Following the acclaim of Horror of Our Love: A Short Film, actor and director Dave Reda returned once again to the medium of short film for My Undeadly. Produced once again by his company Elftwin Films, Reda’s zombie short saw the filmmaker walking in the steps of the legendary John Carpenter by shooting several sequences at the same house used in the 1978 masterpiece Halloween.
Despite having first cut his teeth in comedy, Reda made his feature debut with the cult shocker Bit Parts and My Undeadly saw Reda again taking on the dual role of actor and director. Shot with a skeleton crew and surrounded by his most trusted collaborators, Reda’s My Undeadly made its premiere at Hollyshorts 2011, the same event where Horror of Our Love had been screened a year earlier.
Dave Reda talks about My Undeadly and surviving in the modern film industry.
You have a background in improv comedy, yet your main focus as a filmmaker has been in the horror genre. Did you have any plans to make a comedy movie?
I love horror and comedy, some of my most favourite films have a great balance between them. I want to do it all; I never know where inspiration and my crazy head are going to take me.
It has been almost six years since the release of your feature debut, Bit Parts. Now IMDb lists your next project as something called Shadow; what can you reveal about this?
I love doing the short films and music videos, but felt it was time to get back to doing feature films again. Shadow is going to be quite a horror ride and a lot darker of a film than I usually put out there. Can’t really say too much about Shadow right now as it’s in pre-production, but here is the official press release…It’s been years since we last had a horror icon to fear lurking in the shadows of the night. You will not only fear Jessica Cameron as Shadow, but love her horribly beautiful path of destruction, as she comes back from the underworld to take revenge on those stupid enough to put her six-feet under in the first place.
As an independent filmmaker, how do you feel that piracy and file sharing has affected you personally and would you say that the positive aspects of the internet, such as being able to self-promote through social networks, has helped to balance this out?
My film Bit Parts has been pirated already and is all over the world, it’s just going to happen. The way to look at it is, these are people that pirate movies, they probably wouldn’t have paid for my film anyway, and at least they are getting to see my film. Also, the fact that my film got pirated at all and is in demand is a good thing in a weird way. The social networking sites are awesome for getting word out there, and gaining your following towards the projects and things you are doing. Independent film voices can now be heard like never before, and it’s been key for me in getting my stuff out there. If you actually have something to say, the people will listen and are out there.
What would you say are the main lessons you have learnt over the last few years directing short films and what kind of market is there for them in the current climate?
The main lesson I have learned is that there really isn’t a great market for selling short films. Features are where the money is at and what people really gravitate towards. Short films are awesome to get your name out there, garner attention, and tell a quick fun story. Even with the websites out there, extra TV channels and compilation DVDs, shorts films just aren’t going to bring in the money, for that you have to go feature film. Also, developing the right team is very important. Without the proper team behind you, your films will never get to that next level.
For your last film you were able to shoot exteriors outside the house that John Carpenter had used for Halloween. How did you manage to achieve this and did it feel eerie standing in such an iconic location?
Once I found out that the house stood only fifteen minutes from where I lived I knew I HAD to shoot there. It’s actually no longer a house but holds a business now; they were really cool about it. As long as I kept it outside they really didn’t care what I did; it was awesome. As a horror fan, I have to admit I was geeking out a bit going for the same iconic shot; it was so very cool, a highlight for me as a filmmaker, for sure!
Do you still enjoy performing and how did it feel to be subjected to the make-up chair?
I do!! Always fun to get in front of the camera, and give it a good ‘Grrr!’ Also, like on my last film My Undeadly, I got to act with awesome actress Michelle Tomlinson. She is so very talented and a sweet person; makes it a lot of fun! I had always wondered if I could handle being in a make-up chair for hours, and it was a blast!
For My Undeadly I was in the chair for four hours, it was actually a lot of fun and quite relaxing. It only got a little rough at the end when I couldn’t talk for the last hour of the application and I could hear my crew setting up the first shot. My eyes were just getting bigger and bigger, dying to talk, as my awesome make-up artist Alexis Staats pleaded with me not to. It was a blast!
While 3D and CGI seems to dominate the market at the moment there is also a revival of 1970s/1980s low budget horror. How do you personally feel about digital effects slowly replacing prosthetics and stop motion and are you ready to embrace the new age of filmmaking?
I think there is a place for all of it; CGI when used to aid a film or make something look a little tighter it can be awesome. When CGI effects become the star it losing something, performances hurt and so does the story. Like anything, I think as filmmakers we are all learning how to use and play with our new toys. There is a lot we can do today that you couldn’t just a few years ago, it’s a beautiful time to be a filmmaker because now you can tell an amazing story like never before! Embrace the new and let it helped create and inspire new horribly wonderful things!