Your upcoming movie HazMat
- in a few words, what is it about?
is about the TV crew of a show called Scary Antics that helps three
friends pull a practical joke on a troubled young man, but it ends up
backfiring when he goes crazy and starts killing them one by one.
Quite obviously, the
set-up of HazMat alludes
to trashy and irresponsible prank shows like Scare Tactics and, ummm, the one
with Ashton Kutcher. So what made you base your movie on these, and your
personal take on these shows? And honestly, do you watch them some times
(for other than "research"-purposes)?
was recovering from major surgery and was bedridden for two weeks, when I
caught a marathon of Scare Tactics on TV. At first, I felt very
guilty about the fact that I couldn’t stop laughing at something that
was so cruel. Then it occurred to me that nobody knows how someone will
react when they’re scared. Someone could have a heart attack or
attack one of the actors. That’s what started the whole premise
for the script and it’s a recurring theme throughout the story –
whether it’s right to have fun at someone else’s expense.
of me thinks that it’s wrong, but I still have watched Scare Tactics
a couple of times since then. It’s a guilty pleasure. I
never watched Punk’d though. If the prank is not scary,
it’s not as funny.
For better or worse, HazMat
will be called a slasher movie - a genre at all dear to you, and did you
consciously follow any genre rules when making the movie?
like to think that HazMat
is a supernatural slasher since it has
elements of both. Yes, there’s a guy killing people with an ax,
but a lot of the storyline is about this abandoned chemical plant and
whether or not it’s haunted.
love anything scary, so I love slashers. The only problem is that
when you get to number three and beyond of any franchise, the characters
become paper thin and you’re just waiting for the next person to die.
I tried to make the characters in HazMat
real people, so that if
and when they die, you feel for them. Even the villain, Hazmat, is
unique in that you’re supposed to like him and feel for him.
Unlike Jason Voorhees or
Michael Myers who are faceless killers, you get
to know Hazmat as a human being. I wanted people to like him and
root for him a little. What could be scarier than sympathizing with
other sources of inspiration when writing HazMat?
be honest that when I was writing it, I was on so many pain killers that I
don’t remember where most of the ideas – the mask, the axe – came
from. When I came out of my haze, it was all there on paper.
would you describe your directorial approach to your story at hand?
hired the best cast and crew, and they did all of the hard work for me.
The toughest part I did was staying on schedule since it was shot in ten
days. My biggest contribution to the film as a director was how to
film a scene in the least amount of shots possible so that we could finish
just have to talk about your location for a bit: How did you find it, did
you have the script or location first, and what were the advantages and
challenges filming there?
original script called for the building to be located in the middle of
nowhere. The problem was that there are not a lot of abandoned
buildings in Miami since most were torn down during the real estate boom.
The few that were left were just not safe for anyone to be inside.
I was lucky to find this building in the FilmMiami.org website. They
warned me that it was in really bad shape, the second floor had weight
limits because it was in danger of collapsing, and there was no water or
electricity. But when I saw it, I knew it was perfect.
had to rewrite the script to fit the location, but it worked great.
Most of the props and all of the furniture you see in the film were
already there so that saved us a lot of money. The only problem was
that they started construction right outside the building the week we
began production. It caused a lot of delays, and it drove us all
Please do talk about your cast
for a bit, and why exactly these people?
they were meant to play those roles. There’s a magic that happens
during casting that is hard to explain. I can’t imagine anyone
else playing those characters.
was so great and professional. Everyone knew their lines and was
willing to work in very uncomfortable conditions. In my opinion,
everyone’s acting was stellar, and I’m very happy with the results.
special recognition is due to Norbert Velez, who plays Hazmat. He
endured so much in that suit and mask. It was like 90 degrees in
that place, and he never once complained. He’s the ultimate
professional. And despite the fact that he’s covered head to toe,
he brought a lot of personality to that role.
Lou Simon on set
What can you tell us
about the actual shoot, and the on-set atmosphere?
Stress, stress and more stress, but fun, fun, fun at the same time. The
problem with the outside noise caused a lot of delays, but we sort of
incorporated the construction noise into the film and made it work. When
you’re doing low-budget films, you just have to be flexible. I was lucky
to also be the writer, because I could then change the story or dialogue
on the spot.
know your movie is still hot off the presses so far, but anything you can
tell us about critical reception yet, and any idea when it might be
released onto the general public?
review was very kind, of course. We also received another review
that called Hazmat the new horror icon. If others agree, we’re
golden. I do believe that Hazmat, as a villain, is a very cool
character. I wish I could take credit for that, but as I said, it
was the pain meds that came up with him.
already submitted the film to several film festivals worldwide, and
hopefully we’ll be selected to screen at a few. That’s the fun
part when you get to see the audience’s reaction. After that, we
hope that a distributor will pick it up and make it available for everyone
Any future projects
beyond HazMat you'd like
still exhausted from HazMat, but I’m already thinking of
the next one. I have three in mind, but which one will depend
largely on how much money we can raise. I would love to make an
entire film where the entire cast and crew in the production is made up
entirely of women. We are not well represented in the horror genre,
so it would be very cool.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
a script I wrote called Blackout
is being produced by Blue Nile
Pictures. It’s a horror adventure.
Sort of Into the Blue meets Evil Dead.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Anything else you'd like to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
like to encourage everyone who goes to your site to support independent
filmmakers by giving to the crowd funding campaigns online. Even a
small donation can get them a very cool gift and help us tremendously.
Just think of it as pre-ordering a DVD way ahead of time, but then getting
to be a part of all the phases of production.
Thanks for the interview!