I had the opportunity to talk with actor-writer-director-producer Justin Price today who took the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his upcoming film The Elf and The 13th Friday, along with some of his other projects.
Horror Fuel: “I’ve heard that you have to loose and gain weight a lot for your roles.”
Price: “I had to lose a lot of weight for ‘Alien Reign of Men’. We shot that in Iceland. I thought I would get into some Daniel Day-Lewis character work, right. I tried to look like a heavy, bulky guy, and I put on about 40 pounds. Then I had to drop it, 40 pounds sounds a lot easier than done. Gaining it was easy.”
Horror Fuel: “Do you do that a lot?”
Price: “What, fluctuate weight? All the time. In ‘The Cloth’ I was about 165, in the ‘Reign of Men’ I was 240, right now I’m at 185. It’s crazy.
Horror Fuel: “Does it take a toll on your body?”
Price: “Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s killing me [laughter]. What it really does is take away my creativity. The mental is more draining than the physical. I sit and write scripts and it drains my ability to sit at the computer. I just get sleepy immediately. You eat carbs and want to knock out. I do anyway. ”
Horror Fuel: “What made you fall in love with the horror genre?”
Price: “I think that horror is one of the genres that allows you to escape realities of this world. I think that it is an odd genre to be in because we go there wanting to be afraid. It’s weird to even think about. You come into the theater to get scared. I remember taking people to see my movie ‘The 13th Friday’ and I was sitting in the audience and I was like, “Guys, cater your expectations. It’s not a hundred million dollar budget. I can’t create a house, burn it down. I can’t fly cameras through the wall and shit. It is what it is.” But people were grabbing people and I mean ‘The 13th Friday’ is a fear fest. I think everything but a cat came out of that closet (cat hissing noise) with that movie [laughter]. It is scare, scare, scare, right. I wanted everyone to have a good time. People were just grabbing people in there. It felt good because that’s what horror does. It plays on our fears. The thing about horror is it allows you to create that fantasy. These days most people come to theaters like miniature critics, ready to critique everything that is going on. “That doesn’t look real. Oh, that fight sequence isn’t great. Oh, that camera work wasn’t…” Everyone has become like IMDb critics at the theater, so it’s very hard to turn off. We used to just turn it all off. Now, they are checking box office numbers like Final Fantasy football players. It’s become like a trading card game. It used to be an escape. It used to be where you went in, got engulfed in the characters and that was it. That’s when you had great cinema in every genre. Horror is still there. Horror and sci-fi are my favorite genres. Those are the places that still exist where people can check out of reality.
You can stay in your house right now and have the lights off, and I know people talk shit about horror movies like, ‘They don’t scare me at all.’ But yet at home, by themselves, every light is on and the TV’s running cartoons. I’m like, ‘Okay, I thought you weren’t scared.’ No one goes home after a horror movie and leaves everything off and not think, ‘Ahh, there’s nothing in the closet.’ I don’t know about that, you hear noises downstairs, or where ever it might be. I think that’s what the genre still lends itself to. It allows you to play on that and I think it’s so awesome just to give people that escape, the ability to attach themselves to something that doesn’t actually exists, yet it makes all the sense in the world. We’re creating our own monsters. I think that’s pretty dope.”
Horror Fuel: “Well said.”
Horror Fuel: “You’re a busy guy between acting, writing, directing, and producing. How do you balance it all?”
Price: “Very terribly [laughter]. It’s a blessing to do this. But I had a breakdown yesterday. It’s odd with having a creative mind. It comes at you in waves. Sometimes you just start crying. I just broke down, not crying, but I just started making up scenarios that didn’t exist. It had nothing to do with nothing. I was just feeling bad and don’t know how to explain it. I guess it was just from being overwhelmed and not being able to turn off. Most people have a lot of dreams and ideas. I execute those.
