INTERVIEW w/Alexandra Heller-Nicholas of “1,000 Women in Horror: 1895-2018”

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I have known Alexandra for a few years now ever since I read her “now classic” book, Rape Revenge Films: A Critical Study (2011). I let her know my thoughts on the book and some of the films discussed and over the years we have had a great friendship. I always have liked her style of talking about film, never condescending but quite serious about the subject. It was through her time broadcasting/podcasting on the Melbourne Australia Triple R radio show, Plato’s Cave that I got an even better understanding of her film critique/thoughts and knew we were kindred spirits. (Hell, she gave me two of my go-to catch phrases when reviewing “I Flatlined!” & “I Prayed for Death!”) Her focus over the recent years has been more promoting women in the film and film writing industries, which lead to her most recent film studies book “1,000 Women in Horror: 1895-2018”. I personally read this tome from cover to cover and it is a great work. If you enjoy reading books like “501 Film Directors”, “1,001 Films to See Before Die” or general film review books…1,000 Women in Horror is going to be up in your wheel house and should be in your permanent film book collection.

Alexandra graciously gifted me some of her valuable time and answered some questions for me concerning the book and related subjects. Read on… Dave K./A Fiend On Film

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OK, why “1,000 Women In Horror?” and what made you want to work on this wonderful tome?

It felt almost natural in a way; I’ve been writing on horror in one way or another since the early 2000s as either a zine writer, critic or academic, and in recent years I also developed a real interest in women’s filmmaking as a broader subject, beyond genre. From my first book in 2011 on rape-revenge films, gender politics and cult/exploitation film has always been an interest to me, so 1000 Women in Horror really felt like all of these threads coming together in a way that is a bit more fun and accessible than some of my more academic books.

You have written many books and I felt you have always not talked down to your audience. That said, I view 1,000 Women in Horror your most accessible work yet. Was this your plan while writing it, that pretty much anyone can pick it up and understand it?

Absolutely, this was very much a conscious decision. I have a bit of a weird career in that I started in zines and street press – mostly as a music writer initially, actually – then went to academia. Universities taught me great research skills and I quite quickly adapted to the different writing style in academic writing and more journalistic writing, but my instinct has always veered towards writing for a more public readership. So my academic writing actually always feels a little wobbly in comparison to my journalistic ‘voice’, and it’s definitely where I am more comfortable. Most of my books have straddled academic publishing and more mainstream publishing and this was really my first ‘big’ book that let me solely write in the context of the latter, and I have to say that was hugely liberating. There is certainly a place and a value for academic writing, don’t get me wrong, but I have always wanted to reach people outside of the university world – that’s always explicitly been a goal of mine. 

Any specific challenges you had putting this together?

Constant! Endless bloody challenges, Dave. I think I’m only half laughing?! The most obvious was of course deciding on who to include in that 1000, which by default necessarily requires me to leave a lot of women – and I mean, a lot – out. But at the same time, doing on a book on ‘every single woman in horror’ is not only dumb and arrogant, but technically impossible. So I really had to approach selection as a bigger picture thing – what do these names collectively tell us about women in horror film history? So I had a lot of profiles I wrote that got cut, and – to state the obvious – I now live in a state of eternal forehead-slapping every time I realise there’s someone who should be in there but isn’t. But I can only do what I do, right? I have to learn just to accept this, and chill the fuck out! 

How would you answer this question: “Alex, who cares what gender the person is making the film? I just want to see a good film!”

Honestly? This sounds weird, but I agree! I dream of a time when the gender of the filmmaker isn’t necessary to flag, and I can tell you that a hell of a lot of women filmmakers I talk to – the bulk, actually – say the same thing. But the reality is women horror film directors are a minority, a significant minority, and for a woman to make a horror film they almost always have to deal with a lot more resistance than their male counterparts do – there are simply more hurdles in the way for women to make films full stop. So yeah, at the moment, it matters, and it matters a lot because for a woman like Jennifer Kent to get The Babadook into multiplexes is a really massive deal (the same way, I’d add, that it’s just as tough for BIPOC filmmakers too). I dream of the day that it doesn’t matter, where we can assume that it’s an even playing field – but today, that sadly is very much not the case. 

Do you have a favorite “Woman in Horror”?

