IFH 684: How to Make a Kick-Ass Low-Budget Zombie Film with Eric England



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Eric England is an American film director, writer, and producer. He is best known for his work in the horror genre, particularly for his 2013 film “Contracted.” The film follows a young woman who contracts a mysterious sexually transmitted disease that begins to ravage her body in horrifying ways.

In addition to “Contracted,” England has directed several other horror films, including “Madison County” and “Josie.” He has also directed episodes of the television series “Surviving Jack” and “The Rookie.” England’s work often explores themes of isolation, psychological trauma, and bodily horror, and he is known for his stylish visual approach to genre filmmaking.

Alex Ferrari 1:54
Enjoy today's episode with guest host, Jason Buff.

Jason Buff 1:59
With Eric England from the movie contracted, he is the writer and director. And he takes us through his journey as a filmmaker, how he started out making low budget films and slowly built up from there. And I think it's really important for you know, first time, second time, whatever filmmakers to understand that there is a you know, not for everybody, but the majority of people out there who are making films start out small, they make a you know, a movie for a couple 1000 bucks or possibly even less, and then slowly gradually move up after proving themselves with a small feature, then they move up to a slightly larger one, your first feature shouldn't be, you know, you shouldn't be looking for a movie star and trying to spend, you know a bunch of money and everything. It really should be just like a test. And if for whatever reason, it loses money or it becomes a disaster, you can just learn from that and you haven't burned all those bridges, you haven't, you know, wasted a bunch of people's money because that's a lot of money. That's a house right there. You know what I'm saying? Let's move on to our interview. I'm really excited that Eric came on the show. He's a young filmmaker and is really out there doing what a lot of us want to be doing. So he has a lot of great advice about how you can become a successful filmmaker. Here we go. Okay. Well, I mean, I guess the first thing that I want I usually start out with is just really talking about your background. Where are you from? How did you get into filmmaking and all that. So could you give us just kind of a little bit of background about you?

Eric England 3:25
Yeah, totally. I'm originally from Russellville, Arkansas, which is, you know, really small town in between, like Fayetteville and Little Rock in Arkansas, right smack dab in the middle of Bible belt. And, you know, in terms of originally getting into filmmaking, there was no you know, really, there really was no introduction to film other than, you know, my my dad was a big movie night. And a lot of my family members continue to be, you know, big film fans, like I was exposed to a lot of, you know, especially genre movies when I was younger. My grandmother actually, for some reason, my grandparents have a really big thing with Stephen King like Stephen King novels were always my house. Stephen King movies were really big in my house and that that just kind of, you know, opened the door. It's kind of a gateway drug into other horror movies. Like I remember the first really four or five movies. I can remember seeing when I was a kid were like, Stephen King's It the original night of living dead. Fright Night Lost Boys like a lot of vampire movies near dark. I think my dad was a big vampire film fan. But my dad was 21 when he had me and my mom was 18 So they were kind of kids raising a kid. And so yeah, that kind of kind of allowed me to be exposed to to things I probably shouldn't have been at that age but kind of you know, created this love for the darker side of storytelling that just kind of stuck with me all through, you know, my adolescence and growing up and I became like an avid movie watcher my my dad and I you know, our quality time was always spent like we had movie night every week. So, you know, that kind of really started it. And then when I, when I got ready to graduate high school and get ready to decide what I wanted to do with my life, I was like, you know, I knew I couldn't, I was a horrible student in school, I wanna say horrible, but I was just one of those students where if I if I didn't feel challenged, I just didn't pay attention, you know. And so essentially, I knew, like, if I didn't do something that I wasn't, you know, diehard passionate about, I wasn't gonna have very happy life. So I decided to kind of, you know, take the leap of faith, and I moved to LA when I was 19.

Jason Buff 5:31
Wow. Okay. So what, what was that, like, when you arrived? Was it kind of, you know, what, what was? What it was versus what your expectation was? I was very young to just pick up and move. I mean, 19

Eric England 5:43
Yeah, I mean, I'd never set foot on an airplane, like it was, it was a big culture shock at first. And it took a while to kind of get acclimated. I mean, I, I definitely went through, you know, a couple years of missing home and, and for not necessarily missing home, but just, you know, not feeling like I didn't fit in, especially, which is weird, because LA is kind of a melting pot of cultures and personalities and things like that. So, you know, I think that was really just my own insecurities. Because every everyone kind of fits in out here, you know, everyone's different. So, but essentially, you know, it just took a while, like, it was exciting, because every day when I woke up, I could feel like, okay, opportunity was within grasp, you know, like, when you first moved to LA, you kind of feel like, okay, there's so much happening around you, how do I get involved? And I think that was kind of the daunting part was, how do I get involved? You know, it's like, I knew it was happening. I knew there, you know, it's like, I could go to restaurants and see people that I admired. And I could go grab drinks with filmmakers that I loved. And, you know, sometimes I saw actors and stuff that I wanted to work with. But, you know, I was like, how do I find legitimacy and approach these people? Because, you know, the worst part was, I moved out here to go to school. So, you know, you're almost worse off being a film student than just a filmmaker, you know, so. So it was like I was, I was below a filmmaker as a film student at the time. So, you know, but but at the same time, you kind of can use that to your advantage. You know, it's like, being a film student shows that, you know, you're pursuing it in some some regard. So some people, you know, will lend you a helping hand, so to speak. So, yeah, I just started trying to network and, you know, really pound the pavement as hard as I could and get get, you know, find my way and as much as possible. Yeah, every day, it was just waking up and figuring out how to how to climb the wall, so to speak, and get inside.

Jason Buff 7:29
There was so when you first got there, you said your were you going to school? Or were you just trying to get a job doing like a PA or doing whatever.

Eric England 7:36
When I first moved here, I was going to school. So So yeah, I moved here in like June of 2007. And I started school in July. So yeah, it was it was a really quick transition. I think I was here for maybe three weeks just to kind of get acclimated and just kind of learn, you know, the routes and how to drive and all that stuff. So, you know, I had a little time to kind of pound the pavement. You know, I wasn't looking for a job immediately because I was getting ready to go to school full time. But yeah, it was it was mainly for education first,

Jason Buff 8:08
Where did you go to school?

Eric England 8:10
I went to the LA Film Store in Hollywood.

Jason Buff 8:12
Okay, okay, cool. Yeah. So talk about that a little bit going to what what were some of the key things that you learned in film school that have helped out and maybe some of the things that you learned in film school that didn't really have anything to do with actually working in the film industry?

Eric England 8:28
You know, I'd say it's more of the latter, to be honest with you, I feel I'm not a very big advocate of film school. And that's not to knock Film School at all. I just think, you know, the film business, especially when I was going to school, it was changing so rapidly. I mean, I went to film school in 2007 2008. And we were still learning on film. And we were probably one of the last, you know, classes to really focus on film. And when we weren't shooting on film, we were shooting on mini DV. So like, we weren't even really being, you know, HD was something that was reserved for, like higher level classes and things like that, you know, so it was kind of a weird space, because it's like HD was this holy grail of new technology. Yet, we were still shooting on film, you know, and it's like, it was it was bizarre. So the teachers were still trying to learn things. You know, some of my teachers were film students that have graduated a few years before us who needed jobs. So they came back to work at school, you know, my directing teachers, you know, had agents and they were trying to get jobs, so they would have to step out of class and take phone calls. And, you know, it was just a really more than anything, I would say the best thing about film school was it exposed me to Hollywood, and I tend to have a very objective personality. I never really take things for how they're presented to me. I kind of analyze them. And so I think because of that, I didn't buy everything that I was told right away, and I think that was a good thing because

Alex Ferrari 9:57
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Eric England 10:06
You know, essentially, I learned really quickly that a lot of my films, teachers, you know, were teaching us ways they would do things. And I think that's the worst way to teach film like film, or art in general, it's like, if you're a teacher, you should be nurturing the instinctive creativity that your student has, and not telling them how they should do something, but guiding them to find their own voice. And so I remember shooting, you know, film projects in film school. And almost every single thing, like we had to use the same sets, we had to use the same cameras and all that jazz. And so many of those short films ended up looking almost identical. And it was because like, the teacher was like, oh, you should do this shot, or you should do this, or you should use a dolly or, you know, and it's like, they were just influencing the students in the ways that they would themselves. So, you know, I immediately kind of tried to buck the system a little bit and do things a little differently. And, and, you know, it kind of pushed me to be my own unique voice. And I mean, especially in film school, you know, everyone becomes a, you know, a genius film critic, or, you know, they every film student gets snobby. So, it was nice for me, because I learned to get criticism very early, just because I wanted to stand out. So I think that that prepared me a little bit for when I got out of school and started making movies,

Jason Buff 11:19
You're at film school now that then you graduate, what's your kind of next step after that?

