He Do Voodoo: A Talk With Writer Director Producer Steven Shea by Owen Keehnen

Steven Shea is a man who loves movies and who gets things done.   Awesome combo! His first writing-directing-producing feature was the “Biblical thriller” ‘The Night Owl’ based on the tale of Old Testament uber-vixen Lilith. He’s co-produced the Ron Jeremy fright flick ‘Andre The Butcher’ (formerly titled ‘Dead Meat’) – about a supernatural guy and his trusty cleaver stalking (you guessed it) cheerleaders. In 2002 Steven took the next step and incorporated Abyssmal Entertainment, which set up operations in Orlando, Florida. His latest project is directing (and co-scripting) the star-studded horror flick ‘Hoodoo for Voodoo’ with Linnea Quigley, Tiffany Shepis, Aaliyah Madyun, Brunhilda Zekthi, Chris McDaniel, Lloyd Kaufman, and Debbie Rochon. His project after that is he is calling a cross between ‘Lost’ and ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ (hmmm) called ‘The Bends’ to be filmed in the Florida Keys…and after that (it was only a matter of time) a horror-musical ‘The Sound of Screaming’.


Hey Steven, let's start with a visual.  Can you describe for everyone at www.racksandrazors.com the room where you're answering these questions?

I am in my office, surrounded by walls covered from floor to ceiling with autographed genre memorabilia. I am sitting at a long "L" shaped desk with 2 computers, piles of paperwork, my snake's cage, and my Tarantula. Lighting equipment litters the floor from a shoot we had the night before.

So let's start off talking about Abyssmal Entertainment that you incorporated in 2002.  What was your plan for the film company and how in the past three years have you moved towards completing that initial objective?

Our main goal is to be producing between 1-3 feature films a year. We began making a plethora of short films, then decided to make one long short, and move up to features. We made our first feature project, "The Night Owl", had it distributed with Brain Damage Films & Brentwood DVD, learned how the system works, and plan on continuing, building the budget and production value with each picture.

So what do you find are the greatest challenges/obstacles to making movies in central Florida?

There is a very large independent market in Central Florida, but a small professional market. Many people are pushing for it to be the Hollywood of the East, but with the humidity and hurricanes, it will be very difficult. My biggest challenge is the heat.

Let's talk about your latest effort 'Hoodoo For Voodoo'.  Can you give me a plot teaser that will make seeing it irresistible for horror fans?

Hoodoo is about a group of college kids that win a radio station trip to Mardi Gras. While visiting Louisiana, they are taken to a Voodoo ritual, which in actuality is more of a tourist trap. Good family entertainment. During the course of their stay, employees of the ritual begin getting killed off in clever fashions, and the local authorities blame these visiting contest winners. So they have to bind together to figure out who is really doing it, all while being distracted by the biggest party of the year. Lots of creative deaths, gore, lesbians, punk music, goats, weed whackers, partying, sex... I think there are around 23 death scenes in the flick.

The cast includes Linnea Quigley, Debbie Rochon, and Tiffany Shepis among others.  How did you manage to get all these great folks on board for your film?

I actually wrote a character in the movie for Linnea. The voodoo Queen Marie. We approached her at a convention, and she enjoyed the script. Debbie was shooting a film for my co-producer Jason Liquori titled "Death Plots", and while she was in town we had her shoot a really funny cameo. Tiffany was brought in at the tail end, because we had another actress drop off of the project at the last minute. She has a pretty fantastic death sequence, which I am sure will be one of the highlights of the movie.

Gotta love a great death sequence. And when will the film be available?  Any idea?

We are looking to have it premiere sometime this summer. After that we will get distribution organized, and I'm guessing, sometime in 2007. We look to tour some conventions and show it around at some festivals as well.

I also want to hear about 'Andre the Butcher' with Ron Jeremy which you produced.  Any most memorable filming tales there?

