An Interview with Steve Hudgins – By Brian Morton

Back in July, I had the chance to see a very cool indie movie called Maniac on the Loose, now who exactly the maniac is and why he’s on the loose has to remain a secret, this movie is full of more twists than a pretzel and more turns than….something that turns alot. So, I had to talk to the writer/director of this great movie, Steve Hudgins.

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 BM – Steve, thanks for taking the time.

SH – Thank you, it’s my pleasure.

BM – First, let’s start with the obvious, how did you come up with the name Big Biting Pig Productions for your company?

SH – I was once attacked by a wild boar and I said to myself…if I survive this, I’m going to name a production company after this Big Biting Pig! Okay, okay, in reality, I just wanted to come up with a name that people wouldn’t easily forget and this is what my sick mind came up with!

BM – I’ll admit that I really enjoyed Maniac on the Loose, what was the hardest part of getting a movie with a story this complicated put together?

SH – Believe it or not, this movie wasn’t overly difficult to put together. When I was writing the story, I was never banging my head against a wall trying to come up with twists, they were just popping into my mind and I was thinking "Yeah! I like that" So I would add it. I had a lot of people who were interested in being part of this movie, so casting wasn’t an issue & the location search was quite headache free as well. This might sound like a simple thing, but putting a shooting schedule together for this movie was probably the hardest part. I hate scheduling. It’s usually a pain and it was a particular pain with Maniac on the Loose, but it all worked out in the end.

BM – How did you get your start in film making?

SH – Basically 2 of my actor buddies and I decided to give film making a try. One of them, Adam Gilliam, had some experience behind the camera. I and my other friend, Tom Dolan, both had film experience as actors. I had been writing stories since I was young, so I took one of my old stories "The 3rd Floor" and adapted it into a screenplay. Then the three of us, just did it. For a first effort, I was pretty happy with "The 3rd Floor". It was a great learning experience. After that, I wanted to keep going strong, so I started Big Biting Pig Productions, upgraded all of the equipment and wrote "Maniac on the Loose". Now we’re really going strong. We are scheduled to wrap up shooting for our latest movie "GoatSucker" on August 30th. I wrote that one as well. Then we go straight from GoatSucker and start shooting "Widow" which was written by Maniac and the Loose co-producer & co-editor PJ Woodside. She’ll also be directing that one. And I’m already outlining my next movie script which we’ll probably start shooting in late spring or early summer! I’m pretty excited about the direction we’re headed in.

BM – What can you tell us about GoatSucker?

SH – GoatSucker is the English translation for El Chupacabra, the "mythical" creature most known in Mexico or the southern USA. It’s a monster movie, with a lot of complex and interesting characters. The movie centers around 5 hikers and a guide who set out on a touristy hike called The GoatSucker hiking tour. Once on the tour, strange things start to happen that give them reason to think the GoatSucker is more than just a myth.  We expect GoatSucker to be 100 percent complete and ready for the public sometime between April & June of 2009.

 BM – Awesome, an old fashioned monster movie. What about Widow?

SH – Widow is a psychological thriller written by PJ Woodside, who recently had her screenplay "The Cajun PI" selected out of thousands of entries to be performed as an audio production at the 2008 Mystery Writers Festival this past June in Owensboro, Kentucky. You may also remember PJ as "Dr. Kate Lewis" in MANIAC ON THE LOOSE. In Widow, the main character, Vivian, is having disturbing dreams about her recently deceased husband which suggest that there may be more to his "accidental" death than she realizes. When she finds out her sister is having similar dreams, the pair try to uncover the truth behind his death and in turn, discover some terrifying things they weren’t expecting.

BM – Will you be acting in both these movies too?

SH – Yep, I’m happy to say I’ll have a part in both movies. I consider myself an actor first, so if I’m casting a movie, I’ll usually cast myself in it, provided there’s a role I feel I can do justice to. I know some people have a problem with a director casting themselves in a movie. And I can see where they might get the impression that such a move is egotistical and a case of a director just trying to get themselves in the lime light etc, but again, I do have a fair bit of acting experience. If there’s a part I think I’d do well at, it’s actually quite advantageous for me to cast myself in such a role because that’s one less person I’ll need to cast and one less schedule I’ll need to deal with. With Widow, PJ Woodside is casting and directing the movie and she approached me about playing one of the roles and I was thrilled to accept. In addition to being co-producer, I’ll probably be sharing Director of Photography duties on that one as well.

