, take valuable time on set, can go wrong, etc, and we were trying to keep our budget low, and time short, and we had very little time before we started shooting. Once I read the script, I told Scott, "man, there's a lot of FX in this thing", so there ended up being much more than originally thought. The effects are great, and feel natural, and photographed beautifully. Everyone on the FX team really busted their asses, on some very long days, with me freaking out around them. They are so good at what they do, and handled the pressure with ease.

What is it like working with your wife, Ellie Church, on this and other projects?

It's like any other actress really. I have such concentration and passion on set, that she's not my wife when we're there. She's an actress, and a damn good one too. I'm lucky to have that much talent around me so often. She elevates me.

Ellie Church, Harvest Lake
Ellie Church feels like she's being watched in 'Harvest Lake".
How can people see "Harvest Lake"?

Everyone that pre ordered will be getting their double disc limited collector's edition set at the end of January, into the first of February, depending on the shipping time. The special bonus dvd's are here, and the blu rays are being replicated right now. After that, It will be at film festivals, conventions, and a few theatrical screenings beginning in March, and sometime in mid March, the limited edition single disk blu rays will be available for purchase at www.mostlyharmlesspictures.com , www.forbiddenfilms.net , as well as other locations to follow.

What do you have planned next?

Already in pre production for the next one, cameras roll mid February on something Scott and I are co-producing again, that will be announced soon! I also will be going to Croatia this March for 15 weeks working beside Albert Pyun, editing his upcoming space opera "Star Warfare Rangers and the Cyborg Witch of Endor". I have recently gone full time with filmmaking, so expect to see a lot more from me. I'm "for hire", and available as a DP with my own dual black magic camera set up, or as an editor, colorist, director, producer, whatever is needed! And sometime this year, I hope to be able to start production on a sketch based sex comedy I wrote, in the vein of "Kentucky Fried Movie", called "Space Babes From Outer Space".

Where can people go to keep up with your projects?

I'm pretty regular on Facebook, and Twitter and keep up on "Harvest Lake" updates at the Harvest Lake Facebook page.




(If you liked this interview, check out my talk with Ellie Church here.)

Ellie Church talks "Harvest Lake" and New Albert Pyun Film

Ellie Church, Tristan Risk, Harvest Lake
There's something real interesting in the lake.

(I'm very privileged to have had another opportunity to interview the lovely and talented Ellie Church, one of the hardest working and genuinely nicest actors on the Indy-film scene. Take a look:)

It's been about a year since our last interview, what have you been up to?

Ellie Church, Mania
On the set of  "Mania".
Well, I'm not sure if I had finished Headless last time we spoke, or was waiting to film. But what an amazing experience that was. The Forbidden Films team really knocked that one out of the park for me. I loved my character, the team, and the final product. After Headless I road-tripped with Tristan Risk and a very talented crew for two weeks , and we made Mania. That was a nuts shoot. Shortly after James Bickert got a hold of me and told me it was time we made Frankenstein Created Bikers, which I had known about for a couple of years, but was just waiting on the word. When it came I was ready, a sequel to one of my favorite indie horror films Dear God No! I was there. That shoot was wonderful to be a part of, shot on 35mm, working with a great effects team, and a larger crew than I was used to. I had a lot of friends on that shoot , and made even more. I know I always have people to count on in Atlanta. I took a short break in the summer. Brian (K. Williams) and I were in the middle of a pretty big life transition, and still are. Brian has recently gone full time film maker, so things flip flopped for a minute, but now it's time for me to kick ass and get shit done. Brian's first film after kicking the day job is Harvest Lake, a collaboration between our company, Mostly Harmless Pictures, and Forbidden Films. Written and directed by Scott Schirmer, it's a beautiful, sexy, work of art, and I can't wait for the world to see it. It is scheduled to premiere in the spring of 2016. As of today, I am flying to Las Vegas to be a part of something I haven't done much of...Sci Fi. I am going to work with Albert Pyun to cut a trailer for his next film (Star Warfare Rangers and the cyborg witch of Endor. ) Pretty excited to get there, and meet the team.

