Everyone by now knows who P.J. Starks is, right? If not, you should. He’s definitely making a name for himself in the horror community. Although he’s known mostly for the Volumes of Blood series, he is now in the business of producing films. We did a little Q & A with P.J. about this transition, why he loves doing it, and all the upcoming films he’s involved in.
PopHorror – You’ve been making horror films for a while. When did you start on the path of producing them?
P.J. Starks – I don’t feel like I fully got my feet wet as a producer until The Confession of Fred Krueger. That was the project where I stepped outside of my own comfort zone and produced for someone else. Nathan Thomas Milliner was the real driving force behind the fan film, but he was having a very difficult time getting it off the ground. During pre-production, he kept telling me how hard of a time he was having getting the main location and said he wasn’t sure if it was even going to happen. Nate brought me onboard and I was able to secure him the main location that served as the Police Station and, to some degree, helped facilitate that shoot. When he expanded the script to add a few other locations, Eric Huskisson and I joined forces to get him what he needed. That was the first time Eric and myself worked together as a producing team and that partnership eventually led to the startup of Blood Moon Pictures.
PopHorror – What goes into producing a film?
P.J. Starks – It really depends to what extent you’re producing. With the Volumes of Blood films, it means having our hands in every process, from script to screen and beyond. I came up with the premise for both VOB films, including the as yet to be filmed third installment. I worked on the scripts, auditioned, location scouted, found crew and so on and so forth. They were both very involved and immensely labor intensive, which meant they both came with their fair share of headaches. However, when you’re sitting in a room with over 400 people who are excited to see what you just spent the last nine months birthing, it’s very worth it.
As far as coming onto others projects, my involvement varies in capacity. With all the films I’m currently producing, I’m helping pretty heavily with marketing and promotions. But I’ve also been asked to help as a creative adviser on a couple. On 10/31 and Cryptids, I’ve been getting to see the film clips and dailies because they’d like to know what I think, so that’s been very cool. In the case of Butcher the Bakers, I was contacted by Ryan Ziegler, one of the leads, about a subject completely unrelated to producing. We got to chatting and before long, I was on the phone with both he and writer/director Tyler Amm. I had watched the trailer and laughed hysterically. It was right up my alley and I wanted to know what made these guys tick. We clicked immediately.
Before long, I was brought on as an Executive Producer to help them market the film. It deserved a much larger audience than what they had plans for and I was bound and determined to help them do so. I’ve helped bring much more awareness to the film and even secured some screenings at festivals. Now I’m getting to meet Joe Buckley, who plays Joe, and my life has pretty much culminated to that moment.
PopHorror – Which was your first?
P.J. Starks – My first opportunity to produce, where I learned the ropes, was the first Volumes of Blood. I had an idea of what all needed to be accomplished, but I had no idea the sheer amount of work that truly went into the process. I’ve said a gazillion times that producing anthologies are logistical nightmares and that holds true. There are so many elements that need to be secured, come together and stay together in order for a project of this scope to be realized. Perseverance and planning is the key.
PopHorror – What are your upcoming projects?
P.J. Starks – Butcher the Bakers recently premiered and is having small theater run in Illinois. I’m working with Tyler on helping secure more festival screenings. It’s a hilarious horror comedy, so keep on the lookout for this one.
Close Calls, a film of pure telephonic terror from Richard Stringham, is near completion. It’s at the tail end of post-production and he’s working on a premiere. Richard is already in early development on his next feature, Slices. He’s told me quite a bit about it and I think it’s going to be a winner for fans of suspense horror. I’m not attached to that film yet… “yet” being the key word. Right, Richard?
The creature feature Cryptids and the Halloween themed 10/31 are both currently in production and both are anthologies. Justin M. Seaman, Zane Hershberger, and Rocky Gray are the creative minds behind those films. Both films bring something cool and different to the various sub-genres they’re paying homage to. Brett DeJager, who directed the forthcoming Bojangles, is one of the directors and is incredibly talented. 10/31 stars Greg Fallon, also in Close Calls, who is just a solid actor. Jordan Phipps, who’s becoming a Scream Queen in her own right, stars in both films as well as Close Calls. Talent abounds.
Lastly, is the pharmaceutical nightmare Deimosimine. It’s like Demons meets A Cure for Wellness and I think horror fans are gonna eat this one up. It’s directed by Chad Armstrong and stars Jim O’Rear in a very memorable role. It had a setback but is now back on track and better than ever. The practical effects are being handled by Dennis Preston and look incredible.
PopHorror – Tell us what you love most about producing?
P.J. Starks – I’m a huge fan of collaboration. I love working with other filmmakers and artists – it’s the fundamental reason I created an anthology series of my own. I revel in coming up with an idea or being part of something and then seeing it to fruition. The accomplishment of taking the written page and bringing it to life is like no other feeling. I also love helping other filmmakers get recognition for their hard work. It’s the main reason I’ve been executive producing. When I started, I had no idea how to market my own projects or get any interest in them. Over the past decade, I’ve garnered a pretty massive collection of contacts and can help other filmmakers who share the same passions as myself find an audience.
PopHorror – What are your plans as a producer?
P.J. Starks – I plan to continue working with incredible talent and doing all I can to nurture film projects when the opportunity presents itself. Right now, we’re in the early stages of development on Volumes of Blood 3, which we plan to start full-blown pre-production on in the fall with our new partners Andy Palmer and Warner Davis of Petri Entertainment. My goal is to keep working on quality film projects that break the mold and bring something fresh or cool to the genre.
I’ve been really lucky so far to work with some great filmmakers over the last several years such as Justin M. Seaman who directed The Barn and John Holt and his team behind The Dooms Chapel Horror. There’s a few filmmakers that I look forward to hopefully working with on future projects like Jonathan Straiton who made Night of Something Strange, Stu Jopia and the group behind Good Tidings or Antonio Pantoja who’s a solid talent out the Louisville, KY, area and has made some great genre shorts. Or even Brett DeJager on whatever his next film will be. Ultimately, I have no idea where this path will lead, but I’m definitely excited to find out.