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.

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...
Interview with our very own Emily Booth who stars in UK TV premiere of Shed of the Dead this Friday on Horror
Posted on Wednesday 2nd September 2020

The UK TV premiere of outlandish Brit Zom Com Shed of the Dead takes place Friday 4th September at 9pm. The movie stars Ewen MacIntosh, Lauren Socha, Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley, Michael Berryman, Brian Blessed and our very own Emily Booth. Here, Emily chats about this movie and what it was like to work with the legendary Michael Berryman.

HC: Are you a big zombie movie fan?

EB: If I'm completely honest it's not my favourite sub-genre within horror only because the genre has been so massively mined for all it's worth and I've never been particularly scared of them! However, there are certain stand out zombie films or even certain scenes that make me lo...

Interview with Guillaume Lubrano, director of Dark Stories
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020
Guillaume Lubrano image 1

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 ...

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 ...

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...

Interview with Kapel Furman, co-director and SFX master on Skull: The Mask
Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020
Kapel Furman Image 1

FrightFest always tries to show the very best from around the globe and one of the stand out titles for 2020 is Skull: The Mask from directors Armando Fonseca and Kapel Furman. Here, Kapel chats about the movie and his stunning SFX work.

HC: Is there a strong horror movie following in Brazil?

KF: Brazilian cinema, in general, comes and goes every ten years or so. Because our so called "film industry" is directly dependent on economic and political situations. So, we have to relearn how to be able to get a film done each and every time, and that applies to horror movies as well. Of course, in the past we had Jose Mojica Marins, our Coffin Joe, who did extremely import...

Interview with Majhid Heath, producer of Dark Place
Posted on Saturday 29th August 2020

HC: Where did the idea for Dark Place come from?

MH: Dark Place came from an initiative through Screen Australian and ABC Television to find the next generation of Aboriginal auteurs, asking them to tell their stories in the horror genre. After a number of workshops with Colin and Cameron Cairnes (EPs), Hayley and Majhid jumped on to shape the scripts and draw out themes as diverse as the treatment of Aboriginal women, (Scout) displacement from country and community (Foe), cultural genocide (Vale Light), identity (The Shore) and germ warfare during colonisation (Killer Native). The hook being that all filmmakers wanted to say a something about the treatment of Aboriginals ...

Interview with Phillip G. Carroll Jr. writer and director of The Honeymoon Phase
Posted on Saturday 29th August 2020
Honeymoon Phase-poster

More new talent comes to FrightFest 2020, this time its a husband and wife team Phillip G. Carroll Jr and Chloe Carroll. Here, Phillip describes how this intense and emotional, psychological movie came about.

HC: Where did the idea for The Honeymoon Phase come from?

PC: My wife, actress Chloe Carroll (Eve), and I got married in March 2016. We wanted our first feature film to be a marriage of both of our creative loves. I love sci-fi, thrillers, and drama films and Chloe is a horror nut. We thought a psychological thriller would be the perfect blend of both of us to create our first film baby together! We were lying in bed one night, trying to come up with a concept...

Interview with Alastair Orr, director of Triggered
Posted on Friday 28th August 2020
Alastair Orr

One of our favourite movies showing on Horror at the moment is Alastair Orr's superb shocker From a House on Willow Street. For FrightFest 2020 he has a new film for us all to enjoy, Triggered. Here he chats about both movies.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?

AO: I always loved films but it wasn't until my teens when I realised I could actually do it as a job. Growing up in a small town in South Africa, filmmaking was always seen as something that Americans do as a job - not us. We were very sheltered under the apartheid government in the late 80s so content was limited, if not censored. The video store was basically a Holy Grail where...

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