What can you tell us about the experience of seeing your short story turned into a short film, Party Girl? What was its reception like?
It was fantastic. Very exciting. Jay is a thorough guy and likes to have every detail down before shooting, and when shooting he likes to allow the moment to take the film somewhere he never thought of. After my visit they did a few pick up shots and post began, after I okayed the final edit it went to film festivals and did a nice run. I was able to see it at two festivals with the audience and when it's over and they're clapping it's the best reward.
[This next question contains spoilers for the film. It's short. Look it up on Youtube, assuming you're 18. It's graphic probably R-rated or so.] What makes Party Girl fascinating is that while it centers on the girl, it may not be about the girl as the surprise ending reveals the narrator is the primary criminal. Did you mean for this to be a potential unreliable narrator, expressing his own guilt for his crime? or is it simply vengeance tale, the baddies of the world finally get theirs (although it might be difficult to target such criminals)? What came first: the plot or the perspective?
I never had any deep meaning for Party Girl, nothing hidden. Just a fun, gory revenge story. When it became a film some things had to be changed and it became a lot more violent and personal with each victim for Party Girl herself. When Candace Porter starting preparing for the role that's when things got deep. Same for Tom Young who played the narrator. They studied and walked in the character's shoes as much as possible and when we were filming it truly felt like I was watching strangers. There is no rape scene in the original story, it's hinted at. For the film both Candace and Tom came to me with the idea of showing it to help the viewers get into the mind of the victim turn vigilante. When time came to shoot that scene, I had to leave the room they were so convincing. Perspective came first, through talks and exchanges with friends who had gone through such horrible things. I wanted to make that fantasy of deadly revenge reality the only way I could without life in prison.
Will you be doing more in film? Any projections on the horizon?
I have a few in pre-production, two short films and a feature. Two haven't been announced yet but Human Wreckage, a film being directed by Tom Young will be shot in the Dallas/Irving, Texas area in April, 2014 and stars Ezra Buzzington (Fight Club, The Artist, Crossbones) and Meredith Monroe (Dawson's Creek, Criminal Minds).
You said, "Screenplays are stick figures, comic scripts are very similar and it’s easy to play hangman with those stick figures." Are these hampers on creativity? Will you still try to work in these areas, pushing the genres?
I see screenplays and comic scripts as sort of fleshless novels. I've had to learn to keep things simple and bare while at the same time giving the best imagery as possible to get the producer or director's mind into the story. By far I prefer the beauty of a novel or novella, the freedom of writing in that format rather than scripts. I don't find writing scripts to be fun and that's what it's all about, enjoying what you do.
Music, in particular metal, figure heavily into your work according to this quote "The hardcore and metal scene that I’ve embraced since a pre-teen has always been part of my creative life and it’s a major role. When I write I’m listening to something that fits the atmosphere of the story or, writing something that fits the mood of the music." So do you tend to write to the music or vice versa: pick music that fits what you're trying to do? Can you give an example? Do certain works have their own playlist?
Depending on the scene I have a few playlists I focus on. Melodic doom metal for instance, that's usually playing when I'm writing. Most the time bands like Isis or Truckfighters. If I'm listening to something fast and heavy like hardcore or thrash, say, Trash Talk or Ceremony, I'm most likely writing a scene that requires an extra oomph of adrenaline like a fight or sex or a chase scene.