Monday, October 1, 2012

Don't Bother Locking The Door: An Interview with Indie Horror Movie Director Evan Makrogiannis

Evan Makrogiannis (l) and Brian Weaver (r)

1. Your movies have been winning top honors at numerous festivals and showings. How does it feel to see the fruits of your creation be so generally well received?

It’s a great feeling to see all the hard work pay off, especially when the fan reaction is great. Festivals are an added plus and I’m especially happy for the actors whenever we score a fest selection or even better a win. I never set out to win accolades but it is nice to see the positive recognition. Festival selections and wins are also vital to forging forward career wise. Ultimately I create art to please the minions of fellow fiends out there, so if they are happy? then alls well in hell.

2. Tell me about the making of Turnpike Killer: who came up with the idea, how long did it take to shoot, etc.
My writing/directing partner on THE TURNPIKE KILLER was my good friend Brian Weaver. We came up with the idea together, and it was a mix of our own imagination along with a heavy dose of reality that created the story behind the movie. First of all, we wanted to pay homage to some of our favorite slasher and serial killer films, namely MANIAC, HENRY, NY RIPPER, etc. Secondly, we were influenced by real life sickos, such as the Queens NY killer Joel Rifkin. The final ingredient to the stew of gore were late night conversations Brian and I had with a close mutual friend. He was a Iraq/Afghan war veteran who did three tours and everytime he came back he had grown more and more distant and insane. We listened in shock and awe (and took notes) as he meticulously detailed how he would kill and dispose of young women. Apparently, his method of would be disposal would have been in garbage bags strewn along the New jersey Turnpike!

3. Turnpike Killer is technically your first film yet it's being released after your second film, The Super. Why is that?

We never fully completed THE TURNPIKE KILLER until 2012. At the end of 2009 we essentially had a work print that Brian’s girl friend thankfully put together after two would be editors flaked out. We also had more footage to shoot. While we were kind of in limbo with TPK, Brian and I had written a treatment and subsequent script for a movie called THE SUPER. A producer who had seen TPK was impressed and wanted to know what if anything new we had going on, so we showed him THE SUPER. He was drawn to the story and wanted to produce it, the stipulation is we had the green light to go and we had to move right then and there. So the TPK kind of got put on hold, while THE SUPER was made. Noose Hill Entertainment released THE SUPER last year on DVD. So that’s how our second film was released first!                              

4. Demetri Kallas by far steals the show in The Super. Where and how did you meet him and get him on board for the film?

Demetri is an amazing actor, but he does have a day job. He’s a contractor and was actually doing work on my house a few years ago. He overheard me talking about my son Liam trying to get into Manhattan’s HB Studio for acting, and it turned out that Demetri studied there as well. So, we really hit it off from the get go. When I first met him we were casting for THE TURNPIKE KILLER, so we offered Demetri the role of “the voice” or “father”. We became good friends and since then Demetri has worked in every movie I’ve. The man is a talented, classy guy.

5. What is your opinion on the current state of film-making and movies in general?
There’s an over saturation of movies which has changed the film industry greatly over the past decade. Easy access to cameras and computer editing has created a million “film makers”. That means there’s a lot of shit out there, none of it good or original. That being said, there ARE some good movies coming out, both on the indie and mainstream level.  The big studios still dish out good movies, but the vast majority of them are either drama or action. Very rarely does a real good mainstream horror come along. I would say that the place to go for sick horror films today would be the independent scene. You may have to sift through a lot of crap, but there are many good movies out there. On a personal level, I tend to always return to the classics that I grew up with because they were films that were made in an era before political correctness. Even some of the most violent films today come across as sterile because they lack that true grit and grime of the 70’s and 80’s. The films back in the day were born out of social angst and strife. Film-makers were not afraid to offend and challenge the viewers. This is a standard that me and my partner Brian have tried to uphold.


6. I understand you are currently involved in a project with your son at the helm. Tell us about that.

Well, I like to keep busy between films and this past Spring my son, Liam, came to me with a treatment he wrote for a zombie film. He asked if I would be interested in helping him make a movie out of it. I thought the story was good, the underlying theme was very interesting and the gore was pretty solid! Basically it’s the story of eight strangers that find refuge in a house during a “zombie apocalypse”. The zombies were created by a bacterial agent that was introduced to the NYC water supply by some shady terrorist organization. It plays on the fears and anxieties of growing up in a post 9-11 world, where kids such as my son have dealt with constant reports on the news about terror attacks, Iran’s nuclear weapons, the shit in Afghanistan, etc. Then throw in all the recent hysterics about the end of the world for good measure, and you get SURVIVE. A zombie story that is born out of socio-political strife. That’s the reason I agreed to help Liam with this project. Liam wrote the script and is directing, 15 year old Johnny Dickie of “Slaughter Tales” fame is doing the FX and a host of horror regulars make up the cast. Filming should be done by the end of October, and then we’re off to post production. It will be released in a special limited edition VHS Big Box (includes VHS, DVD and poster) by New York Horror Film Productions, and then will seek bigger distribution.

7. Your movies have been generally acknowledged as a welcome throwback to 70s and 80s grindhouse. Do you feel that will be the new wave in horror movies and is there enough of a market for it?
There has been a small renaissance of “throwback” films that pay homage to the grindhouse era. They range from bigger productions like Tarantino’s and Rodriguez’s GRINDHOUSE films to something like “Fathers Day” put out by Troma. I think there is a niche market which includes many 30 and 40 year olds who grew up in the glory days of horror and exploitation, and there are also many younger fans who crave the grime of the old school as well. I don’t think there will be a big wave of grindhouse films because the mainstream appeal isn’t there. The average movie goer won’t “get it”. I will always dwell within the spirit of the grindhouse movie because of some facts I mentioned earlier. Its not about the “film look” per say, although I do love me some 16mm, but rather the feel and mood of the film. I want viewers to be moved, to be horrified, to be challenged. I want people to watch my movies and have fun, but also walk away feeling like they need to take a shower. That’s what grindhouse is to me.

8. What made you want to start making movies in the first place?

I’ve been fascinated by movies since I was a child. When I was a teenager I worshiped FX lord Tom Savini. I went to college to become a writer. I loved horror and exploitation all my life and spent many years collecting movies and anything and everything to do with them. Posters, figures, press kits, you name it. My friend and partner Brian is the same way. We spent a decade going to conventions, immersing ourselves in the genre and all the while we would talk about ideas for movies. Life had lead the both of us down paths we never intended to tread. I found myself pretty far from the dreams I had when I was younger. Finally some years back I found myself unemployed and artistically lost and I literally said fuck it, Im going to do what I always wanted. That’s when Brian and I started Hallows Eve Films. Its been an amazing ride since.

9. What ideas/plans does the future hold?

Right now I'm focused on helping my son with the production of his movie “Survive”, then I will be working on some new ideas for my next film. Brian and I have had some interesting story ideas, so there will definitely be more movies down the line. I’m also trying to help spread the word about “The Turnpike Killer”. It was released by New York Horror Film Productions as a VHS big box, but we’re seeking global distribution as well.

10. Alright Evan, thanks for your time. Any last words for the fiends out there?
A big thanks to all the people who have supported my films, and the indie scene in general. Bloodshed and brutality!

For more info, visit The Super and The Turnpike Killer
or contact Evan Makrogiannis here

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