An interview with director, producer, actor and writer of the bizarrely macabre, Travis Betz

The Dead Inside crew at Shriekfest 2011

The Dead Inside crew at Shriekfest 2011

Travis Betz is a writer, director, producer, and actor with four feature length movies and numerous shorts under his belt.  I had the pleasure of watching his movie, “The Dead Inside” just before it won the Best Supernatural Feature Film at Shriekfest in 2011.  Travis is known for his out of the box thinking that results in stories that run from the offbeat, humorous, to the entirely bizarre and twisted with decidedly dark but humorous endings.  Travis is stepping away from screenwriting for the moment and has put his efforts into writing a YAA – Young Adult for Adults – book with his own twisted take on the YA horror love story.  I asked him to take a few moments away from his busy schedule and do an interview with me before his Kickstarter ends this Saturday, April 27th, 2013.  So check out the interview and then check out his kickstarter.  If you like the weird, bizarre, twisted, darkly humorous, let me introduce you to Travis Betz!

John Collins (JC): Thanks for agreeing to do the interview Mr. Betz! I loved “The Dead Inside” when I saw it at Shriekfest in 2011 and am honored to have the pleasure of an interview with you.

Travis Betz (TB): Damn right you are. Do you know who I am? I mean reeaaally know? I’m a prince, damn it. Don’t you forget it. Now let’s get on with this interview, as I have princely matters to attend to. I have a flogging tonight and nothing to wear.

(JC): Before talking about your current project, would you mind telling folks a bit about your background?

(TB): Aside from being a prince (a prince of what, you ask…none of your business), I grew up in Indiana where I discovered the joys of VHS filmmaking. I used to write silly little scripts, and then my sister and best friend would turn the camera on and “make a movie”. I’m not sure if that’s what got me hooked on all things creative, but it’s the memories I look back on as my origins. From there I started writing short stories, plays, and eventually screenplays. I moved to Los Angeles and have since written and directed four feature films and over a hundred short films.

(JC): Tell us about “Stabbers.”

(TB): I’ve been trying to find both the time and courage to write a novel for a long time now. I’ve been so wrapped up in movies and television that I kept pushing it to the side. Then one day, just for laughs, I decided to poke fun of the YA genre (Young Adult) on my FaceBook page. I started typing out an idea for a story about a vampire who is bitten by a werewolf and becomes a wampire. She is then killed and becomes a ghost…a whostpire. She falls in love with a boy and possesses him, but then can’t figure out how to leave his body, so the two must develop a relationship while sharing the same flesh. It was meant to be ridiculous and funny, but the post actually seemed to get people excited. I started thinking about it a little more, and came up with all these truly insane moments these characters could face. The more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to tell this story. It was freeing, really. I had been trying to figure out what novel I should cut my teeth on for so long, then a joke I made was suddenly that novel. Writing Stabbers would allow me to explore the deepest resources of my imagination. Since I am poking fun at the supernatural elements of the YA genre, I know that I can get away with just about anything I can create. Stabbers is going to be very funny, very dark, and very entertaining. It is a Young Adult novel FOR ADULTS. It will split your head wide open, take what it wants, and touch everything else with its dirty fingers.

(JC): What are the rewards of your kickstarter?

(TB): Well, first I encourage anyone to follow the link and check them all out for yourself, along with the introduction video I made for the project. We only have a couple days left, so do it soon. I won’t list everything here, but the basic incentives for pledging are special edition (Kickstarter pledgers ONLY) copies of the novel in all formats (e-book, paperback, hardcover), bookmarks, signed cover art…I even have rewards where you can get a character named after you AND killed in the story. There’s also one where I will write a 5-10 page spin-off story in the Stabbers universe that is all about you, and some of the characters from the book. Lots of fun stuff. I encourage everyone to at least go scope it out.

(JC): Once your book is out, where do you plan to go from there? (goals, dreams, aspirations, plans?)

(TB): Well, I’d eventually like to become King. Being a prince is nice and all, but the King always gets the biggest leg of the hog. I want the biggest leg of the hog.

If you are referring to the book and my career…well, we are starting off by self-publishing Stabbers, but while that’s going on I will be looking for a legit publisher to take it into stores. My dream is to make it a trilogy, so I guess we’ll see how much interest there is in the first book to write two more. I have them planned out already though…and each book gets crazier and crazier.

I’m also looking to direct my next feature film later this year, but I can’t say too much about it just yet. We are talking to some pretty big companies though, and things are looking good. Fingers crossed.

(JC): I also write for my site, The Weird Review and like to close my questions with asking the interviewee to tell his fans something weird and wonderful about themselves. Do you have any interesting anecdotes about yourself, past projects, your current project, etc. that your fans wouldn’t already know?

(TB): I fell off a video game once and had to get stitches. I was at an arcade in a large amusement park, and there was this space game that you rode in like a car. I wanted to see how much it cost, but the slot was on the other side. Instead of walking around it like an intelligent ape, I stepped up on the sharp, metal step, and leaned over the machine. My foot slipped and my shin scraped down the edge of the step. I dropped all my quarters, and as I scrambled to pick them up, I looked down and noticed that I was staring directly at my shin bone. The step had peeled my skin up my leg. I went white in the face and started stumbling around, looking for someone to tell. I walked up to one of those midway game people and put my damaged leg up on his gaming ledge and pointed at the wound, to which he replied, “Holy shit!” I went to the ER and got some stitches. It was pretty great. And that’s my story about the safety hazard of video games. The end.

(JC): That is definitely the weirdest video game injury story I have heard to date.  Thanks so much for agreeing to do the interview with me Mr. Betz!

(TB): Well I was able to squeeze it in between cape shopping and Minotaur hunting, so I guess it was my pleasure. Will this be read aloud to all citizens, or put down on parchment and hung on the kiosk in town? Either way, let me know so I can tell my prince pals.

(JC): It will be dynamically distributed by digital demons…  I will send you links to pass to your princy pals.

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Weird AKA John Collins

John N. Collins is a writer, photographer, game & coloring book designer and a bad dancer. Any resemblance to the King John character is merely a coincidence. Follow John N. Collins: YouTube Facebook Fan Page Facebook Personal Account Instagram Twitter