The Frida Cinema: Eli Roth 50th Birthday Celebration: HOSTEL

Eli Roth directing

Note: This article contains spoilers for Hostel.

In celebration of innovative horror director Eli Roth’s 50th birthday, we analyze the unique influence his groundbreaking film Hostel had on Latin horror cinema and Latino American horror audiences.

Latin horror, a subgenre of both Latin cinema and horror, currently does not have a concrete definition, but for the purposes of this article, it will be defined as “a horror film with a Latino or Latinos in a major position of influence, in front of and/or behind the camera – such as actors, executive producers, writers, directors, cinematographers, composers – and/or a Latino-influenced storyline.” Films that would fall under this definition include From Dusk till Dawn (directed by Robert Rodriguez and co-starring Salma Hayek), Sleepy Hollow (featuring Oscar-nominated cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki), Us (starring Kenyan-Mexican leading actress Lupita Nyong’o), and Psycho (Irish-Mexican-American leading actor John Gavin).

Hostel, released theatrically in 2006, follows three young men backpacking through Europe for fun and excitement until they fall prey to Elite Hunting, a secret society whose wealthy and bloodthirsty members pay for the perverted thrill of torturing and killing innocent people.

Among the three young men whose journey we follow, is Paxton (Jay Hernandez). Paxton’s basic character traits alone challenge the long-established and overused Latino male stereotypes. Typically, Latino men in American media fall under the stereotype categories of the Latin lover/lecher, criminal/gang member, comedic buffoon, poor, and/or foreign. While these stereotypes can be used as either the primary attribution or secondary trait of a Latino character, these are not attached to Paxton’s character.

While not much is revealed about Paxton’s background, he’s portrayed as a middle-class American from California, who’s college-educated, studying to be an attorney, and doesn’t speak with a thick stereotypical Latin American Spanish or Spanglish accent. When he does speak in a foreign language extensively, it’s not Spanish; it’s German. The only time we hear Paxton speak Spanish is when he describes going to Barcelona, Spain to see “hot ass señoritas.”

At the beginning of Hostel, Paxton and his friends are shown as young men determined to get their thrills from sex and drugs in Amsterdam. While it could be argued that Paxton’s lustful behavior falls under the Latino stereotypes of the lust-driven Latino, his ethnic identity is never addressed by anyone around him. He also never uses his Latin identity as a tool of seduction or as a reason for his behavior. The only identity Paxton identifies with, or is addressed as is American.

Jay Hernandez as Paxton in Hostel

To see Paxton being referred to as an American is significant. Though Paxton at times is referred to as an American as an insult, it’s refreshing for many Latino American viewers to see a Latino American onscreen referred to as an American. A common insult used against Latino Americans is the insinuation that we are not “real Americans,” due to the stereotype that negatively portrays the majority of Latinos in America as ignorant immigrants (both documented and undocumented), regardless of our personal citizenship status.

However, according to the 2020 U.S. Census, the total U.S. Latino population reached 62.1 million, with 80% of the population being U.S. citizens. American-born Latinos are leading the U.S. Latino population growth, with the overall Latino immigration population decreasing. According to Pew Research Center, California alone (where Paxton confirms he is from) has Latinos making up 40% of the state’s total population.

The only scene where Paxton state that he is not American is at the critical moment when he is trying to escape being tortured by a wealthy client, shouting, “Look at me. I’m not fucking American.” For the members of Elite Hunting, Americans are the most expensive and potentially most desirable people to torture and kill. This scene could be interpreted as Paxton attempting to use his Latino features to persuade his potential murderer that he’s from Latin America, thus not American.

Paxton escaping Elite Hunting and making it to the end of Hostel is significant, considering the lack of Latino leads in the nearly 200 theatrically released American horror films of 1996-2006, from both major studios and independent releases. In this period, the main Latino leading men were Freddie Prinze Jr. (I Know What You Did Last Summer and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer), John Leguizamo (Spawn and Land of the Dead), and Hernandez (Hostel).

As for the representation of leading Latina actresses in American horror and Latino-directed films of 1996 to 2006, the most prominent actress was Jennifer Lopez (Anaconda and The Cell), followed by Salma Hayek (From Dusk till Dawn), Trini Alvarado (The Frighteners), Michelle Rodriguez (Resident Evil), and Jessica Alba (Idle Hands). The Latino-directed American films featured the groundbreaking works of Guillermo Del Toro (Mimic, Blade II, and Hellboy), Rodriguez (From Dusk till Dawn and The Facility), George A. Romero (Land of the Dead), and Eduardo Sánchez (The Blair Witch Project). However, this period does not appear to have any Latina-directed American horror films. Though this period had very limited Latino talent representation, it was a vital and influential period for contemporary Latin horror. 

Since the success of Hostel, Roth has continued to collaborate with and promote Latino talent, including making films in Chile with Latino talent (AftershockKnock Knock, and The Green Inferno), highlighting Latino contributions in his horror documentary series Eli Roth’s History of Horror (including Romero, Del Toro, Rodriguez, Andy Muschietti, and Barbara Muschietti), and co-creating the YouTube channel Crypt TV to promote original horror content and content from up-and-coming horror creators (including Mexican-Canadian director Gigi Saul Guerrero). In February of 2020, Roth announced his involvement as a supporter of LA Collab, a non-profit organization dedicated to growing authentic Latino representation and viability in entertainment with the support of other notable directors such as J.J. Abrams and Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Today, the fastest-growing audience for American horror films nationally and internationally are Latinos. This trend has been rising for some time, with Roth himself noting, in a 2013 interview with actress/producer Perri Nemiroff, “Latin people love horror movies. They’ve been driving the horror box office.”

As the Latino horror audience grows, there is an increased desire in this audience to see Latinos in horror, in positions of influence both behind and in front of the camera, in roles with cultural influence – such as Tigers Are Not Afraid (directed by Issa López) – as well as in roles where a character is not bound by their ethnic identity, like Hostel. While some see Hostel as simply a gorefest, it’s grown into a cherished film for many Latino horror film fans and has become a significant Latin horror film in American cinema.

LINK: https://thefridacinema.org/eli-roth-50th-birthday-celebration-hostel/

The Frida Cinema: CON SU PLUMA EN SU MANO: THE BALLAD OF GUSTAVO ARELLANO: Interview with Brendan Bubion

Gustavo Arellano, the critically acclaimed and groundbreaking journalist, author, and Orange County native, has become the topic of the new short documentary film, Con Su Pluma en Su Mano: The Ballad of Gustavo Arellano.

Directed by Chapman University graduate student Brendan Bubion, the film highlights Arellano’s career, from an unexpected introduction to journalism to becoming one of the top journalists of Orange County.

