When someone thinks of Oklahoma, any number of things can come to mind, from a festive musical, to images of settlers lined up for the famous land rush of 1889. One thing that doesn’t jump to mind is filmmaking. Darla Enlow would like to change that. In 2001 Darla started an independent film company called Next Monkey Horror Films. If you can’t guess from the name, the business of Next Monkey is horror.
Next Monkey has been busy. October will see the DVD release of their most ambitious project yet: The Stitcher. I caught up with Darla as she works frantically to prepare for the first full theatrical screening of the film, and despite her busy schedule this gracious filmmaker agreed to talk with me about Next Monkey Horror Films and The Stitcher.
Nic– Darla, can you tell us about your company? What is Next Monkey Horror Films? What gave you the idea to start your own film company?
Darla– Next Monkey Horror Films was started by me, as I was so disgusted with working with film makers that would not complete their projects. I would work as an actor or crew, and half of the projects would never get finished. I called bullshit on that, and started my own movie company. Next Monkey will always do some fashion of horror. I don’t do chic flicks, I love the rush of a good bloody scare!
Nic– It sounds like you have a lot of experience in the filmmaking. What are some of the “hats” you wear at Next Monkey Horror Films?
Darla– There are only 2 of us on the production team. I write the scripts, cast actors, run camera, direct, set lighting and do all the editing. Dana runs sound, and wrangles the cast around. The Stitcher movie is the first project where we brought an outside professional in. Ben Hosterman came on board during post production as our music supervisor. Music and sound effects are 50 % of a movie experience… and we wanted our sound to kick some butt. Ben did a great job scoring our movie, even if he is a guy.
Nic– So does Next Monkey Horror Films only do feature length films or do you handle other types of projects as well?
We have produced a few short films and music videos. However, our passion lies in feature length movies…as they are more challenging to complete.
Nic– Your new film The Stitcher will be released shortly, can you tell us a bit about the film?
Darla– The Stitcher is by far our best movie yet. Through the years, I have done tons of research by means of attending several film festivals and watching films to see what makes a movies work…or not… with an audience. I wanted a good mix of horror, comedy and entertainment in our Sticther movie, and I think we pulled that off successfully. The Stitcher story is inspired by true events, and is set in a small creepy lake town. Our killer is unique in his design, and his obsession to obtain what he desires is relentless. You have something he wants.
Nic– That sounds creepy! So when will The Stitcher be making its premiere?
Darla– We are screening at the Riverwalk Movie Theater in Tulsa. This will be the only place it can be seen at a movie theater. However, the DVD will be released October 16th, with several outlets of places to purchase the DVD. The DVD is loaded with extra’s, which you would not be able to watch at a movie theater.
Nic– This isn’t your first film, what are some other Next Monkey Horror Films productions and where could someone see them/get them if they were interested?
Darla– Toe Tags and Branded are currently in circulation world wide. You can find both movies at Best Buy, FYE stores as well as amazon.com. Both of these movies are award winning films and are currently being distributed by Brain Damage films.
Nic– What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of independent film making?
Darla– Nic, I hate to say “money”, because that is every film makers answer. However, you always hear about Hollywood magic. Hollywood has all the money they need to make movies, there’s no magic in that! Try blowing up a town and feeding a cast of 100 people with no money…now, that is magic! ~he he…so, forget the money answer. I would have to say, the biggest challenge for me as a film maker, is always trying to make the scene we are shooting… better. Our motto every time we shoot is “don’t be boring.” We are always directing the actors to Bring it. I’ll have to say, the cast of Stitcher brought their A game every time we shot. We could not have selected a better cast for this movie.
Nic– Money seems to be a common problem for many independent filmmakers. Distribution and marketing for independent features also seem to come up often when we talk about the challenges of filmmaking. How do you handle those aspects for your films?
Darla– You have to have a plan. Making a movie is one thing, but before you begin, you have to ask yourself as few questions. Where is my audience? Why am I making this film? As a film maker, once you can answer these questions, you can then move forward. If you are making a horror movie, you start working that genre, if it is a documentary you start networking with those distributors and Doc film festivals. A lot of film makers that I have met jump out there before they do their research. You have to have a game plan before you start, or at least I have to.
Nic- Is it hard for you as an independent filmmaker to find people like the cast of The Stitcher that are willing to really “Bring it” to the roles?
Darla– In Oklahoma, yes & no. We do not have a large talent pool like LA, NYC or Austin… however, we do have some of the most talented actors. LA is full of actors from Oklahoma. Music talent is huge here in Oklahoma as well. Several Oklahoma artists always take the stage during the Country Music awards and the Grammys.
Nic– We’ve heard about some of the challenges, what are some of the best parts (for you) of making your own independent films?
Darla– The best part is having the freedom to create, and complete an entertaining story. The second best part is eating popcorn in the movie theater and watching all the actors’ faces as they see themselves on the big screen! When our cast & crew work on a project together, it’s like being back in college… a lot of work, a lot of play… and months of insane craziness!