What can you tell us about your upcoming movie Frost Bite?
Bite is one of the projects where you're like “this going to be a
nightmare” and then it turns out to only be a fun filled ride of
awesomeness! Frost Bite is about two things. One, zombies, and it's always
about zombies isn't it? And two, social interaction between humans after
the end of the world. SIDE NOTE: The apocalyptic genre is my favorite from
video games like Fall Out 3 and Rage to history of fallen civilizations. I
find the idea of the fall of mankind interesting. What's going to happen?
Where's it going to happen? When's it going to happen?
Frost Bite is about what happens when mankind has to fight
each other to stay alive as well as fight the undead. But the undead
eventually take a back seat. Once you figure out how to secure your
resources from the undead that issue is solved. But when humans become part of
the equation that's a different story. Humans are sneaky, ruthless, and
deceitful. They can make strategic plans to attack and kill. Zombies just
meander looking for food. The only danger is when they are in a hoard. So,
the survivors of the small town of Frost Bite have to fend off not only
zombies but a rather large group of raiders led by a religious zealot
named Regis. Eventually
I would like to expand on this story. Maybe with a part 2 at some point.
a zombie movie, is that a genre especially dear to you? And what can you
tell us about the brand of zombies populating Frost Bite?
think like everyone else I find zombies to be a great story line. I think
they tie us to the unknown of the afterlife. And it allows us to escape
into this world we all want to live. Where it's okay to kill things, a
lot! We all won't to live in a zombie apocalypse. Running around killing
the undead with hatchets, bullets, chainsaws, meat cleavers, crowbars,
eggbeaters, or anything else we can get our hands on.
Frost Bite the zombies are not exactly fast or slow. I didn't try to
segregate them from either lore. Some people like slow zombies and others
like fast running zombies. I wanted to take the approach that they are in
the frozen tundra, their blood is freezing, their muscle are freezing, so
they are slowing down. They are also a more blue or purplish in color. And I
wanted to make clotting on them more predominant. Not that you'll see that
at all but I know it's there. But there are special zombies in the film as
well. For example we took actress Zillah Watson and made her a puppet
zombie of sorts. Cheyenne Buchanan (Regis) choreographed for hours with
her. You'll have to see the
film to understand that of course. It's my favorite zombie in the film.
did you decide to shoot Frost Bite in Alaska, and to what extent have the
locations influenced your movie, not just storywise?
was headed to Alaska to see my family. My father was very sick and I
hadn't seen him in about ten years. I knew I was going there and I wanted
to not only see my family but maybe make a film. I started to think of the
vast backdrop to set the film against. The mountains, the snow, the empty
roads, and I thought zombies. And then I immediately thought of the film Dead Snow. So I was very hesitant at first. I know we are going to
be compared to that film and it's a great film. So, I hope we get the some
fans to like this one as well. I had some equipment I could bring but I
thought I would put out some feelers and see what happens. The response
was incredible. The first person I talked to was Beth Skabar, she is our
director of photography. She mentioned a ton of people who would be
willing to help. So after about a two months of planning we were ready to
brother Rob, was a big help as well. He lives in Talkeetna, a great little
town in Alaska. He was able to get us some great people. In fact the
entire film was crewed and cast in Alaska; all but myself and Andre
Reissig, who flew over from Germany, I can't explain how awesome every one
was. From Chris Pearson of Cubby's(a great grocery store on the spur) to
Amanda Randles who not only acted in the film as Pam but acted as our
liaison for the town. Once there, myself and Beth Skabar scouted locations
and found the best we could. Which wasn't hard with there being a chain of
mountains around you at all times. Originally the very end of the movie
was supposed to take place in a giant warehouse area that was supposed to
in the town of Frost Bite. But, again, the Pearson family (who own Cubby's) was a big help. We ended up using their store as the actual set
for Frost Bite. So Frost Bite the town is really a large store well
secured by a bunch of survivors. Which is why Regis wants in so bad. To
get all the goodies.
