Christopher A. Broadstone on his film: 3 Dead Girls
i am very proud to interview for Horror Galore an enthusiastic Horror Film Director, Novelist, Film/Video Editor, Screen Writer, and Musician: Christopher Alan Broadstone, talking about his last production: 3 Dead Girls.
Q: Let’s start with the movie… 3 Dead Girls: what’s the title about? want to tell us a little more about the movie? where the idea comes from and how you’ve made it
CAB: 3 DEAD GIRLS! is an anthology DVD that brings together all three of my award-winning short films, plus about 4 hours of extras: behind-the-scenes featurettes, trailers, animated photo galleries, interviews, and 8 commentaries that include insightful and funny Dueling-Commentaries with Eve Blaack (HACKERS SOURCE Magazine) and Executive Producer Christopher Webster (HELLRAISER & HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II). Those are great fun! As far as inspiration for the films themselves, they were all three different. The first film I made was SCREAM FOR ME (Best Short Film: New York City Horror Film Fest). It was based on a short story I had written many, many years before. But what truly inspired me to make that movie was pure frustration. I had moved from Dallas to Los Angeles with my band, THE JUDAS ENGINE, and was also in the process of developing a screenplay for my, as yet, unpublished novel PUZZLEMAN (Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/l64uzlm ). I was working with two producers of different minds, which was demoralizing enough, but every time I suggested that I could direct the film version of PUZZLEMAN, they balked at me and told me it was impossible, and that I had no idea what I was talking about because I had never made a film before.
Eventually, the seven script versions I wrote for the conflicted producers fell into oblivion. But I still had an itch to make a film, to prove to the world (and to myself) I could or couldn't actually do it. I got up my nerve and my credit cards and ran at it. I chose SCREAM FOR ME because that particular story had always haunted me -- a psychological horror-thriller, in which one killer becomes the victim of another; one being a killer with a heart who sought the truth of what lay beyond death within the screams of the women he murdered. The characters were very complex, the story takes place all in one room, and one character wore reflective sunglasses throughout the film -- and that was only the beginning of the challenges of making this movie. So, I decided, if I was going to fail (or succeed), I was going to do it by taking on the most difficult story I could put on film.
My second film, MY SKIN!, was inspired by a Venetian-carnival bird mask I had spotted in a little shop here in L.A. I had my own digital video camera by then (first movie was shot on 16mm film), actor Tony Simmons from SCREAM FOR ME was willing, so I launched into writing a script. This time I wanted to do a lot of story telling with a wild camera and, also, to make something very Twilight Zone-ish and Hammer Horror film-esque. My third film, HUMAN NO MORE, was inspired by an unusually morbid and melancholy time in my life due to a runaway female. I also wanted to write another film for Tony Simmons and have him play a very different type of character once again. But this time a very human character, one who was suffering from prolonged grief disorder due to great personal loss. I wanted to pour my own feelings of despair into his character, and the film overall, and show how dark the world can be at times; and how the despondence can be so brutal it builds up a hatred and anger at the world that can no longer be contained. That's way too much said about all of that. Watch the movies!
Q: The idea of making horror movies in episodes is already been used by horror masters in the past. Did you have some influence about that?
CAB: Not really. I took on each film project one-by-one over a period of many years -- each was it's own challenge for me, both in writing, production, and the post-production process. It was only after the success of my films in festivals that I decided to combine all three into the anthology 3 DEAD GIRLS! I also wanted to add several commentaries for each film, covering many aspects, and also add many behind-the-scenes extras: trailers, featurette documentaries, animated photo galleries, etc. Also, it wasn't until I was compiling the DVD that I realized the thematic connection between all three films. Not only do all three star actor Tony Simmons, but each story is driven by the violent death of a young woman. Although the theme is blatantly obvious in hindsight, it never rounded out in my brain until I was standing in my kitchen late one night, having a drink and staring at a printout of the three dead women I had placed on my fridge, with magnets. I suddenly grabbed the pic off the fridge, snagged a nearby Sharpie marker, and scribbled out 3 DEAD GIRLS! across the bottom of the photo. It was perfect! I even scanned what I wrote into the computer and used it for the official text logo for the DVD. I never needed to alter it or rewrite it. It was meant to be.
Q: You grew up in Texas and then moved to L.A. which place had more influence on your actual career as director?
