Monday, February 20, 2012

Interview with Douglas A. Plomitallo, the writer, producer and director of the web based anthology, "Scared Stiff"

I think we're all well aware of the fact that the online world is the future of distribution for us indie horror filmmakers.  It sounds stupid to say that, actually.  I mean, we all know it to be true and people have been saying it for years, but... it hasn't really happened yet.  The technology is all there, it's all possible, yet, for some reason, we're just not there.  Having said that, there's a few guys out there that are blazing the trail and Douglas A Plomitallo is one of those guys.  Check out this great interview about his web based project, "Scared Stiff". 

Tell us about your project, what’s it all about?

“Scared Stiff” is an anthology series of short horror films. The show features a variety of stories featuring an assortment of zombies, ghosts, vampires, serial killers and other fun creatures.

If you don’t mind us asking, what’s your budget for each episode and how do you secure financing?

The show is completely self-financed. Our talented cast and crew graciously volunteer their time to help make the show the best it can be. Over the course of the past three and a half years, I have been slowly purchasing higher-end equipment to help achieve the high production value that we strive for. As far as budget for each episode goes, not counting the cost of the equipment purchases, the cost of each show is actually quite minimal. It is actually rare for the cost of each production to go over 100 dollars. On some of our productions, the only cost will be food and refreshments for the cast and crew.

As of right now, what are your goals for the project and what kinds of things are you doing to make sure you reach your goals?

As the show goes on we aim to continue to raise the production values and to reach a much larger audience. On top of investing money in new gear, we’ve continued to gel as a team and strengthen our talents to help improve the product. We’ve been trying to do some new stuff with the show and add different kinds of content to attract different audiences. We try to give a little something for everyone on the show and I’m confident that with our high quality entertainment and original stories, fans are bound to come across “Scared Stiff” at one point and share with other horror fans. On top of that, we’ve been more active in the social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to try to spread the news of our product.

You’ve chosen to distribute your project online in webisodes. How’s that going and what are your goals now that it’s out there?

On top of creating new content, our goal is to introduce as many people as possible to our existing episodes. “Scared Stiff” is available to watch for free on many sites including YouTube, Vimeo, and Blip and can be downloaded for free on our own website, We are confident that by allowing the viewers free access to the content, they will like what they see and want to watch more. We hope to grow our fan base to the point where we can show investors that we have a big enough following where they can help fund our future films with little gamble.

Where can people find out more about the project and watch it?

People can watch and download our shows for free on our website, or they can watch the shows in high-definition on our YouTube channel at

Talk about the production. How did it go? Tell us one good or funny story that demonstrates the trials and tribulations of being an indie filmmaker.

Well one story from last summer I won’t forget anytime soon. We were shooting in an old girl scout camp in Kent, CT that had been abandoned for the last 20 years. (The camp is less than a mile way from the location used as Camp Crystal Lake from Friday the 13th Part 2!) To avoid any possible interference, I always kept the gate to the camp locked whether we were in there or not. One afternoon, I was coming back to the camp from lunch and there was a state trooper’s car blocking the gate. I got out of my car and slowly walked up to the patrol car to find out what the deal was. As I approached the car, a trooper immediately jumped out, pointed his gun at me, and yelled “Hold it right there”! He questioned who I was and why I was there. He wouldn’t tell me what was going on but told me to open the gate so he and another trooper could check the premises. The whole time I had no idea what was going on and thought that the production was going to be shut down! To make a long story short, there had been two guys who had been pool hopping around Kent and decided to go skinny-dipping in one of the pools. Little did they know that they had jumped into former speaker of the house Henry Kissinger’s pool and it had now become national security! One thing I am glad I did was before the Patrolman left to go into the camp I warned him that we had a prop gun on set and that one of the actors might have it on him. It turns out that at the time we were driving down to the set, they were testing out the prop gun. The thing looks and sounds like a real gun. I could only imagine what would have happened if the patrolman happened to arrive on set as that gun went off without warning!

What about you? Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into indie horror.

I had always been a big horror fan and always wanted to make horror films since I was a kid. A few years ago, I was working a job that regularly had me there for 60 to 70 hours a week. As a creative outlet, I decided to start writing a book of short horror stories to keep myself sane during the demanding schedule. Always being more of a film guy, I couldn’t help but visualize them as movies. I had always being a fan of anthology horror shows such as “Tales from the Darkside” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” so I was excited about the idea of actually shooting these stories. I wouldn’t have time to shoot full-length television episodes, and at the time there were no other horror shows on the web so I figured short mini-horror movies would be a novel idea.

Talk about the indie horror scene. Where do you think it is now and where do you see it going?

There are so many different options for distribution now than there were just 5 or 6 years ago. The Internet has completely changed the game. Now with YouTube, Vimeo and other video sharing sites, people can share their work all over the world. It is now possible for even low budget indie films to get a distribution deal with Netflix and Hulu. And with niche market message boards and with the influx of social media sites, it is much easier to introduce your film to an audience. Although the other side to it is, with so much material out there, it is easier to have your films get lost in the shuffle so filmmakers need to use that as motivation to try harder to make their films stand out.

