Your new movie Impact Event
- in a few words, what is it about?
is a character study revolving around three people who gather as a
meteor is about to hit the world. The first part of the story follows them
in the moments before and immediately following the meteor strike; then it
fast-forwards seven months later as the insanity of isolation and the end
of society settles in! It is a slow burn with an explosive ending.
With Impact Event
being a post apocalyptic thriller, is that a genre at all dear to you, and
some of your genre favourites?
a kid, movies like The Road
Warrior, Night of the Comet, Dawn of the
Dead and Escape from New York were in heavy
rotation on cable, so I watched those pretty regularly and they most
certainly have served as inspiration for the roads I have traveled as a
filmmaker. During the 80s, the
threat of nuclear war sometimes seemed imminent, so my pre-teen brain
looked at these movies as a type of survival guide as well!
(Other) sources of
inspiration when writing Impact
primary source of inspiration for Impact Event
was the location. I had
access to this incredible location in central California and constructed
the story from there.
You just have to talk about Impact
Event's main location, the funhouse for a bit, and what was it
like filming there? And why a funhouse in the first place?
bulk of the movie was shot on location in Sanger, CA at Hobb’s Grove –
a seasonal haunt with a haunted forest, a haunted house, a hayride and
other attractions. A few years back, I had used part of the location for
another project, which led to shooting a short documentary about the
location. For years, I had wanted to shoot a feature with this place as
the centerpiece, and then the idea of Impact Event
came to me. I
approached the folks at Hobb’s Grove and we moved forward from there.
didn’t have to do a whole lot of set dressing. For the most part, it was
a “what you see is what you get” approach and we made use of the
various rooms, props and scares already in place.
Much of the movie was shot in close quarters and hot summer days
over a hundred degrees.
I first started developing the story, the location was already secured, so
I had a lot of familiarity with what would be available to us. I didn’t
want to just do a haunted house movie or chop ‘em up horror movie, which
were a couple of the ideas I was originally toying with. I thought it
would be fun to take the idea of post-apocalyptic tale but turn the tables
a bit. Usually, the antagonistic group (cannibals, zombies, raiders) are
chasing after the protagonists and putting them on the defensive. I
thought, with this location, our heroes will lure them in and go on the
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
do what I can to get a natural performance from the actors and something
that feels right for them. Actors put so much work into indie projects
like this. We were careful to avoid long days, but with the time
constraints we had on principal photography, there were a lot of
expectations on the actors being ready to go and ready to nail their
I direct, I always want to get it the way I have first mapped a scene out
so I know I am covered. Then I always try to take the “is there
something else you want to try” approach and let the actors cut loose
with their own ideas.
Do talk about Impact
Event's key cast, and why exactly these people?
three core members of the cast, Jed Rowen [Jed
Rowen interview - click here], Chris Giese and Tasha Tacosa,
were all approached before I even wrote the script. I had worked with Jed
and Chris previously and I had seen Tasha’s work, so I was very familiar
with each of their acting styles. I
wrote the initial script with these three actors in mind.
open calls, Remmy Jones and Windy Hamiltona auditioned. I really liked
what they brought to the audition and I completely re-worked the roles to
accommodate two young female actors rather than the 30-something male
roles originally in the screenplay.
AHEAD – the scene where one of those characters gets shot in the head,
was originally written as a goofy comedic moment, but this changes
drastically when you swap out a 30-something unhinged male for a grounded
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
people, the places and the overall atmosphere were incredible. It was a
positive and fun shoot from start to finish and everyone was really
excited to be on set and working together. The most difficult aspect was
the July weather in Sanger at the time. I think we had three days in a row
of hundred- and six-degree weather, so we broke up most of the shooting
and did mornings and evenings.
was one of those experiences where a lot of friendships emerged and many
of us have continued to work together again or are planning to do so in
the very near future.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Impact
isn’t a movie for everyone. It is very much a character study and how
people would respond in the situation. And while it isn’t straight up
satire or comedy, it is a slow burn, not just into insanity, but into the
far, people who seem to appreciate those elements have been extremely
positive. I think as long as people understand this is a micro-budget
movie with limitations, they can really get behind the experience. People
expecting it to compete with a 300-million-Dollar superhero movie are
likely to be disappointed!
hey, it has Michael Berryman, Vernon Wells, Richard Grieco and Margaret
O’Brien. To be able to work with actors like those, and bring them in
for a day or two to work on an indie, is really a special experience for
me as a filmmaker and for the actors who get to share scenes with them.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
Always! We are currently in production of
Social Distance. Guess what that
movies about? It’s being shot at a distance during this time of
quarantine. Yes, we are in production! The story follows a public
relations team for a cruise line after they’ve had multiple COVID-19
outbreaks on their vessels. The team is trying to save the company’s
reputation from afar! As the story evolves, the characters devolve into
betrayal, conspiracy theories, and madness!
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
grandfather gave me an 8mm camera when I was a kid and I’ve been doing
this in one form or another ever since. My bachelor’s degree is in Media
Arts and my master’s degree is in English Literature. My first industry
job was as a camera operator and editor at a local television station
while in college. I’ve been at it for a while now. I try to always
approach projects with a fresh perspective and open mind in an effort to
continually grow and learn as a filmmaker.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Impact
I’ve had a lot of unique opportunities over the
course of my career. I worked at a film finishing house specializing in
trailers and titles for a while back in the 90s, where we worked on some
big movies, but I decided that the day-to-day intensity of the industry
wasn’t my speed. I prefer a more relaxed and laid-back lifestyle where
things around me can move at a slower pace. I went into education and
publishing and really focused on my writing and made the occasional short
film. I also started and ran a film festival for 10 years in Huntington
Beach, giving me the incredible experience of watching thousands of
once the digital era of filmmaking emerged, things began to change. It
became realistic for indie filmmakers to make a high-quality movie on a
limited budget. I shot my first feature film in 2004 on DV and have been
working as a filmmaker and editor pretty consistently ever since.
Going through your filmography, one can't
help but notice that you hardly ever stray too far from horror - is that
at all a favourite genre of yourse, and why (not)?
is absolutely one of my favorite genres to watch and to work in for a few
reasons. I think it is an incredibly creative genre where filmmakers and
actors are able to take chances and try new approaches. And, for us indie
filmmakers, the horror audience is often more understanding of the
limitations of smaller budget projects.
would you describe yourself as a director?
storyteller, I suppose. A player’s coach!
who inspire you?
look to for inspiration are John Carpenter, John Singleton, Carl Franklin,
Sam Raimi, S. Craig Zahler – people who tend to tell a story their way.
Your favourite movies?
is always a tough question for me to answer and always a question people
expect me to have a ready-made answer for, but I really don’t know. I
have too many favorites to narrow it down. I can appreciate the artistry
of The Godfather, Shawshank Redemption, High Noon and just about anything
on the AFI top 100 list, just as much as I can an entertaining horror
movie or comedy. I love a movie like Bone Tomahawk and how unique and
different it is just as much as I appreciate a Dodgeball type movie that
can make me laugh every time I watch.
Did I answer the question? Probably not!
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I try to avoid labeling any movie as such. I think there is an
audience and appreciation for just about everything.
movie's website, social media, whatever else?
home base for most of my work is at https://koaalohamedia.com
and on social media Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
@koaalohamedia as well.
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
also do a lot of beach, water, surf and sunset photography. If anyone is
looking for some pleasant pictures during these days of quarantine, head
on over to the website or any of the social media and enjoy some relaxing
scenic shots during these crazy days!
for the interview!
Thank you! I truly appreciate the time.