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An Interview with Owen Conway, Director and Star of Ghost Town: An American Terror

by Mike Haberfelner

March 2023

Owen Conway on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Ghost Town: An American Terror - in a few words, what is it about?

 

To me, itís really about the art and industry of visual storytelling. I like to think of it as a ďtough love letterĒ to cinema.

 

With Ghost Town: An American Terror being a blend of western and horror motives - are these genres dear to you, and some of your genre favourites

 

Very much so. Growing up in the Southwest US, westerns are in the cultural DNA. I still think about the effect Val Kilmerís performance in Tombstone had on me, and I think Unforgiven is the gold standard of how to realistically handle violence in a film. Ghost Town definitely owes a debt to High Plains Drifter and some of theTwilight Zones that were set in the Old West.

 

Iíve heard horror referred to as the Wild West of genres. Itís the place where you can break rules and still reach a wide audience. The Omen, The Wicker Man, Rosemaryís BabyÖ The Exorcist is probably my top horror film just cuz it still scares the crap outta me. I love where horror is nowadays. I really dig what Mike Flanagan [Mike Flanagan interview - click here] is doing. I think the bent neck lady storyline in The Haunting of  Hill House is some of the best horror Iíve ever seen. Midsommar got under my skin big time, and that ďstar lasso experienceĒ sequence from Nope was pure nightmare fuel.

 

(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Ghost Town: An American Terror?

 

I think Ghost Town owes most to American Psycho, actually. Both Mary Harronís movie and the book it was based on by Brett Easton Ellis. I came upon them in my early 20s and it just broke open my idea of what a story could be. Itís this intense horror, absurd comedy, a kind of Richard the 3rd-esque tragedy and it all adds up to this straight-razor satire about consumerism and greed. Was on my mind a lot as I made Ghost Town.

 

What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

I try to foster creativity as much as possible. This is a team sport, and especially at a low budget level where people arenít walking out with a lot of money, you want them to be to be fulfilled creatively. At the same time, I had a very clear understanding of what I needed. I storyboarded the whole thing, which I guess a lot of people donít do anymore, but to me it was crucial. I had to have the  movie made in my head and on paper before I could shoot it.

 

The vibe on a set is very important, and itís the directorís job to set that tone. What Iím most proud of is that we had a very laid back, mellow and supportive atmosphere. Some days were better than others, but it was a great experience overall. I donít know, maybe I just lucked out with cast and crew .

 

You also appear in front of the camera in Ghost Town: An American Terror - so what can you tell us about your character, what did you draw upon to bring him to life, and have you written him with yourself in mind from the get-go?

 

About halfway through my first draft I realized that I was writing Solomon for myself. I was kind of unconsciously both playing to my strengths, and mapping out places where I could be challenged.

We see a lot of colors in Solomon throughout the film. I started with this sort of Ďearly Tom HanksĎ kinda clumsy affability mixed with the earnestness of Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs. As the story goes on, I dip into De Niro, Pacino, Day-Lewis, thereís a little bit of Jack Nicholson in there too. Solomon was kind of an everything bagel of all my influences.

 

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

 

I knew going into it that I needed actors who would be able to nail it without a lot of hand-holding. We had to move so fast, and I was in almost every scene, so there was no time on set really to rehearse. I didnít do a typical casting process, For the most part I just offered the role to the actor I knew could do it and who I knew would be fun to work with. To a person, this cast were absolute pros and genuinely great people.

 

Where was Ghost Town: An American Terror actually filmed, and what was it like filming there? And how did you find your locations even?

 

Ghost Town was filmed in Phoenix, Arizona at Pioneer Living History Museum. We were very fortunate that Pioneer were so welcoming and kind. It was almost like having our own backlot. I like to say that big movies are made by committees and little movies are made by communities and this movie was no exception. Iím very grateful to Pioneer, and if youíre in the Phoenix area, drop by and check it out! Great place to bring the kids.

 

The $64-question of course, where can Ghost Town: An American Terror be seen?

 

Streamers like Amazon Prime, on demand and DVD.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Ghost Town: An American Terror?

 

Iíve screened it a few times and people seem to dig it! Thereís been a lot of praise for the performances and the cinematography and thatís very gratifying. Itís a bit nerve-wracking because itís an unapologetically weird movie, and you sometimes worry that important stuff can get lost in translation. I always loved the way Twilight Zone explored real-life horrors through allegory, and Ghost Town was definitely made in that style. My hope is that the viewer doesnít HAVE to read between the lines to enjoy the movie, but if they do, thereís something there to read.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

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Early stages of another horror feature! And Iím writing all the time. Iíve been booking some more TV and streaming roles just as an actor thatíll be dropping this year. I donít wanna get more specific cuz I might get in trouble. Check back with me in a couple months lol.

 

Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

Instagram: @owentconway, @ghosttownmovie2023 

Twitter: @owenconway

Tiktok: @owenconwayactor

YouTube: @owenconwayactor

 

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

 

Just that Iím very grateful to my amazing cast and crew, and I hope everyone enjoys the movie!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thanks for having me!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD