<![CDATA[horrorigins.com - Interviews]]>Wed, 25 Oct 2023 15:55:13 -0700Weebly<![CDATA['BLOODY ORANGES': Interview with Director Jean-Christophe Meurisse]]>Wed, 25 May 2022 21:21:31 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/interviews/bloody-oranges-interview-with-director-jean-christophe-meurisse
1. There's a kind of horrible satire to this film, what drew you to that type of acidic material?
Yes, there is indeed a satire of the French landscape, but these are three different real stories, so this film is well nourished by reality. The acidity or the possible violence that the audience can feel is because the world is like that, it is violent. Obviously there is cinema, but it is the world that is violent, it is not only my cinema.

2. Your filmmaking style, the coverage you shoot, consists of lots of wide-shots that allow the actors to work within the space. What was your philosophy towards coverage and shooting the scenes?
As I let the actors improvise within a frame, I tend to leave long sequences where the actors are free to move in the space to achieve this quality of play, this particular play. So it's not a cinema of interpretation, of tape on the floor and of things that are meticulous. It is rather a cinema of actor where the technique is at the service of the actor. Nevertheless the image alternates between definite movement and big wide fixed shots as I like them with some Scandinavian filmmakers.
3. What goes hand in hand with your philosophy in shooting that coverage is your philosophy in directing actors. How did you approach directing your actors in this film?
There are a lot of rehearsals beforehand. I like them to use their own words. They trust me as I trust them. However, since it's a very tightly structured improvisation where I can whisper things to them, there are a lot of rehearsals beforehand. I don’t want them to focus on the state of interpretation but rather on being right in the situation by looking for the right words to live it, which gives this particular play, ultra naturalistic prolific and messy, as in life. 

4. This film has some pretty disturbing scenes of horror in it, namely the rape scene of the Financial Secretary. How do you prepare for something like that with your actors, and what is your main approach to horror?
We prepare it with great joy, with great pleasure and with great playfulness because the more horrible it is, the more joyful the mood should be on a set. And it was the case for Bloody Oranges. Those scenes were very technical and very rehearsed. There's something very childlike about gore, it's like putting your hand in the jam jar and getting it all over your face like kids do and they feel like they are bleeding. For me it's the same.
5. I'm always interested in on-set stories. What was a particularly difficult day of shooting, and how did you overcome it?
The shooting went well from start to finish. I don't remember any particular difficulty.
6. Finally, I wanted to ask about what you thought the specific theme that ties together all of the stories was? There are themes of financial ruin, and psychopathy in plain sight...etc. What do you feel ties those two things together?
I'm interested in monsters, the monsters that exist in all of us. That's what these three stories have in common: they tell the story of monsters. 

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Stephen Tronicek is a director/screenwriter focused on psychological horror and comedy. He grew up and is based in St. Louis. Stephen discovered film at a young age and became a professional film critic in his junior year of high school. This eventually led him to write screenplays and make short films. His horror screenplay, "Pieces" was a quarter-finalist in the Launch Million Dollar Screenplay Competition. Focuses include character-driven stories, violence as an extension of the psyche and seeing how much emotionally resonant story material you can get away with if you stick to the theme.

<![CDATA[Rose in a Storm: Meet Actress Amy Rutledge {Talent Interview}]]>Wed, 23 Sep 2020 18:26:14 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/interviews/rose-in-a-storm-meet-actress-amy-rutledge-talent-interview
Intuition, drive, and determination are only a small part of the incredibly charming, Amy Rutledge, who has graced the psychological horror film, Rent-A-Pal, with her role as the kindhearted, Lisa. Today we speak to Amy about drawing from the depths of your past, knowing your limitations and the constant challenge of healing yourself. 
Amy Rutledge
How did you get you start in the industry?

Ever since I was about 3 years old, I’ve wanted to be an actress, just watching movies and television, I was so incredibly entranced. I grew up in a very rural and very sports-oriented community in Northwest New Jersey, where wanting to do theatre was sort of seen as odd. So, I chased the dream anyway and I auditioned when I was about 19, for an indie film and I was booking things from there. It was important to me follow my natural instinct, you know, I didn’t have any formal training. But I was very dedicated, driving 2-3 hours to set in NYC and filming all day and then driving 2-3 hours back. But I loved it, I wouldn’t change a thing. 

I love that dedication! What was the theme of that film?

The film was called When Mama Returns, and it centers on an estranged mother coming back into the life of a young girl and them navigating that relationship. I’m so, so proud of it now, it was such a resume builder for me, at the time I had no credits, so I hold that whole crew very near and dear to my heart. 

What is your process like to develop the sense of getting into it deeper? 

When I took classes at Lee Strasberg in New York, they work with a lot of method acting and sense memory and they recommend picking and choosing what works for you. Before I had any training, it was really about pulling from my own personal experiences. I have a pretty photographic memory which is great for learning lines but not so much in real life. But I try to seek out situations that pertain to things that I’ve gone through. 
Amy Rutledge as Lisa in IFC Midnight's "Rent-A-Pal" (2020).
Was that your process with Lisa from Rent-A-Pal

Yes, with Lisa, I volunteered with a Senior Citizen and helped her learn the technical side of things like her computer and phone. I had never done that before and it was so helpful to bring that sense of compassion and softness to Lisa, even raising the lilt of my voice to exude more patience. It was incredibly enriching to my own life. I also made my own dating tape to realize the level of vulnerability that takes.

What helps that process flow more easily for you? 

Meditation and mindfulness have been wonderful for me, and it really helps me clear my mind and let things rock and flow into what I really need to focus on. 

Is there anything you drew from the mindfulness aspect or personal events for the role? 

I get asked a lot about how I was able to react to Brian’s character in the film and really it was about drawing upon my past and the difficult and damaging and tumultuous relationships I’d had in the past and my trauma reactivity. Your mind and your body just goes to this place. The place of where you’re willing to do anything and deal with anything just to be accepted and loved and its tragic but it was where my mind went at the time. 

That was something that I identified with and with other women I’ve spoken with, you were so willing to be available and willing to make concessions. I think we tend to do that more, bend when we know we shouldn’t. Thank you so much for being so honest about your process with this.

Of course, I think it’s really important to recognize and process through those places. But I’m really happy with what I was able to accomplish with Lisa, I’m very proud and I’ve gotten some wonderful reviews so I’m very happy.
Cast members Kathleen Brady, Brian Landis Folkins, director Jon Stevenson and Amy Rutledge from IFC Midnight's "Rent-A-Pal" (2020).
How did the role come to be? 

I saw a lot of myself in her, you know wanting to have a partner and wanting to be loved and find that match. I was in Vermont at ITV Fest talking to my director of a short film that was showing who’s from Colorado. We were discussing how I’ve always wanted to travel to Denver. Two hours after that conversation I got the audition, and news that it was to be filmed in Denver, so it was a bit of kismet. One thing I really wanted to do was use these glasses, my own glasses, which I felt was really that piece that was going to help me embody Lisa, so I had to come home and go back but I made my tape and sent it just under the wire. Turns out they loved it and asked me to tape another scene. The director, Jon Stevenson, reached out to me, and we connected very well, he took the time to find me. It was so cool, no one really does that, so it felt so good and right. He sent me the script after that. And I loved Lisa so much and saw a lot of myself in her. She’s such a fighter. It’s interesting you know, I had actually given up doing horror films as they’d been bringing up things from my past that are very traumatic. But I knew I had to see this through. And I’m so glad I did.

And working through that boundary of maintaining a peace of mind, when you knew you’d given yourself that. Was this role the hardest you’ve played if we’re coming from that genre alone? 

No, not at all, I’ve survived so much so this was almost cathartic for me. It was easy for me to shift into her. If we’re talking the hardest, I did a short film called, Our Perfect World, an arthouse isolation film, where my partner and I, in the film, are isolated in this house and we’re cut off from the outside world and it just becomes very dark and brutal and a bit gory. And it was hard for me to walk away from that and process that fully. I wasn’t meditating at the time, which has been a saving grace for me from that point forward, so I was still in this headspace of extreme stress and trauma and it was kicking up a lot of uncomfortable things I wasn’t ready to deal with and I know that now. And I’m really grateful for what I’ve been able to give myself and my mind through meditation.

After this particular production, are you still saying no to this genre? 

It depends, because I’ve already drawn the line in the sand then went back so I’d have to really dissect that project for my comfortability. I don’t want to pigeon-hole myself either, so I have to be very careful about what I pick next. If it’s an amazing director and script, perhaps. 

Such a wonderful statement of demarcation, we do see women pigeon-holed in a lot of genres and they almost become the genre as a cornerstone and are seen less for their talent and more as a staple. To steer away from genre a bit, I’ve asked a lot of folks in the industry this same question, because at this point, with all the new content available to us we are still seeing reboots. But, what film would you love to star in a reboot of? 

Oh God, Labyrinth. I’m obsessed, it was one of the first movies I really fell in love with. The joy of that movie I will always keep in my heart. It’s a women-led film really, she’s strong and she saves herself. Which again, is me! 

I love that! It’s one of my all-time favorites as well! It is really the antithesis of the damsel in distress movies and to see it so young, I think it really shaped the ways I felt about my own strength. 

It really is such an incredible film!

If we head back to your start in the industry, what advice would you give a young actor just starting out that doesn’t have much, if anything, on their CV?

