You've recently written a script called Killbilly together
with Brett Wagner [Brett Wagner
interview - click here] -
in a few words, what is it about?
Weíre so excited about Killbilly! Itís a fast-paced action/horror movie that centers on an
ancient war between two races of bloodthirsty immortals. You could
probably best describe it as a mash-up of True
Blood and Sons of Anarchy,
but funnier, and itís definitely no nighttime soap.
How did the project
come into being in the first place, and what were your inspirations when
had just seen The Sitter (my first script for Lifetime, also known as
While the Children Sleep) on Netflix and he approached me with the basic
concept. I was immediately intrigued, and we started tossing ideas around,
trying to figure out what the conflict at the center of the story would
What can you tell us
about your writing partner Brett Wagner [Brett
Wagner interview - click here], and what was your collaboration
like? And how did you two hook up in the first place?
Brett and I met on
Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2.
I was producing and he was playing a cop, and he had the most
outrageous, horrifying death scene. Brettís great; heís this
big personality and he absolutely loves horror flicks, which is why we hit
it off. It was such an easy collaborationóBrett would come to me with
ideas for scenes and characters and weíd go through it all, honing it
down to the best stuff.
talk about Killbilly's approach to horror for a bit!
on the set of Chromeskull
You could almost say that Killbillyís an action movie first, then a horror movie. Itís heavy on
stunts and big set pieces, but at its core itís really a story about two
warring families and what happens when a century-old truce is broken.
Itís a lot of fun, and itís largely-inspired by action flicks that we
grew up with, like the Burt Reynolds classics White Lightning and Gator.
what's the status of the project right now, and any idea when it might see
the light of day/dark of a projection room?
Right now, itís being
shopped around Hollywood, but that process can be a hundred times more
daunting than actually writing the script. The feedback weíve gotten has
all been positive, so weíre hopeful that weíll pique a studio or
investorís interest soon. Itís big, easily the biggest script either
of us has written, and it really needs to be done justice with an adequate
budget. We canít wait to see Killbilly on the big screen!
currently working on a surfing movie, right. So what can you tell us about
Tao of Surfing is a very
special project. Itís based on Michael Allenís Pulitzer-nominated
book, about the prejudices during the early days of the AIDS virus, and
its impact on a tight-knit group of die-hard surfers. Itís a powerful
drama, and a project of which Iím very proud. The hugely-talented Lou
Diamond Phillips is directing, and weíve got a great lead in Eric
Balfour. Weíve shot about a third of the movie, but weíve had to
accommodate Louís schedule on A&Eís enormously-popular Longmire
and Ericís schedule on SyFyís hit
Haven. We plan to finish early next
year, when those shows are on hiatus.
Any other future projects you'd like to share?
Iím working on a new
horror script right now that Iím really excited about. I donít want to
say anything about the plot or the concept, but itís something Iíve
never seen before. Iíve also just rewritten a cool Muay Thai boxing
flick thatís about to roll.
got you into the filmworld to begin with, and what can you tell us about
your education on the subject?
Iíve always been a movie
nerd! I knew when I was four
or five years old that I wanted to make movies. My parents were awesome,
they always encouraged me to go into film, because they knew it was what I
loved. My dad bought me a video camera in high school, and from that
moment on, my friends and I were constantly making movies. I went to film
school in Pittsburgh, and I was lucky enough to be taught by several
members of George Romeroís crew. In fact, the old 16mm camera I shot my
senior film on was also used on the original Night
of the Living! I
made the move to LA about 15 years ago, with the idea of maybe getting
into cinematography, since I had been shooting local commercials and
documentaries in Pittsburgh. But I wound up interning on a
still-unreleased Angus Scrimm horror movie and some of Roger Cormanís
last studio flicks [Roger Corman
bio - click here]. It was fun, nonstop
work, and I soon found myself in the DGA. Around the same time, I optioned my first script
(Zombie Hunter; to Mel
Brooksí former accountant!) and subsequently began working as a script
doctor. This led to more writing and eventually producing.
the years, you have worked on quite a few "monster mash-up" movies with such
irresistible titles as Sharktopus,
Arachnaconda and Grizzligator - you just have to talk about your
involvement with this, shall we say, subgenre for a bit, and how much fun is
it working on films like these?
love monster movies! I produced a mini-series a few years ago called Shark
Swarm, which was really one of the first movies in the recent wave of
sharksploitation flicks. It was crazy fun! It was the biggest movie Iíd
ever done. We had Daryl Hannah, John Schneider, Armand Assante and even F.
