Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Interview With Stephen Zimmer: Writer/Director of, "The Sirens"

I actually had a nightmare about the site last night... Lame, I know. But it does happen. I've also had nightmare's about baseball games, vacations and work - I call those work-mares. Now that I think about it, they're not really nightmares. I just wake up in the middle of the night with an overwhelming fear that I have something to do. Unlike the nightmare I had before I went to see Slayer live last time around, where little Slayer action figures were chasing me around. It was like I was trapped in a really cool "Puppet Master" movie. Anyhow, I woke up this morning and, much to my surprise, Brad already put something in here, ready to go for 9AM. That means that after I write this blurb, I can cross the street to get a coffee (still haven't bought any for home yet), then come back and go through a few emails and get a few things off my plate before I head off to work. Well done, Brad. Well done.

Now, quickly, as I read this interview for the first time this morning... you guys really ought to check it out, as Stephen Zimmer offers a few ways to give you and your film a bit of promotion. So, it's definitely worth your while. Now, without further ado... Brad.

BRAD - Our good friend Stephen Zimmer ("Shadow's Light") has a new movie out; "The Sirens" (which is part of a drive-in style double feature); a novel, "The Exodus Gate"; and is part of a new distribution company called Indie Movie Masters. Be sure and check out his interview, as it's a really, really good one. I'm most of all interested in Indie Movie Masters and how, among other things, they include profit sharing for the filmmakers. God knows indie filmmakers need distributors that won't F them over and, from the sounds of it, Indie Movie Masters has a great thing going on for all involved. Enjoy the interview and congrats to Stephen for doing his part to keep indie cinema flourishing!

Where did the idea for the double feature of "The Sirens" and "Murderer" come from?

First of all, thanks so much for the opportunity to interview with you again. I absolutely love what you all have done, and do every day, with Dead Harvey. Dead Harvey is in perfect harmony with the kind of spirit that we strive to embody in the Indie Movie Masters project: A real love for indie film and for the support of indie filmmakers.

The idea of the Indie Movie Masters’ first DVD evolved as we thought about ways in which to best showcase indie films, the majority of which tend to be short films, in a way that results in a legitimately distributed release for an indie filmmaker. We wanted something that really highlighted only a couple of filmmakers per title, and presented it in a way that could be distributed on DVD, exhibited through Video-On-Demand, sold to broadcast markets, and even developed in foreign markets. We wanted to provide another opportunity for indie filmmakers to get their work out and have it last beyond exhibitions at film festivals. (and be more effective in other types of distribution channels) We ultimately decided to be our own lab rats to test the concept, as Matt and Sven had Murderer ramping up, and I was wanting to do a short horror film on a screenplay I wrote. Hence, Festival of Horrors Vol 1, by Indie Movie Masters, with Sirens and Murderer kicking things off.

Tell us about indie movie masters and how you became involved with them.

Indie Movie Masters was born in later 2008 as the full concept for the series came together. I became involved as I have a great interest in seeing a successful series established and grown that benefits indie filmmakers. We basically designed a series that we would love to have run into, and taken advantage of, as indie filmmakers ourselves.

Each title will additionally have trailers for other indie films, independent music videos (such as a great one for the heavy metal band Spent that is in this release), and more. Indie filmmakers with trailers are always welcome to contact us about getting a trailer on one of these releases.

The deal is non-exclusive, it has profit sharing for the filmmakers on the releases that their short films appear on, and much more. Totally indie friendly, and something I truly hope is embraced by the indie film community as it is a win-win setup. We are committed to seeing it grow and develop, and I am very proud to be involved with the others in this project.

How did you meet Matt Perry and what made you decide to collaborate together?

Matt Perry and his business partner Sven Granlund had just finished up with doing FX and extensive production and post-production work a few years back for a feature called Zombie Planet that was shot here in Lexington. They are the heart and soul of Cineline Productions, a full service FX and post-house here in Lexington. At that time, I was in the early development process with Shadows Light, and the guy that I was looking to work with me on Shadows Light in the FX area had to step out due to some personal matters going on in his life. It was a real disappointment, as I had a real affinity for the guy and his talent, but the matters were serious and I completely understood why he had to step down. Definitely amicable, but unfortunate. Obviously, I had a great need to fill for Shadows Light, and I became aware that Matt and Sven were not actively working on any projects. I saw their great commitment and work ethic displayed consistently during the Zombie Planet period, and definitely wanted to get them aboard (along with another outstanding individual named Dave Workman, who came aboard as our Visual Effects supervisor). We only had a little concept work ongoing at the time on Shadows Light, which I had been developing with the other FX artist, but Matt and Sven stepped right in away and hit the ground running. From pre-production design through to post, they really shined. From makeup FX to digital FX, to editing and all manner of post production, they were first class in attitude and execution.