It was hard to not shoot everywhere we went. I wanted to
shoot everything and everywhere. Being from Florida it was contrast that
blew me away. We ended up using several iconic locations in Alaska. For
example the awesome Fairview Inn. They allowed us to shoot a nice little
zombie fight scene in there and we shoot a great scene on the frozen three
rivers in Talkeetna. It was great!
sources of inspiration when writing Frost Bite?
knew I wanted to created a parallel for human struggle. We're in a
universe where zombies exist but that can't be the only conflict. There
needs to be a human aspect to it as well. I don't want to sound like a
pompous writer here so I won't get too detailed on the method of writing but
when I start a story it doesn't take me long to finish it. I want to touch
on religion, life, death, and the struggle someone has to make to get
over the death of a loved one. Which sits heavily with me. Since my was
dying while we were shooting and unfortunately died shortly after we
can you tell us about your directorial approach to the subject at hand?
I love zombie
films. I'm pretty sure everyone does. My very first film ever was a short
titled Afterlife. It was a zombie action film of sorts. That was in 1999.
Then in 2007 I made Experiment 7, not exactly zombies but close. And I
followed that up with a novel titled The not so True Stories of Sam and
William. Who feature both in Afterlife and Experiment 7. These
characters will resurface in the future I'm sure. Dwight Cenac and I are
working on a Science Fiction comedy titled Warp Speed featuring these
guys. But when it comes to Frost Bite I wanted to look at the decline of
humanity after the fact. Zombies are around sure, but they're the least of
the threats. You have the cold, the hunger, and the actions of other
humans. Zombies are pretty straight forward. Move awkwardly in packs and
devour anything that moves. They can't sneak into your bastion in the
middle of the night and stab you to death. Humans can. That's a new threat
that hasn't been explored much in zombie films. Frost Bite is like
from New York with zombies.
few words about your cast and crew?
All of them!
Seriously though, they are great and super fantastic! I
couldn't be happier with the cast. Cheyenne Buchanan was one who just
knocked me over with his approach to Regis. I knew he was going to do
something spectacular when I watched his audition video. Then Cassandre
Leigh had sent me a video audition as well. She was great! I loved what
she did with Reagan. We ended up holding auditions in Talkeetna, which is
about two hours away from Anchorage. We had a hell of turnout. I was more
than surprised. Which leads me to the most awkward moments in the audition
process. After they were over I singled out a few key actors who were
great, one of them being Stephen Waalkes, title-holder for middle weight
in the MMA for UFC in Alaska. He's a bad ass squared but the nicest guy
you could ever meet. And good looking. Man, now that I think about, I hate
this guy! So, for the majority of the film his character (Chris, Reagan's
love interest) is shirtless for the last half of the film. So, I was like
“I love to give the role of Chris” and he was like “great!” and
then I said, “oh can I see your abs?” There was this moment where we
were both slightly uncomfortable. Then he slowly raised his shirt
saying “ooooohhhh kaaaayyyy”. So, yeah, that was weird.
Sterling was great as John Bannister as well. Bannister is our ex-marine
in the film who has huge amount of baggage as well. He's not exactly the
man he used to be and now he's trying to lead a bunch of not marines in
their survival of life and killing zombies.
There is a great dynamic between him and Regis which you will find
out later in the film. But the one who steals the show is little Dominic
Randle. This kid is great! And smart. The part was originally for a young
girl but Dominic came in and auditioned and I was like that's what we
need. So he won the role.
I couldn't have asked for a better cast all around.
Everyone was on their A game for sure. And the crew was great. What can
you say about the crew? From our producers to our editors. Which I would
like to announce we just hooked up with award-winning Johnny Brajdic of
Afterlife Media Effects for our post VFX! That's awesome! He will be
mastering the post effects.
When and where will
the movie be released, tentatively?
