Your new movie Son
of Ghostman - in a few words, what is it about?
pays homage to 1980ís romantic comedies
with heart, similar
to the ones John Hughes made so indelible. Our story is
about a recently
dumped and unemployed man who moonlights as the 'son' of
hero, a horror host named Ghostman. When his videos go
viral, he must settle
an old score, while keeping his identity secret from the
new woman he's fallen
question (well, at least for all who aren't die-hard horror fans): Why
make a horror host the center of your story, and your take on horror hosts
to begin with?
I adore horror hosts, both big and small. I think what
they do is so strange, and
yet thatís what makes them beautiful. It takes a certain
type of person to wake
up in the morning and decide to put on monster makeup and
sketches. For the most part, theyíre not famous. These
are creative people with
a day job. They do it for the love and itís because itís
who they are. I thought
this would make a fantastic metaphor for the kind of
themes I wanted to
explore - insecurity about the future, growing up, staying
true to yourself, and
making people happy.
(Other) sources of inspiration when
writing Son of Ghostman?
And how much of yourself do you find in your lead character Denny?
From a story standpoint, early John Hughes and Cameron
monumental influences on what I try to do today. I find
something so sweet
about their work, and yet they donít go over the line
into sappiness. Their
stories have universal appeal. From a filmmaking
standpoint, Edward Burns and
Kevin Smith have obviously influenced my confidence and
belief that we could
pull off an indie film of this capacity. Theyíre so
supportive of people just doing
it, so much so that in some ways I felt like they were
talking directly to me. "Get
up! Go! Direct your film!" Finally, and I know this
is weird, but a wrestler named
CM Punk and his recent ascension to the top of the WWE
actually had an impact
in me saying "screw it, Iím going to do this my way
because Iím tired of being
passed over in Hollywood by lesser talents." It was
the final spark I needed. I
In that way though, Iím not like Denny. I have more
confidence, at least
outwardly so. But yes, certainly the questions about what
to do with my life
invade my everyday routine. Itís an incredibly tough
business, and Iím grateful
for all the support I have. Like Denny, I struggle with
whether or not what Iím
trying to do matters to anyone, and if some people view me
as a loser like
Denny. Again though, like Denny says in the movie, if thatís
being a loser, then I think
the world needs more losers.
would you describe your directorial approach to your story at hand?
Most importantly, I want people to have fun on set. Youíre
making a movie! Not
to say that there isnít serious work to do, but when youíre
running around town
wearing bizarre costumes and filming it? It should be fun.
I want the actors to
feel comfortable, to know that I will do everything in my
power to make them
look good. I want them to feel like stars and that theyíre
part of something
bigger. I have no problems with improvisation, and weíll
always try something.
In the end, if it works? Awesome. As a director, I think
youíre utterly foolish to
not let people have the opportunity to collaborate and
contribute. Itís about the
film, not ego. So I try to maintain that atmosphere, while
cognizant of the entire piece and the tone weíre
setting. Sometimes you have to
say no, but you have to let people feel comfortable enough
also play "Dracool", a(n, and I'm sorry for being so blunt)
complete arsehole, in Son
of Ghostman - so how much fun was it to play that character, and
who/what did you base him on, both when writing and playing him?
Kurt Larson as Count Dracool
Thank you so much! Thatís a great compliment! I LOVED
playing Count Dracool,
and my only regret is not being able to give him even more
to do. I love the
interaction between him and Denny, partly because I could
feel our scenes
working so well - a testament to Devin Ordoyne.
Dracool is really a mixture of Rex Manning (Empire Records), Shooter McGavin
(Happy Gilmore) and Johnny Lawrence (The Karate Kid). Iíll
also admit that the
idea of this moronic vampire pushing a product (Coastal
Count Sunblock) came
from watching the absolutely brilliant documentary King of
Kong and specifically
Billy Mitchellís hot sauce. It just added another level
of sleaziness to Count
Dracool. I knew I could go farther with Dracool than any
other character in the
film. If Claire represented the real world, Dracool was
the opposite. Therefore, I
donít have any heavy scenes, I could just be an absolute
can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
Devin Ordoyne and Angela Gulner
Devin Ordoyne and Angela Gulner were the anchors of our film,
their passion and giving
nature really extended to the entire cast. Iím so proud
of their work, and it
angers me that theyíre not bigger names. Yet.
