CAPITAL OF VIRGINIA: TALKING WITH Director/Producer/Writer/Editor/Actor JOHN POAGUE by Owen Keehnen

John Poague is the founder of the Virginia based production company Capital Film Studios, which is currently wrapping post-production on its second film --- the creepy Bigfoot opus ‘Holler Creek Canyon’ with Anna Bridgforth and Nathan Faudree. The dedicated (some would say obsessed) Poague directed, wrote, edited, and even produced the project. He also directed and produced Capital’s debut vampire/zombie/ghost opus ‘The Wickeds’ (starring Anna Bridgforth, Kelly Roth, Ron Jeremy, & Justin Alvarez) in 2005 and managed to get it all shot in an amazing 13 days! Over the next couple years John Poague projects that Capital will produce approximately 5 more independent features. That’s a tall order – but this man has the skills and above all the dedication and determination to make it happen.



So John, start us off with a visual.  Please describe for us visually oriented folks (at the room where you are answering these questions?

I am in my home office.  Other than your standard, traditional desks, office supplies and family pictures, my office is filled with movie memorabilia from my movies and many others.  Prominently displayed on the wall are original lobby cards from Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia deHavilland.  But, of course, displayed next to them is a severed Ron Jeremy head.  Oh yeah - it's not a real head; it's a prop, from The Wickeds.  Lots of cool stuff.

What makes rural Virginia (Manassas & Shenandoah) the ultimate place for filming your horror movies? 

Manassas is about 30 minutes southwest of D.C. and there's an enormous talent pool in D.C. and the surrounding area, so it makes it much easier to find cast and crew.  And it also helps that I was raised in Manassas and know pretty much everybody, so I am able to get a lot of stuff for free or cheap.

So what was your intent when you formed Capital Film Studios in 2004 and how has your work progressed in the direction in the period since? 

Capital Film Studios was actually formed much earlier than 2004 - I'd have to look up the exact year, but probably around 2000 or so, and I formed it originally to be the name of a movie studio that I wanted to establish in Northern Virginia.  After getting it funded and losing the funding on three separate occasions, I decided to go back to movie making.  I was pissed off one day and said to myself, I'm going to make a film in 60 days.  I had no script, but I knew I wanted to make a film.  That's how The Wickeds came about.  And having only 60 days to go from idea to shooting is certainly reflected in the quality of the film.  So whatever problems anyone has with The Wickeds, no one can be blamed but me.  But hell, I wanted to work.  My current goal is to make one film a year, each one with a bigger budget than the one before it.  My third film, Holler Creek Canyon, will be completed by the end of January, and I can't wait for everyone to see it.  It kicks ass.

In your latest effort 'Holler Creek Canyon' (2006) you direct, produce, write, and edit the movie.  Which of those roles brought you the greatest satisfaction and which one was the biggest pain in the ass?

My greatest satisfaction was directing.  I had a great cast, and they made my job much easier.  This was the second project that I worked with Justin Alvarez and Anna Bridgforth on, and it was just a lot of fun.  I co-produced, co-wrote and was co-editor for the film, so each of them was not as bad as they could have been.  But to tell you the truth, none of them was really a pain in the ass -- I enjoyed all of them.

Speaking of that, what are your feelings regarding Bigfoot?  I haven't heard anything about him in a while, but now it seems time for a Sasquatch reemergence? 

Yeah, I've heard of at least 3 films about Bigfoot in the past year or so.  I think it's cool - there's always room for creature-features.

Your previous film the vampire-zombie-ghost flick 'The Wickeds' was shot in an awesome 13 days!  What was the biggest challenge about wrapping a feature in that length of time? 

Everything was a challenge!  I'll just give you a few examples.  We secured our primary location the day before we actually started shooting.  I was the producer, director, most of the time the 1st A.D., a lot of the time the U.P.M., the general ass-kicker, and at times, a P.A.!  When you have as little money to shoot a film as we did on that one, you have to do everything.  The last day of the shoot, we worked 24 hours straight.  Two crewmembers had to be fired during the shoot.  I almost got into fistfight with one of the extras.  Postproduction was a nightmare!  I could go on and on.  But, the bottom line is - I would do it again tomorrow.

What was the best part and the most surprising thing about working with Ron Jeremy in 'The Wickeds' (2005)? 

The most surprising thing is how smart he is.  I know a lot of smart people, and this guy is really smart and multi-talented.  The best thing for me, about working with him, was that it exposed me to working with celebrities and all the unique situations that it brings to the set.

Do you have any other projects pending you would like to mention, plug, or brag about? 

I just can't wait for everyone to see Holler Creek Canyon (Bigfoot).  I am also in development for another film, hoping to shoot this summer.  I can fill you in on the details of that another time.

It seems Hollywood is going remake crazy lately - especially when it comes to horror.  If you had an unlimited budget and resources what horror movie would you choose to re-do and why? 

The Wickeds, because I didn't come anywhere close to meeting my expectations.

Regarding advice to the novice filmmakers out there -- what would you say from experience has been the most important and the most surprising things you've learned about shooting a feature? 

Most important is to have a good editor and to not cut your post-production time too short.  Most surprising is how little sleep you can function on without going into a coma!

Okay, we're pulling the car into the John Poague Drive In.  What three horror movies are on the triple bill and what goodies are they serving up at the concession stand? 

Of course, Holler Creek Canyon is the main attraction.  That's a no-brainer, that's my film.  And I've now seen it so many times I can just kick back and make-out with my wife in the backseat.  Also showing is the re-make of The Wickeds that we spoke about earlier, made with the unlimited time and budget.  The third film would be Abbot and Costello Meet the Invisible Man - one of my favorites.  At the concession stand they're serving Diet Coke (I can't live without it), beer, nachos and cheese, and pizza.  Any fried foods would do.

What makes you go psycho in real life? 

Do you have some time, like six or so hours?  I'm looking for a good therapist!  My number one is inefficiency - by anybody for any reason.  Drives me nuts.  Second is rude people.  I'm big on manners.  No excuse for not having them.  Oh yeah -- and I truly go psycho when people let their dogs shit in my yard!  I don't shit in their yard.

What scares you in real life?

Well, that's gonna be another 6 or 8 hours!  Parenting.  Need I say more?