Filmmaker Dustin Austen took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk with me about his films and the horror genre in general.
KM “How old were you when you saw your first horror film?”
DA ” I was three and it was ‘An American Werewolf in London’. My dad sat down and said “It’s a puppet, there are cameras.” I thought, “How did they do it?” That’s really what started me on my path.”
KM “How did you get into filmmaking?”
DA “For me, I originally wanted to do special effects. That was until I saw ‘Evil Dead 2’. I didn’t know cameras could do that. My awesome dad gave me a camcorder, as a kid I spent a lot of time making my friends run through the woods, while I hit them with sticks. I still run around with a camera. In fact, I still have that camcorder as a reminder. Back then I had to edit with two VCRs. I had to learn how to beat that two second delay between the VCRs.”
KM “Tell us about your film company”
DA “I had one company, RottPro, but three years ago I decided to switch gears and ‘The GG13 Collective’ was born. I wanted it to not just be my company, but represent and give credit to all the people on our team.”
KM ” That line of thinking is so rare these days and it’s an awesome.”
KM “Can you tell us a little about your film, ‘Bad Friend’?”
DA “‘Bad Friend’, from back in 2003. My writing partner Marc Tresenrider , love that guy, wrote it. We wrote it back when infomercials were everywhere. We got the idea, what if you could get a friend off of an infomercial? ‘Bad Friend’ is a zombie film, with a ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ feel. A guy orders a friend, a zombie, but has to then make a choice, kill it or feed it. Of course he chooses to feed it, or there wouldn’t be a movie. The movie premiered on Halloween at a local theater. It was so cool to sit in a theater with people watching our zombie movie. Later,we were talking to a distribution company, the had the ball to ask if we could remake it, with people that are “pretty”. I was like, hey we were in that movie. We said no, that we’d distribute it ourselves. Several years pass by and a friend told me I had to see ‘Fido’, one of the scenes from ‘Bad Friend’ is in it, right down to the camera angles, but I guess if two men can come with electricity at the same time, two people can come up with zombies playing baseball.”
KM “What is your favorite thing about making films?”
DA “The whole experience, each segment in making a movie is so different and it changes so much as you shoot it. It’s like putting Frankenstein together. The whole process is amazing, but post-production is where I shine, it’s like “Let’s Tetris this thing together”. It’s my happy place.”
A while back someone sent me a long email, it was very personal. They said how my film had helped them through a tough situation. And I was like, someone cares. That makes it all worth it.”
KM “What are you working on now?”
DA “Right now I’m focused on our webseries, ‘GG13: The Haunting of Claire Wilmenson’ , that’s taken over the front seat. We’re also working on an anthology segment for ‘Grindssploitaion’ , called ‘Outpost 31’, it’s a nod to Carpenter. I’m also working on a film called ‘Meat the Jones’.”
KM “What would you say your philosophy is?”
DA ” Good question, I think I’ll have to steal that. I would say my philosophy is that making a movie should never be painful. I’ve worked on sets that were painful. You should be working together for a common goal. Find a solid group of people that have the same passion. If you’re doing something, you might as well enjoy it and you should show people the gratitude they deserve. Working on any art project, you’ve got to enjoy it. If you don’t, you’re working in the wrong job. You have to have a good team.”
KM “Okay, I have to ask, what is your favorite horror movie?”
DA “The Evil Dead Franchise, what it embodies. They started with nothing, they got so creative, they put Vaseline on tables so they could get the camera to slide right, for just the right angle. It made be think “Hey, I can do this.” They started with nothing and to see what became of it is inspiring to a guy like me.”
It’s been a while since I talked with anyone who has such passion for what they do. I mean this guy really loves making movies and really loves the horror genre. It’s so refreshing to hear a filmmaker not only talk about himself, but also the people who work with him, it left me very impressed. I can’t wait to see what Austen and the GG13: The Collective do in the future, I expect great things. Be sure to follow Austen on Twitter for updates on his projects.
‘GG13: The Haunting of Claire Wilmenson’ stars Savannah Salmons as Claire, Marc Salmons as Branson Taggart, Maurice Thomas as King James and Bradley Scott as Jessie O’ Bannon.
Savannah Salmons, Marc Tresenrider and Thomas also serve as writers and directors for the series O’Bannon also does the makeup for the show.
‘Meat the Jones’ will be released sometime next year and stars Kenny Santiago, Tara Kodosky, Kyle Carthens, Crissy Kolarik, Lyle Shelley, Mark Goler and Ashely Aquilla, co-rote by Austen and is being directed by Maurice Thomas.
The indie film follows the the Jones family, cannibals, who have enjoyed an endless supply of “cattle” by eating the homeless. The Family’s way of life is jeopardized when Kendel, the daughter, who recently converted to vegan, no longer approves of her family’s way of life. Kendel must now make the choice to hide the family’s eating habits or save Ed, the man she’s fallen in love with, who happens to be on the Jones’ menu.