Thursday, May 20, 2010
Take a Dark Ride into the mind of Craig Singer
Director Craig Singer should be well known to fans of the After Dark Horrorfest. His films Dark Ride and Perkins 14 were among the strongest offerings the festival has offered. He is also the director of animal Room, a film that will resonate with anyone that has experienced the traumatic effects that bullying can have on our youth. I recently was afforded the opportunity to ask Craig some questions about his films and creative process.
I’d like to start off talking a little bit about Perkin’s 14, which is a film I just loved the hell out of (even my wife, who isn’t a horror fan really enjoyed it…she came for the Graves but stayed for the story!). Can you fill us in a little on the unique creation of the film?
Craig: I had been toying with the idea of a "Fan Crafted" film for a long time by "Fan crafted" I mean giving true horror fans a chance to have some voice in the direction of a feature film that was going to get a theatrical release. Dark Ride was experiencing a remarkable success for a small film and I was asked to direct another film for the studio. I decided to combine my idea of a "Fan" film with what became Perkins 14.
Do you find that shooting overseas presents a more challenging shoot then if you filmed here in the states?
Craig: Many more challenges. The language issue being one - producers often overlook the benefits of allowing a director to work within his comfort zone - the ability to call in favors as well as having the ability to creatively solve production problems and issues that pop up all the time. Looking back it was a wonderful and challenging life experience
Was the character of Eric always intended to be a musician in the film, or was this decided later after Michael Graves (Gotham Road, Misfits) had been cast?
Craig: Eric being a musician was directly attributed to Michael being a musician.
Speaking of Misfits related things; I was introduced to your work through the excellent film Animal Room, which I rented because of the Misfit’s involvement. How did they come to be involved in the film?
Craig: My cousin knew Jerry from the band - I think one of the other members grew up in Lodi, NJ where my cousin is from. I met the guys at a local diner. I wasn't familiar with the band and you can imagine my surprise when they showed up on set in Full Costume! They were all great and very professional. I did speak to the boys years later about doing a full length documentary - perhaps one day.
Animal Room features veteran performers such as Neil Patrick Harris and Matthew Lillard, plus you wrote, produced and directed the film. The pressure of this must have been intense. How did you handle all of these challenges as you brought the film to life?
Craig: Shear terror and a dose of panic. It was my first film and I was being pulled in many directions - we didn't have enough time or money or anything other than a really terrific cast and a ton of grit and determination. It was a real baptism in fire - I wouldn't wish that experience on my worst enemy. But the film got made and the story resonates with certain people. Some fans connect to Animal Room in a really meaningful way.
What inspires your creative process the most?
Craig: Interesting question. I really don't know. It can't be forced. Sometimes my muse just taps me on the shoulder and away we go. It's really a process of discovery and usually what I am after gets clearer as I move further down the road.
An aspect of your films, in particular Dark Ride and Perkins 14, which I enjoy a lot, is that they feel like classic horror from the 70’s and 80’s. Do you have any particular genre favorites from that time period, and while we are on the subject, was there a particular film or director that made you choose to become a professional film maker?
Craig: Kazan is the director who influenced me most. East of Eden was the first film I really fell into - by that I mean I fully immersed myself into that film in the sort of way one falls into great theater - it’s hard to describe. Night of The Living Dead is a film I saw when I was six years old at a drive-in movie theater in the middle of the woods. My parents took me to see all sorts of films and many of the great films of the seventies became my film school.
Another large part of genre conventions of years past is endless sequels. Would you ever consider producing a sequel to one of your films, and if so which film would you choose, and which direction would the story take?
Craig: I've been asked to do a sequel for both Animal Room and Dark Ride - actually a prequel for Dark Ride - my writing partner Robert Dean Klein has an interesting take. I would love to do a stop motion sequel to Dark Ride - how cool would that be? :)
Another project of yours that sounds amazing is Paradiddle. What can you tell us about it?
Craig: Paradiddle is a wonderful drama that is being produced Off Broadway by the Theater For The New City in NYC - it’s the story of three brothers who are dealing with love, life and heroin addiction. Much of the story is true and I am thrilled that the folks at the Theater decided to put it up on the stage.
If someone gave you unlimited money to make a feature and complete creative control, what would you create?
Craig: I plan on full creative control for a drama I am working on called "Faker" I'm not sure "unlimited money" ever necessarily results in the greatest films. History provides too many examples of big budget flops - the best work in my humble opinion comes from the best teams and a strong vision. Sprinkle in some passion and a dash of endless tenacity and perhaps you may end up with something with a bit of imagination. Perhaps…