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Filmmaker P.J. Starks Talks Volumes Of Blood 3: Devil’s Knight And More

Back in 2015, I reported about the horror anthology titled Volumes of Blood from writer/director/producer P.J. Starks. Since that film, he’s been a busy man. He’s produced 18 films, made a sequel to Volumes and Blood, and directed 3 other films. Now P.J. is making the third Volumes of Blood film Volumes of Blood: Devil’s Knight. P.J. took the time out of his busy (and I mean busy) schedule to talk with us about it and a few other things. Check it out.

 

Horror Fuel: “What made you want to become a filmmaker?”

 

P.J.: “I’ve always been a storyteller in some form or fashion. I started with writing really early on. In the sixth grade, I wrote an alien invasion novella. I was also a huge lover of movies and as time went on it was just a natural transition from writing to filmmaking. Ultimately it was Clerks that made me say, “hey, I could really do this.”

 

Horror Fuel: “We’re glad that you decided to pursue filmmaking.”

 

 

Horror Fuel: “Your first film was Hallows Eve: Slaughter on Second Street. Looking back on it now, what was that experience like?”

 

P.J.: “For me, it was filmmaking in reverse. Most of the filmmakers I know started out making short films with a minimal cast. I jumped head first into the deep end with a feature-length film and a cast of seventeen plus. It was a hard shoot because I wore a ton of hats from writer, director, director of photography, cinematographer, lighting guy and beyond. It was the dead of summer, so we were shooting in a warehouse with no air conditioning for two months, five days a week. It was fun but equally miserable in a lot of ways. I think what I learned most was to start trusting others to help me get a better finished product. I accomplished what I wanted with Hallows Eve, to prove I could make a feature and take things to the next level. Afterward, I knew the next level meant focusing a lot more on story and character, which is where A Mind Beside Itself came from.”

 

 

Horror Fuel: “You’ve been a busy man, between making your own film and producing 25 others. How do you balance filmmaking, producing, and your family life?”

 

P.J.: “When I fully figure that out I’ll get back to you. It really helps to have a loving and supportive family. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, but if Trina wasn’t cool with it then the process would be incredibly taxing and difficult. Ultimately, it’s like balancing anything else in life, you have to prioritize. It also helps that a lot of my Executive Producing duties happen from behind a computer screen. I’m not always on set.”

 

Horror Fuel: “Speaking of producing, can you describe what it means to be a producer to our readers?”

 

P.J.: “Producing means facilitating an entire production from creation to completion. With Volumes of Blood, I literally have my hand in all facets of the film from special effects, casting, wardrobe and so on. The micro-managing can become a balancing act, I try not to interfere with the creative process when I don’t have to. I want the filmmakers and involved talent to make each sequence their own or add their own spark to the production so long as those creative decisions don’t negatively impact the film or overall narrative. At the end of the day, it’s very hands on. But then you take my executive producing work on films like 10/31, Dracula’s Coffin and others. I’m hands-on when I’m able to be, but a majority of my involvement is creative advising or marketing and promotions. I’m on set when I’m able, if I’m able. But some of the films are too far away, so I’m working from afar. Either way, it’s very collaborative and that’s what I love most about producing in any capacity.”

 

 

Horror Fuel: “How did Volumes of Blood come to be?”

 

P.J.: “I created Unscripted at the Daviess County Public Library, which was a short film venue where filmmakers hosted a live interactive audio commentary experience. The program went over so well they asked me to come up with an additional program. That lead to the Unscripted Film School, which lead to the creation of Volumes of Blood. VOB took off and I stepped down from Unscripted to oversee further endeavors once we decided to make a sequel. The program at the library has continued on and is now an annual event, which I never saw coming. It’s very cool to think I left my mark there. Wes Johnson, who had an iconic death in the first VOB, has done a great job with Unscripted and keeping the brand going. Volumes of Blood is a beast of its own, so all my attention has been spent there. Plus it’s the project that brought me back into the fold of making films again.”

 

 

Horror Fuel: “Tell us about your Volumes of Blood franchise?”

 

P.J: “I can tell you it was never meant to be a franchise. When I came up with the concept I never saw anything beyond just wanting to make a cool horror anthology and work with tons of my talented friends. Standing here now I feel very fortunate and humbled that I can even continue talking about it. It started as a one-off project that has become an entire cinematic universe where the films are all interwoven through locations and characters. The films are each stand alone, but I later designed them in such a way that there is also a larger story happening. The third film will finish out the current overall narrative, however, there’s enough characters and villains where additional films or spin-offs could easily be produced should we ever decide to do so.”

 

 

Horror Fuel: “You’ve now announced the third film of the franchise, Volumes of Blood: Devil’s Knight. Can you reveal anything about it to our readers?”

 

P.J.: “I’m really, really excited that we’re making VOB into a trilogy. Devil’s Knight is going to be bigger in scope with bloodier kills and keep with the fun everyone loves so much about the previous installments. The third film, like the others, won’t be exactly the same. We don’t want to rehash the same territory. This installment deals with everything from killer kids to revenge and even has a werewolf sequence I’m really excited about because it has a twist I’ve never seen before. We’ve also changed things up by infusing social commentary, which we never did in the previous films. It’s not preachy by any stretch of the imagination, but it covers some topics we feel have become an ongoing subject matter for the last several generations. I think the stories and characters are stronger than ever, and the body count will really excite the gore hounds. There are some phenomenal kills in this one. Eric and I both think it’ll be a really solid way to finish off the series.”

