My first contact with writer/director Chris Ethridge was a couple of years ago when I reviewed his wonderful and very creative horror tale “Attack of the Morningside Monster”, a great film that I initially got very very wrong (for my review, please go here). Since then, we’ve kept in touch and Chris has told me about some of the other projects he’s been working on. So I thought it time to introduce Rogue Cinema readers to a gifted young writer and director that you’ll be hearing more about in the near future.
RC: Chris, what was the moment for you? When did you know that you had to make movies?
CE: I moved to Athens, GA right out of college, back in ‘98. I was moving with a friend, but at the last minute he decided to spend the summer in our home state before moving, so I was there for a few months by myself. I didn’t know anyone and I spent a lot of time watching movies, and I was starting to watch a lot more independent work at that time. At some point, I had that feeling that a lot of filmmakers have, where they think “You know, I can do this better”. Of course, that’s complete bullshit. It takes a lot of work and time and practice to be able to make films well, but you need to have that moment where you believe that you have something of value to add to the world to kick off your journey. And that’s when my moment happened. My poor friend! He showed up a few months later and was immediately co-opted into my first production!
RC: Where are you based out of? What advantages does this area have for indie filmmakers?
CE: I’m based in Atlanta now. Film production in Georgia has dramatically increased in the last few years, which is extremely helpful for the most part. There are a lot of resources available here that are not readily accessible in other places. However, there is so much work that sometimes it’s hard to keep your best crew members on board with the smaller indie projects when they keep getting hired for large studio projects. But that’s a minor quibble compared to all the positive benefits of working in a community where there is so much happening.
RC: Tell me about some of your earlier projects? You know, your teething rings.
CE: I made a bunch of short films early on, most of which are pretty terrible. It was all about learning and figuring it out. The first time I realized I might be good at this, I made a comedy short called “Painted Love”, which played extremely well with audiences and I have never seen such a strong reaction to anything I had made before. I went from there almost directly into my partnership with Jayson Palmer, who has written and produced the vast majority of my recent work. We did a Stephen King Dollar Baby, “Survivor Type” that played very well at a bunch of festivals and then we turned that momentum into a feature, called “Attack of the Morningside Monster.” It’s available to watch for free on Amazon Prime: https://www.amazon.com/Attack-Morningside-Monster-Nicholas-Brendon/dp/B00OMGZL0M
RC: Chris, tell me about your new projects. I understand you’re working on a new action thriller?
CE: I’ve got two films I’m working on right now. One is the action thriller, again written by Jayson Palmer, and it’s got a really interesting storyline. It’s about a family caught up in an illegal fighting ring run by some extremely wealthy, extremely evil people. We like to think that it’s a combination of “Hostel” (2005) and “The Running Man” (1987).
I’m also working on a more straightforward thriller (with a few horror/sci-fi elements) that’s about a group of people trying to survive as the world falls apart around them. It’s a tense pressure cooker sort of film, and it should be a lot of fun. It’s written by Michael H. Harper, who produced “Morningside Monster” with Jayson and me. This one will shoot first, most likely in the late fall due to financing.
RC: Sounds wonderful! What’s the anticipated release date?
CE: The film starts shooting this fall and will be out next year. The action thriller will shoot next year, so it’ll probably be out early in 2018, I’m guessing.
RC: I also understand you and Jayson Palmer are working together on a variation of “The Most Dangerous Game”? That sounds way cool.
CE: That’s the action thriller that Jayson is writing. We’re weaving lots of influences into the story in order to inject some new life into an age-old story. I am really excited about it. I love stories that are just solid entertainment but also have a little bit of social commentary as subtext, and this film definitely hits that mark.
RC: Chris, you’ve also been successful with your “HorrorPack” DVD venture. Tell me how that’s going and how this project got started?
CE: The success of “HorrorPack” has been totally unexpected. My partner, Diego Kirsch and I sat down a little less than a year ago. We are both physical media fans, and I was lamenting that it’s very difficult to sell physical media anymore – “Morningside” had not done well on physical media. But we knew there was a physical market out there and that a lot of films fans still have collections and want to maintain them. We also had our eye on the subscription market, so after some thought and a lot of work, we launched “HorrorPack” (https://horrorpack.com) to send out Horror DVDs and Blu-rays each month to fans of the genre. We started with horror because that’s the world we knew very well. It’s been a learning experience, but we’ve grown the company into a pretty nice small business. We are probably going to expand into one or two other genres in the near future.
RC: Chris, you have got a ton of stuff going on right now. Any other projects you would like Rogue Cinema readers to know about?
CE: No, I’m focused on these projects right now. I want to get the new features in the can and build up “HorrorPack” as best I can. That’s going to keep me busy.
RC: Awesome Chris. I’m so glad I had the chance to catch up with you. Good luck with these ventures. They sound amazing! Thanks so much for taking some time to chat.
CE: Thank you Phil, I really appreciate it!