As of right now we will have the cast and crew
screening will be on February 3rd at 7:30 pm at the Arts Hangar
in Talkeetna, Alaska. For it being release we are unsure. I'm hoping we
can get picked up quickly. We'll see. Distribution is a tough and
stressful thing. But we're confident we'll get foreign and domestic
distribution for sure!
You are also about
to release your movie As Night Falls. Now what can you tell us
about that one?
Night Falls is a labor of love. It took me almost four years to get it
funded. I had met with several investors and various producers over that
time. At one point it almost went to Turkey to be shot. But, that was a
joke. No seriously. I had hired a team of producers to help get it financed. The original budget was something 350,000.00. These yahoos wanted
me to bump it up to 10 million. So, we did in hopes that maybe they had
their shit together. Not the case. So after about six months of nothing, I
fired them and took the project back. Insert Dwight Cenac and Crown
Productions. I had raised just over about have the funds and Dwight
stepped in and raised the finishing funds. Now it's screening all over and
The film is about a young woman named Elizabeth Croft (Deneen
Melody [Deneen Melody
interview - click here]) and her little sister Holly (Lily Cardone),
who move into
this farm house that has some bad history. History of people dying
inside it, on it, or around it. Then one fatal night, like always, they
are attacked by husband and wife ghost team, played by Debbie Rochon and
Micheal Ellison. All hell breaks loose and there's kick-ass action, sword play,
a van chase scene with a flying Debbie Rochon latched onto the outside of
the vehicle. And then when things can't get any worse, we threw in some
zombies to help even out the chaos. With the help of
Elizabeth's boyfriend Otto (Dwight Cenac) and her older brother
Charlie (Joe Davison) they just might make it through the night.
From what I've read, As Night Falls
seems to have a dark fairytale vibe to it. Would you like to comment on
It very well could be a fairy tale. One about a little
girl named Amelia (Grace Chapman) who is killed by her parents. Then the
parents die in a freak mine shaft accident leaving all three of them to
haunt the farm house. Only Amelia's part is to warn the newest residents to
leave. The film is very dark but has its comedic moments as well. And the
parents, well they're straight from hell for sure.
Your sources of inspiration for As Night Falls?
Honestly, I pulled from a friends house who lived out
in the middle of nowhere on a river side. Why back in one of the original
drafts the script had this river in it. But, when we met the Altman’s,
who own the farm we shot on, we were like, this is the place. Look at it.
So, we did some changes and rewrote a bit. And I love anything to do with
ghosts. I would have to say if any one thing creeps the hell out of me its
not knowing what's in the dark. So, I wanted to play with that a little.
We do a lot of what's that there? And did you hear that? But then was also
do a lot of “Holy Shit she's fighting ghosts with a sword!” It's
gonna be a fun ride for sure. I just want people to have fun and enjoy it.
can you tell us about your young leads Lily Cardone and Grace Chapman, what was it like
working with her, and a few words about working with children in general?
So, we were having auditions and we had auditions for
days. It was the last few actresses on the very last day. And this little
red hared girl walks in. She was so adorable and sweet and cute and
awesome! We talked for a bit about the character and how she wanted to
play her. So I ask if she needed the script and she was like “Nooooo.”
and I was like “Ooookaaaay.” As we started to read I missed a line and
she corrected me. She seemed to know the entire script. Everyone's lines.
I was blown away. And she was sassy! I asked her to stick around. I was
still waiting on the perfect Amelia to walk in. Then in walked Grace
Chapman. This other little sassy youngster. She was just as cute and
adorable as Lily. But Grace had long dark hair. And she looked just like
all the sketches I had done for Amelia. It was great! Then they read
together and it was eerie! Like they knew each other. I sat back with the
casting director and almost cried. I was that freaked out by these two
little show biz queens. Between the two of them they ran the set. Lily
always wanting chocolate and Grace always wanting Mountain Holla'! They
kept our craft people hopping for the entire shoot. Oh, and don't get me
started on the limos. They had to have their own limos. To and from set.
