Show cover of The Nick Taylor Horror Show

The Nick Taylor Horror Show

Exploring the techniques, strategies, and key pieces of advice for aspiring horror directors, straight from the minds of some of the greatest filmmakers and creators in horror. Host Nick Taylor engages in one-on-one conversations with directors, producers, writers, actors and artists to uncover the keys to their creative and professional success in the horror business.

Tracks

Producer Andrew Corkin
Today we're talking to Andrew Corkin. Andrew is a producer who's body of work includes Martha Marcy May Marlene, the American remake of We Are What We Are, The Beach House (now streaming on Shudder) Alone With You, the feature debut of Emily Bennett and Justin Brooks, the Netfliux docuseries, Pepsi Where’s my Jet, and many more titles. In addition to producing, Andrew is also a teacher who has taught at Emerson and The American Film Institute and goes out of his way to teach career lessons that are not typically taught in film school as evidenced by this conversation.Andrew delivers some of the most honest and thorough insights into what it means to be a producer that I think I've ever heard on this show. This is years worth of film school in a single hours so get ready to take notes. In this conversation Andrew and I discuss the keys to sustaining a long and successful career in film, the importance of mentorship and his experience within the horror genre. Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Andrew Corkin.Heed the 80/20 Principle: Andrew pays a lot of mind to which directors he decides to work with, noting that it's a 3-5 year partnership and therefore a serious commitment. The balance he seeks in a director he’s working with is someone with a strong vision but open to feedback. The ideal director has 80% of their vision realized and thought out, but remains open to 20% influence from collaborators. A director with too strong a vision is as difficult to work with as one whose vision isn't fleshed out enough. It's crucial to demonstrate a thorough vision while maintaining some fluidity to enable powerful collaborations.Show Don't Tell: When pitching Martha Marcy May Marlene with Director Sean Durkin, raising money was a challenge since at the time, Sean was a first time feature director. Andrew and Sean responded by creating a short proof of concept, showcasing the vision, tone, and nuance of the film they wanted to make. This approach was successful, helping them raise the funds not just by communicating the vision, but by demonstrating Sean’s ability to deliver it as a director. A verbally articulated vision can only take you so far; producers need to see what you're capable of actually making if they’re going to invest in you.Lean into mentorship. A common theme throughout Andrew’s career has been mentorship and education. He not only seeks to learn from collaborators but will even choose specific collaborators to learn from. This learner's mindset can be rare in the film business which is rife with egos, but Andrew credits this mentality of continuous learning to his success and career sustainability and even after over a decade in the industry, he still constantly strives to learn more.SHOW NOTESMovies Mentioned: The Kid Stays in the Picture (Documentary about Robert Evans)Afterschool - Antonio CamposSimon Killer - Antonio CamposMartha Marcy May Marlene - Sean DurkinWe Are What We Are (Mexican Original) - Jorge Michel GrauWe Are What We Are (American Remake) - Jim MickleLet the Right One In (Swedish Original) - Tomas AlfredsonThe Babadook - Jennifer KentVigilante - Sarah Dagger-NixonClean Shaven - Lodge KerriganLe Samourai - Jean-Pierre MelvilleFollow Andrew Corkin at:Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andrewdcorkin/X:  https://twitter.com/andrewdcorkin?lang=enIMDB:
40:00 2/23/24
Onyx The Fortuitous Director, Andrew Bowser
Today we have the Director of Onyx the Fortuitous, Andrew Bowser. Onyx the Fortuitous is a blast of a movie, now streaming on Screambox and one of the things I liked most about it is 1, it had really awesome practical creature effects from Adam KreatureKid Doughterty, but two, it was such a unique vision of a movie that was cast straight from Andrew's skull. The vision behind this movie was super unique, super fun, hilarious, and the movie ultimately made it all the way to the Sundance Film Festival.In this interview with Andrew, we get into the highly personal origins of the character of Onyx, how he was able to bring the character from being a YouTube sensation to a full feature, and plenty of geeking out on 90's nostalgia and practical effects.Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Andrew.Expect to adapt. During filming, Andrew faced significant production constraints, including the loss of a crucial filming location – a cemetery. Every production needs a plan B, C, and sometimes even D. Andrew's experience is a textbook example. Losing a cemetery location could've been a disaster, but instead, it turned into a creative opportunity. Andrew's producer figured the art department could create a graveyard in the backyard of the house they were shooting at and voila, you cannot tell the difference. Things will inevitably go wrong when making movies so not only do you have to be adaptable, you need to surround yourself with other adaptable folks, especially producers.Hire local. When filming in unfamiliar locations you'll need someone on your crew with local knowledge. Andrew shot in Lenox Massachusetts and had local producers and a local AD. Their in-depth knowledge of the area, connections, and ability to navigate local challenges streamlined the production process. They had a ton of solves because they knew the town and the people in it and were able to call in favors. Every production needs a fixer, if you're filming outside a major production town, make sure you have a local expert on your crew.Channel yourself into your work. Andrew stated that Onyx is a manifestation of a lot of things that went undealt with in his fifth-grade self. First of all, this is a beautiful sentiment and I really appreciated him allowing himself to be so vulnerable to share this. Second of all, this is a fundamental key to great art which is to channel yourself into it. On the surface, Onyx might seem like a goofy, quirky caricature but there's something very compelling and lovable about him and it's entirely because he comes from a genuine and authentic place. For Andrew, Onyx wasn't just an alter ego but a vehicle through which he was able to recognize and process personal issues. It's pretty profound and a strong reminder of how cathartic art can be. For any creative, remember: your unique perspective is what gives your work its heart and soul so embrace it.SHOW NOTESMovies/ShowsHouse 2British Baking Show MiscAdam Dougherty - Creature Designer @Kreaturekid on Instagram or check out: kreaturekid.comFollow Andrew Bowser at:Facebook:  https://web.facebook.com/AndrewBowserDirector/?_rdc=1&_rdrInstagram:  https://www.instagram.com/andrewbowserdirector/?hl=enX: https://twitter.com/andrewbowser?lang=enLinkedIn: IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0101453/
55:46 2/15/24
Eli Roth - Round 2
Today’s guest needs no introduction, Eli Roth is one of the heads on the Mount Rushmore of horror and for good reason. This is actually my second interview with Eli and if you haven’t already, I recommend listening to my first conversation with him prior to this one. This time around, Eli and I dug deep into the making of Thanksgiving, the status of Thanksgiving 2, how he comes up with new gore gags, and they keys to running a fun and productive set. Thanksgiving, by the way, is now streaming on demand and available on blu ray. Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Eli Roth. Be prepared and pick people up. Eli mentions that the secret to achieving the balance of a fun and professional set is to channel excitement into the work itself, rather than simply goofing off. Though there is a time and place for things like pranks and horsing around, the focus should be on cultivating a set culture that collectively revels in the filmmaking process whether it’s over an amazing shot, a performance, or practical effect. The key to creating this as a director is to be prepared and to do everything you can to ensure everyone else is prepared. Eli also points out that on any project people are going to have bad days and it's important for the set to rally around people and pick them up when it happens. This approach ensures a smooth and cohesive set experience and an environment of trust where everyone feels supported which is the foundation for getting great work done. Face & study your fears. Eli is vocal about channeling his own fears and anxieties into his movies. For instance, 'Green Inferno' mirrors his concerns about slacktivism—the millennial trend of supporting causes superficially on social media without any genuine action. 'Hostel' is about xenophobia and the consequences of perceiving foreigners as “the other," while 'Cabin Fever' came from his personal encounter with a parasitic skin disease. Eli underscores the significance of confronting and understanding one's fears as a method to unearth the thematic core of a story, often hidden within these fears. In 'Thanksgiving,' he draws upon his existential unease with the over-commercialization of Christmas, observing how the frenzied consumerism of Black Friday directly contradicts the Thanksgiving holiday's ethos of gratitude and compassion, which became the movie’s theme. Misdirect is the key to a good scare. Modern horror audiences are tough to shock; they're well-versed in the genre's tricks and can detect a jumpscare from a mile away. Eli points out that effective scares are all about the misdirect. Emphasizing that the scare works best when it’s off-rhythm after you lead viewers down one path you abruptly divert them elsewhere. He notes that the most successful scares are those that break the predictable rhythm that you set as a director. Eli also stresses the importance of variety in scares and how it's crucial to compare each scare to every other scare to avoid repetition. Audiences are quick to pick up on patterns, so each scare should be unique to prevent them from anticipating them. SHOW NOTES Movies Mute Witness The House that Screamed The Vanishing (Dutch Version) The Prowler Filmmaking Tools  FrameForge software for previsualization of scenes
18:15 2/3/24
Eli Roth on THANKSGIVING
Today we have a very, very special guest. Somebody who I've wanted to have on the show since I first started the show a few years ago. That is the legendary Eli Roth. We basically focused the conversation on Thanksgiving, his latest movie, which I highly recommend you go see. In any case, I figured I would give everybody a brief overview of the life and career of Eli Roth before getting to the interview. Eli Roth was born in Newton, Massachusetts. His father was a psychologist, and his mother was an artist. He grew up on '80s horror and even had a horror-thriller theme to his Bar Mitzvah, where he got sawed in half. He went on to attend the NYU Tisch Film School, and he made what he called a Tarantino rip-off, a short called "Restaurant Dogs," which he spent about $10,000 on and used as a calling card to get his first feature made. His first feature, of course, was Cabin Fever in 2003. So Cabin Fever was based on a real-life skin rash that he got while riding ponies on a farm in Iceland. Turns out it was ringworm, and he claims that when he was scratching his leg, entire pieces of skin were peeling off. He then went to shave his face, and it had affected his face too. And as he tried to shave, entire swaths of skin came off of his face. Eli claimed that he essentially shaved off half of his face before realizing this is a perfect concept for a horror movie. He then went on to write the script, but it took six years for him to raise the $1.5 million budget, which he raised through private investments. The movie went on the festival circuit, and Tarantino saw it and claimed it was the best new American movie. It was eventually bought by Lionsgate at the Toronto Film Festival in what was the festival's biggest sale and then went on to earn $35 million globally. Perhaps Eli Roth is best known for his breakout horror hit, Hostel. This is my favorite Eli Roth movie. There's something about it that I find to be just timeless and ruthless but still a lot, a lot of fun. It mixes brutality with fun in equal measure and it gets really dark and really brutal and really scary, and you almost don't think you can handle it, but somehow you can. Hostel was made for a budget of $4 million and opened number one at the box office opening weekend, eventually taking in $20 million in its first weekend and grossing $80 million worldwide at the box office. Eli turned down multiple studio directing jobs and took a directing salary of only $10,000 on Hostel to keep the budget as low as possible so there would be no limits set on the violence. In 2006, film critic David Edelstein in New York Magazine credited Eli Roth with creating the horror subgenre, "torture porn." So when you think about it, the early 2000s was a pretty watershed time for horror. The '90s were relatively tame compared to the '80s. Of course, in the '90s you had Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, but they paled in comparison to the buckets of gore that we saw with franchises like Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and even the Texas Chainsaw sequels that came out in the '80s. However, the early 2000s led to the Splat Pack. This is a number of directors who were considered to contribute to a gleeful revival of gore being put back into movies, and Eli Roth was a big part of it. They include Eli Roth, Alexander Aja, Adam Green, Rob Zombie, and James Wan. There were a few others, but these were the main guys credited as being part of the Splat Pack. So to put this into chronological order, first came High Tension in 2003, which also kick-started French extremism. That was director Alexander Aja. And that movie is fantastic. I highly, highly recommend it. Next came Rob Zombie's amazing House of a Thousand Corpses. I recently bought the Blu-ray, and I think I've bought this
