Your upcoming webseries Miskatonic West - in a few words,
what's it going to be about?
H.P. Lovecraft's Miskatonic University has a West Coast campus. That's
the basic premise. So, in this world, everything H.P. Lovecraft wrote about exists, and Miskatonic U is a real place that opened a West Coast
satellite campus. Professor Sousaku Kaos is the head of Biology, who's
Okinawan village was destroyed by a mysterious evil Lovecraftian force
when he was a child. He is also a consultant for the LAPD on cases of
interest. An X-Files of sorts. Unlike
X-Files, the majority of these cases
are hoaxes or fake. The series starts with a case that is real. It leads
to the Esoteric Cult of Dagon and a plot to conquer the world with an army
of Deep ones. Kaos recruits a few of his students, and his contact at the
LAPD, to foil the Cult's plans to awaken the Elder God, Dagon.
Your series is inspired by
the writings of H.P. Lovecraft - care to elaborate?
His monsters and certain events from his short stories are real events
in the series. The whispers of Herbert West reanimating a dead corpse are
true. There were alien civilizations that ruled the Earth hundreds of
millions of years ago. Some of these civilizations were lead by creatures
of tremendous size and power, like Dagon, Hydra and Cthulhu.
I love monsters, I have since I was a very young boy. Lovecraft's
personal style of writing sets up the character's environment and
emotional life specifically in the face of encounters with such monsters.
In his stories the actual encounter is often a sentence or two. I've had
to go back and reread the encounter, it happens so fast, but it's real
cause he's set it up. When my co-creator, Noah James Butler - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3676222/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
came to me with the idea to do a web series based on those writings, I
jumped. He wanted to capture the psychological trauma that Lovecraft
portrayed in the face of these encounters. A kind of disbelief that
creatures like this exist, even though you are witnessing them first hand.
sources of inspiration for Miskatonic West?
great genre films of the late seventies and early eighties. They all
concentrated on being visually and emotionally real, yet they couldn't
rely on CGI, so they had to work to make a quality piece of cinema. Alien
and it's use of shadow to hide the xenomorph is a major source of visual
inspiration. It's what you don't see that's scary. The Thing. The
Blade Runner. Close Encounters. All focused on being real while taking
care to create visual poetry.
can you tell us about the series' intended look and feel?
want to be more suspenseful than gory. Scary. Things coming out of the
dark. We intend on being emotionally honest, with a sense of humor.
Elements of college drama, West Coast cop show and supernatural episodic.
We want things to feel real and really accentuate the insanity of monsters
on H.P. Lovecraft" by itself already suggests quite some special
effects - so what can you tell us about yours?
film making. We actually have a very talented make up fx person attached, Laura Lieffring
We're going to put a sizeable portion of the budget into the makeup
effects, then show it only when we really have to. Use in camera strategic
lighting, camera tricks and good old fashioned filmmaking to make it seem
realer than it is. Then implement just enough CGI to fill in the gaps and
specify certain elements. It should be fun. I'm really amped by the
challenge of making low budget original genre filmmaking that looks
effing real. I'm a big believer in in-camera monsters, made to look even
more real with CGI. I just won Outstanding Production Value at the
Laughlin International Film Festival for the short film What Future
We did it on a modest budget, so I feel pretty confident we can pull it
Lisa Hori Garcia
you can tell us about your projected cast yet, and why exactly these
Ken Narasaki will be playing Professor Kaos - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0621238/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1.
Ken is a veteran actor of TV and film. I knew Ken and felt he was very
right for this unique role, so he read for it and really captured what we
were looking for.
Lisa Hori Garcia will be playing Kaos' number one student. She is in
the teaser on the Kickstarter page. She is a member of the San Francisco
Mime Troupe. Noah knew her from his days in San Fransisco. He felt she was
right, so she auditioned and was perfect.
We have a casting person to help us with the rest of the casting. For
this first episode, there will be Kaos, three students and the monster.
Miskatonic West is as of yet in its
fundraising stages - so what can you tell us about your fundraising
It's been an amazing experience connecting to the
community of Lovecraft, monsters and horror. This is the first time
running a fundraiser for a project, so it's pretty new. We have an angel
investor who is willing to put in half if not more, but we still have a
long way to go to get to half. We definitely need all the help we can get.
Once your funds are raised, what's the schedule
... and any idea when the film might be released onto the general public
yet (and I know it might be waaayy too early to ask)?
shooting the inaugural episode of the webseries in January. We will have
it go viral, then take that to production companies who do webseries to
fund an entire season. We are also prepared to pitch it as a TV show as
future projects beyond Miskatonic West you'd like to share?
I'm writing a script for my mother, Oscar nominated June Squibb, and
Margo Martindale of The Millers.
I have a horror script called Black Nile that was a
finalist in multiple contests. That's about a journalist embedded with a
squad in the last month of the Iraq War who find a hidden bunker full of
undead mutants. She believes it's a bioweapons lab created by terrorists,
when it's actually controlled by an American company.
I am aiming to get my first feature film into production by next year.
I'm working on scripts for that, among other projects I'm developing, both
film and TV.
I mostly do horror/scifi/fantasy, and indie character pieces. Giant
Monsters and superheroes are my passion.
got you into filmmaking to begin with?
As you saw, my
mother is June Squibb. My father was an acting teacher. I grew up in NYC
with them, so I was exposed to a lot of films and high quality theater. I
realized I had a real talent for cinema in high school. I went to the
University of New Hampshire for Theater, then came back to NYC and made
short films and theater until I came to LA in the mid two thousands. I was
hired to write a horror/scifi movie of the week soon after I got here.
What can you tell
us about your filmwork prior to Miskatonic West, and your evolution
as a director?
I went to the New York Film Academy, then
teamed with DP, Derek Rittenhouse - http://www.spectrepictures.com
- to make his junior and senior thesis films when he went to School of
Visual Arts. Later We made a PSA for
moveon.org's Bush in 30 Seconds contest in 2004. We got the second most
votes and went to their event to name the winner. Since I've been in LA,
my most accomplished work has been Admission" starring James
Cromwell - http://www.admissionsfilm.com.
That's about an Israeli couple and Palestinian who meet in the entrance
way to the afterlife. It won several awards. Most recently has been What
Future, mentioned above.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Kurosawa, Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Sergio Leone, Stanley
Kubrik, Terry Gilliam, the Coen Brothers. Classic filmmakers who made
lasting work. A lot of their films had action or genre elements. Heavily
influenced by Japanese genre film like kaiju and samurai films. They are
often very well shot and composed.
Empire Strikes Back, Fisher
King, Yojimbo, Alien,
The Thing, The Godfather, Brokeback Mountain, Batman
Begins, Jaws, Close Encounters, Saving Private
Ryan, Once Upon a Time in
China, Braveheart, Dragonslayer, Galaxy Quest,
The Big Lebowski, 1977
King Kong, Ingloorious Basterds, 12 Years a Slave, Wall-E, Romero's
Dawn of the Dead,
Casino Royale. I like when big spectacle movies have brains
and a heart. This year was a pretty good year. I really liked the new X-Men movie.
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Anything that's cheap, boring and insults my
intelligence. The Transformers movies. Not a fan of Man of
Your/your series' website, Facebook,
Kickstarter, whatever else?
Twitter: @HarryKakatsakis and @miskatonicwest
Anything else you are dying
to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
think of anything.
for the interview!