Eric England 11:26
Um, my next step was freaking out. I basically, when I got out of film school, I was like, shit, what do I do next? You know, the cameras that I had, you know, at my disposal were taken away. The equipment I had at my disposal was taken away, the collaboration I had with the other film students was taken away. You know, and, and I didn't have, I didn't have, you know, the money from like, school loans and crap like that, that I had. So it's kind of like, okay, how, you know, I now I have to find a job. But I, you know, I made a very strict promise to myself, and I'm kind of stubborn this way. But I was, like, you know, I didn't want to go work at Starbucks, I didn't want to go work at Blockbuster, or something like that. So, you know, I was, like, if I'm gonna live in LA, like, I need to be focused on making movies. So what I did was, I went back to my hometown, and for a few months, and worked at the nuclear power plant there, which is kind of a dangerous job. So it pays you a lot of money really fast. And so I, I use that money to come back out to LA and kind of live on for a while, while I was trying to make my first movie. You know, so it was nice, it's like, I was able to kind of make a lot of money really quickly, and then, you know, move, move back out to LA, and essentially pay all my rent and stuff in advance. So I didn't, I didn't really have to worry about a job. And I could focus on writing and applying to direct things and stuff like that. The the worst part about that was, you know, I was getting rejected day, you know, day in and day out from people because I didn't really have a great, you know, resume, I only had film students shorts on my, on my reel. And, you know, so I realized, like, Okay, I need to, I need to generate my own material. So I wrote tons of scripts, I wrote probably like five screenplays in a year. And, and just started, you know, hustling and trying to meet people. And eventually, that led me to, you know, meeting some producers and trying to get a movie financed, and it fell through and, and that was probably the best thing that ever happened to me was kind of that, that that ticking clock mentality that I had, which was like, Okay, I have enough money to last me X amount of months or a year or whatever. And so, it's like, I need to do something in this time. And by you know, I graduated in 2008. And by November of 2009, I had written and directed and produced and self financed and did basically everything on my first feature film, which was called the hostile encounter. And I use that as kind of like, just kind of like a, you know, a calling card, like, hey, look, I you know, I'm going to invest in myself and, and kind of show people that I can, I can, you know, make a film and ironically, we never finished that movie. You know, I kind of put it off to the side because it was my own money. It was my own investment. So I didn't have to repay anyone. But we put it off to the side because I ultimately ended up getting an offer, you know, or proposition to direct my my first real feature film Madison County, which actually got released and did pretty well. But um, but yeah, it was it was all because of hostile encounter, because I had invested in myself and and proven that I could make a make a movie and, you know, one of my buddies was like, hey, you know, if I could get some, some more money, like, would you want to make something that we could, you know, potentially try to, you know, make something on a bigger scale and that turned into Madison County.

Jason Buff 14:49
So your friend was more of a producer who was looking for a writer and director in that case,

Eric England 14:54
Actually, he was my my director of photography on hostile encounters name was Daniel Dunn and we had I met in film school. And at the time, when I directed hostile encounter, I was 21 years old. And when I made Madison County I was 22. So, um, so essentially on on hostile encounter, he graduated film school the same time I did, and he bought a bunch of equipment to kind of, you know, start renting out and shooting music videos and things like that. And I told him, I said, Look, I'll be your first client, I'll, you know, rent your equipment from you, I want to shoot my first movie, and I was like, you can come shoot it for me. So he said, great. So we have like a five person crew. I, you know, we road trip down to Arkansas, and we started shooting the movie in Arkansas and worked our way back to California. And we shot the opening of the film in California. So we shot the movie in like five different states, it was kind of a roadtrip movie. And yeah, you know, it was it was just a fun experience. And I think it kind of, you know, got the juices flowing for everyone to say, hey, what else can we do? And that excitement is, you know, infectious, like, once you get that bug, you know, it's kind of hard to shake. So Daniel immediately, it was like, you know, he watched the cut that I edited together with my editor. And he was like, really astounded by what, what, you know, what the film had become? Because I mean, you know, he was on set every day, we only shot for like, five days. But you know, he was like, wow, that little road trip that we did in five days with my camera. He's like, you turned into like a pretty competent little movie. And he's like, and we had nothing. So he was like, you know, if you if I could get like some money, would you want to try and make something a little bigger? I was like, Absolutely, if you can do it, I'll start right away. And so he knew that I had the screenplay for Madison County, because I had been talking about it and trying to get it financed and everything. So he was like, what about that movie? And I was like, absolutely. So we, we instantly started working on that and kind of put hostile encounters aside.

Jason Buff 16:44
So talk to me a little as much as you can about putting together okay, first of all hospital encounter, what are we talking about in terms of just budget? And who was your crew? And how did? How did you put all that together? I mean, even though you're saying it was kind of, you know, just like you got in the car, and you were driving, but there does have to be a certain amount of organizing to that.

Eric England 17:05
Yeah. 100% I mean, it was honestly, this the simplest organization possible, because at the time, I knew it was going to be an experiment. And that's how I wanted to treat it was an experiment. So the budget total, I gave myself $5,000. So I said, I'm going to spend $5,000 on this movie. And we only ended up spending 3500. So the budget was 3500. And, you know, most of that went to paying Daniel for his equipment and his services, and then gas money to drive down to Arkansas and back. And then, you know, whatever, whatever meals, I had to feed everyone and things like that. So, you know,

Jason Buff 17:41
Who was who was your crew? Was it just the were you he was shooting it, right?

Eric England 17:46
He was shooting it? Well, actually, it's a found footage movie kind of so. So the main character, the main character was actually filming himself for a lot of movie. And so, you know, I wrote it around a certain actor who was ace Moraira, who ended up starring and producing Madison County with us. So, so my crew was myself, Daniel, Nick Bell, and Jared, who was a good friend of mine, who helped us produce a kind of a Swiss Army Knife pa named just Jordan Mears, who helped out and then and then we had a wardrobe girl who was my girlfriend at the time and, and her family helped out my family helped out because we shot in my hometown. So it like the crew was literally like five people. But you know, we I strategically shot it in my hometown, knowing that I could get vehicles for free and houses for free and, you know, whatever resources that I needed, so we didn't spend any money on props, we didn't spend any money, like we went into, you know, locations and shot for free, while people were actually, you know, eating in the restaurants and things like that. So it, you know, stretch $1

Jason Buff 18:50
Was there any thought about you know, what you were going to do with it? Or was it just purely like, Oh, we're just going to do this for fun, we're not gonna we're just gonna do exactly what we want to and not worry about the commercial side of stuff. I mean, it was the idea. I mean,

Eric England 19:03
I think at the time, you know, we had never sold a movie. So we didn't know what the commercial side was, you know, like, we shot this kind of hoping it was going to be, you know, The Blair Witch Project are paranoid, right? This is actually before paranormal activity even came out? I think so. So we were shooting a found footage movie, which was really, really ahead of the curve at the time. So, you know, we kind of just wanted to do, just just experiment and say, Okay, let's make a movie. You know, we knew Blair which was popular, we knew Paranal activity was kind of on the rise, but it hadn't come out yet. And so, so we were like, Okay, let's go make you know, our own movie and we'll try and sell it and it was kind of just like, we knew we needed to make something that was competent. And then once we knew we had something competent, then we could figure out the what we did right and what we did wrong. So you know, it was a great learning process because I actually ended up once we got to finish cut. You know, I never went into sound design or anything like that. So we never finished the sound on the movie.