I think if Angela chooses her projects wisely and on
merit, rather than simply
because it's something to do, she could be an enormous
talent in the industry. I
chose her because sheís really endearing and stunning,
but still goofy and
vulnerable. Iím a huge fan of both her and Devin. Heís
another guy, if you can
contain his early work to these types of relatable guys,
his career will skyrocket.
Then, he can show his range. Heís just so damn likeable
when heís being dorky.
Their chemistry was palpable, and I couldnít imagine
anyone else in those roles.
They, along with Daniel McCann and Matthew Boehm,
auditioned several times
before being cast. I really feel lucky to have gotten
them. They didnít know it,
but I loved the unspoken thread between Daniel and Matthew
as actors. Daniel
is a veteran, a professional, and just an overall
incredibly warm man. Matthew is
just starting out, and I personally feel the need to
protect him from traps I
myself fell into early on. Heís so fresh, and his
obvious innate talent will develop
deeper in time, heís just gotta remember the big
picture. He will, heís smart.
Looking at the two of them, it was like looking at the
before and after, two
actors at different stages on the same path.
Finally, my friends filled out the other various roles in
the film. Los Angeles is
filled with talented actors, and I will always try to
utilize people I admire and
respect. Most importantly, Marlon Correa (Carlo) is one of
my closest friends,
and someone who I think defines what an actor is. He truly
loves it, and heís
gifted in a variety of ways. I was so thrilled he gave me
the honor of showing off
his comedic side. He really elevated the role of Carlo,
and Iím indebted to his
friendship. This guy can act, heís the real deal.
talk about the shoot as such for a bit, and the on-set atmosphere?
For the most part, the atmosphere was full of excitement.
By nature, Iím a fairly
passionate guy. My film partner, Gabriel Guyer, was the
same way. I think that
helped produce the type of environment we wanted - fun,
collaborative, and one
of family. I wanted everyone to feel like I did, which was
one of total and
complete delusional hope. The industry can beat you down,
and a lot of people
will tell you that youíre not good enough to do this or
talented enough to do
that, but I felt (and still do) much differently. I havenít
given up the dream, and
neither has my cast and crew. They ARE talented, and
anyone that says
differently hasnít a clue.
The story of Denny is very much our
story, so the on-set days felt very
liberating. We honestly felt like a bunch of pirates, not
caring what anyone said,
we were going to do this thing. A misfit toy doesnít
make much noise, but an
island of misfit toys?
We shot for roughly 30 days, with four major weeks of
shooting. Most of our
sets were shot guerrilla style. I would come up with shots
the night before, and
Gabriel and I would think of how best to accomplish the
tasks at hand for the
day ahead. I shot. He did sound. 12-14 hours a day for us.
We both did lighting
when needed. Our wives and sisters helped out with
catering and set dressing.
Sometimes, friends like Marlon would hold the boom or
camera. But as you can see from the film, this isnít a typical
2-man micro-budget film.
We have tons of costumes and tons of locations. Combine
that with random obstacles - chainsaws, carpenter ants, crowds and
It was controlled chaos. There were many moments when I wanted to scream or voice
But as the guy running the whole thing, I couldnít. I
simply had to remind myself
that I could do it, I could figure it out. We could do it. Together with all of these wonderful, giving and talented
people, we did.
can you tell us about critical and audience reception of Son
of Ghostman so far?
Iíve been floored Michael. Iím a pretty honest guy, so
itís not hyperbole when I
say Iíve teared up many times at the comments and
support weíve gotten. I
really love the film, and I think I have a decent
barometer of what works and
what doesnít. I really felt that what we set out to
achieve, we did. Still, like any
other creative person, I am crippled by fear and anxiety
over my work. Because of how much I liked the end product, I often
wondered how delusional was.
Thankfully, those fears have been erased and it seems that
by and large, people
are really enjoying the sweet nature of the film. I
certainly donít expect everyone
to like it, and Iím well aware of its flaws. But as I
said all along, I thought the
audience was there. The response has been validating,
rewarding, and touching.The horror community has given us so much love, and I only
hope people know
that it is absolutely noted and appreciated, far more than
they can imagine.