After they worked with me on Shadows Light, they were willing to work with me on The Sirens about a year later (as did Dave Workman, who designed the wicked-looking teeth seen on the dangerously beautiful sirens in the film!). We all work very well together. There is a good chemistry that is vital when working on any film project, as there are always pressures, obstacles, and the like. Our personalities mesh very well in my opinion. It’s a big reason why I roped Matt into doing cover art and illustrations for me with my first novel!

The box design as well as feel of, "The Sirens" and "Murderer" has a strong drive-in appeal. Was this intentional and if so, how did drive-in theaters influence you while growing up?

The packaging was designed to have the B-movie type flavor, as we wanted to make sure that the marketing and promotion of the film did not present the movies out of context. They are indie horror films, and we really strive to get that across in the packaging so that people know what they are getting up front. In this way, we find the appropriate audience and those that buy the DVDs or rent the title tend to have a positive reaction. A similar approach appropriate to genre and the indie nature of the series will be reflected in our forthcoming comedy series, slacker-underground series, and others.

Yes, this title and series does have that drive-in flavor. I actually mentioned the “Filmed in Blood Vision” line on the box originally as a jest, and Matt and Sven were crazy enough to think it was a good idea as part of the packaging!
How have things changed for you since your last film?

I think you just add a little more to your arsenal in terms of organization, knowing a little more about what to expect, and you grow as a filmmaker with each project. I believe that the The Sirens was a positive step forward. It was a very smooth experience, and I had a blast working with some really dedicated actors, actresses and crew members. I look at each project as part of a much greater journey, and as long as we have forward movement, I’m fine! I’m itching to get back at the set soon! Stay tuned…

What inspired you to write, "The Exodus Gate" and are there any plans of incorporating it into a film?

The Exodus Gate and the series that it is a part of (The Rising Dawn Saga) have been in development for several years. I love epic fantasy, with ensembles of characters whose actions and adventures thread together on a large stage. I also am intensely interested in Apocalyptic stories, rumors of shadow-governments, occult lore, mythology, werewolves, and the like. I have always been very intrigued by the Nephilim, the legendary offspring of angels and humans that are actually mentioned in Genesis.

It all weaves together in The Exodus Gate and the Rising Dawn Saga, though ultimately this is a story about freedom of the individual (and resisting its opposite, coercion and control). There are dark edges, and a real blend of the fantastical and supernatural. I think any manner of fantasy reader will find this series to be to their interest. I worked with editor Amanda DeBord who is with Seventh Star Press, my small press publisher, and then had Matt Perry do no less than 15 full page illustrations and cover art for the mainstream release of the novel. (it is a 580 pager!) I would love to have this novel done as a film, but it is too cost prohibitive to do as an indie film as the production involved would be enormous. Landscapes of hell, filled with gathering legions of Fallen Avatars, dreamlike vistas in a “Middle Land” that is in between heaven and hell, and the like would not be easy to pull off well on the indie level, unfortunately. We’ll have to see what happens down the line, as I do think it would make for a very spectacular, epic-scale film.

Which do you find more satisfying and why: writing novels or screenplays?

Purely as a writer, novels are more satisfying simply because you can really go into the depth and detail that you desire in painting your picture. A screenplay, by its nature, is more of a “blueprint”, in that it is anticipated that the director and other parties involved will eventually flesh it out to create the ultimate result/image. A screenplay is designed to evolve all the way to the shooting day, which can be for better or for worse in the screenwriter’s view. As such, a good screenplay tends to be limited in detail, whereas a novel delves as deep as it wants to go. I do enjoy writing screenplays, and the dialogue aspect of screenplays is the most fun for me as a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I want to make it clear that I enjoy writing them, but I had to answer your question honestly!

Where can our readers find out about and, more importantly purchase your films and novel?

We have a slew of ways that readers and movie buffs can find us, and we definitely appreciate every single copy of the book or DVD purchased. It really does make a difference. Folks can always reach me and find information and links at my website at (I am also on MySpace at and I have a blog at For the book, they can order The Exodus Gate direct at a discounted price straight from the small press publisher’s online store (which uses secure PayPal transactions). That can be found at

Otherwise, sites such as are proven online outlets. The Exodus Gate, by the way, is available in both a Kindle version on, as well as an eBook version for other types of readers. (on eBook sites such as Diesel eBooks and BooksOnBoard)

As far as Indie Movie Masters presents Festival of Horrors Vol. 1, it is available direct, and we even have discounts on 2 or 3 units purchased, at the online store at It can also be found on many other online sites,,, Target online, NetFlix, and many other sites. We are about to undergo a significant expansion in our availability, so folks should stay tuned! Indie Movie Masters has a blog at: And MySpace users are invited to add Indie Movie Masters at: Independent filmmakers should send us their announcements regularly, as we definitely will put news items into the blog regarding all manner of indie films and filmmakers.

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