Arellano described Bubion as “[a] delight to work with and willing to work with my preposterous schedule to make an awesome product. Talk about someone who got his subject. He also put in cameos for our dogs, Hook and Cosmo.”

In this exclusive interview, Bubion shares what inspired him to follow his passion for documentary filmmaking to his creative collaboration with Arellano and hopes for the future.

What inspired you about filmmaking that motivated you to pursue it?

Growing up, I was very quiet as a kid. So, in fourth grade, my parents gave me their old camera. It was the first time I was able to really express myself and show my perspective of the world. That passion grew in high school doing video work. I eventually pursued it in college. 

I went to NYU for film and TV. I knew I wasn’t someone who liked to be in front of a camera. But I knew I wanted to be someone more behind the camera. I took a class in documentary filmmaking. It blew me away. 

Which documentary filmmakers and films influence you?

Filmmaker Marco Williams, who I had as a professor, was the first person to show me that the heart of documentary filmmaking is relationships. I learned how to build relationships with people through filmmaking. 

The work of brothers Albert and David Maysles, especially Gimme Shelter and Grey Gardens. I got to hear Albert speak, months before he passed away. The way he talked about the experiences of Gimme Shelter, following the stories of the Rolling Stones and the Hells Angels, was amazing. He said, “It’s this work of love. You build relationships with people, you care for people, and love people.”

More recently, I’ve been inspired by the work of Kirsten Johnson, who directed Dick Johnson Is Dead. I’ve also been inspired by the PBS series Eyes on the Prize.

How did you decide to get your MFA in filmmaking at Chapman? What do you like about Chapman’s film school?

I wanted to be back in California because I grew up in Southern California. My whole family lives here. 

What’s unique about Chapman is [that] the faculty is working with some incredible documentary filmmakers, editors, directors, and photographers. I have so many great film professors who are really invested in helping me get to that creative process. When you have [a] small class size and have someone so invested in you, helping to encourage you and your vision, [it’s] incredible. 

The connections to the rest of the film industry are huge. Right now, I’m a teaching assistant for an incredible director, who did a lot of great films in the ’80s and ’90s and worked with John Hughes. So, to learn and interact with such talented people is amazing.

How did you become involved with PBS?

I was at NYU, and I interned at PBS. First, I interned for a summer at Vermont PBS. Then, I interned at WNET, which is the flagship station. For me, it was when I really fell in love with the documentary form. 

It was great to be exposed to the programs American Masters and Great Performances. A lot of times, in between working on productions, I would go into the archives and just watch the different films of so many different artists and programs that were out of print. It was great experience learning, especially from a program like Great Performances, with its huge producing team.

What was it about Gustavo that made you interested in doing a short film on him? 

Originally, I was doing research for another film I wanted to do about the Little People’s Park riot of 1978, in Anaheim, involving police brutality. Most of the information I found about it was from Gustavo’s work at OC Weekly. When I told my professor about it, she mentioned that she knew Delilah (Gustavo’s wife) well.

In the back of our minds, we thought, “Gustavo would make such a great subject for a film.” No one had ever made a film about him, at least to my knowledge. Eventually, my professor told me, “Let’s just go for it.” I honestly didn’t think he would say yes. But when he said “Yes,” I was so excited and honored. 

Considering Gustavo’s vast journalistic history, how did you decide on the topics of this short film?

This was one of the hardest interviews I’ve ever done. When I originally started, I wanted to focus on his process. It was a challenge because we were still in the middle of the pandemic. Also, both my professor and Gustavo recognize the challenge of interviewing someone who’s done it their entire life.

In the process, Gustavo shared a lot. I was surprised how he openly shared a lot of the challenges, the things he had overcome, and the setbacks he faced in his career. I realized that there is a story here. How he discovered writing in general and his voice as a writer now at the Los Angeles Times and beyond.

How did you come up with this short film’s title?

I was so intrigued by the phrase “Con su pluma en su mano.”

In our interview, Gustavo talked about how he sticks to his principles through his writing. He also talked about how he loves Quentin Tarantino films, especially those with a western style. It made me realize that he reminded me of the heroes of the westerns, though he would say he doesn’t really identify with it. Those figures stand up for their principles, blazing a new trail. I thought, “It would be great to incorporate these western elements into the film.”

I asked Gustavo about what the phrase “Con su pluma en su mano” means to him. He talked about using it in his newsletter (Gustavo Arellano’s Weekly, Vol. 1, Issue1: Con Su Pluma en Su Mano). For him, it was like the title of the book, With His Pistol in His Hand [by Américo Paredes]. But, as [Gustavo] rephrased it, “A pen in his hand.”

He’s a hero who, instead of using a pistol, is using the power of the pen. It’s his power to fight for justice. 

What are your goals for this short film?

Last week, this film premiered at the San Diego Latino Film Festival. This weekend, I’m flying to Houston for the screening at the Houston Latino Film Festival. We’re hoping to also show it at the LA Latino Film Festival, the Newport Beach Film Festival, and at The Frida Cinema.

Gustavo’s such a pivotal voice, especially where we are in America right now. He puts so much dedication and cares into his work. I hope that everyone who watches this [film] will read his work. 

This film is a way of taking pride in such a great local and celebrating his voice as a community icon.

Con Su Pluma en Su Mano: The Ballad of Gustavo Arellano will screen at the Houston Latino Film Festival on March 26th, 2022

Information about the Houston Latino Film Festival: https://houstonlatinofilmfestival.org/event/shorts-3/

For further information on upcoming screenings: https://www.instagram.com/consuplumaensumanofilm/

To stay up to date with Gustavo’s latest articles, newsletters, and projects: https://www.gustavoarellano.org/

The Frida Cinema: To Sir, With Love: Sidney Poitier (1927-2022)

 Justina Bonilla

Sidney Poitier, the deeply beloved trailblazing Academy Award-winning actor, director, political activist, and ambassador, passed away on January 7th. Poitier was one of the most iconic film talents and American cultural influences in the second part of the twentieth century. His remarkable career spanned over seven decades. 

Before Poitier graced the silver screen, he began acting on the stage with the American Negro Theatre. Through the American Negro Theatre, he landed the lead role in a Broadway production of Lysistrata. Despite the failure of Lysistrata, he continued to pursue theatre, co-founding the Committee for the Negro in the Arts in 1947.

Making the jump from stage to film, Poitier gained his first major film role in the controversial 1950 racially-charged drama No Way Out. Poitier, as Dr. Luther Brooks, the first black doctor of the hospital, assigned to treat two injured white robbery suspects and racist brothers. This role launched Poitier’s film career, leading to other notable roles in Blackboard JungleThe Defiant OnesPorgy and BessA Raisin in the Sun, and Paris Blues.