A lot of my friends are “women in horror” and they are all my favourites! But I guess what I would emphasise more objectively is the fact that so many women in horror have incredible stories – just unbelievable journeys that led them to their place in the genre. I wouldn’t want to rate those experiences on a scale or anything like that, but this was really one of the big reasons why I wanted to include interviews in the book – literally for a place for women to talk about those journeys. From Debbie Rochon to Mattie Do, Rutanya Alda to Izzy Lee, there’s so many interesting stories that we should listen to. 

Do you think the film industry will eventually open itself up to more diversity in let’s say, the next 20 years?

To be honest, I am not sure. It’s hard to tell right now from an industrial perspective what is walking the walk in the desire for change in this area, and what is just PR-friendly talking the talk. In Australia – where I live – we had a huge boom period of women’s filmmaking in the 80s and 90s which was supported by clear institutional support, and amazing films were produced in that context. But it was almost by the early 90s that it was felt like “OK, we’ve fixed that, let’s move on”. What funding support moved onto was also important – supporting Indigenous Australian filmmaking, for example – but you could just see the numbers of women-directed films plummet after that and the default went back to funding films made by white dudes, a lot of which were (and still are) mediocre dreck.

But I don’t want to be too negative, and in the case of horror I do see some real progress. Jason Blum got a lot of flack a few years ago for his comments about what he perceived as a lack of  women horror directors, but to be fair not many people noted at the time that Blumhouse had actually worked with women filmmakers before, just not on films that gained a  theatrical releases (Catherine Hardwicke’s Plush from 2013 is a case in point here). But to Blumhouse’s credit, they stepped up after they received a rightful drubbing over Jason Blum’s comments about women filmmakers, and have since done some great work with women directors; their Into the Dark series with Hulu had films made by Sophia Takal and Gigi Saul Guerrero, and the forthcoming Welcome to Blumhouse series on Amazon includes works directed by Zu Quirke and Veena Sud. Blumhouse are also behind Shana Feste’s forthcoming film Run Sweetheart Run, which people are going to go nuts about when they see it! 

A two parter: In your view, what is the best thing/trends about modern film criticism? And what is the worst?

The best is the democratisation of critical forums – outside of zines or community radio, pre-internet there was really a comparative lack of places to actually present film criticism if you weren’t working in a more formalised industry. The internet has changed all of that, although perhaps too far to the other extreme! But it does mean a lot of new voices get to talk about film, and some of those voices have traditionally not had a particularly easy time getting into those more formalised industries – again, especially women, BIPOC, folks living with disabilities, etc. 

One of the more negative things that I do see increasing, however, is a lack of sophistication in critical discussion around challenging film and a tendency to reduce movies to a ‘woke’ or ‘problematic’ binary without any kind of discussion. To be clear, I am talking about textual discourse here, not defending assholes; what I am getting at is different from ‘cancel culture’ (or as I call it ‘actions have consequences’ culture which any kid can tell you is just life – if you do something horrible, you’ll probably get in trouble!). So what I am getting at really more here is how there’s a very concerning tendency to dismiss films sight-unseen, dismissing them as ‘problematic’ without even having a conversation about them – in Australia, we just saw this happen in an absolute public shit show around a scifi film by Sandra Wollner called The Trouble With Being Born. The subject matter of this film is challenging and morally confronting but – without defending or attacking the film – I was deeply concerned about how the controversy around this movie as it unfolded in this country was almost completely driven by people who hadn’t seen the movie at all. I guess because I have written so much about things like rape-revenge film my feeling is – if I can be blunt – piss or get off the pot. Either have a position and be prepared to engage with the film you are talking about, or go watch a Disney movie. 

What is next for Alexandra Heller-Nicholas? More books? More film commentaries?

Like everyone, 2020 has been a bit of a wild time so things both expected and unexpected have come into play. I think I am not alone in saying “just surviving” is my plan for the future, but I don’t mean to be glib about that at all; maybe taking all we had for granted wasn’t the best way for us to be living anyway? So learning to appreciate what we have – even in such awful circumstances – is a wake up call many of us needed, myself included.  

But as for work, I am still wanting to keep my options open and look at different, new ways of engaging with people about the kind of films I’m interested in. I’ll keep writing and doing things like commentaries as long as I am invited to do so, but am also expanding into new areas that are really exciting, too – lots of irons in the fire. 2021 is the 10th anniversary of the release of my first book on rape-revenge films so I’d like to do something to mark that occasion, but what shape that will take I am still unsure. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s to grab opportunities when they come along; be agile, and be open to new possibilities. 

