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Scott Goldberg

Scott: "A person who wants to make a difference in horror cinema".

Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
July 21st, 2006

Scott Goldberg may only be 23, but he has already amassed a huge amount of experience in the low budget horror industry, with a number of films already under his belt, and many more on the way.

I caught up with Scott to discuss his great plans for the genre. Read on for the scoop on this exciting new filmmaker.

In one sentence, who is Scott Goldberg?
Scott Goldberg is a person who is passionate about horror films and a person who wants to make a difference in horror cinema.

How did you get into filmmaking?
When I was younger, I was always into horror films and loved how films took me away from everyday reality. There were certain actions and images put on screen that if you really did do, would have been illegal. I think there’s a certain psychological element in horror elements and it keeps people glued to the screen. I have always been interested in the process of filmmaking, and throughout my teen years I learned about filmmaking and decided to enroll in a film school. I’d say that enrolling in film school helped my filmmaking career to a certain degree, but I learned the most when I was working on the locations and sets of films. During my second year in college, I was hired as 2nd Assistant Director on a Super16mm short film entitled, ‘Dancing With You’, which was a 12-minute short film that was shot on Long Island and in New York City. That was my first experience working with a professional crew, Super16mm film and understanding the process of filmmaking more. Everything else that I have worked on has been Digital Video. The great thing about Digital Video of today is that it’s easily available to filmmakers who want to make films and get their views across to a wide audience. There are many aspiring filmmakers who are making films, and the advice I would give them is to just keep working on the craft and making films.

What are your thoughts on the current state of horror?
Mainstream horror films of today have no passion put into them, which is what really upsets me as an artist. To effectively make a great film, you have to be passionate about it. Every shot has to mean something to the story. In today’s mainstream horror, that is what is lacking. Horror needs a voice and many filmmakers are pushing independent horror films in the right direction.

What are some of your favorite horror films of all time?
I love classic horror films. My top favorite horror films in no particular order are: Carrie’, ‘Phantasm’, ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’, ‘Halloween’, and the list goes on. I love ‘Halloween’ because of the element of suspense that was built up in that film. A lot of people say that it was a rip-off of Bob Clark’s ‘Black Christmas’ and I can see where it borrowed from some of the shots and elements, but I think that ‘Halloween’ was a great film because of the way John Carpenter executed it.

Do you ever feel hard done by as an independent filmmaker, or does lack of money only encourage your enthusiasm for the genre and filmmaking?
I think with lack of money, there is more creativity, but then you have to think about it this way… There is never enough money, no matter what budget you have. The more money you have, the bigger and better quality your project will become. The bigger your project will come, the more it leans towards being a union film, with union actors, and paid cast and crew. I have learned to work with nothing and make something effective and original (‘All I Want For Christmas’). That is what mainstream horror films are missing today – originality and passion put into the films.

Scott: "Your job as a filmmaker is to get it out there and promote your film".

On paper you are a 23 year old indie filmmaker, what do you feel makes genre stars like Paul Kratka want to work with you?
I was very honest when I approached Paul about the role of Detective Jason Ronner in ‘The Day They Came Back’. He had expressed interest when I had sent him the script for and he was looking to get back into acting, and we talked via e-mail about him coming down to Long Island to act in the film, and soon enough we were working together. We have been good friends ever since.

You started out making short films which played the festivals and are now working on a huge amount of projects, some feature length, some shorts, what is your ultimate goal?
My main goal is to make films on bigger budgets than $3,000 and to make a living out of this. A lot of people were very surprised at how professional ‘The Day They Came Back’ was, especially for a film with such a low budget. That’s the kind of response you’d like to hear, especially from the audience. I also think that entertaining the audience is the most important thing as well. You always have to keep busy and be 110 percent committed to making things happen for yourself. If you finish a film and let it sit there on your desk collecting dust, you aren’t doing your job. Your job as a filmmaker is to get it out there and promote your film, along with yourself. On my end, I have done all of the promoting for my films by myself, and they have been making a great deal of noise on the Internet. I also made sure from the beginning to put ‘The Day They Came Back’ online for free so horror fans can download the film and watch the film right from their computer.

You’re an animal rights activist, what is your opinion on animal cruelty in horror movies?
Here is how I see it: If it’s real murder, then it’s wrong. If it’s a fake, on-screen murder and no animals are harmed, then that’s art. I have always been passionate towards animals and believe that they have feelings just like humans and should be treated with love and respect. This includes not eating or harming animals, thus why I am a raw vegan and believe so strongly about animal rights.

