[Justin Kerswell chats with Scott Goldberg]
Scott Goldberg is a shining new light in independent horror film making - and a slasher movie fan to boot (naturally, we had to get him on ). He chats with us about the trials, tribulations and, ultimately, satisfaction in bringing his dreams to the screen; on juggling a tiny budget; on his love of classic slasher flicks; and on what he what like to bring a star of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3: 3D out of acting retirement! A fascinating insight into independent horror movie making today.
Q: Firstly, Scott, could you tell us a little bit about your upcoming 'walking dead' opus, THE DAY THEY CAME BACK?
'THE DAY THEY CAME BACK' stars Paul Kratka (Friday the 13th Part 3), Chiko Mendez (Saturday Night Live, Junkyard Wars, Japanese TV), Marlene Villafane, and the film is about a group of Special Ops Soldiers who are sent on a mission to find out the reason for the outbreak that brought back the walking dead. Sergeant Enrique Hernandez (Chiko Mendez) is the leader of the group who decides to lock four outcasts in there with his platoon to ensure their safety.
Q: Do you think there's anything fresh - fresh possibly being the wrong word! - to bring to the zombie genre?
I believe that every director is different, and that the style, feel and story is what makes a zombie film different. Our story is quite different than other zombie films. I do not recall, from my memory, any zombie film that is narrative like 'THE DAY THEY CAME BACK'.In college, I was directing a thesis film entitled, 'THE NIGHT THEY CAME BACK' which is where I first met actor, Chiko Mendez. I based 'THE DAY THEY CAME BACK' after the events of 'THE NIGHT THEY CAME BACK'. Then, Chiko Mendez and Caley Bisson helped round out the script during pre-production and that's how the whole script came about. It was nice to work with two other people on a script because it gave it this unique flavor. As for the style of zombies in the film... They are the slow type of zombies. There are no running zombies, no talking zombies, etc. I also didn't want to use the word "zombie" in the film because I feel that it takes away from the "reality" that I was setting up for the audience. You always hear the word zombie in spoofs, and in titles of films, and I wanted to get away from that and make it more real.
Q: The last few years have seen a whole graveyard of ghouls being resurrected at the cinema, with even Romero returning to his old stomping ground. Do you rate any of these new films, or do you hark back to the spaghetti spatter of the 70s and the mayhem coming out of Pittsburgh?
I really wanted to focus on the blood and gore of 'DAY OF THE DEAD', and with a budget of $3,000, you have to be more creative since you don't have a lot of money. We used a couple gallons of fake blood, hand props, "intestines", etc, but like I said before, the budget was very low.
Q: So, let's get to that point. What were some negative aspects of filming a short film with the budget of $3,000?
There were a few negative aspects while filming 'THE DAY THEY CAME BACK'. Like I said previously, the weather was sporadic. One day it was raining, the next day it was sunny, etc. I remember in late May 2005, we were shooting a scene upstairs in the main room of the foundation, and it was on and off rain, and that created a problem with the audio. It was tough because I was monitoring the sound. We had such a low budget that Eric Ramos, the 1st AD had to hold the boom mic for majority of the shots. When we got into Post Production for the film, Marinho Nobre had to fix up the sound before he composed the score. This delayed the scoring of the film for about a week and a half.
Q: What were some positives?
Working with the actors was great, especially Paul Kratka and Chiko Mendez because immediately they felt and knew what I wanted from them. Both of them are veteran actors and it shows. I also enjoyed working with the crew, as they pulled their weight and made this film happen. Without the crew that we had, this film wouldn't have come out the way it did. Eric Ramos is an excellent Assistant Director and was always on top of things. The learning experience was a positive as well, as was learning to deal with the negative forces that came into play. Some of the actors came back after a few months off to do re-shoots and others were too busy with other projects or just weren't interested, and you kind of could figure out who was dedicated and who wasn't.
Q: As you mention, THE DAY THEY CAME BACK sees the welcome return to the horror genre of Paul Kratka (who visitors to HYSTERIA LIVES! will know best for his eye-popping turn as a doomed camper in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3: 3D). Could you tell us a little bit about Paul's involvement with this film, and your upcoming films, THE PROJECT and BREAKTHROUGH?
In 'THE DAY THEY CAME BACK' Paul plays Detective Jason Ronner, who interrogates Phil Cardille throughout the film in flashbacks. We shot his scenes in one weekend in April 2005.
'THE PROJECT' is a short, black and white film, written by John Robert Mariani, and it's about a documentary filmmaker (Chiko Mendez) who breaks into a closed down, state owned farmland and wants to capture on film, the myth of the ghosts that haunt the land. It's very much like a narrative film in the sense that is starts out with this creepy voice giving the viewers a backstory on the place, and then we go right into it. Similar to how 'CREEPSHOW 2' started off with The Creep introducing the stories to the audience. We are shooting at Welwyn Preserve, the same place wherewe shot, 'THE DAY THEY CAME BACK'. We're all very excited to be working together again on this.
