Saturday, June 25, 2011

Disheveled in the woods: An interview with Mark Joseph Peek

Mark Joseph Peek is a true Renaissance man in the very low budget independent film industry. From acting to producing to writing, Mark has done it all! Working with Mad Angel Films, Mark is bringing us a myriad of independent entertainment!

1)What first made you want to get into movie making?

Mark: I've been watching movie my whole life. Later, in my early teens, I started to watch for camera angles, story, etc. It was then that I started buying the scripts for my favorite movies. They taught me the structure. Then, when I went to college, I picked film production as a major. Eventually that lead to drama and learning how to "act'. I wrote a few short script while in college, but not anything substantial until after graduating. I had a few experimental (unofficial sequels and studies of genre) that I was able to show around.

2)You've both acted and written, of the two which do you prefer and why?

Mark: Writing, most definitely. Writing takes a bit more time, but you're able to just go "all out". Yeah, you might have to change that, but the restrictions, at least in what I do, are a lot less than when I act. When acting, I'm always second guessing myself, while in writing its just a 'balls to the wall" type of attitude. When I spend months on a script, it doesn't feel like working, but one day acting on set is enough to make me want to become a blackout drunkard.

3)Were did your love of Horror films come from?

Mark: Sitting down with my older brother to watch Carpenter's Halloween for the first time, when I was about 11 years old. And then Friday 6. Up until then, I couldn't even think about horror movies without going into a panic attack. But, watching them with him, I realized that they were just fun, and I was taking them far too seriously. I was a small time collector and lover of the genre until I met you and Dan. I finally met people that shared the same love and I could actually discuss them with. From there on in, I've tried to watch every horror movie out there. I'm a glutton for punishment.

4)Tell us all about how you first got involved with Mad Angel Films?

Mark: An actress friend of mine had posted pictures of her on set in a Mad Angel Films (the legendary Brackish) on her MySpace page. After looking at them, I added the company myself. They posted an audition for their newest movie The Abandoned. I went, auditioned, and got the lead. Heh. Now, I weasel my way into all of their productions. It was on the set of the Abandoned that I told them that I also write. Matt, the supreme overlord, had an idea for the next project and asked if I could help. Star Cross'd was born.

5)Call you tell us a little about how Star-Cross'd came about?

Mark: I seem to have already answered that. Man, I have to learn to read ahead. Anyway, in more detail, Matt had the basic plot of Star Cross'd and said he wanted it to be a live action anime that was born of Shakespeare. Obviously, by the title, there's a lot of Romeo and Juliet, but we didn't want to make just another version of that story, so we added assassins and girls in schoolgirl outfits. I also added a lot of MacBeth and even used a direct quote from Richard II at the very beginning.

6)Three Days in the Woods is a fun throwback to old school backwoods slashers. What where some of the inspirations behind it?

Mark: I'd be remiss to not say I Spit On Your Grave. That's the main one. Last House on the Left. Eaten Alive...Chainsaw. Moon Stalker was a pretty big one. Savage Weekend. A lot I didn't notice until I was finished. These great movies are a part of my sub consious, I guess. Should I be scared?

7)What can you tell us about the making of Three Days in the Woods? And were was it filmed?

Mark: The entire Three Days experience was fun. Well, except for a pretty psycho actress, and her needing closure after a scene. From writing to editing it was a blast. I was also planning my wedding to by beautiful wife (who is also in the movie) so it got a little hectic at times and there were some on set fights... mostly my fault, that I truly regret, but other than that, it was great. I think you can see it when you watch it. Hopefully it's as fun to watch as it was to make. A few parts were shot outside of Utica, NY, but the majority was shot in the great Adirondacks. Hope Falls and Cliff was where we shot the big bloody ending. Great places to shoot this type of movie up there. We were originally going to shoot in the ghost town of Tahawus (,_New_York) but a big tragedy happened on my end and filming had to shut down until the next summer. When that happened, not only did we lose locations, but we had to take out an entire subplot. Some of which was filmed and edited out, but we think we erased all mention of it. I hope...

8)What lessons have you picked up from working on low budget films?

Mark: Write what you can afford! As mentioned before, I like to go balls out in scripts, but we can't always realize it. So, I've learned to write two versions of big scenes, one balls out and the other a bit less. Our highest budget was $500, so I can't write giant explosions or alien spacecraft plummeting to Earth. Some day. Our highest budget item is food. We pay our actors in food and free copies of the movie. That in itself is double edged sword. While, you get actors that are dedicated and aren't in it for the money or fame. you get some with the "I don't care, you're not paying me attitude". That comes up a lot in scheduling. We've had actors that were late for their call or didn't show up at all. But, we have no leverege since we don't pay them. We've learned how to get around it though. I brought my theater training into play and brought the idea of understudies to the mix.

9)What's next for Mad Angel Films?

Mark: A zombie film called Half Dead to be shot in the fall and a top secret sci fi / horror thing to be shot in January. Both written by Matt Peters and myself.

10)Do you have a final message for our readers?

Mark: First, if you're interested, we are very welcoming of new people. If you have a script, want to act, help out on set or whatever, we welcome you. Contact us at

Secondly, come check us out. We have showings of our films every now and again, plus we're trying to get into a convention or two

Thirdly, keep the dream alive... help keep me from becoming a poor disheveled man...


Andrew said...

This was a fascinating interview....
You know, I think you may have just inspired me to seek an interview of my own...with a guy from the actual Low Budget Pictures company.

Good stuff!

Professor Brian O'Blivion said...

Thanks! I love talking to low budget filmmakers, always fascinating to hear how they make do with such small budgets. That sounds like a cool interview!

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