What about the killing of innocent people in horror films?
Innocent people being stalked and killed in horror films have been going on for a long time. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was a great example of the sort of horror that was happening in factory farms and slaughterhouses. Instead of animals being brutally murdered and eaten, it was people. The thing that made the film so creepy was the fact that cannibalism is real and that this could happen anywhere in the world. There is nothing scarier that a horror film that is realistic and shocking, which is why The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the greatest horror films of all time.

Many of your favourite film directors (Romero, Craven etc) are the same as mine, what did you enjoy most about growing up in the age of the video nasty?
I really enjoy the entertainment value of horror films. You have all different type of sub-genres, which made it even better. I would always bring “Friday the 13th” films on videotape over to my friend Sahil’s house when we were younger and we’d watch them after school and really get into them. We’d always laugh at the parts of the film which we found funny and would recite lines, and have a great time. Video was great because many horror films were available at the time in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and it’s what I grew up on, especially at a young age.

Your first feature film ‘Dead End Massacre’ sounds like an homage to 80’s horror; would that be a fair assumption?
‘Dead End Massacre’ was my first feature film and it was unfortunately never finished. It was a film that was shot throughout 2003 and it was a complete rip-off of ‘Halloween’. It was about a seven year old girl who killed a school bully and was locked away in a mental institution. Ten years later she escapes, and terrorizes her neighborhood to get revenge on all of those who made fun of her. I was heavily influenced by John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ and wanted to make a film just like it, with my own spin on it. We were actually planning a sequel right after we had shot ‘Dead End Massacre’ called, ‘Dead End Massacre II: Summer Camp Nightmare’, but since the first one was never completed, it made no sense to shoot a sequel. It did help me learn about the craft of filmmaking more and that made me a better filmmaker.

‘The Day They Came Back’ is a horror film you shot in 2005. Can you tell us more about that film?
The idea for ‘The Day They Came Back’ dawned on me when I had just finished my final thesis for college, ‘The Night They Came Back’, which was a short zombie film. I wanted to direct another zombie film, and we shot the film in a two-month period, with re-shoots in the months that followed. Chiko Mendez and I had worked on the thesis project the previous year and I knew of his abilities as an actor, so I cast him as the lead role, Sergeant Enrique Hernandez. Believe it or not, the story from what it was in the beginning was much different than what the final film is today. The problem with shooting the original concept was that it called for a lot of blood and gore, and the locations for the original concept were going to be suburban homes on Long Island. We didn’t have any money to build sets in a studio, so I figured to change the location of the film to an old, abandoned foundation at Welwyn Preserve in Glen Cove, New York. It actually worked out better for us as well for the overall feel of the film. I wrote the story, while Chiko Mendez and Caley Bisson helped round out the script and make it an effective screenplay.

‘All I Want For Christmas’ is a short film you recently finished. Can you tell us more about that and what you’re looking to do with the film?
‘All I Want For Christmas’ is a short horror film series and the idea was thought up in December 2004. I have always wanted to do a Christmas film, or a film based around a Christmas theme. I brainstormed ideas for a short film that I could shoot with no money and came up with the idea for a super short film, about a demented rapist who spends the holidays with his “daughter”. We shot the first scene in January 2006, and every weekend would add more scenes to it, because I felt there was more of a story to tell. Chiko Mendez was the only person I had in mind to play the role of Santa Cruz because I knew how versatile an actor he was since we worked together on two projects before ‘All I Want For Christmas’. The film is finished and is in film festival circulation. It will be posted on my website very soon so if you want to watch it online, you may do so at: www.ScottGoldbergFilms.com.

‘The Forest Hills’ has an interesting premise, how did you come up with that idea?
I had just finished the first episode for the ‘All I Want For Christmas’ series and was on the phone with two good friends of mine, Elaine Lamkin (Bloody-Disgusting.com) and Wes Vance (DeadPit.com). We were discussing films and I had the crazy idea of coming out to Kentucky to shoot a short horror film. After two weeks of discussing it, we knew that money and locations would be an issue, so I decided to use Long Island as the shooting location for ‘The Forest Hills’. The film is currently in pre-production and will start shooting this summer.

Scott: "It was a chance we had to take
to finish the film".

