Interview with “Crisis Hotline” Writer/Director Mark Schwab

Mark Schwab, writer/director of the new horror-thriller CRISIS HOTLINE, denounces a wide-spread belief that horror is an easy sell.

-PH: Where’s home, sir?

-Mark: Home is San Jose, CA. I’ve lived in other cities but I was born and raised in San Jose and currently live there.

-PH: Have times changed where you don’t necessarily have to be in Hollywood to be a filmmaker – let alone actor – these days?

-Mark: I think it’s easier for a filmmaker to live outside of Hollywood now simply because the communication avenues are so plentiful. But I wouldn’t underestimate the value of living and working in Hollywood – it’s still a pretty amazing place full of opportunities that don’t exist anywhere else. I think if you’re an actor though, living in Hollywood or New York is essential for the shortest/easiest route to steady work.

-PH: It’s more expensive to shoot in Hollywood and California, anyway, I believe?

-Mark: On paper it sure seems that way. Just the permits alone can be very expensive. But the talent available here is almost always worth it. Plus you can’t beat the weather.

-PH: Where did this shoot?

-Mark: We shot it all in San Jose, CA.

-PH: And were most of the cast and crew people you knew previously?

-Mark: Both the cast and nearly all of the crew was new to me. We looked at over four hundred actors and cast nine. The crew was from Hollywood and we brought them up to San Jose. I really lucked out because all of them were just excellent to work with. I hope to work with them again soon.

-PH: What inspired the story?

-Mark: I had written something similar many years ago (pre-internet) and thought it could be updated to today’s web-based, social media landscape. I also thought about the potential for abuse of dating apps. If someone was devious enough, a lot of damage could be inflicted on unsuspecting/lonely people.

-PH: Is it hard to write scares? Do most of those happen on the day?

-Mark: I don’t think scares get written really. Good scares are the definition of the term “cinematic” where all the stars line up – great cinematography, great acting, great sound design, great editing, etc. A lot goes into creating a good scare.

-PH: In a nutshell, how did you describe the movie to investors or your distributor? What got them interested?

-Mark: We were very lucky that our distributor caught our trailer on the IMDB page. That was what prompted them contacting us and getting interested in acquiring it. A good trailer goes a long way for an independent film.

-PH: They say horror is an easier sell – is that your experience?

-Mark: Supposedly it is but I’m not so sure. This is the first feature film we’ve sold but in hearing a lot of stories from my fellow filmmakers, I don’t think any independently made film without “names” in it is an easy sell today. There are simply too many films being made now and most of them just fall between the cracks regardless of how good they might be. Distributors just can’t see them all. I consider myself exceedingly fortunate that CRISIS HOTLINE is getting out there and very grateful to High Octane Pictures for making that happen for us.

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