Thirty-something North Carolina inhabitant Shawn Hunt is the cinematic barker at Funhouse Pictures -- the man with his name on the door and his scrawl on the checks. Funhouse, a subsidiary of Crazy Ralph Pictures, is coming full force onto the indie horror scene like Betsy Palmer with a butcher knife.

Shawn is the writer/director/editor of ‘The Shrieking’ (currently in post-production). This is Shawn’s first full-length feature and it stars Splat Pack regulars (and interviewees) Kelly Ray, Nathan Faudree, Anna Bridgforth, Dana Leuth, and Logan Hunter. Shawn has also done the director/writer/editor thing for the vampire short ‘Midnight Snack’ (scored by the amazing Christopher Kahler who also did the soaring scare-score for ‘Klownz’) and ‘A Spider Beside Her’. In addition he’s also acted as executive producer for the Crazy Ralph feature ‘Hunting Season’, the upcoming ‘Psycho Cheerleaders’, and the Tim Ritter short film ‘The Burn’. (On a more somber note – Shawn Hunt is also a Chicago Cubs fan.)

Damn -- when this man arrives he really arrives! And he has arrived just in time for this exclusive interview.



  Hi Shawn, lets start this sucker off with a visual.  Can you describe the room where you are doing this interview for the readers?

I'm 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.

I want to hear about 'The Shrieking'.  As director/writer/editor of the movie what was it you wanted to create with this film?

Well, 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).

So do you think Bigfoot exists or is a Big Legend?

I 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)

Do 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.

Of 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?

If 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. 

As 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.

Speaking 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?

One 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.

We 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.

'The 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 come about?

Funhouse 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 ground.

Once 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.

While "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.

I also want to hear about the "mission statement" of Funhouse Pictures.

One 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.

As 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 Shrieking'?

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.

Tell me a little about the upcoming movie 'Psycho Cheerleaders' that you are going to be producing?

I 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.

I 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?

"Demoniac" 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.

The 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.

As an upcoming director I also want to hear you feelings of on-site vs. computer-generated effects.

I 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.

Time 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?

Well, 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)

Shawn, do you have anything else you would like to plug, promote, or inform the readers about?

Check out 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!

What makes you go psycho in real life?

Neighbors who keep their cars parked in their driveways and blaring their bass!  Either drive on or shut the damn stereo off!  (laughs)

What scares you in real life?

Losing my family - my biggest fear more than anything else in the world.

I've also gotta know - what is a diehard Cubs fan doing in North Carolina?

Cubs & 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)!!!