Your upcoming film Zombie Frat House - in a few words, what
is it about?
Well, imagine the worst frat house on campus, and that's the only safe
place to survive a zombie apocalypse. The beginning of the film is very
much in tone with Animal House as it introduces the characters, but it
then moves into a darkly comedic film with horror elements. And it does
have lots of blood & gore. More than you might expect combining Animal
House with The Walking
With Zombie Frat House being (among
other things) a zombie flick - is that a genre especially dear to you, and considering the sheer number of zombie films being
released of late, how will yours stick out?
There are a few out there now, but no matter the genre a film is only
as good as its characters. Using archetypes of an Animal House, or an
Old School, they're characters that people recognize, people they knew when
they went to college. That's what will make this film stand out. I also
like to mix things up, do different genres and subject matters. Crime drama,
comedy, or even a western which I just finished. This is a change of pace
since I've never done a horror film before.
movie is (in parts) a college comedy - so what do you find appealing about
Being a child of the 70's I grew up on Animal
House, the original Saturday Night Live cast members, plus
Halloween. A lot of my work is a
throwback to that period, and the films that I loved while growing up.
Petty Cash, my last feature, mixed elements from that time period, as did
Yellow Hill, my western. So this film is an extension of the films I loved
growing up and the work that I do.
What were your (other) sources of
inspiration when writing Zombie Frat House?
not to watch other zombie films, I didn't want to begin writing from an
area that people are already familiar with. I felt I would end up
regurgitating similar plots or story elements. Zombies are well known to
everyone, we all know what they want, to eat people. What I did was look
at films like Bride of
Frankenstein, Frighteners, Re-Animator and
Dead II. I wanted to see how they balanced the comedy with the horror. And
how bloody you can go with the laughs, and in the case of Evil
Dead II - quite a bit.
how would you describe Zombie Frat House's brand of humour, and
what can you tell us about your personal sense of humour to begin with?
like I mentioned it is sort of broad in the beginning. But it gets dark
fast. I do enjoy light films, mainstream films, but my own personal sense
of humor is dark, pretty dark. Macabre. I don't think I'm the person to
direct a children's film or a Hallmark Movie of the Week. I write because I
like making films, to tell stories and whatever material I do will reflect
my sensibilities. They'll always be a bit dark or even twisted.
of course also always suggest tons of blood and guts - so how will you
approach your story in the gore department?
Yes tons. Lots of zombies eating body parts, or body parts
falling off. We are doing an IndieGoGo fundraiser - http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/zombie-frat-house
- and it's for the
effects budget, plus to feed the cast of over 40 people. It's the only way
we could make this film. Body castings are expensive, doing foam rubber
duplicates of weapons as a safety precaution is expensive, and we have
lots of zombies to make up and to have that rotted flesh look. We have
begun shooting and we really would like to finish this. Our cast is
extremely dedicated to completing this and they're a great bunch of people
with a tremendous amount of talent. We really want to show the talent here
in Milwaukee, to give them exposure, and we really need your help in
reaching our goal for the budget, I know you'll enjoy the film. I think
everyone will have a blast watching it.
What can you tell us about the intended look and feel of
I always say the story dictates the look, I've
been story boarding the film and it'll be unlike anything I've done
before. It's a bit more in your face than what I usually shoot.
Elvis Thao, Patrik Beck, Toni Martin, Brian
Roloff, Anieya Walker, Kyle Berg, Cheryl Roloff, Pierre Lewis,
Anything you can tell us
about your cast yet?
Most of the cast is from Milwaukee and
they are some of the best theater talent in the city. They work at Next
Act, The Rep, Windfall and other theater companies. But we also have some
very good new talent like Kyle Berg, Sherrick Robinson, Pierre Lewis,
who'll be the frat boys alongside Brian Roloff and Elvis Thao (Gran
Torino). With them I've mixed in actors that I've worked with for years
like Robert WC Kennedy, Dan Katula and James Gallagher. Plus many, many
more. All great people. Great talent. You'll enjoy watching them in this
As far as I know, your
movie is still in its fundraising stages - so what can you tell us about
your fundraising efforts?