I’m a big believer that anything is possible. I’ve experiences so many miracles in my life. Don’t listen to naysayers and don’t give up. If you want it, go for it. If it’s in your heart and brings your joy, stay with it. 

It’s been so lovely to speak with you about your experiences and I’m so grateful for your honesty and candidness to your personal struggles and your willingness to keep challenging yourself. I’m sure there’s no shortage of cool things you’ve accomplished in life. 

Well, when I was 16, I met the Dalai Lama. I grew up near the Tibetan Learning Center, and there’s something very magical about that place and land. And it really inspired me to become a meditation teacher and go forward in peace and kindness. Also, my sister, Veronica Rutledge, and I are working towards partnering for films and I’m so lucky to create with my family. Not everyone has that outlet to work with family and I love that. I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of awesome female directors. I worked with an all-female cast and crew on a project and it was so empowering, and it is possible, and it can be done. We just need more eyes on us and our projects. We are out here. 
You can see Amy Rutledge in IFC Midnight’s Rent-A-Pal currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

You can register for our HorrOrigins Live Q&A on September 25
th at 7pm EST here

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Mo Moshaty is a genre screenwriter, podcaster and producer. She splits her time between London and Upstate NY (while not in a global pandemic). As a Screencraft 2020 Quarterfinalist, Mo is currently working on bringing her Horror anthology television series, based on her short story collection, "The Chasm and the Caveat," to life as well as delving into horror short and microfilm production. Mo is the host of the upcoming HorrOrigins podcast and Lockdown Happy Hour, a global online collective of writers and creatives in addition to being a co-founder of New Shade Brigade, a collective working to bring marginalized, under-represented, LGBTQIA and disabled creatives together to collaborate internationally. 

<![CDATA[Talking Screenwriting, Inspirations and Rubik's Cubes with Screenwriter Ariel Relaford {Talent to Watch}]]>Thu, 27 Aug 2020 07:00:00 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/interviews/talking-screenwriting-inspirations-and-rubiks-cubes-with-screenwriter-ariel-relaford-talent-to-watch
This week we have the honor of jumping into our "talent to watch" section with Ariel Relaford. She's a screenwriter who puts her dreams on paper and utilizes a unique method to help her with writer's block.  
What was your first introduction to horror? 

My first introduction to horror was watching Child's Play (1988) when I was seven or eight. Instead of being afraid, I was intrigued! After the movie, I begged Mom to get me a Chucky doll, thinking it would come to life and be my best friend. Being little, I kind of forgot about the whole killing people bit...
Haha yeah, that part is kind of important to remember. How did you get started in the industry? 

I've been part of the film and entertainment industry on and off since I was a teenager. I have a handful of friends who are directors and screenwriters, and I guess their creativity rubbed off on me. I wrote my first screenplay about two years ago and I fell in love with it!
That is great! I think learning different areas of the industry only makes you an important resource in filmmaking. What keeps you interested in the genre?

Horror is something that never gets old for me. There's always a new idea or story that comes from everyday life, which I love about it!
I think writing in the everyday life horrors is some of the scariest stuff. What is it about screenwriting that you enjoy?

The excitement and challenge of creating something from thin air. Whether you have only one idea, character, or location in mind, you can create an entire film or TV series just from that if you can find the dedication to keep writing until you reach FADE OUT.
Starting from thin air to FADE OUT is a huge achievement for anyone. What do you do after you complete your first draft?

It is! After I complete my first draft, I force myself to put it down and not look at it for a few days. After that, I go through it with a chainsaw (to remove the typos and fix minor aspects that don’t really work) before I send it to my trusted screenwriter friends for feedback. After that, I rewrite and repeat the same process until it’s as solid as I can make it.
That is a solid process. I really enjoy hearing the process that screenwriters use. What are some ways you find inspiration when writing?

A lot of my inspiration comes from real-life situations and my dreams (nightmares). The scarier the dream, the better, and the more likely it's going to end up written on a page at some point.
That is exciting to hear. I love the stories that are inspired by dreams and real-life scenarios. A lot of great writers, write from those inspirations. Can you share any of the real life scenarios/dreams with us?

I’ve dealt with sleep paralysis since I was a teenager. While terrifying at times, some of my ideas stem from my sleep paralysis nightmares, as they’re so vivid and feature creatures or scenarios I’m genuinely afraid of. The thought of being awake and not being able to move myself is something I find wild and is a premise of one of the scripts currently in my pipeline.
I think most people have experienced sleep paralysis. It is terrifying. What does your writing process look like?

I start by taking a piece of paper and write a few sentences about the story I want to tell. From there, I list the main characters along with their personalities and conflicts. Once I know the characters a bit more, I think of the curveballs I can throw my characters to make the story more of a journey for them. Next comes the dreaded outline. The more detail I can put into each scene, the faster I find myself writing later on because I don't need to think about it from scratch. After that's all set, I pick a date on the calendar and begin writing. After that, sending it out for feedback, rewriting it, sending it out for more feedback a few times, and voila! A finished screenplay!
Like I mentioned before, I always find the different routines fascinating. It goes to show that whatever works for one person may not be the things that work for others but by sharing it gives other writers the opportunity to learn new things. Do you have any advice/suggestions for up and coming or hopeful screenwriters? 

Screenwriting is a challenge. Along the way, you will face a ton of rejection that might make you want to quit. If you feel that way at any point, remember this:

You are the future of film and television and it's never too late to tell the stories you want to share with the world! If you don't tell these stories, who will?
That is inspiring. Love it. What projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently shuffling through about ten projects I'm excited about. One is a horror-comedy pilot about astral projecting and cults. It’s scary, campy, and a lot of fun. Another is a historical-horror feature I’m hoping one day will become a new serial killer franchise on par with ScreamHalloween, Friday the 13th, and The Nightmare on Elm Street. The rest are being outlined and I’m looking forward to sharing more about them in the near future!
Very cool! Can you tell us more? Loglines and/or titles? Can you tell us about Fun and Games?

Absolutely! I recently finished a feature titled Fun and Games. It’s loosely based on my relationship with my younger cousin, who loves escape rooms and puzzles as much as I do. It’s about two, nerdy adopted siblings who are left on their own for a few days while their parents go to a conference. During this time, they receive a mysterious box in the mail containing riddles. They quickly realize there’s something more sinister behind this seemingly innocent box and it’s not all “fun and games.” In order to save their own lives and others’ from a sadistic killer, the duo must race to solve the riddles the box holds.

You like riddles and puzzles right? What’s with the Rubik’s Cube while you write? Tell us, we’re intrigued.

It sounds silly, but when I write, I make sure to have my handy, dandy Rubik’s Cube nearby. When I get stuck on something or have writer’s block, I take a moment to solve my Rubik’s Cube a few times. For a few minutes, it fully takes my focus away from my screenplay, so when I look back at it, my mind is clearer and refreshed in a sense.

What a unique idea. I can't solve those things at all so my frustration would just build more. What is your favorite classic horror movie? 

Can I choose the entire Scream franchise? The Scream movies are ALWAYS entertaining and the villain reveals get me every time. 
Other than writing what else do you do in the industry?

I am a Marketing Manager for a boutique agency that conceptualizes and executes influencer marketing campaigns for the film and entertainment industry (among others). I get to work with clients from Netflix, Lionsgate, Hulu, HBO Max, and STX Entertainment. It’s a lot of fun!
That sounds very exciting and an amazing opportunity for you! What movies & filmmakers give you the most inspiration?

Jason Blum, Tim Burton, Ryan Murphy, and Guillermo del Toro. I aspire to work with these gentlemen one way or another one of these days!
Those are all great filmmakers. I’m a huge Jason Blum fan myself. What is it about these filmmakers that inspire you?

I became a big Jason Blum fan when I saw Sinister. With C. Robert Cargill’s screenplay, Scott Derrickson as the director, and a low budget, they were able to craft a horror masterpiece people will enjoy for decades to come. It’s inspiring because even though it’s a low-budget film, it doesn’t look or feel that way. I want to be able to do that with my screenplays.
I loved Sinister too! That was a creepy movie. Loved the "found footage" of the deaths of the families. What is something in everyday life that scares you?

People. Of all the monsters and ghost stories I've written, nothing comes close.
So true. People can be evil. Who is someone currently in horror that you would love to work with?

Any of the filmmakers I listed previously. They're all so talented.
What was your top 3 or 5 (whichever is easier to answer) horror films of the last decade?

Not in any particular order: HostThe ConjuringSinisterThe Final Girls, and As Above, So Below.
What was your top 3 or 5 (whichever is easier to answer) horror films of all time?

The Cabin in the WoodsUsThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Pan’s Labyrinth, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
What is your dream project? 

Getting to write or direct a feature alongside any of the classic horror filmmaking icons.

How can people follow you?

I am on Twitter here: @ArielRelaford

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Brandon Waites served in the U.S. Air Force and had the opportunity to deploy Iraq and Pakistan.  After his service, he earned his bachelor's degree in Business and earned his MA in Film & Television with a concentration in producing.  He interned under Benderspink for Hollywood producers Chris Bender and J.C. Spink.  After his intership, Brandon co-founded multiple companies for networking and contests for screenwriters and filmmakers.  His love for horror drove him to begin HorrOrigins as a film festival in 2019.  In response to the positive response of HorrOrigins, Brandon decided to expand HorrOrigins into multiple ventures to benefit the independent horror screenwriters and filmmakers.