Lastly, any words for the aspiring film writer or maker out there?

Just do it. I meet so many people who talk about what they are going to do rather than just shutting the fuck up and doing it! It may feel like you don’t have an audience and you are pushing shit up hill, but persevere if it’s your passion; I know so many people (writers and critics) who have gone through hell but just can’t stop creating, and that sheer force of will is what keeps them alive. It’s slow, but it comes down to hard work. People sometimes say to me “Oh you are so lucky!” and I know they mean it in a kind way, but it’s like MATE that’s not luck – I’ve been doing this in one form or another since 2003! It’s hard work and obsessiveness more than luck! When it comes to finding an audience, it’s obviously a lot harder for some people to gain visibility because of their gender, sexuality, faith, the colour of their skin or their class origins (we need to talk about the latter more, by the way), but the bottom line is, if you like doing it you should do it and keep doing it. You are your own harshest critic, but also you can be your own biggest fan. In short: gun it! 

Follow Alexandra on Twitter https://twitter.com/suspirialex

Get the books at the links below!

THE ROAD TO COEURS NOIRS: Artist Elizabeth Yoo

A few years ago I came across this incredible watercolor styled art by Elizabeth Yoo and have been enthralled every time I see a new piece by her. While she does other subjects, her film noir and old Hollywood images are headturners. Do check out and follow her work below. -Dave K.

https://elizabethyoo.com

https://www.etsy.com/shop/RuneWorksProductions?ref=l2-shopheader-name

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE ROAD TO COEURS NOIRS: Cover Artist John Harbourne!

One fateful day, I saw some amazing detailed art on a film noir group page. I would later be in contact with John Harbourne about doing the cover for COEURS NOIRS. We worked everything out and the rest, as they say, is history.

Check out his fine work here and pick up a piece (or three!) for your art collection! He also has some great pieces coming soon. -Dave K.

https://johnharbourneartist.com

Check out the interview I did with John this year here: https://themagnificentworldofdavek.wordpress.com/2020/04/07/interview-artist-john-harbourne

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THE ROAD TO COEURS NOIRS begins…

It all happens on Noirvember 1st… COEURS NOIRS. The book.

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What is COEURS NOIRS?

Here is the blurb from the back cover…

“COEURS NOIRS (roughly translated from French as “Black Hearts”) is a collection of FILM NOIR newsprint ads from the 1940’s & 1950’s. Over 400 films are presented here, pulled from newspapers from all over the United States and Canada.

This book is for lovers of classic motion pictures, art, graphic design and most importantly the celluloid style known as FILM NOIR!”

Since late 2018, I have been working on this book of newsprint ads and I am finally ready to go. See below for a sample page. During the next three months, there will be a promotional blitz on my blog and social media. Updates a plenty every day.

Hope what you see will interest you enough to pick up COEURS NOIRS when it is released on Noirvember 1st…

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TEST FULL COVER FEB 2020

 

INTERVIEW WITH FILM MAKER MICHAEL McCALLUM/REBEL PICTURES!

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I recently came across Michael McCallum‘s work online very recently through a random comment in a film noir group. I bought the filmmaker’s first film, Fairview St. and was blown away, giving it the highest marks. I wasn’t aware that Michael had a film company called Rebel Pictures which released many more of his other films (all available on http://www.rebelpictures.net to buy/rent online and some on DVD). I then bought his film after Fairview St. called Lucky and again was just immensely impressed. While this interview focuses on these 1st two features, I encourage you to check out his other films as they run the gamut of genres and styles. I am sure you will find something to like. Michael McCallum is definitely not a one hit wonder. -Dave K aka A Fiend On Film

1) OK, so who is Michael McCallum and how did you get interested in making films?

Who am I? Isn’t that the burning question for us all. I’m a Filmmaker/Director/Actor/ Writer/Producer/ Editor/Photographer and Radio Show Host. It’s a laundry list I know. All of these things I’ve been interested in for some time and have been pursuing and improving on.

As for how I got interested in making films, I am first and foremost a Movie Lover. I watched a lot of movies and TV as a kid and would also do impersonations of actors/characters at that time as well as family and friends. I really wanted to be an actor from a young age (5 or 6), but had no clue what was involved in that pursuit. I liked to entertain. We didn’t have a lot when I was a kid and my folks did the best they could, so my imagination played a big part of my growing up. I rely on it daily as a creative person.

