Saturday, February 13, 2016

Exploring The Value Of Sci-fi's Darkside: My Interview With "Shockwave: Darkside" Director Jay Weisman

Jay Weisman is a veritable force of talent and creativity when it comes to storytelling, bringing to life worlds and characters visually and descriptively. He has written and directed for Spike TV and the Syfy Channel, plus his talent extends beyond the medium of film and television into the field of music, having directed the music video 'Moon' for the band Fossil. Most recently Jay Weisman wrote and directed the sci-fi feature "Shockwave: Darkside", a futuristic saga in which mankind Battles for survival during humanity's most vulnerable period.

" Shockwave: Darkside " recently saw release digitally across on demand and digital download formats. The film stars Mei Melançon, Bill Sage, Sonequa Martin, Rich Ceraulo, and Alexander Cendese. The story follows the final tribes of humanity during the last great war. I had the opportunity to ask Weisman a few questions about "Shockwave: Darkside" and filmmaking. Read my interview with the talented storyteller below.

A Southern Life: Where did the idea for "Shockwave Darkside" come from?

Jay Weisman: It honestly came from a writing exercise.  In my downtime, I sometimes assign myself writing exercises - just to see what I can come up with.  One day I was brainstorming about a scenario where ordinary people are confronted with something not only extraordinary - but something that they were well beyond being equipped to handle.  How would they cope?  And what would happen to their belief systems along the way...?

Something about that notion really captured my attention, so I tried to put my characters into the worst place imaginable and have them cut off from all their support systems - which became fighting a war on the dark side of the moon.  I showed the outline to my managers Dan DeFilippo and Dave Market over at Pipeline, they not only gave me some constructive feedback but also decided to put some money into the project - and we were off to the races! 

A Southern Life: " Shockwave: Darkside" is special effects driven, when did you first realize you wanted to be a special effects artist?

Jay Weisman: My love of Special Effects really goes as far back as I can remember - even before I was old enough to see "Star Wars".  I was always captivated by the notion that things could happen on screen that couldn't really happen in real life.  I think maybe the original "King Kong" that I caught on television was the thing that really sparked my imagination.  It had monsters, planes and the Empire State building - it was perfect!

Of course shortly after that I was exposed to not only "Star Trek" and "Star Wars", but older movies like George Pal's "War of the Worlds" and the works of Ray Harryhausen.  My father was a big fan of classic science fiction films, so he really introduced that world to me.  I would eagerly gobble up magazines like Starlog, Cinefex and Cinefantastique to try and answer the eternal question – which always was; 'how'd they do that'?  

 Of course, "Shockwave Darkside" was made by many, many special effects artists - modellers, animators, compositors - and it was an incredible experience because we all had more or less the same frame of reference.  In fact, we were literally from all over the world, but we all read the same stuff and watched the same movies, so if I said a spaceship needed to maneuver more like the Eagle from “Space:1999” and less like the Millennium Falcon, then they knew exactly what I was talking about.  It was really wonderful to meet so many different people, from all walks of life who had similar dreams and passions.  

A Southern Life: We're you shocked at the positive reception you have received for your talent, you are now award winning?

Jay Weisman: It is a bit weird. My short film “Surveillances” won a few awards a while back, which was very, very rewarding - but then again, you can read one review who picks your film apart, and then another that praises it for the exact same reason - so you tend to take these things with a grain of salt.  It is my hope that all the reactions encourage like-minded people to give "Shockwave" a chance because everybody's time is valuable and the market place is so crowded.  

A Southern Life: How does "Shockwave: Darkside" differ from some of your other work, both in the music industry as well as television?
Jay Weisman: I've been fortunate enough to work in a variety of industries - which has been great professionally because it's been very rewarding.  I'd like to think I'm a curious person by nature, so it's always interesting for me to learn about how various businesses work and all the personalities that inhabit it.  I think it makes me a better writer because it's a constant tug of war between the universal and specific.  I think a job is a job is a job, but people are fascinated by all the details and nuances that make up that world - so I'm forever trying to absorb as much as I can because you never know where you find inspiration.  