1963’s Lilies in the Field starred Poitier as a traveling jack-of-all-trades veteran who helps German nuns in Arizona build a chapel in the desert. This role led Poitier to become the first black man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor. As dear friend, fellow actor, and civil rights advocate Harry Belafonte recalled in the Netflix documentary, They’ve Gotta Have Us, “With humor, I observed that achievement and felt sorry for my friend. He had a terrible task of having to maintain some sense of dignity and individuality, yet the system didn’t give him much space in which to wiggle.”

In the 1960s Poitier received criticism for his roles as the over-idealized African American, despite being the only major Black actor to cast in the leading roles of American films. Feeling conflicted about this issue, Poitier wanted diverse roles but felt an obligation for his characters to challenge old stereotypes. 

1967 was the year of Poitier, with the release of three monumental films starring Poitier: To Sir with LoveIn the Heat of the Night, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Each film dealt with race relations including generational racism, systemic racism, and interracial love. These films have become three of Poitier’s most notable films, with In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being, “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Going behind the camera as a director, in 1972, Poitier directed and co-starred with Belafonteand Ruby Dee in Buck and the Preacher. Taking a notable perspective on the classic western, Buck and the Preacher follows two vastly different men, wagon master Buck (Poitier) and con-artist Preacher (Belafonte) who join forces to stop bounty hunters from kidnapping freed slaves and forcing them back to the South. This film later became a significant film in the Black western genre, following earlier Black westerns such as The Bull DodgerHarlem on the Prairie, Harlem Rides to the Range, and Two-Gun Man from Harlem

Throughout his career, Poitier strongly advocated for civil rights. Poitier was an early supporter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, whose first president was Dr. Martin King Jr. In 1963, Poitier and Belafonte were present, supporting the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. During the Summer of 1964, to show support for the volunteers of the Freedom Summer Project in Mississippi, Poitier and Belafonte took money to volunteers in Greenwood, Mississippi. As they drove at night to Greenwood, they were stalked and attacked by the Ku Klux Klan, who repeatedly rammed their car, until SNCC members and sympathizers were able to create a caravan around them, protecting them from further KKK violence. 

Dr. King would later mention how “[Poitier] has carved for himself an imperishable niche in the annals of our nation’s history.” He would go on to further state, “I consider him a friend. I consider him a great friend of humanity.” 

Other notable titles, awards, and honors for Poitier:

1974: Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II

1982: The Golden Cecil B. DeMille Award

1992: AFI Life Achievement Award

1994: Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

1995: Kennedy Center Honor

1995 – 2003: Member of the board of directors for The Walt Disney Company

1997 – 2007: Bahamian Ambassador to Japan

1998: South Park episode “Mega-Streisand”, parodied as a hero that helped save the town of South Park

1999: AFI ranked Poitier as 22nd on their list of 25 greatest male actors of American film history 

2000: The Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award

2002: An Academy Honorary Award by the Board of Governors of the Academy Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 

2002-2007: Bahamian Ambassador to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)

2009: Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama 

2016: The BAFTA Fellowship, a lifetime achievement award

Through his amazing body of work in film and civil rights activism, Poitier has and will continue to impact generations of actors, filmmakers, and audiences. As Denzel Washington shared with Poitier, in his 2002 Oscar acceptance speech for his Best Actor win for Training Day, “I’ll always be chasing you, Sidney. I’ll always be following in your footsteps. There’s nothing I would rather do, Sir.”

LINK: https://thefridacinema.org/to-sir-with-love-sidney-poitier-1927-2022/

Daily Dead: Interview with AMERICAN REFUGEE Stars Erika Alexander and Derek Luke

12/7/21 4:06 PM

American Refugee, the upcoming Blumhouse Television horror thriller film premiering on December 10th on EPIX & available for Digital Purchase via Paramount Home Entertainment, examines how the greatest danger can be those closest to you.

Directed by Ali LeRoi, American Refugee shows a modern America where the economy has collapsed, leading to mayhem and anarchy. The Taylor family, headed by Greg (Derek Luke) and Helen (Erika Alexander), must take shelter with their children in their mysterious neighbor’s bunker. As the terror above rampages on, the Taylors must navigate their way within the terror below or pay the ultimate price.

Alexander is beloved for her role as Maxine in the groundbreaking television show Living Single. Her horror credentials include Get Out.

Luke made his award-winning film debut in Antwone Fisher, co-starring with Hollywood icon Denzel Washington. His horror credentials include The Purge television series.

Alexander and Luke share their experiences with horror, American Refugee, and other creative endeavors.

What is your favorite horror movie and why?

Erika Alexander: I wasn’t allowed to watch horror growing up. I had a preacher father. But I tell you one thing, he loves movies and he watched horror. So, we would sneak it.

I didn’t watch The Exorcist till I was grown. That was one of the most frightening things I’ve ever seen. I love Aliens, which is not considered necessarily a horror. It’s more of a mash-up between sci-fi, horror, and action. That’s a horror movie to me. And frankly, Misery is also a great horror movie.

Derek Luke: My wife loves AliensMisery, that’s my favorite.

Horror is something that I’ve been more interested in because of the hybridity of so-called horror and the supernatural. It was the first time in the last several years where I thought, “You know what? I think there’s a storyline that I am open to being a part of that world. But before I can’t really say I was a horror fan. It’s just more like music. You know, it’s like R&B, where things are being mixed, like horror, culture, and present-day topics.

As actors, what do you like about performing in horror and thriller roles?

Erika Alexander: I haven’t really been in a slasher or things like that. But I was in Get Out, which is a great horror movie. I was part of the comedic element of Get Out. I didn’t realize it was a horror movie till I saw it. Then, this obviously comes into horror play. You can see that from the trailer. I think great horror really is about things that you can do nothing about, but you’re stuck in. And that’s what’s horrible about it. The horror comes from the drama.

In American Refugee, they’re stuck in a place, because of the collapse of society around them. They’d rather be anyplace but there, but they cannot leave. So, we all ask ourselves, “Do we do this, or do we do that?”

The idea of horror is to place you somewhere where you can’t do, and your choices are limited. And it keeps closing you into a corner. Then what do you do? And that’s when a person acts. That’s when everything comes to the fore.

I think the best thing about an actor is when their back is against the wall, you sort of see the best version of themselves. As an actor, that can be great acting in horror. And Derek should do more of them because no one would see him coming because of that baby face. He would truly be evil.

Derek Luke: Horror is like a new adventure to me. You didn’t see a lot of people of color in horror. But what I realized opposed to running from it, I’m actually running towards it, because there’s a new audience. I would love to bring some cool narratives that match with the genre, but also make people think.