<![CDATA[IFC Midnight's "Relic" Q&A | Co-writer/Director Natalie Erika James & Co-writer Christian White {YouTube}]]>Tue, 25 Aug 2020 18:46:44 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/interviews/ifc-midnights-relic-qa-co-writerdirector-natalie-erika-james-co-writer-christian-white-youtube
HorrOrigins host Mo Moshaty and Dread Central Editor in Chief & host Josh Millican host the creators of IFC Midnight's co-writer & director Natalie Erika James and co-writer Christian White in our recorded LIVE Q&A.
Relic: A daughter, mother and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia that consumes their family's home.

​Cast, crew & other information can be found here.

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<![CDATA["Shirley: A Novel" | Author Susan Scarf Merrell | Interview | HorrOrigins | {YouTube}]]>Sat, 22 Aug 2020 18:09:20 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/interviews/august-22nd-2020
HorrOrigins interviews Susan Scarf Merrell on her novel Shirley A Novel which was adapted into a Hollywood Shirley featuring Elisabeth Moss, Odessa Young, Michael Stuhlbarg and more.
Check out our Shirley book & film review by HorrOrigins host Patricia Rohrs. 

You can purchase Shirley A Novel here.

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<![CDATA[Divide/Conquer Interview Pt. 2 | Adam Hendrick & Greg Gilreath | HorrOrigins {YouTube}]]>Fri, 07 Aug 2020 19:11:04 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/interviews/divideconquer-interview-pt-2-adam-hendrick-greg-gilreath-horrorigins-youtube
Check out our Part 2 of 2 interview with the producers of Cam, Lucky and Black Christmas
with Divide/Conquer co-founder & producers Adam Hendricks and Greg Gilreath earlier in the summer. 

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<![CDATA[Divide/Conquer Interview Pt. 1 | Adam Hendrick & Greg Gilreath | HorrOrigins {YouTube}]]>Thu, 06 Aug 2020 06:00:45 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/interviews/divideconquer-interview-pt-1-adam-hendrick-greg-gilreath-horrorigins-youtube
HorrOrigins chats with Divide/Conquer co-founder & producers Adam Hendricks and Greg Gilreath earlier in the summer. 
Check out our interview with the producers of CamLucky and Black Christmas

Due to some technical issues during this interview, you'll see we were cut off but Adam and Greg still continued to give some valuable advice. 

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<![CDATA[Networking, Collaborating & More with Horror Filmmakers Lorian Gish & Justin Knoepfel {Talent to Watch}]]>Mon, 27 Jul 2020 22:09:29 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/interviews/networking-collaborating-more-with-horror-filmmakers-lorian-gish-justin-knoefpel-talent-to-watch
We have enjoyed interviewing the screenwriters and filmmakers of future Hollywood entertainment in our "Talent to Watch" series. We've found that the advice from everyone has been very influential and valuable to our readers. We're excited to share our next guests. Meet Lorian Gish and Justin Knoepfel. From the get-go you get the vibe that these two work really well together. You'd hope so as they are partners who not only write together, but they co-direct. Something that we all know, can be no easy task. Check out this interview and see for yourself.
What was each of yours first introduction to horror? 

LGI was terrified of horror films when I was younger. I was very sensitive, so they’d hit me hard. As I aged, I identified with the final girl in slasher films and really dived into the psyche of those characters.

JK: As a young kid, I was introduced to a lot of documentary miniseries’ like Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments and marathons like AMC’s Fear Fest that ran every October. It was a great gateway to titles and images that I’m still discovering, even today. This led to my own exploration of the genre through recalling many of those moments I saw at a young age. 
Lorian Gish.
Lorian, do you have a favorite final girl or slasher? 

LG: Laurie Strode in the original Halloween (1978) was a more cinematic version of myself at the time I first saw it. I, too, was in a small town high school, consumed by my studies, and babysat for extra money. I also really appreciated her character because there was nothing truly ‘extraordinary’ about her - she was an absolutely normal girl that survived on instinct and mostly luck.

Justin, those are some great memories. Which moment from Bravo’s 100 or title left the biggest impact on your filmmaking career?

JK: More than a specific title or moment, I think hearing what filmmakers had to say about the scenes they ranked had a large impact on how I view and interpret horror films. They spoke about them in such a way that I was not only entertained by their commentary, but also learned why the moment chosen was effective and scary. It was essentially a play by play on what makes a horror film work and it had a priceless impact on me. I still watch it every year, it’s very nostalgic for me and reaffirms what I’ve learned since I first saw it. 

How did you both get started in the industry? 

LG: I booked my first acting job as in Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road, and then I started not only auditioning but also creating my own films with my father (who soon after became a steadicam operator) and friends. I started working professional PA and 2nd AC jobs as early as 10 years old, and from there, I haven’t wanted to ever stop being in the industry.

JK: So far, I’ve basically maneuvered my way through the industry by being highly independent and seeking out opportunities, creating content, and finding chances to learn and have experiences working on projects, and constantly being open to new doors. There’s only so much film school can teach, and I firmly believe in the independent spirit of seeking out practical experience both creatively and professionally.   

Lorian, pic or it didn't happen.
LG​Haha. Sure.
Lorian Gish and Director Sam Mendes on the set of "Revolutionary Road."
That is amazing! I stand corrected, hold on one moment so I can put my foot in my mouth. What a great first acting job to be a part of.  What was your role?  As far as working with your father, what an experience! Congrats! That sounds like a young filmmaker's dream to get that hands on experience. What was the most memorable moment during that time working with your father?

LGThank you! I played ‘Young April,’ the older version of whom was Kate Winslet. One of the first jobs my father and I worked together, he was a DP on a web series, and their 2nd AC backed out last minute. I remember him offering me the job, explaining what was expected of me, showing me all of the necessary equipment, and then me getting really excited about storing all the dry-erase markers, gaff tape, and spike tape in my LimitedTOO cargo pants that I had just bought myself the week before. I was the most stylish Clapper/Scripty on that set - that’s for sure. I then remember arriving on set and catching looks from the adults when they saw a 12 year old on crew. That fueled my fire and made me want to prove to everyone that not only was I, the most professional member of that set, but also was the glue that filled in all of the gaps by doing whatever, whenever it was needed. I’m pretty sure the production didn’t end up crediting me because of my age, but I remember my dad telling me after we wrapped that my attitude on set made those shoot days the quickest and easiest days of the series. And, naturally, my love for being on crew blossomed.
Justin Knoepfel
Justin, that is great. Basically how I maneuvered myself around as well. What do you think is the most important characteristic with being highly independent in this industry?

JK: From my experiences, it’s been a matter of communication. I find myself emailing, and contacting publications for press release inquiries or seeking opportunities for growth in content exposure, and most of the time people are highly receptive. Being independent means you are your biggest supporter and without the proper communication and confidence to put yourself out there, you won’t be able to fill up the stadium!

How did you both meet and start to collaborate together?

LG: We met through a mutual friend. I found out through a text introduction that we were both interested in film. I had just moved to a new area of Manhattan and I was looking for new friends, so we decided to grab lunch and meet in person (at a place that no longer exists, in true Manhattan real estate fashion).

We talked about the industry and shared our passions. When I asked his major in university, he said he was in advertising because that was ‘safe.’ I questioned if that was truly what he wanted to do or if he wanted to find a career in film like I had decided to do already. From that conversation, we started coaching each other through our respective journeys whenever we felt lost and sharing our styles and opinions. Eventually, we became colleagues who trusted each other’s artistry, work ethic, and ambition, finding a compatible partnership.

Why do you feel like networking and collaborating is important?

JK: I think networking is highly important because you need to meet and know your peers! Everyone can learn from each other, with how they approach their art, or how they do other things. Not just on a professional level either, people I've contacted in an effort to network and learn from have become great friends! We succeed, and suffer in the same field of thought, and it's good to not only have a group of peers to look up to, but learn from, and work alongside.

That is true. A network is something that screenwriters and filmmakers can utilize to better their craft. Tell me, what keeps you guys interested in the genre? 

LG: I love how the genre always seems to be the perfect vehicle for inciting change and articulating social commentary about the most vile parts of humanity. 

JK: Exploring different concepts and styles is definitely a high motivator and I think horror is the genre that never has a shortage of exploration, whether it’s something fresh and new or a different take on something previously touched upon. Everyone working in the horror genre has something up their sleeve that uniquely reflects themselves as an artist, and that never becomes stale. 

Social commentary is an important topic.  Directors like Jordan Peele have been able to use their creative abilities to address topics like racism.  Exploring the concepts is definitely one of the fun things for me with horror. What are some things that are important for you both in regards to social commentary that should be addressed?

LGIt’s awesome that you mention Jordan Peele because he is definitely an artist in the genre to look up to. During one of his talk-backs after Get Out (2017), he spoke about how one of horror’s greatest strengths comes from the audience’s ability to experience and confront danger on their own terms in a controlled environment. That ideology is important while tackling topics that I gravitate towards such as the vulnerabilities of womxn and the modernization of a real ‘body-horror’: being objectified and ruled by others based on gender identity. Many people find the topic uncomfortable to talk about, making those stories very effective in the genre and medium.
JK: Horror has always lent itself to examination of social topics, whether it's the civil rights conflict in the 60’s, or class divide in the 80’s, and beyond. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of those issues have gone away in any capacity. We mention Jordan Peele because he’s essentially making contemporary horror that critiques the same social conflicts of the 60’s such as racism and social division etc. A lot of people in this country (ignorantly so) see that as having passed. None of it has. We are still dealing with the same issues, and artists of the present are making art that reflects these social issues more prevalent for the modern psyche. What I find important is keeping these artists’ views and commentaries alive, and welcoming even harsher criticism of the wrongs in our society. It’s important not to let up the discussion. Keep stoking the fires of change, and changing the tide. 
What is it about screenwriting and directing that you both enjoy?

