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An Interview with David Black on getting his shorts on US Television

by Mike Haberfelner

June 2019

Films directed by David Black on (re)Search my Trash

 

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David with Tritia DeViSha

Only recently, several your shorts have started being shown on TV - so first of all, which movies are we talking about, and where can they be seen?

 

Hi Michael, thanks for having me as a guest on (re)Search My Trash. The first TV show in the USA to be showing my films is Sinema Obscura on CAN TV via cable in Chicago. In their current series, they are just showing the trailer for my upcoming feature film Badass Bunyip. In the next series though, theyíll be showing Life, Love and Death, Sex Robot and the Darkness Visible music video Inquisition.

 

My inclusion on Sinema Obscura came about through my short films being seen before main features at cinemas around the USA such as Roxy 14 in California, Filmscene in Iowa and Sinema Obscuraís own nights at the Logan Theatre in Chicago.

 

The other TV show that will be showing my films is Dr San Guinaryís Creature Feature on Fox KPTM 42.2 in Omaha. Theyíll be showing Malevolent Pursuit. The reason for them just choosing one film for now is that most of my others are too adult themed for broadcast TV.  I have more to submit over the next month or two, so in time, this should become a regular outlet for me.

 

So how did you get your movies on US-TV in the first place? And how big a deal is that for you as an Australian filmmaker?

 

Getting onto TV shows in the USA was a natural progression. Just two years ago, my first short film, Dark Night of the Zomboogies was shown at a few outlets, including a local indie movie night called Boogie Nights, The Warrandyte Film Feast festival, an Asian VOD site called Teeb TV, and the horror anthology Grindsploitation 666 via Body Bag Films and Troma . This early success got me thinking about what other outlets might be available for short films.

 

My first approaches to Australian TV and cinemas came up empty. The main Aussie community stations ask film makers to pay to go on air, as well as bring in sponsors. So as well as buying the air time off of them, you also have to be their defacto advertising salesman and find them businesses that will purchase advertising space. That might be acceptable for some, but I need my money and time to produce movies and canít do that while paying them for the privilege of being seen.

 

I got nowhere with the Australian cinemas either because most had sold the 15 minute block before the main films to a company that ran advertisements. This particular company has been doing that for decades and is a household name in here. The other stumbling block was that most cinemas said that I would have to get the shorts rated and thatís a time consuming and expensive process.

 

Due to the roadblocks here, my luck with getting onto TV and cinema in the USA means everything to me. As for how I got there, it was due to making contacts in getting my films shown on VOD, movie nights and included in anthologies.

 

What are the special demands for movies being shown on US-TV, on both an artistic and purely technical level? And does censorship play into this at all?

 

I had no problems with censorship for cable. Broadcast is different and most of my current films canít be shown on it. Iíll be writing my movies differently in the future so that they can be cut for broadcast, without destroying the story. Some of my films, such as Life, Love and Death and Sex Robot canít be edited because the premise itself is too adult. Future ones will be have more gore, sex and nasties so that they work better for cable, but the basic storyline itself wonít be adult.

 

Upcoming films will have things like monsters and psycho killers and can get as down and dirty as we can take it, but be able to get cut at the point where the gore or sex starts. We can then cut to victim reactions, or use stylisations. That way, we can make both markets happy.

 

I've read you're shooting some more shorts specifically for a TV show - so what are they going to be about, and does shooting for a show at all differ from just doing it for the art's sake?

 

All of my shorts are going to be made for TV, but also for all the existing outlets too. Iíll just be creating them so that they are able to be cut, as mentioned earlier. Every film will be submitted to the cinemas where Iíve already been shown in the USA and England, as well as to the TV shows and will be included on horror anthologies.

 

Making a film doesnít guarantee that it will be accepted by all of these outlets, however, if the film is good enough, it has a high chance of success because Iím slowly building a solid following.

 

With all that said, what would be your advice for up-and-coming filmmakers who want to break into the American TV market?

 

Most of the producers I see in Australia arenít making enough films. The most prolific seem to create just one movie every 6 -12 months and think that they have this great masterpiece that will make them famous. My advice is to stop being so precious. Stop over valuing your work. It looks pathetic to me when I see filmmakers promoting their two or three year old short again and trying to get people to come along to an indie movie night to see it.

 

You canít rest on just one or two movies. You have to get busy, making film after film in order to hone your skills and get product out there. If you manage to get your short onto any outlet, whether it be a cinema, TV show, V.O.D. site or anthology, then you need to have a second film ready to follow it up, while be working on the third. It takes more work to get onto one outlet than it does to maintain it.

 

Just to get a single place to show your product can take a week of research to find as many places as possible to approach, and then a further two weeks to approach them all. You might be lucky and get one yes from a hundred that actually replied to you. Why then leave it at that and have to start the process all over again in 6 or 12 months? Make enough product so that you can hold on to what you have and then build on that by reaching out to more places.

 

Horror House - photo by Gary Bradshaw

To get onto TV in the USA, I already had 15 short films finished. Only 1 of the 15 was accepted for broadcast at this stage, and only 2 for Cable. If I had only had one film, then it is likely that I would have been knocked back and that would have been the end of the story. The acceptance of these films though means that I now have a dialogue with these outlets and can adjust my next films to fit their shows better. The acceptance onto these two shows means that I now have a better chance at getting onto a third show.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share, for TV and otherwise?

 

I have a few being edited now. These include

Badass Bunyip - a shlocky gory feature film

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ynt-ifiDDAE

Horror House Ė a hosted horror show

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BEu9k0RHaQ

A Night at the Movies Ė Indie Style Ė a documentary on short movie nights

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UmsfpUrFPc

 

Your website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

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Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Weíve covered quite a lot Mike. Iíd like to just give a shout out to thank all those that have helped me along the way. There are too many to mention, but two of the people I work closest with, who I couldnít do any of this without are Tritia DeViSha [Tritia DeViSha interview - click here], who co stars in many of the films with me, and Glen Cook who not only appears in many of the films, but is the gaffer on most of them and has always been there to advise me on the technical aspects of movie making.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thanks for chatting to me again Mike.

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

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