Ellie Church, Harvest Lake
The teaser for Harvest Lake has a dreamy surreal quality to it. Was this a different kind of project for you? Were there any special challenges?

Harvest Lake was probably the most comfortable project I've worked on so far. It was a cast and crew entirely made up of people I was extremely comfortable with, and a character I could relate to. Having seen it now, I can say it's also definitely the most visually stimulating thing I've ever been a part of as well. Very proud of what Brian and Scott envisioned, and made happen.

Can you expand a little bit on the story for Harvest Lake and your role in it?

Not exactly sure I can go into my character too much without giving away the plot. But the character goes through a distinct transformation through the course of the movie.

Can you tell us about your new movie with Albert Pyun?

Ellie Church, Star Warfare Rangers, Albert Pyun
Becoming a ranger.
Right now it's only in it's beginning stages, but I was lucky enough to get to travel to meet the team of Star Warfare Rangers in Las Vegas last week. This is a whole new realm of film making and acting for me. I play an Empress who is heading a mission to rescue a cyborg witch, so yeah, a lot different. It's also Sci Fi, which I haven't done much of at all. I feel like I will learn a ton during the production. Especially about military tactics.

That sounds very exciting. Is there anything else on the horizon after Star Warfare Rangers?

Ellie Church, Frankenstein Created Bikers
Getting bloody with bikers.
There are a couple of unofficial things , but you know how that goes...I can't talk about them yet. As for films you can see me in soon, Frankenstein Created Bikers should premiere in the spring of 2016 as well as Harvest Lake, so be looking for those!

Where can people go to found out more about Ellie Church?

Facebook. Everything I do goes on facebook. I feel like even my mother finds out a lot of the things that are going on with me on Facebook. Also, if you see me in person, I am always up for a good conversation. I'm a talker, and love to hear people's opinions on my projects, honest opinions.

Thank's Ellie so much for your time and generous cooperation. I'm sure your many fans old and new are looking forward to what comes next!

Poster for Film Maker Jerry Pyle's Short "Trust"

This is my official poster for the "Fun Size horror" short "Trust" by Jerry Pyle. You can watch the entire film at the bottom of this post. To see my other poster for Jerry's short "Service" click here.





"Apocalypse Female Warriors" Sells Out Upon Release



I want to thank all of the people who bought copies of my re-edited and remastered DVD for KillerWolf Films: Apocalypse Female Warriors. If you didn't already know, the special edition is sold out on Amazon and now taking back orders. The response is overwhelming and deeply appreciated. For those lucky ones who got in on the first round of orders, make sure to check out the commentaries from Len and myself, as well as the great team at Red Letter Media. Enjoy.





Exclusive Interview With Paranormal Photographer Patricia Ann Coleman


Could you please tell us a little about who Patricia Ann Coleman is?

I am a paranormal researcher/film maker and art photographer. I am currently working on my first documentary titled A Paranormal Life.

How did you get into paranormal research?

I began my life time of paranormal research 30 years ago as I have experienced what would be construed as paranormal phenomena my entire life.

Can you tell us about some of those experiences?

Like many young children I could see, hear and talk to people I did not know. Like many other parents my family dismissed it believing it to be imaginary friends. It wasn't until my great grandmothers began visiting me after her death did I realize those people were indeed deceased. Growing up in the 70's and 80's we were not inundated with paranormal shows...this subject was rarely spoke of. I began to read all I can researched the pioneers in an attempt to understand what it all is and why could I experience the things I do. I actually stumbled on my first real investigation when I was 13. There was a more then century old farmhouse near my home. Phenomena was reported by many of the kids on the block like any other small town legends I made this my first case of the hundreds I have investigated in the last 30 years.

I assume these will be featured in your documentary. How is that coming along?