24:43 11/23/23
Origin Stories LIQUID DEATH CEO & Co-Founder, Mike Cessario [Episode 108]
Mike Cessario is the CEO and Founder of Liquid Death, an outrageous new canned water brand with quality mountain water engineered to murder your thirst! Liquid Death has made a name for itself as an extremely disruptive force of marketing, and the brand's outlandish marketing stunts are as refreshing as the water itself. To date, the brand has convinced 180,000 people to sell them their souls, has cursed its water with a real witch, and performed a reverse exorcism with an accredited warlock that allegedly put demons into the water. Customers who purchased during this time period were entitled to a coupon for $1 off any exorcism (yes, this is all for real). Recently, to further raise awareness of plastic pollution in the oceans, Liquid Death released a series of plush marine animal stuffed toys called Cutie Polluties that were bloodied and choked with plastic garbage. Additionally, as you can imagine, this is a brand whose unholy approach to marketing inspires a lot of controversy and hate, which is why Liquid Death took their favorite angry online comments and turned them into lyrics for their own death metal album. Liquid Death also has a very compelling mission, which is to eradicate the overuse of plastic bottles. According to their website, the average aluminum can contains over 70% recycled material, whereby the average plastic bottle contains only 3%. Additionally, aluminum cans are infinitely recyclable, and of all the aluminum produced since 1888, over 75% of it is still in current use. Plastic, on the other hand, technically isn't even recyclable in the first place because it costs so much money to melt it down, sending most of it into landfills and into the ocean. The planet has been overrun by plastic pollution, and Liquid Death is here to do something about it, which is why 10% of profits from every can sold help kill plastic pollution. Prior to founding Liquid Death, Mike worked in marketing with companies like Vayner Media and worked on multiple viral promotions for Netflix on series like "House of Cards," "Stranger Things," and "Narcos." The entrepreneurial origin story behind Liquid Death is extremely inspirational and a real testament to how putting passion, fun, and personality into a brand can make it into a formidable game-changer.  Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Mike Cessario. Throw the rules away. The world of branding is silently governed by a list of archaic rules that dictate what you can and can't do - if you want a groundbreaking brand, it's time to stop playing by these rules. During his advertising years, Mike asked himself why products, specifically in CPG, had to play by these bland and boring 1950s rules, which entertainment brands were never at the mercy of. As a result, Liquid Death's marketing is brash, violent, occasionally foul-mouthed, and extremely controversial, but as a result, it has a rabid fan base because it's so fun and different. So whether you're starting a new brand or want to do something different with an existing one, consider throwing out the puritanical rule book that's been governing the world of CPG for decades and do something new. Ideas don't sell. Proof sells. After coming up with the idea of Liquid Death, instead of running straight toward investors, Mike decided to prove the product's viability in a low-risk manner by producing a commercial for the product before it even existed. The commercial was completely insane, became instantly viral, and Mike set up a Facebook page to gauge interest and found that there was a serious amount of demand for his product. He was even pitched by stores like 7-11. Mike then took this data, made a pitch deck, and was off to the races with investors. Had Mike walked...
55:53 7/20/23
THE OUTWATERS Director, Robbie Banfitch [Episode 107]
Welcome to the Nick Taylor Horror Show! As always, each episode of The Nick Taylor Horror Show explores how today's horror filmmakers are getting their movies made while deconstructing their methods and career strategies into practical insights that you can use on your own horror filmmaking journey. This includes their creative processes, funding resources, favorite books & tools, key life lessons, and much, much more. In this episode, we're thrilled to welcome the innovative, resourceful, and determined filmmaker Robbie Banfitch. Robbie recently made an impressive debut with his first feature, 'The Outwaters.' 'The Outwaters'  is a unique blend of survival horror and found footage with a touch of quantum horror. The film takes its audience on a terrifying journey into the heart of the Mojave Desert and straight to hell from there. Here, four travelers set up camp, initially to shoot a music video, but soon find themselves plunged into a harrowing, reality-bending nightmare. What begins as unexplained sounds, odd vibrations, and strange animal behavior soon morphs into a terrifying ordeal that challenges the very nature of their reality. Not only did Robbie direct this film, but he also wrote it, starred in it, and financed it while working full-time for Greenpeace. All of this was achieved on a meager budget of just $7,000, proving that creativity and drive can outshine even the tightest of budgets. The film premiered at the New Jersey Film Festival in 2022 and is now streaming on Screambox. Without further ado, please enjoy this conversation with Robbie Banfitch.  Reflecting on our conversation with Robbie Banfitch, only one key takeaway stands out: if you want to be a filmmaker, there is simply no excuse not to make your movie. Robbie's journey with 'The Outwaters' showcases this in its purest form. With a limited budget, he managed to create a feature film that didn't feel restricted by its financial constraints but instead used them to inform its very intentional style and narrative. Horror is not just the most profitable genre—it's also the most adaptable. We've witnessed an explosion of creativity, with filmmakers exploiting simple technology to craft stories through Zoom calls, screen shares, and beyond. You're truly only limited by your imagination. Our guests consistently reiterate this advice which is: look at what you have and just start filming. We're in an era where excuses are obsolete. And Robbie is a shining example of this spirit. He's not only made Outwaters but has gone on to shoot two more features. Regardless of what he has access to, he's a relentless creative force who actualizes his projects, offering a pretty serious lesson for all of us. Robbie's journey reminds us to seize any and all opportunities and to start creating, regardless of our circumstances. As Robbie demonstrated, all it takes is a little ingenuity, tenacity, and a budget as low as $7,000. As I reflect on this conversation, it's clear that it's time I take this advice to heart myself, and I hope you listeners do too. Until next time, stay spooky and keep creating. Show notes Movies Mentioned: Willow Creek Knight of Cups  Thank you for listening! Don't forget to subscribe.  ----- Produced by Simpler Media
32:47 7/13/23
What Was That? Hanover Haunting Survivor & Grim Reaper Sighting (TRIGGER WARNING) [Bonus]
Today, we are moving away from our usual discussion about cinema and diving into uncharted waters. A while ago, I developed a podcast concept called 'What Was That?', where I explored the world of the paranormal. The series didn't come to full fruition (yet), but I've held onto two pilot episodes that are ready to be revealed. The first episode tackles a true event known as The Hanover Haunting, one of the most intense examples of demonic activity in history. Be warned, this episode delves into some intense content, so listener discretion is advised along with a trigger warning that this episode mentions instances of child abuse.  The second episode centers on an individual's encounter with the Grim Reaper. This experience challenges our understanding of life, death, and the mysterious in-between. As we explore these true accounts, keep this question in your mind: What Was That? Hope you enjoy!  ----- Produced by Simpler Media
59:56 7/7/23
MALUM Director Anthony DiBlasi [Episode 106]
Welcome to The Nick Taylor Horror Show! Today, we have a dynamic duo, Director Anthony DiBlasi, and his wife, actress Natalie Victoria, joining us.  After graduating from Emerson College and moving to Los Angeles, Anthony became a protégé of Clive Barker and worked alongside him on films like Midnight Meat Train and 2009's Book of Blood.  Anthony made his directorial debut with the psychological thriller Dread, based on a Clive Barker short story. One of Anthony's most acclaimed films was Last Shift, released by Magnolia Pictures in 2015. His filmography also includes the psychological thriller Extremity from 2018. Now let's talk about Anthony's Wife, Natalie Victoria. Beginning her career in theater, Natalie has earned awards and recognition for her acting and writing. Natalie has acted in various features, short films, and stage plays, including the comedy "Deadheads," and the cult classic horror film Last Shift.  Natalie stars in Anthony's latest release Malum, which is actually a remake of Last Shift.  The film follows a rookie police officer as she uncovers the eerie connection between her father's death and a vicious cult during her shift at a decommissioned police station. As the lone officer on duty, she finds herself in the midst of terrifying paranormal events while learning the shocking truth about her family's history with the cult. In our conversation today, we discuss the importance of building trust with actors, crafting horror based on personal fears, and Anthony's 10 years working with Clive Barker. Here for your listening pleasure are Natalie Victoria and Anthony DiBlasi. Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Anthony DiBlasi. Make Hell a safe space.  I've talked with people at length about how horror can be substantially more demanding on actors because it requires the most intense emotions. For this reason, horror directors need to take particularly great care of their actors. Anthony mentioned that it's essential for directors to shield their actors from on-set turmoil, especially time constraints. By ensuring your actors are cocooned from such pressures, even at the cost of other departments, you provide them with the environment necessary for a stellar performance. Forge an emotional connection to your actors.  Anthony also stressed the significance of establishing genuine emotional connections with your actors.  It's the director's job to uncover the emotional truth that resonates with the actor for each scene. Rather than rudely prying them for emotionally intimate details of their life, Anthony stated that he would often reveal intimate and vulnerable details about himself and how he related to a scene to enable them to open up. Art often requires vulnerability; if you want your actors to go to dark places, you have to be willing to go there first.  Find out how your actors like to work. Further, Anthony and Natalie underlined the importance of understanding your actor's preferred way of working and direction style. Encourage them to share past directing experiences, both good and bad. Every actor is different, and tuning into their specific needs will mold you into a more versatile director. Create a repository When it came to the creation of Malum, Anthony revealed how various elements - dreams, sketches, vague concepts - had been incorporated into the film.  Fortunately, his habit of consistently jotting down ideas, no matter how undeveloped, provided a wealth of material, or 'firewood' as David Lynch would say, all of which was at his disposal during the scriptwriting process. As a result, Anthony strongly encourages the use of note-taking apps (like Evernote and Notion), as they can be game changers. Amassing your thoughts over time can make...
