I’ve been a fan of Sean Donohue ever since he sent me a screener of Death-Scort Service to review for my blog way back. I have reviewed every film he has released since, including the recently released Death-Scort Service 2. Recently I got the opportunity to talk to Sean about how he got his start in films, his various films, and what’s next for the Death-Scort Service franchise. Check it out!
PopHorror: How did you get involved with filmmaking?
Sean Donohue: I went to film school from 2004-2007, graduated. Got hired as an A/V tech at the Tampa convention center and worked setting up camera and audio equipment. I got laid off in 2009 and then found a job at Busch Gardens, Tampa. I worked during their annual Halloween event, once again working setting up audio equipment. I met an F/X artist working there, James Vale, who had worked in Hollywood in the past doing special F/X. He taught me some stuff. Then I saw an ad on craigslist for a horror film being made here in Tampa. The filmmaker was a first timer like me, his name was Chris Leto. We went on to make our first horror film, “If I Can’t Have You” it sucked! However, both Chris L. and I learned a lot and went on to make better products. We last collaborated on “Die Die Delta Pi” which went on to have both a physical and digital release and got sold in stores all across the country. It was my first hit.
Since then I have gone on to team up with Chris Woods of The Sleaze Box where we have collaborated on Naughty Dirty Nasty, Death-Scort Service, Chaos A.D., Cannibal Claus and most recently Death-Scort Service part 2: The Naked Dead.
PopHorror: What films and filmmakers inspired you?
Sean Donohue: The first horror film I ever saw was the original Fright Night, I was 4 yrs. old. At that age, I didn’t understand a lot about it but I remember feeling both excited and scared at the same time. I was enthralled with that feeling from then on. From that point I was always attracted to box cover art I would see in video stores that showed comic book like characters and drawings on them. Like a lot of people, I went on to rent a lot of videos, all genre’s. I could rent kids movies and even kids horror for 50 cents a pop at the local Spec’s store. Every week I would bug my parents to go the video store. Sometimes they would give in and I got what I wanted. I probably saw a lot of stuff I shouldn’t have looking back on it now. I remember renting movies like Terror Vision, Ants, Frogs, The Exterminator, and Parents to name a few. These films and the people who made them aren’t specific to have any influence on me and my films but every movie I watch has some kind of impact on what inspires me and that’s just too many to name.
When I got a little older I tended to gravitate to the more sleazier stuff that directors like Jim Wynorski and Andy Sidaris would make. I always enjoyed more of the straight stuff minus the sleaze too from directors like Alfred Hitchcock. He is my favorite director. He could create suspense without relying on gore and nudity to keep the audience interested. He is one of the best if not the best American filmmakers that has existed IMO.
PopHorror: Your first feature was Joe Vampire. What made you want to make a feature and where did the idea for the film come from?
Sean Donohue: Well, at the time I wanted to make a vampire film about a vampire that was just a regular guy. I hated vampire movies that depicted vampires having mansions, money, cars etc. It just didn’t make sense to me. If you were a vampire you could only work at night, you would have to have human blood to survive and you would just to have to stay under the radar to survive. That’s what Joe Vampire was supposed to be about. It was my first feature and unfortunately, my vision got somewhat lost during making it. When it was finished, I learned and went on to make other films. It was a learning platform for me so I don’t regret it.
PopHorror: Your next film was Die Die Delta Pi, a sorority slasher film. How did you come to be involved in the project?
Sean Donohue: By this time in my career, I wanted to make something that was an easy sell. I had talked to a few folks and got some insider info that Sorority Slashers were an easy way to get your foot in the door for distribution. At this point in the game, Gatorblade Films hadn’t been set up as a distro company yet, so I was making it in hopes that a distributor would want to pick it up and release it. It took about 2 years from writing to the final edit to finish it. It was a tremendous feat making that movie as it was my biggest budget and biggest cast I had ever worked with. There were a lot of challenges but overall I was happy with the end result. It still, to this day, has been my best seller with over 3,000 units sold worldwide. May not sound like much but try doing that now… It is getting harder and harder to make films, make your money back and make something that’s gets noticed, IMO. However, this doesn’t seem to stop me. I still keep making movies, I love it!