'BREAKTHROUGH' is a short film we are shooting in April 2006 and Paul plays the role of Peter Stevenson, a Reverend whose daughter is raped by an escaped mental patient, Richard Wayne Garcia (Chiko Mendez) and he must take revenge on the killer. It's got all of those elements on 'Man Vs. Man', 'Man vs. God', etc. I wanted to touch base on what could happen in today's society and something like that happens everyday, and most of us never heard about it. So I thought it would be a challenge to tackle on a subject such as rape, and really shock the audience, but in a tasteful way.
Q: Was it difficult to get Paul to come aboard?
I had asked Paul via e-mail if he was interested to act in my film in December 2004, right as I had finished 'THE NIGHT THEY CAME BACK'. At first he was a little hesitant and told me to get in touch with him when scheduling was being planned out. So the time came and I e-mailed him back and I sent him a copy of the script, and he loved it, and told me he wanted to play the role.
Q: Are they any regrets filming 'THE DAY THEY CAME BACK'?
I do think that we bit off more than we could chew budget wise. I blame myself for jumping so quickly into the film, because I had just finished my thesis, 'THE NIGHT THEY CAME BACK' and I wanted to do another film, as soon as possible. Originally, we had the story set in a suburban home, and I had Chiko Mendez in mind to play the character of Enrique, who was the owner of a house that two friends have stumbled into after seeing the dead awake from their graves. The only problem was that the film called more excessive gore, and being that we had no money to build sets, we were unable to shoot in a house. Also, keep in mind that this was going to be shot in February 2005. I had decided that I had to find a location, and I thought that the ruin's at Welwyn Preserve would be the best idea to shoot at ... It was creepy, desolate, and had this cold feeling to it. So, I had to get insurance, and mind you, I wasn't working at the time, so that's when people lent a helping hand (Helen Proimos, John Robert Mariani, Jason Costanzo). They all pitched in money, and I rounded up as much as I could as well, and we made things happen. Due to the fact that no one had a lot of money, we had to be creative. The main regret was not enough budget. That's always the problem with any independent film though. Not enough budget, and since we were shooting outside 99 percent of the film, weather was also a problem.
Q: As you know, HYSTERIA LIVES! is devoted to that most maligned of all horror's sub genres: the slasher flick. From reading their synopsis's, your two earlier films, MY VALENTINE and DEAD END MASSACRE seem to be taking a nod from some of the slasher greats. Is this a fair assessment?
DEAD END MASSACRE and MY VALENTINE were both shot during my years at college. In 2003 I directed DEAD END MASSACRE and in 2004 I directed MY VALENTINE, which was a short film. 'DEAD END MASSACRE' was my first independent film and it was shot on Digital Video, and it helped me learn about film making more. They were both nod's to the classic slashers like HALLOWEEN and SLEEPAWAY CAMP, and it was a tremendous learning experience for me. 'THE DAY THEY CAME BACK' is my first film out of college, so I'm showcasing my talents from what I have learned from my years in college.
Q: Is the slasher film a sub genre you enjoy? And, if so what are some of your favorites?
Honestly, there are too many to name, but the two that stand out in my mind are 'HALLOWEEN' and 'TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE'. Those are my favorite horror films of all time, and the great thing about them is that they were independent films. They had their backs against the wall and had to be creative due to budgetary reasons. On 'THE DAY THEY CAME BACK', we went through the same thing.
Q: Why do you think he slasher film continues to be the whipping boy of the genre?
I think it's because it makes money. That's the main reason why these films keep coming out. The unfortunate thing is that a lot of slasher films of today that are being put out by major studios aren't even scary. A lot of them are laughable in a sense. The classics are theones that I enjoy because they have this gritty feeling to them (ie: early FRIDAY THE 13TH's).
Q: You seem to be very busy indeed! I notice you have Felissa Rose (the star of SLEEPAWAY CAMP) starring in your upcoming film DANIELLE'S REVENGE. That must be very exciting! Can you tell us a little bit about this project?
Before we shoot 'DANIELLE'S REVENGE' we are shooting 'BREAKTHROUGH' starring Paul Kratka and Chiko Mendez. This will hopefully get us the funding we need to hire all of the talent for 'DANIELLE'S REVENGE'. Felissa has agreed, but no contracts have been signed with her or any of the other actors. I do think that Felissa is a great actress and I have always admired her work, so we shall see where these next few films take us.
Q: Finally, what do you think the future holds for the genre, and where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
It's up to us independent filmmakers to bring back horror to it's roots
and to make the fans happy. "Horror" films of today aren't scary
and not original. Creativity and originality is the key element to making
a successful movie, as well as surrounding yourself with the right crew
and talent to carry out your vision. Ten years from now, I see myself
traveling the world, making the films I love, and having a great time
Justin: Thank you for time Scott.
Thank you for having me.
Read our exclusive interview with Paul Krakta, star of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3: 3D and THE DAY THEY CAME BACK
See http://scottgoldbergfilms.com/ for a sneak peek of Scott's new film on December 24th 2005.