I’m excited about what opportunities are ahead. Maybe people like Erika and myself can do some collaboration where we become EPs and creators. Just add more twists to it. I think that’s where we are in the nation with cinema, streaming, and all that stuff. That’s what I’m excited about.

How did you become a part of the film?

Erika Alexander: I got a call that Ali LeRoi wants to talk to you. Of course, you say yes. I had a conversation with him. He told me about it. He’s a great storyteller. He’s a wonderful writer and director. I found out this was his second [feature] directing stint. He did a great job. So I was interested in working with him.

Obviously, the bonus is Derek Luke, because everyone knows and loves him. They adore Derek for a lot of reasons. He’s easy on the eyes, he’s symmetrical. There’s something pleasant about him. But there’s also the beauty of him. He’s really done well for himself in film, with amazing roles. Antwone Fisher, where I first saw him, and most people saw him, was amazing. It’s one of my favorite movies. That seared into my brain the opportunity to work with him.

And then American Refugee had great kids: Zamani Wilder, Jessi Case, Peyton Jackson, and Vince Mattis. There’s also Sam Trammell. That’s a great cast. That’s a good time.

Derek Luke: My team sent me the project, I really responded to it, and I read for it. Then all the other elements came. It was traditional for me to either meet or read for a project. But this was exciting because it was a new world.

I got to see how Erica is a force and all the other amazing actors. I got to see her gifts and see the rest of the cast. I think people are gonna be excited. Her instinct, on and off-screen, helped put some magic in this project.

What was your experience like working with Ali LeRoi as a director?

Erika Alexander: Ali was great. He was different. You could see him working things out in his head. He would stop and actually think. There’s a lot of directors who don’t think. I think also feeling us out and seeing how differently we work was important. We worked together as a unit. But we have different ways of communicating that.

I think Derek and I are aligned with the fact that we’re not necessarily talkers about what we’re going to do. We just want to do it. My thing is to not overthink anything, to try to come into it and see what the day holds. If I don’t think I get there, or whatever it is, then I move on and say, “Well, next time, because there will be.”

Ali’s a talker. And he wants to communicate with us. So, I’m hoping that he had a good experience because I don’t know how much I talk. But I think once he accepted how we were much more or less cerebral than we were more feeling, then it all gelled. He didn’t have to change and we didn’t. We came to an understanding. We started to learn and respect that. And that’s about trust, too.

Derek Luke: I only knew Ali in passing. And a lot of my trust in life, let alone directors, has a lot to do with me knowing your body of work. So I came in suspicious of Ali because I didn’t know him. I didn’t know how to trust him. And what I come to admire about him is his methodical way and approach to writing and directing. That’s not usually my way, because my methodical way is more of an instinct IP, where he was more of a mental processing IP. And it’s good to be in those situations, so you can grow.

Since you’ve worked as a producer on documentaries like John Lewis: Good Trouble, are you looking to do more work as a producer in the future?

Erika Alexander: Yes, very much. That’s why I created Color Farm Media. We call ourselves the Motown of film, television, and tech. The idea is to go and seek new voices. I think the new William Shakespeares, the new Martin Scorseses, and the new Mary Shelleys are in the neighborhoods and places that we haven’t mined. Marginalized people, who’ve been ignored for centuries.

It’s a new time. It’s not just going to go through the white male filter. It’s going to change. And I’d like to be the person who helps collaborate, make partnerships, and do those things. Not because it brings a lot of tribute to me. It’s because it’s necessary. If we’re going to change the world, we’ve got to change the story. I think a lot of things have happened, especially you see in the news now, is because people have the wrong story. And they believe those stories, so I’m down to do a lot more of that, and I am.

Is there a chance you might consider being in an active role behind the camera?

Derek Luke: That’s a great question, but no. This is something that I hadn’t really talked to anyone about, except people that are in my inner circle, but for years, I’ve been hearing about pedigree. But lately, what’s been percolating is purpose.

I’ve realized that stories that I desire to tell have more to do with my purpose, opposed to just the pedigree. When it goes down to that, I am excited to embrace behind the scenes. But it’s time, as Erika was sharing, time to switch the lens and the filter. To mine the gifts and talents where people haven’t looked for a long time and that’s exciting.

LINK: https://dailydead.com/interview-with-american-refugee-stars-erika-alexander-and-derek-luke/

The Frida Cinema: Saturday the 14th: Interview with Producer Julie Corman

The cult classic horror-comedy Saturday the 14th, celebrates its 40th anniversary, as a zany love letter to classic 1930s and 1940s horror films.

Directed by Howard R. Cohen, and produced by Julie CormanSaturday the 14th follows a family who inherits an old home, unknowing that it hides a powerful book, wanted by monsters and monster hunters alike.

Julie has been a film producer for nearly fifty years. She began her career producing films for the distribution company she and her husband, Roger Corman owned. Her first credited producing role was as an associate producer for Boxcar Bertha, the directorial feature film debut of Martin Scorsese. She went on to also produce The Dirt Bike KidBrain DeadChopping MallThe NestNight Fall, and A Cry in the Wild.

In this extensive interview, Julie shares with us the responsibilities of producing, her memories of Saturday the 14th, and her inspirations for filmmaking.

Justina Bonilla: How did you become a producer?

Julie Corman: In the early 70s, my husband Roger asked me, “I’m making three films now for our distribution company. I wonder if you would take one on and just watch the money on it?” Not knowing what that meant, Roger explained, “Just make sure that the money is spent appropriately.” I replied, “Well, I learned how to balance a checkbook in fifth grade. So, I think I could do that”. Roger continued, “Now, you’re going to need a cameraman, a gaffer, and a grip”.

None of this made any sense to me. I expressed my concern with Roger, “Roger, I can’t produce this, I have no idea what I would be doing”. He assured me, “I’ll be here if you have any questions”. Little did I know, this is Roger’s sort of standard way of operating. Unfortunately, he really wasn’t available. However, everything went well working with the production manager, the equipment houses, and the postproduction houses.

I’m probably the only woman in show business who didn’t want a career in show business but has one.

Bonilla: What was one of your earliest memories as a producer? 

Corman: Either a couple of days before shooting or on the first day, the cameraman mentioned that he was going to need a hi-hat adapter. Of course, I had no idea what a hi-hat adapter was. I called the equipment house and asked, “Does he really need this?”  I was told, “If you want the camera to go up, down, back, and forth, he needs it.

For technical support, I came to rely very much on a position in the crew that you probably don’t hear about a lot, the key grip (a senior role responsible for camera equipment, supervising grip technician crew members, and collaborating with cinematographers/directors of photography).

Bonilla: How was your experience as a producer for Night Call Nurses?

Corman: I was on edge for the entire shoot of Night Call Nurses, which was 15 days. I realized how many things could ruin the day shooting, like an actor not showing up, or an inappropriate prop. Thankfully, at the end of the day, when Roger asked, “Did you get the day’s work?”, we did.

