Monday, April 23, 2012

Indie Director Scott Kessler Interview!!

Hollywood, the land of mindless remakes, prequels sequels and enough speical effects to give even Michael Bay a headache. While some smart things somethings manages to crawl out of tinsel town its basically a machine cranking out shit to sell to a mass audience that will eat up anything a studio shovels out. Lucky for us film freaks, there are independent filmmakers with visions and a passion that is unbound by studios that can hamper a creative mind. Scott Kessler is such a filmmaker that while new to the scene has already made two feature films and working on his third.

 In addition  Mr. Kessler has also founded a production company Creative Threat.
Scott has been quoted as saying "I`m determined not to amass wealth but to leave a mark on the world..."

The Interview:

GH: Did you watch a lot of horror and sci-fi as a child?

SK: Oh, Tons. My mom didn't really censor much when I was a kid. She had a kind of hippy approach to what we could and couldn't watch. I'm originally from California and there was a great show from Oakland every Friday and Saturday night called "Creature Features", hosted by a very cool dude named Bob Wilkins. He would show an old school horror or sci-fi movie and talk about all the new stuff coming out (keep in mind that this was the 1970's and there were no bulletin boards, internet or any way of seeing trailers unless you saw them in the theater or occasionally on T.V.). I must have seen every Vincent Price and Roger Corman flick ever made. I also used to watch HBO late at night in the 1970's and 1980's, and I would catch every horror, sci-fi and exploitation movie they could serve up. By the time I was twelve, I had amassed a huge mental "collection" of movie of all genres, but I've always been a horror/sci-fi/action movie geek.

GH: What films inspired you to make your own films?

SK: Offhand I would cite Alien (1979), Highlander (1986), Robocop (1987), Aliens (1986), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Once Upon a Time in China (1992), Reservoir Dogs (1992), The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1975? I think), Ghostbusters (1984), The Road Warrior (1981), Full Contact (1992), Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), Halloween (1978), The Thing (1982), From Dusk Til Dawn (1996), Hellraiser (1987), Pumpkinhead (1988), Shaun of the Dead (2004), Seven (1995), The Shining (1980), Unbreakable (2000), Jaws (1975), Walking Tall (1975),Fight Club (1999), and perhaps my biggest influence from childhood, Rocky & Rocky II (1976 & 1979). Pretty much anything by Ridley Scott, David Fincher, John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, Tarantino, Clive Barker, Dario Argento, and Robert Rodriguez would qualify.

GH: Your first time is Deep River? What’s it about?

SK: Deep River was my first attempt at a screenplay, and is still my favorite of my own work. It's about a group of low-rent, would-be criminals who decide to kidnap and ransom a baby. Unbeknownst to them, the kid they grab is the grandson of a Mafia boss. When the kid is accidentally killed, they run to hide out with an old friend in a small town in Wyoming, with a hitman on thier tail. (SPOILER): What they don't know is that their "Old Friend" is a very accomplished serial killer known as the "Deep River Killer".

GH: Your films are relatively unknown but you`ve done three so far. When will your films be out on DVD?

SK: Paragon will be released in August, 2012. Deep River will follow in early 2013, and Paragon II will show up Summer, 2013. All three will be released and distributed by MadCapp Studios/MadCapp Video.

GH: Like any good Indie film, your features are low budget. Would you someday want to work on a big budget film?

SK: "Big Budget" is a very subjective term. At this point, twenty-five thousand would be a big budget and I'd love to work with a much larger budget (all of my stuff to date has fallen into the very low thousands of dollars-range). At this level of low-budget (aka "Micro-Indie"), you are forced to improvise and create effects and such from whatever is readily (cheaply) available, which is good in that your creativity is pushed and you have to make it work. On the other hand, it also forces you to compromise the ideas and "vision" (I hate that term) to a point. Sometimes it works well, and sometimes you get stuff that LOOKS amateurish. 

Each of the three films I've done so far has been an awesome learning experience. Deep River was hard, frustrating and largely depressing during production because we didn't have the money we needed to mount a film that size on what amounted to about five thousand dollars. What we made works sometimes, and fails others (I'm very proud of the movie; don't misread that as hostility toward my own film). Paragon works throughout because I knew what I was getting into and wrote the script to spec based on the budget I knew we would have readily available. I did the same thing on Paragon II (which looks better but actually has a smaller budget than the first), and this time it seems like I have found a place where I can make good movies on almost no money. Do they look cheap? Yes, but they're well-written, and you can tell the actors are having a good time, even when the movie is at a dour moment.

In short, yes, I'd love to have a much larger budget, and in all honesty I feel it's time to step up and start making movies that require much more extensive fundraising to complete so I can stop hampering my ideas in the face of budget.

GH: You started your own production company Creative Threat tell us more about that?

SK: I started CTF (Creative Threat Films) in 2008 and received my LLC a few months ago. Our goal is simple: Make the best movies we can, on the least amount of money, by any means necessary. We are inspired by the surge of Micro-Indie digital filmmaking that has exploded over the last few years, in particular the business model of companies like Fred Vogel & Jeremi Cruise's ToeTag Inc.

Creative Threat is my in-house production company that consists of my wife, Jennifer, my intern/assistant/producer Alex Virgo, my production manager Gary W. Coyle II, and my assistant director/script supervisor Tom Horton. We work in close cooperation with [insert creative name here] Productions, headed up by my longtime executive producer/partner Joey Salomone, and Madcapp Studios/Video, owned and operated by my friend, actor, executive producer, distributor, and post-production MVP, Drew N. Martin (he appears in both Paragon movies as "Corliss Erman"). 

In addition, we occassionally collaborate with Micro-Indie filmmaker Blake Fitzpatrick ("Insignificant Celluloid", "The Death of Hollywood") on post-production, and have recently entered into a partnership with makeup effects artist Tabatha Treml and her crew at Tab Treml FX. I'm very excited to be working with a creature-creator and make effects pro like Tab. Her work is awesome! 

GH: What projects are you currently working on? 

SK: Yeah, we're wrapping up post-production on Paragon II and entering into full-blown pre-production on a new movie called SLEEP (which is an apocalyptic horror film about a town invaded by an army of intelligent, bloodthirsty creatures inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and Stan Winston). We will be launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund Sleep this summer.

GH: I`m sure a lot of young filmmakers are reading this interview, any advice for future visionaries? 

SK: Spend as much time in writing and pre-production as it takes to get what you want out of your movie, however much money you're working with. Don't rush into production and don't be intimidated by actors. Get signed releases for everything: image/likeness, locations, injury/liability...EVERYTHING. You don't want some yayhoo coming back to try and sue you later because he didn't like how he looked in the movie. Feed your cast and crew ("craft services"), even if it's frozen pizza and bottled water. That will ensure you of a greater degree of loyalty and production from everyone.

Thanks to Scott Kessler for taking the time out to do this interview!

The interview is solely owned by Gorehound Mikes Blog and not to be used on any other blog, website or magazine copy write 2012 All rights reserved.

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