Interview with Michael Lee Joplin, star of Blinders
By James Whittington, Monday 31st August 2020

We've already heard from the director of Blinders, Tyler Savage and one of its stars, Vincent Van Horn so we thought it would be cool to chat with its other star, Michael Lee Joplin.

HC: Was there one person who inspired you to become an actor?

MJ: I started acting in middle school really, but I had a wonderful theatre teacher in high school in Austin Texas, a Brit from Manchester, named Beryl Knifton. She instilled a love of acting and Shakespeare for me at an early age. I'm lucky to have had a lot of great teachers and mentors along the way. My acting teacher in college, the late Mr. Stephen Gerald pushed me along and more recently the Meisner teachings of Laurel Vouvray-Smith. My dad also made me watch a lot of movies that were probably inappropriate for my age, so when I was really young, I had a love for Jack Nicholson, DeNiro, Jimmy Stewart, and Toshiro Mifune.

HC: When did you get your acting break?

MJ: I did a lot of theatre in high school, but my first paid gig was at the Vortex Theatre in Austin. I played the gentleman caller in A Streetcar Named Desire. I was 18. It was a formative experience. I got to see some real masters of the stage at work. Michael Miller jumped into the role of Stanley with two week's notice and knocked it out of the park. Our original Stanley actually went on an alcohol induced bender and went to New Orleans and we didn't hear from him again. I got to be seduced by Blanche who was played by Austin stage legend Margaret Hoard.

HC: Are you a fan of psychological drama?

MJ: Very much so. Some of my favourites are Psycho, The Shining, Cape Fear (DeNiro and Mitchum versions), Memento. I tend to relish the darker side of film, music, and art. First couple of times I took acid in college I'd end up watching Psycho. Looking back it sounds so torturous, but it was really fun at the time. I promise, I'm not like Roger in real life y'all.

HC: Did you have to audition for the role of Roger?

MJ: I did not have to audition! The role fell into my lap. The biggest dream scenario for an actor. I had just moved to Los Angeles. I'd only been there for a couple weeks. I met Tyler at a party at my new place where I moved in with Alex Dobrenko, who plays the cell phone repair guy in Blinders. Vincent was at the party as well as we are all old friends from Austin. Tyler took notice of me and Vince's friendship and shit talking to each other. I think Tyler and Dash were already looking at Vince for the lead role. The next night Alex and I did an improv comedy show and Tyler came out. Word is he went home that night and texted Dash that he found their Roger. Right place. Right time.

HC: What did you think of the script when you first read it?

MJ: I liked it a lot. It changed quite a bit from the first version though. There was a social media influencer angle that was much more prominent in the early versions. Tyler and Dash were very open to discussions about the story and dialogue through the whole process. They also let us improvise some during rehearsals and shooting. The script definitely evolved and those guys put in a ton of work writing it.

HC: Do you get nervous when you set foot on a set for the first time?

MJ: My theatre background is vast and I thought all of the butterflies were behind me. But this is the first time that I've played such a big serious role on film. Most parts I've played previously were either comedic or just smaller and one dimensional. I hadn't experienced shooting a story out of order where I was a main character to the story so I was a nervous wreck the first week of shooting. I had many conversations with Tyler where he probably thought I was a maniac. But after the first week of shooting I got really comfortable with the collaborative process of a film shoot.

HC: Was your interpretation of Roger based on anyone you know or have heard about?

MJ: I'm a very passionate guy. When I'm into something I can obsess about it. Whether that's acting, music, or basketball. I can deep dive. So, I think I examined the parts of myself that can obsess over someone or something. I also have a friend from college who I based a lot of the character on, mainly his ability to charm people, and his unwavering anchor to his principles. One of those people who nobody is lukewarm about. You either love him or you hate him. I took some of those ideas when I was thinking about playing Roger. I also was deep into the idea that Roger was in a submissive relationship with Sam, and that love for her, which was largely unrequited drove him to do a lot of the bad things he did.

HC: How difficult is it to play a character such as complicated as Roger?

