-Interview by Nic Brown-
Head shot photos courtesy of
Head shot photos courtesy of William Spangler:
Moving from theater into films is a
common story for many actors, but I’ve not heard of it so much
for production companies. What is the biggest difference for you
and what is the biggest challenge in doing film as opposed to
Well for us there
wasn't a HUGE difference between maintaining a theater
production as opposed to film. More or less it comes down to
marketing and money. With the theater we were working in we had
everything within reach and the college helped fund some shows.
We mostly did productions for friends and family and that was
that. However when we decided to do film we knew that the only
way to succeed was to get people interested. Which of course
means money. Money to get the right equipment, actors, props and
material for flyers etc.... Film pushed us to a new level when
it comes to public interest. Finding innovative ways to get the
public interested with out going broke in the process.
Admittedly it's still a work in progress but thanks to the cast
and crew of our projects people are starting to come around.
Nic - Jason, I understand that Feathered Italian Films has just completed its first feature film: THE LEGACY. Can you tell us something about that?
Well The Legacy was a bit of an impromptu to film. It all started as Roni (Jonah) and I were hiking at a local park. Roni looked around and said "You know, we could make an awesome slasher movie that takes place in the woods...." Thus The Legacy was born. Roni and I came up with the story on our 30 minute drive home. The next day I was calling up all the actors I knew. A day after that we were ready to go... except I had yet to write the script. We knew the concept and had it a cast but no script! Which now is hilarious but at that time I was like "Wait a second, what did we just do?" So I wrote the script in about 2 days, and we started filming soon after that.
This being my directorial debut in feature film, I was a bit nervous. Add the fact that we basically created and cast an entire film in 4 days and perhaps you can understand my sudden sense of panic. Then Roni tells me that her friend, professional wrestling legend Al Snow, was interested in working with us, which turned my panic into sheer terror. Before it was 48 hour project among friends for fun. Now it was real! With legit professionals, and people were looking to me to make it happen.
In the end everything turned out great. The cast and crew were some of the best and most creative people I have ever worked with which made the whole process that much easier. I am still in the editing process on The Legacy and we are starting to work on our second feature "Hell House". Which I guess makes me a glutton for punishment. :)
Nic - It sounds like you’re not wasting any time. So tell us a little about HELL HOUSE.
No we're not wasting
any time. Once we get rolling it's hard to say when we will
stop. HELL HOUSE is our baby. It started as a contest entry for
Fright Night Film Festival's short film contest. We created a
short entitled "Hell House" that we created within a 48 hour
process. It nearly killed us. However we LOVED it. We watched
what we created in such a short time with just a hand-held
camera and shop lights and thought "Man this is pretty cool.
Wonder what we could do with real cameras and time." So after
The Legacy we started to work on the script for Hell House and
extend it into a feature film. Working the concept "if some one
was murdered inside a haunted house would anyone ever know or
would they just think it was part of the show?" The entire story
of the film is FAR more involved. Almost too involved because I
keep confusing myself and to who is doing what to whom and why.
How did you get your start as an actor?
I would say the most difficult part of directing is knowing that you hold everyone's dream in your hand. This is their passion. Their dreams. Whether it be for fame, fortune or just to say they were a part of it once; and you HAVE to respect that. They want the world to see them and it's up to you to make it happen. Basically they put their hopes and dreams in your hands and say "Here, help me achieve my dream. Help me make this happen." Which to me is the most frightening part of it all. I don't want to let anyone down. I want everyone one of us to succeed. As a director I feel that's my job. To make it happen...
Nic - So far you’ve been sticking to the horror genre for your work with Feathered Italian Films. Is that going to continue to be the case or do you plan to branch out into other areas such as drama, comedy or sci-fi for example?
Horror is something that I love and will continue to do. However we have a few straight comedies waiting in the wings that we are itching to do. But before those we are going to finish Hell House, start Hell House 2 (You heard it here first) and after that start work on a zombie comedy written by our very own Roni Jonah that I personally think will be our biggest hit and a good lead into doing our straight comedy.... As an actor I want to do a bit of everything so I may throw a drama in there if they will let me. Only time will tell.
Nic - As a filmmaker, who are some of your biggest influences?
Personally I appreciate the filmmakers who start with nothing. I'm a fan of Robert Rodriguez for many reasons. I love his style of filming and his in your face action but mostly I enjoy the fact that he was just like us, struggling to make it work, to create something when everyone tells you it's impossible. If you read his book then you know what lengths he went to to gain a budget for "El Mariachi". It’s people like that that influence me. All my friends here in KY making film such as KY Filmmaker of the year George Bonilla, Archie Borders, Mark Poole, Cherokee Hall, Jacob Ennis, Greg Brock, Nathan Day, Chase Dudley, Jerry Williams, etc, they all influence me. We all share a passion and love for this industry and we do it for little to nothing.... It's people like that here and throughout the world that help keeps dreams alive and the world entertained. To all of those people out there doing what they love I say good for you. To all those who want to create on any level but have people telling you it's not possible, I'm here to tell you it is possible. Never stop dreaming, never stop believing and always move forward.