Alex Ferrari 20:00
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Eric England 20:09
But I sent the rough cut around to some companies. And, you know, it was funny because looking back on it, like I cringe because, you know, I sent it to some reputable people, and I'm sure some of them I've even interacted with now. But you know, at the time, I was just so excited to say, hey, look, I made a movie that I wanted anyone and everyone to see it, even if they hated it, I just wanted to learn. So it was kind of like, just, you know, throwing mud at the wall, seeing what's stuck. And so, so yeah, you know, we weren't, I mean, the goal was to sell it. But, you know, thankfully, I knew that I had made the investment. So you know, what, whatever financial responsibility there was, it was all on me.

Jason Buff 20:48
Right! Yeah. And that's a big thing that we we always stress, you know, or, you know, when it comes to making a film, it's good to just get out, and especially with all the cameras that are available now. I mean, it's ridiculous, that people just get out and just start shooting, you know, don't look for making, you know, a big movie, first, just get out and shoot as much as you possibly can, and don't, you know, just make all the mistakes before, you know, have everything on the line and have a whole full, you know, film crew around you and, you know, make a bunch of mistakes, then do all the mistakes, you know, cheaply. First, you know,

Eric England 21:24
Yeah, absolutely. It's funny, I, you know, I came from the school of like, you know, I like Eli Roth was a big inspiration, you know, for when I first started out, and I knew Cabin Fever was made for like, a million dollars, and I knew Reservoir Dogs was made for like, a million dollars. So like, and saw was coming out around, you know, a little before, then, and so, you know, I kept saying, like, alright, I wanted to make my first movie for like, a million dollars and do it legitimately and make it the right way. But then there was the other side of me that was like, you know, I'd read Rebel Without a crew and Robert Rodriguez. And so it was like, there was part of me that really wanted to kind of wait for that magic experience of like, oh, I wrote a great script. And it attracted some investors. And, you know, next thing, you know, I'm on the set of legitimate feature film when I'm directing. But I also knew that, you know, no one was going to give me that opportunity. And I didn't know if my writing was good. And I just, I just didn't know. So it was like, the only thing I knew how to do was do it on my own. So it was like, I kind of had no other choice. And I was very stubborn in that regard. And that stubbornness is thankfully carried me along way.

Jason Buff 22:25
Yeah, and things have changed a lot, you know, with the technology. I mean, it used to be back and, you know, I'm kind of in a different generation. So, you know, I was making, you know, independent films back in the 90s, with, like, these people who were shooting on 16 millimeter and 35 millimeter, and it was like, I mean, you couldn't do anything for, you know, I mean, you couldn't even think about making a film for, you know, less than $100,000 easily just like buying the film stock, you know, yeah, so, you know, and nowadays, it's just so easy to pop a lens, you know, even get a DSLR or something and just get out and shoot, you know, totally, yeah. Um, let me let's move on to Madison County now what what was the can you talk about how that came together and give people just a little bit of an idea of, you know, what kind of budget range you moved up to how things were different from working on the hostile encounter, and just a little bit of insight into the filmmaking process for that,

Eric England 23:24
Totally, I had written the script, based on some ideas I'd had for a while, I had actually written it before hostile encounter, I think hostile encounter was actually like my sixth or seventh screenplay that I'd written. And Madison County was actually a second in the grand scheme of things. So I had had Madison County kind of sitting around. And then when Daniel approached me about it, I actually didn't want to do Madison County, because I actually wanted a bigger budget, I wanted around $150,000 to make it and, and we ended up making the film for around like, 70,000, I think so I had to tailor the script down a little bit, I went through several several rewrites, we, you know, different investors came in at different times before Daniel, so the script had gone through several several versions, and, you know, things have changed and things had come up and gone away. So, you know, it was a great experience, because I almost went through my own, you know, kind of vacuum development process because like, I, you know, I was from the school or the train of thought of like, okay, I write a script, I don't make a movie, you know, and I wasn't really concerned about like, development or anything like that. So, you know, when I wrote the script, I was like, great, this is my movie, and you know, and I was ready to shoot it. And, you know, I had some investors approached me, and they read the script, and they knew nothing about filmmaking, but they, you know, they obviously watched movies, so they were like, I think you should change this or that and, you know, so I kind of, you know, I'm actually really thankful for that process. Because, like, you know, you can actually learn a lot from people who watch a lot of movies and aren't necessarily filmmakers because they're going to tell you what bumps you know, not ever No one knows how to read a screenplay. Not everyone knows how to visualize something in their head. But I think each and every person that read the script that potentially was bringing money to the table kind of brought something to the film that it leads me to better than my initial draft, you know, I'm still not, you know, super happy with what I wrote on the on the page. But, you know, I was young, so but it was much better than the first draft. I mean, I'd probably cry if I read the first draft now. So but, so So Daniel, Daniel said he could get like, honestly, like, 50 70,000. And, you know, but but the idea was, you know, he was like, we can't lose this money. This is my my parents money. So his parents were car dealers, and I think they've like taken out a loan for us or something like that. And so, so essentially, what happened was, we went and took the first scene of the movie, Ace murder, or the star producer, the film. Or one of the producers, he suggested, I basically, I wanted to go shoot a scene, I wanted to shoot something just for fun, just to kind of, you know, sharpen my tools, because the last thing I shot since then was hostile encounter, which was a found footage movie. So I wanted to kind of prepare myself to shoot a traditional narrative and get acclimated again, with kind of the camera and stuff like that. So in that format of storytelling, so ace actually suggested that we shoot a scene from the movie to kind of use as a promotional tool for the film. And so we went about an hour outside of LA and shot a little scene from the movie that was essentially the opening of the film kind of tailored for that environment. And, and we released it online, a couple months later, and all of the new sites and blogs picked it up. And we actually had foreign distributors contact us based off of the trailer. And they reached out to us and they said, Hey, we really like this, we'd like to make you an offer. And so basically, people were offering us money for this, you know, for this film that they hadn't even seen yet, that actually didn't even exist at this point, because this was just a fake trailer that we shot or a fake scene that we shot, you know, for, like, less than $100, I think was like, 50 bucks we spent on it, or something like that, like $95. So, um, so, you know, we use that money as almost like a verbal commitment to say, okay, great. We can, you know, we know, we can at least make this much money. Like, if these people were the only people to ever buy the movie, then we know, we can at least make that much money back. And then, you know, we were just thinking in terms of like, you know, punk rock garage band style, we're like, if we have to, we'll, we'll go door to door selling DVDs as movie ourselves to make no money back. So we kind of just, you know, reverse engineered and said, Okay, great. This is, you know, as safe as we can make this investment and, you know, started casting the movie in a way we went.

Jason Buff 27:48
Now, the people that were you said foreign distributors were interested or Yeah. Okay. Now what, what sort of things? I mean, first of all, where were they just like, overall global foreign distributors? Or were they like specific to they will say your

Eric England 28:05
It was like, it was like Germany. And I want to say a couple others actually reached out, but I mean, it was It wasn't exclusive to foreign, like, I think a couple sales agents, and maybe a couple of us distributors reached out. But yeah, essentially, we just had interest in sales, Germany, I think Germany and maybe one other country, were the only ones to actually offer up like a legitimate number and say, hey, we'll pay you this much. Before ever even seeing the film. But, um, but yeah, so we had interest in specific people who are actually willing to cut a check. And then people, you know, who were interested in representing the movie, and, you know, and essentially, you know, we got to a point where people were like, hey, we want to see the whole film and we were like, Okay, great. Well, well, we'll get back to you in a few months, you know? Yeah, that's

Jason Buff 28:46
Yeah, that's gonna be a good feeling. You know? Yeah. Yeah, it was it was exciting. Now, is that fake trailers still available somewhere?

Eric England 28:55
Yeah, absolutely.