Do you have any more projects in the works? What’s next for you?

In addition to “Scared Stiff”, I am constantly working on new projects. Last summer, I produced a feature length zombie film that we hope to have in film festivals this summer. I am also currently editing “The Housesitter” which is the first in a planned trilogy of horror films. Also, very recently I started shooting a documentary that will be released next year. When I am not making movies, I run a production company, D2 Media, which produces television commercials and corporate videos. On top of my film work, I also have several web projects I am working on and am currently writing a book that I hope to have out next year.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Interview with James Plumb, director of "Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection"

Zombie films are, and always have been, one of my favorite horror genres.  The problem is, I used to like ALL zombie films, but lately, with the mass explosion of zombies (I salivate at the thought of those words being written into an action line in a zombie script), there's been a lot of shit on the market.  So, I'm really excited to check this one out, "Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection" because it looks pretty damned good. 

It's a remake, sort of, of the 1968 Romero classic, "Night of the Living Dead". What's interesting (and what a lot of people might not know) is that it's completely legal to rip off the original movie, as it's in the public domain due to a mistake made by the original distributor. Because of that, we've seen a few notable re-imaginings, including last year's "Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated", which was very different and very entertaining. 

Now I'm excited to check this one out. James Plumb, the director, offers us up a great interview here, but before we get to it... he'd like to duly credit Victoria Rodway for all the stills that you see here.

Tell us about your film, what’s it all about?

Well, our Producer hesitates to call "Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection" a remake, preferring the phrase "companion piece", but essentially it's a remake of the 1968 Romero classic, set in the UK. However unlike a number of the studio-driven remakes of the past few years, NOTLDR is not a straight, shot for shot remake. Instead it looks at the core concept that made the original NOTLD so powerful, and then goes in its own direction.

For examples of how to do a remake well, I looked to John Carpenter's version of The Thing and Cronenberg's The Fly. Beyond the central idea, these films keep very little of their originals.

If you don’t mind us asking, what was the budget for the film and how did you secure financing?

We're not at a stage when we can throw that figure around yet. But like the original, NOTLDR is a low budget, independent film. Shot in the style of our low budget, independent predecessors. We secured financing through private investors that our producer had worked with in the past.

As of right now, what are your goals for the film and what kinds of things are you doing to make sure you reach your goals?

Well the first goal was to make a feature film! It's my feature film debut and it was a hell of an opportunity. I also wanted to make a real effort to try and redeem remakes. Most of us groan at the thought of another remake, but really we're just not looking forward to a BAD film. My main goal for the film was to make a horror film that was a straightforward horror film. Sounds simple, right? But there are so many action films out there with horror genre set dressing, masquerading as horror films. A girl, two guns and a thousand zombies/vampires/werewolves to be shot at. That's not a horror film.

With NOTLDR we went back to basics, we had characters that the audience could empathise with, so that when horrible things did happen to them (spoilers!) the audience would care and get upset.

What about film festivals? Are you going to enter your film? If you have, how did it do? Tell us about your feelings around the indie film fest circuit.

What's odd is that, in the UK at least, the majority of horror film fests are around Halloween time. By that time I imagine, due to the interest so far, our film will have been released already. Which is a shame because in the UK we have some great horror fests including my personal favourite Abertoir, Wales' only horror fest, run by the wondrous Gaz Bailey. Usually five or six days long, it's a great place for horror fans and filmmakers to get together, drink and watch horror films for 15-16 hours a day. A great atmosphere, I'd definitely recommend it to fans and filmmakers alike.

Talk about distribution. Have you secured distribution? If so, how did you go about doing that? If not, what’s your plan?

It's still early days, at this exact moment we just sent off the picture lock to the Sound Designer, but already we've had some confirmed deals in some territories and plenty of interest from the big names in horror distribution. For the most part, that was on the strength of four things, a "brand" name, a great poster, an intriguing teaser trailer and the hard work of our producer Andrew Jones.

Where can people find out more about the film and/or get their hands on a copy?

Everything's moving so quickly at the moment, but interested parties can find us on twitter: @madsciencefilms and @northbankentertainment. Or at our websites: and But the teaser trailer is available to view:

Talk about the production. How did it go? Tell us one good or funny story that demonstrates the trials and tribulations of being an indie filmmaker.

Low budget film shoots are really just an endurance test. Its not the money directly that can put pressure on a low budget film, its the time restriction. That being said, surviving on one semi-decent meal a day and a maximum of four hours sleep for ten days was still one of the best experiences of my life.

On day one when we had some practical SFX set and ready to go, and I was surrounded by a hardworking crew made up of true horror fans, it was great to peer through the viewfinder and watch our film come together. For most of the shoot we were at nice secluded locations, so we had plenty of privacy, although we definitely felt the isolation for those ten days. During the course of the shoot I, and most of the cast and crew for that matter, managed to get fake blood all over my clothes. So on the drive back to civilisation, we stopped off to top up on petrol and for the life of me I coudn't figure out why I was getting so many odd looks. It wasn't until I got back in the car that I realised that, in the real world, its not normal for a guy to walk round covered in dried blood. It took me a couple of days to make that mental shift, and to do all my laundry.