LG: I prefer to tell stories that both exorcise my anxiety within the confines of my imagination and then play within that more nasty mental space alongside a cast and crew who make the process nothing but enjoyable and positive.

JK: I love the process of imagining something, to seeing it come to life. Being able to come up with scenes, characters, or beats and having them tangibly presented in front of you, and shepherding them with the team you’re working with is a beautiful experience. 

Screenwriting can be a difficult task which takes a lot of focus and commitment. What does that process look like for the both of you?

LGI like to be in a busy setting and, without any judgement, allow my mind to wander to different people and things who pass. The littlest thing can help inspire me, and it helps me not feel as alone or lost in that story.

JK: I try to place myself in the mood or tone of what I’m working with, whether it’s the environment I’m working in, or the music I’m listening to, if it relates to the story I’m drafting, it puts me in the headspace to live in the world I’m trying to create. I’m very much a vibe setter, if I feel the vibe and I feel it’s working and supporting my creative strokes, it’s a walk in the park from there.

That is interesting hearing the differences in your processes for screenwriting. As directors what does your process look like when working on a project?

LGAllowing ourselves to be open to change. It’s all about seeing what choices we’ve been given and then finding a creative way to solve the puzzle to tell the version of the story we want. 

JK: Lorian nails it, we essentially operate like a huddling football team. We always have a set game plan but  come prepared with a Plan B, and open to discussing a Plan C if necessary. On top of that, Lorian focuses heavily on the actors and their needs, while I work alongside the crew, director of photography, gaffer, AC’s etc, but we interchange where we are needed most effectively depending on the scene and what it requires. 

Being open-minded to change is important. I think especially in situations like yours where you’re co-directors and there could essentially be butting of the heads but it sounds like you both work really well together.  Justin, you mention that you both have your main roles but how do you handle any creative disagreements, if any, during screenwriting and directing? Is it something simple like rock, paper, scissors or what is the exact process?

JK: We have discussions into the “why” of a certain decision. Essentially, “why” the choice may work or may not work, and if there’s a middle ground we certainly meld our two ways of interpretation into something unified that feels right and comfortable with both of our voices. 
I think that type of collaboration and willingness to compromise is important in team atmospheres. Do you have any advice/suggestions for up and coming or hopeful screenwriters, directors? 

LG: Don’t demand anything from your creativity - not a paycheck, not a masterpiece. Allow it to be free and fill you up in thoughtful ways that you may have not originally expected.

JK: I think the best form of advice to any artist is to remind them that everyone’s journeys and processes are different, and there’s not one singular way of looking at it. Being a creative tends to come with a lot of anxieties, and internalized fears, but everyone is trying to figure it out, and no one is alone in that. Just keep making art!

That is great advice. It is one reason why I started doing these interviews.  It is to show people that we all have different paths which inspire others. You are also producers. What does your role as producers typically entail?

LGWe are strict with the homework we set for ourselves in pre-production and keep to our schedule to make sure our team is on the same page. From there, it’s about mutual respect and kindness when you want to get people to want to work on something with you.

JK: Lorian put it beautifully, we focus heavily on the pre-production process and making sure we are as organized and prepared as much as possible, not just for ourselves but for our cast & crew. Simply being prepared as a producer lets everyone on set feel comfortable. 
I agree, organization can make things easier or harder in all stages of filmmaking. Since you have that aspect covered, what are some of the most challenging things you typically have to face as screenwriters, directors and producers?

LG: This business is so difficult because as soon as someone has success on a project, they have to keep proving that they are capable of doing their job with each subsequent project. 

JK: In our case when we’re often operating under all three roles, being able to juggle the creative decisions of directing the cast/crew, and also maintaining order/care of everyone involved and keeping the ship afloat is a tough, but invigorating challenge, it leaves us ample opportunity for growth, and to applies lessons from previous projects into the current one. 
Can you tell us more about your feature projects?

LG: My most recent feature deconstructs the romantic comedy story formula and seeks to highlight the horror and absurdity within accepting that as the norm. It’s a slow-burn horror/sci-fi that dives into the tangible fear of womanhood set in a futurist society.

JK: I’ve been in the outlining and juggling ideas phase for a feature centered around a sacrificial cult, operating under the guise of a self-help rehabilitation group therapy organization, along with a concept Lorian and I have been developing about a hospice caregiver whose assigned to a dying old man, who claims to be the physical embodiment of the Devil, seeking a new host before his current host body passes. We’re actively in “ideas bootcamp” and undergoing redrafts, the quarantine period has given much space for exploration of those stories. 

Lorian, that is interesting. What films would you compare it to? 

LG: I was inspired by Eraserhead (1977), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days (2007), and Jeanne Dielman 23, quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles (1975) for their alternative storytelling style, subject matter, and gaze towards women suffering on film based on something affiliated with their gender.

Those are some interesting concepts that I would love to see on the big screen. Speaking of quarantine, how has this time differed from writing in the pre-COVID world?

LG: For the vast majority of the time in the “current COVID world,” I’ve honestly found it more difficult to write. Not for lack of trying, but it’s important for creatives to know that it’s okay to not feel totally entranced by the act of creating during what is, one of the most difficult and harrowing periods in our lifetimes. I have spent many hours criticizing myself for “not finishing that feature, or three” but considering what the current state of the country and world is, I realize that mentality is not only unhealthy, but it affects the work. Inspiration shouldn’t be forced, and taking care of yourself is of high priority.

What other projects are you currently working on?

LGI’m writing the aforementioned horror/sci-fi feature script, a middle-grade fantasy novel about a young girl getting lost in the woods with her mother, and (coming up the soonest) I’m writing and directing a zoom-specific thriller/comedy about couples isolated in quarantine scheduled to premiere in mid-July.
JK: Quarantine has given some time to go back to some short screenplays that haven’t been made yet, and craft new ideas or concepts for projects, but we aren’t yet finished with the life-span of our current project, so once that’s ready to “leave the nest”, the focus will shift into developing and producing new exciting and interesting ideas! 
What has been your favorite project to work on and why?

LG: My favorite project has been our most recent short, The Howling Wind. It was one of those pieces that felt like it was going to matter from its conception. We also allowed ourselves to roll with all of the stereotypical pit-falls to happen on set and figured out a way to make them work for ourselves.

JK: Our short The Howling Wind that we just completed was definitely a big step for us in terms of the overall process, and how the resulting film turned out. Personally, I loved making something with such a distinct vision of the world we were exploring and collaborating with everyone who believed it was just as cool as we thought it was! The trailer was actually premiered on Dread Central!
That is awesome you both agree on The Howling Wind. Can you tell us a logline for it?  What was the most gratifying moment while working on it? And the most difficult for each of you?  What are your plans with it?
During a plagued dust and wind storm in 1963, a countryman takes in a weary traveler seeking refuge, but discovers the truth in the circumstances of his arrival.

LG: The most gratifying moment for me was when we got everyone on set together. Having so many people we trusted in that high energy environment was exhilarating. It was the moment I knew that all of our preparation was coming together and the project would happen regardless of any internal fears Justin or I had. What was great about having both of us on set, when one of us needed to approve something, we each trusted the other to make the quick decisions for our vision and continue filming without missing a beat. A difficulty was the content load we set for ourselves and figure out what to cut in the moment.

JK: For me, being able to see the scenes, and hear the dialogue play out in front of our eyes after only seeing it in our heads and on paper was a great experience. As always compromises are made, but that’s the nature of filmmaking! It’s a puzzle, getting the pace and the atmosphere just right, but when the pieces fit and the scenes work, you can feel it, and somehow just know when something is working and it’s very gratifying. 

A lot of the difficulties were simply those of logistics. Any filmmaker will tell you that time is never on the side of a project. I always say “we are making a movie. Anything, and everything will try to stop us”. Making a movie is pushing against all odds. Luckily for us, our team planned well enough to know what could go wrong within the realm of reason, though things simply happen that you can never predict, but it’s in how you combat those logistical problems, and time crunches that define your production. 

Our current plan (COVID permitting) is for The Howling Wind to be seen by festival-goers, with our ultimate goal being to find online distribution. The most important thing for us is for our work to be seen and enjoyed, especially by fellow horror fans and filmmakers. We certainly believe there’s a lot to enjoy in it!
What are some other ways you are involved in the film community?

LGI’m an actor, so my colleagues are usually the actors I hire for my own projects. Because I’m so integrated in many different sides of the business, I can understand the internal conversations on the opposite side of the table and what I should expect from myself in each position.

JK: I work behind the camera a lot, serving as an assistant for many different productions, and constantly collaborating with those within the industry whether it’s as an assistant production manager, or helping a filmmaker friend pick the best font for their film’s title card. Especially in horror, the community aspect is incredible -- we love our horror trivia nights online, and in person!

That is great. It seems like you both understand the importance of collaboration and teamwork. What is your favorite classic horror movie?

LG: It’s a tie between Carrie (1976) and Suspiria (1977).

