An Interview with Scott Goldberg – By Brian Morton

 After seeing “The Day They Came Back” (which is reviewed in this very issue of RC), I couldn’t wait to find out more about the filmmaker, Scott Goldberg. Scott, a Long Island born filmmaker, describes himself as a raw vegan filmmaker, and if you haven’t seen “The Day They Came Back” then you need to find the time, this is one of the best independent zombie movies ever made! I had the chance to ask Scott a few questions:

BM – Tell us how your fascination with horror movies got started.

SG – I have always been into horror films ever since I was a little kid, especially around Halloween. I remember around that time horror movies would play on the local channels and I’d always catch a glimpse of the movies. I vividly remember the dark, cloudy skies, the smell of the crisp air in the fall back in the late 80’s, mixed with the consumerism of horror films that came out during that time period. Every day in late October, before Halloween, I would go down to the local stationery store to buy Halloween decorations and masks with whatever money I had, which wasn’t a lot. Every Halloween I would buy those cheap plastic hockey masks to dress up as Jason Voorhees. The two films that I watched when I was really young that scared me were “Ghostbusters” and “Poltergeist”, and as I grew older I watched horror films such as “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street”. My childhood was all about two things: Halloween and horror films and to this day those are what really inspired me to make films.

BM – Which horror directors inspired you the most? Why?

SG – I am a big admirer of John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper. They both made great horror films in the 70’s and 80’s that led the way for many years. A lot of people think that “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is gory, but it’s not – it’s the fact that real events like that happen every day in factory farms, where innocent animals are slaughtered, and I feel that the reality of both death and being in danger makes a film scary. Another horror director that influenced me was George Romero. His “Dead” films influenced my two zombie shorts, “The Night They Came Back”, and “The Day They Came Back”. Wes Craven scared the shit out me in the late 80’s, which is when I first saw “A Nightmare on Elm Street”. I remember seeing the sequels when I was about nine years old, and my older brother Jordan would love watching them, and I’d be putting my hands over my eyes. I loved the feeling of being scared, so to come around full circle and to give that feeling back to the new generation of fans, it seems like the best thing to do.

BM – You’ve won several awards for your short film, “The Day They Came Back”. What inspired you to make a zombie movie?

SG – I have always been a fan of Romero films and the first time I saw “Day of the Dead” was in 2002. In December 2005, I directed my final thesis film for college, “The Night They Came Back”, which was about a zombie outbreak that plagued an isolated college one night. “The Night They Came Back” was heavily influenced by “Dawn of the Dead”. This is also where I met veteran actor, Chiko Mendez, and I knew after working with him for one day that we had to work again in a larger capacity. So I tossed around the idea for “The Night They Came Back II” and went into pre-production on that in January 2005 and started shooting in April 2005. The title changed to “The Day They Came Back” since “The Night They Came Back” was only a thesis project and was never released as a short film on DVD or in any film festivals.

BM – “The Day They Came Back” is probably the best low budget zombie movie I’ve seen in years. Any thoughts on making a full-length zombie movie? or putting it on a DVD release with “The Night They Came Back”?

SG – I love zombie films, and would do another one if it was on a bigger budget, but right now, it’s very important for me to make films that “speak” to me. While zombie films are great, they are not an original idea that I have come up with and I want to put out some original work and that’s where I feel that my work is heading. As for a DVD release for “The Night They Came Back”, if there is a big enough demand for it then I don’t see why not. I think what would be more ideal would be to stream “The Night They Came Back” online, which I am planning to hopefully do this fall on my official film website, as well as a special 13-minute long behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of “The Night They Came Back”. T. Berry, who played the lead role of Troy Bell in the film, and myself had shot documentary footage and interviews during the filming of “The Night The Came Back”, so it would be nice to get it out there in the open for people to watch and enjoy.

BM – You’ve worked almost exclusively in horror. Any aspirations outside the genre?

SG – I’m a filmmaker in general and will work on any film that I find interesting and original. “All I Want For Christmas” isn’t necessarily a horror movie, as it has its comedic moments. I’d call it more of a dark comedy. So, as a filmmaker, you have to develop your own voice. Today, we have all of these horrible films that label themselves as “horror films” and they have taken over the meaning of what horror films should really be about. So, as an independent horror filmmaker, I need to keep making original horror films, and as horror fans, we should not support all of the studio garbage that is out today in mainstream horror.

BM – Okay, fantasy time, you’ve got an unlimited budget, you can have any actors you want, what’s your dream project?