I like doing research. I loved finding Boxcar Bertha. I’m happy to look for projects, but I thought, “No. I’m not doing this again. The amount of tension. This is insane!”

Bonilla: After producing Night Call Nurses, what lead you to continue producing films?

Corman: Night Call Nurses came out and made a lot of money. Now, the pressure was on. Jonathan Kaplan, the director, wanted to go again. Then, of course, Roger wanted to go again. I reluctantly agreed, “Okay, one more time, but that’s it. Right?”

Then, Francis Doel, who had worked with Rogers for many years, was married to actor Clint Kimbrough, who wanted to direct. Clint asked if I would produce his film The Young Nurses. I was adamant, “No, I don’t ever want to do this again.” Then, Clint revealed, “Julie, you’re the only one I could trust. I know you’ll have my back. I know you’ll help me.” I agreed.

Bonilla: What do you enjoy about the filmmaking process?

Corman: I really enjoy developing a script. I had been an English major at UCLA. I also love working with actors and trying to put actors at ease. I saw what they went through and how difficult it was.

Bonilla: You produce a lot of films that are family-friendly or comedies. What draws you to these genres in particular?

Corman: My children. I had three children in two years and three months.

I went looking for the perfect nursery school and ended up taking the one that was closest to the home in the Pacific Palisades. It’s an area that has grown and changed over time, but it had a kind of small-town flavor. It almost seemed like a Midwestern town.

Around the corner from the nursery school was a hot dog shop. They famously had a little train on tracks that ran around the place and my kids loved that. Little did I know it was the drug drop place for the high school kids, in the afternoon. One day, we drove into town for nursery school and there was a big sign up in front of the hot dog shop that it was going to become a savings and loan business.

Based on that experience and the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, I wrote a treatment for The Dirt Bike Kid. It’s a comedy about a boy with a magic dirt bike, which he gets using money his mother gave him to go buy groceries. He saves the hot dog shop from becoming a bank.

Bonilla: What was the initial reaction to The Dirt Bike Kid?

Corman: Rogers as the distributor was concerned, “A family film? I don’t really know about family films. I’m really not so sure about this.” I emphasized that I really wanted to make this film. He suggested that I get some outside financing. So I did. I wrote this story, developed the script, got the outside financing, and made the film. Roger distributed it to theaters, but it lost money. I was so convinced that this would be a successful film.

Bonilla: How did home video impact The Dirt Bike Kid?

Corman: During the time we were out of distribution, home video reared its head. We were only vaguely aware of it but didn’t think of it as a big source of revenue. However, The Dirt Bike kid went out on home video and sold 100,000 video cassettes. It was our most successful film of the year. That was my introduction to family films.

Bonilla: What lead you to produce the script for Saturday the 14th?

Corman: The screenplay was written by Howard and the story was by Jeff Begun. They brought the project to us. I thought, “This is a lot of fun. I’d like to produce it.”

Bonilla: Who were some of the key people you worked with behind the scenes?

Corman: My normal way of working on a film, is to work with the director to get the cast and crew together. Daniel Lacambre, the film’s cinematographer, had worked with Nestor Almendras and my husband when he made some films in France. Then, I worked with Daniel on a few films here in the US. The editors were Kent Beyda and Joanne D’Antonio. The music was by Parmer Fuller. Parmer is married to a godchild of mine. He runs a music program at USC, and he’s a very talented musician.

Bonilla: With stars Paula and Richard being married, how do you see their marriage influencing their roles as a married couple?

Corman: Anytime actors know and are familiar with each other, it can be very helpful to their performance together. They had very individual ideas about their characters. I didn’t get the feeling that one dictated to the other.

Dick was generally in charge of presenting a message that maybe I wouldn’t like to say to Paula. For example, Paula, who’s supposed to be a vampire in the movie, didn’t want to wear fangs. I thought, “How can I tell Howard that Paula says she’s not wearing these fangs?” Dick assured me, “Trust me, you will believe she’s a vampire.” He was right.

Generally, if actors ask for something, I try to give it to them, because you don’t know why it’s important to them. But you can bet at some level it’s important, and it will have an influence on the performance.

Bonilla: How essential was it for Paula and Richard to play their parts as straight as possible?

Corman: It was essential for them to play their characters straight because everybody tends to get a little wacky. I noticed how they constantly kept like the straight man position. They understood comedy well.

Bonilla: Who were some of the memorable supporting cast members?

Corman: Severn Darden was the guru for The Second City comedy group. I didn’t know the history of Severn with Second City. It was a feather in Howard’s cap to get Severn to be in his movie. Stacy Keach Sr., I believe had been in a film with Roger. Stacy’s comedy chops are well known. And with Rosemary de Kamp, the same thing. Rosemary was the kind of person Howard was happy to have in his film. Roberta Collins had been in some of our other films. Howard wanted Paul Garner, the character actor. He was great. The comedy team Howard put together, with input from me, works well together like a family.

Bonilla: About how long did it take to film?

Corman: It was about three weeks to film. Generally, my schedules were somewhere between three and four weeks, with the early ones in three weeks.

Bonilla: What techniques on set save time for the filming schedule?

Corman: One of the ways that we were able to film in three weeks, was from Roger’s playbook to make films in such a short amount of time. It was to have a second unit, who would go off and shoot.

Let’s say, there was a sequence that called for you to see a horse riding up a mountain. Well, to lug a whole crew up, with maybe 20 people, with the cars, the wagons for the equipment, the lunches, and everything else, would be hugely expensive. But, to get that shot or shots, you send two or three people, to get some shots of the horse running up the mountain. Generally speaking, the second unit would not use the principal actors, because then you have to take sound, and that made it more of a deal than just a second.

In this case, because we were mostly contained in the house, it was difficult to get a second unit schedule that didn’t include Dick and Paula.

Bonilla: Did the second unit have any issues while filming?

Corman: So, the first line of resistance was Dick telling me, “I must tell you, we will not work with a second unit.” I sat down with him and showed him the schedule. I told him, “If you and Paula do these four scenes with the second unit, there are days that you’re not working with the main unit. You can spend all day shooting them, and if you don’t like the results, we can reshoot it.” They agreed.

On the first day that they were going to shoot with the second unit, they came out of their trailer. Dick announced, “B team, we’re here!” Making it all fun, he continued, “We’re all together and it’s gonna be great!” This is like the kind of thing that could only happen in a comedy. They made what could have been an issue with drama and negativity into lemonade.

Bonilla: Where were the two houses featured in the film located?

Corman: I’ll tell you a funny story about this suburb one. I don’t remember where the suburb one was. It was maybe somewhere in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles. But I do remember two things about it.