JK: That’s so difficult, but to break it down, I’d say Halloween (1978) for its suspense, Night of the Living Dead (1968) for its social relevance, Night of the Hunter (1955) for its beautiful cinematography, and The Evil Dead (1981) for its sheer entertainment!

You both know how to pick them don’t you!?! Those are all great films with special places in my heart as well. What movies & filmmakers give you the most inspiration? 

LG: Lynne Ramsay for the themes she quietly touches upon that end up deeply affecting her audiences, Brit Marling for her sheer drive in telling so interesting stories as both a creator and actor, Greta Gerwig for how she speaks to her actors and her keen eye on detail - as if she’s choreographing a dance, Trey Edward Shults for his breaking of cinematic ‘rules’ like changing aspect ratios when the story warrants it, and Dario Argento for making each one of his frames a painting.

JK: John Carpenter’s eclectic filmography is constantly inspiring on all levels of the craft, and I’m ever inspired by what Jennifer Kent and Robert Eggers have been exploring in their films, and of course, always Sam Raimi for inspiring a whole generation of filmmakers to make movies with the right mind and resources!

The explanation from both of you is amazing. I love how thorough you both are with explaining your inspirations.  Can you share something in everyday life that scares you? 

LG: Honestly, seeing the overall lack of humanity towards all kinds of people, especially the most recent injustices in the current socio-political climate.

JK: I concur with Lorian. Especially now, it seems like everyone’s forgotten what it’s like to be a human being. Lack of humanity as Lorian put it is exactly what filmmakers explore in horror, and there’s certainly a reason for that. 

Again, great responses. It is something I think about everyday how people have little respect for each other. Being a father, that definitely scares me. What is your dream project? 

LGMy dream project is my aforementioned feature script. I believe it can add a lot to the sub-genre and highlight malpractices in our world. It also helped me figure out a lot about myself, and I’d love to put those thoughts into a piece that I can always look back on. 

JK: Before Blumhouse and David Gordon Green got to it, for the longest time a pipe-dream would have been to continue the story of Michael Myers. I have a vivid scene in my head of Myers stalking a group of main characters in a costume store or factory, while throwing in some Season of the Witch nods in there! 

Lorian, glad to hear yours is something that is very personal to you. I hope to be able to see it. Justin, I would be there right next to you. Michael Myers has been an all-time favorite.  Since Blumhouse got to it first, do you have anything else you’d like to mention?

JK: I would kill to re-envision the cult classic 1981 TV movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow, not only is it one of the all time best horror film titles, but I believe it can be recontextualized and still maintain the subtle eeriness of the original story. In addition to adding more scarecrows to the horror lexicon! If you haven’t seen it, seek it out, it's certainly a deep cut!

Thank you both so much for your time and interview. Would you be interested in sharing your social media pages and websites with our audience?
Of course! Thank YOU for talking with us, fantastic questions. 
LG: Sure. Check out my website and you can follow me on Instagram.

JK: You can also check out my website and follow me on Instagram.
We also have our THE HOWLING WIND Instagram page that you can follow as well.

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Brandon Waites served in the U.S. Air Force and had the opportunity to deploy Iraq and Pakistan.  After his service, he earned his bachelor's degree in Business and earned his MA in Film & Television with a concentration in producing.  He interned under Benderspink for Hollywood producers Chris Bender and J.C. Spink.  After his intership, Brandon co-founded multiple companies for networking and contests for screenwriters and filmmakers.  His love for horror drove him to begin HorrOrigins as a film festival in 2019.  In response to the positive response of HorrOrigins, Brandon decided to expand HorrOrigins into multiple ventures to benefit the independent horror screenwriters and filmmakers.

<![CDATA[Exit 44 Entertainment Co-founders Eric Brodeur & Ty Leisher Talk Indie Versus Studio Horror, Offer Career Advice & More! {Interview}]]>Sat, 11 Jul 2020 23:13:32 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/interviews/exit-44-entertainment-co-founders-eric-brodeur-and-ty-leisher-talk-indie-versus-studio-horror-offer-career-advice-more-interview
This week, we chat with Exit 44 Entertainment filmmakers Eric Brodeur and Ty Leisher. We discuss how they began their careers working in Hollywood, the start of Exit 44 Entertainment, the difference between making horror independently versus studio work, the creepy motivation behind their upcoming feature film 11th Hour Cleaning and their love for films. 
What was each of yours first introduction to horror?   

Ty: My introduction to horror as a kid was R.L. Stein's Goosebumps series of books. I would devour those and the Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark books almost every night. As I got older, there was an old Nickelodeon show called Are You Afraid of the Dark, which was quite scary and "adult" for a pre-teen. My father was always reading Stephen King and he would pass them down to me when he was finished, so I got to read Pet Semetary, It, and other King classics early on. 

My first foray into horror cinema was 1999's The Haunting, which is kind of campy now looking back but terrified me as a kid. It was only a PG-13 rating, so my parents let me see it. I was hooked. Later I would watch Scream, and I Know What You Did Last Summer when they were on HBO or something. I always preferred the Goosebumps supernatural to the slasher of Scream.  

Eric: I can't recall the first horror film I watched but, growing up in the 80’s, I saw the classics the first time aroundNightmare on Elm Street, The Howling, American Werewolf in London, The Thing, Demons, Hellraiser and so many other titles that I don't recall.  

After work, my buddy and I would grab some food and a six-pack of beer, rent a few horror films from the local video store, and watch them until the early hours of the next morning. We rented so many that my friend's nickname in the video store's computer system was "horror freak." He wasn't pleased.  

You both have a great taste in horror and both different ways of being introduced to horror which is cool. I don’t see an issue with being called "horror freak."  So tell me How did you both get started in the industry?  

My path is more like a squiggly maze-like line than a direct route. I started as a production assistant for one of the first daily video game shows to stream online called Epileptic Gaming. After the company that funded them went bankrupt, I bounced around until I landed a job as a production assistant on The Office. I worked on a few MTV pilots, a High School Musical reality show, and a few other films. I always wanted to write and direct, and I thought editorial might be a good way in for me. I got a job working as a logger and assistant editor on The Amazing Race for nine seasons. In 2017, they went on hiatus, and I wanted to learn how distribution worked, so I reached out to an independent distribution company named Gravitas Ventures. They offered me an internship. Three months later, my wife and I found out we were expecting our first child, so I needed something more stable with health insurance. Gravitas Ventures 
offered me a role in sales and filmmaker relations. I spent three and a half years with Gravitas before our first feature, 11th Hour Cleaning, was made. 

While working whatever job I could find to keep living, I worked on my own projects, including a poker-crime web series titled Bullets based on my time playing, or losing, I should say in online poker. It was released in 2012 on JTS.tv, a now-defunct online streaming site dedicated to web series and is still available online for free.   

Eric: I was already living in Los Angeles and made a career change from the Information Technology industry into film. It took some time to figure out how I wanted to satisfy my creative desires and utilize my existing skills. With the help of career coach Janet Conn, whose late husband is editor Norman Hollyn, I decided to become a picture editor. I told everyone I knew that I was looking for a trainee position (i.e., free help), and a friend responded back with a job lead. It became my first gig which was essentially "film school" and from there, I did what everyone tells you to do: meet people, network.  

This led to two gigs, which led to two other gigs, which became a major turning point. I was editor on Filly Brown, and assistant editor on The Sessions. Both went to the Sundance Film Festival in the same year. These small successes landed me a job working on commercials and ultimately meeting editors and directors, which got me into studio features.  

Those are very inspiring! And two features in Sundance at once? Congrat! That is not common. I think it is important for our audience to note that everyone has different paths, especially in this industry. What keeps you guys interested in the genre?   

Ty: Horror allows us to explore themes and bring to light issues that we believe are important while scaring the shit out of people. You can take something you care about and through, I guess you could call it monster-ification of that issue, you can create a scary film that also carries a message. For example, the titular Babadook monster representing postpartum depression, or the demon of It Follows representing the importance of safe sex and the loss of innocence at the same time. I love allegories and exploring ways of scaring people into making them think twice about things in this world.  

I enjoy the thrill of the unknown, being scared, and the build-up of tension which releases with the exclamation of "oh shit!" I prefer being creeped out, such as the clothes dryer scene in Identity when you think, "is that what I think it is rolling around inside?" But there are films like High Tension (unrated cut) which are sadistic and gruesome yet have strong stories and border on art.  
As for writing horror, there is always another story to be told or told in a new way. I think about creative ways of scaring people, whether it's gruesome or implied, a creepy character or event, etc. Horror has the unique ability to co-mingle with every other genre, which makes it limitless.  ​​
Eric Brodeur, Co-founder of Exit 44 Entertainment.
That is great! I think as horror screenwriters and filmmakers, telling scary stories that  are socially relevant is very important especially in today’s day and age. What is it about screenwriting that you enjoy?  

There's a quote by Dorothy Parker that says, "I hate writing, I love having written," and I couldn't agree more with that. Writing is hard, but that feeling that you get when you type The End and have something to show for the time and effort makes me happy. If I had to pick one part of the process I enjoy most, it's the rewrite. A lot of people hate it, but it's freeing for me. The bones are there, so you're a surgeon and cleaning up a patient rather than creating from scratch. I'm also starting to enjoy writing from a theme and exploring characters that can grow with that theme, which is something that I've been bad at in the past.  

I enjoy leaving sarcastic notes on anything Ty has written. But in all seriousness, writing is difficult.  