What I don't have time to cover in the film I am also writing a book. The film is going great the last year has been amazing. I have met and interviewed some interesting people from all over involved in different aspects of the paranormal world. From ghost hunters to UFO enthusiasts to cryptozoologist. This weekend in fact I will be deep in the woods following a group going "squatching" as well as Beaver Creek Bigfoot Day. A festival with vendors and speakers. I will be traveling out west soon to wrap up filming next year.

You mentioned that you are an art photographer. What specifically is your area of interest?

Though I do portrait and head shots for clients from time to time my main interest is horror/dark/fantasy art photography. I have a series I have been slowly working on that once complete I will do a showing of. During the shooting of my film in which I go to famous legends and haunts I have been taking a series of the locations that I film at as well.

State Street Tavern


How did you get into photography?

In my teens I began with my first nice Canon camera. Just taking gigs I could get bands models. I then took the photography work into the field and captured some interesting phenomena took a break through college and old career to recently start back up again two years ago.

Who have been some of your favorite photo subjects?

Actually that would be some of the last models and pieces I did my "Greystoke" and the ones I just did of Ruth that was a great shoot really got her in character!! I also enjoy the live theater I shoot from time to time can get some great action shots.

Ruth

Greystoke

What are your plans for the future?

Above all else my work in the paranormal I lecture teach and counsel folks and enjoy helping people expand their thoughts and ponder the unknown. I will continue my films and will be penning my own as well as Co authoring a few books. The photography will always be my outlet.

Where can people go to keep up with you and your projects?

They can find me on Facebook at A Paranormal Life, or they can get my personal page on Facebook. They can also email me at digginginthedark@outlook.com

One Sheet Poster for "Angel Of Reckoning"

Now that principal photography is almost finished, it seemed about the right time for me to make an official one-sheet for Len Kabasinski's latest film: "Angel of Reckoning". Len and Jessica helped with the source photography to put this one together. Keep an eye out for the first full trailer, coming soon.

Angel Of Reckoning, Killerwolf Films, Len Kabasinski, cyoungmedia, Chris Young

Forces of Horror Anthology Wrap Up

I may now present my last two approved posters for the Forces of Horror Anthology. I must say Roger Sampson and Aaron Sparks are two of the nicest people I've ever dealt with and I wish them much success.

Poster, The Origin of Species, Forces of Horror, Chris Young, Cyoungmedia, Film



Poster, Rawhead, Forces of Horror, Chris Young, Cyoungmedia, Film

"Angel Of Reckoning" Teaser

Having just finished editing and posting the special edition of Len Kabasinski's "Warriors of the Apocalypse", I've now moved on to contributing to the production of his latest opus: "Angel Of Reckoning", which is shooting this summer. For our first promotion Len shot and I edited a teaser featuring the eponymous "Angel", Len's lovely wife Jessica, looking a little worse for wear. Look for the film to be released later this year.


"The Misfit Words" Book Cover

Spencer Gray, the writer and director of "Snake With A Human Tail", recently published his first book on Amazon, a collection of poems, songs, prose and scripts. When he asked me to create a cover, for some reason we both felt like it should reflect our favorite styles from the halcyon days of musty used paperback stores, when every other cover was by Frank Frazetta, Michael Whelan or Richard Powers. Your can purchase your own copy here.


The Misfit Words, Spencer Gray, Chris Young, cyoungmedia, book cover

Billy Blair "Blood Sombrero" Promo Images

TNT Talent and Billy Blair asked me to do some  promotional images for his new starring vehicle "Blood Sombrero". I hope we get to see him in the film sooner than later.


Billy Blair, Chris Young, CYoungMedia, Blood Sombrero


Billy Blair, Chris Young, CYoungMedia, Blood Sombrero

'Headless" Review


Let's get something straight from the start. I don't like torture porn and I'm not into extreme cinema. This may sound disingenuous or even downright hypocritical coming from me, (have you seen the blasphemous tripe this degenerate draws? There should be a law). But seriously, I get no thrill from gore for gore's sake these days. I'm also not a big slasher fan. With the exception of a few deserved classics, I could happily live out my days and never see another machete swinging maniac.

