Thursday, March 6, 2008

Interview with "Sweatshop" Writer Ted Geoghegan

We’ve just been given a sneak peak of the new film Sweatshop and it looks like a kick ass, balls-to-the-wall, gory, and above all, FUN horror flick! Writer Ted Geoghegan, who has worked on other horror films like Barricade, 100 Tears, Nikos and Demonium, was gracious enough to talk with us about Sweatshop and his career.

Fatally Yours: Ted, first off, let me tell you that the Sweatshop trailer looks amazing! Can you give our readers a brief description of what the film is all about?

Ted Geoghegan: Thank you! The beauty of that trailer is due to director Stacy Davidson’s amazing eye. He cut that first trailer, and his ability certainly shines through.

Sweatshop is about a bunch of hot, young kids in the industrial scene who break into an old warehouse to set up for an impromptu rave. They fail to realize that the place is home to an enormous, bloodthirsty lunatic… who doesn’t want any company.

FY: What made you want to write this story?

TG: Hilarious fact – I actually first wrote the movie as an adult film! When my initial deal fell through, I kept the script because I loved it and thought it had a lot of character. I retooled it and beefed it up a bit, but never found anyone who wanted to take a stab at it. Then I met Stacy [Davidson, director of Sweatshop].

FY: Haha! What a beginning…How exactly did you and Stacy Davidson, who has worked on visual effects in films like Closet Space and 100 Tears, meet and decide to make Sweatshop together?

TG: Stacy created the digital effects in Closet Space and provided a very subtle CG effect for 100 Tears – on my death scene, natch! We informally met online last year, as Mel House was prepping Closet Space. Stacy had just completed Domain of the Damned and I was fresh off of writing and producing Barricade. We kept in touch and, several months later, we started discussing a collaboration. As soon as Stacy mentioned a bunch of his friends were raver-types, I told him, “I’ve got something you need to read.”

FY: I absolutely love the industrial/gothic/rave culture you’ve built the movie around. Are you yourself a part of that scene or did you just find it appropriate for the film?

TG: It worked for the film. I’m not involved in that scene, but I like it. I think people in that scene are attractive – and I like watching hot people in my movies. It came together really well, and it harkened back to Return of the Living Dead, which featured a similar group of kids from the punk and metal scenes.

FY: Heck ya! Everyone looks very hot! Let’s talk about the great gore that seems prominent throughout the film. What is your favorite death scene in the film?

TG: I can’t give away any deaths, but I already have some favorites. The killer’s weapon, as seen on the film’s poster, is an enormous hammer made out of a 500-pound anvil on a chunk of sewage pipe. It makes for some VERY messy demises.

I can tell you that the majority of the gore FX were handled by Marcus Koch (100 Tears) and Kristi Boul (Domain of the Damned) – and their work is quite literally jaw-dropping. Think about those old Warner Brothers’ cartoons where the giant, oversized Acme anvil drops on someone… now add blood. That’s what we do. Repeatedly.

FY: Can you tell us about the killer, named “the Beast?”

TG: There’s nothing to shed light on, really. He’s huge, he’s spooky, and he crushes people very easily. We’re keeping his story rather ambiguous, as motives tend to lessen the impact of most villains. What you see is what you get – and hopefully what you get is scary.

The Beast is played by Jeremy Sumrall, a first-time actor. He’s a big dude and knows how to use his large frame to really toss people around. He does some really great acting, using only his heavily-costumed body. With no dialogue, this was extremely important to us.

FY: Did you have any specific inspiration/influences for Sweatshop, besides the previously mentioned Return of the Living Dead?

TG: I’ve said this numerous times at conventions, but the motivation behind making Sweatshop was fun. These days, it seems like people get so preoccupied with making movies “hardcore” and “extreme” that they forget to make them fun. The goal of Sweatshop was to make a slasher movie like the films I grew up watching in the 80s… the kind where you scream with delight every time someone gets done in.

FY: Sounds like just what the genre needs! Do you feel your “fun” vision of the story really shines through in Sweatshop? Did everything turn out as you hoped?

TG: Stacy gave the script a pretty major rewrite, but I feel like my story and characters are still dead-on. When Stacy first showed me stills of the main characters, I didn’t know what to say. They were exactly what I’d imagined them looking like. It was almost creepy. I haven’t seen the finished film (Stacy is currently working on the post-production), but I have a lot of faith in this flick. I think it’s really going to impress.

FY: You’ve also written scripts for other films, like Barricade and even the cleverly titled Ghouls Gone Wild! How does your experience with working on Sweatshop compare to working on these other films?

TG: Hah! Ghouls Gone Wild?! Someone’s been scouring my IMDb page.

FY: Oh, you betcha…we dig deeeeep here at Fatally-Yours!

TG: My experience on Sweatshop has been similar to most previous films I’ve written. I write the movie, someone else films it, and I just pray that my vision makes it out alive. Sometimes it does… sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve worked with a lot of foreign filmmakers, which can be a dream or nightmare. I’ve directed from my own script (Ghouls Gone Wild) and the results were fun, albeit a little campy. I guess the only difference between previous films and Sweatshop is the level of trust I’ve put in the cast and crew. I’m completely confident that they are making the best film they possibly can… and that’s all I can ask.

FY: Speaking of working with foreign filmmakers, tell us about your exciting experience of getting hired to write a script for Demonium, a film by German director Andreas Schnaas, before turning 21!

TG: I was really honored to be chosen by Andreas Schnaas to help co-write Demonium (his first English language feature), especially at such a young age. He gave me a lot of freedom with the script and, although the finished film is a far cry from my screenplay, it was still a great experience. I made some money, got my name on a script, and scored a trip to Europe out of it! Although we are somewhat distant when not working on a project together, I owe a lot of what I have to Andreas.

