Exclusive Interview with “The Demonologist” Writer/Director J.M. Stelly

A spooked detective is the only hope for the end of days in the spine-chilling The Demonologist, premiering On Demand January 1, 2019 by Uncork’d Entertainment.
A detective is haunted by nightmares of his past and visions he cannot understand. When he investigates a string of brutal murders, he discovers a Cult that worships the four King Demons of Hell, who plan on bringing them forth to destroy the Earth. He must stop the Cult from starting the Apocalypse and finally come to grips with his birthright and destiny as The Demonologist.
From writer-director J.M. Stelly and starring Brian Krause (“Charmed”, Sleepwalkers), Lara Grice (Logan), and Thomas Francis Murphy (“Mindhunter”), The Demonologist  on Demand from January 1, 2019.

-PH: When did your filmmaking career kick off?

-JM: My film making career I would say took off when I made Within Madness. That was my first taste of what I could do if a got the right people together to make something unique. A few years after that I started working in different areas of the film industry. From Locations to DIT to Loader to Set Photographer, it was a number of different positions that help me learn more about the industry in general. I started directing music videos during that time for acts such as To Kill a Party, Jason Martin, Corrosion of Conformity and DOWN. Over the years I found my visual style which takes learning how to shoot, edit, color and conform. I wasn’t content with just being a one trick pony. I wanted to know the ins and outs of everything so that I could function on my own on smaller projects.

-PH: And why movies? What was it about movies that had you fixed on building a career around making them?

-JM: I remember being a kid and watching Batman for the first time in theaters. I knew then, I wanted to make that. I wanted to be a part of something pretty damn unique. Once I got into adult hood, I knew if I was going to do it, I had to jump in fire. And that fire can either burn you or embrace you. There was an excitement to it and I haven’t lost that excitement.

-PH: Most cite “Star Wars” as one of the films that spurred them towards a career as a filmmaker. What film was it for you?

-JM: Halloween 1979. That’s what really got me into wanting to make movies. I wanted to create terror. Sure Batman really got me into film, but Halloween made me want to create film. It’s still to this very day my favorite movie. John Carpenter along with Fincher and Kubrick have remained huge cinematic inspirations for me.

-PH: What was the first thing you shot?

-JM: Within Madness was the first thing I ever shot. It was a complete experimental exercise in film making. No Script, only natural light, no sound department. Just an idea, the will, and some actors just doing what they love to do. It didn’t matter if it was good. What mattered was that we created.

-PH: And how do you think you’ve improved as a filmmaker since then?

-JM: I’ve learned to zero in on ideas and guide a lot better. I don’t see a script as stone tablet. I see it as a blue print. There are points that need to be hit but I still like the improvisation of method acting. Let actors take the wheel of their own character while having guidance in their delivery and performance. I’ve also learned to trust others with your vision. They were picked for a reason and the most important thing to me is everyone is there because they truly want to be there because if they aren’t with you, the project will suffer.

-PH: Is there a sequence in the latest movie that you’re truly proud of, one you can genuinely step back from and say ‘wow, that looks great’!?

-JM: You know, it’s a hard one. That movie was shot in ten days, cut in a month, colored in a couple weeks, and the VFX department only had 3 or 4 weeks to complete what they needed to complete. So for me, the whole movie is like that. Sure, there are things I would have wanted to different but you can’t have it all. I watch The Demonologist and try to analyze it from a subjective point of view. I’m not in love with any project I ever do. It’s art and it’s imperfect but as long as the story is there, the visuals represent the story to the best of their ability and people enjoy it, I feel I’ve done my job. So for me, the sequence is the film.

-PH: How did you get the cast? All auditions?

-JM: Brian and Kate came through one of our producers, Justin Jones. They had an established relationship and he came on board. Dane was brought in through my other producer Ryan Westheimer. Jared Bankens and Keegan Macy, auditioned but they were already hand picked by me. The rest were auditions.

-PH: Did they have much time to get to know each other before the shoot began?

JM: Not really, but they all hit off from the get go. No drama, no bullshit, and no egos. Everyone truly got along and we all made the best of the time we had together.

-PH: Where did you shoot the movie? Do you believe the city is as much a star of the movie as the human players?

-JM: We shot the movie in Baton Rouge and New Orleans but it takes place in Post Katrina New Orleans. New Orleans most definitely has a vibe to it. Being from Louisiana and having lived in NOLA, you just know about the darkness that surrounds the city. Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, voodoo, I mean the list goes on and on. It’s one of the most unique cities in the USA. No one can deny that. It’s its own entity. It breathes the past and that’s an interesting thing to have.

-PH: What do you hope audiences get from the movie?

-JM: I could say I hope they are entertained or that they look deeper into the mythos and maybe watch it multiple times to see what they missed because it’s not a simple story. It’s very layered with complexities. At the end of the day, I hope audiences watch with an open mind and make their own, EDUCATED, thoughts on what they see in it. This is not CONSTANTINE, it’s THE OMEN, it’s not some shitty exorcism movie just regurgitated back out into society. It’s THE DEMONOLOGIST and it’s here, for better or worse and hopefully you have one hell of a ride watching it.

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