58:36 6/29/23
SWALLOWED Director, Carter Smith [Episode 105]
Welcome to The Nick Taylor Horror Show! Carter Smith is a writer, director, and photographer who has directed movies such as The Ruins, Midnight Kiss, and, most recently, Swallowed.  Swallowed is an independent body horror film about two friends who find themselves swallowed up in a drug smuggling operation where they ingest drug-filled sacs and trigger a chain of horrific events.  This is my second interview with Carter, so if you're interested in his director origin story, including his work with Paramount and Blumhouse, you should definitely go check out episode 34. In this interview, we cover the making of Swallowed, the benefits of working with a lower budget and smaller crew, and how to puppeteer monstrous worms. All this and so much more on the Nick Taylor Horror Show.  Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Carter.  Write what you can make on your own. This is a recurring theme in these interviews. As both Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Smith did with their first movies, Carter took an inventory of everything he had access to and then built his script around that. This included a white van and a hunting lodge, both of which appeared in the movie. It's easy to write beyond your budget, but it's still important to maximize production value; everyone typically has access to something that can boost production value; a house, property, a friend with a boat, etc. Figure out yours and write a script around it. Make your second first film. Common advice or direction in the film industry has a lot of directors always trying to substantially increase their budget with every subsequent movie. It's what agents advise, but it can be creatively limiting and leave you in a desert for years. If you have a movie under your belt, doing one at a lower budget is not a step backward, so it shouldn't be for your ego (or your agents). Carter has done movies for Paramount and Blumhouse but was itching for a project and went for it with his own money. It's ballsy, for sure, but it's what artists do. Write with the budget in mind. With his budget so low, Carter surmised early on that he and his crew could shoot at a rate of 6 pages per day, so he structured his script entirely around this shooting schedule and made sure that each scene only lasted 6 or 12 pages so he could maximize locations and minimize company moves. As much as it may feel like you're stifling creativity, putting these guardrails in early in your creative process can save a substantial budget and, as Carter says, can actually be creatively liberating since limitations force creativity.  Low-budget movies mentioned: - Horrible Way to Die  - Hellbender - Sun Don’t Shine - Are we not Cats  - Always Shine - Toad Road - The Deeper you dig - Blue Ruin  - She Dies Tomorrow - Pyewacket  Books:  - Like Brothers by The Duplass Brothers  Thank you for listening! Don't forget to subscribe.  ----- Produced by Simpler Media
54:28 6/22/23
THE APOLOGY Writer/Director, Alison Star Locke [Episode 104]
Alison Star Locke is a writer and director who recently released her excellent feature debut, The Apology, with Anna Gunn, Jeanine Garofalo, and Linus Roache. 20 years after her daughter's disappearance, a woman's Christmas gathering spirals into a suspenseful showdown when an unexpected guest arrives with haunting secrets. As a storm traps them together, past grudges and hidden truths turn merry festivities into a psychological battleground. This film combines emotional drama with horror and overall creates a very atmospheric exploration of guilt, loss, and revenge. I'll tell you the suspense building in this movie was masterful, and I was very nerve-wracked up until the end.  The Apology will be streaming on Hulu beginning tomorrow, June 16th, also available on VOD. In this episode, we'll get into Alison's filmmaking origin story, the importance of putting personal truths into horror, and how she's able to get compelling performances from her actors when they have to go to the depths of the human psyche. Please enjoy this conversation with Alison Star Locke. Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Alison.    Nurture current relationships and collaborations. The opportunity for Alison to direct her first feature arose from an existing contact she had who she originally asked for feedback on The Apology. This underscores a key insight: while networking and forging new connections are important, sometimes there's immense value in recognizing and nurturing the relationships you already have. The quest for new connections can sometimes overshadow the potential of the relationships right under your nose, those that may harbor incredible opportunities.   Use Star Cards. Alison effectively employed a unique tool on her set that she called Star Cards. These cards acted as written reminders that kept her aligned with her film's true intentions. On a bustling film set with countless decisions to make and problems to solve, it's surprisingly easy to lose sight of the original vision. That's why having something tangible that aligns you to your 'true north' can be an invaluable resource to constantly remind you of the core vision and intention of your movie. Star Cards can act as that anchor amidst the chaos, keeping the director grounded and focused.  Jump into emotional trenches with your actors Horror filmmaking, when executed with authenticity, often demands that actors plunge into deep, dark places of fear, suffering, and violence. This can be daunting, emotionally taxing, even traumatic for actors. It's crucial then, as Alison points out, for a director to be right there with their actors in their emotional trenches. Alison operates under the principle of never asking her actors to emotionally go to places that she herself wouldn’t go, and in the case of The Apology, she often shared her own experiences and emotions that were related to the work itself. This practice not only fosters a sense of safety and trust but also demonstrates the director's solidarity with their actors - ultimately reinforcing the idea that they are all on this journey together and in the same foxhole. Anyway, guys, thank you as always for listening, don’t forget to check out The Apology, which will begin streaming on Hulu beginning tomorrow, June 16th, also on VOD.  Show Notes: Directing Actors & The Film Director's Intuition by Judith Weston John Sayles (writer) Scriptation - script annotation software  Thank you for listening! Don't forget to subscribe.  ----- Produced by Simpler Media
43:16 6/14/23
WHAT JOSIAH SAW Director, Vincent Grashaw [Episode 103]
Welcome to the Nick Taylor Horror Show. As always, each episode of The Nick Taylor Horror Show explores how today's horror filmmakers are getting their movies made while deconstructing their methods and career strategies into practical insights that you can use on your own horror filmmaking journey.   Join me in welcoming Vincent Grashaw! Vincent is a writer-director known for films like Coldwater, And Then I Go, and last year's stunner, What Josiah Saw.   What Josiah Saw is a southern gothic psychological horror drama that takes us into the heart of a dysfunctional family's grim reunion at their remote farmhouse. The film unravels a tapestry of secrets and sins, ultimately confronting the profound impact of generational trauma.   With an exceptional ensemble cast including Robert Patrick, Nick Stahl, Scott Haze, and Kelli Garner, What Josiah Saw is a powerful and unflinching piece of southern fried noir cinema. The film holds a rightfully earned 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and you can catch it right now on Shudder. I highly recommend this film but be careful who you watch it with because it gets pretty intense.   Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Vincent Grashaw:   Vet your actors. Lots of well-known actors disappear from the limelight simply because they're difficult to work with. Talent is not enough, your actors have to be cooperative and collaborative or else you can be in a world of pain. This is why it's critical to dig deeper into your potential hires. Speak to producers, casting directors, and trustworthy actors. See if they're game for the demands of your production, including long hours, low budgets and shooting styles. This is vital for your lead actors but also goes for your key crew. A single ego can disrupt the whole set's harmony. So, do your vetting, awkward as it may feel, it'll save you substantial heartache.   There’s an insight in every note. When gathering feedback on edits for Josiah, Vincent discovered that those unattached to the movie were typically more objective, even if their notes sometimes annoyed him or suggested they missed the movie's point. He learned to check his ego when facing feedback, striving to find the truth in every single critique. It's easy to shrug off notes and feedback, and that's often your ego talking. After your first edit, you're likely too close to your movie to spot its flaws. So heed the feedback, even if it seems uninformed at first glance. Find the commonalities in the notes and dig beyond yourself to figure out what needs fixing.
