Quantcast ICONS Interview with writer/actor Joshua Nelson - SKINNED ALIVE, ZOMBIES ANONYMOUS, PINK EYE, THE BLOOD SHED

Joshua Nelson!

Joshua Nelson is one of the hardest working actors/writers on the East Coast. We first spoke to him after he completed AUNT ROSE, and since then he's completed work on several other horror films including SKINNED ALIVE (formally EAT YOUR HEART OUT, out on DVD Aug. 26th), PINK EYE, Allen Rowe Kelly's THE BLOOD SHED & Marc Fratto's ZA: ZOMBIES ANONYMOUS! We caught up with Joshua via email for his 2nd ICONS interview! Read on!- By Robg. - 8/08

Well, Joshua... you've done a lot since we last spoke! How are you?

I am doing very well, thank you! And happy to be doing another interview with IOF!!!

In our first interview with you, you mentioned "LAST RITES OF THE DEAD", which was recently released on DVD as ZA: ZOMBIES ANONYMOUS. How'd you hook up with writer/director Marc Fratto for that project?

Insane-O-Rama was casting their first film, Strange Things Happen At Sundown and I went in to audition for the role of Joey The Butcher... I got the role and have been part of the Insane-O-Family ever since... they are all great people. I also brought Melissa Bacelar to audition for them. In the scene , the girl was laying in her underwear... I almost convinced Melissa to walk into the audition in a thong...almost... she got the part anyway, but it would have made a GREAT audition story if she had.

For our readers who haven't seen it yet, ZA: ZOMBIES ANONYMOUS tackles the zombie sub-genre of horror in a completely unique way and addresses things such as racism & discrimination, but against the "mortally challenged". As a writer yourself who often approaches the genre in a unique way, what stood out to you about Marc's script? How did you identify or feel about the material when you first read it?

Honestly, I don't like a lot of the scripts I read but Marc Fratto writes some AMAZING material...he didn't win best screenplay at the NYC Horror Film Festival for nothing...I knew the script was really smart and mature while being sick and twisted AND funny! I knew he was touching some very important issues and concepts and taking the Indie zombie film into totally new directions... and I LOVED that... I am always willing to take chances and go outside the box... way outside the box.

Your character in the film, Josh is not a very likable character. In fact, he does some horrible, horrible things. How do you even go about tackling a role like that? Was there any intimidation towards your image as a person playing someone as despicable as Josh in ZA?

First of all, I hated that the guys name was Josh...but Marc told me that was the "typical boyfriend name"...whatever the hell that means. But I'm an actor and to me, almost nothing is too much or off the table...it's a role...and I have a great time playing really, really bad people...it's so far from me (although some ex-girlfriends might disagree)....Unless I'm killing animals, I'll play just about ANYONE! As far as getting into it...I approach it like this...the sickest people don't always know they're sick...people like Hitler really thought that what they were doing was the right thing to do...so if you approach it like that, I'm almost in favor of what I do...sick as that sounds.
Gina Ramsden did a wonderful job as your tortured ex Angela in ZA, and Christa McNamee (who played "the Commandant") was pretty hardcore! Can you talk a bit about working with the cast of ZOMBIES ANONYMOUS?

I don't want to be one of those actors that says "I loved that cast, they were great to work with"... but they WERE great to work with... Really fantastic actually. There were some LOOOOOONG Hours on that film and working with Gina, who was really amazing, and J. Scott Green and Christa... they were not only terrific actors to work with but they were so much damn fun!!!
SKINNED ALIVE, aka EAT YOUR HEART OUT hits DVD this month. Yet again, it's a horror movie that approaches unconditional love in a unique light. What were the origins of that script/project and (for our readers) what is it about?

It's exactly that, finding our how much would you, could you accept in a person you love...people accept drugs and alcohol and addiction and abuse...so why not accept a lover that mutilates and eats people? Could be worse, no?
You've got Melissa Bacelar, Peter Stickles, Alan Rowe Kelly, Erika Smith and J. Scott Green all making appearances in SKINNED ALIVE. Can you talk a bit about casting on this movie? As the writer of these characters, I'd assume you're fairly vocal in the casting of your films?

I cast my films myself because I feel it is SO important to have the right cast. Bad actors can really, really pull you out of a movie and stop the real enjoyment of it...I take a long time casting because I want the tight look and strong talent...even if it's for a brief topless role, I still want really great actors.
What can we find in terms of supplemental material for the SKINNED ALIVE DVD?

Not enough unfortunately...we had to cut something together really fast, so there's a brief behind the scenes featurette... but it's TOTALLY worth it just to see Alan Rowe Kelly's short interview... trust me!
SKINNED ALIVE is your 6th collaboration with director James Tucker. How has your working relationship changed/evolved from film to film now on your latest?

Well, we stopped making films for under 2 Thousand dollars! We're still extremely low-budget but we've learned so much....things run much smoother and we seem to agree on everything we do... we make a very good team!

