Interview: Brian Singleton: Director, writer, producer, editor and even special effects!

Brian is the creative force behind Forest of the Dead, and had done a couple of wildly successful short films as well including ‘Zombie Cop vs. the Alien Terror’ and my personal favorite ‘Death Trike’. Brian has done some acting as well, appearing in ‘Corpses are Forever’ with such genre favs as Brinke Stevens, Felissa Rose, Linnea Quigley, and Richard Lynch. He has even appeared as himself in the documentary ‘Horror Business’ that focuses on grassroots filmmakers and has a lot of clips from even MORE genre favorites like Sid Haig, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Lloyd Kaufman, and many others. With his obvious love and respect for the horror (and zombie!) world… it was only natural that we speak to him, so on with the interview!

ZK: Hi Brian, thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Can you give us a little background for the readers who aren’t as familiar with your work?

BS:  It’s my pleasure, Zombie King! Film making in an all-consuming career, so most of my life revolves around movies in some way. I’ve been making independent films for 15 years through my own production company, One Day in a Pasture Productions. Since 1996, I’ve written, directed, produced, photographed and edited 7 short films and 2 features. I’m a true fan of cinema in every respect, with a love for horror movies above all others – so naturally, most of my work has been horror. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been drawn to the horror genre.

Like a lot of filmmakers, I spent my early years developing my skills through short works, mostly with a handy cam and a non-linear editing deck at my high school. Then, in 2001, I began production on my first feature, a gory campers-verses-cannibals picture called, Forest of the Dead. The film was completed in the fall of 2001, but didn’t get released until 2007.
After that, I finally shot something new and created a short film called Death Trike. It’s a paranormal revenge story about three street punks who run down a child on Halloween night, only to be hunted by the child’s
possessed homicidal tricycle. It’s pretty much Christine with a tricycle (and it was made years before Rubber!)  The film premiered at the 2006 Killer 63 Short Film Festival in Ottawa, then in 2007 at the Independent Film Festival of Boston with the New Zealand monster movie, Black Sheep. I also made a re-cut of the film that won second place in a short film competition for

From there, a new feature was conceived about a werewolf attacking a fast food restaurant, which of course became, Werewolf Fever.

ZK: What is taking up your time these days?

BS: Werewolf Fever and more Werewolf Fever. The movie was completed in 2010, but like any indy filmmaker knows, when you make a movie, you have to live with it forever. Finishing the movie is only the beginning.  The hardest part is everything after that. Since I always have ideas for new movies, I am looking forward to starting something soon…maybe Werewolf Fever 2?

ZK: Werewolf Fever is doing really well, you’ve managed to win some awards and hit some festivals, tell us about making that movie and how it came about.

BS: Well, it’s certainly been a long road for this movie, but one well worth taking. It’s been almost 5 years since Werewolf Fever was first envisioned. The story began in April of 2007, when a group of friends and I stopped for lunch at a classic looking drive-in restaurant in Renfrew, called, Odi’s Kingburger. As we ate our lunch, a joke was made about shooting a monster movie there, with the obvious villain being a Werewolf attacking the Kingburger to eat the burgers and the staff. We laughed at first, then I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. So, I decided to take the first step and ask. I approached the Kingburger’s owner, Robert Audette (“Odi” ), to see what he thought about his restaurant being used to shoot a werewolf movie. I soon discovered that Odi was a great guy. Then he introduced me to his daughter, Robin, who also happened to love horror
movies. We all got together, Mark and I pitched the idea, and it developed from there.  At the time, we didn’t even have a script, and Werewolf Fever had to be written, planned and shot between April and September of 2007. Because of these times constraints, grant applications and other bids for funding were not an option. It was a question of making the movie now with the resources I had, or not making it at all. All I had was a Visa card and a part-time job for funding, so I had to be very creative with my budget. I set the film entirely at the Kingburger, I cast familiar actors that I knew would commit to the difficult shooting schedule for the thrill of the project, rather than a paycheck, and I quickly wrangled a small group of film industry friends for some extra hands. Then we set out for a summer of Werewolf Fever.
As for the actual production, the movie was an exhausting and grueling experience to make – but as usual, it was the time of my life. We had to shoot overnight on weekends, which was very tough on everyone involved, since we all worked full time day jobs during the week. For the few daytime scenes, we only had two mornings to shoot everything before 8am. Those we the most stressful shoots for sure. In the end, I was very lucky to have everything work out for the best.