I am very proud of the film, and well worth watching.
Any future projects beyond Son
of Ghostman you'd like to share?
of Ghostman took over 3 years to make, and in that
time, Iíve accumulated
dozens of potential ideas and scripts. Iím really
focused on enjoying the filmís
reaction, developing those new ideas, and podcasting every
week (Stay Cool, Geek).
But as far as making another film? Yes. Emphatically! Film
is in my blood. I love
As far as I
know, you originally started out as an actor - so what can you tell us
about your acting career, and did you receive any formal education on the
Like most people, I started acting in high school. I
received sporadic training at
my college, Bradley University. There, I had a lovely
professor, Paul Kassel, who
really taught me as much about myself as he did acting.
Stage acting gave me a
solid base, but my passion was film. Itís two completely
different types of
acting, and understanding that is half the battle.
I took a variety of acting classes out here in Los
Angeles, Larry Moss and Young
Actorís Space, but I believe you learn most of your
skills on-set. This might be
my first film as a director, but I have produced dozens of
shorts, videos, and
sketches. Anything to be in front of a camera. Each time,
I learn something
I really yearn to work with a director who will push and
challenge me as an
actor, someone I can trust. I have so much to learn as an
actor, and I still find it
fantastically difficult. Sometimes I donít feel like Iím
standing on as solid of
ground with acting as I do writing, but thatís what
makes it fun. The risk is
Kurt Larson directing the "Son of
What made you pick up writing and directing
Matt Damon & Ben Affleck changed my entire life with
Good Will Hunting. As an
actor, I never realized you could write your own parts
until that movie came out.
Combine that with ultra-low budget success stories like
Clerks and The Brothers McMullen - it just seemed logical to emulate that success.
How naÔve I was!
Iím basically self-taught on screenwriting. You have to
filmmaking bug that now exists wasnít nearly as prolific
back then, so there was
literally no one I could go to in Central Illinois that
could assist in my aspirations
to write screenplays. I went to teachers and I went to
friends, but no one could
help. For some strange reason, I just started doing it and
immediately fell in love with
it. I found a way to express my voice through characters,
and I was hooked.
I also surveyed the scene and thought, hmm, Iím not
particularly good lookingÖ
Iím not particularly trainedÖ really, Iím completely
unknownÖ what do I have
that other actors donít? I figured writing was another
skill in the tool belt that
could lead to acting jobs. It was a very practical
decision at first, but in time
became something I held sacred.
I love writing. It will be a part of my life forever.
On the other hand. directing was just an offshoot of
needing to make a film.
Believe it or not, I was never the guy that wanted to
direct. With Son
of Ghostman though, I really felt there was no other option.
Now of course, I love
that as well!
Do talk about your filmwork prior to Son
of Ghostman for a bit (in whatever position)!
been fortunate enough to work on both big and small film projects. Having
those experiences, it really does give a complete picture
of filmmaking, and it
seems to me that no matter what the budget, it still comes
down to story.
Working on The Terminal and Jarhead were amazing glimpses
mechanisms that make big-budget movies work. The amount of
jobs and responsibilities is staggering, and seeing
masters like Sam Mendes and
Steven Spielberg deftly manage everyone is awe-inspiring.
On both those films,
my role was small, and yet the time and energy they gave
to each of those
scenes was incredible. They really care about every
detail. True, true artists.
Conversely, Iíve done small films like Losing Lenny, and
I equally enjoyed the
experience of making something work out of limited
resources. Itís fairly
empowering, and I couldnít have asked for better people
to work with. All in all,
I feel lucky to have had such well-rounded opportunities.
would you describe yourself as an actor, a writer, and a director?
As an actor, Iíve changed dramatically in terms of
needs. When I was younger, I
was desperate for validation and attention. I see so
clearly now that it serves no
purpose. Nowadays, I just want to give the director what
he asks for. I try to
leave them alone, and just do my job. If I can add to
their vision, awesome, but
Iím really looking to just serve the role and more
importantly, make my coworkersí
jobs easier. Personally, I havenít a lot of desire to
play leads or leading
men, I find more enjoyment out of smaller roles or
ensemble pieces. To be a
part of a cast with little egos and the genuine common
goal of making a good
story? Wow, thatís fun.
