An Interview with Mark Smith – By Nic Brown

 The internet has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for many people. Some see it as a way to gather information, some a way to make money, and some see it as a way to express their talents. Mark Smith is one of the latter. He uses the internet to combine his love of film with his eye for filmmaking. From this love Optic Nerve Productions 2002 was born.

From his home in Longridge, Lancashire, England; Mark makes short films (10 – 15 minutes in length) and then he makes them available for free through his website www.opticnerveproductions2002.com. His films express not only his love of film, but also his love for the horror/thriller genre. With subject matter covering zombies, ghosts, the paranormal & more, it is no wonder that Mark’s work has fans all over the globe. In fact, two of his films; Becky & Twisted Insanity are going to be shown at the Schoharie Scary Horror Film Festival in New York State.
 

Nic– Mark, can you tell us about Optic Nerve Productions 2002, you make films, but what kind?

Mark– Optic Nerve Productions 2002 was created by me in the summer of 2002, I produce micro budget Horror/Thriller shorts shot on Mini DV. I have covered Zombies, Stalking, The Occult, & Ghost’s stories so far. Most of my productions are set either in my house or in & around my town. ONP2002 short films are between 10 – 15 mins in length. I am hoping one day to create a full feature length horror film.

Nic– You described your films as "micro budget". If it’s not rude to ask, what is the least you’ve spent on a film (excluding the purchase of your camera) and what is the most?

Mark– The least that I have spent is zero on a project titled Every Credit if you view it you will see why, and the most is £80.00 for a project titled The Last Walk Home in which I needed to spend out on FX Make Up kits.

Nic– Do you have any ideas lined up for a feature film? Are you looking to expand one of your short films or try something totally new?

Mark– Yes I do have one idea in particular I’d like to develop into my first full length feature but as yet it’s still in the floating around in my head stage!

Nic– What gave you the idea to start making short films and posting them on the web?

Mark–I have been a huge fan of horror flicks since I was a kid, for years I wanted to make some kind of production of my own that’s how The Last Walk Home came about, since then the bug got hold of me & has never left me, you could basically call me filmmaking mad!
I created my own official home page & using the youtube player for my films I thought I would be killing 2 birds with one stone.
With the web being so accessible these days it seemed the perfect place to showcase my work and a good way to receive feedback.
Now with the creation of myspace it has never been as easy for networking, I use myspace to draw fans into our official home www.opticnerveproductions2002.com

Nic– You are currently showing your films online, but is that the only place that they’ve been shown?

Mark– There was a film competition on a television show on Channel 4 over here in the UK (The Richard & Judy Show) where they asked for people to send in a short film titled Ghost Caught On Camera & although we did not win the competition out of thousands of entries mine was one of the few that was shown on the show.

Nic– Who works on your films? Where do you get your actors/actresses and crew?

Mark– As yet I have not used any trained actors or actresses in any of my productions, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to beg, bribe, and blackmail close friends & family into helping me out. I have my own music maestro named Glyn Nightingale who writes & composes his own original music scores for free. Me & my wife are basically the crew doing all the writing, filming, editing, lighting, fx, etc ourselves.

Nic– It sounds like you and your wife wear a lot of different hats when it comes to film making. Which is your favourite to wear?

Mark–My black baseball cap has always been my favourite… OH SORRY! You mean what aspect of filmmaking I enjoy the most, I’d have to say the camera work & the editing side of it all gives me the most satisfaction.

Nic– Since you do these films with your wife, do you guys ever go somewhere on vacation together and say "Oh my God, let’s film something here!" and then just do it or is it all planned out in advance?

Mark– Everything is planned out in advance really, but sometimes a place will just grab my imagination & we’ll end up writing a story with the location in mind.

Nic– Since your work is on the net, it has international exposure. Have you heard from any horror fan’s outside of the U.K. about your films?

Mark– Yes I have a lot of great fans in The States that really have embraced my work & give me constant support.