|Hi Shawn, lets start this sucker off with a
visual. Can you describe the room where you
are doing this interview for the www.racksandrazors.com readers?
actually sitting in my spare bedroom, which
serves as my office, in front of my
computer. I'm surrounded by posters from
different Carpenter films ("Halloween",
"The Thing" etc.), hundreds of unsorted
DVDs on the floor, a life-size Natalie
Portman standee from
"Star Wars" and a really fat
cat sleeping on the bed.
want to hear about 'The Shrieking'.
As director/writer/editor of the movie what was
it you wanted to create with this film?
the idea came to me years ago when I was watching
Charles Pierce's G-rated "Legend of Boggy
Creek" (1972) and I began to think what a
shame it was that nobody ever tried to make a
really spooky and intense indie Bigfoot flick
back in the 70's when the Bigfoot craze was at
it's peak. That's when it hit me that I
should try to do one myself and I began working
on the script shortly thereafter - which I
would best describe as a cross between
"Boggy Creek" and Wes Craven's
"The Hills Have Eyes" (1977).
do you think Bigfoot exists or is a Big Legend?
spent most of my childhood living in the Pacific
Northwest, the very heart of
"Sasquatch" country, and we lived in a
new subdivision that was surrounded by an endless
evergreen forest. As a kid, I would always
hear grown ups telling tales about strange
sightings and experiences they had with some
unknown hairy bi-ped in the woods which left an
impression on me. Whether or not they were
true or just trying to scare me, I don't know,
but I used to hear eerie sounds coming from
within the forest behind our house
that I naturally attributed to
Bigfoot (even if they were probably from some
coyote). I remember moving my bed away from
the window because I was afraid
Bigfoot might crash through it and snatch me
out of my bed after I saw that happen in a
movie called "Sasquatch" (1978) when I
was 9. (laughs)
I think Bigfoot is real? Probably
not. I'm a big nut for the paranormal and
the unknown (UFOs, ghosts, Bigfoot, etc.) and
always approach it with a strong degree of
skepticism, but also with the heart of a
believer. I'd like to think that there's
some mysteries left that science has yet to
answer, but most likely Bigfoot is the
product of stories from people with
overactive imaginations like myself.
those many hats you wore for 'The
Shrieking' production (as well as
for your previous movies 'Midnight Snack'
and 'A Spider Beside Her') what
gives you the greatest pleasure and which is the
most challenging for you?
I had to pick which phase I like best, I would
have to say editing. To me post
production is the most exciting phase of
movie making as that's when you get to see
everything start to come together and the movie
begin to take on a life of it's own.
for most challenging, far and away that would be
handling pre-production duties. Going
around, gathering equipment and props, setting
up casting calls, meeting with strangers
about using their properties - all that I would
love to pass on to someone else who has a passion
for it. Me personally? I like just
getting out there and shooting - not making
phone calls into the wee hours of the night
trying to make sure everything's ready for the
next day's shoot. Unfortunately though, at
this level that's just something you have to do.
of challenges you have filmed a lot of gruesome
scenes --- of everything you have done what has
been the most challenging bit of disturbing
cinema for you to capture?
thing I wanted to do differently with "The
Shrieking" was focus more on the reactions
of the characters and their sense of loss, rather
than on the carnage itself. Too often in
horror films the pacing is rushed just to get to
the "kill" scenes and I felt that it
was much more important that the audience
empathize with these characters rather than just
having them being stalked and killed by a guy in
a Bigfoot suit.
were shooting one scene where the characters
realize that the situation has become very grim
and emotions begin to
run high. During the shooting of
it, I distinctly remember watching the actors
(who did such a wonderful job with the material)
playing out these scenes and feeling
a genuine sense of sadness for
each their characters knowing what
awaited them. Throughout most of the shoot
everyone on the set was usually cutting up,
having a good ol' time, but this one afternoon
everyone was deadly serious and you could
just feel the dread hanging over the whole
set. I just hope the audience walks away
with that same feeling.
Shrieking' is a Funhouse Picture as
is the upcoming 'Demoniac'.
Before we go any further I want to hear
about the creation of Funhouse. How did the
merger with Tony Urban's Crazy Ralph Pictures
Pictures was born right around the time I decided
that I wanted to make "The
Shrieking". I knew I was going to have
to assemble a group of people who were both
enthusiastic, as well as dedicated to the idea of
making low budget horror, so I turned to my
longtime friend David Passine to assist me in
finding other local area filmmakers within
Charlotte that could help us get Funhouse off the
we got established and began making short films,
I realized that in order to do "The
Shrieking", I was going to need to find
someone who knew the indie horror scene and could
help advise us on getting the film into
production. At the same time Tony Urban of
Crazy Ralph Films was looking for an executive
producer for his viral thriller, "Hunting
Season", to which I contacted him and agreed
to help him out.