SG – I think that we need to give talented and upcoming actors a chance to become the next “big thing”. For example, on the directing side of it, you have these horror film directors, like John Carpenter and George Romero, who have seen their best days pass them by and now it’s up to the new breed of filmmakers to carry the torch and keep horror films alive. I do know that if Donald Pleasance were still alive, I’d definitely be working with him to some capacity if I had the budget.

BM – You write, you direct, you produce, you’ve worked on makeup, if you had to pick just one job, which would it be?

SG – When I was shooting “The Day They Came Back”, I was always shooting scenes, so I never was able to fully direct the way I wanted to because of time restraints and rushing into the film a little quicker than I should have. Working on “All I Want For Christmas”, we had much more time for preparation, which helped a lot due to the fact that things went smoother. “The Day They Came Back” was such a bigger production, with a bigger cast and crew as well, and it felt like a family in a way because we all worked hard to get the film done. I love directing, and basically creating a world and environment of characters that are entertaining. That is my true passion.

BM – You drew Paul Kratka out of retirement for “The Day They Came Back”, what was it like working with him?

SG – Paul knows I’m grateful that he chose to work on “The Day They Came Back”, and he feels the same way. Paul was the first “star” that I’ve worked with, and “The Day They Came Back” was the first film out of college that I directed. I remember showing some of the cast some footage from “Friday the 13th Part 3” since they weren’t familiar with who Paul was, and that amped them up to know that they’d be in the same film as Paul. Paul and I have kept in touch, and will be booking some festival appearances to promote “The Day They Came Back” this fall.

BM – What advice would you give anyone out there who thinks they want to make a movie of their own?

SG – Raise the money, write a script and shoot the film. Aspiring filmmakers think that they will make a great feature-length film right off the bat. You must learn your craft and have the vision for what you want to put on screen. A poorly thought-out story, with dull characters, poor lighting and bad acting will really show through the final product. Everything has to be flowing smoothly, and this can only be done with practice and hiring talented cast and crew to your production. Shoot for quality, not quantity and do not let anyone tell you “no” or that you can’t do it. You can do it. Keep chasing the dream and if you’re dying to get a story out there that is burning inside of you, then just do it. Don’t hold back. Never hold back.

 BM – “All I Want For Christmas” is a series that you’re doing. Will the entire series be Christmas based or will you move to other holidays?

SG – “All I Want For Christmas” is a short horror film series, starring Chiko Mendez and Kristen Spaeth that was started back in January 2006 and is currently in the film festival circuit. It was meant to be a one-minute super short film but was expanded because I felt that there was more of a story to tell. It premiered at the 2006 Long Island Film Festival in May 2006 and the audience reaction was very positive. We are planning to shoot “All I Want For Halloween” this fall.

BM – What is “All I Want for Christmas” about? Can you tell us more about it?

SG – “All I Want For Christmas” is about a mother who is grieving over the loss of her daughter who was kidnapped on Christmas Eve three years earlier by a demented rapist, Santa Cruz. It’s a dark and disturbing short film and I wanted to put down my own take on what could very well be happening in the world today. To a lot of people it’s a very touchy subject and I could very well make a film that’s a toned down “happy” film, but I’m a horror filmmaker and want to make films that are realistic and creepy. The thought of a masturbating rapist running around killing children is an original idea and that is what horror films of today are missing.

BM – Tell us about the music in “All I Want For Christmas”.

SG – In the beginning of production, I wanted to give it an 80’s vibe, and I kept on hearing the sound in my head as I was editing the final cut, a full retro synthesizer type of score. The sound I was going for was very much like the sound of the synthesizers in “Creepshow”. This was my first time working with Dead House Music, and I had told Mars, the composer of “All I Want For Christmas” that I wanted the score to be nothing like the music of today’s mainstream horror films. I am glad he agreed because being that “All I Want For Christmas” is an original horror film, it needed a creepy, original sound to it. Mars dug out from his basement an old keyboard from the 80s, similar to the one that John Harrison would use in the films he scored in the 80s.

BM – We understand that you’re one of the main subjects in Christopher P. Garetano’s upcoming horror documentary. “Son of Horror Business”. How did the relationship come about?