Jason Buff 28:57
I'll ask you for a link. I'll put that in the show notes because I'd really be interested to just take a look at that. Yeah. So talk to me about the process like the difference between making Madison County versus hostile encounter and you know what, like, yeah, just details like what kind of camera you guys were using how you work with actors what the different I mean, I assume you're working with like a full on, you know, grip grip crew and you know, it was more of a professional like film set right.

Eric England 29:30
I mean, you'd want to think that you know, we we essentially had, you know, we had like soccer dads is our grip team and stuff like that, you know, we shot we shot on the we shot on the red, which was a you know, a major upgrade from what we shot hostile encounter on.

Alex Ferrari 29:51
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Eric England 30:00
So, you know, I was working with a new camera system I was not familiar with which, you know, since I was directing wasn't as big of a deal. But, you know, I was working with a professional director of photography who had done other things before. You know, so I was the youngest person on set, essentially, you know, and I was probably the most inexperienced, and, you know, and I went from managing a crew of like, five people to managing a crew of like, 25 people and, and, and a cast of like, five to seven or eight people a day, you know, so it was kind of a kind of a headfirst, you know, jump into the pool, so to speak, because, you know, I, you know, I had never done anything of that size. Like, I remember seeing the grip trucks pull up on the first day of filming, or, you know, first first day of pre production or whatever. And I was like, Whoa, you know, like, this. Is this legit, like, the biggest movie set I had been on? Like, if

Jason Buff 30:54
Somebody's making a movie around.

Eric England 30:55
Yeah, exactly. Like, this was the biggest set I'd ever been on. And the movie started shooting it. So, you know, it was it was very much an eye opening experience. And, you know, but I looking back on it, I wouldn't have traded it for anything, because it really prepared me for the do's and don'ts and, you know, kind of forced me to get get my shit together. Because, you know, I was totally, you know, I was really prepared. Like, I took my job very seriously. And I stress day in day out, I think, I think by the time we actually start rolling cameras, like I had lost like, 70 pounds, but but like, you know, it was, um, it was, you know, a really serious commitment. I took it really seriously. I was, you know, we were extremely underprepared. And you can't What? No, I'm sorry. My girlfriend's walking through. And she was like, he can't see me again. But, um, so. So, you know, it was a really big undertaking. And, you know, I was totally unprepared or I was prepared. But I think we as a crew and producers, and I think we were really underprepared in terms of like, what we do what we thought we were getting ourselves into, like, we had tons of locations, tons of actors, tons of moving parts. So it was just a really big undertaking that I think, you know, we we underestimated, but we're, you know, thankfully, we had that willingness to take on a challenge. And I think that's a lot of what filmmaking, is it just the ignorance to not be told, No, you know,

Jason Buff 32:23
What, now looking back, what are some of the things, you know, mistakes that maybe you made early on that you, you know, corrected? Or, you know, learned in your next features?

Eric England 32:32
I just sent you that promotional trailer, by the way. Okay, perfect. What was that question? Sorry?

Jason Buff 32:37
Well, I mean, what are you said, it was a bit overwhelming, you know, you were prepared. But it was still like, you know, there was somewhat of a learning curve, can you talk about, like, for people who might be going into their first big budget or, you know, higher budget than just like a little, you know, you know, backyard kind of film going up a step from that what, what sort of things they need to do to be prepared for that? What did you do as a director mentally to be able to do that? And what, what sort of things were you doing every day? And looking back kind of what what mistakes, what would you have done differently?

Eric England 33:13
Well, I mean, you know, to be honest, Madison County was still very much a backyard film. It was,

Jason Buff 33:19
You know what I mean? Yeah, for sure. Compared to the other one.

Eric England 33:22
Yeah, totally. Um, well, I mean, what I did mentally was I watched a lot of films. And I think that was ultimately, my downfall was, I got locked into a specific vision based on movies that I knew had worked, I became really paranoid about how people would perceive my film. So I didn't want to mess it up. And I think that was, you know, like I said, my biggest downfall. So I watched a lot of movies that had a similar aesthetic, that have used similar ideas and things like that. So you know, I almost tried to carve and copy those, but do it my own way. And I looking back, I wish I would have just done what I wanted. Because, you know, I was imitating them in the hopes that I would have success like them, essentially. And I think that was a, you know, the wrong choice. But because of that, I was really prepared. Like I, you know, I knew exactly how I wanted to shoot it. I knew, you know, I knew how to execute it. I just think the sights I had set my execution at were lower than what they should have been, I guess, the best way to put it. So it's like, I achieved what I set out to do. I just didn't, I didn't set my achievement bar, the right level. And so you know, but to a degree, it's like, there was a victory in that because it proved to me that I could do what I set out to do, and then I could I could pull off what I said I could pull off, you know, and so, you know, tons of research, tons of rehearsal, tons of, you know, getting to know my cast and crew and just, you know, learning to be a leader kind of, by default, you know, it's like like I said, I'd never been in control that many people so I naturally just kind of had to learn how to take the reins. We didn't have it. True first ad so I was running the set, you know, and I was scheduling the film and, you know, everything, essentially, the responsibilities fell heavily on me being a director, but not only a director, I was also one of the producers. So, you know, we were some young producers that had never made a movie of this sighs before. So we were all learning as we were filming. So, you know, it's really hard to say what we did right and what we did wrong, because we were basically just surviving. I felt like the whole time we were kind of like, drowning, but keeping our head above water.

Jason Buff 35:32
Yeah, that sounds you know, familiar. I mean, so many other directors that I've talked to have really, you know, even at, you know, much higher levels. It's always kind of chaotic, you know? Yeah, absolutely. So talk about from what what ended up in Did you ended up ended up like having the distribution and things that you were looking for at the end of that, did you make the deals? I mean, talk about what happened to the film after you made it?

Eric England 35:59
Yeah. So after we made it, we like I said, we reached out to a lot of those same people who had reached out to us and we started cutting a trailer immediately, we got very fortunate, and were able to get one of the best trailer editors in Hollywood to kind of cut a trailer for us, you know, as a huge favor to one of the people on our film. So we had a great trailer, and we started shopping it around. And, you know, we made a lot of first time mistake, we show people the movie way before it was ready. We submitted to festivals that were way out of our league. But ultimately, we got the film into screamfest, which is, you know, where paranormal activity was discovered. And, you know, we had distributors contact us from there. And, you know, I was able to get a manager, which, which was helpful in terms of getting the film out about, but yeah, we kind of did took a similar approach to what we did with a hostile encounter. And we just kind of showed it to anyone that was willing to watch it, and, you know, try to learn from it. But the best thing that ever happened was, you know, we didn't, we didn't use a domestic sales rep, to sell the movie, because we really wanted to kind of go through that experience on our own, and, and kind of learn to look over our own contracts and see what would happen and see where we would succeed and fail and things like that. So once again, we took a very, you know, dive in headfirst type of approach to the whole process.

Jason Buff 37:24
Was there any kind of idea about building social media that still kind of before social media or social, you know, building a social, like having Facebook pages and stuff like that? That was kind of before that, right?

Eric England 37:40
I'm not really I mean, it was 2011. So I mean, okay, yeah, yeah. So it was around that time, but um, you know, the best thing that I think we had to our to our, you know, availability was ace Marrero, who, you know, was an actor, so he was used to promoting himself. And you know, as a young actor in Hollywood, like, you kind of have to be your biggest PR person and biggest cheerleader and champion. So Eastwood really taught us to do that, for the film. So, you know, we, we had a huge, huge fan base. For the movie before the movie was even finished. Like we had people buying T shirts from us, we had people buying posters. So we almost tried to turn it into an event, you know, just hey, come be part of this experience with us, like we're learning, like, we took a very like people's filmmaker mentality, because you know, and that's something that I try to continue now is like, I, I like, for my experiences to be kind of an open book and let people know, like, Hey, this is reality of it. And we kind of did that with Madison County, because because we shot in my home state of Arkansas, it was very much a, you know, a family type of environment. And, you know, we tried to we were on the local news, and we tried to keep everyone involved and make it just a fun experience for everyone. And that kind of translated into the distribution and people talking about it and sharing things. So social media was probably one of the biggest advocates we had in our corner.

