What were your inspirations when writing Jonah
Lives - and your personal thoughts on the paranormal, séances,
Ouija-boards and the like?
My inspiration for filmmaking
has always been George A. Romero. I personally don't believe in ghosts, but
I do believe in God and the Devil, and the spiritual battle. UFOs, ghosts,
spirit guides, all demonic deceptions in my book. Jonah
been lingering around for around 33 years. It was originally planned as a
short for a film contest run by Cinemagic (a sister publication of
Fangoria and Starlog magazines) in the 1980s. When I couldn't get it off
the ground then, I rewrote it and made another attempt in the early '90s,
when that attempt fell thru, and with no other way of getting the film off
the ground I entered the construction field and made a comfortable living
with a shovel instead of a camera.
You just have to talk about
your movie's creature design for a bit, and to what extent were you
involved in its creation?
essentially approached Ben Bornstein, our makeup FX artist, and told
him I wanted something out of a Bernie Wrightson comic book, and he
delivered it. Originally I had envisioned Jonah as more skeletal, but Ben
gave me something with more character appeal.
At times, Jonah
Lives gets pretty violent - so do talk about those scenes and
their creation for a bit, and was there ever a line you refused to cross
(for other than budgetary reasons)?
The violence in
Lives is pretty much as it was written in the script. I like violence and
gore as cinematic tools but I don't like the current trend towards torture
porn as it has come to be called, and I wouldn't do gore and violence for
their sake alone. Their is lots to be said and argued about as to what is
more frightening seeing or imagining, and I believe suggestion is one of
the more powerful tools in our arsenal, as low budget filmmakers.
What can you tell us
about your directorial approach to your story at hand?
love ambiguity. I may be alone in this and was warned not to use it. But
their is an underlying theme of the spiritual battle taking place in the
film, it's not cut and dry, but the hints are all over the place. Other
than that approach, it was sometimes difficult to separate the director and the producer aspects of the project, many times the producer
won the battles. Time was always of the essence, and we fell behind,
early on in our original 21 day shooting schedule. So, I am embarrassed to
say my director's approach was limited.
Lives stars scream queen legend Brinke Stevens - so why her, what
was it like working with her, and how did you get her even?
was just amazing. I am a fan, and met Brinke in 1993. I told her then
that I was planning a film and if it ever got made I wanted her in it. She
laughed and agreed, even though she was just being gracious to a fan, of
course. So fast forward 18 years, I found and friended her on
FB, I sent her the script, and she gave me some great suggestions
including tying in Jonah to her character, and that made all the sense in
the world! She was awesome to work with, and a consummate professional. I
was thrilled to have her and glad that we were able to give her star
treatment. I would love to get a Jonah 2 under way and get to flesh out
her story in a prequel-sequel type film.
talk about the rest of your key cast, and why exactly these people?
was hard to cast
Lives. Especially being a first time filmmaker, not too
many people take you seriously in New England unless you have some credentials.
I found Ryan Boudreau and Jocelyn Padilla [Jocelyn Padilla interview - click
here] thru online auditions,
but had to enlist Jodi Purdy Quinlan, of South Shore Casting to round out
the remainder of the cast. As for why them, they were the best and most
compatible looking group I could put together and I thought they did a
fine job as an ensemble cast.
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
was tense. I was a first time producer/director working with over 20
people whom I had never worked with before. Most were hired by cinematographer Rich Marino. I was tough on them. In hindsight, I regret
being so hard on them, especially now, after working on two other features
in various capacities and knowing what it takes to do quality work from
the perspective of a crew member. We had a 21 day shooting schedule and we
ended up needing 4 more days to complete the project. We also were over
budget. So, to say the least, it was tense!
few words about audience and critical reception of your movie?
thought the audiences I seen the film with seemed to enjoy it. They
gasped, jumped, and laughed all together, it was a terrific experience.
Some critics have been rough on us, but that's part of the territory when
you are compared to genre classics. Others, such as yourself, get it and
have responded likewise.
featuring a powerful villain and being on the open-ended side, could you
ever be persuaded to shoot a sequel? And any (other) future projects you'd
like to share?
As stated I would love to flesh out the
details as to how and why Jonah was offed, and elaborate to Barbra's fate
in a prequel/sequel. I have worked on two features since Jonah
Lives, helping to
produce and work as sound man on Nelson Reis' Silence and Mike Melo's
Sunny Side Up, a drama, and a dark rom/com respectively. Both are in
production as we speak.
What got you into filmmaking in the first
place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
George A. Romero. I was 13, Dawn Of The
Dead blew my mind. Fangoria
appears on the shelves. Romero says I can do it in those pages, and I believed him and got a hold of a Super 8 camera and started making my own
flicks with family and friends. I basically got a crash course on what it
would entail to make a feature when I attended Dov Simens' 2-Day Film
School in Boston, in 2010. That, and watching every kind of film
imaginable, has been my training.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Jonah
skits, made for fun, some can be seen on YouTube. Outside of that
was a crash course for us.
How would you describe yourself as a
Trying hard to look like I know what I am doing.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
and foremost George Romero, Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese.
Dawn Of The
Dead, The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly, King Kong (1933), Ben Hur.
... and of course, films you really
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
Watch my movie, have fun and
Thanks for the interview!