PopHorror: One of your most popular films is Death-Scort Service, a Giallo inspired slasher oozing with sleaze. How did you and Chris Woods come up with the idea for the film? What was it like shooting the film?
Sean Donohue: By the time I went on to make Death-Scort Service with Chris Woods both his film, Amerikan Holokaust and my film Die Die Delta Pi had had a bit of success. We had met a few times at local horror events and even talked about working together at some point. Some time went by and I got a call from Chris W. about a project he wanted to make called Naughty Dirty Nasty. He was looking for actresses that would fill the roles and I recommended Ashley Lynn Caputo and Krystal “Pixie” Adams. Those two went on to become “Sleaze Queens” in the underground. I have worked with both of them in most of my projects. In fact, Krystal is in every one of my movies, lol!
Anyway, Chris and I wanted to make a Slasher movie together. I had a simple Idea about a stalker hunting and killing prostitutes in Las Vegas. I wrote the first draft and Chris filled in the gaps with his input. We shot the movie in 8 days with about $1,500 bucks. We both knew it would be an easy sell. What we didn’t know is how much people would watch it, tell their friends about it, and love it! It earned several 10/10 reviews, got banned from a few film festivals after being accepted and has earned the credit of being the first “Nudie Slasher” from Mr. Greg Baty of Cinesploitation.com. We just released the sequel and there are plans to make a part 3 already in the works!
PopHorror: Your follow up to Death-Scort Service was Cannibal Claus, a low budget sleaze filled Christmas slasher starring Bob Glazier as a cannibalistic Santa Claus. What made you want to make a holiday set slasher film?
Sean Donohue: I always wanted to make a Christmas film and since I made horror films it only made sense to make a Christmas Horror film. I’m definitely not the first one to do it and probably not the last, however, I believe this is the “Sleaziest” Christmas Horror film ever made based on what I have seen so far. But I’ll let the viewers be the judge of that. It was a fun experience, Bob Glazier “killed” it! I believe it was his first lead role too believe it or not. He’s been acting since the mid-80’s.
PopHorror: As you just mentioned, you recently released Death-Scort Service 2. What made you want to make a sequel to Death-Scort Service and what was it like working with the new cast?
Sean Donohue: I had never made a sequel before so I felt that this movie was the best set to do that with. I made my money back on the first one and I had a lot of fun making it too. Part 2 has already made it’s money back as well. People love em so we will keep making them. It definitely was a challenge working with a completely new cast however everyone involved was very easy going so it made the project go smoothly. A lot of the actors/actresses were first time actors and for a lot of them, it was their first time being directed by me. I really feel the shoots went well and everyone had a good time on set. The final result was for the most part, well received by the audience and reviewers as well.
PopHorror: You have worked heavily with Bob Glazier, Chris Woods and Krystal Pixie Adams. How did you come to meet them and what are they like to work with?
Sean Donohue: Birds of a feather flock together. It’s really a small group of people in Tampa who are part of this scene believe it or not. Most people I meet who act in my movies are friends, friends of friends or someone I met on social media or on another film set. Bob, Chris, and Krystal are always fun to work with!
PopHorror: If you could work with anyone in the indie horror scene, who would it be?
Sean Donohue: TIM RITTER!!
PopHorror: You left the Death-Scort Service franchise wide open for a sequel. What’s next for the franchise and do you have any other projects in the works?
Sean Donohue: Chris Woods and I are teaming up once again to make Death-Scort Service 3: Taste Me. Chris will be the sole writer/Director on this one with me producing and doing special F/X. You will see a lot of familiar faces in this one. I don’t want to give too much away but we have high hopes for the film and the franchise.