I didn’t start making films until I was in college and took a Film Production class to just have a better understanding, as an actor, what a director went through. It definitely helped me have a better understanding of what directors go through. I felt I had a clear perspective and empathy for them the next film I acted in after that class. Now mind you, I did poorly in the class itself. I didn’t follow many of the rules and really pushed the limits of what we were “supposed” to make for the curriculum.

Then 9/11 happened and I lost all of my financial aid for school. Even at a local community college I was struggling money wise and couldn’t finish obtaining my degree. I did however finish the Studio Program for Acting and then preceded to audition for and act in some of the worst movies made in Michigan. I’d say a broader demographic than just Michigan, if we’re being completely honest. I definitely learned a lot of what NOT to do on those films.

The worst part of those times were not that the films were bad, but that the experiences were even worse. I wasn’t only embarrassed by the finished films, but had pretty terrible experiences on them as well. I then figured, “well shit, I have my own ideas and I know I could do something better than THAT and I’d have a better time doing it too.” It hit me hard that I can create my own atmospheres and have a better environment on my own films than these that I was acting in at the time. Now some of my cast/crews might disagree, but I feel overall I’ve accomplished that to say the least.

I essentially became the director I had always wanted to work with. Someone who demanded a lot, communicated well, was passionate, had high expectations, but would actually lead the team and not with an iron fist either.

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A scene from Lucky

2) I have only seen two of your films so far, Fairview St. and Lucky, both starring you. Fairview St. was your 1st feature. Was it a conscious decision to be the lead in it? 

Casting is an interesting endeavor. For me as a director/filmmaker it really is the most important thing to get the right people in the right places. Casting being not only the talent, but behind the camera as well. Putting the right people in the right positions is crucial. If you’re pushing and pulling with someone, they might be in the wrong place or shouldn’t be a part of it at all.

Fairview St. was set from the get-go that I would play James Winton. I had wanted to make that film for a ridiculously long time before we even started filming (9 years or so) and I only envisioned myself in it. Now some critics would nit-pick this choice, but I only cast myself when I know I’m the best person to play the part. I have done many other films where I wasn’t in them at all because I didn’t fit for anything. I’ve also recast myself twice in small parts in Buffalo and Memento Mori with a talented actor, Cody Masalkoski, because I just started seeing him in the role(s) over myself. In this life, and this creative life especially, you need to have confidence and you need to balance that with being truly real with yourself. No bullshit. When I’m right for something, I’m right. When my gut tells me differently, I don’t argue or debate it.

Now Lucky is a different story. Originally it was meant to be a story of two characters pretty equally balanced out. Kind of an homage to Carnal Knowledge where it’s about 2 friends and their relationships with different women over many years. My co-star, Justin Muschong, and I had originally thought of the film in those terms. It was probably the fastest turn around from idea to production I’ve ever done, other than a competition film. We had talked about the idea over drinks in Dec. of 2006 and by Jan. 2007 we were filming. It was an insane turnaround. But once we were about 4 scenes in Justin had dropped a bomb on me that he was moving to NYC. We had all agreed to do something really different with Lucky and that was to not shoot it in a short amount of time, which is usually what I have had to do with the combination of schedules, money, and resources. We had planned to shoot Lucky over a year and a half or so. Well, that went out the window when Justin had to move. I sat down and reworked the story so it focused more on my character and had Justin’s character, Nick, come in and out and tie things up with him at the end of the film.

That was the only time I’ve had to completely rework where a story was going because of something like that. I feel confident in how the film turned out, but man did it add a lot of stress to me at the time. I’m glad it was shot that way, but I’m hesitant to ever shoot something over that long of a period of time again.

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a scene from Fairview St.

3) You seem to pick your actors well, even having your father in Fairview St. Where did you meet some of them? Do you just do a straight casting or are they just all friends you grew up with.

Again, back to casting being the most important thing to me after working out the story. Everything else is crucial, but if you don’t have a solid story and the actors to create that, then it really doesn’t matter how great it looks or sounds. You’re just putting a bow on a pile of shit.