Can you tell us about any funny or interesting stories from your films that you can recall?
There are a lot of great memories that I’ve had while shooting my films, and I do remember specifically while shooting the first scenes for ‘The Day They Came Back’, a Production Assistant was putting a Wide Angle Lens on the front of the camera we were shooting with and it snapped on the wrong way. The lens was stuck and it would not come off. I had no money to send it in to be repaired, so we shot the whole week with the Wide Angle Lens on the camera. During one of the scenes involved zombies walking past the camera to pick up one of the actors, which was later re-shot, the Wide Angle Lens fell out. We had to shoot the rest of the film without a lens, which was a very big risk because one scratch of the inner lens and the camera wouldn’t be able to get fixed. It was a chance we had to take to finish the film.

Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming short film, ‘Nightmare’?
‘Nightmare’ is a super short film about a young girl who falls asleep and through the images in her dreams, dies from mental trauma. It’s a really super short film, which we shot on one weekend at JHD Productions in Deer Park, Long Island.

Paul Kratka has spoken highly of you and has worked with you a few times now; do you get a buzz when your idols are so supportive of your career?
Paul is one of the nicest guys I have ever met. I was very nervous before we met, and was a little bit ashamed of how low the budget was for ‘The Day They Came Back’. I was thinking to myself, “Why the hell would the lead of “Friday the 13th Part 3” want to act in my no-budget zombie short?” The answer was simple: He believed in the project and believed in the people who were making the film. Since working with Paul in ‘The Day They Came Back’, we have been discussing future projects to collaborate on, as well as horror film festivals and conventions in the near future.

Tell us about future film festivals you will be attending to promote your films and be a special guest at?
I do have a couple of film festivals that I will be attending this fall as a special guest/guest speaker, and people can check out the up to date festival information on my official website, www.ScottGoldbergFilms.com. One of the film festivals that has been confirmed which I am very excited about is the 2006 Eerie Horror Film Festival. Greg Ropp, the festival director is a really nice guy and is interested in bringing independent horror back by showcasing the best of independent horror at the festival. There are a few other festivals that I will be a special guest at that will be made official later on in the year.

You’re featured in Christopher P. Garetano’s forthcoming film ‘Son of Horror Business’ and also feature in the documentary ‘Horror Business’. How did that come about and what has the experience been like?
Christopher P. Gareteano is a filmmaker who I met in September 2005 at the ‘Fangoria Weekend of Horrors’ convention in New Jersey and being that we both lived on Long Island, we knew we had to work with each other in some capacity. His film, ‘Horror Business’ was in festival circulation and I was interested in being in any upcoming documentaries he had planned for the future. He told me about ‘Son of Horror Business’, and I told him about future projects I was working on, and he decided that he wanted to make me one of the main subjects for ‘Son of Horror Business’, not for my projects, but for the reason that I was an interesting subject. At the 2006 Long Island Film Festival, horror filmmakers were coming up to him asking if they could be interviewed for ‘Son of Horror Business’ and Chris had to tell them, “Sorry, but I’m here for Scott.” He has a plan and vision of what he wants specifically, and that’s the sign of a great filmmaker. Believe it or not, but I didn’t see ‘Horror Business’ until early 2006, right before I shot ‘All I Want For Christmas’, and I was blown away by the quality and passion put into the project. ‘Son of Horror Business’ is the celebration of independent horror as well as the people involved and films being made independently.

Last April, Chris invited me to come out to Montauk, Long Island with conspiracy theorist John Brodie, whom is one of the main subjects in ‘Horror Business’ to shoot some footage for what was to be footage for ‘Son of Horror Business’, but then later changed to being footage for a special feature on the ‘Horror Business’ DVD which I believe is coming out this fall. We went to Montauk and shot two hours worth of footage about a conspiracy that was surrounding an area called Camp Hero, which is located at the end of Long Island. There is a theory and a strong truth that government experiments were conducted there many years ago, and we went to the location to check out what it’s all about. It was an interesting experience hanging around John Brodie and listening to him talk. He is very passionate in what he believes in. As for me, I believe there is some truth to what he says.

What can we expect to see from you in the coming months?
I am in early pre-production on a feature length film right now and it’s a spin-off of one of my short films. I am currently in the early storyline stages right now, trying to figure out what to do with the story, as well as expanding the story from the short film. I’m going to keep the same premise, but make it darker and creepier. Until next time, stay scared.

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

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