CAB: Texas has certainly had the most influence on the bulk of my writing so far. SCREAM FOR ME, my first film, takes place in Dallas; my debut novel PUZZLEMAN takes place in Dallas and Austin, primarily; and the short stories in my new collection, SUICIDE THE HARD WAY: And Other Tales From The Innerzone (http://tinyurl.com/nzjabmf), all take place in Dallas or neighboring Rockwall County. As for my film directing, moving to Los Angeles certainly pushed me into filmmaking, as I've detailed in the first question above – I originally came to L.A. as a musician with my band THE JUDAS ENGINE. My directing technique and filmmaking style hasn't been influenced by any geographic location, but purely by all the films I've fallen in love with over the years, and have watched and studied repeatedly.
Q: What is your opinion about the last 10 years production of horror movies in the US? Which country do you think is producing best horror movies at the moment?
CAB: If you're speaking about bigger budget, major studio horror films, I think they all have the same problem: they aren't doing anything new. And 99.9% of the time, they don't even try. Horror films made in the US are purely about making money, placating the masses, and then tossing them away to Netflix, On-Demand, and other ancillary markets. It's a flavor of the week mentality, except most flavors produced are all the same. It's rare that I'm intrigued enough to go see a horror film in the theater. What other country do I think is producing the best horror movies these days? I can't really name one. The good films, or at least the more experimental ones -- those that are more psychological and willing to explore more than "what goes bump in the night" and the next slasher-killer -- come from any country. I like dark, macabre, thought-provoking films that have come out of Sweden, Spain, Italy, and Australia, to name a few. Recently, I enjoyed THE BABADOOK quite a bit, which is an Aussie flick. I like the Swedish version of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN quite a lot.
Q: Want to tell to our audience a little bit about your personal life story? this site have a section about real horror stories… did you ever experienced something really creepy in your life?
CAB: My personal life story isn't all that interesting -- middle class family, loving and supportive parents, a happy home, and I haven't ever gone hungry -- but artistically, my life has been more of an exercise in maddening frustration and mind-numbing futility. Real life, however, is where I usually find the greatest horrors -- in the day-to-day on this absurd planet we all call home. And it's intrinsically a part of us -- innate within us. If you want what's horrifying to me, watch a documentary about the Nazis or a million other nasty human atrocities that have gotten away with torture, murder, or worse -- and still do everyday. I've been lucky though; my life has never been horrible, but I don't have to look too far to see just how awful it could be with only the tiniest twist of fate.
As for creepy happenings in my life? Hmmmmm...there have been several, and most not so easily explained by logic or science. But in keeping with the horror theme of this interview... a long time ago I worked at a T-Shirts Plus store in Town East Mall, in Mesquite, Texas. We, of course, had a phone number (remember that). After about 3 years the store closed and I went off and taught drum lessons professionally. A year later I was contacted by the same owner of the long-defunct Town East T-Shirts Plus. Sick of teaching drums to students who didn't really care, I accepted his offer to manage a new store in Red Bird Mall, about 20 miles south. One day a middle-aged woman approached me at the counter and was upset about a crinkled cotton shirt we were selling. She just wasn't satisfied with the ones we had on the rack and asked me to call our other store and see what they had in stock. I informed her that my owner currently had no other T-Shirts Plus location. She abruptly became angry with me, accusing me of not wanting to help her. I apologized and insisted we have no other store. She then pulled a scrap of paper out of her purse and held it up for me to see, saying, "Well this is the number and I was just there yesterday!" I studied the paper and handwritten on it was the phone number to the T-Shirts Plus I had worked at in Town East Mall, which had been closed for well over a year. The woman stormed out of the store. Now that freaked me out a bit, and I wondered what would happen if I called that number today. Who would answer? I finally did call, but there was only an answering machine with a vague message. I later wrote a short story based on the incident with the crazy woman and what might have happened if I had called the old T-Shirts Plus number and somebody I just wasn't expecting answered the phone. The story is the title tale in my new collection, SUICIDE THE HARD WAY: And Other Tales From The Innerzone. Worth a read.
I also incorporated into the story another creep-out moment that occurred one night at the Town East store -- one involving an eerie individual who kept hovering around while I was imprinting the last T-shirt of the night for a lone customer. I inadvertently noticed he had 999 tattooed on the top of his right hand, and I thought he was likely a big fan of the punk band 999. After growing tired of me hassling with the customer's shirt, however, he approached me, reversed his hand, and raised it upward. He then slowly made a fist, showing me that 999 was actually meant to be read as 666. He told me a place to meet him later and then, while focusing my attention on his 666-fist, added, "This can get you anything you want." Then he quietly left. I never went to meet the guy, but my story SUICIDE THE HARD WAY explores what might have happened if I had gone to possibly meet the Devil face-to-face.
Q: How did you decide to make horror movies yourself? Always been a fan of them?