As a writer, I tend to be drawn towards stories with
universal themes but odd
backdrops or settings. Not so odd that the general
audience is turned off, but
strange enough that some people think itís bizarre. I
think the combination of
typical studio fare with an indie sensibility is fairly
perfect. I strive for that. I like
witty, quirky comedy with lots of heart. This isnít to
say I donít venture out into
other genres, but this is usually what I like. Unlike some
of my contemporaries, I
fully believe in the studio system and helping to make it
As a director, Iím an actorís director first. I love
working with actors. I come
from that world, so anytime I can help bring out someoneís
talent, it makes me
happy. I have no desire to direct a story Iím not
interested in. Writing and acting
will remain my primary vocations, and directing personal
stories along the way
would be cool too. I really enjoyed the process, I canít
actors, whatever else who inspire you?
Wow Michael, there are so many! And it changes all the
time! Other than the
ones I mentioned, Iím inspired by the writing of Judd
Apatow, Nat Faxon, and
Jim Rash. Theyíre at the top of my genre, and they push
me to get better. I also
love the spirit of the Duplass brothers, really inspiring
Iím terrified of David Fincher, in that heís so
intelligent and gifted, I just donít
know if I could hold my own as an actor in one of his
films. At the same time, Iíd
go in headfirst given the opportunity. He expects and
demands the best, and so
Iíd give it everything I had. Along the same lines, Iíd
pretty much cut off my
pinkie for a scene or two in a Paul Thomas Anderson film.
Talk about artist,
unbelievable! Heís one of a kindÖ
I have a slew of favorite actors. I love what Brad Pitt
has done with his career,
and Matt Damon remains a hero of mine. Iím an unabashed
Tom Cruise fan, he
simply is that good. Totally underrated. Actors
I find interesting in a one of kind way include Sam Rockwell, Robert
Downey jr, and Joaquin Phoenix.
Theyíre just mega-talents man. So good and so
much still ahead of them - I love watching them work.
And of course, being a Chicago guy, I have a lot of love
for Bill Murray. Now
thatís a guy Iíd be fascinated to work with - as a
fellow actor, directing him, or
just getting him his lunch!
The list starts and ends with the original Star Wars
trilogy. Theyíre it for me. In
between those, some of my favorites include Say Anything,
The Breakfast Club, Swingers, Boogie
Nights, The Dark Knight Returns, Field of Dreams, The
Fantastic Mr. Fox, Stranger Than Fiction, Jerry MaguireÖ
oh and recently, I
absolutely adored Robot & Frank.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Well, I donít like to disparage anyoneís work
publicly, but itís no secret I am
absolutely appalled that the South by Southwest Film
Festival actively promotes
itself as a hip and progressive film festival, but last
year their opening night film
was The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. That really bothers
me, and I genuinely
think they owe real independent filmmakers an apology.
I also very much like Adam Sandler the man, but I
desperately wish heíd scrap
all these obscenely poorly executed movies and do
something interesting like he
did with Punchdrunk Love or Funny People. Both those films
and heís capable of a lot more than what heís putting
out. I think heís so nice
that we give him a pass. Like I said, I like him, but
website, Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I blog over at www.kurtedwardlarson.com
I tweet a lot from the account KurtEdwardL
Iím on Facebook as KurtEdwardLarson.
And my podcast is on itunes, search: Stay Cool, Geek
Anything else you are
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Just that I want to thank you for this wonderful outlet,
and for reviewing the
film. I love where the movie business is right now, and I
reading to seek out independent film in any fashion. It
doesnít have to be mine,
there are so many gifted storytellers out there, you may
find theyíre just as
good or not better than the stars you know. Give them a
appreciate it more than you knowÖ and Iím not talking
films that really arenít independent at all, Iím
talking about films filled with
faces youíve never seen. Films on Vimeo. Films on YouTube. Films buried in
Netflix and iTunes. Those are the true indie filmmakers,
and those are the voices
that need encouragement and support. Ok, off my soapbox!
for the interview!
Thank you so much, I thoroughly enjoyed it!