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Interview: ‘FAMILIAR’ Producer Zach Green & Director Richard Powell


I’ve now had the pleasure of screening two of Fatal Pictures’ short films, Worm and Familiar. As part of my ongoing commitment to highlight and support independent filmmaking, I seized the opportunity to speak with producer Zach Green and director Richard Powell of Fatal Pictures to talk about these and other films and filmmaking in general…

Travis Keune: Your primary role is as producer, but you’ve also done some editing. Making movies is no easy task and requires a team of people with a broad range of talents. Is there a particular part of the filmmaking process that you love the most? Is there one part that you absolutely hate?

Zach Green: I love producing which is my primary hat and what I do best I feel. Familiar is the first film I didn’t end up editing myself or with Richard. We hired an editor who did a fabulous job with the film. I wouldn’t say there is really a part of the process that I don’t enjoy that I’ve come across thus far, everything I do for Fatal Pictures is gratifying to me. It definitely does require a proper team of professionals to make a quality film there’s no question. Between myself and Richard we cover a great deal of range with our abilities when it comes to filmmaking.

TK: Fatal Pictures is the name of your production company. This seems to have a connection with the type of films you choose to make. What can you tell us about your vision for Fatal Pictures as it continues to grow into a successful endeavor?

ZG: The vision for Fatal Pictures is really to produce films that really make a statement and have an impact on you. They have been real stories and you can really relate and or feel what the characters deliver and portray. Our first film, entitled Consumption, was based on a true event about a cannibal from Germany.

TK: Familiar is a short film you produced, which wrapped just last year, if I’m not mistaken. You seem to have a very tight working relationship with writer and director Richard Powell and actor Robert Nolan. Paint a mental picture for us illustrating how this creative trio comes up with such intriguingly dark tales.

ZG: Writer and director Richard Powell, one half of Fatal Pictures, Inc., was the writer on both Worm and Familiar and would naturally be the one to come up with the incredible stories, and I set out to cast the film(s). An actress we had worked with in the past had referred me to Robert [Nolan]. I immediately contacted him to set up an audition. Through all the rehearsals and blocking we would go on to make some great short film(s) together.

TK: Familiar features some pretty impressive special effects makeup, but it also reminds me some of certain early David Cronenberg films I love, which we’ve seen influence other films as well. Is there any connection there, or is it just happenstance?

Richard Powell: The term body horror has been brought up a lot in regards to Familiar but to be honest I didn’t really make the connection between our film and body horror until others started making the comparisons. I wouldn’t say Cronenberg was an influence on this film or that I was attempting to make body horror but after the fact I can understand the reaction viewers are having when making those connections. That said I have a deep respect for Cronenberg and consider him one of the more important directors in film, genre or otherwise. If I take any influence from him, it is his intellectual approach to horror, his ability to treat the genre as a mature art form capable of stimulating an audience mentally as well as viscerally.

TK: The thoughts of the main character in Familiar, as is the case in Worm as well, are far more prevalent than spoken dialogue, but it works well. Clearly this is a conscious decision, but can you shed some light on the philosophy behind this decision?

RP: In Worm, the audible thoughts serve as a window into a man’s dark inner self which works against the calm, kind exterior he shows the world. This differentiation between the internal and external creates an unsettling contrast which hopefully instills a bit of fear, reflection and imagination in the audience. The horror dwells within in Worm, figuratively, in FAMILIAR literally. Each film is in essence a slightly skewed reflection of the other. In Familiar the voice over isn’t simply a characters shattered psyche, it is a character, a truth which is revealed in horrifying fashion later.

TK: How can the general public view these films?

RP: Worm can be seen on the uncut genre channel American Horrors as well as at various festivals and screenings. Short films are more difficult to distribute and show as you can’t really sell them in the same manner you would a feature. The best we can do is keep people updated about screenings and festivals which we always do! At some point it would be great to release the shorts as a package but that’s still a ways off. As for Familiar, it will begin its screenings/festival run in March 2012 in Toronto as part of Fangoria’s Fright Nights screening series where it will play along side Battle Royale. After that we hope the film has a long and healthy run on the festival circuit and everyone who wants to gets a chance to check it out.

TK: I understand there is a feature film, your first, being developed. What can you tell us about this?

RP: Having recently completed a feature screenplay version of Worm, we will begin to try and raise interest and funds for what will hopefully be Fatal Pictures foray in feature filmmaking. The story will again follow Worm‘s deranged high school teacher Geoffrey Dodd as he tackles the obstacles of a school day and more importantly the dark and dangerous ruminations of his mind. I’m excited to be able to really explore the depths and depravity of this character in a feature run time. The results will be a supercharged version of the short and an altogether more searing and suspenseful experience as we have the time to really toy with the possibilities of the character.

TK: If there was one specific film, in development or entirely off the radar, what one project would you love to be producing right now in your career?

RP: Aside from a Worm feature film I’d love to begin developing my scripts that don’t feature the Dodd characters and the internal monologue approach. That is ultimately the direction I aim to follow but it will be fun to always have these characters around to toy with. I am very interested in doing a Dodd family thanksgiving weekend film, who knows, maybe down the line. First is Worm, that’s my obsession.

TK: What sparked your interest in making movies?

RP: Like most filmmakers I grew up watching a ton of movies and those experiences shaped me and informed my passions. I wanted to be creative and tried my hand at everything, writing, drawing, painting, sculpting etc. I found myself drawn to illustration mostly, illustrations inspired by stories and characters I had written about previously. I loved to create narratives for my artwork but I was never really talented enough as an artist to capture in its entirety what I imagined. I discovered this when I met real artists. I kept writing and drawing and one day it clicked, I didn’t need to be the best painter, illustrator and so forth, I could use filmmaking to capture my narratives and stories and that’s how it began. I’ve come to realize there is no more expressive, imaginative art than filmmaking and I’m glad that is how I came to express my creativity.


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Author: Travis Keune View all posts by
Raised on a diet of sugary breakfast cereals and weekends filled with Joe Bob Briggs' MonsterVision and Rhonda Shear's USA Up All Night. Having been a sheltered child, he made countless trips to his favorite local video store (RIP, Video Haven) and absorbed as many action, horror, sci-fi and cult films as his underage arms could carry. He grew up, went to film school and now he writes about movies. Some call it an obsession, he calls it a passion.