Well we need your help, we need
about 8,000 to film this feature and we are posting, tweeting and emailing
anyone that could help, but I fear we'll end up short. Time is running out
on us, cutting the budget will cut production value to this film. We have
a fundraiser on March 30th in Milwaukee at the Live Arts Studio, if you're
in town please stop by, and we are trying figure out other options. We
will shoot this, we will continue on, but we really need your help.
Once your funds are raised,
how do you plan to proceed, and any idea when your movie will be released
onto the general public yet?
Well, if all goes well and we
get the funding we will finish shooting by early summer/late spring. And
we'll premiere it this fall in Milwaukee, hit some film festivals and try
to sell it. We feel good about the concept, about the idea and people want
to be involved, so many people that we had to turn away some potential
cast and crew members.
According to my
information, another film of yours, Yellow Hill: The Stranger's Tale, is
also in the making - so you of course have to talk about that one for a
Well, that is another project that we are trying to
get made. I wrote the script years ago. It's a mix of Hong Kong films and
Sergio Leone, a Chinese western with Bai Ling starring as a variation on
the Clint Eastwood character. We did shoot an introductory tale featuring
Bai Ling's character that developed her back story. It was cool making a
western on location in South Dakota, and if we can raise the funding for
the feature based on the teaser we shot I think we'll have a powerful
film. One about what it means to be a part of a community, to find your
do say a few projects about the highly anticipated Go Go Girls vs the
Nazis if you may!
Well I wrote the script for Wayne
Clingman [Wayne Clingman
interview - click here] and I couldn't direct it when he asked, because of
Yellow Hill. Zombie Frat House is designed to be a quick shoot, but
Yellow Hill will take many
months of meetings, and preplanning. Go Go Girls vs the Nazis' scale is
just something that I couldn't fit in. It is a pretty wild film that comes
from the mind of Wayne Clingman. He gave me a bunch of notes as what he
wanted and in turn I gave him a script. It was a pretty fast job. I wrote
it last March as I was planning the Yellow Hill short film.
Any future projects beyond Zombie
Frat House you'd like to talk about?
that I mentioned, we do hope to shoot a sequel to Petty Cash. I do have a
script ready for it and we'll bring back Bai Ling and Robert WC Kennedy to
reprise their roles. And I've been making notes for another script,
another crime drama.
What got you
into filmmaking to begin with, and how did you learn the trade?
went to school to train as an artist, studied drawing, design and
photography. When I was there I was asked to help out on a production that
would showcase the school to prospective students, and from there I moved
to filmmaking. I didn't see it as a big leap. I was just going from
telling one story in one image, to telling a longer story with moving
images. Since my school (MIAD) had no film department I taught myself. I
studied and read everything that I could. Story structure, defining
characters and telling a story with the camera. And taught myself editing.
Now I teach filmmaking at MIAD.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Yellow Hill and Zombie
Frat House, and your evolution as a filmmaker?
work was to help myself learn the craft, what I could do and couldn't. To
try things. Most of it isn't very good and I don't really recommend
viewing it, but since the late 90's I've progressed pretty far I think.
Done over 60 short films and Zombie Frat House will be my third feature.
Petty Cash with Bai Ling is looking for distribution and has gotten good
reviews. Once that's out I suggest trying to find it. We're pretty proud
of it and most of that cast and crew are working on Zombie Frat House.
I've also helped produced about 20 short films with Third Choice,
ensemble in Milwaukee, some of those shorts won awards.
would you describe yourself as a director?
I don't know,
I'm always writing, shooting or editing something. It's fun and I just
like to keep busy. I've done a lot of short films and I'm working on
features as well, and most are different stories or genres. I just like to
tell stories. With Zombie Frat House we've brought in a lot of young
talent and we hope that we can give them some experience to go on in doing
films if they wish.
who inspire you?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Orson Welles, Kurosawa, Melville, Altman,
Lumet and Wong Kar Wai.
Your favourite movies?
Once Upon a Time in the West, Touch of Evil, Third
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Bad films. Incompetently made films. If it's good I'll give it a watch
no matter the genre.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, IndieGoGo, whatever else?
You can visit Zombie Frat House at: https://www.facebook.com/ZombieFratHouse
Our Twiitter page: https://twitter.com/zombiefrathouse
And of course our IndieGoGo page: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/zombie-frat-house
Plus we have a fundraising event on March 30th at Live Arts Studio,
please help us, come on out because you'll have fun.
Thanks for the interview!