Horror movies &stuff Interviews:Director Greg Stechman|
Director/Novelist Greg Stechman is certainly a guy on the way up. At the ripe old age of 27, he's acted in 7 films, penned and produced four films, and has directed 3 films. Not to mention he's the manager of an up and coming actress, and is co-owner of Burning Grounds Entertainment, an indie film production company. Despite being severely injured by a drunk driver some years back, Stechman is still as driven as ever, and continues to make, write, and produce films. His next effort is a twisted little horror movie called "This Hollow Sacrament", which is based on a string of real life murders that occured in California in the mid 90's. In this interview, Stechman reveals more about the film, himself, and his influences as an artist.
MR. H:Tell us a little bit about yourself Greg..i.e.
where you were born, where you grew up, where you
reside now, etc.
Greg:I was born and raised in Sacramento, California, which is considered the Central Valley. I'm still here there (here) to this day. I love it. Sacramento is the greatest city in the world.
MR. H:When did you first know that you wanted to be a
Greg:I knew I wanted to make movies when I was 7 and my
father owned an old VHS camcorder. I used to make
short films on it -- mostly of toys, etc. that I
owned. I created my own credit sequence with red felt
tip pens and white paper when I was 11.
MR. H:Did you attend film school or did you just have
a natural talent for directing and felt you didn't
need to attend film school?
Greg:I actually studied Communications in college. My
original passion was to be a screenwriter. I wrote a
script in college called "Michael and Claire" that I
originally wasn't supposed to direct, just write. I
ended up directing it as well.
MR. H:Does the filmmaking bug run in the family, or
are you the first director in the Stechman family so
Greg:So far just me, although I have a cousin who is a
camera operator and another cousin who is an animator.
MR. H:What was the first piece of work you ever
directed? I mean go way back to your first ever
project, your first time ever behind a camera.
Greg:The first film I ever directed consisted of me
following our dog around the back yard with a camera
at age 7 or 8.
MR. H:What was the first film project you ever
Greg:"Michael and Claire" in 2003.
MR. H:Now you've done some acting in movies along with
the whole directing thing. Which is harder for you,
acting or directing?
Greg:Directing. Acting comes very naturally to me. I've always loved to entertain people, be it with comedy, etc. I'm also very comfortable with public speaking. Ironically enough, I ended up directing as well. Given, the choice to do one or the other full
time...it would be a tough call.
MR. H:Now as I understand it, you underwent a spinal
fusion/shoulder reconstruct surgery after a drunk
driver hit you. When did that happen...and after
that accident occured, was there ever any doubt in
your mind that you'd be directing or acting again?
Or were you more determined than ever to recover and
continue on with the goals you had set for yourself
to accomplish in the realm of film?
Greg:Sadly enough, I have still not fully recovered. I
found out just last week that two discs in my spinal
cord are still herniated and may need surgery. And,
to answer your question, there was never any doubt in
my mind that I would be able to direct again. If I am
alive, I'm making films.
MR. H:Now you're a young guy, 27 years of age, you're
in that target demo for most horror films released
nowadays. How do you feel about the whole violence
in media issue that congress always seems to target
everytime someone does something crazy? Do you
think Hollywood needs to tone it down a bit, or are
movies are not responsible for our actions, and the
ultimate deciding factor is how parents bring up
Greg:I think Hollywood should tone down films marketed AT KIDS. That being said, I'm a big fan of violent
films, which is why the rating system was invented.
If a movie's rated R or NC17, you know kids probably
shouldn't be there. If parents are stupid enough to
not monitor what their kids watch, they deserve what
they get. I love violent films. I love "Hostel" and
"The Descent" and "Irreversible" and "Audition." The
bloodier the better. But, those films are for adults
and older teens.
MR. H:You have an indie horror pic coming our way
called "This Hollow Sacrament". Tell us a little bit
about the film, and what we can expect from it.
Greg:"This Hollow Sacrament" is based on a series of
murders that took place in the Central Valley in the
mid-1990's. It's a dread-soaked horror film that
leaves a lot of plot points up to the viewer's
imagination, but there are scenes of excruciating
violence throughout. Very realistic. Very gritty.