Jason Buff 39:05
Okay, yeah, I mean, because that's one of the things we always, you know, talk about is how to, you know, this idea that you're going to make your film and go to a film festival, and all of a sudden, everybody will know about your film, it's like, you know, is, you're going to run into problems with that, because it's, it's much easier to start building up a following as you're making your film and even showing kind of behind the scenes and what's going on, so that once your film is done, you've already kind of built up that anticipation.

Eric England 39:34
Yeah. 100% I'm actually not a massive, massive fan, especially in the genre world of North American film festivals, because it's at least on the like the top tier side in like South by Southwest and things like that, because it's such a incestuous and fraternal type mentality, you know, they bring back a lot of filmmakers, films, who've had movies there in the past and things like that.

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Eric England 40:09
So, you know, like contracted, for instance, you know, contract, it was one of the most successful films of that year. And we didn't play one major festival here in America, you know, it was, it was because like, people didn't know who or who or, you know, who I was, they didn't know who our stars were, and things like that. And it's like, festivals used to be about finding and discovering new talent, but now it's really about attracting big stars and bringing back people that they enjoy drinking with at the festival, you know, previous years. So it's not really as much about how good your movie is, as much as it is about how well the the jury or the, you know, the programmers like your movie. So you know it, they become kind of a gatekeeper in a way and I don't like that mentality. So I'm actually a big fan of, you know, using the internet using the audience like I don't, I no longer worry about what festivals will think about my films, or what critics will think about my films, like I make movies for audiences now. Because it's like the ultimately those are the people who have to pay to see your movie. And those are the people who are going to keep you in business and keep food on your table. But also, those are the people who are going to be with you through through the thick and thin of it, like if you support them, they're going to support you. And it's like, I want to give them good material. Because ultimately, no offense, you know, there are tons of critics that I love, but it's like critics ultimately see my movies for free. So they're just judging it based on the artistic merit. And that's to happen, and that's fine. But, you know, at the end of the day, I have to make movies and continue making movies if I want to live. So you know, my job is to please the people who are ultimately supporting me, you know?

Jason Buff 41:39
So, I mean, what is your main way of, you know, connecting with an audience on social media? Do you have kind of a plan? I mean, are you just like, getting on Twitter and Facebook? Or what? What does that? What does that look like? Yeah,

Eric England 41:53
I mean, it's a lot of it's through Twitter, and Facebook, and things like that, like I, I'm a big fan of interacting with my audience, like when contract came out, you know, the reviews were extremely polarizing people either love the film, or they hated it. And it's funny, because people who hated the movie still talked about it. And, and because of that, the word of mouth was great. And, you know, so So I would go on Twitter, and I would just talk to people who were talking about the movie, and some of the biggest supporters I have now, or people who ultimately were talking shit about my movie when it first came out, you know. And, and, and, you know, and it's fine, because like, you know, living in Hollywood, like I have tons of filmmaker friends that I don't necessarily love all their movies, but I don't judge them based on what their movies are, like, I judge them based on who they are as people, you know. And for me, like, that's ultimately what I like. And I think I've been kind of in tune with that since the very beginning. Because even even as a young filmmaker, before I ever even touch the camera, for the first time, I was watching behind the scenes on DVDs and things like that, because I wanted to know who these filmmakers were. And sometimes I wouldn't really like a movie, and but I would watch the behind the scenes, or I would listen to the commentary. And I would fall in love with the filmmaker because of their passion and their enthusiasm. And it would make me respect the movie that much more. So it's like, I am a firm believer in you know, you can judge the art based on its own merit. And that's totally fine. Like, that's what art is about. But I do believe that art, in general is a bigger medium. And it's not just about what it is. It's about the stories behind it. It's about the people who make it and everything that goes into it. It's not just this one, you know, nebulous thing.

Jason Buff 43:28
Right! You guys film like behind the scenes footage and stuff like that to be released.

Eric England 43:34
Totally. Yeah, I tried to do that on every film. Some movies, we've had more footage and others like on get the girl I think we had a guy there my latest, don't get the girl, I think we had a guy there like, you know, almost every day and then uncontracted We didn't have the money to do it. So we basically just had, you know, my producer, Matt Mercer was doing it whenever he could. And it's funny because Matt Mercer actually, you know, he was an actor and Madison County, and he filmed some little behind the scenes stuff that I think is on YouTube now. But, you know, he did his own little behind the scenes documentary, just as an actor from his perspective. So it's always cool, especially now with cell phones and cameras, so accessible, it's like, actors can kind of make their own little documentaries and things like that about their experiences on set. And, you know, the more I make movies, the more I'm going to try and do my own kind of director perspective. And, you know, hopefully, one day it'll get as detailed as, you know, maybe someone following me around with the camera, because, you know, that's the type of stuff that I really enjoyed as a young filmmaker. And, you know, I wanted to see as much as possible is like, how, how the life is of a working filmmaker from day to day, and that's, you know, that's a fascinating lifestyle, because it's so up and down. And there's so many challenges and I think as a young filmmaker, the best thing you can do is be prepared for it.

Jason Buff 44:48
Alright, I'm gonna put you on the spot here for a second. Yeah, what what would you say? Is because I'm totally in agreement with you about like commentaries and stuff like that. What is What are you like your favorite DVD? commentaries that you've ever heard.

Eric England 45:03
I don't know if I have too many, like commentaries,

Jason Buff 45:06
Or behind the scenes or whatever.

Eric England 45:08
Yeah, behind the scenes. I have a ton. I actually really really like the four hour documentary on Rob, Zombie's Halloween Have you ever seen that?

Jason Buff 45:17
No, I had that's one of the few

Eric England 45:19
Yeah, it's It's incredible because and this isn't necessarily based on like, I don't know, I don't absolutely love that movie. But I love how in depth the documentary is like it literally starts from him in pre production like it shows him doing camera tests and shows him doing acting, you know, auditions, it shows him like, it shows the wardrobe person bringing him different options, and him doing sketches and location scouts, all the way up until like the last day of filming. And it's literally for like four and a half hours long. And, and it's like just one of the most immersive you know, detailed raw experiences I've ever seen, captured, you know, in a behind the scenes, and I'm trying to think of some other good ones. There's a few that stand out really heavily. That's always kind of one of my big go twos, just because of how thorough it is. I really enjoyed you know, Eli ROS hostile he did a pretty detailed one on hostile and cabin fever. I'm trying to think, Gosh, I'd have to go through and like look at my DVD collection. But you know, whenever someone asks me about it, usually Rob Zombie's Halloween Oh, Devil's rejects is one for Devil's rejects was really good to have you seen that one?

Jason Buff 46:34
No, I've seen the movie. I haven't seen the behind the scenes.

Eric England 46:37
Yeah, it's like a two two hour documentary on the making of Devil's rejects. And, you know, it's once again, it's everything from like table reads to you know, I think even all the way into editing. So, you know, for me, it's like, as much as you can get, you know, in the in the nitty gritty process of it all. That's, that's the stuff that excites me. Right.

Jason Buff 47:01
Have you seen lost in La Mancha?

Eric England 47:03
Yes, I love it.

Jason Buff 47:06
I did an interview the other day with a producer. And he was like, you know, I don't get that documentary. Because, you know, you see all the stuff that goes wrong on that set that goes wrong on every set. Like that's every film, you know, yeah. Yeah. It's like, just get used to everything going wrong. And you know, he's like, I don't know why the film never got made, because that that wouldn't have kept anybody from, you know, stopping anyway. Moving along. So after Madison County, what happened from there? Let's follow the story.