First, there was a Jacaranda tree in the front yard. Nancy Nuttall, my assistant had been a biochemistry major.  I asked her, “Nancy, you got one assignment for the week. That Jacaranda tree is not scheduled to bloom until our shoot is over, get it to bloom.” She found that if you watered it with hot water, it would fool it into blooming.

Second, we shot the scene of the family at the end, in front of the door, with the Jacaranda tree. Everything was fine, but Billy, the son, was wearing a plaid shirt. Something didn’t go right, and we needed to reshoot it. Later, it was discovered that Billy was wearing two plaid shirts, one red and one yellow in the reshoot. In the editing room, nobody noticed that he switched shirts, because our dailies were in black and white. When we switched to color at the end no one noticed the shirt switched colors. we were home free.

The old house, as I recall, either belong to or was related to Mount St. Mary’s, a Catholic women’s college. For some reason, they owned this old house, down by USC. I love location scouting. That’s the first thing I ever did in film. I’m always looking at everything when I walk in a place. I’m always thinking if the ceilings are high enough for the lighting equipment, and how many extras we need to fill the space, etc. I remember just thinking this house was great and making the deal with the nuns to use this house.

Bonilla: What was an unexpected funny moment on set?

Corman: Paula had a scene with Severn. For one reason or another, he could not hold onto his lines. So, Howard did many takes with him to get the lines.

Then, it was Paula’s turn. As usual, Paula was great. Howard printed her first take and was ready to move on. Paula screamed, “No”, with a scream that filled the whole house, because she wanted another take as Severn had had. I was there with the whole crew. They just went into a collective silence. Then I laughed. Paula got another take, and all was well. I don’t know why I laughed.

Bonilla: How do you see this film influencing other horror comedies such as Gremlins?

Corman: Joe Dante, who directed Gremlins, worked in our editing room. He worked as an editor, and he had a lot to do with the marketing of our films. Since he worked as a trailer editor, where you’re looking for the best shots to sell the film, he would have been very much aware of this. Now, in addition to being a top director, he has an online site called Trailers from Hell.

Bonilla: This film has gained a devoted cult following. What do you think has contributed to that?

Corman: The appeal seems to be from people who understand film history. That was definitely intentional from Howard and Jeff. They were aficionados of horror films and would get a kick out of putting in references to previous horror films. It’s also a horror film that kids can watch. People are still buying the DVD of the film.

Bonilla: How does it feel to have Saturday the 14th celebrating its 40th anniversary?

Corman: Forty years went by in daily increments for me. I have a poster for Saturday the 14th outside my office. Every day for however many years, I would look at the poster and it would give me a little lift every day. I fondly remember Howard. Unfortunately, he’s no longer with us. Howard was a very good cosmic mind, an intelligent, thoughtful, and inclusive man.

LINK: https://thefridacinema.org/saturday-the-14th-interview-with-producer-julie-corman/

The Frida Cinema: Later Days: Interview with co-director and co-writer Sandy Sternshein

Later Days, the recent independent comedy film, features local film teacher Sandy Sternshein as a co-director and co-scriptwriter alongside Brad Riddell.

A Gen-X love letter to 1980s comedies, Later Days follows a married middle-aged couple, Mike (David Walton) and Pam (Majandra Delfino), with Mike planning a surprise 1980s prom-themed birthday party for Pam, with their friends and former classmates attending. However, the intended happy nostalgia-fest turns into an unexpected rollercoaster ride.

Sternshein originally from Long Beach, has had a lifelong passion for film. After attending USC film school, he took the path of indie filmmaking. Eventually, he became a popular film and media teacher at the local community colleges, Santiago Canyon College and Santa Ana College, as well as the popular arts charter school OCSA, Orange County School of the Arts.

In his classes, Sternshein encouraged students to follow their writing strengths in a variety of genres, whether it be comedy, action, or horror. He also exposed his students to a wide variety of filmmakers and films, including obscure documentaries, foreign, and classic films, to challenge the way they interpreted film, the filmmaking process, and inspire creativity.

Sternshein shares with us his path from becoming a film teacher, to making an indie movie, and the knowledge he inspires to pass on to others along the way.

Bonilla: What is your connection to Orange County?

Sternshein: I was born in Long Beach, but I grew up in Seal Beach and Los Alamitos. I’ve mostly lived in Orange County, even when I went to USC, I lived in Seal Beach. Jen and I, when we first got together, lived in Hollywood for a couple of years, when we were working in production. I’ve always felt like this is my home and I am much more productive here than I am in LA.

Bonilla: What led you to pursue an education in film?

Sternshein: I went to Whittier college as a religious studies major. The truth is, I wanted to go to NYU as out of high school because Spike and Martin Scorsese went there. It was the school of schools. But I ended up at Whittier. Whittier didn’t have a film major, but I think they had a minor.

I took a class called “Religion and Cinema”. We didn’t have a great film department at Whittier, but this class was life-changing. We’d watch Peter Sellers and Hal Ashby films.

That class exposed me to the idea that to create good films, you have to know things about the world. You have to read everything you can get your hands on and watch everything you can. That class changed it for me. I liked this class so much I decided to become a religious studies major and not a film major.

I ended up going my junior year to Israel, studying in Tel Aviv. I saw the world and the experience opened my eyes.

In 1999, I went to graduate school at USC, right after my wife and I got married. She went to law school and I went to USC’s film school.

Bonilla: What led you to go into teaching?

Sternshein: I knew I wasn’t going to make a million dollars right away at being a filmmaker. If I got an MFA, I could teach film. I had taught before in the Whittier City School District. I knew how to teach and was good at it. So, I could have a career as a screenwriter and make some money.

Bonilla: What film classes did you teach?

Sternshein: At OCSA, I taught screenwriting, production one, production two, and a web series class.

For Santa Ana College, I taught postwar cinema from 1945 to the present day, mass media, introduction to film production, directing/producing from film and television, and all three screenwriting classes, beginning, intermediate, and advanced.

At Santiago Canyon College, I taught mass media and the three screenwriting classes, beginning, intermediate, and advanced.

I’ve taught pretty much everything film-related.

Bonilla: How did you become affiliated with OCSHA? 

Sternshein: OCSA started at Los Alamitos High School when my wife was there. My son is at OCSA in Santa Ana. My wife Jena and I both taught there. My kids went to El Sol, a dual immersion school across the street from OSHA, on Broadway, in Santa Ana.

I re-connected with Ralph Opacic, who had been a teacher and friend, who also founded OSHA. Then, I started teaching film classes and screenwriting there. Later, I taught at Santa Ana College and Santiago Canyon College.

Bonilla: How did you approach film writing when you were teaching?

