Saturday, May 28, 2016

Inerview with Filmmaker Eric Shapiro

Normally, I interview horror authors. Recently I got the opportunity to interview a screenwriter, producer and movie director, Eric Shapiro, who recently filmed a short film HOAX, based on horror author Greg F. Gifune’s short story, and will be released soon by DarkFuse Productions. Below is a brief description of the film, followed by an interview with Eric Shapiro.

DarkFuse Productions to Present the HOAX: 
A short film by Eric Shapiro
HOAX is a film about a man in a bar who’s hitting on the bartender and may or may not have good intentions. Set to be released digitally, mainly through Amazon Instant Video, the release date will be coming soon.
Interview with Eric Shapiro
Eric, welcome to Dark Lucidity. Thanks for doing an interview for my blog. I just saw your new short film HOAX, and really enjoyed it. I see that it’s based on a short story by Greg F. Gifune, a horror author I’m quite familiar with. I’m curious how it came about that you adapted Gifune’s story into a short film?
Thanks so much for having me, Brian, and for your good words on the film. I've been friends and colleagues with Greg for the past few years, ever since he was kind enough to scout me for a submission to DarkFuse, which resulted in them publishing my novella LOVE & ZOMBIES (2013). Reading Greg's work, it's clear he's one of the best in the business, and in the case of HOAX, he was able to bring in Shane Staley and DarkFuse to give us a legitimate release platform. It was a chance for me to adapt an excellent story for a very strong and discerning audience, putting some wind in the sails of my filmmaking career.
On the very cool movie poster, I see that Gifune’s publisher Dark Fuse presents the film. What was the publisher’s involvement?
They're going to release it on Amazon and market it. Shane at DarkFuse was very hands-off during production, which was great. He put a lot of trust in me and Greg to deliver the film...which actually just physically happened. The hard drive went in the mail to DarkFuse late last week...
How did you go about adapting the short story to a script?
Greg was really flexible and open with me, so long as I was loyal to the story's spirit, which came easily since I loved and respected the story. A lot of the dialogue was rewired to suit my own metabolism and make the tension more cinematic and overt. I also added the pocket watch and the cutaways to the woman's home life – all elements which are organic to the source material if not explicitly present there. In general, it was a matter of satisfying my own instincts and drives as a filmmaker while honoring and capturing Greg's story and satisfying his fans.

I see that you cast Rodney Eastman, from the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” films and “I Spit on Your Grave” (2010) as the star of the film. The female lead is Jessica Etheridge, a local Northern California actress who's acted in many local films and commercials. How did you go about casting the actors?