SG – I had e-mailed Christopher back in September of 2005 because I was very intrigued by his website and wanted to be a part of any upcoming projects he had. I was hoping that he was still shooting footage for his film “Horror Business” but he had already finished it and it had already hit the film festival circuit around the United States. We met at the “FANGORIA WEEKEND OF HORRORS” in New Jersey, and he was really interested in the setup I had at my dealer’s table, so I invited him down to one of the re-shoot dates to shoot some footage for his documentary, “Son of Horror Business”. He came down to two of my film shoots so far: “The Day They Came Back” and “All I Want For Christmas”. He is planning to come down to more shooting days in the near future to get more footage for his film. As a filmmaker, you always look to get your story out there, and what Christopher is doing is making a documentary that celebrates the upcoming independent horror film revolution.

BM – We’re a big fan of Chris’ too, and now we have another reason to anticipate the sequel to ‘Horror Business’. You start shooting a new movie this summer, “The Forest Hills”. Could you tell us a little about it?

SG – “The Forest Hills” is a short film I am shooting, about two horror journalists who travel to a small town in Kentucky to document an urban legend of some crazy town outcasts that live in the woods. I came up with the idea in April 2006 while on the phone with Elaine Lamkin and Wes Vance, two good friends of mine, and we were discussing possible ideas for an upcoming film and at the time we discussed me coming to Kentucky to shoot a film. We had talked about shooting the whole film in Kentucky, but as time progressed, it became most cost effective and more convenient to shoot on Long Island. On top of that, we had a free location where we could shoot which finalized the decision to shoot on Long Island. A local filmmaker and good friend of mine, Scott W. Perry, showed interest in writing the script after I came up with the story, and we went back and forth in e-mails on ideas and what direction we wanted to go with for the film.

BM – Being a filmmaker, I can say that I’m probably not the only one who’s glad to hear you say that you don’t buy into the remake fad! Are there any current “horror” movies that you’ve liked? Or any of the “new” genre directors that you think have potential?

SG – There really have not been any recent horror films that I have liked, which is very sad, but horror is coming back strongly in independent cinema. I have been very picky with what I watch, especially with movies out in the theatre. You must remember that every single dollar we spend on a ticket for a movie is our vote to support the company that makes that certain film. It’s amazing that a PG-13 “horror film” can make around $25 million opening weekend, and when an original horror film comes out, it bombs at the box office. The main focus of big studios is to make films that make a quick buck. Most major studios, if not all, do not care about the true horror fans or the “horror” films they put out. It’s all about the money and at the expense of real horror fans to slap them in the face and say, “We’re taking your money, giving you a shitty product and you can’t do anything about it.” We will not stand for those type of films
anymore. We must try to put an end to it by supporting independent horror films and getting the word out there.

 BM – You took the words right out of my mouth! “Nightmare” sounds like a great premise, could you tell us a little more about it?

SG – “Nightmare” is about the trauma that a young girl experiences in her dreams while sleeping, which ultimately causes her death. It’s a super short film that was made for film festivals as well as my website. We shot the film on a sound stage in Deer Park, New York. I decided to set the dream sequences in darkness surrounding the main character and incorporate the element of wind to heighten the imagery on screen. It’s a really weird and obscure little project and I figured this would be a great opportunity as a “warm up” film before going into principal photography for “The Forest Hills”. We are tossing around the idea of possibly making a small series of super short films, similar to what we are doing with “All I Want For Christmas”.

BM – How about your project, “The Project”?

SG – “The Project” is a short film that I want to shoot, and it’s on the backburner right now. The idea of “The Forest Hills” sort of originated from the story of “The Project”, especially with the type of location needed for both scripts.

BM – As both a writer and director, have you ever found that something you’ve written just couldn’t be filmed with the budget constraints that you’re sometimes under?

SG – I have a script for a feature film, “Danielle’s Revenge”, that I want to shoot, and to shoot it, that would have to be on a big budget. One of the main reasons I am shooting all of these short films is to get investors interested in putting down money for my next project. This is why I feel getting the films out there online and why film festivals are so important – you get the film out to the world, and I’ve actually gotten a lot of e-mails from people all over the world who really loved “The Day They Came Back”, so I know that the film is getting out there and the fans appreciate it. And as a filmmaker you just have to keep creating entertaining and high quality films and I will continue to do that.

Just seeing “The Day They Came Back” makes me want to see more of Scott’s work! If you want more info on Scott’s films or want to check out his work for yourself, you can either jump over to Scott’s My Space Page or to Scott Goldberg Films trust me, it’s well worth the time! I, personally, can’t wait to see what’s next from Scott and all of us here at Rogue Cinema wish him all the luck in the world.