ZK: It’s a blast, I got to see it on the big screen and had a great time… Seems like a lot of love and late nights went into that shoot, any funny stories to share?

BS: Thank you very much, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Their were many memorable moments for sure. On the first night of shooting, the Werewolf stepped off the dumpster and went through a picnic table. We had to
replace the broken boards the next day, but thankfully everything was fine! Then there was the roller skate leg scene, where we rolled the skate across the parking lot more than 30 times to get the right take. The
scene with the Werewolf jumping off the Kingburger roof drew a big crowd to watch that night. And, of course, there was also a collection of weird, creepy guys who would show up randomly at 3 am to chat with
everyone – but mostly creep the actresses. They were hard to get rid of sometimes. Some of those moments  were caught on tape, so hopefully everyone will get to see them one day!

ZK: Let’s talk ‘Forest of the Dead’, you shot the film in 2002, but due to ‘technical tragedies’, the film had to be re-cut from scratch and released in 2007- What was that like to go back to a project you had finished not
because you wanted to (such as doing a directors cut), but had to?

BS: It was absolute Hell, no question. Forest would have been released in 2002, but ended up on the shelves long after it’s time. I used a good camera to shoot that movie, but since 2001, technology had changed so
drastically that the movie already looked much more amateur that it actually was. It was a low budget indy shoot, but I took every shot very seriously and tried to be as professional as possible. I don’t think people
understand how much work goes into any indy film, since some people think you can make them in a weekend! I went back to it because it was my first feature and I had put my life into it for so many years that
I had to get it out there somehow. When I committed to re-visiting the project, I put in hundreds of hours of additional work to finish it because I truly believed in was a good film. In the end, I’m glad I did.

ZK: Are you happier with the results?

BS: Yes. I pretty much got exactly what I wanted. I had a DVD release with my own cover artwork and every special feature I had created to try and tell the film’s long and sorted story. The disc is pretty much the
ultimate time capsule for all those glory years I can never get back. In the end, The most important part of that whole experience was to get my film on the shelf, and I did.

ZK: The usual ‘’ question: Fast or slow zombies- Which do you prefer?

BS: Zombies move slow, not fast.

ZK: With your obvious love of the horror genre, what (in your opinion) is the best ‘era’ in horror films, and how do you see the current state of horror?

BS: I think 70’s horror had a trademark style that was unmistakable and brilliant, however, most of my favorite horror films were made in the 80’s. That decade was an explosion of original horror that had never been
seen before or since. It was a renegade time for horror and exploitation film and I think the world of cinema is richer for it. I only wish I was old enough to have experienced it on the drive-in screens instead of on
mangled VHS tapes!

ZK: Is your work inspired by the directors you respect? And how?

BS: I know it’s cliche, but I am inspired by the horror greats: Carpenter, Romero, De Palma, Sam Raimi, Tobe Hooper, Joe Dante, Larry Cohen, John Landis and so on. I’m also a huge fan of great directors that I believe
never got the careers they deserved, like Fred Dekker, Don Coscarelli, William Girdler and Don Dohler. I’m also inspired by renowned master filmmakers like Sergio Leone, William Friedken, and Stephen Speilberg.
I guess I drawn inspiration for all sources, however, I never try to imitate anyone’s work. So many indy filmmakers try so hard to be like their heros, they end up ripping them off. I don’t think any director needs
another “homage” or “tribute” paid to their films, so I always try to develop my own style.

ZK: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us, is there anything else you’d like to say or plug?

BS: I would just like to say thank you to anyone who has taken the time to check out my films and support my work in any way, I truly appreciate it. And I encourage anyone out there to give all indy films a chance. I know there’s a lot of crap out there, but there’s also a lot of great films too – you just have to find them!

Now… Normally I’d make some wise ass remark here, about this topic being ‘Dead to me’ and don’t worry…it’s coming but later- I’m working on something with Brian for Fan Expo… so STAY TUNED!


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