Rodney Eastman (left) with Eric Shapiro
Rodney I knew from my debut feature film RULE OF THREE (2010). He's perfect for the lead in HOAX, and achieves mythic scale in under 15 minutes; it was an honor to team up with him again. 
Jessica Etheridge centered
Jessica I'd seen in the series DYKE CENTRAL, written and directed by my friend Florencia Manovil. Right away, I saw that she was special. Amazingly intuitive, emotional, vulnerable. Per Greg's story, you have to love and care about her character in a short period of time, and I knew Jessica could give us that connection.
I think you achieved your goal with both actors. How long did it take you to shoot the film? Did the shoot go smooth or did you have to face any interesting challenges? 
We got it all during the course of a couple days. It wasn't what I'd call smooth (laughs). I lost my father-in-law just before we started shooting, and was essentially trying to survive each moment. Plus the bar we shot in was freezing. There was a huge hole in the ceiling, and cold wind was blowing through. The actors were suffering a lot. But for reasons I can't give away, that adds to the characters' behavior. It was a cruel gift from the movie gods.
I’m working on a short film myself, as the editor and script consultant. The producer/director is shooting the film with a Red Dragon camera. What kind of camera did you use to shoot the film? Did you shoot it in HD, 4K, 6K?
Awesome! We used a Blackmagic 4K. It was my first time at bat with the DP, Dom DeShawn, and he did a tremendous job with virtually no crew members supporting his department. The first thing people say when they watch it is how great it looks – all credit there to Dom.
Tell us a little about the workflow of post production? What editing system did you edit it on? How long did editing take? Did you do sound mixing?
Funnily enough, the editor, Cathy Sitzes, built her own editing system. So it doesn't have a name, unless you want to call it “Cathy's Editing System.” Most of the editing was done inside of a week, after which we kept fine-tuning and messing with frames and moments until I'm sure Cathy wanted to toss me off the balcony. Then we got in Jesse Ehredt, from my last flick LIVING THINGS, plus a ton of Hollywood productions, to do the sound mix.
Is there anything that you learned from the work flow process that you wish you’d known before you started?
There are always dozens of little things. The process by its nature educates you into humility. In this case, simple as it sounds, the big lesson was to stick with a local team. I was new to Northern California when we started planning, and on instinct, I began rallying my old homies from L.A. to help make the movie: DP, editor, both acting roles. But that became a logistical nightmare and would have been way too expensive, so I began to shake the trees up here. In the end, only Rodney traveled up from L.A. And I really ended up enjoying the NorCal team. Very laid back vibe. More of a feminine than masculine temperament.
When will HOAX release and where can people view it?
Keep an eye on for a release date; it's all but nailed down as of now. They're going to release it just like they do their books and magazines, via Amazon.
What are you producing next? Do you have plans to make a feature-length movie of the HOAX or are you working on the next film project?
It's funny, 'cause people keep asking about a feature-length version of HOAX, which we really hadn't thought about until after the short was done. Greg came up with this terrific vision for a full-length saga, be it on TV or film. So that's not out of the question, but in the meantime we're developing another piece for DarkFuse. The band's back together: me adapting, Greg's story, Shane and DarkFuse releasing. More is on the way...
Eric Shapiro is a filmmaker, screenwriter, author, and ghostwriter. His first feature film, "Rule of Three" (2010), was released to iTunes and Netflix after winning Best Actor at the Fantasia International Film Festival, winning Best Acting Performance at Shriekfest, and having its U.S. Premiere at Austin's Fantastic Fest. His second feature film, "Living Things," was endorsed by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and released by Cinema Libre Studio in 2014. His novella "It's Only Temporary" (2005) was on the Preliminary Nominee Ballot for the Bram Stoker Award in Long Fiction and appeared on Nightmare Magazine's list of Top 100 Horror Books. The two novels he edited for Evil Jester Press -- "Candy House" by Kate Jonez and "Malediction" by Lisa Morton -- were both nominated for Bram Stoker Awards in 2014. Shapiro won the 19th Annual Fade In Award for Thriller Screenplay (with Kris Lippert) in 2015. He has had short fiction published in numerous anthologies alongside work by Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahniuk, and many others. Eric lives in Northern California with his wife, Rhoda Jordan, and their sons, Benjamin and Henry Shapiro.
Greg F. Gifune is a best-selling, internationally-published author of several acclaimed novels, novellas and two short story collections.  Called, “The best writer of horror and supernatural thrillers at work today” by New York Times best-selling author Christopher Rice, “One of the best writers of his generation” by both The Roswell Literary Review and author Brian Keene, and “Among the finest dark suspense writers of our time” by legendary best-selling author Ed Gorman, Greg’s work has been published all over the world, translated into several languages, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus and others, is consistently praised by readers and critics alike, and has garnered attention from Hollywood.  His novel “The Bleeding Season,’ originally published in 2003, has been hailed as a classic in the genre and is considered to be one of the best horror/thriller novels of the decade. In 2016 his short stories “Hoax” and “Plant Life” have been/will be adapted to film. Also a respected editor with years of experience in the field in a variety of positions, Greg is presently on hiatus from his position as Senior Editor at DarkFuse and at work on several projects. He resides in Massachusetts with his wife Carol, a bevy of cats and two dogs, Dozer and Bella. 
Publicity Contact: Erin Al-Mehairi
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