We recently talked with genre filmmaker P.J. Starks about his career, his upcoming projects, what he was impressed by most with his own success as well as what we can expect from, ‘Sweet Meats’, ‘The Boy From Below’.
AJ: How are things going with your project New Fears Eve and what can you tell us about what to expect from it?
P.J: The film cut together well. Right now, NFE is being scored by the incredibly talented Frank Dormani. The screeners he’s been sending to Eric and I for approval have been nothing short of awesome. I love a good score and have been sending Frank samples of stuff I love from Darkness Falls to the recent release of Thanksgiving. His compositions are going to enhance the movie tenfold.
Support for New Fears Eve has been tremendous and because of that generosity it has put our finishing funds campaign In Demand. We still have some cool items from the set of the film as well as ways to get your name in the credits. Therefore, if anyone is down to be part of the project they can check out our Indiegogo.
Recently we shot a few additional bits of footage to ramp up the gore. All in all, it’s a very entertaining and funny horror slasher. With a movie that has over forty kills you’d think, “how is there time for anything else? That’s a kill every two minutes!” Despite the large kill count the film is very character driven and plot heavy. It’s not the kind of slasher where you can just take your brain out. There’s a lot of plot mixed into the dick and fart jokes. Which is where most of the comedy comes into play. I’m very much a Kevin Smith fan, audiences will see that in the dialogue scenes. Most importantly, Eric and I wanted this to stand apart from other slashers. As a huge fan of the sub-genre, I wrote this to be the things I love most about classics like The Prowler or Halloween, only done in a modern way. We tried to make something you haven’t seen a hundred times already but is still a love letter to the slice and dice films we grew up on.
AJ: When you’re involved in a project like 10/31: Part 3, Project: Mothman or Sweet Meats, what all goes into it?
P.J.: It really depends in what capacity I’m involved. I’ve amassed a pretty extensive media presence, so I bring that with me. My goal, first and foremost, is to bring as much attention to the production as possible. I’m there to help the filmmaker get eyes on their film. When I got serious back in 2008, I wished I knew someone who was able to help with promotions. That can be a tricky landscape. I had to figure it all out on my own, so I share that with whomever I’m working with. Some additional ways I’ve helped is finding crew, cast, writing, and location scouting. I don’t consider myself an actor but occasionally you’ll see my ugly mug flash across the screen like in 10/31: Part 3. Sometimes I’m asked to look at the script and give creative input. It really does vary from project to project.
AJ: You’ve also been part of a successful crowdfunding campaign for New Fears Eve, what do you find is the best way to approach it as well as promoting it towards fans?
P.J.: Unfortunately, there isn’t a science behind crowdfunding. A lot of factors come into play. Those were put into place to make sure NFE would get as much exposure as possible. We had a solid proof-of-concept trailer for the project which was instrumental. Having known horror actors or creators such as Felissa, Hannah and Jeffrey helped tremendously. Of course, Dave Sheridan helped, not only by believing in the film, but allowing us access to his fan base via social media. I’ve spoken to creatives that so badly want to make a film and don’t take the time to lay the groundwork for their project because they have an itchy trigger finger. Putting all your pieces in the right spot, planning, and giving those interested in supporting something truly great to get behind is very important.
AJ: When it comes to the process of movie making, what do you look forward to the most, rather it being casting, producing, directing etc…
P.J.: There’s parts of every process that I enjoy but find most of them grueling and tedious. I’ve found being on set and seeing the script some to life is my absolute favorite part of filmmaking. Collaborating is great. Working with other creatives, sharing ideas, and making those concepts a reality. When I’m on set I just love being part of the process even if that means cleaning up blood or running slate. As a Producer on a project, no job on set is beneath me. It’s about being part of a family with a common goal of bringing the written word to the screen. There really is nothing like it.
AJ: What can you currently tell us about Sweet Meats?
P.J.: Ricky’s funny horror musical is going to surprise audiences for sure. He wrote a solid script. So, when Troma and Lloyd Kaufman got behind the project, it was real validation. I know he was over the moon about it. I got to hang out on set when they filmed at the historically haunted Bobby Mackey’s. It was fun. The cast and crew were all nice and super into what they were doing. You could feel the excitement in the air. The film has finished filming. They’re in post-production now getting it edited. I’m looking forward to seeing this one finished.
AJ: You recently joined The Boy from Below as an Executive Producer. What can audiences expect from this production?
I’ve worked with Tory Jones before on his film Angel. We had dinner at last year’s Scarefest in Lexington, and he’d mentioned us working together again. I recently caught his latest effort Phantom Fun-World, which was an overall fun slasher. We talked shop. He’s going back to his roots for this new one and it has a lot of cool things in store. It’s a sort of reboot of The Wicked One but done in an original way where he’s telling an all-new story. I’ve been doing some promotion work for the project and doing a bit of location scouting. I know Tory has some major announcements happening soon. I look forward to being able to talk about those.
The cast is great. Spooky Madison is a solid talent and we’ve never gotten a chance to work together. So that will be cool. I met Celeste Blandon, Jake Kapronica and Joey Mann at Scarefest in October. They’re all down-to-earth. I’m looking forward to working with them as well. It’s going to be a fun film and I’m excited to be part of it. If anyone is interested in helping, they can check out the film’s Indiegogo.
AJ: We now live in a day and age where DIY filmmaking has made a comeback with crowdfunding, easy to access cameras and equipment. What advice would you give current or future filmmakers on making a unique experience for fans?
P.J.: I wish I had access to the technology a lot of filmmakers and aspiring creatives have now. I sound old when I say this, but it’s true. So much great, quality equipment is insanely affordable. Not to mention talent who are thirsty to get involved are out there looking to network and because of social media, this is so much easier to do now. Find others who share your creative passion and work with those people. Let go of the reigns and allow those who are more talented than yourself to do what they do best. I surround myself with and collaborate with other creatives whose abilities far surpass my own. The projects are better because of it. Don’t be afraid to fail, we all had to start somewhere. I still fail every so often, but you learn from that and move on. Know your limits and you’ll get a little bigger and better with each production.
AJ: While working in film, which project were you most surprised by with whoever you got to join or help produce your films?
P.J.: Probably 13 Slays Till X-Mas and Jeffrey (Reddick). Years back I found out he was from Kentucky, so I just reached out via social media. Next thing I know we were talking on the phone and became fast friends. We stayed in touch over the years. When 13 Slays came along I asked him if he’d like a cameo. He said yes, but it wasn’t until after he saw the finished feature that he called me up to give the film praise. Jeffrey was very impressed with what we’d accomplished with such a small budget. That same kudos goes to all the filmmakers of that project as they had most of the creative control over their segments. That project let Jeffrey see what Eric and I were capable on from a producing standpoint. Jeffrey and I wanted a project where we could be on set together. When New Fears Eve rolled around, he wanted to read the script. Thankfully he loved the screenplay I wrote, and the rest is history. Now he’s producing the project and has become a true advocate for our Owensboro based productions. Final Destination had a true visceral impact on me and the sequel, in regard to practical effects, definitely inspired me to be more inventive when it came to dispatching my own characters. When I left the theater twenty-three years ago, if you’d have told me I would one day be friends and eventually colleagues with the guy who created said film that inspired so many other filmmakers but also impacted pop culture, I wouldn’t have believed you. I guess you just never know what life has in store.