Hello Bloodlust-ers! I was recently given the unique opportunity to interview the fantastic young filmmaker, Ryan Brewer, of Magic-Time Films. Ryan is a funny and humble fan of the horrific, who’s already had some success with his features to date. In fact, the lovingly shot Nyar was an official selection at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland. This guy is up to big things. Please take a moment to hang out, while I pick his brain a little. Needless to say, you should pop over to Magic-Time Film’s official Youtube page and check it ALL out for yourselves.
Oh, and...uh, Ryan, if you’re reading this, can you please send this lowly horror writer a Miskatonic University hoodie? Thanks.
How did you get started in film making? And Tell us about your company, Magic-Time Films:
I originally grew up wanting to be a screen actor. When I was really, really young (probably too young but if I remember right, I was 6 or 7 years old), I watched Ridley Scott's "Alien" for the first time and was inspired by Sigourney Weaver's performance. She seemed so genuinely terrified. I was too. It's a scary movie. My mom went on to explain to me that it was all fake and that acting is what she does for a living. I was sold! Ever since then all I wanted to do was work in film. I didn't actually start acting till I did my first play in the 6th grade. But I stuck with it from that point on till now. In high school, I met my best friend and brother-from-another-mother, Keith Melcher, and he got me into screenwriting. After high school, we lost touch with each other for a few years and eventually met back up. We started collaborating on scripts and after briefly trying to sell them to Hollywood with absolutely NO success, I basically said, "Fuck it, let's just make our own movies." Keith thought the same and the rest is history. Pardon the language.
Nyar was an official selection in the HP Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, and deservedly so! What is your background with Lovecraft?
I got started with Lovecraft at an early age. I remember my mother had a couple of small Lovecraft collections among her many, many horror novels and I always thought the art was strange and nightmarish. However, I didn't really understand any of it back then and my mom wouldn't let me read it (which is a surprise even to this day considering she had no problem allowing me to watch "Alien"). Over the years, I just slowly discovered it on my own. Eventually, I got a job working as a janitor in a casino and one of my co-workers was really into Lovecraft. We would sit in the break room and read on our breaks and exchange books and ideas about Lovecraft. Would talk about the weird dreams I had about Nyarlathotep and things like that. It was all silly fun, but I really dug it. The atmosphere, the strange monsters, the first person narratives. All of it.
Give us a quick run down of some of your favorite horror movies, directors, and writers:
Some of my favorite horror movies...hmmm...well, I will always be a huge Freddy fan. The "Nightmare on Elm St." flicks are still my favorites, to this very day. Loved Jason, too, but he just didn't do it for me the way Freddy did. I always gravitated towards zombie flicks. "Dawn Of The Dead" is still one of my all time favs (R.I.P. George). It's kind of strange though because most of my favorite writers/directors aren't the ones who typically do horror. Steven Spielberg is right at the top of my list. I mean, "Jaws" is downright terrifying. Scarred me for life. To this day, I still can't swim. Ridley Scott is a huge inspiration. Kubrick. The masters of horror, Wes Craven and John Carpenter, are obviously in there. Sam Raimi. The list goes on and on.
Larry and the Monsters is such a fun series. How did the concept originate?
Larry & The Monsters was actually one of the first movies I ever made alongside Keith Melcher. The second film, in fact. Keith was the one who came up with the original script, which was simply called, "Vampire Short." You can still see the original concept video on our YouTube channel. Shortly after making the movie though, Keith and I both had a mutual epiphany: that it could make for an interesting show. We co-wrote and developed four more episodes featuring a completely different cast and they were made much the same as the first one. We then had some casting issues and the show got put on hold for about three years, while we worked on other things. I always really, really, really, really wanted to go back and revisit the concept so I got an idea and ran with it and wrote the current "reimagining" of the show on my own. Keith came back on board as a producer and reprised his role as the title character, and we were able to hire on professional DP Shaun O'Connel out of Aberdeen, South Dakota.