50:49 6/1/23
The Anatomy of Horror with Genre Scholar John Truby [Episode 102]
Welcome to the Nick Taylor Horror Show. John Truby is a widely known name in the realms of screenwriting and storytelling, having shaped the narratives of over 1,000 film scripts as a consultant. John is also the author of multiple books, including 'Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller,' and his latest release, 'The Anatomy of Genres: How Story Forms Explain the Way the World Works,' which delves into the core elements that shape various genres, with a big focus on horror. On top of being an acclaimed author, John is also a lecturer and course creator with online courses that meticulously analyze multiple genres, and his horror/fantasy/sci-fi class is truly excellent. In today's conversation, we'll be dissecting the horror genre, from its structural elements to its primal effects on human beings. We'll explore common mistakes in horror scripts and discuss how writers can keep their horror narratives fresh and riveting. This interview is packed with insight, and we've designed it to be a tight 30-minute segment that can be easily revisited whenever you're about to embark on a new horror project, so I hope you enjoy and get a lot out of it. John is clearly the real deal when it comes to understanding genre, and I would put his work alongside Save the Cat and On Writing By Steven King when it comes to your essential intake materials.  I recommend getting his new book and downloading his horror course to get the most out of his materials. To get your hands on John's new book, 'The Anatomy of Genres,' head over to anatomyofgenres.com, and for more information about his story courses and story software, visit truby.com. Thank you for listening! Don't forget to subscribe.    Show Notes: John Truby’s Horror, Fantasy & Sci Fi Audio Course  John’s latest book The Anatomy of Genres ----- Produced by Simpler Media
41:37 5/18/23
THE OFFERING Director, Oliver Park on The Study of Fear [Episode 101]
"Fear is earned through character; you might hear someone say that you're only as scared as the characters on the screen." Welcome to the Nick Taylor Horror Show! As always, each episode of The Nick Taylor Horror Show explores how today's horror filmmakers are getting their movies made while deconstructing their methods and career strategies into practical insights that you can use on your own horror filmmaking journey. This includes their creative processes, funding resources, favorite books & tools, key life lessons, and much much more. Judaic demonology has carved out its niche as a legitimate horror sub-genre with entries like 2019's The Vigil, Sam Raimi's The Possession, 2022's Lullaby, and most recently, The Offering. Set in a Brooklyn Hasidic enclave, the film draws its plot from the Jewish folktale of Abyzou, a female demon blamed for miscarriages and infant mortality. Shot on a relatively low budget, The Offering is a riveting horror drama that showcases indelible character-building, great performances, and stunning cinematography, ultimately marking an undeniably impressive debut for our guest today, Oliver Park. Oliver Park is a British horror writer and director best known for his short films Vicious and Still, which have been praised by fans and critics alike. The Offering is his first feature and is now streaming on Hulu. In this conversation, we delve into Oliver's directorial origin story, the making of The Offering, and an exploration of what it means to be a scholar of fear. Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Oliver Park.   Build fear through character and story. The Offering excels at character development, with each character displaying a significant amount of depth and well-crafted backstory. This aspect contributes greatly to the film's effectiveness, as understanding the characters leads to caring for them. When you care for the characters, you empathize with their struggles, and that empathy ultimately transforms into fear for their well-being, which is ultimately what can make your movie genuinely scary.   Be flexible and foster a secure atmosphere for actors. The acting in The Offering is impressive, especially considering it's Oliver's first feature film. He emphasized the importance of creating a secure environment for actors, which primarily involves giving them the space and time they require and protecting them from on-set chaos. This is achieved by briefing the crew beforehand and closely collaborating with your AD regarding set pacing while also advocating for more time when necessary. Particularly in low-budget films, there's often pressure to move at a rapid clip, but the subtle details that can make or break a movie, such as performance nuances, require time and are ultimately worth the investment. Learn to create the space needed for actors to deliver their best work, even when working at a fast pace. Stay closely connected with the story to make adjustments during production. Oliver mentioned that several unexpected events occurred while making The Offering, but instead of panicking, he managed to bounce back because of his deep understanding of the story. Relying too heavily on specific scenes, dialogue, or set pieces can make your movie vulnerable to collapse if things don't go as planned. To build resilience, become so intimately familiar with the story that you can quickly devise alternative solutions that still remain true to the story's core. This will give you the adaptability to turn on a dime and rewrite scenes, dialogue, etc., when things inevitably go wrong. Scares, Story, Character; the magic short solution.  Oliver offered an extremely powerful distillation of principles...
71:57 5/12/23
EPISODE 100: SMILE Director, Parker Finn
Welcome to the Nick Taylor Horror show, Episode 100! As always, each episode of The Nick Taylor Horror Show explores how today's horror filmmakers are getting their movies made while deconstructing their methods and career strategies into practical insights that you can use on your own horror filmmaking journey. This includes their creative processes, funding resources, favorite books & tools, key life lessons, and much much more. I have a very special episode in store today, one that should put a smile on all of your faces. That's right, Parker Finn is in the house! Parker is a man who should need no introduction for us horror fans as the director behind one of this year's breakout horror hits, SMILE. First of all, I owe an enormous thank you to my friend Joe Russo who made this interview happen. Joe, you're the best, and I thank you very, very much. So, Parker has obviously been doing a lot of interviews recently, and I made an effort to make my questions as unique as possible. As a result, we got into a lot of the craft of SMILE, how he worked with actors, his DP and editor, and the keys to crafting effective scares. One thing we didn't get into very much was the overall origin story about how SMILE, Parker's very first feature, came to be. So I will give you the short version right here. In 2020, after struggling as a filmmaker in Los Angeles for about 8 years, Parker made a short film called LAURA HASN'T SLEPT for roughly $30,000. LAURA HASN'T SLEPT ultimately got into SXSW, where it won the Grand Jury Award and shortly thereafter got the attention of Paramount, who offered Parker the opportunity to direct a feature adaptation which turned into SMILE. SMILE was originally intended to go straight to streaming on Paramount plus, but after a series of overwhelmingly positive audience reaction tests, SMILE was given a wide theatrical release. To date, SMILE has made over two hundred million at the box office, making it one of the highest-grossing horror movies of all time, which for a first-time director, is really fuckin cool. For a more comprehensive deep dive into Parker's origin story, definitely check out Mick Garris' conversation with Parker on the Post Mortem podcast. I listened to that right before doing this interview to make sure we didn't cover the same ground, so the two are very complimentary if you want a fuller picture.   Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Parker Finn:  Do one thing really right in your short. Parker's short, LAURA HASN'T SLEPT, is excellent and was the catalyst that led to him getting SMILE made. You can actually watch LAURA HASN'T SLEPT on the upcoming SMILE blu ray release or for free on YouTube right now (link is in the show notes). When it comes to shorts, Parker claims that lots of filmmakers try to make their shorts do too many things when instead, focusing on doing one thing really, really effectively is what makes shorts stand out. Focusing your forces allows your shorts to go deep instead of wide, which is suitable for the short-form medium, which is intended to be a single act, a single movement, and therefore is best suited for a single focus. Parker also recommends pulling off things that are not typical or difficult to do in your shorts to show what you're capable of as a director. Start with character and then throw their worst-case scenario at them. Parker has spoken at length about how the scariest horror movies are most powerful when you care about the characters that the terrible things are happening to. Horror filmmakers must be effective dramatists firsts by enabling the audience to empathize with their characters. Effective horror works through empathy because if done right, your audience will experience terror through your characters. With this in mind, it's critical to ground your characters with honesty and relatability so the audience can connect with
44:52 11/23/22
Podcast Storyteller Extraordinaire, Mark Ramsey [Bonus]
Mark Ramsey is an audio storyteller and maker of some of my favorite podcasts, including the Inside Series, which consisted of Inside Jaws, Inside The Exorcist, and Inside Psycho. Which if you have not listened to yet, do yourself a favor and download them all; they are a treat for any horror or cinema fan.  In collaboration with his partner and sound designer Jeff Schmidt, Mark's specialty has become making memorable, compelling, and revolutionary audio experiences that thrill, inspire, make you smile, make you gasp, and touch your heart.  Mark's latest creation is Dark Sanctum, a spine-tingling 7-episode limited series showcasing multiple stories about things that go bump in the night. Inspired by TV classics like The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt, Dark Sanctum blends captivating storytelling with Mark's signature chilling audio and sound design in Dolby Atmos to transport listeners through a twisted and memorable audio thrill ride. He is a good friend of mine and always a very fun and exciting guy to talk to; please give it up for Mark Ramsey.  Thank you for listening! Don't forget to subscribe.  ----- Produced by Simpler Media
43:23 11/18/22
SISSY Directors, Kane Senes & Hannah Barlow [Episode 99]
Kane Senes & Hannah Barlow are the director duo behind Sissy, an Australian slasher comedy about bullying, social media, and the processing of trauma. Sissy was the opening night film of the prestigious SXSW Midnighters program and won multiple awards on the festival circuit before becoming a Shudder original. Prior to Sissy, Kane directed Echoes of War in 2015 and then For Now in 2019, which he co-directed with Hannah, making it her directorial debut. Sissy is now streaming on Shudder, so check it out.  Here are some key takeaways from the director team Kane Senes and Hannah Barlow, directors of Sissy: Channel fear and anxiety into your movie. Eli Roth said that he tries to ensure each movie he makes reflects a real fear of his, which is what makes his movies so personal and the fear elements of them so palpable. Kane and Hannah channeled their fear of this generation's social media angst into this movie, and it's very palpable. When you channel fears and anxieties that come from an authentic place into your movie, even as subtext, the audience is more likely able to feel it on a visceral level, which makes for great horror.  Fight for the things that will distinguish your movie. While location scouting, the directors found the perfect house to shoot at. It was beautiful, instagrammable, furnished beautifully, and added a ton of production value - the problem was it was a two-hour drive from where they were staying, meaning they'd lose four hours every day. Despite the fact that there was a perfectly feasible but underwhelming other option nearby, they picked that house anyway, and it gave the movie a really great look. In the fog of production, amidst all the complications and endless decisions, it’s easy to say fuck it and let certain things go. Sometimes this is necessary but try to be cautious of this instinct, especially when it can cost you the things that will distinguish your movie. If you see the movie, you'll see that the house is very unique, and it gave the movie an entirely new level of production value. If you get these rare opportunities, consider taking them - they always cost something, though, so make sure it's worth it.    Thank you for listening! Don't forget to subscribe.  ----- Produced by Simpler Media