LOL! Nah, I'm kidding' these girls where the best. So amazing.
As Night Falls
also features a quite stellar genre cast, including Deneen
Melody [Deneen Melody interview -
click here], Debbie Rochon [Debbie
Rochon interview - click here], Raine Brown and Julie Anne. Now how
did you get all these women, and what was it like working with them?
Deneen Melody, Lily Cardone
Well, I started casting some two years ago. And Deneen
came to me through MySpace and a friend. We started talking and I sent her
the script. She did a video and sent it to me. It was funny as hell. I
knew I had to work with her. Raine Brown and I have been in like four
films together. Raine is like my little sister. I care for her greatly!
She's a joy to work with and loves to goof around. We had so much fun on
this and Timo Rose's Beast set. Debbie and I have also worked with Timo
Rose in Germany on Fearmakers. I love Debbie with all my heart. She is a
great friend and mentor. And she'll be straight with you. Or gay.
Depending on how you role. No, seriously. She is a world of wisdom. We
have spent hours and hours talking about everything from religion to
science. Julie Anne I met at auditions. She came in and blew us away. I
didn't really have a part for her. So I wrote one. I wrote the role of Olivia
for her. In the original script Dude (Tyler Cross) didn't have a
girlfriend. He just hung with his partner in crime Pennywise (Andre
Reissig) and got into trouble. But after meeting Julie Anne I wanted to
have her in the film. So, I wrote her in.
few words about the rest of As Night Falls' cast and crew?
The crew worked their asses off. Brian Bourke our DP is
so awesome. With our gaffer Andrew Ortowski the lighting is amazing. And
our editor Stu McLaughlin I think did a terrific job! I can't thank
everyone enough. Josh Long, Mike Long, our set designer Brittany Stevenson
who worked her ass off building an entire mine shaft and the one and only
Mr. Platinum for digging a hole the size of Texas in about two hours.
$64 question of course: When and where will the movie be out?
As Night Falls
will be out very soon. Hopefully in
theaters. Of course that's completely up to our distributors. We have no
control over that aspect of the film. But, let's just say it's in some
very nice hands as we speak.
go all the way back to your beginnings: How did you get into filmmaking to
begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
I started filmmaking in my backyard shooting comedy
sketches. Back then in 1994 we did a public access show titled The Side
Walk Cracks. Then I got into Improv comedy and did that for about ten
years. Then I got my first film out of Miami. That was so great. I
remember being on the plane and I was like I can't believe I'm being flown
to Miami to shoot a movie. It
was so great! After that it was a few short films, four of which were shot
in England. I still miss those guys. Then it was onto features. My first
feature was Unearthed. Directed by Craig Kovach. It starred Tom Savini and
myself playing detectives chasing dead bodies all over the city only to
lead to an Alien agenda with John Franz kidnapping Dr. Mallory Page (Kate
Kissingford) to find is missing artifact.
That film taught me a lot. What to do as a producer, what not to do
as a producer. If I knew then what I know now, we would have one hell of a
movie. That's for sure! But, I don't regret making our first film on a
shoe string budget. It was the best we could do for what we had.
to my information, you have done quite a bit of producing and
scriptwriting before actually directing your own movies. What can you tell
us about some of your movies not directed by yourself?
