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Apparently Albuquerque, NM is a hotbed of indie horror film
production. Who knew? One guy who knows all too well is out actor Jeremy Owen,
having appeared in, and crewed on, some of the more notorious low- and
no-budget horror flicks coming out of the region.
FANGORIA: Let’s start with the movie that I noticed you in
first, FEEDING THE MASSES. I was trying to track down the director, Richard
Griffin, who outed himself in the BTS on the DVD. And somehow you and I found
each other online. How did you end up in that film?
JEREMY OWEN: That was the second film I worked on. I met the director of FEEDING THE MASSES because
of the first film I worked on, THE STINK OF FLESH. We got along well, and he
invited me to come out and be the assistant director as well as play the role
FANG: Where did you guys shoot FEEDING THE MASSES?
OWEN: In Pawtucket, RI, and Providence.
FANG: You weren’t living there at the time, were you?
OWEN: No, I was living in Denver at the time.
FANG: I know these are low budget films. How in the world
did they get you out there for the film?
OWEN: Denver is a pretty big airport hub, and at the time
there were airfare wars and stuff, so I was able to get a round trip to Boston
for less than two hundred bucks. And they helped me out a bit – it wasn’t a
paid gig – but I think we ended up splitting the ticket to get me out there.
His partner, Ted, who was the producer on the movie, was living in an
apartment, and between that apartment and the upstairs neighbor [who] allowed
us to use her guest bedroom, all the cast and crew just crashed together in
these two apartments on couches and floors. It was tight, but it was pretty
fun. It was like a sleepover.
FANG: How many days did you shoot on that flick?
OWEN: I believe it was something in the neighborhood of
sixteen or eighteen days. It was really fast. But it helped that most of our
shooting locations were all centered around this parking structure in downtown
Pawtucket. At least half of the movie was shot in and around that structure. Then,
in Providence, we had a cable station where Richard was working at the time.
And the only other location was the apartment we were staying in.
FANG: FEEDING THE MASSES was written by Trent Haaga, and it
looks like it was one of his earliest scripts. His shit is blowing up right
OWEN: Tell me about it!
FANG: Was he around at the time?
OWEN: He was not around for the shoot. He was actually
producing another movie at the time. I do remember when he saw the movie he was
very proud of how we handled the script. At the time, it was the closest
adaptation of (a script) that he’d handed over that he’d ever seen,bBecause
he’d handed a few scripts over and they got drastically changed before getting
FANG: Jumping back to your first film, THE STINK OF FLESH.
Was that also shot out there in the RI area?
OWEN: No, that was shot in Albuquerque. I’d just moved back
to Denver…but I had met the writer/director, Scott Phillips, through a mutual
friend because he’d come up to Denver for Mile High Con. He came up to promote
his short films, and he was going to do a zombie movie, and of course I was
waving my hand, “Can I help in any possible way?” I’d just graduated with my
musical theater degree, and I love zombie films, and so I just volunteered to
come down for the full two weeks and do whatever I could. I’d never worked on a
movie before, and this was his first feature (as a director). I ended up
getting an Associate Producer credit on that. He wrote the fight scene between
me and the main character because he wanted a big, burly zombie for the main
character to fight as kind of a tribute to the first zombie in Fulci’s ZOMBIE. They
kept calling me the Fulci Zombie.
FANG: So this was the first time you’d been in extensive
makeup for full shooting days. Nightmare, right?
OWEN: Yes and no. I enjoyed it quite thoroughly. Doing
theater, I know that spirit gum does not stick well to my skin – I just sweat
it off, almost immediately. They did it old school, just building up latex and
tissue paper on my face. The neck piece kept coming off because I kept drooling
fake blood into the appliance instead of on the outside of it. So by the end of
the day we were just sticking it to my neck with the fake blood that had dried
to my neck because it was stickier than the spirit gum would have been. It was
definitely a challenge, and fun.
FANG: I think you’re the only person I’ve ever heard say it
was fun to be in makeup all day.
OWEN: (Laughs) Granted it wasn’t a full body appliance. I
thought it was cool.
FANG: WEDDING SLASHERS involves
a lot of the same people you’ve worked with over and over again. Wasn’t there
some weirdness with that film and the producers?
OWEN: It was the first time this group of friends I’d hooked
up with were producing something for somebody else. It was interesting. The
money issue was always a gray area. The producer first said, “Just write
something cool.” And so Robert Medrano wrote the first draft of the script, and
it was like a $100,000 script. (Laughs) It was not like the no/low budget we
were used to working with. When the final budget came down, Scott was rewriting
as we were shooting. It was just one of those situations where we never knew
how this scene was going to end up, what was going to happen, until that day
when we were shooting. We ended up shooting a pretty funny, low budget, corny
But then the producer got a hold of it, and was “Oh, this is
terrible!” He shot some stuff out in L.A., like a back story. When you watch it
now, when it’s cut together, the first part of the movie is a lot of what he
shot out in L.A., and there’s no humor in the script—they were going for a
pretty straightforward slasher flick—and then the second half of the film is
pretty much how we shot it, and it’s funny. It’s almost like there’s two movies
together. Not to mention my character, Sock Monkey, for the beginning of the
movie, they shemped in somebody else that was almost half my size. Which is
kind of funny, to me at least, because they probably could have flown me out
there and gotten me to do it for free.
FANG: And at this point you’re still working for no money,
right? Still doing these low budget movies for free?
OWEN: Yeah, for fun and experience, in the hopes that
something might take off at some point.
FANG: NECROVILLE was
written by one of the actors you’ve worked with a bunch, Billy Garberina. What
can you tell me about the shoot? And remember, the best stories are the ones
where you’re the most uncomfortable.
OWEN: Billy. I love Billy. He’s this funny, amazing person.
But when he was in the driver’s seat—especially NECROVILLE, because that was
only the second film he’d produced, directed and starred in at the same time—he
was a big gigantic powder keg. You’d never know when he was going to be his
usual laffy-daffy self, or one thing could happen and he’d just start yelling
and screaming. And I was always the person right in front of him when that
happened. (Laughs) It was always me standing right in front of him when
something goes off. It actually got funny. By the end of the movie he started
realizing I was always the person right in front of him and it would actually
kind of break him out of it. I don’t want to call him a tyrant, because he
wasn’t some sort of slave driver, but he had a temper on that movie, quite a
bit. But it got better, and on subsequent movies it got better, too, but he was
kind of a powder keg. [The script] was so ambitious, and [for] the no money we
had, I can see why he’d get stressed. I took it in stride because I knew him
FANG: When you’re talking about small budgets, what are we
talking about here? $50,000? $10,000?
OWEN: At the most $10,000. I don’t know for sure what the
shooting budgets were, but I know all these movies were done for $10,000 or
less. I think a couple of them were even $5,000 or less. We were just putting
as much money up on the screen as we could. None of us were getting paid except
for food and maybe some gas money. We were all together just trying to do
something; make a good movie, and maybe get some experience because we all want
to work in the industry. Get some credits on our resume, and have fun, too.
TO BE CONTINUED
For more info on Jeremy, check out his webpage. You can join the Gay of the Dead Twitter melee and the Facebook massacre.
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