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An Interview with Paul J. Porter, Director of Rabid Love

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2014

Paul J. Porter on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Rabid Love - in a few words, what is it about? And what can you tell us about your characters in it?


Rabid Love pays homage to the fun horror movies of the late 70ís and early 80ís. It starts off with the classic cabin in the woods setup but as the characters are developed there are some twists that make it original. The characters are fun and we made sure they all had backstories so the actors could make informed choices on set and had a frame of reference for the relationships.


So what were your initial inspirations for writing the movie, and how would you describe the writing process?


Iíve actually answered this question several times before and I recently came across some early notes on the story and I think Iíve been telling it wrong. I now believe that the initial idea was the title but I have no idea where it came from. Here is what my earliest story idea for the movie was - ďRabid Love - A happy couple goes camping and gets engaged. The boyfriend is infected with some super virus that turns him into a rabid creature. The girlfriend flees and he gives chase. People are killed along the way. She finally thinks sheís made it out alive but he cuts her off. Final scene is him kneeling before her as she holds a gun to his forehead.Ē  It evolved from that description, which obviously changed a bit if youíve seen the movie.

Anything can spark a movie idea and in the case of Rabid Love, it was that final image that really got me thinking, so I just started answering questions about the situation to fill in the missing information. I spend about 90% of my writing time developing the structure and overall story before even typing the first page of the script. My method is just to continually expand until all the detail is filled in - starting from a logline, then a sentence for each act, then the major plot points, all the scenes, etcÖ


With your film being essentially a slasher movie - is that a genre you can at all relate to?


I wouldnít say I can really relate to it except for the horror movies that I watched as a kid like Friday the 13th and the ones we watched while brainstorming for the Rabid Love story such as Grizzly, The Burning, and others.


How would you describe your directorial approach to your subject at hand?


It all starts with the writing and as much as I try to focus completely on writing in that phase, sometimes I canít help but think about directorial decisions I want to execute when the time comes. Iím very big on the look of a film and the overall production design is extremely important to me because I want to create a cohesive, believable world that the actors and, ultimately, the audience will buy into.


Since you also appear in front of the camera in Rabid Love - what did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and have you written him with yourself in mind?


Since we had most of the major characters already cast from the short version of the movie that we made six months earlier, we were able to write for the actors instead of having to create the characters from scratch and I think thatís part of the reason they came off the way they did. Initially, we wanted to create different levels of conflict amongst the main group, so we looked for ways to introduce that tension via personal needs and goals that were in contrast to the others.


Do talk about the rest of your cast for a bit, and why exactly these people?


Again, going back to the short, we wanted to keep the characters we had from that so we did. As for the rest of the supporting cast, we used local actors as much as possible and ended up with a cast that I was very happy with.


What can you tell us about the actual shoot, and the on-set atmosphere?


For me, the whole thing is a blur because I had so much going on, but I hear that it was a fun shoot! As a first time producer and director also juggling a fairly large role as an actor it was pretty crazy and there were always things that needed to be done or that needed my attention, so I did my best to prioritize and get things done. We couldnít have had a better area for shooting though, because we had pretty much total freedom to go wherever we needed, when we needed to get the shots. Although we had a schedule that we mostly stuck to, there were times when we were able to stray from the plan and pick up things because it was convenient and we actually ended up wrapping the shoot three days early. Looking back on that, I donít recommend it - if you have your cast and crew for a planned amount of time you should keep them there and get everything you possibly can! Collaborating on set was fun because it was the first time I got to deal with actors and crew over an extended shoot that was more than just a few days, so we really got to be close and it was kind of a summer camp atmosphere.


What can you tell us about critical and audience reception of your movie so far?


Well, as far as we can tell itís been great. Weíre getting lots of really good reviews and it seems like the movie is making it to an audience bigger than just our friends and family. Some of the things that are always mentioned are the great production design, writing, acting, and soundtrack - which Iím really proud of.


As far as I know, you and your leading lady/co-writer/producer Hayley Derryberry [Hayley Derryberry interview - click here] are partners professionally as well as privately - so what can you tell us about your previous collaborations, and how did you first hook up?


Hayley and I met at a wrap party for a friendís project very early in our movie careers in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We had both only worked on a couple of short films and one of them that Hayley was in happened to be one of my classmatesí at the time, so I recognized her from that and the other one, which was a 48 Hour Film Project-short. Since then, weíve collaborated on pretty much every project and we share writing and producing duties pretty well. Some of our earlier short projects that Iím proud of are MyShadow and BlŁm, which are both won some awards and are on my YouTube channel here -


Any future projects you'd like to share?


We donít have anything set at the moment, but there are several options weíre considering as our next feature project, and one of those is a sequel to Rabid Love. Whatever it is, weíll be back in Kansas to shoot!


How did you get into the filmworld to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I got interested when I got to be an extra on the movie Gamer, which was shooting in Albuquerque, New Mexico while I was completing my undergrad degree at the University of New Mexico there. I immediately started taking film classes and working in the local indie film community with friends. Since then, Iíve taken some UCLA extension courses in film and also completed my Masterís in Producing for Film and TV at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Rabid Love?


There isnít a whole lot, mostly short films for competitions like the 48 Hour Film Project and National Film Challenge, which are great training because they put you under pressure to complete a finished product on a tight deadline and use the resources you have available. Weíve also done a few music videos and other small projects as Rogue Taurus, which can be seen on our website here -


How would you describe yourself as a director, as a writer and as an actor?


As a director and writer I hope I come off as fun and nostalgic - I never want to take myself or my movies too seriously because I always want to have fun with them - just like my favorite movies do. Dark and serious just isnít my thing but I do hope to be somewhat original even if my inspiration comes from other films, writers, and directors. It seems like I accomplished that so far with Rabid Love and I want to build on that with the next project. As an actorÖ Iím really not at all. It is very fun to get in front of the camera but usually when I do it, it is out of necessity rather than a want to pursue acting as a career, which I have no intention of doing. So I really just play myself when Iím in front of the camera and try to surround myself with real actors that can make me look like I know what Iím doing!


Actors, writers, filmmakers, whatever else who inspire you?


In no particular order - Nicholas Winding Refn, Clint Eastwood, Billy Morrissette, Stephen King, Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, Brian May, Pete Townshend, John Landis, and the state of Kansas.


Your favourite movies?


Also in no particular order - Scotland, PA, An American Werewolf in London, Beerfest, Valhalla Rising, Ravenous, Living in Oblivion, Rocky IV, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.


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


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Most of the big budget things the Hollywood studios are putting out, anything considered to be an Ďart filmí or Ďexperimentalí, most remakes, Sharknado, and Chinatown.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whoever else?


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


I think thatís about it! I am spending some time in Kansas this week to scout and hopefully plant the seeds for our next feature film, so maybe weíll be shooting something by the end of this year if all goes well!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
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On the same day
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... and for the life of it,
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD