Interview: Len Kabasinski

We are unashamed Len Kabasinski fans here at the ISCFC. With small budgets and whatever time he can grab, he’s made a series of extremely entertaining genre movies, from “Swamp Zombies” (which we loved) to “Fist Of The Vampire” to “Apocalypse Female Warriors” (brilliant), among many more. “Angel of Reckoning” is out now – not in the UK, sadly – and he’s currently shooting “Hellcat’s Revenge”, a sleazy-looking 70s-style biker-exploitation film.  His work ethic makes me feel even lazier than I am, and he’s agreed to answer a few of my questions.

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Hi Len! We’ve got an obligatory boring movie reviewer question first, but could you tell us a bit about what sort of films you grew up watching?

Hey Mark! thanks for having me. I grew up with martial arts in my life so it was only natural for me to gravate towards those types of films, back in the early to mid 80s the “straight to VHS/home video” boom hadn’t really happened yet. So, for alot of films I really loved early on i went to a friends house who had HBO and watched films like REVENGE OF THE NINJA, ENTER THE NINJA, SILENT RAGE, etc etc. I LOVED the tv show KUNG FU and was and is a huge David Carradine fan. i would race home from school as KUNG FU played on a local TV channel at that time. Once we got into the period from about 1987 to around 1994 this was my absolute favorite time period, especially for martial arts/action films….horror had a lot of good ones too but horror films have a rich history going waaaaaaay back in film whereas martial arts really didn’t. amoungst my favorite actors growing up were David Carradine, Michael Dudikoff, Loren Avedon, Don “the dragon” Wilson, Jeff Wincott, and more….so lots of movies from these actors, plus directors like Kurt Anderson, Sam Firstenberg, Ciro H Santiago, and of course a shit-ton of stuff coming out of Roger Corman’s companies, etc

Your most recent release is “Angel of Reckoning”. The IMDB description sounds awesome, and it’s already out in the US. Was it fun to make?

ANGEL OF RECKONING really marks as a big turn in my filmmaking, as it really had absolutely no horror elements to it at all and was more a straight action picture. As a whole the production went smooth, except for a few hiccups as we delt with soft boxes, gels, time consuming stuff….overall it’s a film I’m happy with but I really don’t watch my own works. But I learned alot during this film in many more ways than one. My Mother was dying as I was writing/developing the film and I decided (and I got to tell her these things before she passed) that I was going to make a vigilante style picture/revenge style picture ala films like DEATH WISH and she was happy I went for something like this. She would always tell me when I was bummed out about how one thing went or another…”Len you have nothing to prove anymore”….she is missed. but not only will I always feel I have something to prove, I’m about to put the gas pedal down on a film called BLOOD PRISM that I think people will be surprised with the direction. Just when people think they know the answer to my filmmaking? I change the question (wrestling reference, extra credit to who gets it).

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From your casting choices, it seems we share a love of pro wrestling. How did you go about getting “The Genius”, Lanny Poffo, to act for you, after so long out of the public eye? And are there any other pro wrestlers you’d like to work with?

Oh sure, there’s a ton. Lanny Poffo I worked with twice and hope to again. Super nice guy and great sense of humor. I really want to work with him again, as now I’m making better and better things, and have advanced my skills in alot of areas (imo). I’m not sure i have anyone in particular I’d like to work with….it would have been Roddy Piper (as I’m a big THEY LIVE fan), so that sucks he passed but yea….I dont know. I’d have to really think about it….it’d probably have to be someone I feel I could create a very unique character for, I could see CM Punk being successful in some kind of horror picture or maybe someone like Shawn Michaels in an action/martial arts picture….but hell….I’d work with anyone that comes in, treats my cast & crew well, isnt an asshole to people, and believes in what we’re trying to accomplish.

I loved the re-edited “Apocalypse Female Warriors”. Would this re-editing and recording commentary be something you’d like to do for any of your other movies?

Of course. I’d love to do new commentaries to some of my older films, especially CURSE OF THE WOLF which has a decent sized fan base. APOCALYPSE FEMALE WARRIORS special edition and new cut was done by Chris Young, who also served as my editor (amoung other duties like Lighting Coordinator) on ANGEL OF RECKONING. Super talented, incredibly film knowledgeable, and a really meticulous hard worker. He also understands to a T what I’m trying to accomplish with a given film and can speak the same “on-set language” that I do. Camera angles, lighting, editing cuts, etc…we’re on the same page an extremely high percentage of the time. He’s editing HELLCATS REVENGE and BLOOD PRISM and is really developing into a co-partner for me at KillerWolf Films….but that’s a development for another time. I highly recommend him to anyone trying to make better pictures, a better website, overall better production values, and more….he can do it all and at a high level. There is NO ONE I have met so far in 10 or 11 movies I’ve done that is more intelligent than him. www.cyoungmedia.com for more….you won’t regret it.

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Are there any films from other directors you’d like to remake? I can just see you as “Omega Cop”.

Oh shit, youve won my over for life with a Ron Marchini reference. WOW! I love KARATE COP and OMEGA COP specifically but love FORGOTTEN WARRIOR and JUNGLE WOLF as well. KARATE COP wold be high on my list as well as KING OF THE KICKBOXERS. if I had to pick a horror (ish) film I’d pick 1988’s DEAD HEAT with Joe Piscopo and Treat Williams (and an incredible all star cast…Key Luke, Vincent Price, etc etc). I of course would have to add AMERICAN NINJA and ENTER THE NINJA to that list along with a film I highly recomend starring the ALWAYS-awesome Cameron Mitchell called RAW FORCE. RAW FORCE would have HUGE potential in my opinion as a re-make. ( I hate remakes but I went along with your question here, 🙂 )

(ISCFC aside: seriously, “Raw Force” is amazing. Go and watch it immediately)

I think you’re a decent actor, and probably ought to headline one of your own movies. Any plans to do that in future? Or are you interested in acting for anyone else?

I would act for another project if I felt it was organized and worth my time (not trying to sound arrogant there at all). So sure, my door is always open to treat everything as a learning experience and grow in all phases of art and creativity. those who enjoy my acting for whatever reason will probably like the upcoming HELLCATS REVENGE, where I play the co-lead role of “Snake”, the leader of a criminal biker gang. So acting-wise, I’m in that film a lot. However, BLOOD PRISM, will be a lot like ANGEL OF RECKONING where I plan to stay behind the camera more and really try to show people improvements in my directorial skills, scripting improvements (I’m co-writing BLOOD PRISM and have taken the reins on producing the film as well). I didnt expect to film so soon after HELLCATS REVENGE but opportunities presented themselves and off we go. I was really fortunate for the people who kicked in on our gofundme campaign for HELLCATS REVENGE as it helped us aquire Lisa Neeld (great person and performer) amoungst othe production elements. Plus, I was very fortunate I had backing outside of Gofundme from a west coast producer who paid for my entire post-production (I’ve been working a long time to get to that point! It feels good!)

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Would you have any advice for someone who wants to do what you did and make independent cinema? Maybe a few pieces of advice you wish you’d been given when you started.

First off, never get discouraged by what other people may say about your work.  Do what your creative mind wants you to do or tells you to do. You dont need much of a budget to “get out there” (hell, I know this too well!). All my early films have been at Walmarts, Kmarts, Family Videos, Netflix, FYE, GoHastings….shit tons of places. but now? No-one cares if youre on a store shelf, its all about making money and doing your next picture. everything is VOD now. So, basically I look to push my films to VOD places as much as I can and don’t get caught up with pushing to video stores or retail chains anymore….because no one cares, lol. So be smart about things. Develop YOUR thing, YOUR plan, and go for it…truly. Story, lighting, acting will go further than any production aspect like shooting on a RED camera, or other super expensive equipment….fuck, use your phone if you have to lol. And lastly, and this goes back to how I started the answer to this question…fuck what other people say or think about you…be yourself no matter what and you know what? You can’t do anything wrong when you be yourself because people will love you for you.

I won’t be Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Kubrick etc…but you know what? They won’t be me either and I know more about MARTIAL OUTLAW, RETURN FIRE: JUNGLE WOLF II, ELVES, and FUTURE FORCE then they ever will….and I’d never want my life to be without films like these.

(ISCFC aside: I love this answer so much. If you’re not a fan of Len’s by the end of this interview, then me and you would never be friends)

Please let us know about “Hellcat’s Revenge”. How has filming gone so far?

