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An Interview with Jeremy Crowson, Co-Creator, Co-Director of Paranormalice

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2014

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Your upcoming movie Paranormalice - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Hypocrisy of the social conscience, and karmic justice. Or did you mean on the surface? Itís about a writer who goes looking for a particular story of a paranormal legend in a small Alabama town and discovers that his destiny has been entangled with this legend all along.

Through the anthology we have creepiness, excitement, some sexiness, some gunfire, some really strong female leads, and blood. A good bit of blood. But this is far from being a slasher. Itís really a drama with horror elements, which is why we refer to it as a ďsouthern gothicĒ tale.

 

How did the project get off the ground to begin with?

 

When Daniel L. Bamberg [Daniel L. Bamberg interview - click here] brought me the script I knew we had a story that would both entertain people and make a social point. To me, thatís what movies should do, so I ran with it and we started gathering people who wanted to help. The response of filmmaker friends and actors was fairly overwhelming, and before we knew it we had something a lot bigger than we first intended. Someone would read the script and get excited, tell friends about it, theyíd get excited, tell friends about it, and so on.

 

You of course have to talk about your co-conspirator Daniel L. Bamberg for a bit, and what's your collaboration on the project like? And how did you two first hook up to begin with?

 

Daniel and I went to high school together, and thatís not in a Ronin reference CIA sort of way. Weíve known each other for over 20 years, but hadnít worked together on anything until last year when he asked me about producing another script of his, which happens to be one of the Mosswood-Trilogy. The more we discussed it, the more we realized we should do this anthology first, so we sort of reconstructed parts of it to make things work. To test out our ability to actually work together, I produced a short that he wrote and directed, also (Is This You?), which we shot in December, and it recently screened at Sidewalk Film Festival to a good reception.

We work very well together, really. We have similar ideas of where we want to go, down the road, and know each other well enough that we can be honest about things and not piss the other one off. Heís really the heart of the collaboration, and while he certainly isnít without brain, thatís really my job. He keeps us on vision; I keep us on practicality and budget.

 

Do talk about your segment in the movie for a bit, as in what's it going to be about, what can you tell us about its intended look and feel?

 

Sirens of Blackwoods was inspired by the classic Connell tale The Most Dangerous Game, with a sprinkling of some old German folklore added for flavor. Thatís not to say itís derivative, though. Itís focused around some unscrupulous characters that all have ulterior motives. One of Paranormaliceís most memorable characters, Radatat (played by Dallas Taylor), will leave people shocked and laughing.

As for the look and feel, Iíve always been a fan of dark and shadowy forests. Thereís a natural fear of the unknown, and the mystery of what lies in the deep shadows of the woods can really screw with your head. I want to bring the audience into the woods with the characters as much as possible, and give them that sense of being stalked by a predator that Iíve experienced as a backpacker in mountain lion country.

 

What can you tell us about the other directors of your anthology, and what made them perfect for the job?

 

Going in order, Daniel Emery Taylor (The Hospital) definitely has the horror chops to pull off Evil She. Chuck Hartsell (Hide and Creep) has the skill to handle the subtleties that About the Neighbor requires. Daniel L. Bamberg [Daniel L. Bamberg interview - click here] obviously wrote the whole thing, and his closeness to The Virgin Witch makes his vision of it imperative. Doing Sirens of Blackwoods seemed logical for me, as it has lots of gunplay, and Iím our usual firearms expert for other projects. Justin West and Scooter Lee are directing the frame narrative Mosswood Motel because theyíre pretty cool guys we wanted to give a shot because weíve liked their music videos. Justin and Scooter also did the teaser promo thatís posted on the IndieGoGo page, and we think it looks awesome.

 

Is there any overall visual theme to your movie, and how much freedom is each of director given for his segment, stylistically?

 

Weíve decided to go with a single director of photography throughout, which should help glue it together stylistically. So, within the freedoms allowed of him saying ďnoĒ to elements that would totally clash, the directors are allowed as much of their own vision and style as they can squeeze into it.

 

What can you tell us about your key cast, and why exactly these people?

 

We have a great cast. When we put the casting call out there, we had only a few people who we already had in mind for certain roles. The casting process was tedious in a good way, being that we got so many fantastic auditions. We were forced to make some tough calls, picking good versus good, instead of ďwell, thatís better than the other crap we gotĒ as is so often the case on smaller projects. People like Paula Marcenaro Solinger (Blood Sombrero, Salem) [Paula Marcenaro Solinger interview - click here], Nicole Kruex (After the Dawn, Faux), Jim OíRear (The Dead Matter, The Hospital) [Jim O'Rear interview - click here], Wanda Morganstern (iMagine, The Lost Footage), Scott Tepperman (Id: Donít Look in the Basement 2, Ghost Hunters International), Dallas Taylor (The Possession Experiment, Blood Type) Ö and many other great actors, have all been hugely supportive. Everyone we cast had that certain something that just made them that character.

 

It would appear that your movie needs rather specific locations - anything you can tell us about that aspect of Paranormalice yet?

 

Thatís been tricky. Some sets, such as the early 1800ís town for The Virgin Witch, definitely require a particular look. Weíve been very lucky so far in finding locations that are as perfect as we could ask to find. There have also been a few hiccups, as is expected, but overall weíve really found some great locations and cooperative property owners.

 

As far as I know, your film is presently still in its fundraising stages - so what can you tell us about your fundraising efforts?