The genesis of the idea is enjoyable, and after that, it's a challenge. Long periods of "how do we make this work" with fleeting moments of joy when you find a way to make it come together. When you're finished with a script, you look back and take pleasure that you made characters with compelling challenges, and crafted action and dialogue, that is familiar yet distinctive to your voice.

Ty, what does your writing process look like? You do more than write, you're also a director. Can you tell us more about the other roles that you have as a filmmaker?  

Our writing process is all over the place. Eric and I will come up with a story idea together, and then one of us will tackle it and go outline. We'll pass the outline back and give notes then write the first draft. The person who didn't write the draft will provide detailed and hefty notes, then we will rewrite together. We develop two ideas at the same time. While I am writing the outline for one, Eric is writing the outline for another. It's nice because we have almost double the output but it does take a lot of whip cracking.   

Personally, my writing process is to start with a story clock. This was something that Seth Worley came up with, and I really enjoy it. I'll draw a big circle, map out my plot points on that, and add the cool scenes or scares that I have in my head. The story circle works for me as well because I love writing in sequences, and the eight-sequence structure falls into the story clock perfectly. Each sequence has a goal, action, and complication that drives the narrative forward in a cause-and-effect way. As I develop the story clock, I'll start to discover the theme and what I want the story to say about my worldview. I'll build that into the story until I have everything filled out.   

Then I'll write a treatment based on the story clock, which is really just a dramatized version of it in longer sentences. Sometimes I'll throw in dialogue, but most of the time, it's just a single paragraph that details the events of the story.   

Once I have the treatment completed, I throw it into a script document, and I'll write pages. As I write a scene or beat, I'll delete it from the treatment, so my treatment is getting shorter while my script is getting longer.   

In addition to writing, I direct. Eric and I produce, as well. I really love all aspects of getting a film made until it stalls, then I hate it. But I wouldn't want to do anything else.  

That is a unique and fascinating process. I think some writers out there may find that beneficial. I like how you will delete the scene from the treatment to add it to the screenplay. There has to be some gratification in this process? Eric, you have worked on some popular horror films like Ouija and Sinister 2. Can you tell us more about what it's like working on those projects? What is something you think newer editors or someone interested in editing should know?

Until those projects, everything I had worked on were indie films no one had seen. Ouija and Sinister 2, despite the relatively low budgets, are studio films with established brands. You get an instant boost in credibility because people in the industry (i.e., potential employers) will watch and know about those films. In the case of Ouija, I worked with Michael Bay's partners & producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller, as well as director Mike Flanagan (Oculus and Dr. Sleep) and his writing partner Jeff Howard (The Haunting of Hill House and Gerald's Game). You learn so much working with successful filmmakers.   

It's difficult to explain the "shift," which occurs when you're on a studio film. There is real money at stake. Studio politics. Audience previews. It's a real business and in no way comparable to a short film you made with your friends for $1,000.  

Anyone new to editing, or interested in editing, needs to realize this industry is a marathon. Not a sprint. I know folks who edited an indie feature right out of film school, it did well in film festivals and their career took off. However, it's uncommon and don't presume you'll be in that small minority.  

I feel the best likelihood of long-term success is working on a studio feature or episodic show and starting at the bottom as a Post-Production Assistant or if you have some legitimate experience, as an Assistant Editor. You'll work and network with people who will help you advance. You'll understand the dynamics of the cutting room and the interactions between the executives and the filmmakers.

You may be thinking, "I've edited a handful of short films and my friend's $5,000 feature, which means I'm qualified." Unfortunately, that's not true. The studio needs to be assured you're experienced at the craft of editing as well as the whole process, politics, deadlines, and the business as an entirety. Put another way, would you trust someone you hardly knew with unknown credits to cut a $10M+ film?  

However, everyone's career path is different. Some get lucky breaks early on, and others get them later. 

I think that is something I always try to convey to people. Paths are different for everything.  You worded it perfectly with calling it a marathon. Finding the path that works for you as a person is the key. Do either of you have any advice/suggestions for up and coming or hopeful screenwriters, directors, or editors?  

When it comes to writing, you just need to start. I wasted far too much time when I was younger before I had kids. If I could go back and tell myself something ten years ago, it would be to write your ass off. You're going to write some terrible scripts and some awful characters, but you only get better by doing. Young writers, and I mean writers early in their careers, are so afraid of the blank page because they think they only get one at-bat. But the first draft is just for you, it's to help you get that weird idea that's bouncing around in your head onto paper so you can mold it and shape it into something that resembles a story.   

Then you MUST send it out and get feedback from people that are going to tear it apart. It's important to tear it down because you can make it better. You'll never make the script the best it can be by only sending it to people that will praise it.  

Go out and make stuff. Make a short on the weekend. Do a 48-hour film contest. Do whatever you need to get your words spoken out loud or your idea on the screen in some form. You learn so much by watching your old films and just by doing it. 11th Hour Cleaning is my directorial debut, and I made so many mistakes while shooting that you'll never see in the final cut, but I know what not to do on my next film. 

Write. Shoot. Share. Repeat. That's the only way to make it.  

Lastly, don't spend too much time thinking about how other people broke in, or how you're going to break in. Focus on your work and how you can improve and tell a better story on the next project. Everyone has a different break-in story, and you won't repeat it. You'll find your own way in.  

Eric: Whatever you make needs to be great, not good. The proliferation of filmmaking knowledge and equipment means that anyone, anywhere, with motivation and skills has the potential to make a short film or feature of high quality.  

What makes something great? Look at what films inspire you and realistically assess how your script or film compares from story to edit to screen. Show it to friends and get feedback. If something didn't work the way you wanted, chalk up the experience to practice, learn from it, do it again, get better. Filmmaking is like riding a bike, it gets better with practice, but you won't be competing in the Tour de France the first time you put feet on pedals. 

I feel the best path for most folks is "work your way up" at a production company or studio. Success in Hollywood is about who you know and how the system works. Spend a few years doing this and opportunities open up. 
Ty Leisher, Co-founder of Exit 44 Entertainment
This is all great advice. I think a key piece of advice taken from the both of you is that there will be mistakes, but learn from them and use that to make your craft better. I heard there is an interesting story about how the idea behind 11th Hour Cleaning. Can you tell our audience about it?   

I was working on Transformers 5 at the time. I suggested to Ty that it was time to make our first feature: horror, single location, small cast. He (foolishly) offered up his house as a location, and we began brainstorming ideas. Ty used his parent's experiences as the basis for our characters. We tossed around ideas for the antagonist and, as I mentioned in another question, suggested we find something a little different, which we did, from Nordic folklore. 

Ty: When I was younger, my parents started a foreclosed home cleaning business. One day we got called to clean a home, I was maybe eight or nine at the time, and as soon as we entered the house, you could tell something was off. We looked around the house and found vast puddles of bloodstains on the ground and walls. It was a crime scene, murder, or suicide, and they wanted us to clean it. Which, by the way, is highly illegal. You have to be certified with special equipment to do that. But we didn't know at the time, and my parents started to clean. As the night grew on, we all got more and more agitated with each other and could sense something watching us. Finally, my parents decided it was best if we just left and we didn't finish the job.  

But that house, and the experiences inside, stuck with me.  

The story of how we got started is that Eric, and our other partner at the time Ed Morrone, had just come off making a solid short. We had a $5M feature that was about to get funding. We were about to sign the paperwork. It was a dream come true, but the investor ghosted us despite him having spent $25k for line producers, budgets, and schedules. It was devastating. We spent 18 months working on that project, and it died on the vine. I don't recall if it was Eric, Ed, or myself that had the idea to just say "screw it, let's make our own low budget movie," but we all kind of had the idea at the same time.   

As Eric mentioned, we decided on what locations we had access to for cheap or free, and my house was chosen. We came up with a concept to make the "locked in a house" story different and unique by bringing in technology and Norse mythology. Anytime I can add mythology to our films, I'm happy. 

That is a fascinating but creepy story. Did you guys ever find out what actually happened at that house?

Ty: Nope, we left that place as quick as we could and never looked back.

I don't blame you for leaving and not looking back. It is a real fascinating story. Unfortunate to hear that your project fell through. It sounds like the ball was really running on it. Obstacles are definitely common in our industry. Can you tell us more about the company you both co-founded Exit 44 Entertainment?  

Ty: Exit 44 Entertainment creates mind-bending horror stories that leave your head spinning as the credits roll. We created the company in 2017 while we were working on 11th Hour Cleaning. It was initially founded by Eric and I as well as Ed Morrone, who is a producer on 11th Hour Cleaning but is no longer a partner in the company due to creative differences. We want to make thought-provoking films that linger with you. We also represent independent horror and thriller films for sale. Working as a sales representative positions us uniquely when producing our own movies to understand the trends of the market and how to best position our own films to stand out.   

Sounds like you guys will be using your experience and Exit 44 Entertainment to help some great independent films. What other projects are you both working on?  

Ty: We have a few projects in various stages of development. Our primary focus is telling mind-bending stories that stick with you long after the credits roll and make you question reality. The next film that we're excited about is a contained action-horror called Bound. It's kind of John Wick but with a female protagonist who kicks major ass and solves some intense puzzles in a horror environment. We're also developing a horror anthology series with a prominent paranormal investigator but can't give too many details right now. Lastly, we're writing two new action/horror scripts: one that I like to describe as The Shining on an island and another that's a zombie movie with a voodoo twist. 

