Interview with Horror Director Todd E. Freeman
I’m always on the prowl for fresh, new horror from upcoming directors. Some might even say that I’m an internet “horror stalker”. Ok, so I made that up. Still, the fact remains. What satisfies and quenches my horror thirst is when I discover something different, something out of the ordinary that captures my attention. This involves scouring the ‘net’ for talented individuals; some of which include artists, writers and, as is the case here, filmmakers. It is no wonder that I happened upon director Todd E. Freeman whose upcoming thriller/horror film Cell Count is just peeking over the horizon as it will start its journey through the festival markets starting in May of 2012. Todd was kind enough to sit down with Reelybored Horror and answer a few questions.
Reelybored: Ever since I could remember, I loved movies, especially horror movies. The idea of manifesting my imaginations always intrigued me and what better medium to do it than film. Did you always aspire to become a filmmaker?
Todd E. Freeman: Ha! So funny that you put it this way. I was raised in a house where on Friday nights our dad would stand up in front of a folding screen and tell us the making-of stories that he had read in books about Night of the Living Dead, show us the movie, and then go to church four days a week as well. My dad is an avid movie fan, especially horror, as well as a Baptist Minister. So I agree with you… ever since I can remember I’ve loved horror movies and have had the making-of them woven into my very being since a very young age. My brother, who is Co-Producer and Co-Cinematographer on Cell Count, started making movies before me. He got a Super 8 movie camera when he was eight and has never looked back. I was always in his movies but didn’t get the filmmaking bug until I was in high school.
“…ever since I can remember I’ve loved horror movies and have had the making of them woven into my very being since a very young age.”
Reelybored: What is your earliest memory of first picking up a camera and filming something?
Freeman: Well the first thing I probably made was a stupid music video for school or something like that. We had an amazing new program at my high school that had state-of-the-art editing and camera equipment and I just started to learn filmmaking at the beginning of digital formats. The first real thing that I shot was my first feature film Reynard the Fox when I was 20 years old. That was also my first film festival experience as well. Great education and insight into the “way things work.”
Reelybored: What filmmakers would you say are your inspirations?
Freeman: That’s always one of my favorite questions to answer and also to hear the answers of others. So many people stay classy and answer with Welles, Murnau, Hitchcock. While those filmmakers made the movies that inspired me to make movies, I’m afraid that my inspirations are much more lurid. I would say early Carpenter, DePalma, Argento, and Cronenberg. I like me some 2.35:1 gooey, colorful, and trashy goodness.
Reelybored: I’m right there with you, great directors! There seems to be a trend in Hollywood where remaking a film is the current “It” factor, retelling cult and classic horror films such as Halloween and now the upcoming Evil Dead. How do you feel about the re-imaginations, reboots and just plain out unoriginality?
Freeman: Well it’s just part of the business unfortunately. While I’m much more excited about the possibility of seeing truly new and original work I do understand why it has to be done. The fact of the matter is even most of the “original” ideas out there really aren’t that good or they themselves are just rip offs of bigger and better films. So I’d say there is a place for everything as long as they make money. If they stop making money… then they will stop being made. Until then… we’ll have to endure. I mean who doesn’t want to go and see a David Gordon Green version of the classic horror film Suspiria? I mean really… I’ll be in the theater. Sad… but true.
Reelybored: Tell us a little about your upcoming film, Cell Count.
Freeman: My mom fell down 6 years ago in a grocery store. Passed out. She was rushed to the hospital and immediately went into surgery because they told us that she had a malignant tumor explode in her stomach. Shot cancer juice all around her insides. They said they’d suction as much out as possible… but that it was likely to spread everywhere the juice went. She immediately went into Chemo. I dealt with it the way I do everything… creatively. What if there was something that I could do to save the woman that taught me everything good that I had ever known? What if there was something that could go inside and eat all of the sick cells and regenerate healthy ones? My mom is now cancer free… and Cell Count Premieres on May 20th in Brazil at the Fantaspoa Film Festival. Life is good.
“…they told us that she had a malignant tumor explode in her stomach… She immediately went into Chemo. I dealt with it the way I do everything… creatively.”
Reelybored: How would you say that Cell Count stands out amongst independent horror films?
Freeman: Well it’s not a slasher film, it’s not self aware, and it doesn’t portray women as pieces of meat to slaughter. I like to think of it as a ‘Romantic Monster Movie’. Oh and there is no sewing of asses to mouths. That’s a big difference. [laughs]
Reelybored: Did you encounter any difficulties while filming Cell Count?
Freeman: Every movie has difficulties but I genuinely think that the ones that become successful are the ones that deal with them creatively, quickly, and without extra money. It’s a miracle that this movie even made it to the screen. To say our crew was small would be an understatement to say the least. So many awesome people wearing so many hats. Helps when you are living at the prison location 6 days a week.
Reelybored: What are some of your favorite horror movies?
Freeman: The Thing, Halloween, Repulsion, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Fly, Evil Dead II, Suspiria, Scanners, Dead Ringers, Nightmare on Elm Street…. this list could go on for a very long time. Basically classic horror films from the 60’s 70’s and 80’s.
Reelybored: What do you have coming up in the near and not-so-near future?
Freeman: Well right now we are working on getting our three movies out to market. Wake Before I Die, based on a novel by our dad Dale Freeman, The Weather Outside, written and directed by my brother Jason, and Cell Count which I wrote and directed.
Right now our next feature, based on another of our dad’s books, The Rest of Us, is in development with a company in AZ as well as my brother Jason and I developing our next personal screenplays as well. Jason’s is a dark comedy and mine is a violent melodrama a la A History of Violence.
Long story short… no rest for the wicked. [smiles]
Reelybored: What advice would you give to someone who wants to make it in the film industry?
Freeman: Start by doing everything by the books and not being a dick. These two things will put you ahead in a business filled with people who do nothing by the books while being dicks about it. Next… go and make a feature film. Just go do it. Don’t ask anyone’s permission or advice. Go fail big. Go fail a lot. It will make you better at the first two pieces of advice. When you die… I guarantee you’ll be happy with giving it your all, by the books, and not being a dick. People will look up to you as being driven, nobody will be knocking down the door to your hospital room looking for money, and there will be a shit ton of people to speak at your funeral about how awesome you were.
… that or remake a classic horror film… either way works. [laughs]