 

We are partially funded. Itís been a long and tough road. As one tweet I saw recently said, ďFilmmaking is like pushing a rock up a hill, and the hill is on fire, and the rock may suddenly disappear.Ē That really sums up the funding process, which is always the hardest part of making a movie. We are still talking to potential investors, and have launched an IndieGoGo that we hope will find enough support soon (two weeks left now) to help us be able to make this film in the way it deserves. Weíve attempted to set up the IndieGoGo with good, creative, and unusual incentives even at lower levels. Even the $10 slot gets more than just a ďthank you.Ē Thatís always annoyed me about crowdfunding, when filmmakers offer just some piddly junk or nothing at all for people who canít contribute more than $50. Times are tight, but there are still plenty of people out there who want to support art and artists, even if they can only chip in $10 or $20. We want to be sure those people get more than a pat on the back, and actually feel like they got something for their money. They are the heart of it. They are the audience. Theyíre why weíre making this thing. So everyone donate!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/paranormalice-a-southern-gothic-anthology

 

Once your funds are raised, how do you plan to proceed, and any idea when and where your film will be released onto the general public?

 

We are actually proceeding now, with partial funding. Itís a gamble, but we are laying it out there and are determined to make it happen. If all goes according to plan and funds come through, we will wrap production before November. We arenít sure yet when it will be released (hopefully mid to late 2015), but the initial premiere will definitely be in Birmingham, Alabama. The creative community here is very supportive of each other. Besides, itís set in a fictional Alabama town, so where else would we do it?

 

Is it right that Paranormalice is only the first film of a planned trilogy - if yes, what's to expect of the other films, and to what extent will the movies be interlinked?

 

Yes, thatís true. It wasnít initially planned as such, but as we developed it, we realized how the story could be tweaked here and there to give it much more depth. Now we have the plot arcing across all three films as a proper trilogy, carrying some key characters through, and revealing more and more secrets of Mosswood along the way. The second film has already been penned, and will be a traditional (non-anthology) feature. The third we are already developing and it promises a big and exciting resolution to all the twists and threads weíre establishing in both Paranormalice and the second film.

 

(Other) future projects you'd like to share?

 

Besides the other two Mosswood films, Suncrow Productions has in the hopper a few other features, not the least of which is a fantastic thriller written by our director Chuck Hartsell. Iíve actually already attached a few great actors, but like everything else that needs more than a fistful of dollars to get going, funding is the issue. Iím also writing a feature myself, which I will add to said hopper when itís done.

 

What got you into the filmworld to begin with?

 

Iíve always loved movies, and when I was in Junior High one of my classes had a special project to make a short film. We broke up into groups, and my group spent a weekend with my dadís VHS camcorder and lots of sugary snacks coming up with a movie on the spot. It was tons of fun, and exhausting. Since then, I wanted to get into film more seriously. In 2010, my friend Chuck asked me to run sound on his short Transfers since I had a background in mixing audio for music and events. I was hooked even harder after that weekend, and people around town kept calling me to help with their films as the sound guy, then for mixing, then sound FX work, and so on. The more I learned what I was doing the more I wanted to do even more. Now Iíve found myself as a producer on a feature zombie comedy (Red Season) and Paranormalice. So, who knew?

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Paranormalice?

 

Mostly sound work as production mixer, post mixer and editor, sound FX editor, etc. Iíve worked mostly on horror and sci-fi type films. One that wasnít was actually a dark comedy from writer/director Yuri Shapochka called Clubhouse. It starred Leslie Easterbrook (The Devilís Rejects, Halloween [2007]), Christopher Murray (Just Cause, General Hospital), and Tim Abell (Soldier of God, Mercenaries). I really got some great experience there by being able to work with so many professionals. They were all fantastic! That film has gone on to win the grand prize at two major festivals.

 

From what I've read, your segment in Paranormalice will be your first movie as a director - so what made you try your hand at directing, and how do you plan to approach your job?

 

Basically Daniel talked me into it after I mentioned considering directing something one day. It occurred to me that one of my faults as a producer on set is sometimes interjecting too much of my own opinion about shots and story mechanisms into the process. I realized I was pretty much co-directing without meaning to. So, I figured, letís go at it on purpose this time! My approach? Story first, and remember itís a visual medium and tell as much of that story as possible through imagery. And allow the actors to become the characters without being too concerned with the specifics of the dialog. A natural and believable delivery in performance is more important to me that getting every word of the script perfect. Also, argue with the producer as much as possible (which will be Daniel, as our roles will reverse on that segment).

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

Thatís a long list, and Iím bad with names, even famous ones. And each has a different reason for being on the list. So just a few in no particular order: Brian De Palma, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, John Carpenter, Frank Darabont, Clint Eastwood, Terry Gilliam, and as a writer, John Milius. Plus, almost anyone out there who can pull off a low budget film that doesnít suck. Thatís inspiring in itself.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Again, no particular order Ö The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ronin, The Untouchables, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Star Wars, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, Pulp Fiction, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Fandango, 28 Days Later, Predator, Ö this could take all day so Iíll stop.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 


I tend to put those out of mind, so itís harder to come up with a list. The ones that piss me off are the ones I try to like because I think itís a cool premise, then are so bad I canít make myself keep watching past act one. That said, anyone who can complete a film gets my respect. Itís a tough journey, and even the best films have problems.

 

Your/your movie's website, Facebook, IndieGoGo, whatever else?

 

https://www.facebook.com/paranormalice

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/paranormalice-a-southern-gothic-anthology

https://www.facebook.com/SuncrowProductions

 

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

 

Feeling lucky ?
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USA  amazon.com

Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)  amazon.co.uk

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Something naughty ?
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x-rated  find Jeremy Crowson at adultvideouniverse.com

Well itís unrelated to this, but I have just self-published a book for micro-budget filmmakers who want to learn how to get good production sound, which is where most small projects seem to struggle. Itís written for non-sound-people to learn just what they need and not feel like theyíre going to sound engineer school. Good Sounds Easy, available on Amazon now at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/
1500529281/researmytras-20

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank you! This has been interesting and enjoyable, trying to think of answers. ;)

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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