An Interview with Zack Parker – By Brian Morton

Last month I had the chance to see a new movie called Quench. I have to admit, when I first saw the cover, I was a bit apprehensive. Called a “Modern Gothic Tragedy”, I’m not sure what I had anticipated, but it wasn’t good. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong, Quench is one of the most original, entertaining movies I’ve seen in quite some time. The story of a young man who falls in with a strange cult-ish group of blood worshippers is both fascinating and scary. Well, I had to talk to the writer/director who came up with the cool story, Zack Parker.

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 BM – Thanks for taking the time, Zack.

ZP – No problem.

BM – What gave you the idea for Quench in the first place?

ZP – I saw a documentary on HBO several years ago called THE VAMPIRE MURDERS. It detailed the true story of a group of so-called “vampires” that killed the parents of one of its own members. At the same time, a friend of mine, Brandon Owens, had written a screenplay that had a bit to do with the Goth subculture. His script was actually a dark comedy, but it got me thinking that I had never seen a film really capture this fascinating subculture in a realistic way, especially not one that had portrayed their lifestyle as a sort of alternative religion, as opposed to being evil or Satanic. Also, I had just turned twenty-one years old when I began the script, so I was starting to notice that interesting time in life when you and all your friends begin to become adults, and sometimes change so much that it is hard to remember why you became friends to begin with.

BM – Did you base any of the characters in the movie on people you knew?

ZP – I believe it is unavoidable for any writer/storyteller not to  incorporate some facet of themselves, people they know, or  relationships they have into their stories. But no, no one specifically.

BM – The town that Derick finds himself in is an almost rural community, where did you film?

ZP – We shot the film in my hometown of Richmond, IN. This is generally the town where I shoot all my films.

 BM – At first, we assume that Derik’s friends are vampires or maybe part of a satanic cult, what challenges did putting together a movie with these kinds of red herrings and twists have?

ZP – Well, this information was on a need-to-know basis when it came to investors and getting permission to shoot on locations. One of the benefits of shooting in a small town in the Mid-West is that people don’t realize that they can ask to read the script. When they asked me what the film was about, I said “A dark drama”. That was usually all they needed to know.

BM – The acting was amazing in Quench, was it hard to cast?

ZP – Not really. We held auditions in LA, Chicago, and Indianapolis. We did have tons of people submit to the film, but maybe only auditioned about 80-100 for all the parts. I tend to be pretty confident when I find the person I am looking for.

BM – Tell us about the cast.

ZP – Bo Barrett, who plays Derik, come from our LA auditions. He just submitted cold to a casting call. I really loved his audition, and basically hired him on the spot. Mia Moretti (Gina), is a friend of Bo’s and actually stepped in when another actress I had hired dropped out for personal problems at the last minute. I felt she did a really great job, though, and now cannot picture anyone else playing that part. Ben Schmitt came to a casting call in Indianapolis. Again, I thought he had a great look and was right for the part, and Samantha DeTurk, who plays Veronica, was in my first film INEXCHANGE. I always had her in the back of my mind when I was writing the script.

BM – The number one problem I hear from low budget filmmakers is money. How difficult was it to raise the money for filming?

ZP – Pretty difficult. I had INEXCHANGE coming out, and it had received some really great reviews so far, so that helped. But, I live in a small town, so there are not a lot of people here that are interested in investing money in an indie film. But, little by little, and through a lot of networking, I was finally able to raise the budget. The whole process took about a year.

BM – Do you find it hard making movies in a smaller town? What are the pros and cons to that?

ZP – It’s not necessarily easier or harder working in the Mid West, just different. I lived in LA for 5 years, and Chicago for 2. There was a certain mentality and work ethic with a lot of the crews I worked with that I just didn’t respond favorably to, especially in the independent world. I think that crews in the Mid West are hungrier for work, and even hungrier for quality work. I rather like the disconnect from LA. I can bring people to me here from anywhere, and when we’ve wrapped, they can all go back and I can edit the piece on my own. Also, on an economical level, at least for  the type of films I make, it is much more efficient for me to shoot  films here. I can pull a lot of favors and spend close to nothing on  several locations, thereby giving the films much greater production  value.

 BM – Tell us about Inexchange.

ZP – INEXCHANGE was my first feature. It is a horror film, best compared to films like THE SHINING and CARRIE. We shot it in 2001 on MiniDV (Canon XL1). I was twenty-two at the time. I moved to LA for the second time after we wrapped to edit the film and to find a composer. Through the lead, Sean Blodgett, I met Andy Grush who is just an amazing musician (he and his composing partner Taylor Stewart composed QUENCH as well). The film was sold to Brain Damage Films in late 2004, was released originally in February ’06, then a Special Re-Mastered Director’s Cut was released a year later. I was a little disappointed with the scope of the release. I would have liked to have seen it on more retail and rental shelves. But it served its purpose, it got me some good exposure and ultimately it put me in a position to make QUENCH.

BM – What are you working on next?

ZP – The next film I am working on is titled SCALENE. I have just recently completed the script which I co-wrote with Brandon Owens. I am talking with another production company now about a co-production and our first order of business is to get a Casting Director on board and start packaging the film with some recognizable talent. Right now I hope to be shooting it in the spring of next year.

BM – What can you tell us about Scalene?

ZP – Not much, unfortunately. It is in its infancy right now. I co-wrote  the script with Brandon Owens, a guy I have been making movies with since High School. The script is pretty much complete and has to do with how people remember and experience the same events differently. I working with a Production Company in LA right now (which I cannot name), and we are just about to start getting the script out to some more recognizable actors. If all goes well, we will be shooting around summer of next year.

BM – Great, I can’t wait to check it out. Thanks for taking the time and keep us in the loop about what’s going on.

ZP – I will, and thank you.

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If you haven’t seen Quench yet, then you really should, it’s one of the highest quality indie movies I’ve seen in a long time, and when I say high quality, I mean production values, acting, writing…everything, it really is that good. I can’t wait to see Scalene and whatever Zack works on next and we here at Rogue Cinema wish him all the luck in the world.