Last night in the Club Sinister at Boardners in Hollywood, California, Shriekfest kicked off Shriekfest’s sweet 16th film festival. The festival’s founder and director, Denise Gossett was on hand to welcome the guests and join them for pictures in front of the Shriekfest backdrop.
On hand were producers, directors, and actors from some of the indie films that will be playing over the weekend including Romain Lafargue from Paris, France. His short, “The Scared One” will run in the second shorts block on Saturday afternoon.
Neil Weakley, writer for the Comedy Film Nerds. joined Ms. Gossett on the red carpet. Neil will be representing the Comedy Film Nerds and presenting one of the award awards during the closing ceremonies on Sunday as well as reviewing some of the films for the website.
Shriekfest is one of the world’s top horror film festivals and is held in the beautiful and historic Charlie Chaplin Theater in the Raleigh Studios Hollywood campus. This years lineup of shorts and feature films is sure to fulfill your need for an early Halloween scare. While last night was the official kickoff for shriekfest, tonight is the first night of films.
The irst film of the evening is the LA premiere of the thriller “Parasites” followed two Science Fiction feature films “Occupants” an “Teleios.”
The films continue through Sunday night so if you are in the L.A. area be sure to check out the Sci fi, thrillers and horror at Shriekfests shriek 16!
John N Collins (JNC): Thanks for following me on twitter and for agreeing to do an interview Stephen!
Stephen Manley (SM): My Pleasure, thank you for having me.
(JNC): Over the years you have accumulated a pretty impressive set of credits, being in some of my favorite shows. What led up to your becoming an actor?
(SM):My Grandfather, Stephen E. Soldi, got his start in the silent era. His first job was as a Roman soldier in D.W. Griffith’s film “Intolerance.” He stayed active as an actor and stunt man until 1966. He lived with my parents and I after his wife passed and since I was an only child I spent most of my time with him. Much like the relationship between the little boy and the projectionist in “Cinema Paradiso.” He taught me how to read with film scripts, showed me the enchantment of theatrical makeup, I would study all of his still pictures from the sets he worked on. When I obtained my SAG card (with his help) and was fortunate to be taken by a wonderful agent, Dorothy Day Otis, I had a grounding of the life I was headed into along with a wonderful work ethic that he instilled in me. He unfortunately passed in November of 1974 while I was escaping the crash of “The Hindenburg” at Universal Studios on that huge feature film. However i carry his spirit with me on every audition and job that I book.
(JNC): I watched the trailer to your new movie, “Ghosthunters” – and it looks great. Mind telling us a bit about it as a sneak preview?
(SM): “Ghosthunters” is a wonderful true Gothic horror film written and directed by the talented Pearry Teo. I play Dr. Henry Tanner, whom along with his colleagues Neil, played by David O’Donnell, Jessica, played by Liz Fenning and Neil’s girlfriend Amy, played by Francesca Santoro, attempt to truly capture some agonized spirits that inhabit a beautifully shambled tudor/ gingerbread house. Actresses , Anna Harr , Crystal Webb and Phyllis Spielmann are also there to help us. Everyone gave standout performances.
(JNC): From the trailer it looks like an excellent choice casting you in it. Other than that, why would you recommend readers drop what they are doing and watch this movie?
(SM): Thank you. Though it is produced thru The Asylum, “Ghosthunters” looks to be the company’s first true gothic horror film . The movie is played straight, no camp, no farce, no tongue in cheek. The material Pearry gave us read like a wonderful play. Very character driven and all the actors and actresses brought tremendous depth to their roles. I think your readers will find the film a welcome change. Aside from the performances, the house location itself presented a wonderful stage to work from. A Gothic, Tudor gingerbread built circa 1903-5 located in the historic West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles. The ambience reminded me of a throwback to the British Hammer films of the 1960’s-70’s but with some Steampunk infused elements that are unique to Pearry’s design and style. There are also some genuinely frightening moments, set in the context created, they should chill people.
(JNC): The trailer shows some pretty creepy looking sets and it really looked like the kind of movie that those who were weak of bladder might want to wear Depend® undergarments. Was it all Hollywood magic or did you have any weird experiences on the set.
(SM): There were rooms in the house that nobody in the cast and crew wanted to go in. One was a windowless, pitch black Octagonal study in a remote corner on the lower level of the house that was accessed by a small set of stairs that led down to it . It reminded me of a tomb. I chose this room as my “rehearsal/prep” room when I needed to “go to that place” and “get in character” on my own. Our lovely production assistant Shelby was walking past it when she heard “voices and whispers” emanating from that room. She stopped and terror stricken she crouched to peer into the darkness. As I slowly emerged from the darkness I saw her go white with fear, recover with a “…whoa….oh god..” and head to the production office completely bugged out. So much for method acting. However my 9 year old daughter Morgana visited the house after the shoot and told me she saw a small boy in a vintage little league uniform who smiled and waved hi to her…!!
(JNC): What else do you have coming up?
(SM): Following Ghosthunters later in the summer or early fall Rogue Warrior, Robot Fighter starring Tracey Birdsall and directed by Neil Johnson is released. I also play a tormented doctor in this film, but this is a science fiction spectacle. Lasers blasting, dystopian future, great fun and Neil and Tracey are wonderful people, looking forward to RWRF. Also in the works is filmmaker Kris Krainock’s “The Idiot” loosely based on it’s namesake. I play Joel Wolcott who is a devout optimistic “Panglossian” who is thrust into a corupt set of circumstances……hard to play as I am a lot more hardened than poor Joel but a wonderful opportunity to play against character. I also have a part in writer/actor London Boyd’s “Dealer”, directed by Adam Zielinski, which just made it’s debut at the Las Vegas Film Festival.
“Chatter” is a new film written, directed, and produced by Matthew Solomon.
The cast includes:
Brady Smith (“Criminal Minds”, “Parks and Recreation”, “Dinner at Tiffani’s”) Sarena Khan (“Johnny’s Sweet Revenge”, “Cavemen”, “Naughty or Nice”) Tohoru Masamune (“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “Inception”) Richard Hatch (Acting legend from: “Battlestar Galactica” old and new series) Alison Haislip (“Attack of the Show”, “Mega Shark vs Kolossus”, “Team Unicorn”)
Our reviewers are tasked to watch the the videos and write a brief description as their impressions “popped” into their minds and then sum up their opinion with a final kernal of thought expressed in terms of popcorn.
Popped – Realistically freaky, this film has you running around turning every light on in your home while you watch!
Kernel – You will just about butter your popcorn.
John R. White Popped – Honest, and real, awesome, top quality, gripping, brilliant.
Kernal – “Chatter defied my expectations and is a perfect buttered bucket of hot popcorn. After filling up I noticed that there was not a single unpopped corn. Please sir, can I have more?