33:21 11/10/22
SALOUM Director, Jean Luc Herbulot [Episode 98]
As always, each episode of The Nick Taylor Horror Show explores how today's horror filmmakers are getting their movies made while deconstructing their methods and career strategies into practical insights that you can use on your own horror filmmaking journey. This includes their creative processes, funding resources, favorite books & tools, key life lessons, and much much more. Jean Luc Herbulot is a Congolese writer & director known for Dealer (2014) and the TV show Sakho & Mangane. His most recent movie is Saloum, a Senegalese horror-thriller about a trio of mercenaries escaping the 2003 coup d'état in Guinea-Bissau before taking refuge in a hidden region on the Saloum river of Senegal only to be at the mercy of supernatural forces. So... I think I'm going to go ahead and say this was my favorite horror movie of the year. Yes, I know, SMILE, BARBARIAN, TERRIFIER 2, etc., etc., but there was something so fresh, so unique, and so stylish and memorable about this movie, the characters, the approach to horror, everything. I was thinking about the characters for weeks afterward, and overall, I thought it was a very fine film. There's just something very refreshing about being exposed to a culture you know very little about in the context of a horror movie that brings into the picture lesser-known supernatural legends. Africa is abundantly rich with mythology around monsters, ghosts, and demons, and Saloum dives into this while delivering a kick-ass movie. Seriously, just see it and let me know what you think. Jean Luc is a very passionate filmmaker and was a bunch of fun to talk to. We got into the making of Saloum, how he funded it with his own money and the difficulties and benefits of shooting in Senegal.  Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Jean Luc.    Dig in untapped mines. Saloum was one of the freshest and most unique horror movies of the past few years. It made me realize the horror genre is getting saturated with very common western horror tropes that seem to repeat themselves. There are not a lot of African horror movies (two other really good ones are Atlantics and His House, both streaming on Netflix), but there are so many other countries, cultures, and mythologies to explore through horror. In the case of Jean Luc, there was a lot of rich African mythology to explore when crafting his supernatural horror element. Consider digging into the mythology of your own heritage for lesser-known stories that could lend themselves to horror. The genre needs it, and it's what keeps movies fresh, unique, and authentic.   Characters First. One of the strongest elements of Saloum was the characters. They were some of the coolest I've seen outside of the Tarantino universe, and like I said, I was thinking about them for weeks afterward and would love to see them show up in more movies. Jean Luc began with the characters about ten years before finally putting pen to paper to write Saloum. As a result, they were fully developed and came from his own want for African heroes in his youth. Consider crafting your characters first and then finding a story that allows them and their identities to shine.   Work that side hustle. Jean Luc funded the majority of the movie from profits made directing and producing commercials. With a concept like Saloum, it likely would have been difficult to apply for funding so having a side career that allows you to both flex your filmmaking abilities while making money in a way you can scale up and down gives you a ton of freedom. This might not be a realistic funding strategy for everyone, but it worked for Jean Luc. Consider using your directing abilities in other profitable arenas, and you might be able to fund all or part of your movie through that. In any case, don't forget to check out Saloum, now streaming on Shudder, and Jean Luc's tv show, Sakho & Mangane on Netflix. Thanks
53:44 11/3/22
THE LONELIEST BOY IN THE WORLD Director & Cast, Martin Owen, Hero Fiennes Tiffin & Max [Episode 97]
As always, each episode of The Nick Taylor Horror Show explores how today's horror filmmakers are getting their movies made while deconstructing their methods and career strategies into practical insights that you can use on your own horror filmmaking journey. This includes their creative processes, funding resources, favorite books & tools, key life lessons, and much much more. From Well Go Entertainment, The Loneliest Boy in the World is billed as a modern fairytale—except with zombies. When the sheltered and unsocialized Oliver is tasked with making new friends after the sudden death of his mother, he decides that digging up a few corpses might be his best bet. However, when he awakens the morning after his excavating escapades, he discovers that his newly acquired friends have mysteriously come to life overnight, launching them all into a series of misadventures as they try to keep their secret safe from neighbors, classmates, and social workers alike. So I enjoyed this movie a lot; it was super charming, funny, and surprisingly tear-jerking. It has many metaphors about bullying, tolerance, accepting people who are different and the notion of chosen family, and overall is a great example of mixing horror and heart, which I always love.  The movie could also be described as a family-friendly version of Idle Hands and, overall, is a great recent example of modern gateway horror, which I don't think there's nearly enough of.  Despite being rated R, which I don't understand, you can totally show this one to your kids, and I recommend you do.  Also, the production design on this movie is stellar, especially considering that they were on a budget. It has a strong nod to Edward Scissorhands as well as Hammer horror, and it's the kind of movie that looks like every production design detail was agonized over and is visually just beautiful.   The screenplay for The Loneliest Boy in the World has been around since the 80s and somehow took decades to produce before landing in the hands of British Director Martin Owen and his team. The movie also stars Max Harwood and Hero Fiennes Tiffin, and we have them all here for you today.    Here are some key takeaways from this conversation:  Always play it straight. The Loneliest Boy in the World features an ensemble cast of sentient zombies, but still, the movie manages to provide a deeply moving experience. Despite the absurdity of the situation, the actors play the roles straight and take it seriously, which helps the movie reach the viewer on an emotional level. A lot of horror movies are in danger of becoming campy, which can be a kiss of death if you want any emotional resonance, the way to avoid that is to have your actors treat the material with seriousness regardless of how absurd the situation is.    DON’T overthink it. When I asked Martin, very analytically, how he balanced the tones of horror, humor, and heart, he told me straight up that he basically just did it and didn't overthink it, and it worked... The movie has a very unique tone that's entirely its own. There are all sorts of exercises, archetypes, theories, and rules, etc., about how specific genres should be done but do we really need all of that? Yes, it's important to be aware of all of these rules, but at the end of the day, directors need to rely on their own creative intuition. Which brings me to my next point...   Learn all you can, then throw it all away. In an acting context, Max was talking about how he'd spent countless hours reviewing material for a role and then throwing it away and letting the material permeate through him naturally on the day. This concept applies to writing, directing, acting, just about any creative endeavor, and it comes down to being present and working with what's in front of you. Being over-analytical or over-attached to preconceived notions of things can be detrimental in any creative pursuit....
46:56 10/27/22
THE ACCURSED Director, Kevin Lewis [Episode 96]
Kevin Lewis is the director of multiple features, including The Method, Downward Angel, The Drop, and The Third Nail. Last year, Kevin wowed the horror crowd with Willy's Wonderland starring Nicolas Cage, and now Kevin is back in the director's chair with his latest creation, The Accursed. When Elly is asked by a family friend to spend a few days looking after an elderly woman living in a remote cabin, she readily agrees, thinking a short trip to the woods will be a nice escape, but the cabin turns out to be anything but relaxing as Elly begins hallucinating in ways that blur reality with her dreams. As the visions take over, Elly realizes that she was lured there by a demonic presence hiding inside of the woman, just waiting to break free. I loved this movie, and it's hands-down one of my favorites of the year. The Accursed is a refreshingly, unabashedly fun horror movie that delivers fun and scares in equal measure on a Sam Raimi level. The Accursed is streaming on VOD beginning tomorrow, October 14th, and I recommend you put it toward the top of your Halloween watchlist - the first five minutes alone are worth the price of admission. This is actually my second time speaking to Kevin, and if you haven't listened to the first episode, I actually recommend hearing this one first. This talk with Kevin turned out to be one of the most practical and inspiring conversations I've ever had on the podcast. Kevin is just such the real deal when it comes to directing and his level of enthusiasm is infectious, and he has many wise words for all of us. I really love this episode and will return to it frequently. Without further ado, here is the director of The Accursed, Mister Kevin Lewis. Here are some key takeaways from this interview with Kevin:    Hook them from the beginning.  Pay close attention to the opening sequence of The Accursed, it's not only riveting, but it's a fully developed story in about five minutes. This is not only a pretty cool way to open a movie from a narrative perspective, but it's what hooked Kevin into jumping on board when he first read the script. Whether you're a writer or director, hooking the audience in the first five minutes can be very powerful, especially in horror. I really recommend studying the opening sequence of The Accursed in this context as it's a masterful example. Know what’s important.  In his years of directing, Kevin has learned that one of the most important skills a good director has is understanding where to invest in each movie, not just money but time, effort, energy, and focus.  When making movies, you likely won’t nail every ambition you have with each film, but you need to take an inventory of what’s most important for each individual movie and its production value and then prioritize those things above all else, especially when you're on a budget. To not do that makes you subject to being spread too thin and your movie being flat. If you get just a few things really right on your movie, your audience will likely forgive just about everything else, but it's important to know what those things are that will make the most impact. There's that saying if you chase two rabbits, you won't catch either one. Don't try to nail everything on every movie; figure out what's most important and focus obsessively on those things. Live your life.  When it comes to a career in filmmaking, living a fulfilling and interesting life is important, not only for the sake of your creativity but for the sake of your longevity. As Kevin stated, the movie industry is tough and ruthless, and if you let it rule your life, it will run you into the ground and burn you out. At age 51, Kevin is having his heyday with a killer one-two punch between Willy's Wonderland and now The Accursed and multiple more...
