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Jeff Miller

Jeff: "I always liked telling stories".

Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
July 5th, 2005

As one half of Kinetic Filmworks, Jeff Miller has a slew of genre projects ready to roll and a number behind him as well. Read on for the latest on his project 'The Last Horror Picture Show' which will star Robert Englund, Kane Hodder and Gunnar Hansen.

Your background is rooted in journalism and creative writing. When did you first get into writing?
I first drew comic strips as a kid. In junior high school I started writing a “serial” called “Dragon Quest,” where I put my friends into the story. Every day or two there was a new chapter that would be passed around class. Everyone wanted to know what happened to their character. I wrote more short stories and novellas. In high school I got into journalism and won some awards. My senior year I started my first screenplay.

Did you see it as a way to express yourself when you were growing up?
I always liked telling stories.

You received much praise for your writing and started writing for the industry at a young age, how did you get “noticed”?
I still haven’t really gotten noticed, not in a big way. I got an agent at a young age and my first paid screenwriting job at age 23, but I have yet to get an A-list picture made.

You worked extensively on the movie FREAKSHOW. How did you become involved?
In college I had heard that some local guys made a movie called CAMPFIRE TALES. When it came out, I think I was the first one to rent it at the local video store. I consulted one of the movie’s creators, Paul Talbot, for advice on my own script I was trying to get made. After college I had moved away but kept in touch with Paul and heard they were doing FREAKSHOW. They had already shot some of it. I said I may have access to some money and asked if I could come aboard as Associate Producer. I moved back and started working on it.

What was the experience like?
It was great. I learned a lot.

Did you ever think that you weren’t cut out to make it in the movies?
Every day.

Jeff: "I just wanted to make a
SCREAM-type movie.".

What do you remember about working with Gunnar Hansen and Veronica Carlson?
Gunnar and Veronica are both real troopers. Veronica was very polished and regal.

You then worked on HELLBLOCK 13 again with Gunnar (I see a pattern emerging here). How was your experience with that particular production?
It was a good experience. I was involved in that one from the inception.

In 2000 you completed HEAD CHEERLEADER, DEAD CHEERLEADER. How long had you been working on the story and what had inspired you to write it?
It’s a long story, but the original HEAD/DEAD was supposed to be a Super 8mm. I shot much of it in 1993. (Actually, this is an interesting side note: Michael Kelly, who played the lead security guard C.J. in the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, was the male lead!) Unfortunately, there were major camera problems that ruined most of the footage. I still loved the title (which a friend of mine came up with), and years later I decided to just make the damn thing. I wrote a new script, keeping only the title, a few character names, and some props. I just wanted to make a SCREAM-type movie.

The film opens with a phone call from an angry mother warning you not to make the movie. Did you get a lot of angry calls like that?
That was the only one. That was also a leftover from 1993. That woman called back another day and left another message, but I think I misplaced that one. I always wanted to play it if there was a sequel.

How did the shoot go?
Okay. It was broken up in sections, as money was put in.

Was the majority of the cast local talent?
Yes. With the exception of Debbie Rochon, I think everyone was from North or South Carolina. Bill Roberson (from FORREST GUMP) was a joy to work with. He was in HELLBLOCK 13 as well. Also, Bobby Cerutti and Bob Carter were a pleasure. The young people were all great too. Tasha Biering, the lead, did an extraordinary job, especially considering she was cast only two weeks before shooting. The lead actress who had been cast couldn’t do it, and Tasha bravely accepted the role and had to quickly learn ALL that dialogue.

How did Debbie Rochon get involved?
I had such a great experience with her on HELLBLOCK 13. She endured freezing temperatures on that one with never a complaint, so I knew she could do anything.

What was her reaction to the idea that she would have her breast cut off in her now-infamous death scene?
I don’t think it ever came up.

The film suffers from an uneven tone. What were your thoughts on horror vs. humour as you were writing the script?
Okay, here’s the deal on HEAD CHEERLEADER, DEAD CHEERLEADER. I started making it before any money had really come back from HELLBLOCK 13. At the time, I thought HELLBLOCK 13 would do well. Well, as is often the case, the filmmakers didn’t make much money off of it. The distributors did, I’m sure, but not the filmmakers. By the time I realized this, I had already shot maybe a third of HEAD/DEAD. I waited a long time to finish, realizing that I may be throwing good money after bad. I financed half of HEAD/DEAD with my own money. I knew I had to finish it, but I realized I had to do it as quickly and cheaply as possible. The market just didn’t seem to be there. I had written pages of telephone dialogue that took place in one house. I always loved the opening scenes of SCREAM and WHEN A STRANGER CALLS and thought, “What if almost the whole movie took place in that one house, with a bunch of phone calls?” Well, of course, later I realized – too late – that it can easily become boring. At the time I thought I could make it more claustrophobic than it ended up being. But in the end, I didn’t have the time to do it justice.

Jeff: "Yet another good reason to NEVER give
your original materials to a distributor. ".

Did the film do well financially?
The idiots at a certain company who released it here in the U.S. went out of business shortly after its release. They owed me money. They also owe me my materials back. Yet another good reason to NEVER give your original materials to a distributor.

What did you think of the reviews?
Most I agree with.

Has anyone tried to sue you for the death of their daughter as a result of the film?

What are your thoughts on censorship and uptight citizens who are against horror movies?
I’m against censorship, but ratings make sense, to a degree.

You are currently working on THE LAST HORROR PICTURE SHOW which would see Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, and Gunnar Hansen team up to slaughter some teens. What stage is the project at?
We are close to securing funding.

Who had the initial idea to make the film?
Gunnar Hansen and Gary Jones wrote the script. I got involved as a producer shortly after meeting Gary when I moved to L.A.

Has anyone signed on yet?
Those three guys are attached, and we have interest from other actors and actresses.

When are we likely to hear confirmation?
Some announcements should be made shortly.

Jim O’Rear is also going to be working with the guys on THE DEMONS 5, is this likely to have an effect on your project?
Hopefully, there’s room for all of us.

Apart from this project what else can we expect to see from you in the near future?
I wrote a script with Gary called JOLLY ROGER, about a pirate who comes back from the dead to terrorize a small town. It was a lot of fun, some of the most fun I’ve had writing a script. The Asylum bought it. Shooting starts December 18th. Gary (“Xena,” “Hercules,” SPIDERS) is directing. Gary and I have a couple other projects in various stages, so stay on the lookout!

"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview Jeff.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."

Don't fall behind, make sure you get help
writing college papers fast.


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