My Father is a real character. I always say to people that if I wasn’t related to him and just met him through people that I would cast him continuously. He’s a great storyteller and extremely natural on camera. He has a great ability to not let all the chaos around him affect his performance. He can get right there and sat there in the moment. Now he does get a bit touchy leading up to a shoot. We all have our own processes so I don’t want it to sound like everything is a breeze with him because it isn’t. I love working with him, but I have to earn every moment with him.

As for all of the others I have cast in Rebel Pictures’ projects, it’s a big combination of people I’ve previously worked with and others that I’ve met in some way shape or form. I’ve been acting professionally since 1997, so I get the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a lot of different types of talent over the years. I also will see “true independent” films and make decisions from that. It’s a combination of those and seeing a lot of local theatre and watching films and checking out reels when I’m interested. I have also cast a fair amount of non-actors in roles. It’s beautiful to see their work appreciated and nominated/win awards when the audience or the judges have no clue they haven’t done it before. That’s a true testament to the trust I work hard to build with my actors. I want them to feel like they can communicate and try anything at any time in the context of the scene. I work hard to build an arena where they feel they can have the confidence to make mistakes.

4) The scripting of these two films was very believable and fluid. Are you really writing all the dialogue or is there a good amount of ad libbing going on? What is your writing process?

You want the secret in the sauce. Ha. Well, it’s another combination of things and depends entirely on the situation and the piece at hand. Fairview St. was a really planned-out, story-boarded, scripted project, where Lucky was not because of the circumstances. Now these two films for instance, meet somewhere in the middle of that. Even though Fairview St. was really planned out I still made changes during shooting with where the camera would be placed and what the actors would say. Some times what the actors are saying and how the scene is playing out isn’t working. You don’t always know why either, but it’s just not. So you have to be make changes on the fly.

I don’t usually share this, but Lucky did not have a written script at all. I had a list of scenes and notes on each scene, but what I found was that I have a very good memory and didn’t need to script everything out. I worked with a really good DP at the time, A.E. Griffin, and we would walk through every single locations possible and talk about the shots in terms of a series of numbers or letters. A to B to C or 1 to 2 to 3, etc., etc. I then knew deeply what each character and scene needed to be and worked with the individual actors on their scenes alone. So they all knew what the story was about, but the details on scenes that didn’t concern them weren’t discussed. There was and is a fair amount of ad-libbing, but it’s not like we just show up with a camera and pull people off the street to play. These are well thought out and well constructed projects in every aspect. I also do something most other filmmakers don’t do that I’ve acted for and that’s I fight hard to shoot everything IN SEQUENCE. 90% of the time or more what you’re seeing in the finished film is in the order it was shot. It is a pain in the ass to the crew sometimes, but it helps the actors and the story layers be peeled back. On so many sets the actors and the space their working in is the least of the director’s concerns. I like to make that more important on my films. Every aspect is crucial, but the actors shouldn’t be thought of last and shouldn’t be pushed into “bringing it home” to make the day under pressure when so many other departments take their sweet time. There has to be a balance there. I desperately try hard for that balance.

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Lucky

5) I mentioned in the review for Fairview St., the city you film in, Lansing, MI is a “character”. It just oozes that blue collar small town sensibility. Is it easy to film there? How did get you permission to shoot in some of those places?

Lansing, MI definitely has a certain vibe to it. I used to as a younger person want and need to try to get away. Born To Run playing in my mind at full volume. The problem was I had family issues that kept me here. I learned to embrace it. I definitely went through and some times still go through a love/hate relationship with Lansing. I have mainly shot in and around it, but love to shoot other places too. I like to think that I’ve shot out every place in the area and have highlighted some cool, honest and real elements of the city. It’s a little gem that a lot of people overlook. I’m glad you’ve seen it as a character in itself. I’m looking forward to your thoughts and feelings on other Rebel Pictures’ projects shot in and around Lansing.

It isn’t always easy to film there. Sometimes yes, and it has gotten somewhat easier over time because I’ve built a body of work that interested parties can look at on their own instead of me having to do a hard sell like when I was first starting prior to Fairview St.

Permit wise I get releases for every location, talent and music in the project, but we don’t need specific permits like in larger cities such as NYC, LA, etc. I have had to run and gun on a few locations here and there though. I always say, “that’s why it’s called Rebel Pictures.”

6) Finding money for film making is probably the hardest thing to do. How did you gather funds for Fairview St. and Lucky as examples? What were the budgets?

