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An Interview with Tate Hoffmaster and Dylan Mars Greenberg, Makers of Psychic Vampire

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2023

Tate Hoffmaster on (re)Search my Trash

Dylan Mars Greenberg on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Psychic Vampire - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Psychic Vampire is about a young man who is drawn to a cult that worships a video game and his voyage out of the cult.

 

Tate, what were your sources of inspiration when writing Psychic Vampire, and is any of it based on your actual experiences within the gaming world - or on experiences with really bad roommates?

 

Tate: Oddly enough, I was not playing any video games when writing Psychic Vampire, but there were plenty of videos about gaming on the internet, and I felt an overwhelming amount of empathy. I play a lot more games now though as a result when I have time. PS2, PS1, Gamecube, NES. As for bad roommates, I never really had any either, some quips were stuff I found a little vexxing that a roommate said, but I didnít think they were bad per se.

 

How did the project fall together in the first place, and Dylan, what drew you to it?

 

Tate: I wrote the script after finding the story on the internet. I fictionalized it to the max but kept the main plot. There were a lot of contradictions in the original story which I thought was fun to play with, but there was this story about people driving each other nuts in one house. I thought that would be cheap to film. I wrote the script to include props I had on hand. Actors brought props and warddrobe, which I would write into a scene on set knowing we had them. Then I called Dylan and a few other friends to make it happen.

 

Dylan: Tate and I worked together for a while at Troma - and granted other people know I work at Troma and have sent me scripts that they think I would like - but they often misunderstand what Troma is about. Troma isnít just blood and gore and splatter, Troma is smart and has a message. When I read Tateís script, it has many of those same nuances - it doesnít take itself too seriously, but itís also very smart, very well written. It manages to be thought provoking without being pretentious. Plus, a lot of it is one location, and a little secret for filmmakers is that single location films are usually the most fun to make.

 

What were the challenges of bringing Psychic Vampire to the screen from a producer's point of view?

 

Tate: Well, in production, we got kicked out of the apartment we were filming in, but it was an easy fix, Dylan cheated the camera so we could shoot in the house we were staying in. In post, there were a lot of sound issues.

 

Dylan: Funny enough, one of the most challenging parts was making the house look convincingly gross enough on a 300 Dollar budget for the entire film. In an ideal world if we had more of an art direction budget we could have taken it in a Nothing But Trouble direction and just had garbage stacked to the ceiling surrounding the cast. That being said we actually shot in two different houses, we needed one that was smaller for the living room scenes, and then we used a bigger house with a lot of rooms for the bedrooms. But there definitely needed to be this claustrophobic feeling - we also tried to get this across with lighting things garish colors, I wanted it to feel uneasy. Given I was also the DP, I also tried to shoot things in an uncomfortable way.

 

Do talk about Psychic Vampire brand of comedy for a bit!

 

Tate : I was very inspired by deadpan, ďawkwardĒ comedy for this film. I used Napeleon Dynamite, Eagle Vs. Shark, What We Do in the Shadows and King of the Hill as reference. That was mixed with Dylan's and my sense of humor which is very silly and absurd.

 

Tate, what can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

Tate: I like to call everyone I work with before filming. For actors, Iíll make sure they have the right costume, send a few reference videos for their character and build a character with them. That way on set all I have to do is say can you stand on this line, etc. Iím very hands off on set, besides acting or directing how the camera should move. I also talked to Dylan in depth about my vision. She understands my work so well.

 

You both also appear in front of the camera - so do talk about your respective characters, and what did you draw upon to bring them to life?

 

Tate: For my character, I was very inspired by fedorians as well as fuckboys. Thereís a running joke about fedorians thinking theyíre nice guys but Iíve never seen one respect a woman. So I thought fuckboy was not a stretch but an interesting mix since they tend to be incels.

 

Dylan: Well, the characters are loosely based on real people, although granted people whoís faces I had never so much as seen given the sources all mostly came from online forums. I think my style of acting is very cartoonish. I always say Iím most suited to play a villain in 60s Batman. So I think my idea was, play it like that, but then try and give a humanity to someone like that.