I also met Joe Zaso, Timo Rose, and Elmar Berger on that trip to Europe, all of whom have remained great friends and constant work partners.

FY: Besides writing, can you tell us about your other roles in horror films you’ve worked on? Which was your favorite and why?

TG: I’ve produced several films, which I really enjoy doing. It’s nice to have a little power on a film set without carrying all the stress of a director’s duties on your back. I had an absolute riot getting gutted by a psychotic clown on the set of 100 Tears and would love to grab a few more little acting gigs if they happen my way.

If I had to choose a favorite, it would probably have to be the post-production duties on Ghouls Gone Wild. It was just me and my best friend, locked in an editing studio for twelve hours a week. We taught ourselves how to edit and basically just turned the entire thing into an adventure. It was a blast.

FY: What was the catalyst that kick-started your love for the horror genre?

TG: I used to hate horror films in my youth. It wasn’t until high school, when my earliest childhood friend forced me to watch Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, that I began to love the genre. He sat me down and said, “It’s got Corey Feldman in it. You like Corey Feldman, don’t you?” I nervously sat through the entire thing, but when it was over, I was immediately ready for the next one.

That also probably also explains why the Friday films have remained my favorite series.

FY: Moving on to your other projects, you released a graphic novel called The Isle of Insaw at the age of 18. Is this where you got your start in writing? What inspired you to pursue it as a career?

TG: Hah! Again with info from the IMDb! …Yes, I wrote a graphic novel in ’97. It didn’t go anywhere, but I got to premiere it at the San Diego Comic Con, where I met my first horror celebrities (Reggie Bannister and Brinke Stevens). I’d written for my high school newspaper before that, and tried my hand at a screenplay, but the comic was my first real chance to just totally let loose. The only catch was that the Mormon artist wouldn’t draw the two main characters sharing the same bed, so I occasionally had to improvise the plot.

At that same convention, I met Kevin Smith. I got to spend some time with him and talk to him about filmmaking, which was really inspiring. After that meeting, I knew I wanted to write more, but I didn’t know where to start. So, I said “Screw it” and wrote for myself. It was just a stroke of good luck that anyone ever noticed me.

FY: Looking back, what has been your single most rewarding moment working in the horror community?

TG: Last year, when I was at a party in Ken Foree’s suite in a Chicago hotel. There I was, in this room with Ken, Doug Bradley, and a bunch of other horror stars, just partying and having this totally casual, great time. It was the most surreal, wonderful evening.

FY: Who has been your favorite horror personality that you’ve been able to meet? How did you meet him or her?

TG: Outside of conventions, I’d have to say Thom Mathews. He read a script I wrote back in 2001 called Dry Rot and called me up to say it was one of the best scripts he’d read in ages. I was speechless. Here’s the guy who starred in Return of the Living Dead and Jason Lives… saying my script was awesome. I was floored. He was a real class act, and a huge ego boost.

As for conventions, I’d say I’ve been most excited to meet Friday alumni. It’s the fanboy in me. I try not to gush (and rarely even ask for autographs), but I’m always honored to be in the presence of anyone from my favorite film series. It might sound odd, but I don’t think most of them realize how much they meant to me, growing up. I rewatched those eight films so many times, I felt like I knew them all.

FY: If you could work with anyone in the horror genre today, who would it be and why? What kind of horror film would you make with him or her?

TG: I love b-movie stars. A lot. I always joke that my dream project would be a gory action film that pits Casper van Dien, Dean Cain, and Treat Williams against a masked evil scientist played by Robert Englund.
In all seriousness, I’d make that movie in a heartbeat, but if I was going to set out to create a solid horror film, I’d love to work with Takashi Miike. His movies do my two favorite things – make my skin crawl, and make me cheer.

Oh, and Uwe Boll. Seriously. I’d kill to work with someone that passionate and over-the-top. He’s a great guy, knows what he likes, and does it – to Hell with the consequences!

FY: What is the status on your debut novel, The Sunduster Cycle: Rise of the Blackened Hand?

TG: Wow. More research. I commend your lengthy detective work [FY: I told you we dig deep here…]… and I can’t believe how long this interview is! You just keep crankin’ out the questions! Will anyone care enough about me to read the entire thing?!

FY: They should care, because you’re an awesome guy and I think you have great things ahead of you!

TG: The Sunduster Cycle: Rise of the Blackened Hand is currently being edited. In the coming months, it’s going to be getting some beautiful illustrations from a very talented guy in the comics world. After that, we’ll see what happens. I’m really hoping someone bites and that it will be out by 2009.

FY: Can you tell us what you’ll be working on after Sweatshop is completed?

TG: I will be playing a small role in an upcoming horror/thriller and may be working on the script to a new horror feature. At this point, however, I want to concentrate on Sweatshop as much as possible. I want to help give it the push it needs to succeed and not spread myself too thin.

FY: Is there a release date set for Sweatshop? Will you be making more convention appearances to help promote it?

TG: We don’t have a release date for Sweatshop yet, and probably won’t for quite a while. We’re not even thinking about releases until the film is completed and we’re all happy with the final product. I’ll be hitting up a few more conventions to promote it, but I’m not sure which ones at the moment. The same goes for Stacy Davidson and his Texas crew. We’ll do our best to make sure that every horror fan out there knows about our gory little flick.

FY: Well, that about wraps it up for us…Ted, thanks so much for taking the time to chat. It was a pleasure and you’re a lot of fun! Sweatshop looks great and I can’t wait to see the finished product!

TG: Thank you very much for the interview! It was a lot of fun. We’ll be sure to let you and your readers know when anything new happens with Sweatshop, but in the meantime, check out its official MySpace for the latest details.

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