I do think the money aspect is the hardest part of it. Getting people to invest or contribute to what your creative idea and endeavor is never easy. I’ve done 3 different Kickstarters, which were all successful, and done in person. Fundraisers back in the day as well. I’ve also put a lot of my own money into my work, which some would swear to not do, but when it comes down to it the work has to be made. I’ve also played a fair amount of poker in the past that helped fund projects, especially Handlebar. I even put a message in the end credits about funding some of the movie that way.

It’s getting harder and harder to raise that sort of awareness and funds for each project. I’ve also been blessed to have met some interested parties that have helped and really made some of the shoots and post possible.

Now when it comes down to specific budgets I never like to give exact numbers because I feel it makes the viewer or audience member an instant critic. You either have more empathy for what it was made on or you go back and nit-pick ever frame trying to pull apart where the cracks are in the painting. Either way neither opinion has anything to do with the film and the work.

As I like to say, “I’m not a filmmaker/actor/writer/producer, I’m a fucking magician. It’s all smoke and mirrors.”

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Fairview St.

7) What camera (s) do you use to shoot?

Those first 3 features (Fairview St., Handlebar and Lucky) were all shot on the Panasonic DVX 100A. A lot of my early short films were as well. All the others were shot on some form of digital camera. The technical aspect is extremely important to me, but I don’t get too caught up in “oh you have to shoot on THIS or THAT” sort of mentality. As an independent filmmaker a lot of it comes down to the look of the piece and what DP has what camera to shoot said project on. Some times it’s that with a combination of what we can get when we need it. I’m also a big believer in it’s what the person does with the gear, not the gear itself.

8) As an actor, you have a very natural style. Do you have any “film idols”, maybe growing up, that give you inspiration?

Thank you. I really appreciate that. I definitely have artists that have inspired me. There’s a mixture of film, musicians, painters, writer, etc. Filmwise though I constantly go back to the works of Marlon Brando, Elia Kazan, Jules Dassin, Billy Wilder, James Dean, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Robert Duvall, Robert Ryan, Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Ava Gardner, Robert Wise, Orson Welles, Sidney Lumet, Woody Allen, Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Martin Scorsese, John Carpenter, Montgomery Clift, Sean Penn, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, etc., etc. I can literally go on and on and on and…well you get the point.

I’m extremely nostalgic. I don’t hide that at all.

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Lucky

9) I met you through a Film Noir group online, so I know you like those types of films but what other genres/styles do you like? Any favorite films of your you think we should see?

I do love Film Noir, but I also love Comedies, Dramas, Westerns, Sci-Fi and Horror. There are a lot of musicals I enjoy as well. I would like to eventually touch on all of those genres and even combine some. I’ve been able to do a lot of different things except for Westerns and Musicals at this point. I do have a really sparse dark Western idea though. I like to allow the story to dictate the genre, not the other way around.

10) People can go to Rebel Pictures to find all your work but what can we expect in the future? Do you have anything new lined up for us to look forward to?

I’m always working on something. This current COVID19 pandemic and the quarantine has been a really difficult time. I know I’m no different than anyone else when I say that. I’ve spent that time watching a ton of Turner Classic Movies with my Father, William C. McCallum, and walking, writing and slowly learning French.

I haven’t been able to finish some of the work that I’ve been wanting to get back because I don’t have the editing gear at my place. I’ve had to learn to be patient at different times in my life and this is another learning process.

I have been able to get 2 competitions films made during this time though. Choices and Photalgia were both made for different filmmaking competitions and both won BEST FILM at their respective competitions. Choices was made for the Quarantine Filmmaking Contest in March and Photalgia was completed on June 7th for the 48 Hour Global Filmmaker Challenge-Detroit. Both are being sent to other film festivals currently and I look forward to having them available to rent down the road.

I’m really excited to finish Reverb, which is a Sci-Fi short film in the vein of Twilight Zone/Tell-Tale Heart and to get another feature film with my Father as the lead going. Money and funding are always difficult and now with the pandemic things are really slow in moving forward. We’re all still figuring out how that can actually occur. I know it’s going to be even more difficult with all the new requirements going into place.

I’ll just keep creating and telling the stories I want to tell and collaborating with like-minded talented folks.

Viewers and potential audience members can go to my site: REBELPICTURES.NET and watch/rent work there and also buy merchandise and make any donations if they would like to see the work continue.

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Fairview St.

11) Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Any advice to aspiring film makers out there?

Don’t stop. Actually don’t start. Don’t start unless you’re willing to go the full ride. The ups and downs have a lot of space in-between them. Figure out what you actually want out of this life and if it’s a creative life then give it everything you have and don’t ever stop creating. Get everything in writing and understand people change. You change as well and sometimes those paths aren’t parallel anymore. Enjoy the moment and be respectful, kind and genuine.

If you only want to do this for fame, money and accolades, don’t even start. If you can imagine your life doing anything else other than filmmaking or acting then do it. It isn’t always an easy road to say the least, but it’s an interesting and unique one.

FIENDISH 2 is OUT NOW! Download or Read! Horror/Cult/Exploitation films!

As promised….FIENDISH 2 is here!

54 pages 8 1/2 x 11 Black and White

The contributors are as follows:

Philip Perron
Christopher Bickel
Danni Winn
Psycho Gnostic
Rev. Terry
Paul Mcvay
Robert Freese
Rob Talbot
Jonny Numb
Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
Bill Van Ryn
John Leavengood
Michael E. Wilson
G.G. Graham
Benjamin Mero
Angela Jane Magy
Elwood Jones
Jesse Midnitekrawlr

Thanks to all for helping me with this project!

Print copies are only for the contributors and FIENDISH 2 is not for sale BUT you can download a printable copy or read on screen!

Download FIENDISH 2 HERE!!!

FIENDISH 2 one-shot June 2020

Read FIENDISH 2 HERE!!!!

 

INTERVIEW with Artist Bryan Silverbax!

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A few years ago at a Walker Stalker Convention in Atlanta, I met Bryan Sheppard aka Silverbax. I was drawn to a collection of artwork he called Paint Pals. They were distorted spray cans with the shapes of various comic book characters. I loved them and followed his work every since. What is great about Bryan is his huge personality and love for constant creativity. Humble, gracious and always lifting others up, he is on the forefront of the modern comic book art scene. On top of that, he has been in many locally produced (We are in Atlanta!) movies and television shows. He is always surprising me with his incredible talent, especially his amazing coloring skills. People take note, he is going places. – Dave K.

I have known you for a few years now but many have not. Who is Bryan Sheppard aka Silverbax?

I was born in this world as Bryan Sheppard and I leaned a lot about life that I now use as Bryan Silverbax. I had pretty much stopped drawing after high school in 1994 but in 2013 I picked it up again. Since I was a police officer, I did not want to you to know my real name, making easier for bad guys to find me if they wanted to, so I used the name Silverbax Media. It just began to get weird when I would tell people I was Bryan of SilverbaX Media, so I just became Bryan Silverbax. The name stands out from the pack, its sounds powerful and the initials are the same. FYI the symbol I use to sign my work is the same as when I was in high school, a B and a S.

Why comic art? What initially made you interested in it?

Why not comic books art? I always had a bit more artist juice than most but once I found comic books I said THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO. In the mid 80s, I think, my dad introduced me to comics with his favorite Silver Surfer. That same rack also had some X- Men and Wolverine books, I picked those up. I really liked knowing that drawing super heroes could be a living for some one. How cool would it be to tell all these cool super stories and draw at the same time. Once I started getting comics, I began to focus my art. Side note, looking back at my school comic art, I was not that good. HA.

Let’s say from 3 years ago until now, what aspect of your art do you feel you have improved the most?

I think my understanding how the process works has improved the most. I know that is not the kind of answer you wanted but I would have to say that digital coloring for me has grown the most. A close second would have to be getting back to pen and ink for my line work. My current work flow allows me to use my digital skills to set up a piece and them print that out as my sketch and then get right into the pens and inks.

You have created a few unique characters. Loggerhead seems to be the one you are having the most success with. How did this character come to be?

I had created a comic book world as well as over 20 different characters to live in that world and I had planned on telling stories with all of them. I was told by someone that has been in comic books for a while that Loggerhead should be my first shot. He fits my creature and monster skill set and he has a different look. He said I should take Loggerhead and try to tell a horror movie style story. So that is what I tried to do. This was my first comic book writing and drawing adventure. I have learned a lot. To get more back to your question, I felt that my world need a big brute character and I always liked half and half type characters. I felt that making him a snapping turtle from Louisiana would lend itself well to an interesting back story. 