Eric England 47:36
After Madison County within, within you, we shot the movie in October 2010 or September to October 2010. By March 2011. We had our trailer released and we had our trailer cut probably before the end of the year 2010. So we started showing early cuts of the trailer almost immediately. And so we had people asking us what are you doing next? Are you doing a sequel to Madison County and this was before the movie was even finished. So people were already considering it a success. Which was nice and very presumptuous. But, but very premature, but um, you know, people were like, hey, what do you want to do next. And I knew immediately I didn't want to do another like straightforward horror movie, kind of like Madison County. So I started writing this screenplay called roadside, and we actually started shooting, we, you know, we finished Madison County shooting wise, October 2010. And March 2011, we were flying to Virginia to shoot roadside. So, you know, we found private investors again, you know, who wanted to get into the movie business. And, you know, we convinced them to give us a financing based on, you know, all the news articles and all the press and success that we had had with Madison County, we showed him we said look like we already had people offering to buy the movie. And, you know, it's like, we're pretty confident that we're going to at least make our money back if not see a decent profit on Madison County. So we kind of parlayed that into roadside and roadside was probably the messiest production in my life. Because, you know, we were just so on cloud nine for Madison County that I think we really underestimated the process of roadside because it was essentially, you know, a very contained Hitchcockian thriller, and, you know, we shot the movie entirely at nighttime, where Madison County was entirely a day like we just wanted to do something really, really different. And, you know, we kind of didn't realize that we were still learning and we kind of had this mentality of like, Oh, we've done this before, so we weren't prepared for the new challenges that lay in front of us and that was the first time you know, it clicked to me. I'm like, just going out to make a movie. It's it's brand new every time you do it, you know so, so that production was a nightmare we were under scheduled under understaffed under Finance. So

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Eric England 50:10
It was just a big, big hurdle. It was the worst shoot in my life. I still, you know, I probably lost hair on that shoot. But, you know, it was just the biggest pain in the ass. And I remember flying home, just relieved that it was over and nervous as hell that we didn't make a good movie. And, and, you know, thankfully, when we got into the editing room, like, you know, we had most of the pieces that we needed, like I didn't, I didn't get to direct the movie the way I wanted to. And I regret that immensely. But, but I think it was one of those things where it's like, there's really not much I can do once again, even more. So like this was another one just struggling to keep our head above water. But it was it was worse because we were just underprepared. You know, like we kind of were like, Okay, we did really well, in Madison County, we had, you know, 20 locations, we had 30 characters. And with roadside, we're going to have three locations and five characters, we this is going to be a walk in the park and it absolutely wasn't, you know, so it was just kind of, you know, we were defeated before we went in, but thankfully, we still pull out a very, very competent film.

Jason Buff 51:15
Now, you had said something about doing that with I mean, getting starting to shoot that before Madison County it even really gone into distribution, right?

Eric England 51:25
Yeah, Madison County actually hadn't even finished post production. So our editor was actually still working on editing Madison County while we're filming roadside.

Jason Buff 51:34
So did it end up having the success that you thought it was gonna have?

Eric England 51:38
Did Madison County? Yeah, I don't think I don't think it had, I think it had a better success than than what it should have. And I think I don't think it reached our expectations. But our expectations were extremely high. But I mean, we, you know, we, you know, my first movie right out of the gate premiered at the Chinese Theatre, at one of the biggest genre festivals in North America, actually the biggest genre festival in North America. And, and, you know, and I was in there with, like, you know, Ty West had a movie there that year. And, you know, it was just a huge, huge turnout, we were the only movie to sell out. They gave us an encore screening, we got distribution, the movie came out in May of 2012. And it was, it was decently received. Like, it didn't it didn't, you know, critics didn't, you know, you know, praise it, and they didn't hate it, it was just very middle of the road. But um, you know, but I think the movie ended up having a success of its own, which was, you know, good enough for us like it was our first foot in the door.

Jason Buff 52:40
Right! The distribution. So I get a lot into the nuts and bolts. So yeah. The distribution deal that you made was that what what kind of a contract was that? Or mean? Just what was that for? Like, for World distribution? Was it for DVDs? How did that all come together? Was there any sort of like, talk of video on demand, or, you know, things like iTunes and Vudu and stuff like that? Or just to give us a little bit of a inside look into that part?

Eric England 53:13
Yeah, for sure. It was, it was a pretty straightforward contract, like we had people approached us about doing a limited theatrical run. But their minimum guarantees, which are the money they're going to pay for the movie upfront, weren't as high. So we ended up going with a company that had a little bit of a bigger reputation than some of the others and you know, had movies that we had seen on shelves and Walmart and things like that. So we took that deal. It was a it was a straight to DVD contract. So the movie went into red box and things like that. The company wasn't really a VOD focused company, they this was still like, the last year that physical media was still pretty relevant. But, but, you know, so the movie, went to Walmart and got released on DVD and actually made most of its money on DVD, if I remember correctly, but, um, but yeah, so I mean, the contract is pretty straightforward. Nothing, nothing fancy in terms of promotion, or release or anything like that. It was it was very standard, and we got the movie on shelves, and we got a really solid amount of exposure into the marketplace. So, you know, we were happy with that. We were happy that people could go to stores and buy our movie and that, you know, that that kind of gave us a pretty good chunk of legitimacy.

Jason Buff 54:29
So who owns the movie, though? That's the question. I always have. Like, if you the distribution company has the right to distribute it for for how long? I want to say it's like 15 years. Okay. And then after that you retain the owner, like the producers retain the ownership.

Eric England 54:45
Yeah, the producer retains the ownership. I actually own the property so I can do sequels and stuff. No one else can do sequels, or remake or anything like that. But that one movie is owned by the producer and the distributor owns the rights to You exploited for Yeah, I believe up to like 15 years.

Jason Buff 55:03
So you get to retain the rights because you have the copyright from the script, or how's that? How do you,

Eric England 55:09
I basically put it into my deal like because it was such a low budget film, and I literally took no money like not not just like, oh, a couple pennies here and there, like I literally took nothing. So I basically was like, Look, you know, if we're going to make this movie, I want to own the quote unquote, franchise potential of it. So like, if someone wants to make a sequel, I'll get paid for that one. You know, so, so that that was kind of the idea was like, if someone ever wants to come along and remake it, or do a sequel or something like that, like, I will, I will own that because I created the first one. But the producer actually owns that that particular film. So, you know, he, if he wants to rerelease it after 15 years, or if he wants to license it to someone else, or, you know, someone comes along and they're like, we want to, you know, do a retro screening or something like that, like they have to go to him.

Jason Buff 55:59
Okay. So you can can you do action figures? Yeah. Okay. That's the big one. You know, just learn from George Lucas. Always, always keep the action figure rights. Yeah, totally. So Okay, moving on from there, from roadside when the next film was contracted? Or was there something between there? I was contracted? Yeah. Okay. So that's, I want to focus on that for a bit. Can you talk about how that came about? And, you know, where the screenplay came from? How producers got involved, just how it all kind of comes together?

Eric England 56:35
Totally. Yeah, it was, you know, I was kind of frustrated with the whole business side of everything, because like, with Madison County, the movie was exploited. It's kind of like a slasher movie. And, you know, the, the idea of the film wasn't really to do it as a slasher movie, like, I tried to do something that was a little different. And so you know, but they kept focusing on the serial killer in the movie, because it was kind of this iconic imagery that they were able to mass exploit and just grab people's attention, which I you know, I knew nothing about how they marketed films in that way. So it was a very eye opening and learning experience. And then when we went to do roadside roadsides, this very tense, story driven character movie, and there was no, you know, iconic imagery in the film, they could really sell the movie, no serial killer, no, you know, nothing for them to exploit essentially no famous actors. So we were having trouble selling roadside, because everyone was like, Look, we like your movie, but we don't know how to sell it. And so I'm fed up with that. I was like, okay, you know, what I really, I really want to do a movie that is just totally hits the point for the market, maybe this will get into a festival because like, up until that point, you know, we got rejected from almost every festival with the first two movies. And so I was like, you know, I'm going to really aim high for festivals and markets and just try to do something really, really different again, but something that felt more in line with the stuff that I saw having success in the genre. And, and, and so and also, something is really important to point out is like with Madison county of roadside, I was making movies because I could, you know, like people were saying, Hey, we have money, what do you what do you want to make that works in this world. And I wasn't telling stories that I necessarily felt needed to be told. So like, we you know, we shot at my grandpa's farm for Madison County, because I had an idea that based around his farm, and then with roadside, you know, I had an idea because I knew we could shoot the movie because we could get a car and we could do this. So it was like, kind of like what can we make with what we have, you know, I'm saying and so with, with contract it, it was the first time I'd ever written a story not thinking about, like, Okay, I know, this is the one element that I can exploit. And I'll write a story around it, you know, so I wrote I wrote the movie just based on you know, the, the initial idea which was, you know, a girl has a one night stand and can tracks what she thinks is an STD. And so, you know, I was like, that's a really cool idea. I should write that story. So I, I kind of, you know, plotted out the story, and I initially wanted to shoot it overseas, because I wanted it to happen in a country where, you know, where she the girl didn't speak the language and didn't, you know, just had trouble realizing everything that was happening to her. So, what happened was the producers came to me and said, hey, you know, we want to make a movie. This was their first film. And they were like, we have financing. We can Greenlight it immediately, but we just need to find someone who can make a movie and make something good and they had heard of Madison County they had seen it I think they even went to the premiere I'm not sure but you know, I showed them roadside and they loved it. They were like wow, this is really really good. So they they saw that I had versatility and they they greenlit the movie right there just on a handshake. Like I had no script, no anything. I was just like, Look, you guys are gonna write a check. And it was my smallest movie to date. It was, you know, they had $50,000 And I think we ended up spending like 45 to Make the entire film. So