"Hunting Season" was in production,
Tony and I really hit it off, especially with our
common love of horror films, and when the topic
of conversation turned to "The
Shrieking", Tony was excited by the idea and
offered to help produce it. It
didn't take long after that before we discussed
the idea of merging Funhouse with his Crazy Ralph
Films. I was spending so much time trying
to create a website, promote the company and so
forth, that I found little time to actually get
to make movies. Tony, on the other
hand, is phenomenal at promoting, as well as
creating websites (not to mention he
already had a business license, which was one
other hassle I didn't need to worry about) and
with our merger, I knew it would allow
me to just focus on filmmaking, which was all I
really wanted to do. Our partnership has
been a wonderful experience to say the least and
I couldn't have asked for a better partner, let
alone such a good friend.
also want to hear about the "mission
statement" of Funhouse Pictures.
of my actors, Christopher John ("A Spider
Beside Her"), came up with a great tagline
for us, "The Re-evolution of Indie
Horror", that I really loved. While we
certainly don't think we're about to
revolutionize the indie horror scene by any
means, my goal for Funhouse is to make
horror films that actually set out to scare
audiences and as well as straying away
from the formulaic studio films or the exploitive
nature of most B-movies.
someone with a few productions under his belt,
what has been the most important thing you have
learned through trial and error as a director
from your endless backyard flicks as well as 'Midnight
Snack' and 'A Spider Beside Her'.
Something that you brought to play in 'The
one thing that I learned right away is that the
whole Robert Rodriguez "one man film
crew" thing really doesn't work - at least
not for me. I like to be able to be freed
up to work with the actors, discuss options with
my DP and just be available to whoever needs
me. I like to be able to rely on others to
do their part and give them the creative freedom
they need to do it right. Filmmaking is a
collaborative art and I think any director would
be wise to heed what others have to say, no
matter how much experience they may have.
me a little about the upcoming movie 'Psycho
Cheerleaders' that you are going to be
can't take any credit for "Psycho
Cheerleaders" as my involvement is really
just moral support - the project is all Tony
Urban's creation and he deserves all the
attention. He's fashioned a
really funny horror comedy in the vein of films
like "Satan's Cheerleaders"
(1977) and "Sorority Babes in the
Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama" (1988) that I think
all fans of the genre will really enjoy.
The film stars John Karyus
("Kottentail") and Nathan Faudree
("Hunting Season"), with Tony behind
the camera as well.
also want to hear about the status of 'Demoniac'.
How far along is the production and what plans do
you have for that fright flick?
is one I'm really excited about as, unlike
"The Shrieking", it's really not
something that is an homage to other horror
films, but in fact something I hope many will
find unique. I've been keeping the most of
the plot details under wraps (mostly
due to some plot twists that I want to avoid
spoiling), but what I can tell you is that it
involves a series of murders that take place at a
secluded apartment complex that seem to stem from
an occultic source.
script is nearly complete and we're hoping to get
things rolling towards the end of 2006. The
cast is largely made up of Splat Pack
members: Dana Leuth, Nathan Faudree, Anna
Bridgforth, Kelly Ray, Nicki McFarlane and many
others. Tony Urban will be producing and
Christopher Kahler will be handling scoring
duties once again.
an upcoming director I also want to hear you
feelings of on-site vs. computer-generated
really am very old school in my approach to
filmmaking and not one to use any
computer-generated imagery if I can help
it. Unless we're talking huge Hollywood
Blockbusters, I've often found that CGI can
really take me out of a picture if it's not done
just right - that's why I prefer my monsters and
gore effects to be latex rather than on computer.
for some fun. We are pulling the car into
the Shawn Hunt drive in --- What three horror
flicks are going to be playing on the triple bill
and what goodies are they going to be serving up
at the concession stand?
if you had pulled into my driveway
instead this past Saturday night, you
would've been treated to a triple feature of
Cronenberg's "Rabid" (1977), Romero's
"Martin" (1977) and Carpenter's
"The Fog" (1980), with a plate of hot,
Eggo waffles and a glass of milk. And
they say I don't know how to party! (laughs)
do you have anything else you would like to plug,
promote, or inform the www.racksandrazors.com readers about?
out www.crazyralph.com and come join us
in the forums. We're always on the lookout
for other horror buffs and indie filmmakers who
want to talk movies with us!
makes you go psycho in real life?
who keep their cars parked in their driveways and
blaring their bass! Either drive on or shut
the damn stereo off! (laughs)
scares you in real life?
my family - my biggest fear more than anything
else in the world.
also gotta know - what is a diehard Cubs fan
doing in North Carolina?
& Bears fan actually. (laughs). Long
story, but I'll just say that my grandfather was
born and raised in Chicago, so I'm just keeping
it in the family. That and I am a glutton
for punishment. Go Cubs (and Bears)!!!