Right now, I’m doing a creature movie. The creature movie is going to be due next year around March or April. I’ve already started casting and I’ve written the script and I’ve already got CGI people working on it. I’ve got people making wardrobes. ‘The Elf’ is coming out November 2nd. I’m doing promotions for that. I’m doing behind the scene DVD stuff. ‘Alien Reign of Men’ comes out the 28th in Redbox along with ‘The Elf’, now we’re doing more promotion, more DVD stuff. ‘Almost Amazing’ came out, a romantic comedy, more promotion, more DVD stuff. ‘The 13th Friday’ came out, more promotion, more DVD stuff. Now, I’m thinking about this movie I want to do after the creature film. Because I’m thinking, that’s going to get done, so I can’t wait for that movie. I have to continuously move. It’s almost like running a studio where we are not concerned with the first film cause that’s just this weekend. We’ve got to worry about quarter two, quarter three, and quarter four. We’re worried about the next thing. In this industry, if you are stuck on one movie, you will find yourself making that one film and that will be it. You’ll be a one film guy. So, it’s very difficult to balance it all because I just want to do so much shit. I want to do everything.
I’ve got TV ideas, and I’m executing them, not just thinking, ‘Oh, that would be cool.’ It’s about a woman who inherits a comedy club from her famous mother who was a criminal. I’m executing the script and I pitch it. Now I’m like, ‘I’ve got to go make it.’ Now, I’ve got to start casting it. I’m on the phone with Tori Heart. I’m on the phone with Kevin’s [Heart] company LOL. I’m on the phone with Lionsgate, with TV One. Now I’m pitching and negotiating. In the midst of that I’m like let’s do another show, ‘Reapers’, I’m like, ‘Oh shit, let’s do a sci-fi show. I like sci-fi. I like stuff like ‘The Shannara Chronicles’, let’s do something like that. I’m thinking about casting and shooting it. I’m not a guy who just thinks about it, I have to do it. It just never stops, if you get my point. There’s no end. After this phone call, there’s something else, then there’s something else. It’s an ongoing thing. It’s great, but I don’t have a checkout or a clock out moment. If I want to escape I go watch a movie [laughter]. It’s great to have all those, but it’s one of those things you have to balance. Those things won’t be balanced until you are in a position and have the resources you need to say, ‘Hey Netflix.’ opposed to pick up the camera and go do it yourself.”
Horror Fuel: “You definitely have your hands full, that’s for sure.”
Price: “I love it. Someone who doesn’t know me will think, ‘He’s just complaining about doing art and that I should be happy to be in that position.’ I am. I am very happy. It is crazy, it makes you crazy.”
Horror Fuel: “It sounds like it would.”
Horror Fuel: “The creature feature you mentioned, does it have a title yet?”
Price: “No title yet, because I don’t know exactly what I want it to be. This is how I came up with a film, I look around and see what I would have fun doing for the next six months. Then I think about things, sort of build a brand. Switch things up a bit, I don’t want to make just a slasher. We have a doll movie coming out with ‘The Elf’. I did a possession film. I’ve done the paranormal. I figure with this one I want to do more action, more sci-fi. I love things like ‘Pacific Rim’, ‘Godzilla’, old school ‘King Kong’, things where you have giant creatures. I want to do something like that, something challenging. Can I pull that off with the budget range that we are working with and to be able to, that’s a challenge. I think at the end of the day when all is said and done if you’re able to accomplish that then it speaks volumes to accomplish that. It speaks to my growth and the growth of my company Pikchure Zero Entertainment. It’s weird. I don’t know how to say it, but it’s something that I always wanted to do. I wanted to be in sci-fi. I wanted to be an astronaut. I wanted to be an action guy. I wanted to be in fantasy, video games.
Coming from where I came from, looking the way I look, it didn’t seem feasible the way that the business was set up, the way it was structured. Now, it’s amazing, to see in our creative state that that’s no longer so far against the grain that people don’t buy it in the sense that it’s not realistic. Now, Kerry Washington can be the president on ‘Scandal’ and that’s okay. Everyone can see how that could be a possibility. For me, being a director and actor and come from where I come from, I was told to make a certain kind of film. There were not a lot of African American directors in Sci-fi. It’s really one of those things that you just have to create it. It’s really become my motivation. How do I create great stories in different avenues?
I have no clue what I’m going to name it. I just know that it will be a really cool action film.”
Horror Fuel: “Awesome. It seems like you feed on challenges. Will the movie be out next year?”