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Eric England 1:00:12
So, you know, it was kind of like I used it as almost a once again kind of experiment to kind of go back to my my grass roots style of filmmaking, but I was going to change one crucial thing. And that was I wasn't going to write a story just because I had elements in place already. I was just going to write the story based on what I thought the story should be. And then, and then figure out how to execute it based on the elements I had. So it was it was a completely new style of filmmaking for me. And, you know, thankfully, it worked out.

Jason Buff 1:00:43
It was mostly handheld, right?

Eric England 1:00:46
Yeah, the whole movies handheld except for like, maybe two or three shots.

Jason Buff 1:00:49
Okay, does that change? How you approach it? I mean, since you're not thinking in terms of, you know, a camera's like, slowly doing a pan or, you know, do you just film it more kind of? Guerilla style documentary style?

Eric England 1:01:05
A little bit. Yeah, I mean, Madison County was very handheld but with contracted I think it was the first time I approached I'd approach the movie with kind of the aesthetic in mind for the character with with Madison County. I approached it like okay, these other movies did handheld I should do handheld. Or the these other movies did a dolly here, I'll do a dolly here, you know. So, with contracted it was the first time I was like, you know, I wanted the movie to feel intimate because the character's story was so intimate. So I was it was really one of the first times I was thinking like, Okay, what should I do? As a director like, in a lot of ways I consider contracted my first real movie, because it was the first time I started thinking, like a filmmaker and thought story first, instead of okay, what what do I need to do to make sure I don't mess this up? You know, so I, you know, my first two movies, I was thinking very heavily as a producer. And so, so we've contracted Yeah, I approached everything from from an emotional or, and, or a narrative standpoint. So, you know, and the, the handheld aesthetic was based on the story, and both of those were based on the budget. So I kind of reverse engineered it knowing that, you know, I didn't need any big crane shots, or dolly shots or anything like that, because I was going to tell a very intimate story that didn't need a lot of fancy, you know, fancy bells and whistles.

Jason Buff 1:02:20
Right. Can you talk a little bit about your process for screenwriting?

Eric England 1:02:27
Yeah. I mean, my I, you know, I don't consider myself that great of a writer. So I always hate talking about it. But

Jason Buff 1:02:34
Actually, a lot of the people that I talked to say the, you know, filmmakers who have made really good movies that, you know, will always tell you, Oh, but I'm not a writer, you know, but it's like, well, you know, you might not be comfortable with it, but screenwriting is a lot more about, you know, telling a visual story than it is about being necessarily the greatest writer in the world. But if you can tell your story, visually, you know, it goes a lot further.

Eric England 1:03:00
Totally. And I mean, you know, it's, it's weird for me to talk about writing because like, I never, like I said, I don't consider myself much of a writer. I write by necessity, like I write because I need things to direct. Um, so, you know, when I write a screenplay, I know that I'm not writing it for like, you know, a studio head or something like that. Like I've never I've never entered into a competition or anything like that. So I read my screenplays, you know, my screenplay, my screenplays read like any other screenplay, like I my formula and my, my structure and everything like that is, you know, very traditional, but But it's like my screenplays are, you know, essentially what, what they're supposed to be their blueprints for, for my movie, you know, so it's like, I don't necessarily write in shots. Like I have some friends who are very just director driven, you know, and they write like a director. I don't necessarily write like a director, but you know, I definitely, I write very simply, like, I'm a very efficient writer. So I, what I do my my process, for lack of better terms is like I let the story kind of marinate in my head for you know, a few days or a week or however long it takes. Sometimes it takes months, sometimes it takes weeks, sometimes it takes a year. It really just depends on how well I grasp that story and that concept. And then eventually, it kind of reaches a boiling point where you know, I don't write down you know, I'll write down like the initial idea, so I don't forget it. And then I'll just kind of let it stew like I don't really write much after that, like I'll just kind of keep this little notepad or journal, and I'll keep that logline or that idea or the chicken scratch, you know, I wrote down to begin with, and then eventually, the, all the ideas I have just kind of boil over and I start writing them down in like almost bullet point form, and they're not always necessarily in in chronological order. So it's just kind of the thoughts that generate my head. Sometimes they're seeing ideas, sometimes they are dialogue, sometimes they're characters, sometimes they're, you know, whatever. And then I kind of just do that for you know, however long it takes usually it's like a few days or a week. And then eventually I feel like I have a good enough grasp on the story. And I'll start writing. So like, you know, I wrote contracted in like three weeks the first draft. So, you know, it's like I, I knew the story really well, I kind of marinated on it really quickly. And you know, I get really excited when I know like, I don't I don't have a lot of, you know, spec screenplays that I've written laying around. If I if I have any spec screenplays laying around, it's because I wrote a script for a movie that just ultimately, the financing fell through, you know, because like, I've never written a screenplay and said, Hey, here's, you know, except for Madison County, really, you know, that was the first time I ever said, Hey, I have this script. But every other time roadside contract it even even my, my newest film, get the girl, it's like, I have the producers commit to the movie. And so yeah, we're gonna, you know, they almost pay me to write the script, because I know we're going to make the movie, like, I want to know what this movie is getting made. Or else, there's no point in me writing a script, in my opinion, especially had a low budget level, because things change so much. So, you know, if I write a script, you know, for one producer and a certain budget level, and let's say the movie doesn't get financed, and then that script is just sitting there and another producer comes along, it's like, the circumstances may have changed. And then I have to go back and rewrite, restructure and do all that stuff. So it's like, I'd rather just wait until the movies ready to be made, you know, so that's just my, my personal mentality. But, um, up until recently, like, just just this year, actually, I wrote my first, you know, I got hired to write a screenplay, you know, that I'm ultimately going to direct but it was the first time that, you know, it was going to bigger producers and studios and, you know, things like that. So that was kind of a new process for me. But you know, I treated the process the exact same way as I did with all my other ones, like the producers came to me, I pitched them an idea, they liked it. And they said, Yeah, we're gonna pay you to write it. And I wrote it, and, you know, and marinated on it, and it took me like, I want to say, maybe, maybe a month, month and a half to finish the entire screenplay. And, you know, we went through, I want to say, maybe five drafts or something like that, and, you know, send it off for feedback, and the feedback is coming back. Great. So, you know, I'm getting a little more confident my writing, but yeah, it's like, my, my process is very much, you know, just what works for me, because I don't know how to do it any other way, you know?

Jason Buff 1:07:23
Alright, are there any? Where did you learn screenwriting? Is there any resource that you can point people to?

Eric England 1:07:31
Um, I don't know how I learned I actually.

Jason Buff 1:07:34
I mean, that's what I'm saying is it's kind of holding my head one day and I was

Eric England 1:07:37
Yeah, it's kind of a Learn, learn trial by error kind of thing. Like as

Jason Buff 1:07:41
Did you read a lot of screenplays when you were in film school?