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The Loggerhead comic will be released soon on Scout Comics. What was the process to get this character from your head, to paper and to become an actual comic book?

That is hard for me to say. I am still figuring things out. Not to spoil anything about Loggerhead: Bloody Bayou but he isn’t in the book very much. Within the story, he is treated much like Bigfoot, people have heard stories but has anyone really encountered the Loggerhead? So in moving forward in different stories, I will have to figure how he talks, his past, and think that will be very fun. I just wont know until I need to, I guess.

What other characters are you working on? Are they in the same “world” as Loggerhead?

The world that Loggerhead lives in is now called Kerra Prime, it was a few other things but those names getting getting used by other people or I’d find out they are already taken but I am pretty damn sure Kerra Prime will stick. As it stands right now, I plan to doing a few more one-shot comics to feature other characters and give people a sense of who the characters are and what they are about. After all those, I will do an epic and much longer story in graphic novel form that will have all those characters from the one-shots involved. The plan after that is unclear, I am just happy to have world built where I can tell any kind of story I want.

Who are your favorite “classic” artists and who do you think we should be currently looking out for?

I am not a huge comic book information and knowledge guy, so I am not be able to give a cool comic answer. I liked almost all of the guys that started Image comics. I liked them before they went to Image and I like most of them now. I have to admit that I wasn’t really into reading comics and I still don’t. I did not not appreciate the story telling abilities of artists then because I wasn’t looking for it. That is a very under appreciated skill by most readers and I was one of those. Outside of the big 2, I really like how comic books have allowed creators to tell their unique story and then move on. There is no beating a dead horse or how many times can hero X beat bad guy 1. There are ton a great creators out there. The hard part now is finding them all.

2020 has been a rough year for the comic industry/comic conventions? How are you personally handling this?

Well, Loggerhead was in the middle of the pre-order window with Diamond when everything locked down. Love it or hate it, Diamond was THE distributor of comic books to comic shops. I had invested a shitload of time and money into getting shops aware of my title and its order code for Diamond. Then all this mess and shops had about 10 tens days to cut or even cancel their order because they know that shops would have to be closed. They way everything was set up Loggerhead was set to be in shops in mid May and I had lined up book signing appearances. Those appearances would have made me some money and helped create more interest in the title. All that went away. No appearances, no conventions, no money. I had to set up a space in my creation cave for live streaming with real time drawings. Once I started doing that, money and commissions started to appear. I am getting by but I did put a ton of effort into the first Loggerhead awareness campaign and I don’t know what will happen now. Scout Comics will release Loggerhead in June through direct shipping and I am still unsure when Diamond will fire back up and get it to those that did not cancel their orders.

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How important has social media been for you as a promotional tool? Do you feel it is becoming more and more effective as you have grown as an artist over the years?

I feel that you have to have social media if your creating a brand. Silverbax is a brand. I want people to invest in me and what I do. I feel that I am a mildly cool dude who does mildly cool things, meets mildly cool people, and draws mildly cool stuff so I share all of that on social media. If people dig me and value what I do, one day I will work on a comic project, the next day could be working with a movie director on his poster or even be in the background of a shot. All in all, I want people to see me and then try to do better than me. I am just a jabroni who has lucked into something late in his life, I want people to see what I am doing and then start doing to do thing they want to do. I did get a late jump on social media. Hell, I got a late jump in the art game, so now I am playing catch up all the way around. Social media had landed me a few great jobs and it is a great to let the world follow what your doing so that they can figure out whether they want to support you or not. I have tried to stay on top of my social media, so I am always learning and trying things that don’t cost me money. LOL.

Any advice for upcoming talent?

Man, that is a big question. I give tons of advice all the time but if I had to drop just a few nuggets, here they are. You have to start, even taking baby steps and you can complete a marathon. Don’t be a dick, most people don’t mind helping people that have helped them or even someone they know has helped others or is just a good person. Don’t aim for the stars, aim 2 levels above where you are now, then aim two levels above and so on. You have to make the effort, don’t talk about it, be about it. And always help others, no hand outs, just hand ups.

Thanks for the interview. Anything else you might want to say? 

I would love for anyone that reads this to find me on Instagram (@bryansilverbax) and follow me, wink wink. But for real. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance, don’t be afraid to try something creative. Leave your mark!

Find out more at Scout Comics: https://www.scoutcomics.com

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