MJ: I think the difficult part is just resting in those dark places for too long. I would go to Echo Park and just watch people and just get into my bones that I was following someone for some reason to do right by Sam. Some of that work proved valuable on set before shooting a scene to get my head in the right place, and some of it was just plain weird and creepy. I think it's good to use your imagination fully but also remember you are acting and to take breaks and take care of your mental state.

HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?

MJ: Laying low during the pandemic. Working a little bit, making a lot of music and painting. I have some short films that I shot that I'm continually editing. So hopefully I'll get that stuff done soon. But I'm mostly watching movies and playing video games with the homies.

HC: Michael Lee Joplin, thank you very much.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula to open Arrow Video FrightFest October 2020
Posted on Thursday 10th September 2020
FrightFest - October 2020 event - banner

Four years after Train to Busan was voted the most popular FrightFest Closing Night film ever, comes the hotly anticipated stand-alone sequel, Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula, which will open this year's Arrow Video FrightFest October event, courtesy of Studiocanal. The film will play on Thursday October 22, 6pm, across three screens at the Cineworld, Leicester Square.

FrightFest co-director Alan Jones commented: "Ask any die-hard FrightFester what their favourite ever Closing Night film was and they will say the fabulous Train to Busan. The continuous standing ovations, cheers and applause engendered by our sell-out screenings of that ins...

Interview with the legendary actress Lin Shaye about being part of The Horror Crowd
Posted on Wednesday 9th September 2020
Lin Shaye and Ruben PlaLin Shaye is an actress that need no introduction. Her screen work over the last few decades has seen her appear in countless movies such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Critters or more recently the Insidious series of movies. Here she chats about her career and her why she appeared in Ruben Pla's superb doc, The Horror Crowd.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be an actress?

LS: No, I never had the dream. Ever. I had the need to tell stories and from a very young age and my dad, when he tucked me in a night we would tell what we would call "Candyland Stories" and they were stories about a little girl named Linda, and they would start when she was just falling to sleep...

Interview with Steve Villeneuve, director of Hail to the Deadites
Posted on Thursday 3rd September 2020
HailToTheDeadites-1FrightFest 2020 delivered some incredibly entertaining and informative documentaries. Hail to the Deadites from Steve Villeneuve is a celebration of the the Evil Dead series of movies and truly gets under the skin of what the franchise means to those who created it and those who are mega fans! Here Steve talks about this amazing doc.

HC: Can you recall the first time you saw an Evil Dead movie and what it was that grabbed your attention?

SV: I guess I was 13. I actually saw Army of Darkness first on television. Years later, spot the cover of Evil Dead 2 in a video store. Then, rent Evil Dead one without knowing it was the first film because here in Quebec, The Evil Dead is ca...
Then, in the blink of an eye, it was all over
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020
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Arrow Video FrightFest 2020 Digital Edition has closed its doors. Over the last few days, the team have delivered on their promise, to make the event just as good apart as it would have been together.

The event contained the usual mix of horror genres that we've come to expect and exposed us to some seriously talented creatives. Features such as Blinders, Dark Stories and 12 Hour Shift delivered some of the most memorable moments which would have been amazing on a big screen.

If it was blood and gore you wanted, then Skull: The Mask and was the movie for you. Brutal and bloody this shows that there's some major talent movie making in Brazil. If you wanted laughs with...

Interview with Guillaume Lubrano, director of Dark Stories
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020
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There's been a number of anthology movies at FrightFest 2020 but one of the strongest is Dark Stories from director Guillaume Lubrano. Here he chats about this fun piece.

HC: Have you always been a fan of horror movies?

GL: I'd say I've always been a fan of genre titles, being it horror, science fiction, fantasy, every subgenre that plays with the ability to push our imagination forward always fascinated me. And this was born mostly with the 80s I think and the birth of modern era special effects... those comforted writers and directors in the fact that they could try to tell stuff about anything... and well that's what they did: anything... and among all this...
Interview with Vincent Van Horn, star of Blinders
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020

The tense psychological movie Blinders is showing on the Horror Channel Screen at FrightFest today so we chatted to one of its stars, Vincent Van Horn about the movie and his character, Andy.

HC: Was there one person who inspired you to become an actor?