That all said, "Shockwave Darkside" was a unique situation because it was something that I more or less thought up.  I remember when and where I had the original idea, so to see it through from all the incarnations of the script and then the shooting and the post process, it really was more than just a job to me - it was kind of a way of life.  So looking back on everything, that kind of seismic event is something that you can't really compare it to because it's all-encompassing.  

A Southern Life: When did you first realize you wanted to direct? 

Jay Weisman: Since I knew what a director was!  As I learned about making movies it seemed to me that the person who was having most fun on the set was the director.  It just looked like the coolest job - so I gravitated to it.  One of the things that always attracted me to filmmaking was that it is very multidisciplinary in that it truly takes such a multitude of talents to make a film.  Literally every art form in the history of man, from writing to painting to sculpture to music and photography is used to make a movie - and the director is at center of all that which is something that always appealed to me.  

A Southern Life: Seeing as how you are multi-talented, special effects - writing - directing, is there one that you prefer over the other?

Jay Weisman: I've produced more than I've directed at the point where we started making “Shockwave”, so I'd say that was in more of my comfort zone - but it really depends on the day and what's going on.  I love the act of writing and all the problem solving that you have to do on the page, but it can be a very lonely exercise.  Directing is almost the opposite where everybody is coming at you with a million questions all at once because the click is ticking.  

To be honest, it's really the balance of all three that I find rewarding because the reality is that there is such overlap anyways.  It's very rare where I just did 'one' thing.  I was either starting producing prep while finishing up a re-write, or tweaking dialogue with an actor in rehearsal while trying to work out logistics with the other producers - so it's really a mixed blessing of muti-tasking more than anything else.  

A Southern Life:  Back to "Shockwave: Darkside", what can sci-fi fans expect to see?
Jay Weisman: I'd like to think that "Shockwave Darkside" is more in the “Martian” or “Interstellar” school as it is a bit more character-driven.  We still have cool spaceships and firefights, but as I mentioned above, the original kernel of the idea was about ordinary people who have to confront the extraordinary, so there is more of a focus on our characters and what they go through.  

In a way, it is much more reminiscent of the original "Star Trek" or 'Twilight Zone".  Those stories were essentially morality plays that took the themes and struggles of the day and played them out through the lens of science fiction.  Of course this is what sci-fi does really well, so in a lot of ways our film was inspired by this kind of storytelling, which is something that I don't think we've seen in a while.  

A Southern Life: Have you always been a fan of science fiction? What are some of the film's that has influenced you?

Jay Weisman: Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" was always a source of inspiration while we were making the movie.  There was a depth and a really interesting austere quality that spoke to the story that we were trying to tell.  On the other side of the spectrum, we also thought of the movie as "Saving Private Ryan" on the Moon, so I think those two films represent the two poles that 'Shockwave Darkside" occupies; the sad humanity of a wartime tale eclipsed by the unfathomable cosmos.  

I've always been a huge fan of science fiction, so directors like Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Kubrick, Spielberg and Lucas has obviously been a influence on me.  I'm also a fan of older directors like Howard Hawks, Preston Sturges and David Lean because they make it all look so easy!

A Southern Life: "Shockwave: Darkside" premiered  at Fright Fest in London last year, were you nervous at all, and where do you go from there? More festivals or straight to distribution?
Jay Weisman: Fright Fest was a wild ride!  I didn't realize how nervous I was until I actually sat in the theater right before the first showing.  Leading up to the screening, I was more concerned about the logistics of actually getting to the venue then the actual screening itself. Only when I actually settled in at the back of the theater for the first screening did it hit me that people were actually filing in to see our movie!  It was a crazy kind of excitement that I'll never forget.  

Coming out of the festival we were able to secure a sales agent and, eventually, distribution - so that's been amazing as well.  We actually had a few screenings along the way and are now settling in to distribute the movie.  You can get it on VOD via iTunes and Google Play or on DVD when it comes out in March.  