Sternshein: Like great literature, I wanted to introduce my all students, to this way of telling a story, this personal, independent way of making movies of writing stories. Though they’re small, little stories, they say something about us, about life.

I recently spoke to a class of aspiring filmmakers. I told them, “I know you’ve been through a lot of struggles in your life. Honestly, you can’t be a screenwriter, without some adversity”. I guarantee you’ll come out of it a better writer because you understand.

You have to go through suffering and pain to tell a story with empathy. When you come across people on the camera, or when you’re interviewing them, you have some empathy and bring some of that to the page.

Bonilla: What inspired you to go from teaching to full-time filmmaker?

Sternshein: In my class, at the end of the semester I would tell my students to, “Go out there. Tell your story. Don’t wait for the gatekeepers. Don’t ask for permission”. This is a pitch that I’ve been giving for years. But, I wasn’t doing what I was saying. The more I gave that speech, the less authentic I felt.

Finally, I did two things. One, I went to my wife and I shared, “I’m thinking about getting out of teaching, so I can go make a movie”. It wasn’t her favorite idea, but she agreed, “If your miserable and that’s gonna make you happy. Then absolutely”. And so I did.

Second, I went to Brad, who had moved to Chicago as a tenured professor at DePaul University. He ran the screenwriting program there. I asked him, “I want to try to raise some capital and make a little movie, at one location. What do you want to do?” We threw some ideas around and I pitched this movie.

In 2017, I pretty much walked away from teaching to make this movie. Here we are four years later and it’s finally coming to the screen.

Bonilla: Which film and/or filmmaker inspired your filmmaking?

Sternshein: Spike Lee for sure. I remember seeing Do the Right Thing and it changed me. This idea that the hottest day of summer where everything comes to a head was amazing. Ernest Dickerson‘s cinematography was so warm.

Then, I saw a flyer at McDonald’s that Spike was going to be at Cal State Long Beach. My mom, a teacher, let me take that day off from high school to see him. I was probably a junior in high school. Jungle Fever was coming out and he was beginning Malcolm X. It was life-changing just to hear Spike speak.

As an undergrad at Whittier college, I was in charge of the speaker series. We got Spike to come and speak to at Whittier. Then, I got to have dinner with him. He was so cool. At the time, his production company 40 Acres and a Mule West. He hooked me up with one of his creative executives and was really supportive early on in my career.

Bonilla: How did you meet your filmmaking partner Brad Riddell? 

Sternshein: My film partner Brad Riddell and I went to USC together. In our last year, in a scriptwriting class, my screenplay ended up on the first year of The Blacklist and his screenplay ended up becoming a part of American Pie Presents: Band Camp. Brad went the studio route, while I went the independent route.

Years later, we became friends again, and we wrote some comedy together, including a web series.

Bonilla: Where did the inspiration for Later Days come from?

Sternshein: 10 years ago, I threw my wife an 80s prom at the Orange Elks Lodge. She’s an overworked corporate attorney and works hard to support the family. I was home with the kids. At night when she gets home, we’d high five, and I go teach till 10 p.m. Then we’d finally get to bed together and immediately fall asleep. We were like two ships crossing in the night.

For the party, I got everyone in costumes. I thought it was going to be a fun night. But, what’s crazy, is when we put on those costumes, we realized that everyone diverted back to their high school self, and the cliques formed.

Brad had a band camp-like reunion. That didn’t go well. People had issues and all this stuff surfaced.

We thought, “What if the people on your Facebook feed, where everybody’s getting along, liking your photos, who you haven’t seen since eighth grade, all ended up in the same room for a night, and it all goes horribly wrong?”

Bonilla: How did you and Brad delegate the responsibilities of co-writing and co-directing?

Sternshein: We work well together and don’t fight a lot. We also had basic rules with the cast and crew, creating a nice environment on set. Somedays I’m working with the camera and he’s working with the actors. For the most part, we’re both weighing in on things, with one person delegated to speak to the cast and crew.

It was our first directed feature. We’ve been around a lot of movie sets, so it went well. I think in a lot of ways it went better than usual because there were two heads. Usually, a director is frantic since he’s constantly having to make multiple decisions in the same second on set. We still have chaos, but there were two of us making sure everything was going as planned and we weren’t missing anything. I would work again with Brad. I really enjoyed it.

Bonilla: What lead to the decision to film Later Days in Chicago?

Sternshein: We got a tax incentive to go shoot in Chicago, getting 30% of our budget back to shoot in Illinois. It was a huge deal.  Even though it’s supposed to be set here in the city of Orange. It ended up making it a Chicago story.

We raised all the money ourselves. Brad and I went to Chicago and pitched to the CMA, the Chicago Media Angels.  We were also selected by the SAG/IFP Table Read Series. Also, in Chicago, they had a series where they were reading scripts publicly. They chose ours and we were able to get more financing there.

We did all this about March 2019, before we shot that September. Everything was done in 19 days. We got everything edited by January/February 2020. But, in March, COVID happened.

The good news is that during that time, we worked on the soundtrack and everything else. We needed an authentic 1980s soundtrack. So, we have about eighteen well-known 80s songs on it. It’s pretty cool.

Bonilla: Later Days has a John Hughes feel to it. Was Hughes an influence on the film?

Sternshein: The John Hughes influence is huge. We’re going on 50 and were 13 when Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and all those movies were coming out. We love these movies. Brad also teaches a class at DePaul University which is a John Hughes film class.

When we sat down to write, we thought about The Breakfast Club, wondering, “What if Anthony Michael Hall was the CEO of Facebook?”, or, “What if what if Emilio Estevez, who was the big jock was a stay-at-home Dad?” Also, “How would those guys come to a meeting?” Imagine Anthony 25 years later, with a chip on his shoulder, wanting to everybody that he’s the man.

Since, Hughes’s films took place in Shermer, Illinois, a fake city, in his honor, our movie is set in West Shermer. Also, Audrey Francis who plays Karen in Later Days, is wearing Haviland Morris’ dress from Sixteen Candles.

Bonilla: How else did you inject the 80s film style into Later Days?

Sternshein: This film was shot to look like an old film, using a process to make the film look a little grainy. We really wanted that party to look like something out of the 80s.

The costumes were handmade by Sarah Albrecht. They’re amazing. Sarah did an amazing job. I’m so grateful for her. There’s a couple of Easter eggs we put in the film through famous-looking costumes and stuff in the background.

Bonilla: What does Later Days mean to you? 

Sternshein: Later Days is a very personal story. It was how I felt coming out of raising my kids with my wife. Adulting is hard, especially not seeing your wife all day. When you get this age, our parents are getting sick and dying, and all of the sudden, you feel mortal. You have to deal with that now.

