Serial Killer Culture will screen at the Straight Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival
*How did you get into making films?
I always loved watching movies. I was raised by my mom and she would take me to the movies all the time. She knew I loved horror films and supported me all the way, not the way some kids now are coddled and their parents will not let them watch horror films. I watched them all! Family night would be watching classic movies on TV such as Jaws, Psycho, The Exorcist, and other great movies. I studied Special Makeup as that is what I really wanted to do when I grew up having studied the greats such as Lon Chaney, Dick Smith, and Tom Savini. I began by making 8mm movies in my backyard and then when I learned Chicago had a filmmaking program at Columbia College, I enrolled and the rest is history!
*What inspired you to make your movie?
During the course of making what I call my historical horror trilogy of films on serial killers H.H. Holmes, Albert Fish, and Carl Panzram, I met many people in the serial killer culture including collectors, forensic psychiatrists, and authors. I thought it would be interesting to bring some of these people together in one film. Many times people see those who are interested in true crime as weirdos, but that is exactly the opposite. I they are just people like you and me who are interested in a different subject. I also realised that the entire law enforcement industry is true crime as well, so it is a broad topic. I wanted to give these people their time on camera to tell their side of the story without the usual media style of portraying them as weirdos. The people in the film either have true crime influences for their art and/or were involved in many historical true crime cases so I see them as important to the history of true crime and their stories should be documented. I was recently labelled as a folklorist, one who documents people and aspects of history, passing their stories down to the next generations.
*How has your style evolved?
Personally I feel my style is the same as my motto has always been: Tell a good story in any way possible. Technology changes, but good stories and good storytelling should always be the intention of making a film. I always say: "I would rather watch a well told story filmed on VHS than a crappy story I don't care about shot on a million dollar camera". technology comes and goes. Good storytelling is hard to find. I find it interesting that my first film, H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer was shot on one of the first digital video cameras, the Sony VX 1000, it is standard definition and 4x3 and it is still my best seller! Since then I have filmed many films on HD. This proves that it is the compelling story that really matters in the end, in addition to the way it is formulated and told on screen.
*Tell us any strange or funny stories while making the film?
When I arrived at Hyaena Gallery in Burbank to interview David Van Gough about his Man/Son painting series, I fell in love with the Helter Skelter painting. It reminded me of the classic black velvet paintings I saw when I grew up as a kid in the 70's. It was beautiful. My phone's ringer was turned off. After the interview, I looked at my phone and I had missed many calls. It tuned out that as I was interviewing David, my mom had passed away back in Chicago. I eventually bought the Helter Skelter painting and look at it every day in my studio.
*The Misrule Film Movement & Pink8 manifesto bring what to mind?Actually, I have no idea what those are haha. I had to look them up on the internet! I am familiar with the concept and now, more than ever it is easy to shoot and edit a film on phones and video cameras. Of course this also brings a lot of crap that looks like home movies instead of an actual film. The biggest hurdle indie filmmakers face today are competing with so many other indie filmmakers, and even tougher is finding the distribution and/or a way to publicise and market our films to the masses. Every time new technology comes along for us to improve our films, Hollywood/technology creates yet another type of technology so we cannot compete. DVD was the best thing ever for indies as it was an affordable medium that could provide a decent return on the investment. Then streaming came along and was OK at first, but then in 2018, the platforms, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, abandoned indies and cut royalties drastically, the same indies who created such diverse content on their platforms. So we are now going through another setback for indies and that is why I am thankful for festivals such as the Straight-Jacket Film Festival, where we can exhibit our work to the world!
*What can we expect from your next film?
My next film to be released is Bloodlines: The Art and Life of Vincent Castiglia, which is a bit of a diversion for me from true crime, even though the film has it's dark moments! The subject is painting in blood, so the macabre aspect of my films is still portrayed in Bloodlines, which should be released in late 2018 or early 2019. The trailer can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcXeZzj3vVk