I recently had the pleasure of interviewing award-winning writer/director Cameron McCasland. Last year I stumbled across McCasland’s fantastic short film Tailypo (below), which took home many awards from many film festivals. McCasland, owner of Red Headed Revolution, has had a great deal of success in the film industry, including six Emmy nominations.
KM “Please tell us about Red Headed Revolution.”
CM “Red Headed Revolution is the banner I use to put my films under. I first used it as the name of a blog years ago, and at some point I needed a name to put on things so I went with that. I have been a red head my whole life, and if you look at the statistics we are a very small minority on the planet. When I was a kid, I only had one other child that was red headed. So in a way you get to feel isolated. But then when look at history, you see all the people with red hair that accomplished these great things. So when you see a red head heading towards something it’s probably best to follow their lead.
KM “Your short film Tailypo was fantastic. what inspired it?”
CM “I grew up in a small East Texas farming town called Edgewood right where the Piney Woods stop halfway between Dallas and Tyler. When I was a student at Edgewood Elementary my teachers, Carolyn Hooks and Darlene McCenturf, told us the story of The Tailypo. I guess it just kind of stuck with me. It’s one of the first things that I can really remember frightening me. For years, I had kept it in the back of my mind, and after making Lashman (a feature length slasher film) a couple of things just kind of fell into place to allow it to happen. David Chattam, who plays Levon in the film, had auditioned for a part in Lashman. He didn’t match what I had originally in mind for that part but he knocked me out in the audition. But he was only on set for that movie one day. But I saw something special in him. So without his knowledge I went ahead and wrote the script with him in mind to play the part. I called him up out of the blue one day and said something to the extent of, “Hey, I wrote a 15 page short film where it’s basically just you talking to a dog the whole time. No other actors really. Just you and a dog and monsters that talks.” He read it, and was sold. Honestly I’m not sure I would have made it had he turned me down. ”
The other part of it, was having a place to shoot it. We had made Lashman at Copper Canyon Ranch in Kentucky which is this old western town. I developed a great relationship with the owners Tim and Carole Emery and they opened it up to us once again to get it made. Sadly, Carole passed just last week. But, I take a lot of comfort in the film; it commits time, places and people to history. Carole lives on in the things we made. That is comforting to me.”
KM “You received quite a few awards for Tailypo. Which one stood out the most?”
CM ” Yes, we’ve been very fortunate with this one. The movie has won a few film festivals, and we have nominations out on a few others that we will hear about soon. I’d have to say the most gratifying thing was the award David Chattam won for Best Actor in a short film at Northern Lights Festival in Ontario, Canada. They announced the awards a few days after our screening, and I got the message from the festival. I placed a phone call out to David who had recently moved out to Los Angeles to let him know. He told me that this was the first Best Actor award he has ever received. I was kind of dumbfounded by that, because he has been putting out quality work for a long time now. I’m certain he’ll have a trophy case full by the time he retires, but it was super special to be a part of the first one.”
KM “You were recently nominated for an Emmy. Can you tell us about that?”
CM “Yes, and I’m going to the show in a little less than two weeks. My wife just picked her dress, and my parents and older sister are going to attend with me as well. The Nashville mid south chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences nominated me for best director/program which we were eligible for because the film premiered online. This is my sixth nomination overall but the first time I’ve been nominated in a directing category. I haven’t taken one home yet. It would be nice to get this one, but I’m not expecting it. It sounds cliche but it really is a honor to get nominated. The thought that this tiny little horror film can be up for that prize is just incredible.”
KM “What are you working on now?”
CM “I have a few projects in post production right now. I produced a film for Matt Riddlehoover called What’s The Matter With Gerald that should be premiering soon at film festivals. I directed an adaption of H.P. Lovecraft’s story The Beast In The Cave that I’m finishing up with Larry Underwood. That should be coming out really soon. And I have a few other projects that are still in early development. Hoping to do a few more shorts for an anthology that will Tailypo, have a western ans a car chase movie I’m working on. And some ideas about a Lashman 2 have been floated. We will see how the DVD for the first movie does I suppose.”
KM “Have you always known that you wanted to be a filmmaker? When was the moment that you realized it?
CM “Well, I’ve always wanted to create. In my life I have played a bit of music and written some things. But film making is what has stuck. If I was born 30 years earlier I probably would have just played in rock & roll bands. But getting a camera and making something is about the same as picking up a guitar and starting a band these days. I don’t know if I had this lightening strike moment from childhood or anything. But I do know that a few years after I started working in films I was in Tulsa, Oklahoma broke as I’ve ever been just trying to figure out what to do with my life. I stopped in a book store after work not even able to afford a cup of coffee at the cafe. I picked up Robert Rodriguez’s book ‘Rebel Without A Crew’ and started reading it. I stayed until they closed, and later that week I scraped enough dollars up to buy the book. It would probably make a better story if I shoplifted it, but that wasn’t the case. I poured over it, and used it as my indie film making bible. From that point on, there was no stopping me. I was going to make movies by any means necessary. I got organized and got to work. Haven’t slowed down since.”
KM “What would be your dream project?”
CM “Well, I have a couple of them really. I’d really like to make a western. For a long time that’s a genre that wasn’t seeing a lot of new titles. But just this past year there was one weekend where three new films were in theaters at the same time, so that’s promising. I’ll always be making horror movies. That’s just in my nature now. I don’t know how to stop. Ideally though, more than anything what I want is another thing I learned from Robert Rodriguez and that’s to be self contained. I’d love to have a small studio and just enough funds to keep creating new projects without fear of knowing how I’m going to feed my children. I’d like to tuck them into bed, go work all night on something and just finish up in time to fix them breakfast and get them on the school bus. That’s the dream. No crazy Hollywood mansions, or limos. Just a little place to set up shop, and the comfort of knowing that I’ll get to keep making movies. I’m still working on that dream.
KM “What is your favorite horror movie?”
CM “That’s always hard to answer. I really like the 1933 King Kong, which is more of a monster movie than a horror movie. It’s movie magic at its finest. But straight horror film, I’d probably go with Evil Dead. I just can’t stop watching it. It’s the perfect amount of funny and gross. If you look at the shots of the Tailypo running on the cabin you can see its influence I’m sure. The coolest thing that happened to me last year was when I was at Wonderfest in Louisville and Greg Nicotero came over to to talk to me and Larry Underwood, who plays Dr. Gangrene. He said he was familiar with our stuff, which kind of blew my mind. I don’t get star struck, but I kind of geeked out a little bit.
Cameron made a series of comical horror themed videos and PSAs featuring Dr. Gangrene for the city of Nashville.
I look forward to seeing what Cameron creates next and we wish him luck at the upcoming Emmys.
Be sure to follow Cameron on Twitter and Facebook and visit his website for regular updates on his upcoming projects. Cameron’s film, The Lashman, is still touring film festivals, but the DVD will be out later this year.