Thursday, November 10, 2016
"Trapped in the Woods" An Interview with Director Shawn Burkett
Director Shawn Burkett is a director and head of an independent film company called Concept Media LLC. He has directed such films as “The Sleeping Soul”, “Seasons Greeting” and most recently directed a segment for the horror anthology film “Theater of the Deranged 2” which was recently released by Troma. Today, he’s here to talk to about his latest film “Don’t Fuck in the Woods”, which is self-distributed by Concept Media.
Before I begin, tell my readers about yourself and what drew you to horror movie making?
SMB: My name is Shawn Burkett, I'm a 32 year old Ohioan, and the father of 2 crazy, amazing boys. I've been making horror/thriller movies for the past 5 years, and my latest film is titled "Don't Fuck In The Woods". I was raised on the Universal Monsters thanks to my grandpa, and he's part of the reason why I wanted to make movies. He showed me this amazing world of make believe that was dark, and beautiful.
I'd have to say the decision to make films was mainly the craving for a creative stimulate. I was a touring musician for many years until my oldest son was born, and I chose to become a stay at home dad. I needed a creative outlet, and then one day Ryan Stacy contacted me about Joe Bob Briggs was actively looking for scripts to option. So after a few weeks of Ryan writing this script we sat down, and I told him we should just make it ourselves. And that's how it all began lol.
SMB: I remember setting I’m my apartment reading posts in a forum about my film BLUDGEON. This would have been 2013, and someone was livid about the artwork and title not 100% matching the content. For some reason that stuck with me, and I knew that the next film I was gonna make would have a title that was spot on, lol. If memory serves, myself and Ayse Howard were brainstorming some ideas for a follow up to BLUDGEON, and at that point in my life there were several people telling me what I could and couldn’t do. Somehow it came out and was a joke at first, but then it kinda sank in, and had a smooth ring to it, lol.
With a title like that, I would think it would turn off some people off. Were there any disagreements with any of the producers or people within your company?
SMB: There were concerns for sure, lol. My business partner was actively against the title, actors just looked at me like "Ok, it's your funeral", and a few producers had issues with the title from a distribution standpoint. There main issue was that Walmart wouldn't put a title like that on the shelf, lol. And at that point in time Big Ass Spider came out and Walmart sold the censored version "Big-gest Spider". So I pitched that to them and that made them feel a bit better, lol.
This film to me had more of a grindhouse/creature feature vibe which made it a fun film. What was it like coming up with the film’s story?
SMB: Once I had the main setting, it was fairly easy. I say that, but there are at least 6 different versions of the script, lol. Two of them don't have the creature as a killer either, lol.
With its title and story and the fact you’re filming in the woods, I would think that it would be tough to get the right people that you would want. What was the casting process like?
SMB: I would find someone and then loose them, or the pay wasn't enough for them so they would walk. Casting was difficult, but it wasn't the hardest part of making this film. I had a lot of people reject offers, or not even look at them because of the title. It's hard to put faith in people when they aren't as close to the project as you are. And then you have to live with the fact that they might flake on you a month before your scheduled to shoot. The casting process is a constant battle, filled with stress and anxiety lol.
The film takes place almost all in the woods. What was it like filming there and were there any fun moments on the set?
SMB: I'd have to say the most fun on the set was the final showdown with the creature. We actually have bonus feature on the bluray about that night and how we went about shooting the scenes.
The cast was very good in making their characters entertaining. What was it like working with the cast and were there any favorite moments that you had during filming?
SMB: There were many new people that I hadn't worked with before. Brandy Mason, Nadia White, Kayla Morgan. I'd have to say the sex scenes were all memorable, and had the most outtakes. It's one of those things where I didn't want people to feel uncomfortable, so they all got 15 in the tent to kinda figure out what they were gonna do beforehand. My scripts are more like guidelines, lol. I'm not looking for exact lines, because I want it to seem natural. So there's lots of improv.
Another thing that I liked about this film was the gore effects as it a very graphic feel to them. What was it like filming those sequences and what was the challenges in creating them?
SMB: We spent months on FX and figuring out what would look best, and what we could afford. Total as far as FX we ended up spending about $600. Filming them was the easy part. Deryk Wehrley and his assistant Amanda Waddell were on point with all the FX and the execution of them. There were a few FX that myself, Scott Gillespie and Ryan Stacy created last minute to add a bit more to the film. Such as the creature tearing into someone, that's featured in the latest teaser trailer.
I noticed the film is being self-distributed by your company Concept Media LLC. What made you decide to go the self-distribution route compared to trying to get a distribution deal for the film?
SMB: At the moment were self distributing while talking to a few different U.S distributors as well as foreign distribution companies. I would prefer to secure foreign distribution, so I could continue selling it myself.
SMB: At the moment I’m in pre production for my next feature "BETSY" which stars Ayse Howard, Josh Miller and Joe Kidd. It's more of a story about a woman who is lost, and is looking to change her ways, but as we all know there are always obstacles in the way of what we want, but here's is a battle with something inside of her. I wish I could give more info on this project, but i don't want to give too much away.
So lets just say "Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright".
Where can they find you and your company on the web and on social media?
OCTOBER TEASER TRAILER: https://vimeo.com/188227544
Don't Fuck In The Woods
Thank you for your time and good luck on the success of your latest film.