Terrence Smith: The Creator of Student to Indie Short Screams by Greg Tiderington

Terrence Smith is a creative filmmaker doing short horror films ever since he was in highschool by taking a filmmaking course and made his first horror short called The Ring in 1994 and hasn't stopped.
He also made a handful of B&W films that you can see online at
www.youtube.com as one of them is titled 'Man Into Vampire' as his wife starred in the film.
He also directed 'Birds of a Feather' which co-starred horror film actress Felissa Rose (Which was a stepping stone into her comeback in films since 'Sleepaway Camp') and Chris Cooke (From 'Simple Men' and 'The Unbelieveable Truth' fame).
He recently finished directing a chapter in the anthology 'Lost Suburbia' which was written by his wife too, and now he is preparing to work on the 'Walking Corpse' which as it plans to be shot this spring.

  At what age did you see yourself as a filmmaker?

Probably some time in high school. I had taken a weekend filmmaking course where we shot 16mm film and I knew from there that this is what I wanted to do. After that I bought a 16mm camera and a projector and started shooting films. 

Did you see yourself writing horror films?

Yeah. Well I guess I didn't have a choice because who else was going to write them?

What was your first horror film?

It was a short called "The Ring". I shot it in 1994 with a bunch of my high school classmates. It was shot at a local town park where I worked. It is a great location, I've used it many times since.


Who was in it and where did it play at?

The cast was a bunch of my friends. The leading man became my best man many years later and the writer of "Birds of a Feather".

What kind of a budget was it made on?

Geez, 2 or 3 hundred bucks.


Do you have any memorable experiences you'd like to share with us?

The whole thing was so much fun! The process of creating (particularly for the first time) is so liberating. It is a high.


What was the toughest scene to shoot?

There was a scene where a vampire bites someones neck and we had all this blood shooting all over the room and the hardest thing was making sure we got it in the first take.

I understand you did some B&W films as some of them were titled 'Man Into Vampire', 'Blood Runs Black' and 'The Obsessive Love Theme'. Were these films a take on those old fashioned Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff flicks?

No. Black and white film is quite a bit cheaper than color. That is the only reason.


What was it like to do 'Man Into Vampire'?

A blast. It was shot in the summer of 1997 while I was on summer break from college (State University of New York at Buffalo). My goal was to make a film that was shot with no natural sound and make the final product sound like it was. After shooting I went back a recorded the sound for all the scenes separately and then cut it into the film. It worked pretty well because I fooled alot of people including my film professor.
Also, the main actors were my good friends and my future wife, so there were so many great memories.


What was the story all about?

It is the story of a christian man who get bit by a vampire and now has to deal with the fact that he is now this ungodly being by no fault of his own. He has spent his life being a good christian, and now he is damned.


Now you had a Canadian actress named Elizabeth McLaughlin come on board with the project who played the role of Katherine. How did you go by bringing her to New York?

Well, Liz is my wife and the mother of my children and we went to school together on Long Island and remained together through college and married in 2001.


What part did she play in the film?

She played the part of Katherine. She is the wife of the main character and she too becomes a vampire.

How long did it take to shoot the film?

Sporaticly over a few weeks I guess.


Did it go to film festivals and can we find it on DVD
or video?

No I don't think it played anywhere. You can see it on youtube at 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPucf9fLDz0

Was 'Blood Runs Black' another vampire tale? Do tell us.

No, Blood Runs Black is the story of a girl who goes to college and has a hard time fitting in to her new environment. She meets one friend and very strange thing start happening.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rftAPn4gb64

What is the 'Obsessive Love Theme' all about?

'OLT' is another psychological horror short. It tries to examine the roots of a particular man's neurosis.


Were these all feature films?

Lord no. Most were school projects.

You also directed a short flick titled 'Birds of a
Feather'
. How did you get your hands on the project?

Well, I wanted to make another film so I sat down one night with my friend Jay and "Birds" is what we came up with.


You found a couple of familiar faces who worked in
film and stage named Felissa Rose and Chris Cooke. How
did you find them?

Felissa contacted me through a casting call. I was amazed that she wanted to be in my movie, but it worked out. Chris was actually the film commissioner in Suffolk county NY so I'd had some dealings with him in the past and I figured he'd be good for the part.


Did you ever watch Felissa in 'Sleepaway Camp' or Chris
in 'Simple Men' before casting them?

I'd seen 'Sleepway Camp' and knew who Felissa was right off the bat. 'Simple Men' I saw after I decided to work with Chris. Like I said I had known Chris before the film.

Now Felissa's role Delores was discovered as a psychotic cannisbalistic killer named Delores. Did you cast her for that part as she was a maysterious killer in 'Sleepaway Camp'?

I cast Felissa because I knew she could do a great job on the film. In 'SC' you don't see her kill or be crazy.


How long did it take for you to get into the full swing on doing the film?

I think we wrote it in January and it only took a month or two before we were shooting.


What year and month did you shoot it?

It was shot in March 2000


How well did it do by playing at the New York Film Festival?

Well it didn't play NYFF it played at the Long Island Film Festival. It didn't win anything.


Did the film draw in fans by having two known names in it?

No. Birds has gotten some interest from people but only because Felissa is in it I suspect.


You planned on working on another short titled the 'Walking Corpse'. Did the film see the light of day and how well did it do?

Yeah. I am very excited about 'The Walking Corpse'. We are getting ready to shoot this spring. We had a couple of false starts on this project because I moved to Louisiana for a couple of years, but now that I'm back in NY were planning on getting this one done finally. I am actually meeting today with a potential actress to play the gypsy female lead.

You also directed a chapter titled "The Institute for Mental Hygiene" for an upcoming horror anthology titled 'Lost Suburbia'. What is this film going to be all about? 

It is an anotholoy of four stories each based on a real Long Island ghost stories. Mine is based on the Kings Park Psychiatric Center in Kings Park NY.

Who is in it that we may all know?

We have a brilliant cast of actors all from the LI or NYC area. I'm not aware of any of them having "big time" credits.

What was it like to shoot the film?

Great! My wife wrote the script, the location, as you will see, speaks for it self. The actors were the best I've worked with. By far the smoothest shoot I've been on.


What kind of a release does the film plan to have?

That remains to be seen. Two of the chapter are complete and the other two are fininshing up. I think were are hoping to have it ready for summer 2007.

Will this film be your breakthrough in the horror film
industry?

I don't know. I think it is a complicated an powerful film and I hope people like it.



Will this one be different than your previous work?

It is kind of. There isn't any gore, but I think it's the most powerful and effictive film I've made. A lot of it is due to the fact that Liz was co-directing. I directed the shoot with the actors and Liz directed me
in the editing process. It was great to work with her. She is very creative and knows what she wants.


Now heres some fun stuff:
What are your favourite horror films?

Night of the Living Dead
Black Sunday
Nightmare on Elm Street
Carnival of Souls
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
and many others


If you were a top horror film maker for one day whether he was alive or not who would he be?

Mario Bava

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Total freedom to use my time as I see fit!

If there was a film you made that you'd like to change what would it be?

All of them! There are glaring problems with all of my films! But you'll never learn from your mistakes unless you keep making them.