Any plans for Larry and his crew in the future?
As for the future of the series, I actually came up with a concept and Keith and I co-wrote what was supposed to be the 2nd season of Larry & The Monsters. However, we got a little more ambitious this time around and we've thus far been unable to secure the funding. The show itself has been struggling to find an audience. Not enough friends and family sharing the videos on social media, etc. It took almost the full three years that the first season has been up to get episode one over 1000 views. The other episodes are still struggling. If we can ever get the funding for season 2 then we will definitely make it. But until then it's sort of taking a back seat to other projects. I hate doing that because it really is a passion project for me, but there's just no way I could ask anyone to do this season for free. Too much work would have to go into it to make it the way we want to make it and it wouldn't be fair to the rest of the cast and crew to work for free. I'm always willing to sacrifice the paycheck to make my own projects but it's tough to ask others to do the same.
You seem to do it all! You produce, act, direct, write, etc. Do you have a favorite?
Acting will always be my first passion, but directing is a VERY close second. Writing is fun but, I have a hard time finishing scripts due to my anxiety. It's too easy to talk myself out of it. So I really have to run with an idea when I get it because if I wait too long, I completely lose interest.
What are some of your biggest challenges as an independent filmmaker?
The biggest challenge as an independent filmmaker is just getting a movie made. Finding local talent and crew that actually have a passion for filmmaking and aren't just there for the fun of it. Don't get me wrong, I love to have fun with filmmaking, you always should, but there comes a time where passion and desire need to trump fun so we're not waiting four months for everyone to get their schedules straight. It can be frustrating working around people's personal lives but, when you live in small town South Dakota, the "pickins' are slim" as they would say.
I'm intrigued by the Dead End teaser trailer. What can you tell us about this story?
Dead End was a story I collaborated on with a buddy, Kris Monroe. We wrote it together, intending to make it together but, he got busy with other things and I eventually just sort of took the reigns on it. It's intended to be a dramatic zombie film but that might change, depending on the digital FX guy and whether or not he can fix certain bits of footage. As for the story, it's about a mother and daughter surviving in a world overrun with the undead. At its heart, it's all about family versus survival. Maternal instincts versus survival instincts.
What direction do you see horror movies going in the future?
Horror movies have come a long way but, at their core, I feel like horror films are very much the same as they always were. Netflix and VOD have been a bit of a game-changer, as far as securing distribution. I see sooooooo many movies, some of which are just so absurd (perhaps even too absurb to have ever been made) and they are getting an awful lot of attention. That probably wouldn't have happened back in the 80's and 90's (though the 80's certainly had its fair share of questionable horror films). There are almost too many "bad" horror films these days. Like it has become a competition to see who can make the "best" worst horror film. I'm really hoping that more filmmakers step up and focus on making more intelligent horror films. It's been a while since I saw something that actually scared me AND made me feel something.
What's up next for Magic-Time Films?
Right now, Magic-Time Films is working on putting together a couple more shorts. Keith Melcher has his first feature horror film that was just released on Redbox and Amazon Video yesterday called "Bonejangles." We have a new horror feature which I wrote alongside Mr. Melcher called "Something," that we are slated to begin filming June 1st of 2018. We are currently in talks with Erin Hogan ("Paranormal Entity", "Hold Your Breath", "Ray Donovan") to star alongside myself, as well as Apryl Crowel of "Zombie Isle," and Allison Berg ("Until Forever", "Zombies"). I'm really excited for it. It's an homage/satire of the "unseen" monster. The first "origin" teaser was just released a couple of weeks ago. Otherwise, I'm just trying to get "Dead End" finished and focus on a personal project called "Alone," which is a psychological drama about a man who suffers from a strange form of OCD called Mal-Adaptive Daydreaming.
That’s all for now! Thank you for your time, Ryan. I look forward to following your career and future offerings from Magic-Time Films.
~ Sandra (@LilMsMnstr)