The goal was to make a crime drama/horror film that
looks like a documentary. We wanted to put the viewer
in the place of the victims. It's an unusual POV to
take on a horror film, but I think it turned out
MR. H:Is "This Hollow Sacrament" going to be part of
a series of films, or is this simply just a start to
finish horror movie that you don't intend to turn
into a trilogy or long running series?
Greg:There is a sequel already written for "This Hollow," however three parts might be excessive. Although, if the film's successful and people want to see more, I'm going to give the fans what they want at the end of the day.
MR. H:Are you prepping the movie for a wide
theatrical release, or direct to dvd..like are you
in the position where you can get a theatrical
release of some sort, or has the plan always been to
send the film straight to home disc?
Greg:I don't really have a specific distribution plan in mind per se - we're in the process of shopping the
film to theatrical and video distribs right now, as
well as some film festivals. At the end of the day,
again, it's going to come down to what the people want
to see - if the movie gets good word of mouth, then
I'm going to push for a wide release; that being said,
however, usually there is more money to be made in the
DVD market currently.
MR. H:Most of the people you got for this movie are
unknowns or first time actors. Was this the plan all
along for casting, or did you have some larger names
in mind at first?
Greg:No, this was the plan all along. The things that
happen to the characters in the film are so horrible,
I don't think the audience would have bought it if the
parts were played by known actors. Like I said, the
intention was to make a fictional film that runs like
a documentary, hence no one could be known.
MR. H:When is "This Hollow Sacrament" set to be
released, and have you secured a distributor for it
Greg:It's out to distribs currently. We hope to know more on that soon.
MR. H:When can we expect a full on trailer to be cut
for the film?
MR. H:You directed and wrote "This Hollow
Sacrament"..which is more fun for your directing,
writing, or do they both rank about the same?
Greg:Oh no, writing definitely. Directing is a cool gig, but writing is a great, creative process. Writing is far less mechanical. I love it. It's therapeautic.
MR. H:Now you've got another horror film in the works
called "Deep In the Darkness". Can you tell us a
little bit about that movie (who's in it, who do you
have lined up to be in it) or is it on "Hush Hush"
mode for now?
Greg:We are still in preparation on the film. It's based on the novel by Michael Laimo, and we'll be filming in a town called Walnut Grove in late fall/winter 2007. Everything else is hush-hush on it for now.
MR. H:Is horror your favorite or most preferred
genre, or just a genre you like to dabble in from
time to time?
Greg:Horror is my favorite genre, although I do like
comedies as well. But, if I'm known as "the horror
guy," then I will have made my mark. I'm proud to
MR. H:Everyone has a favorite thing they love about
horror films. Some like the blood and gore, others
like the adrenaline rush that comes with on-screen
suspense and terror, some like the escapism factor
of seeing something out of the norm unfold
on-screen, and others just like to be scared out of
their wits. What's your favorite thing about horror
films? All of the above, or one thing in particular?
Greg:I love seeing a film where all of the elements above come together and leave a lasting impression. Leaving the audience feeling disturbed. Suspenseful is good, blood is good, jolts are good, but if you forget them two hours later, what's the point?
MR. H:Who are some of your influences in the horror
genre? i.e. directors, actors, writers, etc?
Greg:Directors - Stanley Kubrick, Takashi Miike, The Pang Brothers, Neil Marshall, Eli Roth, James Wan, Tobe
Hooper, Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo del Toro, Robert
Rodriguez, Scott Spiegel, William Friedkin, Hideo
Nakata, Sam Raimi.
Films - The Wicker Man, The Shining, The Descent,
Audition, Gozu, Icchi The Killer, The Eye, The
Vanishing (Dutch version), The Devil's Backbone, From
Dusk Till Dawn, Intruder, Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, The
Exorcist, Alien, Aliens.
MR. H:What horror actors and directors would you like
to work with that you haven't worked with yet?
Greg:All of the above. I actually really want to work with Dante Tomaselli and/or Eli Roth some day. They have fantastic vision and are so passionate about the
genre, it's amazing. They're nice guys, too, and
genuinely care about filmmaking.