47:16 10/13/22
DEADSTREAM Writers/Directors, Vanessa and Joseph Winter [Episode 95]
Deadstream is the feature directorial debut from husband-and-wife filmmaking team Vanessa and Joseph Winter that follows a disgraced internet personality who attempts to win back his followers by livestreaming one night alone in a haunted house. But when he accidentally pisses off a vengeful spirit, his big comeback event becomes a real-time fight for his life. Deadstream was a ton of fun. As a horror comedy, I was laughing pretty much throughout the course of this film which was legitimately, consistently funny. The movie even manages to pull off some legitimate scares with a surprisingly well-developed ghost story at its core. Deadstream was a sort of new breed of found footage that could be best described as livestream horror and was shot with a notably clever use of multi-cams to tell its story. All of that, plus a solid amount of gore and some very fun creature effect made Deadstream one of my favorites of the year. Don't forget to check Deadstream out on Shudder when it comes out tomorrow, October 14th. This was a really fun conversation with Joseph and Vanessa as we got into how they got Deadstream off the ground during the beginning of the pandemic, their very insightful festival strategy, and real ghost stories about their production, which shot at an actual abandoned haunted house. And now, please give it up for the writers and directors of Deadstream, Vanessa and Joseph Winter.   Filmmaking is the best film school. Deciding to make your first film is one thing, but deciding what to make your first film on is a recipe for analysis paralysis, which is dangerous because it can last for an endless amount of time. However, approaching your first movie as strictly educational can be incredibly liberating. Joseph and Vanessa knew they wanted to make a feature and were able to offshoot a lot of concerns about things like the movie's financial success because they viewed the movie as a learning experience and a way to get a crucial skills that would serve them throughout the course of their careers. In the end, they learned a ton and delivered a kick-ass movie in the process. Coincidentally, offloading all of these concerns about your film can even contribute to the likelihood of your success as you're more likely to be creatively freed up to give your movie the energy and attention it deserves because you're putting less pressure on yourself.   Don’t sell yourself short.  It's incredibly easy to be too humble about your first feature. When they first started submitting to festivals, Vanessa and Joseph got some initial acceptances from smaller festivals and were understandably overjoyed. One of their associates recommended they submit to some bigger festivals, which would have meant withdrawing from the festivals they were accepted by. They were scared by this decision but did it anyway. In the end, the film got into multiple big festivals, including SXSW, ultimately leading to a deal with Shudder. Despite working extremely hard for years and putting everything they have into it, many filmmakers will still sell themselves short on their first feature as it's easy to be insecure about your lack of experience. Difficult as it may be, try to avoid this trap as there's usually very little harm in aiming too high while aiming too low can doom your movie to a smaller existence.   Create test screenings with peers.  Everyone knows that when working on your own movie, it's nearly impossible to be completely objective about it by yourself because you're way too close to it. One of the best ways to get real feedback in real time is to have an in-person peer screening. In-person screenings are way more effective than sending people screening links and asking for feedback because they're less likely to be completely honest with you, and you cannot observe them directly. Observing the collective reactions of a shared audience is an...
58:58 10/6/22
DEVIL’S WORKSHOP Writer/Director Chris von Hoffman [Episode 94]
Chris von Hoffmann is the writer/director behind multiple features including Drifter, Monster Party, and most recently, Devil's Workshop. In Devil’s Workshop, Clayton a struggling actor is desperate for a role as a demonologist. But he has hostile competition with his long-time rival, Donald. Determined to get the role at all costs, he contacts Eliza, an expert in demon lore, to help him prepare. Spending the weekend at her home, Eliza forces Clayton to confront his troubling past through the practice of dark rituals. Does she want to help Clayton, seduce him – or destroy him? The shocking climax will set your soul ablaze. The movie stars Timothy Granaderos and Radha Mitchell with Emile Hirsch as well. So I actually worked on Devil's Workshop as Associate Producer AND, I am actually in the film. That's right, you can see yours truly acting, or at least trying to act, in the first and last scenes of the movie. So check me out. Devil's Workshop is available on VOD and select theatres September 30th so check your local showtimes. In any case, I enjoyed the hell out of this conversation with Chris and hope you do too.    Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Chris von Hoffman. Nobody's going to make your movie but you. Chris has directed three features, and he's likened the process of getting a movie made to pushing a boulder up a hill by yourself. Every single time. He realized early on, that nobody will ever want to make his movies more than he does, and therefore, the entire fate of the movie is on him, ALWAYS. It's your responsibility to push your movies forward, not your producer, you. Movies can evaporate so quickly; things fall through, people forget to get back to you, funds suddenly become unavailable, it's endless. You need to assume extreme responsibility and ownership for the fate of your movie because nobody will make it happen other than you there are many forces against you. Have zero tolerance for unprofessionalism. When asked about remaining calm on set and managing his crew during difficult times, Chris mentioned that he is generally patient but has no tolerance for for blatant unprofessionalism, and I think this is a really good rule. As a director, there's a fine line between being a dictator and being a pushover. You want your crew to respect you, but if you bark orders at them and/or yell a lot, they will lose respect for you. But too much leeway and turning a blind eye can also be problematic. This is a fine balance, and a key to it is to refuse any blatantly unprofessional behavior. What is unprofessional behavior on set? You'll know it when you experience it. Movie making is chaos, and people are typically (hopefully) trying to do their best work possible, so be as patient as you can, but refuse to tolerate unprofessionalism. You are going to catch heat, no matter what. As I mentioned in the interview, Guillermo Del Toro once likened film directing to eating a shit sandwich but with each movie you get a little bit more bread. No matter what, movie making is a game of taking a lot of shit and a lot of heat from multiple people. Arguably, films entail more decisions than just about any conceivable type of project, and people have no shortage of opinions, both creatively and professionally and people also have no shortage of judgement. Between your investors, producers, cast crew, no matter how good a job you think you're doing, you're gonna catch heat for something and be under a lot of constant scrutiny throughout the course of making your films. So get used to being in the hot seat and being comfortable being uncomfortable. But, also remember, it gets a little bit better with each movie you make. Thank you guys for listening, don't forget to check out Devil's Workshop, available from Lionsgate on VOD and in select theaters starting tomorrow, September...
62:00 9/30/22
WHEN THE SCREAMING STARTS Writer/Director Duo, Ed Hartland & Conor Boru [Episode 93]
Conor Boru & Ed Hartland are the writer/director duo behind When the Screaming Starts, a serial killer mockumentary that's somewhere between What We Do in the Shadows and Man Bites Dog. Aidan aspires to be an infamous serial killer, and when Norman, a struggling journalist, is invited to follow him on his journey to create a Manson-esque murder cult that embarks on a blood-soaked rampage, Norman’s dream of becoming a renowned filmmaker may have just turned into a nightmare. With laughs and shocks in equal measure, When the Screaming Starts marks Conor's feature directorial debut and is streaming exclusively on Screambox. This was a very fun interview. Conor and Ed are friends who have been working together for a long time and were finally able to come together on this movie. This is a great series of lessons on first-time feature filmmaking, balancing horror and comedy, and activating a shared mission amongst your cast and crew. Please enjoy this conversation with Conor Boru & Ed Hartland, creators of When the Screaming Starts.  Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Ed and Conor.  Make the film you can make RIGHT NOW. Ed and Conor have been working in film for years and were dying to make a feature together. They realized that one of the most feasible sub-genres they could make a movie in, given time, money, and immediate access, was a mockumentary, so that's what they made. They wrote the movie based on what they knew they'd be able to do immediately. A common pitfall for many would-be directors is writing overly-elaborate, multi-million dollar scripts and putting all your chips on those when more often than not, directors get their start with micro-budgets. If you're a first-timer, it's unlikely you're going to get millions to make your first feature. Now, it happens, but while you're waiting on that miracle, you could be shooting something and getting crucial feature experience right now. Make the movie you can make today. Make it a collective effort. Ed and Conor mentioned that a lot of their cast not only worked for free but actually invested money in the movie. This is pretty amazing and definitely unheard of. Conor even mentioned that unions in the UK are different from the US, but the point is still clear; they turned their movie into an asset and an opportunity for their collaborators; something they could be proud of that shows what they're capable of. For the actors, he gave them a lot of screen time and leeway to do what they wanted so the movie could act as a calling card for future project and help their careers. This is a very business-like mindset, but it's this kind of communal, mission-driven sensibility can enable you to take your move a lot further - when you and your cast all stand to gain from the movie in equal measure, you will all be rowing in the same direction. Of course, you have got to make it worth their while. Jason Blum typically does a great job of this as well. Harness the power of momentum. Making a movie requires a debilitating amount of decisions to be made, details to be coordinated, and endless opportunities for analysis paralysis. Ed and Conor had their idea for the movie but didn't wait for things to be perfect before they started making plans. It's critical that you start taking action, making decisions, and scheduling dates for your projects - even if they're arbitrary or temporary. Once you have tangible dates and deadlines, things start to move because the movie suddenly becomes real to you and your collaborators. Find a way to get the snowball rolling so it gains momentum by any means necessary. You'll likely have to reschedule countless times, but just get it started and build momentum til the finish line. Thanks for listening, and don't forget to check out When the Screaming Starts, exclusively streaming on Screambox.  ----- Produced by
36:06 9/23/22