HELLCATS REVENGE was being developed and script done, when I did a re-write just a few days before principal photography. The shoot was very smooth, if not my smoothest so far. It’s female bikers vs male bikers after a prominent member of the “Hellcats” is murdered….motorcycles, hot babes, strip clubs, fight scenes, so I hope it can keep people’s attention! But yeah, during production we had lot’s of break time for people in between huge scenes, lots of rest, finishing on time or early everyday but one, etc etc….alot of great things.  but yeah, in case you didnt know…HELLCATS REVENGE is done with filming and already in post-production now. Hopefully it can hit DVD in Summer 2017. Lots of action in it, and a lot of great chemistry between the characters imo. hopefully people will check it out when it’s time….til then check out www.facebook.com/hellcatsrevenge , www.facebook.com/len.kabasinski or www.cyoungmedia.com and of course the brand new www.killerwolffilms.com

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Thanks again, Len, and good luck with all your future projects!

Thanks for having me Mark! I hope everyone can check out ANGEL OF RECKONING which is out on VOD right now…Amazon Instant Video, itunes, Gravitas VOD, and more. the DVD for ANGEL OF RECKONING comes out 11/22 and is LOADED with cool special features if you’re into those things, some I have never seen before on other DVDs!

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The Cult Film Interviews: Episode 1 ‘Chainsaw Sally’

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In the first of an on-going series of interviews I am joined by Jimmyo and April Burril, the husband and wife team behind the decade strong cult horror franchise ‘Chainsaw Sally’. The couple talk about the origins and inspiration behind the character and so much more…

Click here >>> Listen to our interview with Jimmyo and April Burril

Interview with Viktor Johansson

We reviewed Viktor’s film ‘Under Gottsunda’ a couple of weeks ago and were enamoured with what we saw. It made sense to catch up with the man and probe him with a few questions.

‘Under Gottsunda’ shows us an unseen side of Sweden. How important was it to choose the the right location when shooting this film?

 At the time I would bike to nearby Gottsunda everyday to leave my daughter in kindergarten. Once we rode past a burned-out car and my daughter asked, well, if it had crashed. We took a peek inside and there were burned books in the wreck, trying to see what they said. Too see what lies beneath, too actually read the burned book.

Then I saw a petrol can in there. Wow, it struck me. Maybe because I had my own child on the bike, I was blown away, in the heart. The thought of this child who walked around with gasoline container, poured the gasoline and fumbled with his lighter. The gasoline child. It was my child.

And the news and police only reported about the boo-hoo poor little cars that were destroyed, a wave of car fires every summer. But I wanted to write about the children. I saw an iceberg under each burned-out car, and then wrote my novel The dark sport. At the same time I was teaching creative writing at the Gottsunda Stories workshop. ‘Under Gottsunda’ began to take form. Not just taking place in Gottsunda, as a location, but out of Gottsunda itself. Straight outta Gottsunda.

 

The Sociologist within me has always been interested in youth subcultures. I remember being fascinated by the ins and outs, the fashion, the mores, within gang culture particularly mods, rockers and punks. ‘Under Gottsunda’ features a few different youth subcultures. What interesting things did you discover about youth subcultures when researching for this film?

I grew up in the countryside of Sweden, in a village built around a frozen meal factory, one day it smelled of pirogis and one day it smelled of cabbage rolls. All things urban interested me, all the trendy subcultures and styles trickled down to us years later. Like in Gummo where the rural tennis boy has a NKOTB haircut and is the coolest thing in Xenia, Ohio.

I discovered that when you’re unseen by the big society, you might as well be hidden and do all kinds of mysterious things. These Gottsundaites take create their own little society with rituals and legends.

 

I wrote in my review of ‘Under Gottsunda’ how the film took me back to my own youth. How do the characters’ lives compare to your own experiences as a teenager?

The mission with ‘Under Gottsunda’ was understanding the misunderstood youth. Housing project youngsters are basicly seen as foreigners bringing violence to safe Sweden. But I brought some uprising to my safe upbringing. Violence aimed against society, as in Gottsunda.

In Källby I was doing street art as a teenage protest, against a colorless world maybe, once we tried to do a too ambitious stencil and was arrested. There was a big graffiti smash down, against our subculture.

Now I do not mean that everyone in Gottsunda ride police car. But I can understand the feeling that the police is working for the other side.

I hung out with the autonomous left movement and I marched along in anarchist demonstrations, so that’s been my input and understanding of uprising. When you feel that you cannot influence, then you take desperate measures. I did that. Burning a car in Gottsunda has to be seen as a message, it’s a symbolic image, not just a criminal act. In Källby I had my graffiti, in Gottsunda there’s not much graffiti. But I think young people are still trying to send a message to society. Everywhere. I understand Gottsunda with the anti-capitalist ideas of my youth. I tried to channel my radical teenage self. Maybe it doesn’t sound like it, but this is my personal approach.

If all society does for a housing project is put up a huge shopping center, in an area that cannot afford to lifestyle shop, then you create failed consumers (The Sociologist within me is Zygmut Bauman). I also did systemized shoplifting when moving to my own apartment, let me add here in the middle where my parents won’t read.

Then have these outsiders gaze into storefronts, where a perfect life is on display, light-skinned mannequins with whole families and nice clothes. But the locals do not have access, to this life. The failed uprising consumers. In Los Angeles and London we see looting and raiding as part of uprising and rebellion. You have to smash the storefront window to get on the same level as others, to take part of the high standards, shop till you fit in. This is the alienation that the market creates. In Gottsunda, and other places.

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The streotypical idea of Sweden is a nation of blonde blue eyed beautiful people. It’s almost as ridiculous as the outside view of England as a nation of tea drinkers and crumpet eaters who all talk like Dickensian characters. ‘Under Gottsunda’ features characters who are either the children of migrants; or of foreign nationals, like the Macedonian father in your film who has chosen to live in Sweden in search of a better life. Do you think Sweden’s immigrant population is under represented in film and television?

 Yeah, and wrongly represented.

The prejudices of the suburb will even get internalized by those who live there. Media uses them only for reporting about car fires and honor crimes.

When I was street casting, the kids explained that they weren’t involved in the arsons. Every kid I met felt that they had to defend themselves against that image. Arsonists, this was secondary school children.

It really hit me, I realized that the media image must have gotten jammed in their heads. Walking around with the burning cars in their psyche.

 

Under Gottsunda’ looked like it was a film that required quite a bit of editing. It appears like you shot the actors for long periods of time, and just let them be. Is there any footage which you regret not using in the film?

Yeah, editing took like six months, I worked out of a writing scholarship. I’m more established as an author than as a filmmaker.

I shot bits and pieces first, in the beginning it was more documentary style, capturing the true essence of hanging around, wasting your youth I was about to say, but that’s what youth is for, floating around in this limbo, to invent and form your identity you have to be set on part self-destruct, part self-create. I tried not to interfere and just capture this.

Then as the summer was coming to an end I realized I needed some dramatic development, and I wrote these heightened continuations to their lives, making their subcultures into extreme sports with rules and manifestos. Some of the stories were written by the kids themselves, for example the longboarder who’s force-fed his mother’s karma. That’s Sergej’s own novella that he wrote on the Gottsunda Stories workshop. His entire narration is freestyled, it’s comes from his own inner world, just not his biographical circumstances.

Speaking about the editing, I wanted an organic approach, mushrooms popping up, to not trim the shrubbery. I mean everything in this movie can be weeded out. So that vulnerability sets the dogma.

Get it cluttered instead. Let it get tangled. Sprawling maybe. The suburb is a sprawling movement away from the center. In my first poetry collection “Capsules” I wrote a poem from the movie ‘Gummo’, it was sort of a statement of my world, the beauty of the debris blowing in the wind. This debris, the mistakes, the human errors that we are, is what I am looking for. ‘Under Gottsunda’ is intended as a shattered mirror that I pieced together in the editing, to skew facets, a strange cut diamond. There is a new film by Tim Sutton called ‘Memphis’, everyone seems to write that it is entirely composed out of scenes that wouldn’t fit in a strong narrative film, stuff that won’t fit any structure. But it is these scenes, riding your BMX in twilight puddles, humming some song that will be gone forever in the next moment, that I’m looking for. That is life. That makes an awesome movie.

And to answer you on cut scenes, there’s a cut character that I didn’t get to shoot. But he can be hinted in the beginning when the boys scream down the well.

I had an idea for a burnt child, a kid who who played with fire but got burnt so badly that he didn’t dare to go home. Everyone would know that he was an arsonist, a burner of cars. So the kid grew up hidden in the sewer system, under Gottsunda.

It is one of those myths that was created for the overall film mythology, and which is hinted in the final film.

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I was confused a little by the characters who practiced a Martial Arts system which reminded me of a cross between Krav Maga and Wing Chun, what do these characters represent?

 Yes, Krav Maga as well as Systema is a military martial art, so it’s based on realistic combat situations. The martial art of kitchen sink realism. But these kids take it to a spin off level, with dancing and singing about twinkling stars, the dancing comes from the russian Cossacks they say. At times it seems out of control.

Talking about what it represents, systema can be seen as a manifest for the film, realism that spins out of control and becomes extreme, a hightened subculture, that’s what I’m missing in social realist cinema, in Ken Loach and Ulrich Seidl, a world of it’s own within the kitchen sink. What goes down the drain, in the kitchen sink, and mutates in the sewers. Like the Turtles or sewer alligators.

I try to take something real and mundane, and picture the extreme version, what if hanging around the parking lot was an extreme sport, what would that look like. Dancing in parking lot puddles. Screeming down the sewers.

It’s fun with Ninja Turtles how all our culture from above ground are dumped into sewers and becomes subculture. In the new Turtles movie (which isn’t called something cool like The Secret of the Ooze), they have put up a wall in the sewer using old silver cassette players as bricks.

Also about Systema, in ‘Under Gottsunda’ everyone’s talking about the system, I noticed. “Sometimes I feel like the society’s inside of me”, with the rapper Flexx’ words. And Systema, is literarily a system within a larger system. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that young people dressed in military uniforms and wake up a fierce Russian martial art right on the streets of Gottsunda. They are children of their time, their system. The kids themselves wouldn’t like me saying this, but of course you think about the violence on the streets they grew up in.

 

In terms of Swedish TV and film, in the UK only we seem to only receive a steady diet of noirish crime thrillers like ‘Wallender’, ‘The Bridge’ and ‘Crimes of Passion’, and before those Stieg Larsson adaptations; is there anything from Sweden that we should be looking into?

We have this beautiful out door natural light that has shaped amazing films like “Burrowing”, about villa neighbors who escape their mundane indoor lives, and take to the wild. Bathing their babies in the lakes.

It seems the light and the nature draws you into making Malickean movies.

It was very nice when for example a movie like last years “Something must break” goes out in the terrain, the secret wilderness behind the city. Where the suburbs and housing projects end and wilderness takes over.

It has been said about ‘Under Gottsunda’ that it looks lush and organic, it’s set in the green areas, something we don’t visualize with suburbs, in film and hip hop songs it’s all grey concrete. And of course that’s a protest, no one want’s to live like that. But it was a striking contrast to make a Terrence Malick movie where the urban wild roses grew, where the blueberries cracked the asphalt.

 

 

To finish I was wondering if you could you tell me more about your upcoming projects?

My next feature is called ‘Flogsta heaven’. It was an urgent second film that I shot last summer, urgent because I’v now moved from Uppsala, where both Flogsta and Gottsunda is located. It doesn’t add up to the magical format of a trilogy. What do you call two films, a diptych maybe.

‘Flogsta heaven’ is a film about student drop out who give up all things education, and instead they return to being savages, walking backwards, they spend three years to perform a perfect moonwalk instead of becoming a bright future for this country. The motto is daft punk instead of being so accomplished. That is what I wish for the films of Sweden, dafter and punkier.

 

 Here’s the trailer for Victor’s next movie ‘Flogsta heaven’

Jean Louise O’Sullivan interview

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Many thanks to Jean Louise O’Sullivan for agreeing to do an interview with us. The question I really wanted to ask – “so, I’ve watched Jester in 11 films and I don’t think he’s done a damn thing in any of them. What’s that about?” I decided to leave til I get an interview with Charles Band, Full Moon head honcho. She’s my favourite thing about “Puppet Master X: Axis Rising”, so I ask her a little about that, a little about her other work, and hopefully try and make her laugh so she doesn’t think I’m some lunatic obsessed with the minutiae of low-budget films. (our notes on the interview will follow in the comments)

· There’s quite a few actors and actresses who appear in multiple Full Moon films. Is it a good place to work, or do they just pay well?

Full Moon is a great place to work. When I work on a project with them I’m getting the opportunity to work with some my closest friends and favorite crew members in the entertainment industry. The reason I work with Full Moon time and time again is simply because I love making movies.

· Were you a fan of low-budget and genre films before starting work in them? If so, any favorites stick in your mind?

I have always been a huge fan of low-budget films. The B movie world has long been a place where like minded people can come together and experiment with making new kinds of movies. It’s very exciting for me to work on a project where the crew comes together to make something cool with limited resources. Some of my favorite low-budget films are; Little Shop of Horrors, Dolls, Evil Dead 2, The Masque of the Red Death, Toxic Avenger, Puppet Master, and Trancers.
· Now, this might only be of interest to film nerds like me, but were the historical problems ever mentioned on the Puppet Master X set – that the US didn’t join the war til 1941, and that kamikaze pilots weren’t a thing til 1944, while the film was set in 1939?

We shot Puppet Master X in 10 days… there was no time to worry about or discuss any of the historical problems. I think everyone was more focused on trying to get the new puppet ,Blitzkrieg, to work properly. That thing had a mind of it’s own!
· Is that last question a bit ridiculous given that it’s a film series about puppets that kill people?

Puppet homicide is definitely more the focus of this film than presenting a faithful rendition of World War II history.
· Have you got any news about a third film in the “Axis” sequence, or is a relaunch of the series more likely to be coming next?

I don’t know if there will be another Puppet Master film. I was thrilled to be a part of the tenth installment and I know Charlie Band was happy with how the film turned out. Ten is a nice round number for a popular franchise like Puppet Master. But if the Full Moon fans are looking to see more puppet murders, we can’t disappoint them.

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* I’ve been trying to think of names of sequels for the Ginderdead Man franchise, and I’ve come up with Gingerdead Man: The Serial Killer’s Guide To The Galaxy (set in space, naturally). Or “There Will Be Ginger”, set in the old days of mining. If you pitched them a potential sequel, what name do you think you’d go for?

LOL I would love to see those movies! I think if I was going to pitch a gingerdead man film it would be something like:
‘Gingerdead Man, the Golden Years; Salt and Paprika’ – it would be an independent art film where the the cookie is at the end of his life. He reflects on all the bad decisions he’s made and ponders the existence of heaven and hell. Ultimately he comes to terms with the chaos he’s inflicted during his incarnation as a cookie. Then Gary Busy devours the stale cookie. Fin. It will for sure get nominated for things.
* I notice you’ve worked on “Tim and Eric: Awesome Show, Great Job”. How odd was the experience compared to how odd their show is?

My experience working with Tim and Eric was Awesome! Seriously, those guys have the best time ever making that show. It was really fun working with them. The studio we filmed in was kind of dumpy. It almost felt like we were shooting in their parents garage or something. That dumpy atmosphere made the focus so much less about “Wow! I’m working in Television Production!” and so much more about “Ok, we have a bunch of costumes and props and stuff. We’re all here to make something crazy and weird. How crazy and weird can we get with this?” It was fun. The team they work with is super interesting and creative.
* You produced as well as starred in “The Bates Haunting”. Was the double duty interesting, and is it something you’d like to do again?

Double duty on ‘The Bates Haunting’ was challenging to say the least. Honestly, I have never worked so hard in my life. But despite the hard work I would love to produce another film, and my next project is not far off. I have been reading a lot of screenplays and working on a few scripts of my own. It’s all about finding a project I can make well.
* What’s coming up next for you (in other words, please plug your upcoming films)?

‘The Bates Haunting’ is currently available on DVD in Walmart and other major retailers.
You can catch me playing a nurse on season two of Jim Jefferies show ‘Legit’ on FXX. I play Melanie Parker in ‘AlphaHouse’ an upcoming Asylum film being released April 1st of this year. I’m also working on a new project with Full Moon… but that is all top secret for the time being.

Get yourself a copy of my latest release
http://www.amazon.com/The-Bates-Haunting-Jean-Louise-OSullivan/dp/B00DMOVIRK

Follow Jean Louise
https://twitter.com/OJeanLouiseO

Interview with James Cullen Bressack

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We described ‘To Jennifer’ as “a film which covers obsession, voyeurism and ponders how modern life seems like it is seen through the lens of a smart phone”; it made a lot of sense to grab some of the precious time of director James Cullen Bressack and ask him a few questions about the movie and life in the biz.