So why am I taking what little time I have left in the day to review "Headless"? Well, because I have to. Because this movie should be talked about.

Is the director holding a gun to my temple as I write this? Nope, my insurance is paid up. Did some distributor pay me with fat stacks of cash? God knows I can be bought. But sadly, no. Drugs, MK-Ultra mind control? Could be, but unlikely. The fact is "Headless" is damn good and horror aficionados need to be made aware of it.

‘Headless” has it’s roots in the award winning film “Found” by director Scott Schirmer, in which the younger brother of a serial killer is watching the film on TV. Apparently, that section of “Found” managed to get it banned in Australia and garnered enough enthusiasm from fans to spawn it’s own actual full length production produced by Schirmer and Kara Erdel, written by Nathan Erdel and directed by “Found” special effects supervisor and associate producer Arthur Cullipher. In the expanded story a skeleton masked killer stalks, dismembers, eats and sexually abuses what's left of his victims in a relentless march to full insanity. His childhood is explained with a deft sensitivity that lacks even a hint of maudlin romanticism. The family’s cruelty is barbaric and believeable. Telling yourself “it’s only a movie” just doesn’t apply here, and won’t save you from the experience.

"I know it's crazy, but, call me, maybe?"
An integral part of it’s success is that unlike most modern slashers and their claims to the contrary, “Headless” actually provides a group of three dimensional, interesting and in some cases, likeable characters, whom we really do care about, making their ghastly demises seem almost unreal. “Surely that character will get away”, we say to ourselves moments before they are carved up like a slaughterhouse pig. It’s difficult to wrap your head around the atrocities being visited upon people who you’ve come to know way better than should be possible in such a short time. This is in large part due to Erdel’s excellent script and the amazing casting of up and comer Kelsey Carlisle, and indie favorites such as Ellie Church, Dave Parker and Brian Williams. These are not badly performed characters that become weirdly endearing over time due to the context and venue of the film, they are not just “believable”. Every actor in “Headless” completely embodies their role. The importance of this fact to the assaulting affect their deaths have on the senses cannot be overstated.

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the machete we have associate producer and effects artist Shane Beasley as the skull-headed maniac, who pulls off the neat trick of playing an unstoppable killer, an anguished lost soul or a bewildered innocent equally well. The evil spirit-child version of Jiminy Cricket is quietly played to bone-chilling effect by Kaden Miller, who has the ability to express volumes while wearing a full head mask with the turn of his head or, most disturbingly, the clacking of his jaws together. I think it is safe to say the film and especially the final act would not be half as effective without him. Lastly, Matt Keeley plays the part of the teenaged killer with a humiliating authenticity that is difficult to watch.
Parenting 101

Did I mention it’s funny at times? Well it’s damn funny in places where a good laugh is very much called for. In fact every beat of the plot and pacing is on the nose. That is why I’m singing the praises of a film I will probably never watch again in my life. I have heard the director frame “Headless” as a “lost slasher film from 1978”, granting it an apocryphal cinematic pedigree. I generally enjoy false histories and this one’s no exception. However, if that were it’s only virtue, I’m certain it wouldn’t have the growing following it has now. This is a true cult classic in the making, for the same reasons as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Evil Dead, or Halloween. The sheer quality of what’s onscreen belies its microbudget humble beginnings. Forbidden Films shows great confidence, talent and professionalism throughout every aspect of the movie. This is not a production team with “potential”, they are a fully realized phenomenon and if we’re lucky we’ll be seeing a lot more from them, very soon.


My "Dinner With The Dwyers" poster serves up the finger.

Marv Blauvelt is hard at work on a new short horror film that promises to be an appetizing bit of nastiness for genre fans. His co-host is the lovely and talented Felissa Rose. The guests will be Tiffani Brooke Fest and Jared Michael Degado. Marv asked me to create the invitation. I hope he doesn't mind the blood stain.


Dinner with the Dwyers, Marv Blauvelt, Felissa Rose, Chris Young, CYoungMedia, Movie, Poster