PUSSYCAKE Director, Pablo Parés [Episode 92]
Pablo Parés is an Argentinian filmmaker who's worked on over 15 movies as director or producer. His films include I am Toxic, Plaga Zombie, and Damonium: Soldier of the Underworld. His latest feature Pussycake is a rollicking good time. It's been called Josie and the Pussycats meets Evil Dead, and it delivers on that promise.  The movie mixes equal parts Peter Jackson zombie insanity with creature effects and tons of blood, guts, and vomit along the way. The movie is very stimulating visually and punches way above its weight as a low-budget feature. You can stream Pussycake right now on Screambox.  Pablo was a lot of fun to talk to. We got into his director origin story, the background on how he got Pussycake off the ground, and the infrastructure of filmmakers he's built that allows him to consistently make the movies he wants to make without any studio interference.  Without further ado, here is the mind behind Pussycake, Pablo Parés.  Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Pablo.  Think infrastructure. Pablo has a group of people who he's been making movies with for years. Most of them do a ton of different jobs, but they have similar tastes and the same mission, so every time they're ready to make a movie, they can lock and load and get it made because they not only have a shorthand working relationship with each other but they have an infrastructure. Also, every time they sell one movie, they use those funds to make the next movie. This is a self-sustaining, self-feeding ecosystem that ultimately allows Pablo and his team to do what they want. It took him a long time to create, but it’s never too late to start nourishing your own filmmaking collective and your own infrastructure. Regardless, it's important to build relationships with people who want to make the same kind of crazy shit that you do.  Lean into limitations. On Pablo‘s previous movie, I am Toxic, he couldn’t afford contact lenses for his zombie eyes, so he created a type of zombies that were so dry they didn't have eyes. This gave them a very cool aesthetic comparable to Lucio Fulci's Zombie - this is the approach he took throughout the movie, which allowed him to make a post-apocalyptic wasteland on an extremely low budget. This is an example of a filmmaker working with his budget as opposed to against it. When you work with your budget, your movie feels a lot more cohesive, intentional, and you can get away with so much more to serve your production value.  Make everything intentional. Pablo said that he notices a lot of monotony in newer horror movies that look the same and have the same tone, which is absolutely true. He went on to say that lot of filmmakers don’t even think about distinguishing the look and feel of their films which is causing these movies to become homogenized and all feel very similar. As a director, every choice you make in a movie should have an intention behind it, nothing should be happenstance. Don't get too precious, and don't be a dictator, but realize that your job as a director is to direct, every single last detail. Jordan Peele does an exquisite job of this, as did Stanley Kubrick. Clearly, these are huge directors, but if you look at Pablo's work on Pussycake, he was able to do so much on a low budget, and his movie, his characters, and their costumes all had an iconic feel to them because he labored over each detail and made them his own.    Thank you for listening! Don't forget to subscribe.  ----- Produced by Simpler Media
51:32 9/15/22
BEETLEJUICE THE MUSICAL’s Alex Brightman [Bonus]
Beetlejuice will forever hold a very special place in my heart. Every Saturday morning, Beetlejuice was my go-to cartoon, and my VHS of the movie practically melted from being watched so much. I had the action figures, the soundtrack, and the Halloween costume (as a child and as an adult). It wasn’t only my quintessential gateway horror movie, but it also shaped a lifelong unapologetic appreciation for all things weird and macabre. The movie had a “lightning in a bottle” combination of a devilishly rebellious spirit and a singularity of vision that introduced the world to the wonders of Tim Burton. It was and forever will be an iconic and magical movie and a very important part of me.  The movie is just as sacred to countless others for all of the same reasons, which is likely why the Beetlejuice sequels and remakes have remained in production hell for decades. How can you possibly reimagine a classic that means so much to so many people? The answer: turn it into a musical. Despite being a little apprehensive at first, what struck me within the first ten minutes of Beetlejuice: the Musical was that it was developed with a tremendous amount of love and respect for the original movie. The show encompasses all of the many facets of what made the movie so great while expanding on the story in very inventive ways. It even has several nods to the cartoon, which just made me happy. This is a killer show, and I urge you to go see it if you're in the New York area. The costumes, the music, the humor, and the insanely elaborate Burtonesque sets and visuals are an overwhelming and blissful experience for fans of the original, plus the anarchistic spirit of lewdness and rudeness from the movie is retained in full force. The show will be on tour beginning in December so if you can't make it to New York, check and see if it's coming your way at: beetlejuicebroadway.com/tour. The show is ignited by the performance of Alex Brightman as Beetlejuice. Alex Brightman is an actor, singer, and two-time Tony Award Nominated Actor. He was nominated for his roles on Broadway as Dewey Finn in the musical adaptation of School of Rock and as the title character in Beetlejuice the Musical. After shuttering due to COVID, Beetlejuice is back on Broadway. We sat down with Alex to catch up on what the experience was like as well as how he created his take on the iconic & beloved character of Beetlejuice. Please enjoy this interview with Alex Brightman.    ----- Produced by Simpler Media
33:06 9/15/22
The Adams Family; Makers of HELLBENDER and THE DEEPER YOU DIG [Episode 91]
John Adams, Lulu Adams, Zelda Adams, and Toby Poser are a family who write, produce, star in, and edit all of their films themselves. Together they've produced multiple features, including KNUCKLE JACK, RUMBLESTRIPS, THE HATRED, THE DEEPER YOU DIG, and most recently HELLBENDER which you can watch right now on Shudder on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs.  With HELLBENDER, the family shot the movie around the country during the pandemic using gear they bought themselves. The Adams Family is one of the most self-sufficient filmmaking outfits I've ever seen. They make all of their movies entirely on their own and don't rely on any traditional studio ecosystems whatsoever.  As filmmakers, they do a particularly beautiful job of leaning into their relatively low budgets by making very singular and unique movies where every detail feels intentional. This is a testament to one of their greatest strengths as filmmakers, which is their resourcefulness. This conversation is a great lesson in economic filmmaking and low-budget features that don't feel low budget because the filmmakers embraced what they had access to. I really loved this conversation; the Adams Family are a bunch of very enthusiastic, inspiring, and passionate filmmakers with a lot to teach all of us. Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with The Adams Family. Just do it. Toby, Lulu, Zelda, and John write, direct, act in, edit, color correct, and score all of their movies themselves. From the beginning, they didn't wait for permission or approval or for a deal; but instead, they took an inventory of what they had access to and wrote and produced movies around that. A lot of would-be filmmakers tend to have these big elaborate plans and expensive concepts for scripts that require lots of money and collaborators when sometimes the best way to get something off the ground is by using what is right in front of you and crafting a movie around that. Robert Rodriguez speaks extensively about this very concept in his book, REBEL WITHOUT A CREW, which is a must-read for any filmmaker. Use mother nature as your DP. There is a naturally beautiful aesthetic that comes with using natural light as well as a more grounded production design. (See Robert Eggers' THE WITCH). And, despite its obvious limitations, natural light is free. The Adams Family cites mother nature as their best DP and recommends not fighting against whatever nature gives you but embracing it and working with it, and using it to serve your movie. As a result, their movies have a gritty and very natural beauty to them, which gives them a very recognizable aesthetic. Channel your current state into your writing. After a family crisis, Toby was going through a very difficult time period when writing the script for THE DEEPER YOU DIG. She ended up channeling her feelings into her writing, and the experience was not only cathartic, but her emotions were palpable in the movie itself. The Deeper You Dig has moments that are so chilling and get so deep under your skin, and it's clear that the movie's power comes from Toby's real and raw emotion. Even Quentin Tarantino stated that if you're not putting your current emotions into your writing, you're doing it wrong. Thanks as always for listening, don't forget to subscribe.  ----- Produced by Simpler Media
35:27 9/8/22
YELLOW VEIL on Producing Boundary-Breaking Indie Horror [Episode 90]
Hugues Barbier, Justin Timms, and Joe Yanick are the trio behind Yellow Veil, a NY/LA-based worldwide film sales and distribution company with a focus on horror and boundary-pushing genre cinema. Their slate includes Luz, I Trapped the Devil, Blood Quantum, The Cleansing Hour, Hellbender, Depraved, Sator, and most recently, Gaspar Noe's Lvx Æterna.  In this conversation, Hugues, Justin, and Joe get into how they came together as a company, keys to successfully producing boundary-pushing indie movies, and what they look for in the movies they produce. Without further ado, please enjoy this conversation with Yellow Veil.  Here are some key takeaways from this interview.  Unanimous love is a must. As a company, the guys have different tastes, but the DNA of their slate requires a mutual love of every movie they put out. Producing movies is grueling, lengthy, complicated, and backbreaking work. If you're not all in and don't have passion to make it through the tough times, you're simply not going to pull your weight. Because of this, Hughes, Joe, and Justin all agreed that they need to all love each movie they work on as their mutual passion will motivate them to push each movie through and forward to completion.  Trust your gut. When selecting movies, Hughes, Joe, and Justin don't use any Moneyball metrics or read Hollywood Reporter headlines to see what's popular and then make films based on perceived audience interest or what's considered hot right now. Instead, they trust their gut. If they see a movie that's totally off the wall and unlike anything they've ever seen, they rely on an intangible intuitive gut feeling to tell them whether or not to pull the trigger on it. The danger of always relying on data and proven formulas is you'll ultimately make derivative movies. However, it's still important to see everything and be aware of what's popular. In the 80s, Brian Yuzna and Stuart Gordon binge-watched every single horror movie that came out in the previous two years. They didn't do it to see what was popular and then make movies based on the same things. No, instead, they wanted to see what audiences were seeing so they could deliver something completely fresh and different instead of a copycat or coattail riding film, and as a result, they came up with Reanimator. All of this comes down to gut instinct, not what's trendy.  Support first-timers. All you first-timers, listen up, Yellowveil loves working with first-time directors. They claim that there’s a blissful ignorance of what you’re allowed to do and not allowed to do, which makes many first films very exciting and different.  Embrace that in yourself. Don’t try to make your movie fit into a box - the public needs to see your unique raw vision in a way that hasn’t been tampered with. So all of you who are insecure about your lack of experience can rest assured that this insecurity could very well be your greatest strength as a director.    Thank you for listening! Don't forget to subscribe.  ----- Produced by Simpler Media