A Southern Life: What other projects do you have in the works beyond "Shockwave: Darkside"?

Jay Weisman: It's been kind of an embarrassment of riches because It's been pretty much all "Shockwave" all the time since we sold the movie - so while I'm working on a new batch of projects, I'm not quite there yet in announcing them.  I will soon though!

Latest Batch Of Cool Images From "The Hollow"

Historia Films has just released a batch of impressive new stills from THE HOLLOW, the upcoming thriller from THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING's Lisa Bruce, written and directed by Miles Doleac (BANSHEE).

The film features an ensemble cast including James Callis (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA), Jeff Fahey (LOST), Christiane Seidel (BOARDWALK EMPIRE), William Forsythe (THE BRONX BULL), Miles Doleac (CONTAINMENT), William Sadler (IRON MAN 3), David Warshofsky (NOW YOU SEE ME), Garrett Hines (DEEPWATER HORIZON), Jim Gleason (THE BEST OF ME) and Kelly Lind (THE BIG SHORT).

When a U.S. congressman's daughter passing through a small town in Mississippi dies in a mysterious triple homicide, a team of F.B.I. agents descends to investigate, the team's brilliant but jaded lead agent battling demons both past and present, as his beautiful, tough-as-nails partner tries to hold him and the case together. They find a struggling and corrupt sheriff's department, a shadowy and much-feared figure, who seems to be pulling all of the town's strings from his mansion on the edge of town and a local victim with a strange connection to a number of the town's most prominent figures

THE HOLLOW will be released later this year.

Crowd Funding Still Conjuring Manos' Return!

A crowd funding campaign is still Conjuring the return of Manos. The film will be the sequel to Cult classic "Manos:The Hands Of Fate", a film that dealt with one family's vaca  nightmare in which they face a cult set on sacrifice in honor of their god. The film was reintroduced to movie fans by the series 'Mystery Science Theatre'.

The " Manos Returns" crowd funding is taking place on Kickstarter with weeks left before the campaign ends. The sequel will bring back many of the original cast to reprise their character roles. Head over to the Kickstarter campaign and Facebook page to learn more.

Friday, February 12, 2016

First Fully Immersive VR Project, "The Tale Of Two Faces

Filmmaker Joston Theney teams with Radiant Images to create the first fully immersive VR narrative project, THE TALE OF TWO FACES.

Writer-Director Joston "El Rey" Theney of #SinningWorks teams with the award-winning 2D, 3D and Virtual Reality solutions house Radiant Images, whose credits include the Ron Howard film IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, THE 33 and the Jake Gyllenhaal sports drama SOUTHPAW, to create the first fully immersive VR experience in narrative filmmaking.  Radiant Images is renowned for it's innovation in the way of leading edge technology for the film and TV industries.  And Radiant Images' streaming partner VRLIVE will provide a device-agnostic premiere of the film on Friday the 13th - May 13, 2016.  With VRLIVE's support, for the first time ever & for FREE, everyone everywhere will be able to stream the VR film to any viewing device with an internet connection, be it iPhone, iPad, Desktop, PlayStation, Tablet, Android phone, etc.

THE TALE OF TWO FACES brings two of horror's most identifiable and iconic villains to the same killing grounds.  SCREAM's "Ghostface" and "Leatherface" of the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE go head to head in a parodic pastiche that's part of a planned 6-part series of VR projects from #SinningWorks and writer/director Joston "El Rey" Theney.  It stars popular music singer Emii and former "Baywatch" star Angelica Bridges.  THE TALE OF TWO FACES premieres Friday, May 13, 2016 on

"Ballet Of Blood " Gets Distribution

Ballet of Blood, the 9th feature film by Jared Masters, has been picked up for distribution by Gravitas Ventures. It will have a vast cross-platform VOD release March 1, 2016. 

What critics are saying: “A lot of potential to plumb… Solid… Fun… Compelling… Extremely poetic… Complex and intriguing… BALLET OF BLOOD delivers big ideas … I appreciated a lot.” - Ain't It Cool News. 