Bonilla: How have audiences reacted to the film so far?

Sternshein: Everybody says it’s a sweet movie. Though it’s an R-rated movie, it’s wholesome. I’m kind of a sarcastic and edgy guy. So, when people I know see Later Days they say, “I didn’t think you have that in you”. It surprises them.

Bonilla: Do you have any upcoming projects?

Sternshein: We’re excited to continue to make more films and produce films. We’ve optioned the award-winning book called The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle. It’s a dark, but an award-winning book. Currently, Dominica Scorsese is attached to direct and we’re producing that.

Brad and I are writing a skateboard comedy called Back to the GrindTony Hawk is producing it, with Troy Miller attached to direct.

Bonilla: What do you hope that audiences take away from this film?

Sternshein: I hope people walk away thinking it’s a sweet and funny little movie, with a great soundtrack. I’m excited for people to see this and meet the characters. These are characters that we’ve been thinking about for a long time.

Overall, I wanted to make a movie for my wife to enjoy when she’s tired on a Saturday night, as she asks me to put something funny on. I feel like we made this movie for her and Brad’s wife, Tina. A movie that they could curl up on the couch, laugh to, and be distracted from all the complications of the modern world.

Later Days is now playing at select theatres nationally, TVOD, and digital platforms.

LINK: https://thefridacinema.org/later-days-interview-with-co-director-and-co-writer-sandy-sternshein/

Daily Dead: WELCOME TO THE BLUMHOUSE: Interview with THE MANOR Executive Producers Sandy King and Richard J. Bosner

10/8/21 7:56 AM | JUSTINA BONILLA

The Manor, one of the four films of the Amazon Studio and Blumhouse Television series Welcome to the Blumhouse, features a strong backbone of producers, including horror veteran producer Sandy King andhorror newcomer Richard J. Bosner.

King established herself in film as a script supervisor on a wide variety of films, including Sixteen Candles. She’s best known for her collaboration with horror icon John Carpenter, in multiple roles as an executive producer, producer, and script supervisor for many of his beloved films, ranging from They Live, to Big Trouble in Little China, and In the Mouth of Madness.

Bosner has produced several independent, including Other People and Black Bear, which both premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He was a co-producer for The Wannabe, which also featured as an executive producer, film titian Martin Scorsese.

Together they share their love for the horror genre, their experiences as producers, and their participation with The Manor.

What is your go-to Halloween movie?

King: I’d say X the Unknown. It’s a hammer horror film.

Bosner: Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. I really love that movie. It’s kind of why I love The Manor too. It’s got that gothic horror vibe.

What inspired you to pursue producing?

King: I got trapped into it. It was nothing I aspired to. I was happy being a crew person.

Starting back when I did a TV movie with Carl Borak. He drafted manager associate producing a thing called Key Tortuga, shot largely in the Bahamas. He kept giving me more and more responsibility, and said, “Okay, you’re an associate producer.” I’m like, “What? No, I’m happy being a script supervisor.” Things like that kept happening to me, where I kept accidentally falling into the role.

Once I was with John, everybody kept asking me questions and having me do more things, just by virtue of how close I was to him. I gave up and I finally said, “Fine”.

Bosner: Ever since I was a little kid, I was always wrangling my neighbors, putting them in plays and movies, making them do all kinds of things. Over the years, it kept snowballing. I do enjoy finding different creative people and bringing them all together to achieve one vision. It’s really enjoyable when you find the right group of people to do that.

What do you like about the horror genre?

King: It’s an allegorical genre and an allegorical story format. Good horror is talking about something else. It’s got other layers to it. And you can entertain and inform at the same time. If you make Gandhi, you’re preaching to the converted. If you make They Live, you’re saying something else to an audience that would not necessarily walk in, if you told them you were talking about social justice and who you are. So, in a film like The Manor, we can talk about another societal issue and entertain at the same time.

Bosner: I’m really drawn to the fantastical realism of it that doesn’t have to be set in reality. You can get these messages across in an entertaining way. This is only my second horror film that I’ve done, but I’m such a horror fan. I’ve always loved horror, or even though I end up doing Sundance prestige types of movies. I get to do something like this with amazing people like Sandy and Axelle, it’s doesn’t get any better than that.

How did you become involved as executive producers for The Manor?

King: We drafted Richard as a problem solver. I had worked with Axelle on developing the script and wanted to see her surrounded in a comfort zone that led her to a more European sensibility.  That let her do something female-centric and something that would be considered ageist, in what other people considered a teen genre. We share an agent. So, being together was an easy fit.

At the same time, Richard was a great producing partner to bring into it, because it was basically Richard and I against the world, getting Axelle’s version there. And Richard had no choice.

Bosner: It was such a great experience. I felt very blessed to be invited in to help execute Axelle’s vision with Sandy. Axelle did an amazing job as a director, leading with kindness. That sometimes gets overlooked. She did take care of the crew and appreciated what the crew did on the movie. It was always very apparent. That’s such a great environment to be in when you’re creating, to just feel that around you the whole time.

What is your favorite scene in The Manor?

King: I really liked the scenes between Barbara Hershey and Nicholas Alexander. I thought the relationship of the grandmother with her grandson, and watching him be torn between the two realities, really worked for me. Nick did a great job being torn and having to face the things he did.

Bosner: I really like the climax of the movie. That was really fun. We did that out at the Golden Oaks Ranch in the middle of the night, with the snakes and everything around us. We did have a snake wrangler, but I kept thinking the snakes would get us, but it didn’t so we were fine. That was pretty crazy, but fun.

Sandy, how important was it to get the message out about ageism?

King: I happen to think it’s now become more ageless when you can get the studios to recognize that. First of all, everybody for whom it used to be a teen genre is now my age. They didn’t quit loving it. Also, the same way horror used to be considered for 14-year-old boys, but more women now embrace horror than men. We’re brought into the world bloody and screaming, so that may have something to do with it.

It’s a matter of convincing studios that their old presumptions are outdated. You notice that the European films that everybody likes to stream, don’t have those rigid ideas that you have to be between 17 and 23-years-old to be cast, you know, white bread stuff. They’re much more integrated, both age wise and diversity. They’ve embraced those things a lot longer than we have in this country. So, I thought it was great that Amazon chose this one before the Blumhouse association. And that’s what our origins with this film are.

Richard, are you looking to produce more horror films in the future?

Bosner: Yes, absolutely.

Is there a chance you will work together again on another film in the future?

King: I’m dragging him everywhere.

Bosner: Yeah, she’s stuck with me. We’re both stuck with each other. So there we go.

The Manor is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

LINK: https://dailydead.com/welcome-to-the-blumhouse-interview-with-the-manor-executive-producers-sandy-king-and-richard-j-bosner/