Producer Emanuel L. Isler, whose new film Dead Love is released this month from Wild Eye Releasing, explains to us what his job entails.
-PH: When did your producing career begin, sir?
-Emanuel: After the passing of many years, I was given the opportunity to return to the business by my mentor, Sandra Siegal in Los Angeles. She’s a hugely successful producer and her films include “”Kidnapping Mr. Heineken”, “Miss Meadows”, “Hysteria”, “The Charnel House”, and the upcoming “The Man Who Saved Paris” with Dean Zanuck. My producing career began with “Fear Clinic” – a feature that starred legendary horror actor, Robert Englund.
-PH: Was it always the dream to produce movies?
-Emanuel: Actually my dream was to direct and that was my concentration at Loyola/Marymount University’s film department. Unfortunately, after graduation, the only job I could find was to serve as a “Boy Friday”…you know, answering the phone, typing contracts and making coffee for the renowned agent, Bernie Weintraub. It was unplanned but I found myself moving rapidly from the creative side of things to the business of entertainment. After two years I was promoted to literary agent when I discovered a ‘spec’ screenplay that I was able to successfully pitch and sell to Columbia Pictures. A lot of years passed until I was blessed with the opportunity of returning to the creative side.
But all the while, I never stopped writing. With my horror collaborator, Chris Leppek, I had numerous short stories published along with two novels: Chaosicon and Abattoir. When the latter was optioned to Siegal Entertainment, I was fortunate enough to be signed on as a screenwriter as well. This led to my being signed on to “Fear Clinic”, “The Charnel House”, and then “Dead Love”.
I feel so blessed to be back, once again, in an industry and art form that I truly love!
-PH: And how did Dead Love come to be?
-Emanuel: I was introduced to Colin Floom, who made his mark directing music videos along with doing numerous shows for MTV. We both had the desire to produce a high quality movie on a low budget and we were fortunate to have been able to make it happen.
-PH: Did you know the filmmakers?
-Emanuel: Yes, through mutual introductions and reputations.
-PH: The movie is very grounded. Is it hard to ground a genre movie?
-Emanuel: It’s extremely difficult to ground a genre movie. At this point audiences around the world have seen everything – zombies, assorted monsters and the proverbial things that go bump in the night, boo scares, etc. Our aim was to do something different and fresh…something character driven with a story line that was truly disturbing.
-PH: How did you pitch the film to your cast? What interested them?
-Emanuel: Our cast was immediately taken by our collective vision and the macabre nature of the material. In addition, they were excited about the idea of a two-week shoot smack dab in the mountains of beautiful Colorado.
-PH: And the look of the film, based on the trailer, suggests a similar tone to the classics. That intentional?
-Emanuel: Yeah, we wanted a European feel with a concentration on the most important element of the classics – an eerie and visually compelling atmosphere.
-PH: What is it about ‘death’ that fascinates film audiences, you think?
-Emanuel: We’re all fascinated with death, whether we admit it or not. That’s why traffic slows down after an accident; we can’t help but gawk at the scene, no matter how horrific. It’s the same with audiences. I don’t know, maybe the experience gives us a sense of how lucky we are to be alive and we’re all hungry for catharsis as long as it involves somebody else…hopefully a character on screen and not us.
-PH: When did you watch your first cut?
-Emanuel: It was at Colin Floom’s house where we set up an editing station in his backyard. We were blown away at the beauty of the film, the quality of the acting and the overall feel.
-PH: Did the distributor change anything when they came aboard?
-Emanuel: We were thrilled that Wild Eye Releasing – a leader in the genre – told us they loved “Dead Love” and wanted to get involved. It was a huge validation for us. The only thing that ended up being changed was the title; they wanted something pithy, more succinct, and we obviously agreed.
-PH: When’s the release?
-Emanuel: The end of this month – August 2018 and we’re all stoked!