MR. H:A few days ago, it was announced that
"Halloween" is being remade and Rob Zombie is
directing that one. "The Omen" remake just came out,
"Creepshow", "The Stepfather", "Phantasm", and
"Friday the 13th" (possibly) are all up for future
redo's. Where do you see the horror genre headed
with all of these remakes of the classics? Is it in
serious trouble due to lack of new, original ideas,
or do you think the remake craze is just about
studios seeing dollar signs, and not being willing
to spend money on creating new stuff?
Greg:I see no problem in remaking films, so long as the
director and producers understand the material and try
to give the audience something new. The Texas
Chainsaw Massacre was a great remake. Unnecessary,
but was a fun movie. I have no problem with remakes
and I personally think that Rob Zombie will do a
terrific job on Halloween. I also loved The Hills
Have Eyes. So, maybe my take on remakes is different
than others. Oh, and I am more excited than anything
to see the remake of The Wicker Man.
MR. H:Which horror movies released in the last 5
years have impressed you the most? Including
Theatrical and dvd releases?
Greg:"The Descent", "Hostel", "The Devil's Rejects"
"Saw", "Cabin Fever", "High Tension", "The Devil's Backbone", "Memories Of Murder", "Infection", "3...Extremes","One Missed Call", and "The Eye".
MR. H:On the flipside of that coin, which horror
movies released in the last 5 years have in your
opinion been huge letdowns?
Greg:"The Omen" remake, "Land Of The Dead", "House of 1000 Corpses", "Resident Evil", "Alien VS. Predator" (I include this because at one
point, both series were considered horror), "Cursed"
-and a variety of horrible, straight to video films
that were shot by monkeys with a camcorder.
MR. H:Back onto "This Hollow Sacrament"..is this a
straight up hardcore horror movie, or a horror film
with thriller and other elements mixed in?
Greg:This is a crime drama/hardcore horror film. It's like "Irreversible" meets "Hostel" meets "NYPD: Blue."
MR. H:Will "THS" be a blood and gore feast, or are
you going more for psychological scares?
Greg:Oh no, it's a blood fest. The psychological aspects are there, but watching people go through excruciating pain can be pretty damaging. It's a win-win.
MR. H:When did you get the idea for this film? Is it
based off of a novel, short story, or is this a Greg
Greg:It is based on a true story. Four women (who were
rape victims) were murdered in the Central Valley.
The results of the case (which is still unsolved)
actually changed the way that CA law views pregnant
women being killed. The first application of that law
stemming from these cases being the Laci Peterson
MR. H:Where did you guys shoot "This Hollow
Sacrament"? Was it a smooth shoot, or did cast,
financial, or weather related difficulties ever rear
their ugly head a few times?
Greg:We shot "This Hollow" in Sacramento, Lake Tahoe,
Nevada, Stockton, and a few dozen other places. The
only weather difficulty was extreme cold. It is very
tiring to be that cold all the time. With all indie
films, financial considerations are always an issue,
but we were blessed with crew and cast who had extra
money and didn't mind supporting the film. That's
saying a lot, when you're willing to work for free AND
put money into the project. They were all great.
Shooting for the most part was pretty smooth. I
wanted to die from exhaustion a couple times, but
everyone got along and it was a fairly upbeat set. We
would pull pranks on one another to keep things
lively. We would also do stupid stunts, like jumping
into 35 degree water in December or hunting sea gulls
with rocks or launching bottle rockets at various
crew. All of this was caught on camera as well. I
like to keep things fun.
MR. H:What did you set out to accomplish with this
movie? A horror film that horror fans would remember
for a long time, or just a popcorn flick?
Greg:I want people to remember this thing for 30 years. Even if I make a popcorn flick, it's going to be like "Aliens" - a benchmark.
MR. H:Why the title change? And give
us your 5 favorite horror movies in no particular
Greg:The title was changed back to the original script
title. I like it. Top 5 horror movies EVER: "The Wicker Man", "The Vanishing", "Audition", "Last House On The Left", and "Nightmare On Elm Street".
MR. H:Thanks for the time Greg!