CAB: I have always been a fan of dark films, but I have also always watched many genres, and all of them have influenced my story telling in one way or another. Although my writing and filmmaking has consistently defaulted into horror, I probably read and watch other genres quite a bit more. I watch a lot of documentaries -- history, science, religious and occult philosophy fuel a lot of what I think about on a daily basis and are often the catalyses of my stories. As for the why and how I decided to make horror movies, I won't bore anyone further with that topic, since I answered it in detail in question #1.
Q: You used to have a band, do you realize your own movies soundtracks?
CAB: So far I haven't written any soundtracks for my films. I exploited the previously recorded music of Dallas band UGLY MUS-TARD for my first film, SCREAM FOR ME, and with my second and third films I used a very talented composer, Brian Sussman, to write all original music. But more specifically to your question, I made use of two songs from my band THE JUDAS ENGINE for my first and third films – the songs being WORLD SCREAM and I AM A WALL (http://tinyurl.com/ktswanw), respectively -- and I wrote the lyrics for IN THE MOONLIGHT (http://tinyurl.com/m3fc2g8), the end credits music for my film MY SKIN!, as well as the lyrics for SOUL IN HOLE (http://tinyurl.com/mvqcwpq) from my film HUMAN NO MORE. Only time will tell if I compose a soundtrack for a future movie -- I'm not ruling it out --but I would like to work with Brian Sussman again on a future project. He always delivers something unique; never a canned horror score.
Q: Certainly our users want to know about your horror tastes… what’s your favorite horror movie and, if possible, your favorite director?
CAB: I find it very difficult to nail down what my favorite horror film is. Probably in the top 5 are the standards: THE EXORCIST, THE SHINING, THE OMEN, and all the Boris Karloff & Bela Lugosi films, and the Lon Chaney silent horrors, especially those directed by Todd Browning. Ok, so that's already more than 5. There are too many films I love. I'm a big fan of director Alfred Hitchcock and also David Fincher, whose films ALIEN 3, SEVEN, and FIGHT CLUB, I've watched countless times. I also always return to SILENCE OF THE LAMBS as a modern classic. And, and, and...my list never ends.
Q: About the never-ending war between FILM vs DIGITAL, what is your position? how do you shoot usually?
CAB: I shot my first movie on 16mm film, edited it on film, and output it on film. It was an extremely tedious, time-consuming, and expensive process, but one I also loved. Too many new/young filmmakers today have no experience working with film and that's really a shame. It's so easy to get a digital camera now, download some editing software, and just start shooting -- which means newbie filmmakers no longer take the time to really learn the technical process or spend the necessary time thinking about their projects. It's an ADHD world these days -- and I'm talking about "attention-deficit hyperactivity-disorder", not HD high-definition video. It seems going viral with a 1 minute joke-of-a-film is all that's important. And, of course, everyone with a smart phone is also a filmmaker in this era of media oversaturation. Now, having said all that, I'm very in favor of using digital cameras and non-linear editing software. My second two films (and everything else I've done) have been in a digital format. It's the only cost effective way to make a movie in modern times -- and the limits of visual and aural exploitation within the computer realm is limitless. Also, now that digital tape is becoming obsolete in favor of digital media files, I doubt I'll ever make a movie on film again. At least not if I have to pay for it myself.
Q: Then the final usual question for our guests: Share a dream with us. about your work or anything else.
CAB: Share a dream? If you mean: what I wish would happen with my work and what I'd like to achieve before I drop dead, well... my dreams are very big, but also very small at the same time. I want my films and writing to help me make a living, first of all. And right now, that's still not happening -- which often terrifies the hell out of me, because I realize I might actually have to abandon my art and get a job flipping burgers or cleaning streets just to survive. With my music, writing, or filmmaking, I've never been looking to get rich (and certainly not quickly), but it would sure be wonderful to make ends meet. On the big dreams front -- the likely impossible dreams side of wishing -- I would like my work to make a difference in the world, if only it prompts a few people to think a little differently. And when I'm finally gone from this planet, I would love for my stories, whether literary or cinematic, to be remembered and revisited by future generations. It's all I have to offer this world. It's highly unlikely I'll be the one to find a cure for cancer or bring world peace. But maybe I could help cure someone of being bored to death or feeling limited in his or her thoughts. Maybe I could be a spark of inspiration and a pilot light for someone's imagination.
3 DEAD GIRLS! DVD on Amazon
PUZZLEMAN: A Novel on Amazon
PUZZLEMAN: A Novel on Facebook
SUICIDE THE HARD WAY: And Other Tales From The Innerzone on Amazon