Murray Abraham! He was such a sport, too.
He had some of the most ridiculous dialogue in the movie--thatís
saying a lot--and he did it all with a smile. Anyway, Shark Swarm developed a bit
of a cult following, and as a result, I got Sharktopus, which became a
surprise hit. Soon after, it seemed that all anyone
wanted to see were monsters and hybrids. I, of course, loved this and
immediately started writing Grizzligator and Arachnaconda, which I still
think have huge potential, as well as Maneater Mountain, Sea
Scorpions and Arachnapocalypse. I could come up with monster flicks all day if you
Other movies you've worked on you'd like to talk about?
A few years back, I
was doing a polish on Howard Sternís still-unproduced remake of Porky's, when the producers asked me to write a follow-up,
featuring the same classic Porky's characters in a new story. The idea I
came up with was Porky's: The College Years. Iíve been a huge fan of
the first movie since the fifth grade, so this was like a boyhood
dream-come-true to write. I had to do it very quickly, in less than a
month really, but I think the final product came out great. Aussie legend
Brian Trenchard-Smith directed, and it made a quiet debut on pay-per-view
a couple of years ago (under a goofy different title), but it has yet to
get a proper release, mostly due to the ongoing legal battle over the
rights to the Porky's name. When it does finally come out, I think fans
of the original will be pleased. Another project is The Sadist, a
contemporary remake of the 1963 Arch Hall jr thriller [original
The Sadist - click here; Arch
Hall jr bio - click here]. That script is great;
itís such a tight, simple story, that it lends itself to any time
period. Iíd really like to get that made soon. Iím also still proud of
my first Lifetime
script, While the Children Sleep (on DVD as The Sitter).
It still does great numbers--Lifetimeís run it about twice a month for
the last seven years!
can you tell us about your company
Machine, and how did it come into being? And what's the philosophy
The Monster Machine grew out
of my love of monster movies, which was reinvigorated while making Sharktopus. After we wrapped, I was approached by a lot of people who
wanted to make more monster-hybrid movies. I originally wanted to make
more of them with Corman [Roger
Corman bio - click here], but he already had his own monsters in the
pipeline, so I decided to form my own company to develop and produce
scripts. Iíve since expanded The Monster Machine to include all types of
horror projects, and not just monsters.
How would you describe yourself as a writer,
and some of your writing habits?
Dialogueís probably my
strong suit. I like to have a reasonably-detailed, scene-by-scene story
written (10-20pgs) before I start the script; this makes the actual
writing go faster and it allows me to spend more time refining the
dialogue. Iím a big believer in conversational dialogue, something
thatís missing in lots of genre scripts Iíve noticed. I also try to
follow what I call ĎHitchcockís Rule of Narrative Economyí. He was a
big believer of keeping the story lean and concise, and I couldnít agree
more. Iím constantly going through my scripts to trim the fat!
whoever else who inspire you?
JeezÖ so many! Iím
a huge fan of the horror greats: Dario Argento, George Romero, David
Cronenberg, John Carpenter, Mario Bava [Mario
Bava bio - click here], Alfred Hitchcock, Lucio Fulci [Lucio
Fulci bio - click here], Sam
RaimiÖ too many to list! I
also love Robert Altman and Stanley Kubrick and Woody Allen and Mel Brooks
and Blake EdwardsÖ I could go on all day!
Iím also a huge Hal Needham fan!
Your favourite movies?
Wow Ö I donít know if I
could put these in any kind of order, but The Empire Strikes back and
The Wrath of Khan would certainly be up there, along with Romeroís
Dawn of the Dead, Kubrickís
The Shining, Carpenterís
The Fog/The Thing/Halloween,
Smokey and the Bandit and Deliverance,
Manhattan, Blazing Saddles and Animal HouseÖ my list could be a mile long. I better stop
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Thereís some torture-porn
out there that really sucks; Iím glad thatís starting to run its
course. I donít mind it when great movies are remade, but sometimes they
seem to almost be intentionally shitty. That awful remake of The Fog
to mind, as well as that ridiculous mini-series attempt at The Shining
from a few years back. And that Prom Night remake was almost unwatchable.
How do you mess up a simple concept like that? And donít even get me started on the CGI crapfest that was
The Haunting remake!
movie's/your company's website, Facebook, whatever else?
like The Monster Machine on Facebook and follow @_MonsterMachine on
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Iíd love it if
Porky's fans would band together and demand that Porky's: The
College Years gets
a proper release! Itís a great companion piece to the original trilogy
and a lot of fun!
for the interview!