An Interview with P.J. Starks – By Duane L. Martin

Filmmaker P.J. Starks has been featured on our site many times over the last five years and he’s back again with an upcoming project that seems really exciting. I took a few minutes to ask him about the six week project that will be starting on January 11th of 2013.

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DLM: For those of you who haven’t seen our interviews with you in the past, let’s start out by having you fill everyone in with a little background about yourself.

PJS: I’ve worked on some awesome projects as well as created some unique events within my hometown of Owensboro, KY. I’m the writer/director of HALLOWS EVE: SLAUGHTER ON SECOND STREET and the award winning short A MIND BESIDE ITSELF. I was Co-Producer on David Breckman’s (writer/director Monk) short film MURDER IN KENTUCKY and Co-Editor/Director of Photography on REMAINDERED, a short by Lee Goldberg (writer/executive producer DIAGNOSIS MURDER, MONK, THE GLADES). Most recently I helped Produce two other projects; an indie horror feature called THREE TEARS ON BLOODSTAINED FLESH (currently in post) and a web-series THE BOOK OF DALLAS (season one can be viewed on KoldCastTV.com and has well over 1 million views thus far). I’m also the Creator for The Indie Film Series at Kentucky Wesleyan College and the Co-Creator/Event Facilitator for The River City Festival of Films.

DLM: This is obviously not your first film series. Can you tell us a little about your previous effort?

PJS: Last year I conceived the idea for and co-created The Indie Film Series at Kentucky Wesleyan College with Tamara Coy. Solid venues for screening your work just don’t exist in my area and I’m constantly looking for new and inventive ways to give local/regional artists opportunities to show their work. That was the purpose for TIFS. To create a viable option for filmmakers to screen and discuss their films with an audience that appreciates good independent filmmaking. It also gave the community a chance to see what it takes to create a film from the ground up by speaking with the filmmakers themselves. It was very successful.

DLM: What is the new series you’re working on now?

PJS: The latest series is called UNSCRIPTED: An Indie Film Xperience. I was sitting at work about four months ago and came up with a new and create way to experience indie film. I pitched the idea to Jim Blanton, the new Director at the Daviess County Public Library. Jim is a HUGE film buff and immediately jumped at the chance to bring something unique and community oriented to their location. I can’t thank him enough for his support and allowing me to bring my vision to life.

DLM: You mentioned before that The Indie Film Series was successful. Why create a new series and change venues if the last event went so well? Are you still working on TIFS?

PJS: There has been talk about a Series 2 of The Indie Film Series, honestly it has been delayed a couple times due to various reasons. I have no doubt in my mind that Verite Cinema will return to KWC for another round of TIFS. The Indie Film Series is your typical series where a film is screened and then followed up with a question and answer session with the filmmaker. With the new series it takes that idea and adds a whole new element of cool. I’m also taking Justin Leigh, an aspiring filmmaker, from Owensboro High School under my wing. I feel that I’ve been given enough opportunities that it’s time for me to take the connections I have and give some back. I, along with Jim, will be taking back seat roles to the project and I’ll be handing over the reigns to Justin to facilitate the event. He’s really looking forward to taking this on. Everyone involved is pretty excited about the new project.

DLM: How does UNSCRIPTED differ from your series at KWC?

PJS: TIFS is more aimed at the students. It was open to everyone, but our main focus was creating something that had educational value for everyone that attends. UNSCRIPTED changes gears and aims for a purely entertaining experience. While there are some similarities to TIFS, UNSCRIPTED definitely has its own voice. We start out pretty standard with letting the filmmaker introduce their work. We then screen said short film and follow it up with a brief Q&A. After the question and answer session the filmmaker will bring out one of the actors from the film and go sit with the audience. The film is then shown a second time, only this time the audience participates in a live interactive audio commentary experience. They have a chance to witness the filmmaker discussing their film in real time. It almost puts the audience in the drivers seat. They can ask questions or chime in at any point.

DLM: That’s pretty cool, it’s like bringing a DVD special feature to life.

PJS: Yeah. When you do something live it creates this “anything goes” atmosphere and I think that’s where the series gets its edge factor. If someone sitting in the audience doesn’t like what’s being discussed they can easily change the conversation in their favor by putting in their two cents. The film series begins on January 11th and runs every Friday night at the Daviess County Public Library starting at 8:30 pm for six weeks. It’s definitely going to be interesting.

DLM: The “anything goes” aspect is pretty exciting. Are you at all worried about hecklers?

PJS: Not at all. Every event I’ve ever put on or been too locally, the audience has been very respectful. If you go to something like this you’re there because you enjoy this sort of thing. Owensboro is arts rich and has many admirers so if your butt is in the seat I’m sure you’ll act accordingly. However, if someone does decide to be a douche we’ll have provisions in place.

DLM: Is there anything else you’d like to mention before we wrap this up?

PJS: Most immediately UNSCRIPTED is what’s on my plate. I put MY HORROR PROJECT on hiatus until I can find a central shooting location, otherwise everything else is ready to go on that (www.facebook.com/MyHorrorProject). I’m also working with several others on another film project that I’m co-writing, co-directing and serving as Executive Producer for. I hope to have that in the can next year. We’ve also begun discussing year three of The River City Festival of Films, year two was pretty successful despite having a lower turn out. We’ve begun getting interest for year three form those local organizations that helped pull off year two so it’s only natural that year three will happen.