What about you? Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into indie horror.

I'm a child of the 80s, raised by the VCR and used to spend hours in my local video shop, just staring at the VHS covers of horror films. When I was very little, that was the closest I'd get to these films, staring at them like works of art in a gallery. When I finally got to see the films, often those with the best covers were the worst films! I always wished that the films would live up to the promise of the posters. But when the films were good, horror films achieved something spectacular. They were able to tackle weighty issues, but make them more "palatable" with the genre set dressings. As a lifelong horror fan, I couldn't wait to develop my own horror projects. The chance to tell a story, convey a message and play with all the toys of film making. I was hooked.

Talk about the indie horror scene. Where do you think it is now and where do you see it going?

In the UK, and in South Wales in particular, there seems to be a real horror/exploitation revival going on. Dave Beynon is working on a fascinating documentary called "Industry My Arse!" which looks at the independent British exploitation scene at the height of the VHS boom. SJ Evans and David Melkevik have another great slasher project on the go "New Year's Evil". For me, its a very exciting time as both a fan and a filmmaker.

Do you have any more projects in the works? What’s next for you?

I'm working on a feature film version of my love letter to slasher films "Final Girl" (handy link here: which I'm going to fund through the crowdfunding route. I also have another top secret project at the moment, which I'm not allowed to announce just yet.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Interview with Darrell Smith about the indie film, "Rage"

Tell us about your film, what’s it all about?

The title of my film is "Rage". Rage, tells the story of Dennis Twist, a suburban 30-something whom unintentionally provokes the wrath of a homicidal motorcycle rider.

If you don’t mind us asking, what was the budget for the film and how did you secure financing?

Let's just say that the budget was less than craft services on a Hollywood production. Way under 1 million! All of the financing was secured by individual investors.

As of right now, what are your goals for the film and what kinds of things are you doing to make sure you reach your goals?

Our goals are to get worldwide distribution through all channels: theatrical, VOD, DVD, etc. Currently we are doing heavy social media promotion, as well as reaching out to as many reviewers as possible. In addition to any print or online magazines.

What about film festivals?  Are you going to enter your film?  If you have, how did it do?  Tell us about your feelings around the indie film fest circuit.

Rage has been in over 20 festivals across the globe. It has won multiple awards, including Best Horror Feature (Int Horror & Sci-fi Film Fest, Great Lakes Int Film Fest, Hollywood Independent Film Fest, Worldfest-Houston Int Film Fest and the Horror Quest Film Festival). Lead actress Audrey Walker also picked up the best actress award at Horror Quest.  I loved traveling to the film festivals and meeting great people! I do believe that the festivals need to do a better job at filling the seats however! I also hate the politics! Sometimes, if you have a larger budget, known talent, or just are friends with the director, you just may receive an award that you may not deserve!

Talk about distribution.  Have you secured distribution?  If so, how did you go about doing that?  If not, what’s your plan?

We have not secured distribution as of yet. Our plan is to continue to promote and market the film. Hopefully, that will attract the attention of distributors.

Where can people find out more about the film and/or get their hands on a copy?

People can find out about "Rage" by checking out the website at or
by following us on twitter at

Talk about the production.  How did it go?  Tell us one good or funny story that demonstrates the trials and tribulations of being an indie filmmaker.

The production went pretty well!. I do have one story to tell. A day before shooting began, we found out that several big Hollywood productions were shooting in the area. They ended up taking some of the locations that we had planned to use! Not only that, but they took up most of the radio bans for walkie talkies. We did some guerilla filmmaking, so we had to be careful not to interfere with their productions and get shut down! One of the Hollywood productions was starring a major actor. So one day we hear on our walkie talkies, "Please bring Mr. so and so to the set".  So, we are all scrambling to change the channel, thinking that we were on the radio band for his movie. Eventually, one of the crew members comes in and when we told him what just occured, he starts laughing and says that it was him just fooling around!

What about you?  Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into indie horror.

I have been a horror fan since the 70's. Yes, I am that old! As a kid Ioved horror movies. My favorites were the old British Dracula movies, produced by Hammer Films. I loved Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Those horse drawn carriages and old castles; wow! I met fellow horror movie fan and "Rage" director Christopher R. Witherspoon in the 90's, when he was looking for investors for a movie. When I saw a poster of the movie "The Reanimator",a film he had worked on, and another personal favorite of mine, I knew I had to work with him.

Talk about the indie horror scene.  Where do you think it is now and where do you see it going?

The indie horror scene is where you are going to see original material. Hollywood only seems to want to recycle hit films from the past. The only concern I have is that some filmmakers think that every film has to have buckets of blood and a whole myriad of ways to kill someone! Sometimes simple psychological terror is just as, if not more effective!

Do you have any more projects in the works?  What’s next for you?

The next project I plan on working on is a horror anthology titled, "The Twilight Hotel". It can best be described as "The Twilight Zone" meets Alfred Hitchcock. I will once again be teaming with Christopher R. Witherspoon for the film. After that, who knows! I hope to have a long and successful career!