When I first started in film making I was eager to do what ever it
took to get into the industry. I was already writing scripts, poorly, but
still writing as much as possible. I remember sitting in my little room
inside the old trailer in the middle of the woods and pounding out scripts
on an old IBM think pad. We eventually destroyed that old trailer in a
short film titled Afterlife, it was a zombie film. And my first endeavor
into film making. I was the writer and producer. Noeland Collins was the
director. It would be several projects before I would step up and become a
through the ranks on set I slowly started to learn more and more. The
first real feature I got to produce was Unearthed with Tom Savini. That
was so much fun. But I learned so much on that film. Made a lot of
mistakes too. If I had only known what I know now. I learn a lot from
working with other directors and producers. There's a film company in
Clearwater named Chameleon Film Works and it's headed by Buddy Winsett,
he's a great producer and good friend. He is a mentor for me. A constant
source of advice and reassurance. I've also learned a substantial amount
from working the Pete Guzzo as well. Working on his higher end short films
and documentaries has given me a sense of a wider perimeter of film making
that might ´take some a long time to achieve. We had the privilege to work with
a techno crane and four RED cameras on one particular short film. That was
an amazing organization. And thankfully I was producer on that. Got to
work with a ton of great people on that film.
has a been a big help as well. Acting has lead me across the planet to
Germany, twice. I owe a lot to Ted Geoghegan of Staving Kappa Films for
those. He hooked me up with Timo Rose and now Timo and I are like
brothers. He's put me in two of his films. I love going over to Germany
and working with him and Andre Reissig, Andres Pape, and Tanja Karius. But
I also got to work with the lovely and talented Debbie Rochon, and Raine
Brown, and then there's Manoush...
can you tell us about your debut feature as a director Experiment 7,
and what convinced you to take the plunge and start directing?
Every person I met when I started working in film
wanted to direct. I never really did. I wanted to just write and act. Even
when I was doing improv comedy with The Charming Hooligans or The Caffeine
Kids. I never wanted to direct any of the sketches or shorts we did. But,
I was always guiding certain elements of it all. It wasn't until I was
crushed and had a series of some very unfortunately issues that I started
thinking about making Experiment 7. And I knew I wanted to direct it. I
knew what I wanted to see, I worked hard to get the film off the ground.
Our budget was modest to say the least. But, we managed to pull it
together and get it made. And now it's in Japan, UK, Ireland, and soon to
be Germany and here in the United States.
other films of yours you'd like to talk about, any future projects?
As Night Falls
just finished post post production. I say post post because it
had to go through two post production sessions as it were. It premiered at
a festival and we acquired a rep and he sent it out to some big name
distributors and they wanted to see some changes so we (Dwight Cenac) went
back into post and revamp some scenes. It happens all the time. So we
weren't too worried about the changes. So, now we wait to see what happens
and see who picks up the film.
most recently finished films are Frost Bite, a zombie horror film shot in
Alaska and Mr. Engagement, a romantic comedy shot in St. Pete. Those are
both in post production at the moment. They will both be hitting the
festival routes this coming season. Frost Bite premieres on February 3rd
in Talkeenta Alaska. No premiere set for Mr. Engagement as of yet.
Everyone keep an eye open for Cassandre Leigh, that girl is going to
launch into hyper stardom very soon.
am also currently producing a pilot episode of Johnny Brajdics new show
titled The Dark Hours. The pilot is titled Dead Buzz. The show is
the same vein as Tales from the
Crypt, Alfred Hitchcock
Presents, and Creepshow. Each episode is a stand alone. If our investor likes this one
we're going to do a full season with twelve episodes.
Then in January we start shooting Journey into Hell. A
fast paces action horror film set in the 1950s starring Cling Glenn, Alex
Vincent, Deneen Melody [Deneen Melody
interview - click here], Natalie Stavola, Joel D. Wynkoop [Joel
D. Wynkoop interview - click here], Jack Amos, and a slew of actors. This is will be my largest project to date.
also appear as an actor in not only your own movies quite regularly. What
can you tell us about Joe Davison, the thespian?
an actor in other films like Timo's (see above) I find it quiet rewarding.
I love being able to slip into another character for a while and explore
there inner demons, attitudes, and history. I like playing side characters
more then lead characters. I'm not a lead character. But, I am the buddy
who makes everyone laugh and I'm totally fine with that. And I love
playing off other actors. Dwight Cenac is one of the best actors I've
played off of. He and I can quickly start improving and we don't stop.