Eric: What Ty said.  

Exciting! Those all sounds great. The Shining is a classic so making something that compares to it on an island is intriguing. I won’t ask for more details but can’t wait to see it happen. What has been your favorite project to work on, and why? 

Ty: I have to say 11th Hour Cleaning. Your first film always has a special place in your heart, and I'm just really proud of this one. The story is excellent, and it's a solid movie. I got to make it with my best friends, coincidentally, the godfathers of my daughter, and I can't wait to share it with the world. I also loved our short film, Stranded, because it showed me that you don't need a huge crew to create something great. We made that with a crew of four and a trip to Subway.

Eric: It's difficult to choose one because each has memorable experiences. On Sinister 2, we worked with Scott Derrickson for a bit, and his ability to match temp music to scenes is extraordinary. Phil Joanou, director of The Veil, showed me "what it takes" to get things done regardless of your comfort zone when he started doing VFX shots because of our limited budget. Exeter is directed by Marcus Nispel, who rebooted Friday The 13th in 2009, and he nails it as far as the genre goes: wild parties, sex, drugs, scares, and gore. He was great to work with and it's a fun watch. Transformers 5 was amazing because you're working with people at the top of their game; whether you like the story or not, the quality of cast, crew, and footage is A+.  

Our film, 11th Hour Cleaning, is different because I didn't "work on" the movie. I lived every part of it. The genesis of the idea, writing, raising money, casting, crewing up, production paperwork, buying crafty, handling crew concerns, buying beer for the camera department, managing the editorial process, editing, being post-production supervisor, finding more post crew, asking for favors, preparing for distribution. Rinse and repeat. I'm fortunate to have a network of professionals and friends I can lean on, but it doesn't make it any easier asking people to work below their rate. We've learned so much making this film and ready to take that into the next one. 

Nothing ever happens fast enough for me, and I wish we could clone ourselves to keep more projects going at once.  

Where can we watch Stranded and 11th Hour Cleaning?

Ty: You can see our short film Stranded on our YouTube or here in this interview. Our feature, 11th Hour Cleaning, is close to completion and we’re waiting for the town to reopen from COVID-19 to do our final mix and color timing. However, our first teaser for 11th Hour Cleaning is almost ready and we look forward to sharing it soon.
Thank you for sharing that information. What are some other ways you guys are involved in the film community?  

Ty: Eric had created a filmmaker's meetup group in our area about a decade ago, which is how we met. The group has evolved over the years, and we still both participate, but it's different. I'm a big believer in teaching everything you know to future generations of filmmakers or screenwriters. I spend a lot of time writing articles to post on Medium or answering questions on Twitter during #ScriptChat or #PipelineWriters

I try to boost other writers whenever I can and read a ton of scripts. I've served on the arts and culture committee in my city to promote films locally. I volunteer with the Sunscreen Film Festival West, where I'm an executive director and ran their independent screening series for a while. With us acting as a sales representative, we try to educate and protect filmmakers from predatorial distributors. We want to actually help independent filmmakers get a good deal where they can keep their career moving and make money off their art.

I’m excited to announce we’re working with the #StartWith8Hollywood initiative which connects women of color with industry-experienced mentors to help them advance their careers. There are many recognizable filmmakers participating in the program and we’re humbled to be a part of it.

Eric: I'm on Twitter and a variety of Facebook Groups specific to editors which covers the gamut for job opportunities, technical support, industry guidance, etc. I also participate in a private filmmaker mentoring group to provide feedback and coaching for people new to the business or looking for breakthroughs.  
I'm open to participating in filmmaking panels, podcasts, etc. to share how I made my career change, the craft of editing, what it's like to work on indie vs. studio features, navigating the industry, and so on.  

That is amazing that you’re both helping others in the industry. It is tough to break into the industry so having people like you guys is great.  I hear a lot of horror stories about distributors taking advantage of filmmakers. Good on you guys for finding ways to give back. What is your favorite classic horror movie?  

Ty: Eric and I both struggled to answer this. I think because who is to say what a classic is anymore. I mean, Scream was 30 years ago, does that qualify it to be a classic horror movie? It also feels cliché to say something like The Shining or Psycho, even though those films are epic and must-watch movies for any horror fan. If I had to pick one, it would be A Nightmare on Elm Street, but there are too many good horror films from the past hundred years. Watch 'em all!  

Eric: There are different eras of horror; therefore, what is "classic" needs to have a decade slapped on it. The Phantom Carriage in 1922. Nosferatu in 1929. Frankenstein in 1931. Creature From The Black Lagoon in 1954. Fast forward to exploitation films in the 60’s and 70’s. Last House On The Left was the genesis of Wes Craven's career in 1972. Halloween in 1978. Friday the 13th in 1980. Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984. Hellraiser in 1987. Fast forward to Scream in 1996. Saw in 2004. Fast forward to The Conjuring in 2013. These are all classics in their time. 

Haha. See, I said classic and I got a great list from the both of you.  Worked in my favor. Lol. Classic is very broad, but I leave it to the interpretation of those I interview. What movies & filmmakers give you the most inspiration?   

Ty: Christopher Nolan and David Fincher are two of my favorite filmmakers. The way they bend reality and show torturous worlds is impressive and inspiring. I'm also hugely inspired by Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg. It's kind of cliché to say Spielberg and Hitchcock now, but they really laid the foundation for terrorizing people with films. Contemporary filmmakers that are huge inspirations for me are Jordan Peele, Mike Flanagan, and JJ Abrams. Peele's work with sociopolitical horror is terrific. Flanagan has continued to wow me since I first discovered his films. Oculus is still one of my top three favorite horror films of the past ten years. Lastly, Abrams is doing amazing work with Castle Rock and Westworld. I can't wait to see Lovecraft Country.

Eric: I'm old school when it comes to this: Star Wars, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Jaws, Lethal Weapon, and Alien. I don't get attached to any filmmaker because audiences and those films must be appreciated in the context of their time and time can be fickle. Some films resonate with me as a whole, but most have particular scenes or characters which stick with me decades later.  

Those are the films I want to make...ones where you find yourself daydreaming about what may have happened to your favorite hero years or even decades after The End. 

What is something in everyday life that scares you?   
Ty: Healthcare bills. No, but seriously, what scares me the most is what our minds are capable of. They are complex systems that can snap at any moment if a chemical imbalance is present. I suffered from anxiety and depression after we finished shooting 11th Hour Cleaning. I attribute it to living in a haunted house for two weeks and getting about five hours of sleep each night with an eight-month-old baby. But it came on suddenly. There is a fine line between the mind of a serial killer and an average person, and that terrifies me. I'm also big on psychology and what types of disorders and conditions that our brain can have. For example, a dissociative fugue, which Agatha Christie suffered from, makes you travel far from home, forget who you are, and create a new identity. You could wake up tomorrow as a different person entirely, and that's scary. That's the stuff I want to explore, what is reality and what is our perception of reality. But if you wanted to get more granular, people or things not being where they should, or acting in inhuman ways like The Blair Witch Project. People are weird.

Eric: The evil that people do to others is far more terrifying than what might occur in a film. The complete randomness for which someone might crack and do something heinous to their loved ones, neighbors, or complete strangers. 

What else scares me? Dark, creaky places. Eyes that reflect back at you. 

What is your dream project?   
Ed: I think less about a "dream project" and more about a "dream career." A career where I can make films on a consistent basis, with sufficient resources, and work alongside a crew and cast I admire.  

Ty: I'm with Eric. I think more about having a dream career where I can make films that entertain and enlighten people to issues or themes that I care about. There are a few existing properties that I'd love to get my hands into, like SpawnSpawn is my favorite anti-hero, and there is so much we could do with that world of heaven and hell right now. I've been trying to get a 7th Guest movie made for years, based on the video game from the 90’s, but I doubt it'll happen with us. I'd also love to take a crack at the cosmic horror genre and explore the fear of the unknown, like HP Lovecraft's work, but something unique and new.  

Best of luck as you both continue your careers. Any parting words on the industry for our audience?  

Ty: This is a tough business, and you need to have thick skin and the tenacity to see it through. The one thing that everyone in this industry has in common is that they never gave up. You have to believe in yourself, believe in your stories, and trust that your voice and creative energy are worthwhile. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't make it or that it's never going to happen for you. Like I said above, I'm always trying to educate or share experiences with other aspiring writers/filmmakers.  

Eric: As Ty said, you need to keep at it. Don't let people discourage you from pursuing your dreams, but that doesn't mean you should ignore feedback. Don't compare yourself to everyone else and what they've achieved, but don't put your head in the sand either. Self-assessment and course correction is a critical component of success. 

Breaking into this business is not easy. Growing your career isn't easy. You're only as good as the last film you made, so learn from that experience and make it better next time around. 

You're going to need to make sacrifices, and these are different for everyone. If you have a mortgage, you may be less inclined to take the necessary risks in your career. You might not see your spouse or kids as much as you'd like. Divorce...a very real possibility. 

Whatever you want to do as a filmmaker – be passionate and stay focused. You need the passion because the sacrifices can be rough. Stay focused, so you become known as an expert in that craft before you move into something else. 

Thank you both for your time. If you have other social media, websites or anything you want to plug please share here.

If you have any questions, I'm all ears on Twitter @TyLeisher and Eric can be found at @EBrodeur.