VH: I can't say there was one person in particular but more of a love for movies in general as a kid. Charlie Chaplin and Peter Sellers were definitely early influences with their physical comedy.

HC: When did you get your acting break?

VH: Hmm have I gotten it already? Ha ha. This is by far the biggest role I've had to date so maybe this is it? But as far as my first time acting in anything at all was when I was asked t...

Interview with Tyler Savage, director and co-writer of Blinders
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020

Psychological horror is always well represented at FrightFest and this year is no exception and one of the stand out pieces is Blinders from director Tyler Savage. Here he chats about this emotional and atmospheric movie.

HC: Where did the idea for the movie come from?

TS: The original idea for the movie came from an unsettling rideshare ride I took. Something about the driver made me uncomfortable, and I hated the fact that he now knew where I lived. From here, Dash and I started talking about the many ways in which technology makes us all incredibly vulnerable. There's a dark flipside to the convenience technology brings into our lives, and we wanted to highlight that idea in a way that was ...

Messed minds, Moroccan monsters, and missing mutants. Day 5 of FrightFest
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020

Day 5 of FrightFest is here (where did that time go?) but fear not as the FrightFest team have more movie mayhem for all to enjoy.

The Arrow Video Screen has the now annual Arrow Video Podcast with filmmaker and journalist Sam Ashurst and SFX guru Dan Martin recording their episode live from noon. Then its onto AV The Hunt which is a raw take on the "hunted becomes hunter" movie which is followed by the superb anthology movie Dark Stories where demons, the Living Dead, Evil Dolls, Djinn and other extra-terrestrial creatures will haunt your dreams.

Over on the Horror Screen you can catch Enhanced which has mutants on the run from those pesky people at the Government, Blinders...

You're going to need more than armbands to survive this!
Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020

This afternoon had a really mixed bag of things going on at FrightFest 2020. One of the most anticipated pieces is the debut feature of Francesco Giannini. Hall contains many elements relevant to today such as a pandemic, toxicity in relationships and loss. This film deals with the isolation and helplessness some people can go through in life and takes its time to make its mark on your opinion.

In contrast, A Ghost Waits is a delicate and fun movie that uses a paranormal relationship as its focus and contains stand out performances from the cast. Jack's (MacLeod Andrews) job is to fix up the house. Spectral agent Muriel's (Natalie Walker) eternal task is to haunt it. They should be en...

Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020

One of the big hits of Glasgow FrightFest was Adam Stovall's A Ghost Waits. This acclaimed movie is back and has been through an edit so we chatted to Adam about this paranormal piece of work.

HC: Where did the idea for A Ghost Waits come from?

AS: The two main inspirations were a video game and a web comic. "P.T." was a first-person haunted house puzzle game designed by Guillermo Del Toro and Hideo Kojima. My friends Brian and Jenn wanted me to play it because it had scared the bejesus out of them, and when I did I had them cracking up laughing. When Jenn started filming me with her phone, I thought there might be a movie in someone like me having to deal with a haunted ...

Horror in lockdown. Will the industry change?
Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020
FrightFest Halloween 2020

At a time of uncertainty and "new normal" procedures, life in 2020 has seen massive changes in all our lives. The importance of people's health and safety has been at the forefront of many people's minds and kept them away from social gatherings.

FrightFest and other festivals have moved their events online but what about the future of the horror industry?

Tonight at 7pm, Rosie Fletcher, UK Editor of Den Of Geek will host a special free to view panel of guests from the industry to discuss how the horror genre has been affected by the global pandemic.

Questions to be covered include, "What does the shape of horror look like now we're all actually l...

Interview with Justin McConnell, director of Clapboard Jungle
Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020

A couple of years back, at FrightFest 2018 a movie named Lifechanger played. This deep, engaging and original movie was a thought provoking and intelligent piece of work. Its director, Justin McConnell is back at FrightFest but this time with a rather different piece of work, looking at how the industry works and showing people just how hard the film making business can be. We chatted to him about this look at the business.

HC: What was it you saw or read about that made you want to have a career in the industry?

JM: Maybe it's a thread of insanity of some kind? I honestly can't remember the exact "ah ha" moment, more of a generally growing love of film when I w...

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