recently saw the release of your film, Occupants. What is the plot for
It is about
named Annie Curtis who has roped her husband into a project that
involves setting up cameras throughout their house. Complications arise
when the cameras start showing that same couple in an alternate
universe, with horrific results.
Robert Picardo stars
in this. What's your impression of him and his performance?
I enjoy working with Bob, who stars as Dr. Alan Peterson of the
Peterson Research Institute (which is responsible for presenting the
footage we see in Occupants
– case 831). This is actually my
fifth time directing him, the other four being three feature films
(P.J., Chasing the Green, The Legends of Nethiah), and
a documentary feature (Restoration of Paradise).
Coincidentally and as an in-joke, Bob mentions the documentary in
Who else plays in this
The other two main actors are Briana White as Annie Curtis and
Michael Pugliese as Neil Curtis.
They play dual versions of themselves.
Chalet Lizette Brannan also plays a character from Annie
Curtis’ previous documentary, and Aaron Retford plays the Parallel
There are also various
testimonial videos of people who saw parallel universes including Scott
Brown, Edward Alma, Norie Onogi, Isaak Gracia, Cécile
Furthermore, we have
the Peterson Research Institute Representative played by Chris Winters,
who is the main character of the comic book tie-in to the film, as well
as Timothy Lee Conley whose case 285 is the main focus of that comicbook (currently being drawn by
Comics artist Dave Beaty and
edited by our associate producer Eric Kask).
Is there a web page
devoted to this film?
- this page is devoted
to the film, the comicbook tie-in, and pretty soon the upcoming sequel
to the first film.
What about a page for
- you can see my
previous, current, and future films including The Assassin’s
Apprentice, an upcoming film I am directing in early December 2016
with Tarah Paige and Robert Picardo.
Did you study film in
a school or did you pick up on film making as you went along?
I studied at the
University of Southern California Cinema Program as well as taking UCLA
I also worked on various films including The Failures, a
2002 feature film directed by Tim Hunter, working under the tutelage of
the producers Felix and Kathrin Werner.
Do you have any future
works planned or are you mainly working to promote Occupants?
My most immediate
project is the aforementioned The Assassin’s Apprentice, which is
shooting in early December 2016.
The producer is Howard Nash (who produced all my features and the
documentary), as well as Ryan T. Husk, and the writer is Paul Hickman
(who had contributed legal services to Occupants).
We also have
Occupants 2 in development, Howard having given the greenlight to
our first Occupants
film writer Julia Camara.
We already have a basic gist of the story and it will also
involve what happens in the comicbook tie-in which deals with a second
I also have another
horror feature film in the works called The Dollhouse which is
being produced by Julie D’Aloiso and we will be shooting in Macedonia,
is currently being written by my longtime filmmaking partner Emile Haris
(who was the director of photography and editor on Occupants).
Occupants is supposed
to be seen at Shriekfest?
Denise Gossett, the festival director, called me up to let me
know the film got in and I was absolutely excited (you can say I was
will be screening at the Raleigh Studios directly across from Paramount
Pictures on Friday October 7 at 8:45pm.
We are also nominated for Best Film, which is an incredible
What about other
We had our premiere at the Phoenix Comicon Film Festival where we
won the 2nd
Place, Best of the Festival prize.
We next screened at the Florida Supercon Film Festival winning
the Best Director award.
We also screened at the San Diego Comic-Con Film Festival where
we were mentioned by the Huffington Post as one of the highlights of the
next went to San Antonio Film Festival (in Texas), Action on Film
Festival (in Monrovia, California), Toronto Independent Film Festival
(in Canada), Great Lakes International Film Festival (in Erie,
Pennsylvania), and most recently just screened at the Downtown Los
Angeles Film Festival and the Velvet Rope Film Festival (near
Sacramento, California) where Chalet Lizette Brannan was presented with
a Breakout Star award.
are Shriekfest, Ellensburg Film Festival (in Washington), Louisville’s
International Festival of Film (in Kentucky), Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo
(at the Los Angeles Convention Center, where Robert Picardo will be in
attendance with us), Alien Con (in Santa Clara, California), the
International Film Festival (where we are nominated for Best
Narrative Feature), and Fright Night Film Fest (again in Louisville,
We also recently got
both domestic and international distribution through ITN
so be on the lookout for release on DVD and Blu-Ray and possibly
theatrical in countries around the world.
Are there any
interesting stories to tell concerning the making of this
There were a few!
For one, many of the cast and crew kept saying that the house we
were shooting in was haunted.
In fact, if you look in the film, you can see one of the lights
dim all of a sudden.
This wasn’t done on purpose and it was in a room of the house
where people heard “coughs” and felt a presence.
I also was staying in this house during the production, so these
stories people were saying definitely got to me (especially when I had
to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and was by myself and
of course the only working bathroom is connected to the “haunted
On top of that, the
flies were everywhere!
Our production assistants seemed to become full-time professional
fly swatters! There
were a few scenes in the film that had flies and we had to digitally
remove them. If
you get the DVD or Blu-ray, we have a blooper reel and it shows this in
You are in Los
Angeles, no? Isn’t this city fairly supportive of indie arts and films?
One of the advantages of living in Los Angeles is that there are
many artists and it’s a great place to network.
Such is the case when going to an event like Shriekfest.
It’s all about meeting new people, and perhaps working with
them on a future project.
Definitely is a great city for that!
I live in Washington,
myself. The Pacific Northwest is big on indie films and festivals. Have
you considered drifting this way and getting in on some of the action?
Oh yes I have
I lived for a few months in Corvallis, Oregon and have visited
Seattle, Washington as well as Vancouver, Canada.
More recently, I was at the Rose City Comic Con where we were
offered an Occupants
panel discussing the film and comicbook
tie-in, and it brought back memories of my times in Corvallis. I
love the look of the forests and mountains; the scenery is truly amazing
and not a palm tree in sight!
That said, Portland,
Seattle, and Vancouver are great places for the arts and I wouldn’t
mind filming something in that neck of the woods!
from the Occupants comicbook
In retrospect, how
satisfied are you with Occupants?
I am extremely satisfied with the film and consider it to be my best
film to date. It’s
definitely had the most traction and is still going.
I’m grateful and blessed to be at this stage in my life and I
have many people to thank for it including my parents Charles and Akemi
Emanuel to my producer Howard Nash, my filmmaking partner Emile Haris,
and to interviewers such as yourself.
In thinking back, is
there anything you would have done differently now that it is done?
There will always be things you want to correct in retrospect.
I would tighten up the beginning, and do a few visual effects
But overall, I am very happy with the film and the franchise we
Is there anything you
would like to add, that we missed so far?
Here’s a link to our award-winning trailer which itself gained
traction when it came out a few months before the film was completed in
December 2015: https://youtu.be/hGyA1T0C45Q
And the comicbook
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
And other links:
just want to say thank you for taking the time to interview me.
I really appreciate it, thank you!
Thanks for the interview!