Our YouTube channel at Exit 44 Entertainment

If you’d like to stay informed about our feature, 11th Hour Cleaning, take a moment and sign up for email updates here

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Brandon Waites served in the U.S. Air Force and had the opportunity to deploy Iraq and Pakistan.  After his service, he earned his bachelor's degree in Business and earned his MA in Film & Television with a concentration in producing.  He interned under Benderspink for Hollywood producers Chris Bender and J.C. Spink.  After his intership, Brandon co-founded multiple companies for networking and contests for screenwriters and filmmakers.  His love for horror drove him to begin HorrOrigins as a film festival in 2019.  In response to the positive response of HorrOrigins, Brandon decided to expand HorrOrigins into multiple ventures to benefit the independent horror screenwriters and filmmakers.

<![CDATA[Networking, Filmmaking & Horror Shorts Discussion with Director Elwood Quincy Walker {Talent to Watch}]]>Mon, 06 Jul 2020 19:56:16 GMThttp://horrorigins.com/interviews/networking-filmmaking-horror-shorts-discussion-with-director-elwood-walker-talent-to-watch
We've covered a lot of amazing screenwriters in our talent to watch series. This time, we sit down with a young filmmaker who discusses his inspirations to produce quality content. This is apparent with his quality of work for companies like Disney Parks, TEDx and other brands that he has been putting out since he turned 13 years old.
What was your first introduction to horror? 

I don’t remember ever not loving horror. At a young age after watching The Nightmare Before Christmas I became obsessed with halloween which led to my passion for the horror genre. I would spend hours at my local Blockbuster wandering up and down the aisles mesmerized by all the DVD covers in the horror movie section. But there was one in particular that always stood out and scared me the most: The image of a grungy rotting hand and foot laying on a white backdrop for the movie SAW. It took weeks and weeks of me begging to see it, but somehow I eventually convinced my parents to let me watch SAW when I was five years old. Needless to say it terrified and traumatized me. That was when my passion for horror really sparked.

How did you get started in the industry?

I started making movies when I was five years old. My first short was a stop motion animation using my Lego figures. I spent my childhood making YouTube videos starring my friends, family, and whoever I could convince to be a part of it. Then at age thirteen I became a signed commercial director making short films and spots for TEDx, Yowie Candy and other brands. My first professional job was writing and directing my short film Rocket Boy for Disney Parks which was screened in over 1,500 theaters nationwide before Disney major motion pictures.
Wow. Congratulations. Thati s inspiring. How did you get noticed at that young of an age to be doing Rocket Boy for Disney Parks, spots for TEDx and the other brands? 

I submitted my work to a production company that specialized in directors making commercials & content for teens, by teens.

That is interesting. I didn't know that was even a thing. What keeps you interested in the genre? 

I love the horror genre and everything about it so much. Watching a horror film can be such a visceral and exciting experience. The genre is always reinventing itself and there are so many different talented filmmakers working hard to produce new stories and scares.

What is it about the screenwriting and directing process that you enjoy most?

I’ve always had a burning passion for films and filmmaking. I love the process of coming up with an idea on pen and paper and translating it to the screen, bringing my vision to life. Sometimes I’ll just get an image or an aesthetic for a film in my head before anything else. 
That is very exciting as a filmmaker. The opportunity to share an image that originated in your mind and place it on screen is a huge accomplishment. You're proving yourself to be able to make outstanding horror shorts. Can you give us an example of your initial idea with one of your films? 

For Kissed, it was the image of a water logged rotting corpse laying on a grimey silver platter, as a hand slowly enters frame carefully applying a deep red lipstick to her lips. Then I went with it from there figuring out what the story would be leading up to that and the events taking place after. Writing and directing can be a very long and tedious process. It can also be a very magical and rewarding experience at the end of the day. That is why I love it so much.

As a director what does your process look like when working on a project?

I like to oversee every aspect of a project I’m working on. Meaning I usually not only write and direct the project, but I also am the producer and production designer. This is so I can do everything I can to articulate and execute my vision. It all starts with an idea and writing the script. Then I go with it from there breaking down and marking up the script with notes for direction. I figure out what needs to be done logistically in order to make the film happen and design the look and feel of the film.

What are some of the most challenging things you typically have to face as a screenwriter, director and producer?

The most challenging thing for me is time management and trying to outdo myself with each film. Since I like to be in so many different roles, there is so much work to be done both on set and leading up to a shoot. It's a challenge, but I’m always up for it. 
You had two shorts Kissed and Trick that were screened at HorrOrigins 2019. Why do you think it is important to filmmakers to screen at festivals?

I believe it's important for filmmakers to screen at film festivals for a number of reasons. It gives filmmakers the chance to have a theatrical experience screening their film on the big screen with an audience. Festivals are a great way to meet other collaborators, make connections, gain some traction and attention for your short film before publishing it online. 

Kissed was just released on Alter. It is a well-executed, great production value short with a very uncomfortable but satisfying ending. Can you tell us more about that and how it can be seen?

Thank you! Kissed is about a coroner fixing up the new body in the morgue, but when he adds a few touches of his own, he suffers grave consequences. Kissed was the first short I made at film school when I was 18. My school has a morgue set, and I'd been dying to shoot on it ever since I started. I really just wanted to make something suspenseful and scary, utilizing what I had access to and the idea evolved from there. Since then, it has gone onto have a successful year long run on the festival circuit screening around the world at HorrOrigins, Shriekfest, Cine Gear, Salem Horror Fest, and many more. Almost two years after we made it, I'm so excited for Kissed to be having it's online premiere on Gunpowder & Sky's online horror platform ALTER. It released yesterday, July 6th! Check it out!
Kissed - Horror Short from Elwood Walker Presented by Alter.

What other projects are you currently working on?

I recently finished up post-production on my newest short film The Rule Of Three, starring Hannah Barefoot from Shudder’s Creepshow series, which will be premiering on the festival circuit later this year. The short follows a woman haunted by her OCD and intrusive thoughts who must overcome herself and face her inner demons to survive the night in the event of a terrifying home invasion by three masked slashers. 

Congratulations!  It sounds like an amazing short with amazing talent. What has been your favorite project to work on and why?

Every short film I’ve made has been its own amazing experience. Shooting TRICK was so much fun because it really felt like it was Halloween for three days straight in the middle of March. My friends built a spectacular haunted house set all in their garage. My makeup fx team made these fantastic Ben Cooper vintage style masks for the trick or treaters, and we shot in a dark soundstage running around using a lit jack-o-lantern as our main source of light.

If I had to choose one, my favorite project that I’ve worked on would have to be Kissed. It was one of those rare experiences that everything seemed to fall into place perfectly and I loved shooting on the morgue set, it was awesome. That short is so special to me because it was the one that really formed the relationship with my extraordinary crew of friends that I work with now.

That is awesome. It sounds like the sets are a blast to be on. What are some other ways you are involved in the film community?

I’m really involved in the community, I love attending all the different horror conventions and events in Los Angeles! Aside from filmmaking, I do photography in horror themed art shows at The Mystic Museum. I also work closely with a number of small horror businesses all run by my friends like Little Shop Of Gore, Murder House Productions, and most recently Slashback Video, creating teasers and short films for them.
That is great. It really sounds like you do the networking and collaborating piece very well.  What is your favorite classic horror movie? 

This is always such a tough question for me since I have so many! But I’m gonna have to go with John Carpenter’s Halloween. Everything from the amazing poster design, the incredible synth score and the nail biting tension throughout the film is, and will forever be, so iconic.

What movies & filmmakers give you the most inspiration? 

I’m a huge horror fan, I could go on and on. I’m inspired by filmmakers like Leigh Whannell, Wes Craven, Mike Flanagan, John Carpenter, and many more. I really love anything that puts you on the edge of your seat. I’m very inspired by both 80’s and modern horror. I try to keep a foot in both of those directions when making a film. I love wildly stylistic characters, makeup fx that still deliver tension and scares working together, sort of like a haunted house attraction.

Those are all masters of the craft.  What is something in everyday life that scares you? 

Social interactions---like ordering food at a restaurant. Or even worse: having to speak up if they get it wrong. Oh and the CATS movie.

Haha. I can understand all of that, although I haven’t watched nor do I want to watch CATS. What is your dream project?

Right now my dream project is to make my first feature film. I have a couple different ideas. I’d love to make a full feature length version of Trick, expanding the story as we follow the group of teenagers on Halloween summoning the spirits of the dead trick or treaters in their small amblinesque town. Or the feature version of The Rule Of Three as we follow Aly in her fight for survival against her mental illness and the three malevolent forces that terrorize her in the night.
We’d love to see those come true. We know you have the talent to do it also and we’ll be watching your journey as you continue in the film world. Would you want to share any social media or website plugs?

You can follow me on Instagram: @elwoodw or my website: https://www.elwoodqwalker.com.

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Brandon Waites served in the U.S. Air Force and had the opportunity to deploy Iraq and Pakistan.  After his service, he earned his bachelor's degree in Business and earned his MA in Film & Television with a concentration in producing.  He interned under Benderspink for Hollywood producers Chris Bender and J.C. Spink.  After his intership, Brandon co-founded multiple companies for networking and contests for screenwriters and filmmakers.  His love for horror drove him to begin HorrOrigins as a film festival in 2019.  In response to the positive response of HorrOrigins, Brandon decided to expand HorrOrigins into multiple ventures to benefit the independent horror screenwriters and filmmakers.