41:01 9/1/22
Season 3 Return
Hello dear listeners, Nick Taylor here - I apologize for my unannounced recent absence. Many of you have been extremely sweet online, talking about how much you miss the show and wondering when new episodes will be dropping, and I am very, very humbled and appreciative of every one of you. Here to announce that the show will be returning on September first! We got some great guests coming up, so please stay tuned, and thank you as always for listening.  ----- Produced by Simpler Media
05:27 8/30/22
Prolific Producer, DJ Dodd [Episode 89]
DJ Dodd is a Philadelphia-based producer of over 20 feature films and has also produced and developed television content for many major cable networks including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network, Travel Channel, Nat Geo, History Channel, and Bloomberg, among others. In this wide-ranging conversation, we get into DJ's backstory, his mentorship relationship with David Foster, his approach to casting major celebrities, and insights on how he's able to manage such an enormous amount of projects. Tons of insights here, DJ really is a guy who walks the walk as far as Producing and hustling, and I was super inspired speaking with him and think you will be as well. Without further ado, here is DJ Dodd.    Here are some key takeaways from this interview.  Overshoot with casting. When casting a movie, DJ always aims for the moon and attempts to cast actors way outside of the project's league. Though he doesn't always get them, sometimes he does. For this reason, DJ prefers to avoid casting directors, citing that many of them are too cautious and "realistic." DJ has no problem reaching out to megawatt celebrities himself and, as a result, has had many pleasant surprises leading him to have worked with a number of major actors, including Ethan Hawke, John Cusack, John Malkovich, David Spade, Emile Hirsch, Jessica Lange, Shirley MacLaine, Demi Moore, Bruce Dern, James Earl Jones, Sharon Stone, Jeremy Piven, Courteney Cox, Christina Ricci, Mira Sorvino, Selma Blair, Taye Diggs, and George Lopez to name a few. PS, if you are looking for a casting agent who's not afraid to shoot for the moon with you, reach out to David Guglielmo at Blood Oath - that's David Guglielmo.    Producers solve problems. A lot of people asks what a Producer does, and in addition to the myriad of responsibilities, they basically oversee the big picture of the project and bring the many pieces together while ensuring everything moves forward on time and on budget. All of that, AND they solve problems. DJ tells many stories about how Producers need to be the ones who solve problems as they arise on set. This ability to think on your feet is critical to producing as problems will inevitably arise on set, and you'll need a sense of cunning ingenuity to solve and push through them. For more on this, check out the life stories of both Jerry Weintraub and Shep Gordon. Both of these guys have wonderful documentaries about them and autobiographies - I recommend reading and watching both as they're masterclasses in producing. I actually had Shep Gordon on this show and highly recommend that episode.    Don’t wait to be discovered - bang on doors. A lot of would-be producers and filmmakers wait to be discovered - this is waiting in vain. At the beginning of his career, DJ spent all of his free time hustling, from cold emailing producers, packaging hypothetical projects, building his network, and pitching his ass off, all the time. The game of numbers ultimately worked in his favor, and he got his foot in the door, and after fortifying his mettle on movie after movie, he has since Produced over 20 projects all because he never stopped seeking out and actively pushing opportunities forward. Had he waited to be discovered, he'd still be waiting.   Thank you for listening! Don't forget to subscribe.    ----- Produced by Simpler Media
40:10 3/31/22
SEE FOR ME Director, Randall Okita [Episode 88]
Randall Okita is a Japanese Canadian director and artist. His latest movie is the new IFC Midnight thriller, See for Me. See for Me is about a young blind woman, house-sitting at a secluded mansion, who finds herself under invasion by thieves seeking a hidden safe. Her only means of defense is a new app called “See For Me” that connects her to a volunteer across the country who helps her survive by seeing on her behalf through her phone. See for Me is now available on-demand and super entertaining, beautifully directed, and of the many fantastic performances, features one of my personal favorite actors of all time, Kim Coates. Really enjoyed this interview with Randall; we got into the making of See for Me, his director origin story, and as always, his advice for aspiring filmmakers. Now without further ado, here is See for Me Director, Randall Okita. Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Randall.  Communicate with Music. One of the ways that Randall is able to articulate the tone and trajectory of specific scenes is by selecting songs and pieces of music indicative of what he has in his head. So many elements of cinema are nuanced to the point where they're hard to communicate with words. Sometimes you need another medium to convey the intangible details of your vision and music can be a great tool for this because it evokes very specific feelings. Randall uses music during the planning, filming, and editing of his movies and even plays certain tracks for actors to inform their performances. Find people at the right time. Randall is one of those directors who were able to get extremely high production value and excellent performances from a relatively low budget. Randall cites that a key to doing this well is finding people at certain moments in their career when they're in a position to extend themselves. This is a matter of finding people at JUST THE RIGHT MOMENT when their career is about to take off when your project can offer them a stepping stone to get to where they want to be. This is a great way to give people killer opportunities while also increasing the production value of your own film on a budget. Part of this is hiring people based on ability as opposed to experience, and it definitely has its risks, but when it works, it can be a great exchange. Cast relevantly. The protagonist of See for Me is a young blind woman, and Randall made sure that he cast someone who was actually visually impaired to play the role - this choice made all the difference. Even though it's a hot topic, casting for relevance isn't necessarily even a matter of social good as much as it's a means to bring real authenticity to your performances and, therefore, deeper realism to your movie. As a result of personal experience with becoming blind in adulthood, lead actor Skyler Davenport brought a level of reality to the role and was able to channel actual experiences. This extended beyond the performance and into many other choices made on the film that were directly informed by Skyler's true-life experience, all of which served the movie's realism. Thanks as always for listening, don't forget to subscribe.    ----- Produced by Simpler Media
30:31 3/17/22
WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW Writer, Director & Actor, Jim Cummings [Episode 87]
Jim Cummings is an American actor and filmmaker. He started his career in 2016 with the short film Thunder Road, which he extended into a 2018 feature film of the same name. You probably know him best for The Wolf of Snow Hollow, which he wrote, directed, and starred in. Wolf of Snow Hollow was one of my favorite films of 2020 and was the last performance of the dearly departed Robert Forster. Jim's latest movie is The Beta Test, a dark comedy thriller about a hapless young man who unwillingly makes a sex pact and is thrown into a dark underworld of intrigue. Beta Test is super intriguing and surprisingly funny. Jim carries the entire movie hilariously, no pun intended, reminds me of a young Jim Carrey. He's a super interesting recent addition to the horror world, and I can't wait to see what he does next. Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Jim Cummings. Keep hustling. Jim wrote his first film, the short for THUNDER ROAD, on the commute to his job, and it got into Sundance and won. A lot of would-be filmmakers somehow feel the need to do something extreme, like quit their job before they give themselves the permission and validation to embark on their movie-making career. This isn't always viable or sustainable, and there are many cases of filmmakers with day jobs who get their first movies made while they're doing something else, and that's ok. What matters is that you're consistently pursuing it.  There's a metaphor about two trains, where you're on one train that represents your current job, and adjacent to you is the train that you'd rather be on, representing your real passion. The more fuel you shovel into that other train, the faster it will catch up to the train you're on, and once it does, you'll know when to jump.   Number 2, a natural extension after number 1, even when you get signed, still, KEEP HUSTLING! After Jim's short won at Sundance, he got signed at the very prestigious agency WME - it seemed he had arrived, but after doing a waterbottle tour all over Hollywood, talking to many producers and studios, he had no offers. Unfortunately, this is the rule and not the exception for many directors who are signed, even to major agencies - you can enter a desert and waste years at a time just sitting on your hands waiting for your agency to bring you something. I've heard of this happening to more filmmakers than I'd care to admit. Once you're signed, it's critical that you keep that indie spirit going and get your projects made. Typically agencies make a cut of the total budget of a project, so they're usually less interested in pursuing smaller budgeted indies; that's ok; you don't always need them. Despite being signed with WME, Jim bootstrapped, kickstarted, and then equity-funded his first feature, cobbling together about $200k. Only after making that movie did Hollywood really come knocking, and he was able to make Wolf of Snow Hollow for a couple million dollars. The lesson here is to never rest on your laurels and to keep pushing your movies forward with or without your agency.   Find a way to pre-visualize pre-experience the tone and trajectory of your movie.  Jim and his writing partner PJ do a fascinating thing with their scripts prior to shooting - they will perform the entire script, record it, score it then listen to it to see where the lulls are and what could be better. This is pretty brilliant as a way to kick the tires on your own material because sometimes you need to hear the material performed, or even perform it yourself, to know what it needs to work. Sometimes he'll rent a cabin with his friends and make an event out of it. When you're deep in the trenches of your screenplay, you'll likely get tired of reading & re-reading the same material and lose...
23:41 3/3/22

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