ISCFC: Hello James, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘To Jennifer’ and felt that it was your strongest effort to date. How did the initial idea for the film first come about?

Thank you! I truly appreciate that. This is a tricky question to answer, because essentially the initial idea was the twist, and I don’t want to give that away, But what I will say is i wanted to make a film that was 90% a comedy, to lull an audience into security before having a big turn at the end. In my first film ‘MY PURE JOY’, I tried to splice in buddy comedy with horror and I feel like it didn’t work, so I wanted to try again and get it right this time.

What challenges faced you when shooting the film on an iPhone 5?

Honestly, the same challenges that you face while shooting with any other camera, although the Video doesn’t transfer from the iphone 5 to the computer as easily and it’s hard to open in final cut. Also occasionally the camera would flex and Maure on its own.

Are we all in danger of turning into voyeurs in the internet age?

I believe we are. I was just having a conversation about this yesterday, but my generation I think would find it near impossible to go an entire month without internet or cell phones. It would be like the dark ages! We have adapted and come accustomed to these appliances as a part of everyday life. I almost sometimes look at my phone, because it has google in it, as an extension of my brain, holding all the facts my mind can’t on its own.

You’ve stated in previous interviews that your all-time favorite film is ‘Oldboy’, what are your hopes for the upcoming remake?

I honestly am not planning on watching the remake, I am not a fan of the filmmaker or remakes and don’t want to ruin my favorite film for myself. If the reviews are AMAZING, I might reconsider.

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We covered ‘Hate Crime’ last year, and complimented the acting performances. Was there any reluctance shown from the actors about dealing with the strong subject matter and the experience of acting out such shocking violence?

All of my actors that ended up in the film were VERY dedicated and fine with all of the content and violence; they understood the importance of the message that was being conveyed within the film and the symbolism of each act of violence. However, there were cast members that dropped out of the film in the early stages that had to be replaced, and there were people that stormed out of the audition rooms after reading the sides.

A great deal of your films cover the threat that is right on our doorstep; our friends, our neighbours, about how those people we know and trust can worryingly harbour the darkest secrets – when you read the news this a familiar and scary part of the societies in which we live in, but in cinema the local danger is sometimes ignored, particularly in the horror genre. Why do you think this is?

I feel like people don’t always like to be reminded how scary the world we live in today is, but as a horror filmmaker, it is my job to play on the fears of my audience. The world around us is scary. Horrible things happen every day. I don’t need to create monsters, when there are monsters that live just a few houses down from any given person. Even that thought, or paranoia, that’s what I like to play into when making a film – Reality. I also find it a lot of fun to dive into the mind of a monster and find out how the think, how they work. It really helps the process with my actors as well.

You are very hands on with the audition process. What are you looking for when it comes to picking leading males and scream queens?

I am very obsessive about who I work with as an actor or actress. Any of the actors I have worked with in the past will tell you I am an actor’s director. I spend days upon days, hours upon hours, discussing character, who this person is, how they feel when they wake up in the morning, what makes them tick, and everything that is off the page, not just on it. I also dive deep into the motivation of each and every word and action the character does. To do this I need to know I can spend that much time around an actor or actress, that I really connect with them on that mental level, and that they are able to put in the time and work for me that I will require. I also tend to do, what I am told is a Fincher-esque amount of takes per angle on set to help build performances as well.

Storytelling is something that is important to you as a director. Outside of cinema, what storytellers do you most admire?

I am a huge fan of Jack London, Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare, and Rampo.

What can we expect from ‘Pernicious’?

‘Pernicious’ is going to be my first Supernatural horror film. It is also my favorite script I have worked on thus far. The film also happens to be more commercial an effort then my films in the vein of ‘HATE CRIME’. It’s more tame, yet equally as frightening, just in a different way. I am excited to see what everyone think of it, because I will be pouring myself into it for 3 months straight in Thailand! It’s going to be an exciting and intense film, I guarantee it.

Summer is here, the time of the year traditionally set aside for the release of the big budget blockbuster. What would you say your favourite blockbuster was from the last few years?

The last Harry Potter movie. I was a big fan of the books. 🙂

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