Your new movie The
Frankenstein Syndrome - in a few words, what is it about?
about a group of researchers doing underground stem-cell research. They're
looking for a universal healing serum and succeed, but things go terribly
prompted you to take another shot at the Frankenstein-myth,
and in what way does your film differ from other versions of the
Ours takes place in
the modern world of illegal stem-cell research. I asked myself if
Shelley were to have written Frankenstein
today, how would it have been different? Primarily though, my interest
was in what Shelley's novel is really
about. To me, Frankenstein
is about two
things: creation and responsibility. Instead of focusing on the monster,
I tried to get back to what the monster
in the story really represents.
Related to this: Your favourite Frankenstein-adaptations?
There are so many. If
you want the most faithful adaptation of Shelley's novel, you have to go
with the mini series Hallmark did a few years back. If you like looser
adaptations, then there's Re-Animator,
Jurrasic Park (think about it), etc. I've always been interested in ones
who take the main theme and try taking it in new directions.
Other sources of inspiration for The
did my research. Not only did I go back and re-read Shelley's novel, but a
read a lot of literary and culteral analysis of Frankenstein. I
felt it was important to understand why the story has survived this long
and what about it rings true today.
How diligently did you
research the medical background of The
Frankenstein Syndrome, and your personal take on stem cell
I'm all for stem-cell research and any advances that can improve the
quality of our lives. As for the film, I spent a bit of time researching
terminology that would make things make sense. Not supririsingly, it's a
topic that people hear about, but actually know little about. I was
fortunate to find literature that tried to explain stem-cell research for
the medical laymen (like myself). I think there's just enough to make the
characters sound believable.
How would you describe your diretorial
approach to your film?
I knew ahead of time
that I wanted the film to have a cold, David Fincher-esque vibe to it.
Unlike some of my other films which have a more "raw" approach
to them, I went for a cleaner, slicker style. Most importantly, there was
a lot of ground to cover and my biggest challenge was keeping the film
moving while still hitting all the story elements.
Frankenstein Syndrome features quite a few graphic gore scenes.
Why don't you talk about those for a bit, and was there ever a point when
you reached a line you weren't prepared to cross, screenviolence-wise?
I never felt the need
to hold back because generally, I don't believe I use gore in a gratuitous
manner. I think if you build a reality around something before you show
gore, you don't have to show much to be effective. There's a scene in
particular that makes people cringe that you really don't see a lot of
"gore", it's the sound that makes it seem horrible -
that's the kind of effect I like. It's so much more effective in the
imagination than what we could have shown.
scream queen Tiffany Shepis [Tiffany
Shepis interview - click here] did not only play the lead in The
Frankenstein Syndrome, she also helped to produce the film, and
you are somehow personally involved with her. Why don't you talk about her
for a bit?
Tiffany and I are now
married. We didn't start dating till after we wrapped the movie though.
Tiff is a complete professional on set, and despite how tempted I could
have been to get to know her while shooting, our production came first. We
didn't have our first non-director/actor conversation until a couple
months after we finished shooting. The rest is history. As for a producer,
she's so well known in the genre, she brings a lot of terrific contacts
and relationships to the table.
A few words about the rest of your cast and
Our cast and crew
were phenomenal. Scott did an amazing job as David and really emersed
himself in the role. I had worked with Patti Tindall on my movie Death of
a Ghost Hunter, and had written Victoria specifically for her, so she did
not disappoint. Louis Mandylor, Ed Lauter, Sebastian Kunnappilly, Jonathan
Northover, Zena Otsuko, and the rest were fantastic to work with. Our late
producer and actor Noah Todd was instrumental in getting the movie off the
ground. We owe a lot to him and to the rest of our crew.
What can you tell us about audience reception to The
Frankenstein Syndrome so far?
far, the reviews have been exactly what I had hoped for. This is a
thinking-person's sci-fi/horror film. It takes the material seriously and
it's been great to read reviews where people have responded to the themes
and questions that the film raises.
Let's leave the
present behind for the time being and head forward into your past: What
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
education on the subject?
wanted to make movies since I was 5 or 6. I was a photography major at ASU
(they didn't have a film program at the time). I was taking as many film
classes as I could and decided that instead of studying film, I should try
making one. I scrounged up a couple thousand dollars and made The
Great American Snuff Film.
What can you tell us about
your debut feature, the
disturbing and memorable The
Great American Snuff Film?
I wanted to make a
movie that was shocking and disturbing, but I didn't have any money. The
idea of making a film about someone who made snuff films was a way of
achieving both goals. I shot it in the desert of Arizona without a crew,
just myself and the actors involved. I wasn't sure it would ever see the
light of day, but when we finished it, we started to show it to people
and found out that it was really effective. We started playing film
festivals and it has since been on DVD in every major country.
You have only recently followed up The
Great American Snuff Film with a sequel, The Greatest American
Snuff Film. A few words about that one?
Actually, The GREATEST
American Snuff Film is not a sequel, it's more of a director's cut/special
edition of The
Great American Snuff Film. Our original distributor
licensed it to another comapny and they wanted to do something with the title to
seperate the editions. I'm not crazy about the Greatest part, in fact, I
hate it a little, lol, but it was a way for the film to reach a wider audience,
so I was ok with that. For a movie made for $2,000, a second edition seemed like
What can you
tell us about The Death of a Ghost Hunter?
I really like Death
of a Ghost Hunter. I think it's creepy and works well for what we were
trying to do. We made that movie for a whoping $7,000 and it has since
seen a lot of life in Blockbuster and on Netflix. I'm very proud of it -
it isn't perfect, but it does what I wanted it to do.
Death Factory Bloodletting?
DFB was something fun
to do. It's a grindhouse-style exploitation flick. It really was just an
excuse to throw a lot of blood around after trying to go for
"creepy" scares with Death of a Ghost Hunter. DFB isn't
my best work, but surprisingly, Noah Todd (who starred in it) showed it to
some producers in LA and they ended up giving us the money to make The
Any other films of yours
you'd like to talk about, any future projects?
just completed a new script that we're really excited about. Don't want to
give away any details, but it's in the works.
words about your production company, Ominous
was formed to make The Great American Snuff Film and we've operated under
it ever since.
Your films all seem to be of the
horror variety - a genre especially dear to you?
love horror films and I especially like horror films that try new things.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
who inspire you?
Fincher, Nolan, Tarantino, the usuals.
Your favourite movies?
Jaws is my favorite movie,
and of course, films you really deplore?
is one particluar film I deplore, the only problem is that the guy who
made it also made a film that is pretty great, so that's a wash.
film's website, Facebook, whatever else?
- we're also on Facebook.
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Netflix has been a great place for people to see my films, please ask your
readers to add The
Frankenstein Syndrome to their Netflix Queues.
for the interview!