This was a really fun project that I co-produced with James Hyde and Phil Cruz. It has Ron as a supernatural Chili Chef, who stalks some cheerleaders in the back swamps of the Florida Orange Groves. We got a blow up a car in that one that was a good time. It will be released through Think Film on video on April 25th.

The first film you wrote/produced/and directed as 'The Night Owl’, which you managed to complete for $2,500.  Can you give a couple examples of the insane things you did to cut costs and make that film so inexpensively?

We shot "The Night Owl" with a Canon XL1s, at a house that my now In-laws had just purchased. We shot with a minimal crew (3-5 people at a time), minimal cast (4-5) over the course of a year. We wrote the story with the idea in mind to make a feature, and make it as cheaply and easily as possible. No one got paid; very little budget was allotted to things like production art, wardrobe, and props. We had a very strict 12-day schedule set up, and then had an actress bail on the 3rd day of shooting, and had to recast. This cost us much time, but in the long run, made out for a much better movie. Brain Damage Films bundled it with 3 others, and released it in a set titled, "Wicked Intentions". You can pick it up at Best Buy, or Suncoast, or Netflicks. It's all over the place.

'The Night Owl' is also labeled as a "Biblical thriller" - that merits a bit of explanation.

The story is based on "Lilith" the proposed first wife of Adam, and the symbol for female empowerment. The movie is about four girls who go to a lake house for spring break, only to have one of them possessed by this spirit of Lilith, and begin the Revelations. We follow quite a bit of scripture, only interpreting it our own way. We thought it would be more interesting if the Revelations took place on a much smaller scale, than everyone expects. And there are thrills included.

I've also read somewhere that you are making a horror/musical - true or false.

We have an idea for a Horror/Musical that we want to script at some point, titled "The Sound Of Screaming". Basically a slasher film, but with lots of clichéd moments summed up in song.

So what's next for you Steven - any projects you would like to plug, brag about, or inform our readers about?

I am supposed to help produce a couple of projects in the upcoming year. The next feature we are going to undertake, at the moment is a project that I am writing called "The Bends" it's an intense mind bender about 4 people who wake up on a deserted island with amnesia, and everything starts going crazy. I think of it as a mixture of "Lost" and "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas" We hope to shoot a teaser for it soon, and begin the road to decent financing. Check out http://www.hoodooforvoodoo.com and http://www.abyssmal.com for more about us.

As a filmmaker I wanted your opinion of on-set vs. computer-generated effects?  Where do you stand on the debate?

I like computer generated effects (we have some for our Manta Demons in "The Night Owl") but I do believe that some effects (especially gore effects) look best done by hand, but then you look at something like "Lord Of The Rings", and can't imagine how they could have pulled that off without computers. Digital blood though is hard to chew on.

We're pulling the car into the Steven Shea Drive In.  What three horror movies are going to be showing on the triple bill and what goodies are they going to be serving up at the concession stand?

1) Psycho (1960), probably my favorite film of all time. It would be here for the quality.

2) Evil Dead II, for the child of the 80s in all of us. I love comedy in horror films; through I do agree there is a time for it.

3) Scream, for the 90s, a great spoof and shoutout to the Horror genre. I feel it has a bad wrap just because it became so popular with the younger crowd, that the older hardcore fans dismissed it as a youth fad, and turned a cold shoulder

As far as the snack bar, they would be serving Corn Dogs, Churros, and Hawaiian Punch.

Wow, having those three things in the same sentence gives me indigestion. Do you remember the first horror movie you saw that made you a fan of the genre forever?

When I was a kid, we used to watch all the late night horror films, and Tales From The Crypt. I don't really remember the first, but I know the first film that scared me was "Critters".

What makes you go psycho in real life?

People with no respect for time. Being tardy really gets my goat.

What frightens you in real life?

Aliens. Big headed, football eyed Aliens. The movie "Communion" scared the crap out of me as a kid. Definitely did some permanent damage.