Timo is another one. He and I can get into a grove and just go. I can't
wait to have enough money to make a larger film and do some really stupid
things in it with these guys. On a side note, Deneen Melody fits right in
there with us. She can dish out some great improv. She loves having fun
and she doesn't mind getting dirty. I recently met a great actress by the
name of Natalie Stavola. It has been a great pleasure working this girl.
an actor you like people you play off of and Natalie is one of those
people just like Dwight, just like Timo, and just like Deneen.
directing, producing, acting and whatever else - which parts of filmmaking
do you prefer, which could you do without?
I would rather produce and direct. Writing is a given.
I love writing. Short stories, scripts, or novels you name it. But I feel
there's more action in producing and directing. If I can produce a buddy's
film I'm all over it. It's fun for me. I love the business side of film
making. The marketing, finalizing posters, stills, and press releases.
That's the moment you want to achieve. When your product is finished you
can market the shit out of it. However, on our lower end financing budgets
you don't always have the ability to market like a larger film production
but it's still just as fun. When it comes to directing I love the story
outline part of it. Time lines and story boarding. Putting the images on
page for the first time is a wonderful feeling. Organizing with crew and
cast is a blast as well. You become a small family for a while and when it's over you really start miss the people. Acting you don't always get
that feeling. You show up for a day or two try to fit in but mostly focus
on your craft and then you're gone. The crew side is where its at!
In all of
your films you never stray too far from the horror genre - a genre
especially dear to you, and why?
love horror. The dynamic and textures of it. Creating a world of terror
for characters and pushing them through the torment. But, I love comedy as
well. I was fascinated with movies live Puppet
Master, Demonic Toys, Netherworld, and well anything
Full Moon was pushing out. I had all
their posters on my wall in my room. My parents thought I was nuts! Ghoulies was a huge inspiration for me. And films like
Critters. My father
would let me stay up on Saturday nights and watch Elvira or
USA Up All Night. On Saturday mornings I would watch Dr. Paul Barer, that was my
favorite show, and that's where I found some real gems. But, I never
wanted to go campy with it. I like the Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi style
of delivery. It was ridiculous that these insane things were happening to
people but it was dealt with in a real world setting. It may have been
over the top but the characters where grounded.
I love the horror genre. Recently however I have been
toying with the fact of leaving it and trying to move more toward
comedies, or straight up low end action drama indies. But, the more I
think about the more I can't let go of those reins. And I love horror
conventions like Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors or Spooky
Empire. There is
no better fan base then the horror fan base. And I don't want to let those
fans down. Once they back you they stay with you regardless if your film is
a huge hit or it bombed. And I like that feeling. Much like the cast and
crew the fans are family as well.
Directors who inspire
I started making films because of Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson. Now,
I'm talking 1994. Not the recent Spider-Man or Lord of the Rings
directors. But, that just proves my point. Back then I was inspired and
watching them and I continue watching them as they rose to make those
films I only want to get better as I go and achieve that kind of success.
But, I'm also inspired by Kevin Smith and that Smith Universe he has
created, and guys like James Gunn. And forever, the Coen Brothers.
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Evil Dead 2, Hell
House, Slither, Ghostbusters, The Princess Bride, Clue,
Dead Alive, Kate and Leopold, every King Kong ever!
The Incredibles, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Unborn, Exorcist,
Amityville Horror, The Empire Strikes Back,
Raising Arizona, and Tremors and the new Star Trek and
... and of
course, films you really deplore?
The Room, Friday the 13th
Part 8, Leonard Part 6, Aliens vs Predators, Dream
Catcher, The Stand-mini series, holy
shit that's so horrible - Devil with a mullet and a denim suit, never go
double denim, and anything with Rosie Perez (except Pineapple Express).
Facebook, whatever else?
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I don't think so. Just keep an eye out for
Journey into Hell, Frost Bite, and As Night Falls.
It was awesome! Thank you sir!
Stay bloody folks!