 

 Horror Fuel: ” I’m excited about it too and I’m honored to be executive producing it.”

 

P.J.: “We’re honored you have you on board. You, Tori and Bryan, are really going to be important players when it comes time to help get this little beast off the ground. There’s already a ton of incredible people involved, so it’s definitely a great way to kick off pre-production on the new film.”

 

 

 

 

Horror Fuel: “I was sad to learn that a few months ago your home was broken into, will that affect the film?”

 

P.J.: “Nah, the VOB3 script had already been completed prior to the break-in and there are no home invasion sequences necessarily. However, I do have another script I’ve written called The To Die List which deals directly with a home invasion where some criminals take a couple women hostage to find a hidden safe and things go very wrong when an active serial killer shows up. It has affected that story, especially now that I’m on the inside. I made some of the criminals affable or witty. Mainly to create some levity in the situation. What I’ve realized dealing with the fall out of someone coming into my home and disrupting our life, is there really is no levity in these types of scenarios because it’s simply people taking advantage of innocent people in the worst kind of way. There’s nothing affable about it. Because of that, I’m re-writing the script, so the fictional criminals are more just pieces of shit like their real-life counterparts.”

 

Horror Fuel: “I hope that something good comes out of it. I’m glad that you can found inspiration in the situation.”

 

 

Horror Fuel: “I know that you keep a lot of memorabilia and props, did they take anything from your previous films?”

 

P.J.: “Actually, yes. They stole the original hero knife “The Face” uses including the knife my character was murdered with. They also stole multiple autographed props from the first and second film. Jokes on them though because they have no street value and when they try to get the autographs authenticated they’re gonna be getting a lot of, “P.J. Starks? Who the fuck is that C.H.U.D.?”

 

Horror Fuel: “Still that sucks.”

 

Horror Fuel: “Did the police ever find the people who did it?”

P.J.: “It’s an ongoing case so I’d rather not discuss any of those details, however, I can say it’s not dead in the water. Things are happening.”

 

Horror Fuel: “It seems like you are a master of multitasking, besides VOB3 is there anything else that you are working on?”

 

P.J.: “Last year I executive produced eight films, some of which have followed through to 2018, but I decided to slow down a little bit. I’m getting offers and will be working on some things later in the year, but I’m not producing as much this year, so I can keep my focus on VOB3. I did just come onto a new fan film called Halloween: The Face of Michael Myers. I read the script and it’s a really smart and unique take on the slasher franchise. Plus, I had a blast producing The Confession of Fred Krueger, so I had a hard time passing adding Michael to my filmography. It’ll be directed by Stephen Wolfe who made Dracula’s Coffin and Vincente Disanti who created Never Hike Alone is involved, so it’s going to be a really solid fan film. Paul Downey’s documentary For the Love of the Boogeyman: 40 Years of Halloween comes out in October that I helped produce and it has a solid line up of indie filmmakers involved talking about the franchise. And later in the year, you can see me in Scott Tepperman’s VHS follow-up documentary Magnetic Highway: Exit 2. I’m really looking forward to that one.”

 

Horror Fuel: “It sounds like you have a lot of great stuff coming soon.”

 

Horror Fuel: “What is your writing process like?”

P.J.: “Very, very slow. I’ll come up with a concept and jot down my ideas. Plot points and character nuances, things like that. When I finally get the concept mapped out I’ll sit down and knock it out in a few days to a week. It kinda depends on what all I have going on. Once the first draft is completed it’ll basically continue getting adjusted and tweaked, sometimes even while we’re shooting. I think there’s always a way to make something better, so why not keep making it better while you can?”

 

Horror Fuel: “I think that’s a great way to approach things.”

 

 

Horror Fuel: “What was the first horror film you can remember watching?”

 

P.J.: “It’s a tossup between Dawn of the Dead and Demons. Both of which scared the shit outta me, but I couldn’t stop watching.”

 

Horror Fuel: “I was the same way with Friday the 13th.”

 

 

Horror Fuel: “How old were you and what effect did have on you at the time?”

 

P.J.: “I was around six years old. I can’t really say what effect it had on me at the time other than scaring me, but it impacted me enough that I can remember watching them. I was glued to the screen and I think it helped build a healthy fascination for the genre that definitely grew over time. I’m not as cool as my parents, I’m letting them watch Saw and Halloween right outta the gate. I’m helping grow a healthy love for the genre by watching the classics first like Frankenstein and The Wolf Man, I’m weaning them into horror.”

 

Horror Fuel: “I think it’s fantastic that you can share your passion and love for the genre with your kids. I can’t wait to see what the next generation creates.”

 

Be sure to check out P.J. Starks’ films (you can find a full list of here). Volumes of Blood and Volumes of Blood: Horror Storie are both now out on Digital and DVD. We’ll keep you informed about Volumes of Blood: Devil’s Night. To stay up to date on P.J.’s many projects please follow Blood Moon Pictures and the official Volumes of Blood page on Facebook.

 

 

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