Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Interview with Filmmaker Tommy Brunswick
Producer/writer/director/special FX artist and filmmaker Tommy Brunswick began her career working in commercial production with a clientele consisting of Ford, Jaguar, Chrysler, and Soloman-Friedman. She started her filmmaking career in 1998 when she wrote, produced, and directed two independent projects. Her first was a riveting documentary entitled Soul Food and her next project was a short film that chronicled the life of an emerging serial killer and the events that triggered his rage.
In 2000, Tommy Brunswick focused her artistic and business nature toward feature filmmaking as a full time career. She served as the Executive Producer, Producer, and head of special effects for Crossbow 5 Entertainment’s first motion picture Biker Zombies from Detroit.. As a fast rising cult favorite BZFD garnered Tommy the attention of several industry insiders. This set into motion the reality of directing, producing, and writing larger independent films.
In the last nine years Tommy has produced, directed, written, and lead the makeup FX for seven feature motion pictures. Lurking Terror (2001) was her directorial debut she also served as producer. In Mr. Jingles aka 2 S.I.C.K.: Mr. Jingles (2004) Tommy directed, produced, and headed special effects. Lions Gate Home Video Entertainment released it on July 11th, 2006. Tommy also produced, directed and did FX on Writer’s Block (2005) and The Remake (2005).
Then in 2006 Tommy and her husband Todd started a new company named The Skeleton Factory, in which the first motion picture under the new company was titled They Must Eat (2006), which Tommy wrote, directed, produced and did special FX for this monster intense movie. Six months later she again produced, directed, and lead the special effects for The Evil Offspring (2006). All this was leading the way to her current films Little Red Devil and Born of Earth, where Tommy had a small independent budget and some established Hollywood actors to work with. In 2009 she directed and produced two features for Atomic Devil Entertainment, Jingles the Clown (the re-imagining of Mr. Jingles on a larger budget) and Exit 33 which is in post production now.
Furthermore, Tommy has a new production company, Skull House Pictures, and is putting on Michigan’s only horror convention, Motor City Nightmares (www.motorcitynightmares.com), this upcoming April.
Tommy’s prolific body of work is speaks for itself, and also has bolstered her credibility as a rising star in the motion picture industry. In the opinion of some she is truly a one-woman show when it comes to her filmmaking abilities.
Fatally Yours: How did you fall in love with the horror genre?
Tommy Brunswick: When I was about 2 my parents started taking me to movies. Mostly horror. So I guess you could say I blame my parents.
Fatally Yours: What does horror mean to you?
Tommy Brunswick: I have a symbiotic relationship with horror it runs in my veins just like blood. I don’t think I could be who I am without it.
Fatally Yours: How and when did you get involved in the horror genre?
Tommy Brunswick: I was always just a grateful fan until my husband bought me a book for my 28th or 29th birthday – Filmmaking on the Fringe: The Good, the Bad, and the Deviant Directors by Maitland McDonagh. The week of my 30th birthday we started shooting our first movie and dove in head first after that.
Fatally Yours: What is one thing you’ve done within the horror genre that you are most proud of?
Tommy Brunswick: Well I didn’t quit when almost everyone told me it was hopeless or that I couldn’t do it…because I was a woman, wife, mother, etc…
Fatally Yours: Do you feel women in horror get the proper recognition when compared to their male counterparts?
Tommy Brunswick: No, so it works that my name is Tommy (my mother was a Who and I was born right around the time the rock opera came out). I have to work very hard to command respect. Most of the time people like to write it off as being a bitch. Especially producers that are not used to a woman calling the shots. My husband is my biggest supporter and without him in my corner I could not have come as far as I have. We work hand in hand, sometimes fist to fist to make the best pictures possible.
Fatally Yours: As a woman in horror, have you found it harder to be taken seriously in a genre that seems to be dominated by males?
Tommy Brunswick: Yes, but I feel the tides are turning.
Fatally Yours: As a female filmmaker, do you feel horror directed by women is different than that which is filmed by men? If so, how is it different and why?
Tommy Brunswick: I think good movies are good movies. I love all kinds of movies. The strength of the story comes from within. It is harder for women because it takes so long to get to a point where you actually get a movie funded and lets just say our biological clocks are going off. Two of my movies I was still breastfeeding. So when you need to take time off it is hard to get back on the horse. But I have proven that I can have a family and my career. That is one of the greatest things my mother taught me.
Fatally Yours: Since you’ve been involved with the horror genre, have you noticed a change in women’s roles within horror whether it be roles in horror films, women behind the camera, women writers, etc.?
Tommy Brunswick: Yes, when I said the tides are turning, I really mean it. It is almost a cool novelty now to be a female behind the camera. In front of the camera it has been a roller coaster ride of strong women and dumb ones. It changes with every new fad.
Fatally Yours: What women in horror do you admire?
Tommy Brunswick: Of course Maitland McDonagh for inspiring me, Barbara Peeters being the director of one of my favorite childhood movies (Roger Corman gave her the directing job for Humanoids from the Deep), Kathryn Bigelow for really breaking down barriers for women. She has done some big budget pictures that in the past that studios would never allow a woman to helm, now she is in the running for an Oscar. There are many more but those are my top ones as of now.
Fatally Yours: If you could direct one woman from the horror genre, living or dead, in one of your films who would it be and why?
Tommy Brunswick: Angelina Jolie, I had a project a few years back that I could only see her in. It was before all the Twilight stuff it was around the time the vampire books of Anne Rice were getting a lot of attention. I found a book at a little bookshop on Venice Beach called The Mystery Annex it was tucked back with all the independent titles. It was by Nancy Collins and was titled Sun Glasses after Dark it was my beginning love affair with Sonjia Blue. In short she was kind of a female Blade. But now with all the Underworld movies it is tougher to get something like that off the ground. It will always be one of my vanity projects I will want to do.
Fatally Yours: What inspires, influences and motivates you?
Tommy Brunswick: Good books. When I read or see something on how a person started from nothing and created something amazing. People really inspire me, I am a people watcher. My family inspires me everyday.
Fatally Yours: What are your favorite horror films, books, etc.?
Tommy Brunswick: Well, I do love the Sonjia Blue books, I really like Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child books that follow Agent Pendergast. The first four Anne Rice vampire books and a few of her Mayfair witches books. Movies I always have different ones at different times. I love The Descent, Inside, Dead Snow, Trick ‘r Treat, Shaun of the Dead. I can go on for ever with this so I think I better stop now.
Fatally Yours: What are your goals for yourself within the horror genre?
Tommy Brunswick: I want to keep making movies and make a living at it. I hope they keep getting bigger budgets but I will take anything that comes my way. I was told by a great director the key to the movie business is “just don’t quit”. Wes Craven told me that at [a] convention I met him at.
Fatally Yours: Where can people find more info on you?
Tommy Brunswick: We have many companies we work with and we also helm the only Michigan horror convention, Motor City Nightmares: www.motorcitynightmares.com.
I have a Facebook and a Myspace. The companies we have now are The Skeleton Factory, Atomic Devil Entertainment, and Skull House Pictures. I will be at our convention to do meet and greets along with showing our newest movies April 23-25.
We are in post on the 11th movie.