BM – You got your start in Chicago, and moved to Western Kentucky. Why the move and how his it changed how you work?

SH – Actually everything changed when I moved to Kentucky. I moved here 10 years ago, and it wasn’t until I was in Kentucky that I discovered acting. There are some great theaters in Western Kentucky and I just dove head first into it. From there I started doing occasional films and photo shoots and I just took it from there. It’s funny, you’d expect it to be the other way around, but I wasn’t involved much in regards to acting in Chicago.

BM – You have an extensive background in the theatre. Did that help when you began to write and direct your own movies?

SH – Oh absolutely. In countless ways. One of the biggest advantages to having the theater background is that I know a lot of actors in this region, so that helps a ton with casting. I have theater directing experience, so of course that’s a benefit when directing movies. Don’t get me wrong, directing theater and movies are vastly different, but still having experience in either area is going to be a definite benefit in some way.

BM – Which do you prefer, the stage or film?

SH – They’re both challenging and I love acting in either setting, but I tell you, there is nothing like the rush of live theater. It’s quite an experience. Susan Sarandon once had a great line comparing theater and film to sex and masturbation! I compare theater as walking a high wire without a safety net and film as walking on a cat walk with about 5 safety nets below you.  In theater, you get one take. That’s it. If you screw up, you have to deal with it and move on. There is no stopping and starting over. And everything has to be just right. Your emotions, your relationships, your pacing, it all has to be right or the show is going to be a bore. With film, it’s not uncommon for some scenes to have an actor doing their portion of the scene without the other actor even on set! It’s kind of crazy, but that happens all the time! And in film if you screw up, you just start over and do it again. Which is nice! It’s very comforting to know you can do things until you get it just right. There are things I love about both of them. It’s really hard to choose one over the other, they’re so different and both are so much fun!

 BM – What would you tell someone who told you that they just wrote their own script and wanted to make their own movie?

SH – I would tell them to just do it! Simple as that. The experience you’ll gain from having done it is invaluable. There’s really no substitute for experience. Use whatever equipment you have and make the most of it. There’s a million reasons why not to make a movie and a true film maker will not allow those thoughts to enter their mind. They just pin their ears back and do it.

BM – You took a small part in Maniac on the Loose, how hard was it to direct yourself?

SH – One of the big misconceptions of me casting myself in one of my movies, is that I’m totally directing myself. While I wrote the part, and I know what I’m looking for out of the role, I can’t see myself as I’m acting, so in my scenes, I rely on either the director of photography or more often my co-producer PJ Woodside to help direct me during those scenes. Also, by the magic of digital video, I’m able to view my scenes right after they are over to make sure I’m okay with them, if need be.

BM – With so many red herrings in the script, I can’t imagine that Maniac on the Loose was the easiest movie to make, would you ever consider a sequel?

SH – I’m not a huge fan of sequels, so most likely not. But if there were ever a huge demand for one, it could be a possibility.

BM – You say that after GoatSucker and Widow, you’re already outlining a new movie, care to tell us about that?

SH – Next year we are going to do my sick twisted take on a zombie movie. It seems like 75 percent of zombie movies nowadays are comedies. I want to do a good old fashioned scary zombie movie, but in an original way. The standard zombie formula is one where an army of zombies has a small group of human survivors trapped somewhere and it goes from there. It’s a great formula, but it’s been done a thousand times. I want to try something a little different. That’s all I can say about it as of now. We’ll start shooting that movie next year, probably in late spring or early summer.

BM – Well, I know you’ve got a lot to do, so I’ll quit taking up you’re valuable time. Thanks for taking a minute to check in with us.

SH – Thanks a lot Brian! Yeah, it’s been a busy year, but I’m very happy to do the interview.

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If you haven’t seen Maniac on the Loose, then you’re missing one of the best made indie movies that I’ve ever seen, writing, directing, this movie really showcases the talent that Steve and the entire Big Biting Pigs team has, and now I really can’t wait for what’s next! You can check Steve and his movies out by heading over to the Big Biting Pig web site. Personally, I’m not sure what movie I’m more anxious to see, GoatSucker or Steve’s take on the zombie genre, I’m sure both will bring something different and original to the horror genre. We here at Rogue Cinema will keep our eye on Steve for you guys, and we wish him and the Big Biting Pig team all the luck in the world!