The motion picture won Audience Choice Award at the 2015 RIP International Horror Film Festival. It was also nominated for Best Acting Ensemble and Best Editing. It should also appear on DVD very soon (a rare VHS is currently available on eBay for $89).

Synopsis: After years of emotional abuse and body shaming, two ballerina's drug-fueled fantasy, of viciously attacking their ballet school, becomes reality. Meanwhile, a nerdy ballerina starts writing a novel based on the events that transpired, deeply offending some for turning such sensitive material into a book, for young audiences. Soon, her and her sister realize every word being typed is somehow altering real life. Will this strange and psychedelic paralleling fantasy carry the sisters, along with anyone else, to a merciless blood-splattered doom?

The film stars Sydney Ray and Jessica Knopf, as the partners in crime. Laura Amelia as the dance teacher, Delphine, and Julia Faye West as company co-owner. The film also features Mindy Robinson as the prima ballerina, with Walter Hochbrueckner, Vera R. Taylor, Rubi Garcia, Marla Martinez, Jacqueline Marie Alberto, Dawna Lee Heising, Dallas Chandler, Krystall Schott, Georgie Borchardt, Sky Patterson, Christopher Arias, Kimberly Cohen, Robert Evans and Marylyn Brooks.

Produced by Julia Faye West, Sydney Raye, Vera R. Taylor, Walter Hochbrueckner, John Gonatos, Mikko Tervonen, Michael Anthony and Bouvier. Production design by Mystic Marlow. Art Direction by Ryan Henneman. Sound by Jean-Paul Inesta, stills by Mark Rakocy, script editing by H. Raven Rose. Written and directed by Jared Masters.

"Terror Birds" Release Date Set

A March 8th release date has been announced for "Terror Birds". The film is directed by Sean Cain and stars Greg Evigan (Megaconda, Metal Tornado, TekWar), Leslie Easterbrook (Lavalantula, Devil's Rejects, Police Academy), Jessica Lee Keller (Disney's Teen Beach 1 & 2) & Lindsey Sporrer (Blue Mountain State). " Terror Birds" will be released on Digital HD and On Demand.

When Maddy Stern discovers her father has gone missing during a routine birdwatching excursion, she and her college pals trek out into the wilderness to find him, only to end up in a wealthy scientist's desolate ranch aviary, where they encounter a pair of giant, hungry terror birds believed to be extinct for centuries.

Concept Media Finds March Release for "Fault"

Writer & director Ryan Stacy presents a new film set to  release the week of  March 14, 2016.  The project, entitled "It's Your Fault," is Concept Media's first venture in the realm of dark comedies and thrillers.  Headlining the project are Stacy Freeders, Corey A. Thrush, and Erin R. Ryan (all alumni of CM's "Midsummer Nightmares" franchise). Other seasoned veterans to join the cast:  Joe Kidd ("Scarewaves"), Brittany Blanton ("Don't Fuck in the Woods"), Payton Krebs ("The Lamb," "Elfis 2").  Five- time BMX racing National Champion Ian Cox makes his acting debut in the film.

Ryan Stacy's first directorial effort since 2014's "Midsummer Nightmares II: Summer's End" sees a joint release the same week with Shawn Burkett's newest project entitled "The Lamb." Burkett serves as co-director of photography with Ryan Stacy and  Noah Combs.  Other crew members include Michael Reeves ("Season's Greetings") and Deryk Wehrley (Concept Media's in-house special effects artist).  

Official synopsis : "The most disastrous indie film ever, "Shock of the Century," has just premiered. The crowds and critics are coming for indie filmmaker's worst dreams come true!  Afterward the cast and crew are to meet up for a post-premiere dinner.  However the negative reactions cause the conflicts (both personal & professional) of set-life to resurface. The group is soon enveloped in a cloud of humiliating, maddening memories & exchanges that quickly force a few members to completely snap!"


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