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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

13 Question Marks of Horror with Butterfly's Edward Romero

 There are a lot of great directors coming out of the scene right now, guys with vision and knowledge.  At this year's Shriekfest I met one such Director, his name is Edward Romero. Edward was promoting his collaboration with Eric Hollarbach; Damien Shadows: P.I. We sat down and amidst the drinking discussed The 13 Question Marks of Horror!

 1. You are a horror fan through and through. What film or experience first got you in the horror?
My love of monster movies started when I was a kid.  I grew up in Michigan, near Detroit, and one of my favorite TV shows was a local horror host called Sir Graves Ghastly.  He was this vampire character that would play back-to-back horror flicks on Saturday afternoon with little funny skits in between them.  I just loved it.  He was like my Captain Kangaroo, I guess.  
2. You've broke into film in 2004, what did you do before?
Yeah, I moved to Los Angeles in 2003 to attend UCLA’s Professional Screenwriting Program.  Before that I was an ex-pat living in Germany for six years. I worked as a government contractor during the day and played guitar and sang in pubs on the weekends.   Good times. 
3. Your first short was headshot. Okay tell me about the genesis of that project?
I wrote Headshot while sitting in a coffee shop in Hollywood eavesdropping on patrons.  It’s about an out-of-work actor who tries to holdup a coffee shop only to find himself unwittingly auditioning for a part as a criminal.  My sister Margo has been a producer/director here in LA for some years.  She’s the main reason I got into the industry.  Margo read Headshot and offered to direct.  It was our first collaboration as a brother/sister filmmaking team. 
4. Well from that short you moved into writing features. Was it difficult to make the transition?
The transition from shorts to features was pretty natural.  After Headshot, Margo and I wanted to do something bigger.  The two of us conceived a story that we could shoot on a micro-budget. Then I wrote and she directed what became our first feature film, a teen-slasher, called Sibling Rivalry.  We shot in Canada with local kids, bringing in a couple of actor friends from LA who are no strangers to horror flicks, Eileen Dietz (The Exorcist) and Courtney Gains (Children of the Corn).  
5. This brings us to Butterfly, which is a wicked little piece of work. How did that film come about?
Butterfly was born out of frustration.  I had co-written a couple of projects with director Elias Matar that we had optioned and were waiting on funding to come through.  In the meantime, I wanted to write something that I could direct myself with a few friends and available gear.  And that’s what we did.  I wrote the script in four weeks. The whole thing was shot in ten days, over five weekends, in sequential order. We begged, borrowed and stole (locations anyway) to get Butterfly finished. It was an absolute blast.  
6. Mandi Kreisher is terrifyingly honest as Laney. Did you see a lot of actresses for the role or what she always "the one"?
The only casting call we did for Butterfly was for the part of Laney. I had worked with Jay Laisne´ on a short film that my sister had directed. I wrote the other parts for actors that I knew personally. We brought in about thirty actors to read for Laney based on headshots. Funny enough, when I sent out the casting notice, I was looking for a gothic, punk rock chick— sort of a grown up version of Matilda from The Professional.  But when I saw Mandi’s headshot something just clicked.  Really.   She was the total opposite of what I thought I was looking for but it made me stop and rethink the character.  So we brought her in to read and she absolutely nailed the audition.   We had the added benefit of the fact that she was reading with Jay and the two of them were just brilliant together.   When they finished the reading, I turned to my sister (who was also my producer) and I literally said, “Do we have to see anyone else?”  So yeah, Mandi was magic.
7. Being the first film you directed, how much of you is in the characters?
Admittedly, there’s quite a bit of me in the two lead characters, at least philosophically speaking.  Throughout the film they wrestle with certain themes that I was interested in exploring: censorship, revenge, redemption and ultimately the question of image vs. action.   That said, I based all of the characters on bits and pieces of people I actually know.  Laney, for instance, is an amalgamation of two different women that I have great love and respect for but also terrify me a little bit. 
8. After spending some time on the set, was the experience as a first-time director overwhelming or underwhelming in terms of the difficulty?
Mostly, I had no idea what I was doing as a director.  So that helped make the experience pretty easy for me.  Probably not so much for the rest of the crew.  But seriously, I had a great time directing Butterfly.  It was a labor of love.  We were all friends going into it and we’re still friends now.  I’d say that speaks volumes for the process.  If anything, I think I could have pushed myself harder.  There were mistakes made along the way that I take full ownership of.  But in the end, we did what we set out to do. 
9. You follow that up with Damien shadows P.I., which is a horror comedy of sorts. How did she go from the intensity of butterfly to the openly silly Damien shadows?
Between Damien Shadows and Butterfly, I co-wrote the film Ashes with Elias Matar, which ended up winning Shriekfest and a bunch of other festivals.  That kept us pretty busy in the horror community for a while.  But both Butterfly and Ashes are pretty dark movies.  Damien Shadows was a chance for me to lighten things up a little bit.
10. Damien shadows is the brainchild of Eric Hollarbach. How did you get involved in that?
Eric is a really funny guy. He and I met a few years ago while working on a reality TV show.   Both of us have an odd love of conspiracy theories, mixed martial arts and movies.   So we hit it off right away. To be honest, when Eric approached me with the idea of directing him in Damien Shadows, I wasn’t sure if was the right man for the job, not being a comedy director, but he had faith in me and I had faith in his comedic timing so we just dove in and got it done.  
11. You acted in Damien shadows as well as some projects in the past. Is that something you would like to do more of?
Let’s face it; I’m a terrible actor.  It should be left to professionals. I’m way more comfortable on the other side of the camera, or better yet sitting at my desk typing away.  I started “acting” out of bare necessity.   That is, every project I’ve acted in I was first on set in some other capacity and sort of ending up acting. I guess that makes me an actor by default.  I can’t say it’s something I’m pursuing but it’s probably something I’ll end up doing again. 
12. Do you plan and doing more Damien shadows episodes with Eric?
We just finished shooting three webisodes of Damien Shadows that will be up on the official website in the near future.  Eric’s idea is to make it into a full series.   I’ve directed a couple of them and Eric has taken on some of the directing duties himself.   Stay tuned. 
13. What can horror fans look forward to from you next?
Next in the pipeline is one of two feature projects that I co-wrote with Ashes director Elias Matar.
Lords of Chaos is a tale of urban horror, set in Detroit.  When locals start disappearing on their turf, The Latin Lords, a vicious street gang, comes face to face with an ancient Lovecraftian monster living beneath the city. The Devil’s Door is a hero origin story set in present day Los Angeles.  When his oppressive father is murdered in a drive-by, a troubled young graffiti artist becomes a masked vigilante to avenge his father’s death. 
Yep, not one but two Latino gang flicks. We plan to be in production with one of them the first of the year.   It all depends on how things shake out.  You know how this business can be.  
Edward definitely has an eye for interesting projects and it helps that he can jump back and forth between serious and comedic horror. Keep an eye on him.

Other Horrific Musings:

13 Question Marks of Horror with Hail Satan's Denesa Chan 

13 Question Marks of Horror with Resolution's Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead 

Exclusive: 13 Question Marks of Horror with Sledge Creator Kristian Hanson

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