Can you tell us a bit about PINK EYE? Again, you're paired up with director James Tucker, and it co-stars Melissa Bacelar, Raine Brown, Alan Rowe Kelly - all people that have been involved in your other films.
The reason I use people like Melissa, Alan and Raine is because I am guaranteed to get great performances from people that I love and WANT to work with... they are just too good not to cast and too cool not to want to hang with! Pink Eye WAS supposed to be a story about an Insane Albino... but my casting for authentic albinos that could pull of the lead role fell short, VERY short... so I had to change him to a masked lunatic...but it actually worked. Pink Eye is about a madman that escapes from a mental hospital and kidnaps a girl he believes is his long lost love from an Edgar Allan Poe poem.
Halo-8 recently picked up the distribution rights to PINK EYE. Do you know what the battle plan is in terms of a release? We've heard a limited theatrical followed by a DVD release?

Well, it's guerilla distribution...heavy word of mouth and promotion...Halo 8 is awesome but doesn't have the money that say Lion's Gate or Anchor bay does, so we have to really get out there and push.
Tell us a little about Alan Rowe Kelley and how you ended up in his movie THE BLOOD SHED?

I met Alan while being tortured in an underground Romanian prison... of course it was Alan that was torturing me... I actually answered an ad for a film he was casting... he said he was looking for TRUE horror fans and he would know if people were lying... I loved that! I responded by telling him I just read a fantastic review of I'll Bury You Tomorrow in Rue Morgue magazine... most actors have no idea what Rue Morgue even is... We stayed great friends from that moment on... he has been in 2 of my films and I've been in 2 of his! I try to put Alan in everything I do... how can you not???

"THE BLOOD SHED" was a lot funnier, and frankly, it worked a lot better than I thought it was going to. I was surprised. What do you think helped separate it from the usual pack of low-budget horror comedies?
A few things... first, there was a fantastic cast & crew... and not just because they were all so talented, but because they were all really fantastic people to work with so the energy and vibe was very conducive to a great work.  Also, there were real horror fans working on it... and a few real sickos... and that's what you need in a film like that. But Alan created characters that were scary, sick and somehow loveable... something that you never find in backwoods, torture films... And it was cast perfectly, where each actor really embraced their characters... how scary it that???
Once again there's a lot of faces and names we've seen you work with before in this. For an actor does it get easier to see the same faces and develop relationships as professionals, or does it make it more challenging when moving quickly from one set of characters to the next? 

It's great in that you have respect for each other and you trust each other. If I'm acting with Alan Rowe Kelly or Susie Adriensen or Terry West, I can do whatever I want... I can try anything and I know they will be there to work off of it... some actors might freak out... and it's always a good feeling to be working with people you like. Believe me, I've worked with people I hate... and it sucks!

You've also used local FX company Monster In My Closet on several of your films (including AUNT ROSE, PINK EYE, SKINNED ALIVE). What can you say about them that confirms why they're your go-to group for special FX make-up?

Jeremy Selenfriend and Monster in My Closet are the ONLY FX people we will use... Jeremy kills himself to make the FX work... he doesn't sleep he just works and works and always gets the job done... no matter what I present him with...and he does it for MUCH less than he should... but he understands true independent filmmakers.

It seems that you frequently collaborate with plenty of local filmmakers and fellow actors. Can you talk a bit about the local independent filmmaking "scene", how it's changed or evolved over the course of the last few years, and the friendships you've made by making "scary movies"? 

Years ago, when I was MUCH younger, there was no indie scene because there were no Digital cameras so this opened the gates for people without a lot of money to work together...and while there are definitely some real jerkoffs out there, like any business, there are some extremely talented people out there that are not only making excellent films themselves, they are more than happy to help you... Alan Rowe Kelly has helped me with so many things from designing posters to offering to Boom for me? Can you believe it? Someone with his talent and ability being so humble? Bart Mastronardi, a great new director and DP came to my rescue by filming some 2nd unit stuff for Pink Eye the second I asked him.... even the Insane-O-Rama guys did the score for Pink Eye for me... this is a great example of why these "horror clicks" are so strong...really talented people that truly want to help each other out.... it's great!
What can we expect from you next, and in the future?

Well, aside from raising a future scream queen, who is now only 2 years old but her favorite game is Zombie attack... Gotta start em early... I am taking a quick step away from horror to work on a Lesbian Comedy... not that it can't be scary too... but I am hoping to get right back into another horror film, either in front of or behind that camera VERY soon. And finally, I love Icons Of Fright, the site rocks and you really bust your ass getting people info on films, reviews, interviews... it shows how hard you work and as a fan of the site, I just wanted to say thanks. My last word: Skinned Alive comes out on 8/26... it's got tons of Gore, T&A and a Flesh Eating Hooker... what more could any horror fan want????

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