GREGG BISHOPTHE INTERVIEW
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Seeming to come from out of nowhere, Director Gregg Bishop made his mark on film festivals in 2006 with his unusual zombie movie, THE OTHER SIDE. The few who got the chance to see it on the big screen went ape, but despite being a hit at the Slamdance film festival, it wound up getting a limited run in New York City and Los Angeles before hitting DVD. No worries for Gregg though: despite the movie being shot on Super 16mm film (same as Robert Rodriguez' EL MARIACHI), and having some breathtaking SFX, the entire feature budget was only $15,000.
Now Gregg has a second feature film, DANCE OF THE DEAD, and it too has been wowing audiences at film festivals. Which begs the question that Hollywood is asking, "Haven't you Horror Thriller fans had enough of zombie movies? Wouldn't you rather see more torture movies, slasher movies, rednecks in the woods movies? Say, how about a nice wandering remake of a Japanese monster movie, only without any pesky Asians in it? Wouldn't you genre fans rather see that than another independent made zombie movie?"
Apparently not. DANCE OF THE DEAD did the limited engagement and then off to DVD, under Lionsgate's Ghosthouse Underground imprint, no less. Yet if various movie and Horror Thriller website message boards are any indication, DANCE OF THE DEAD is getting far more fan buzz than the upcoming SAW V: THIS IS REALLY GETTING OLD. So Gregg and I had a conversation over dinner.
As happens in a conversation, as opposed to an interview, two people, upon first meeting, will sound each other out. And while this conversation focuses on Gregg Bishop and his work, some of the questions he asked me in the beginning, and my answers, became a thread that he expounded on throughout our conversation. So the conversation picks up with the American Film Market, an annual international week long event where movies are sold to foreign markets world wide.
E.C.McMullen Jr.: I went to the AFM (American Film Market), have you ever been there?
Gregg Bishop : Mm – hmm.
ECM: Well let me tell you, despite all of the really bad movies I've seen, and I've seen some bad ones.
GREGG: (laughs) Yeah, there's some really bad movies there.
ECM: Despite all of that, I still had this kind of love, you could say, for cinema. The magic and imagination: I've seen how bad it can be, but I also appreciate how great and wonderful it can be.
ECM: So to see these movies at the AFM sold like a swap meet for cheap whores...
GREGG: (laughs) That's what it is. That's exactly what it is!
ECM: It's heartbreaking! Ah god! So disillusioning. The way they sell them! And the veil there fell away from my eyes! How can they DO this to their own films?
GREGG: It IS an eye opener. It's crazy.
ECM: I mean, even the worst film, I gave it a certain amount of respect because I know how difficult it is to make even a short film, so these folks who made feature films-
GREGG: Yeah, it's awful.
ECM: And some folks were selling movies that hadn't been made yet.
ECM: They had a script, and a poster. They might even have an actor featured on the poster. Someone like Morgan Freeman.
GREGG: Huh! Really?
ECM: Except there was a disclaimer at the bottom of the poster that Morgan Freeman hadn't actually been cast.
GREGG: (laughs) Doesn't mean anything! So awful! Yeah, we would love to have Morgan Freeman in our movie. Look how great he looks on our poster!
ECM: (laughs) But we're not here to talk about me. We're wasting RAM. Now that you know about me, let's hear about you.
GREGG: All right. Bring it on. What you want to know?
ECM: Let's start with the same question you asked me on the way over here: What got you into Horror?
GREGG: I think it was JAWS. I remember watching JAWS for the first time and being scared out of my little mind. We rented a VHS and saw it on TV. I remember being scared when I first watched it, but then I turned it back on and watched it again. It was a lot of fun. I remember being scared, but having fun. I learned that at an early age: Enjoying being scared. And there was such creativity in that movie.
ECM: Fun is something that comes through in both of your movies. While THE OTHER SIDE isn't a "funny" movie, it's a fun movie. You're not simply being scared but enjoying it on a level of fun.
GREGG: Yeah. Like EVIL DEAD.
ECM: Yeah, gore everywhere, but a good time.
GREGG: But a good time. I think it calls to my love for adventure movies as well.
ECM: What adventure movies?
GREGG: Well, The Goonies for one.
ECM: Oh no! You're one of the Goonie people!
GREGG: (laughs) Yep. I'm one of the Goonies. I love the Goonies.
ECM: The cult of Goonies!
GREGG: They're my people. THE GOONIES were a huge influence on me, in a weird way. Also, let's see, MONSTER SQUAD was also a good time in the theater. The movies that really stuck with me are the ones that, when I walked out of the theater, and you feel like you had an experience: you were taken on a ride.
ECM: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK!
GREGG: Oh yeah. Raiders! Man! That's a great adventure movie. The first three are my all time favorites. I walked out of that and I realized man, that's what I want to do with my life.
This interview copyright 2008 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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