|Last night I was
watching a documentary, Stanley Kubrick: a life in pictures and
it had me thinking about the moment of inspiration for all great
filmmakers. For Kubrick it was photography, What was that initial
inspirational source for you?
Comic books. Spiderman, Fantastic Four, X-Men. I really didn't
get to go see many movies. I lived way out in the sticks. So,
comic books were my replacement for that lack of visual storytelling. I
wanted to draw and write comic books pretty much all the way through
middle school and that's where I made the transition to seriously
wanting to make movies.
When was the first time you had an encounter with the filmmaking
medium or any film related medium?
When I was ten, my dad's boss had a video camera and made a documentary
about my sister's birthday and I was totally fascinated with the thing.
And when did
you finally try to make a film yourself?
I think I was about twelve years old a friend and I made a horror
movie, It was miniature nightmare on Elm Street movie.
We wore Freddy masks and fake blood (laughs)
After that did you consider filmmaking as a lifelong career?
Yeah it took me over pretty quick.
|What did your
film education consist of? Where you self-taught or did you study
film in college?
I went to film school... I was in a four-year undergraduate screenwriting
program at USC. It was a very intimate program with like only
24 students and only about 18 or 19 made it all the way through.
About a third of us were still hardcore by the end of the program.
I always saw writing and storytelling as a great base for a film
education. Thankfully my parents created an opportunity where
they encouraged me to do what I loved and that support paid of
I have a reoccurring conversation with many other filmmakers and
film lovers about the state of filmmaking today, and why many of today's
horror filmmaker do not push themselves further to create material that's
strong and original. A film that comes to mind that has actually achieved
this is your film 'MAY'. I felt that I honestly couldn't compare it
to anything else.
That's cool man.
'MAY' was personal stuff, it was personal expression done through
a tremendous group of people. If peoples hearts and minds are
headed in the right direction you'll get some cool results.
Everyone that worked on 'MAY' were obviously not doing it for
the money. They liked the story and got it, they enjoyed themselves
while they were working on it and that all came on to the screen.
I was watching CNN recently and to see Roger Ebert arguing
in your favor was amusing and a good feeling.
It's awesome, I mean it's very flattering, I don't want to read
too deeply into it because I'm sure I'll get hammered on the
next thing that I do. (laughs)
|Do you plan to
tell stories within the horror genre exclusively?
Well, the new film that I'm working on is a horror film. I don't
think I'm gonna stay exclusive to the horror genre but those elements
will invariably find their way into the work.
No, absolutely not... After THE WOODS, which is my first studio
picture - I'm going to make another personal film like 'MAY'.
But I kind of would like to make popcorn pictures every now
and then too.
What was the film you directed before MAY?
|It's called 'ALL
CHEERLEADERS DIE'. One of my great friends and main collaborators
was a production student. (Chris Seaverson) About a year after
we got out of USC, we decided that no one would give us money
to make a feature we kind of looked at what we had before us,
which was the digital format. We got a hold of a video camera
and gathered some of our friends together and made this wild little
zombie movie. It took two four-day weekends out in the town where
I grew up.
Is this what
helped you get the budget together for 'MAY'?
No. I had written 'MAY' my junior year of college. A guy who
I had went to school with read the script shortly after and
was interested in helping me find actors that could help get
it going, but nothing came of it. Four years later, out of the
blue he called me. He remembered the script and was starting
his own production company. So, he came down, we worked on the
script and a year later we had a film in Sundance.
|Well, he made
a good choice! Better you than some film illiterate prick who
just wants to make a lot of dough.
(laughs) Well, I definitely haven't done that yet.
I'm sure you will if you continue to make great films.
Money is definitely not the main goal. It's having a rich life.
The most rewarding thing is looking at the results at the end
of the day.
So, would you say the most important thing to you is the film?
Yeah I love getting a reaction out of people.
Would you say that MAY as a character is a sympathetic character
and do you draw most of this from your personal experience?
We have all felt
backward and socially inept and I hoped that most people could
relate. The next step was to go all the way with that feeling
and not hold back.
That is actually my next question. Do you ever say to yourself
maybe I shouldn't do this because?
As long as it doesn't distract from the original point of the
story. Do you mean in terms of the level of intensity?
Yes, if there was something that might come of as too intense, offensive,
or politically incorrect, but something that you really wanted displayed
within the context of the story. Did you ever censor yourself and say
well maybe this isn't for a large audience?
|Well, I do keep the
audience in mind. When you do the first draft of a script, it's
usually for yourself. Once you start showing it to people you
trust and respect, then you start to gage weather, the material
is communicating the emotions and ideas that you're trying to
communicate. I mean, you keep working on it. I wouldn't call it
censoring myself. I definitely like to push peoples buttons though. I
would rather challenge peoples emotions than challenge them intellectually. I
like getting inside their guts and turning them around.