Price: “Next year, right around on August. I have two sci-fi films coming out next year. Again, I’m doing both at the same time [laughter]. I’m casting for both. Mixing genres. I love to do that. I like to put together a bunch of things ”
Price: “What’s weird about the world is you can come up with ideas, but audiences generally kind of gravitate more towards the familiar. That’s what’s so odd about it. There’s so much nostalgia. I have a theory about that. My theory is, the world did not end in 2000, or whatever it was, but I do believe that we stopped at a conscious level. It seems like everything from that moment on has become nostalgiac. Everything that we’ve done from ’01 to now is like a rekindling of the days before that date, when it comes to movies, when it comes to shows, when it comes to music. It seems like everything is, ‘Let’s go back to then, the glory days.’ If you look at it it’s weird. They are basically redoing every show and movie from the ’90s and the ’80s. It’s very difficult to break in with a new idea. It’s like you had a really great marriage and got divorced and now you’re looking for your wife like you haven’t moved on, and it’s hard to because your wife was so great. It’s weird as an artist. That’s my dumb theory for the day.”
Horror Fuel: “I see what you are saying and it makes sense.”
Price: “It’s like ‘IT’, it did something like $300 million and you don’t think people knew exactly what was going to happen? I’m sure when the redo ‘Pet Semetary’ it will be the same thing.”
Horror Fuel: [dogs barking in the background] Sorry about that.”
Price: “I said ‘Pet Semetary’ and the dogs went off, I don’t know about that [laughter].”
Horror Fuel: “[;aughter]”
Price: “Pet Semetary is going to kill it. That’s what I’m talking about, you are trying to bring something new and they’ll gravitate towards what they know. The same thing with ‘IT’, people knew going in what was going to happen. It’s weird to me. I don’t want to get myself in trouble with my opinions, but I just think it’s odd. And do we want to give credit to someone who is doing something that’s been done or do we give credit to the people who created it? To me, George Lucus created ‘Star Wars’ and someone re-doing ‘Star Wars’, I’m just like, ‘Okay’. You get what I mean? He made ‘Star Wars’ that’s phenomenal. I could take something that’s been done and could do it again, but you can’t create that. ‘IT’ takes real passion and drive, in my opinion, to create something, to build that world. ”
Horror Fuel: “I agree with you on that.”
Price: “So, horror movies [laughter]. That’s what I’m building towards with the creature movie and all the things we’ve got coming out now. I’m trying to build up towards that.”
Horror Fuel: “Speaking of your films coming out, tell us about ‘The Elf’.”
Price: “The Elf, what happened with that film is I really wanted to tell a story during Christmas. With the success of horror happening on Christmas there has been the big infusion of Christmas titles and we were like, ‘You know what would be cool? What if we did something with elves?” Originally I was going to do something with gnomes or elves in general like the kind that work at Santa’s workshop, but then we narrowed that down to just an elf. They’re creepy in general and the whole idea of dolls coming to life that’s been done since the ’60’s like with the ‘Twilight Zone’ and obviously you have Chucky. We wanted to something where we pay homage to that and also put our own idea on for Christmas, so that’s how ‘The Elf ‘ was born. It’s about this guy who inherits a toy shop and finds the elf in a magical case. The elf was gifted to his grandfather and it has a naughty list. Whoever is on the naughty list will be killed along with any loved ones or family members that awaken the elf. It was really fun. IT was a hard balance for me. I wanted to do a slasher and a bunch of cool kills. I wanted to back to the ’90s where you created the monster more so than the monster created itself. The idea that the elf is stalking you, that the elf upstairs and you’re downstairs or around the corner and you know it’s there but you can’t see it. I think that’s scarier than the elf running at you and it’s a foot tall. You could just kick it, right? I thought it was better to play on it where you are just afraid that it might be in the room more than a room. Like with ‘The Exorcist’ people were afraid more that it could happen to you. It’s out November 7th on all platforms. I think it will resonate with audiences looking for a different Christmas holiday feel, kind of creepy and dark. ”
Alien Reign of Men will be released on Redbox on 10/28.
The Elf will be out on RedBox 10/28, VOD on 11/7, and on DVD 12/12.
The 13th Friday is now out on VOD.
Click the highlighted title for more information.