David E. Dargartz
Photo by Kit Maria

Interview With Actor/Writer David E. Dargartz of ‘Descending’

We love chatting with the cast and crew of the upcoming vampire film, Descending. The next person on our interview list is the talented David E. Gargartz. He not only acted in the film, but also helped write it. Learn more about the Descending story, his character, and his other projects.

PopHorror – Hi, David! It’s great to meet you! What made you want to work in the film industry?

David Dargartz – Hey, Tori! Thank you so much for taking time to talk to me! I’ve been writing since I was 8 years-old. I’ve always felt like I’ve had a story to tell based in truth, fantasy, or both. Scriptwriting presents its own challenges and limitations that are attractive in ways that prose isn’t. I’ve always wanted to see my ideas interpreted and played out. I spend most of my time in my head, and it gets lonely in there. Film lets me show people what’s going on. I know that sounds incredibly cliché, but it’s true. The stories I create are more personal to me than anything, so it’s special to get to share them.

PopHorror – Great answers! How did you get your foot in the door?

David Dargartz – I met Kayla Elizabeth years ago while working with a small production outfit in Ohio. I knew I’d always wanted to write and act in film. She gave me the opportunity to try both. Kayla pretty much showed me all the doors. This will surprise many people, but Descending is her directorial debut for a feature film. She discovered many talents she didn’t know she had and captured every brilliant moment. She got the best out of her actors. She kept us trucking through many late nights and long weekends, and the film shines for it.

Not everyone realizes this about independent artists, but we’ve all got day jobs. We have responsibilities, social lives and so on – although I will say that working on the film became a social life in itself. But Kayla had the ability to balance the familial and friendly nature of our cast and crew with the work that needed to be done. In anything, problems will come your way. Some are technical, some are due to scheduling issues and so on, but she adapted and, because of her confidence and leadership, we adapted, too.

PopHorror – I’ve talked with Kayla quite a bit and love her work ethic! What other films have you worked on?

David Dargartz – I’ve gotten busy in film only recently, so much of what I’ve worked on is still in production or post-production. I’ve also served as a production assistant on those unreleased films, doing everything from turning on lights to ripping prop bodies in half to standing in for an actress who’s only about five feet tall… and I’m 6’4”. As a student at BGSU, I worked on a few short films. It sounds like I haven’t done anything. It’s all locked behind a floodgate at the moment. I am anxious for when it finally opens.

PopHorror – Good things happen to those who wait. As previously mentioned, you worked on the upcoming horror film, Descending. How did get involved in that?

Photo by Kit Maria

David Dargartz – Chad Zuver asked me to play a small part and I agreed. Kayla Elizabeth shared with me Chad’s first draft of Descending. Without actually being asked, I suggested some changes. I was nervous because I felt that was a presumptuous thing for me to do, but I just wanted to help. Next thing you know, I’m writing action and dialogue. Chad was incredibly receptive to my input. I can’t thank him enough for giving me the chance to write in his world.

PopHorror – Chad’s a great dude. You can tell he’s passionate about his work and the people involved. Can you tell us more about your involvement with the script?

David Dargartz – I began writing and rewriting small details. Things snowballed and I found myself expanding on themes and characters while staying very close to Chad’s vision. Because of Chad, every character was already a great personality. What I wanted to do was get inside their heads and let them out a little more. But it’s tricky because when you’re working in someone else’s universe and you start tweaking things, you can foment inconsistency. So it was a constant balancing act. Chad created a mythology and characters and plot that I had the privilege of playing around with, fleshing out, and expanding. There was an eight page scene that I wrote from scratch, featuring KateLynn and Tiffani, that was so much fun because I got to really stretch out their characters and give them eons of history. From my interactions with the cast and crew, I learned a lot about the relationships and expectations between everyone in a film. It’s a collaboration and every voice deserves to be heard.

PopHorror – Awesome, sounds like a great experience. We talked about you having a role in the film as well. Your character is Lewis. What is he like?

