Interview with “Volumes of Blood” Producer P.J. Starks

P.J STARKS – VOLUMES OF BLOOD : HORROR STORIES

From hot genre label Dark Cuts comes a stirring volume of bloodcurdling horror from Blood Moon Pictures. In the tradition of cult classics Creepshow and V/H/S, comes Volumes of Blood : Horror Stories – a collection of bleedingly original horror from some of today’s most gifted genre filmmakers, including Justin Seaman (The Barn), Sean Blevins (A Brush with Death), and John Mayard (Nearly Dead)!

Featuring the work of Sean Blevins, John William Holt, Jon Maynard, Nathan Thomas Milliner, Justin Seaman, and James Treakle with an ensemble cast including Cindy Maples, Moses Moseley, Theo Kostaridis, and Thomas Dunbar, Volumes of Blood : Horror Stories features 7 original stories craftily assembled by producing team P.J. Starks, Eric Huskisson (The Confession of Fred Krueger), and Christopher Bower (The Dooms Chapel Horror).

A couple plans to purchase an old home, but would like one last tour before the closing. They’re guided around the estate by a creepy realtor that may have more in store than they bargained for. Searching floor by floor, they begin to discover the remnants of its sordid and terrifying past… A popular 80’s franchise gets a modern upgrade, but at what price? On Halloween night a teen left home alone meets a trick or treater that wants more than just candy. A door to door insurance salesman makes a Thanksgiving house call with monstrous consequences. Andrew and Sara are happily married and plan on spending some quality time together, but something sinister has other plans for their evening. Carol’s Christmas Eve turns into a fight for survival when a vengeful stranger isn’t feeling the holiday spirit. Lastly, a birthday party turns bloody when some unexpected guests drop by at the wrong time. Seven interwoven tales of terror, how many stories does your house have?
Volumes of Blood : Horror Stories out August 1 from Dark Cuts.

We spoke to producer P.J Starks about the movie…

-PH: How did you get into filmmaking, sir?

-P.J.: I’ve had a camera in my hand since I was 12, but I didn’t get fully involved on the technical side until high school. After graduation I got a job as a videographer/editor and have been doing video work professionally since then. In 2007-08 I got really serious and wrote/directed my first horror feature Hallows Eve: Slaughter on Second Street. Over the last decade I’ve been writing, directing and ultimately transitioned over into producing on various projects. It’s been a pretty cool and interesting ride.

-PH: Was horror always the go-to genre for you?

-P.J.: I’ve always had a real love for the horror genre as I’ve been watching it since I was around 5 years old. Naturally my first serious effort was a horror film. It got mixed reviews and I took some of the criticisms to heart as I was very new to that sort of thing. I decided to take a departure from the genre with my psychological drama A Mind Beside Itself back in 2011, after that I went right back into horror because that’s where my passion truly was.

-PH: How many films have you done now?

-P.J.: I’ve written and directed somewhere around six features and shorts collectively. As far as producing it’s somewhere around twenty shorts and features. Volumes of Blood is what really opened the door for me to start working with and collaborating with other filmmakers. This year alone I’ve produced eight projects thus far. Since Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories things have really picked up.

-PH: Do you feel with each film they get better?

-P.J.: I’d like to think so. With every project comes a learning experience and it tends to be what “not” to do next time around. Nevertheless, you want each production to get a little stronger as you go, otherwise there’s no real growth as a filmmaker.

-PH: Give the readers an idea of how long it’s taken the film to reach the screen? Been a long journey?

-P.J.: With the popularity of the first Volumes of Blood we knew that it would be stupid not to strike while the iron was hot. We started pre-production in November of 2015, filming started in March of 2016 and we premiered the film on Saturday, October 29th, 2016. I always joke that we Saw’d the production since it was such a quick turnaround, however, we didn’t skimp on anything when it came to story, look or special effects. We wanted to make sure that this film outdid the last otherwise there was no reason to make it. This production had a lot more stressors and issues, I even managed to make a few enemies due to some unfortunate creative and business differences. Ultimately those momentary setbacks led to opportunities that far outweighed the loss and brought some people onto the project that gave us the chance to make this film even better. It was an emotionally draining, but wholly satisfying experience to say the least.

-PH: Is the completed film your exact, original vision? No compromises?

-P.J.: Yes and no. We’ve edited the film down since the premiere. I tend to use them as a test audience. You find out very quickly what does and doesn’t work. I won’t go as far as shooting alternate endings or anything, if you don’t like our ending then tough titty, but jokes or shocks can easily be tweaked to get the appropriate reactions. There was compromise when making the film, but there’s always compromise. It’s the nature of the beast. Yet our budget on this production was much more than any film I’ve done previously so we knew what we could and couldn’t do, so I can’t complain about any of it. It far surpassed my expectations and the reaction to the film has been so much more than any of us anticipated.

-PH: Any of those death scenes disturbing to film?

-P.J.: I’ve been around it enough that it doesn’t bother me. Sometimes the blood or gelatin can stink like hell, but other than that the gross factor goes out the window once you start putting all the technical aspects into play. There’s marks to hit, blood consistency and making sure splatter is in frame. It can be frustrating for the special effects artist when things don’t go exactly as planned. There’s an insane amount of set up for kill scenes, especially elaborate ones. That fifteen seconds you see on screen takes about five hours to shoot and by then what’s disturbing is how badly you want a shower.

-PH: Tell us about your favorite horror films!

-P.J.: I could go on about this for days. I don’t have a top whatever amount of films. I have the films that I grew up on that I watched over and over like Night of the Creeps, Return of the Living Dead, Monster Squad, Dawn of the Dead, The Thing, An American Werewolf In London, The Fog, Monster in the Closet, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Killer Klowns from Outer Space and a ton of others; there’s the films that came later that I absolutely love like From Dusk Till Dawn, In The Mouth of Madness, Bad Moon, Event Horizon and others; the classic horror I discovered later in life such as Stage Fright, My Bloody Valentine, Just Before Dawn, Dead of Night, The Hills Have Eyes, Madman, Prison, The Vagrant and there’s the newer horror films I’ve fallen in love with like Stake Land, Devil in the Dark, Autopsy of Jane Doe, Jack Brooks Monster Slayer, The Void, From the Dark, Don’t Hang Up, The Monster and the list goes on and on.

-PH: Why was Dark Cuts the right home for the film?

-P.J.: For the first time on a project we had options to choose who we’d like to get their hands on the film. It was a very cool and a very surreal opportunity. Ultimately we chose Dark Cuts because Andy and Warner understand what it takes to make a film because they are us! They are filmmakers and it was obvious from the start of our conversation they understood what we wanted. We wanted a home. We wanted a place our future projects could come back to. It didn’t feel like they were feeding us a line because they had a catalog to pad; they were hungry to quality content because they felt the same passion to find the right audience and the right venue. We spent the weekend with them at HorrorHound back in March and had a chance to get to know them better. They’re a great team who’s likeminded and passionate about making genre films. It’s the sole reason we’ve partnered with them to make the third and final installment Devil’s Knight: Volumes of Blood 3.

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