 

What can you tell us about the rest of Psychic Vampire's cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Tate: Bear Spiegel, Kaatia Fedrow, and Bailey Monroe were totally my focus. They understood their characters so well and breathed new life into them. Why I chose them? I needed people I know would show up, plain and simple. Added bonus, they were all very good at their roles. Mister Lobo, Lisa Terror and Lloyd Kaufman were also added bonuses I wrote in after shooting the main script.

 

What was the collaboration between the two of you actually like?

 

Tate: The main way I produce is through writing. Iím mainly able to shoot cheap because of my scripts. Dylan does a lot of the main problem solving on set, she helped when we got kicked out of the apartment. I also do that, not as much. Dylan is also good at getting names attached and helping with screenings, distribution. She really understands film and that whole world. Iím an idea guy and I gather and I plan and I budget.

 

Dylan: I think it worked really well. I donít know if a lot of other people would have been able to do it on the budget we had. I like working with Tate because they actually get stuff done, and thatís partially why we keep collaborating. I like working with people who do what they say theyíre going to do - itís a rare quality.

 

As far as I know, you're currently raising funds for another movie together, Pizza Guy 8 - so do talk about that project for a bit, and about your fundraising campaign!

 

Tate: Pizza Guy 8 is my love letter to B movies, what really got me into filmmaking. Pizza Guy 8 is about a killer pizza guy who begins to realize heís in a horror movie and tries to escape. Itís very lackadaisical and fun and weird. Check out our Indiegogo, weíre trying to raise money so we can pay for travel, hard drives, etc. And hope to get some good merchandise to get to our fans!

 

Dylan: I adored the script and quickly realized that this isn't just an ordinary low-budget film. It's a micro-budget movie that fully embraces its limitations, taking a clever and surreal approach that seamlessly combines sophistication with simplicity. Like Psychic Vampire itís unpretentious but itís smart. I think fans of shot-on-video horror will watch it and then be very surprised by the true charm and wit of the film.

 

Back to Psychic Vampire: A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

Tate: I had a lot of fun, it felt like a bunch of friends just hanging out! 

 

Dylan: For the most part Iíd say the atmosphere was pretty jovial. I love shooting single location because we all can hang out in a big house. While we were shooting, thatís when Trump lost the 2020 election. I was worried weíd get caught in a riot - of course, there really was a riot, but a state or two over. Also, I kept joking on set that we were going to shoot it back to back with a sequel called Psychic Vampireís Christmas.

 

The $64-question of course, where can Psychic Vampire be seen?

 

Tate: The main answer is TromaNow. Otherwise message me on Instagram or Facebook. @xfilescabinet or Tate Hoffmaster. I will ship you a homemade DVD if you send me $7 plus shipping. Weíre working on distribution and getting some nice DVDs, Blu-rays, and VHS tapes.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Psychic Vampire?

 

Tate: Had exactly the intended reaction. I set out to make a cult movie about a cult. People either love it or hate it.

 

Dylan: So far I think itís been pretty positive - once Pizza Guy 8 is finished weíre hoping to package them as a double feature and get them out there. Psychic Vampire is a hard sell because while it toes the line, it ultimately is more of a comedy drama than a horror film. Pizza Guy 8 is more of a comedy horror film which I think is a better way to hook people, and hopefully get the message across.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

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Tate: Thereís Pizza Guy 8, but if you follow me on Instagram Iím working on a few shorts and music videos at the moment! Iím in development for a few new features as well which I will post about!

 

Dylan: I also have a film I directed, Spirit Riser, coming out soon, and my film ReAgitator is currently out on Vudu!

 

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

 

Tate: @peacedawgieproductions is the Instagram. @xfilescabinet I keep more up to date. Peace Dawgie Productions is also on Facebook. No website, yet! Check out Psychic Vampire on Troma Now and Pizza Guy 8 on Indiegogo!

 

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

 

Tate: Mee bee bo bo bee.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank you!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
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On the same day
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directed by
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