David Dargartz – Lewis has stayed alive by being careful. He’s suffered his losses. He’s a skeptic and a cynic. He’s got a Cockney accent. Not all of the actors were expecting that. We lost the first take to amused responses. But they must have liked it because they were imitating Lewis all weekend.

PopHorror – Oooh, I love a cockney accent! Can you relate to him at all?

David Dargartz – I relate to Lewis in a few ways. I’m usually careful when presented with a strange situation. I like to gather facts before doing anything. At the same time, Lewis has a soft spot for a person in trouble, and I know that I do, too. There’s a balance that Lewis tries to strike between letting people in and keeping others out, which I definitely relate to – I’m a very private person. Unfortunately, I don’t speak with a cool accent.

PopHorror – That’s cool that you have some similarities, though. You worked with a lot of talented crew and cast members. What was that experience like? Any memorable moments?

David Dargartz – So many talented people. I was in constant awe. I found everything intimidating at first and then everything fell into a kind of rhythm. Having a Hollywood actor ask me to explain a character’s thought process in front of a quiet room of about 20 people was a little staggering. But I was honored to write many of the lines they would speak. Sure, it’s fun to be writing for someone like Lynn and Alex, the former of which I did not have the pleasure of meeting. But there aren’t any small parts in this film.

Melissa Zahs and Kenzie Phillips in ‘Descending’

If you asked who my favorite character to write for was, it would have to be Erin, portrayed by Kenzie Phillips. Cassandra (KateLynn Newberry) is a close second. Erin had a little bit of myself in her. We get pissed off in very similar ways. We shared similar, frustrated rants. But everyone on this film was brilliant. Melissa Zahs deserves a ton of credit, as well as Thomas Sloan, Amber, Brittany, Moses, Roger, Spring, LaTrallo, Ben… everyone. This was also the acting debut for my niece, who shared a scene with Lynn, making me very jealous. Juston, Descending’s sound recordist, was terrific.

Cinematographer Al Rios-Hannon. His brother Gabe, who was the AD. Kenzie Lang, the assistant makeup artist, made her debut. There’s some good gore in this one. Dustin Mills, who did our lighting, helped make this movie really pretty. We’ve got some up-and-comers in Tom Steele and myself – a lot of people at different stages in their careers with different levels of experience all came together, made a movie, and left as a family.

PopHorror – Agreed. It’s a very talented cast and crew. Being that Descending is a vampire film, do you have a favorite vampire film?

David Dargartz – I did have a vampire obsession in high school – I wanted to be one. I was inspired by Blade and Interview With The Vampire. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Blade. I love the tone of that one. Dark, underground, world-ending scenarios happening right under our collective nose.

PopHorror – Great choice! I love Blade, too. If you could work with anyone, dead or alive in the film industry, who would it be?

David Dargartz – Director would be Jim Jarmusch. Actor would have to be Anjelica Huston.

PopHorror – Loooove AngelicaAny upcoming projects beyond Descending?

David Dargartz – As far as writing, I just finished two long short films. One, if not both, will begin production in 2017. I’m going to hang around in horror for a little bit as I wrap up the first draft of a monster feature. I’m looking for producers on a couple of other sci-fi and drama features I’ve written. I’m acting in a few projects from Dustin Mills. Kayla has a short and feature that I’ve been cast in. Plus, there are plenty of auditions I’m trying to psyche myself up for. I’m very excited about the future. I want to make art with these people forever.

About Tori Danielle

Tori has had a passion for Horror and music ever since she was a little girl. She got bit by the writing bug in high school where she was involved in both the school newspaper and the yearbook. While getting her Bachelors degree, she took Journalism and Creative Writing classes where her passion grew even stronger. Now, in between work and family, she spends all of her spare time indulging in music, Horror movies, and nerdy fandoms, all while running/assisting one of the biggest Horror groups on Facebook and writing for various websites.

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