Eric England 1:07:43
I did. That's actually what I was about to say is I've I've actually read a lot of screenplays. And I actually had a screenwriting teacher who's written some books on you know, screenwriting, and she, you know, she she's had some success in coaching screenwriters and things like that. And she actually gave me the biggest, biggest piece of advice I've ever gotten. And it still resonates with me to this day. But we were in class one day, and pitching ideas and learning learning to take notes and learning to get criticism and learning to develop ideas. And I would always throw out the most bizarre ideas in her classroom. And she would tell me, she would say, You're a brilliant screenwriter, but you don't know why. And I didn't, I didn't know. I didn't know what that meant. But now I now that I've kind of come to terms and kind of come into my own as a filmmaker, I finally get what she means. And she meant that I have a very unique voice, I have a very unique perspective on the world. And I tell you know, pretty unique stories, especially now now if you're contracted, but you know, I tell unique stories, but for the longest time, I didn't know why I told them and I didn't know why I wanted to tell them I just I wanted I wanted to get them out. And finally I've kind of learned the discipline that I lacked when she first told me that I think it's really been, you know, a very helpful thing to me. But you know, those words really stuck with me because it at least validated me to know that I had something inherently you know, positive about my work and I had a natural ability or talent or whatever you want to call it, but I just needed to learn how to harness it. I think I finally reached that point. So thank you to her.

Jason Buff 1:09:16
You don't remember her name?

Eric England 1:09:21
Yeah, no, I do. I just didn't know.

Jason Buff 1:09:24
Okay, no, I'm sure that that praise would be something she would you know, absolutely, ironically. I mean, if you're if you want to talk you know, smack about a teacher they're probably not gonna want yeah,

Eric England 1:09:36
No, no. No, she she was great. She you know, it's funny because like I said, I didn't really fancy myself a screenwriter, but I love my screenwriting teachers in film school, and she was one of my favorites. And ironically, it kind of came full circle while I was filming, get the girl. We were shooting at the parking garage in my old film school because I needed a parking garage and she actually came and visited me on set.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:59
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Eric England 1:10:08
You know, she was like I heard, she was like, I heard someone was shooting a movie here. And she was like, and then someone told me it was you. And I just had to come by and say hello. So it was really kind of cool for, you know, my old screenwriting teacher to come see me on the set of my latest movie. It was really, really cool. Yeah.

Jason Buff 1:10:25
Okay, so walk us through the process making contracted, if you can give us a little bit of, you know, a behind the scenes of how that was working with your actors. And, and, you know, one thing that's interesting to me is knowing kind of in a 24 hour period, what is that? Like? Okay, you wake up, you have maybe some coffee? You know, you go to the set, what are you doing while you're filming? I mean, are you just like constantly 24 hours a day focused on? I mean, are you generating new ideas, thinking about how you're going to shoot the scene the next day? What is the mindset that you're in while you're shooting? And how long did that? How long was the shoot, by the way?

Eric England 1:11:05
Contracted was shot in 15 days, so three, five day weeks, the process actually contract, it was probably the smoothest shoot I've ever had. And I think it was simply because we didn't have a lot. And we knew we didn't have a lot. So there was really nothing to stress about, you know, it's like we plan very efficiently. It was my third feature film. So I was really, really well prepared for what the challenges were going to be we shot in Los Angeles, we use a lot of people's locations that we knew we could get for free. So people's apartments, people's houses, things like that, um, you know, a lot of my friends are in the movie. So contracted once again, was kind of going back to like, my backyard roots, like it felt very much like a home movie. But just with a bigger, bigger story, you know, like, where's Madison County and roadside were backyard movies, you know, filmed in the backyard with like, very humble roots, and kind of like, you know, we treated those movies with baby hands. Because like, we didn't really know what we were doing. And we were making movies because like, Oh, my parents can get a car. My grandpa is a farm. Like, we just were making movies around the elements we had with contract it, we treated it like a real movie. It's like, okay, let's, let's go for broke here, you know, like, let's really go for it. And so, um, you know, I think that mentality changed everything, and made us really strive to make something unique, original and different, exciting. And, you know, every day was kind of, kind of a challenge, because, you know, my lead actress was in makeup almost every day, we didn't have a lot of time to shoot, we didn't have, you know, uh, you know, our actors were extremely great. The casting process was phenomenal. So we had great actors. So it just felt like a family, like my lead actress, and I really clicked, you know, my other co stars, and I really clicked a lot of them were my friends. And a lot of the crew, you know, I thankfully, I was able to kind of cherry pick the great crew members from Madison County and roadside to come along with me to film contracted. And that shorthand really helps a lot like my, you know, my sound guy knows where I'm going to shoot the shot. So he knows where, you know, where he should put the microphones, and, you know, just it really, really helps. So it was a great, great shoot really smooth. And, you know, every day was just kind of like, you know, I show up to set with with my shot ideas, my shot list. And then I see, you know, the scariest thing about shooting low budget films is sometimes you show up on set, and you're seeing location for the first time. So like, you know, I had ideas of shots that I wanted to do, but I didn't know if they were if they were possible. So you know, especially when you're shooting handheld, you can really adapt to your scene, you can really adapt to what your actors are going to do, you can adapt to your environment. So it made it really flexible, which I think really helped the film. And we kind of approach the entire movie, like we had a great plan, but we were very adaptable.

Jason Buff 1:13:46
So you hadn't seen some of the locations before. You didn't do like a location scout for each place that you shot or

Eric England 1:13:53
We did for the key locations like the the actual the house party at the very beginning of the film, and the end like Alice's house was that actress his house analysts like so I wrote. I mean, I'm not joking when I say it was a backyard movie. You know, I wrote the role for her. I knew she had a house. I knew she'd let us use it. And, you know, I had been to our house a million times. And then, you know, the the cafe and the bars that we shot at were places that my girlfriend worked at, you know, or the lead actor worked at and I had been to a million times and you know, so he was just riding around things we knew we could get that also worked for the store and we weren't forcing them into the movie, you know? And then But places like you know, the doctor's office I'd never seen before the the morgue, you know was shot on a soundstage. I'd never been to that place before. I'm trying to think if there any others. I think that was actually it, but But yeah, a lot of those places I had never seen before.

Jason Buff 1:14:53
Now the makeup for the movie was incredible. Did you get to did you I assume you didn't shoot everything kind of in the correct order. I mean, would you shoot one location? And do you know the makeup how she was normal than the gradual change? Every time you would shoot that location? Or did you try to shoot relatively in order

Eric England 1:15:15
We try, we that was kind of the nightmare, the shoot was the makeup because like we shot based on location, so like, we spent the first week of shooting at the house location for her and her mother. So like, you know, at the beginning of the movie, she's fine. And then towards the end of the film, she's like rotting away. So like, we would have to shoot certain, you know, makeup scenes in progression, and then go back. So like, the very last scene, the movie with a car crash actually takes place in front of the location where she goes to buy drugs, like midway through the movie, so we actually just shoot the ending of the film at the beginning of the day, and then take off the makeup and then reapply it to shoot a scene in the middle of the movie. So like that was kind of we shot but based on location, so that kind of, you know, forced our hand in which makeup scenarios were which but you know, and that that was kind of a pain in the ass just because it took so long. And we had a very, you know, minimal makeup crew, because we just didn't have a lot of money. So, you know, we were really kind of tied down to the makeup schedule, unfortunately. But we were able to kind of shoot around it or make it work. And, you know, my makeup artists and I was really involved with the makeup like I was very detailed in the screenplay. And we broke it down into three phases. We said, Okay, this is phase one, this is phase two, this is phase three. So we were able to kind of have a little bit of a shorthand, knowing where she needed to be with her makeup and kind of, you know, okay, this came after that we kept really good continuity photos, so we kind of knew what she looked like and things like that. So. So yeah, it was pretty regimented.

Jason Buff 1:16:47
Yeah, the thing with the eyes, I think, was the thing that really kind of was just like, shocking to me, you know, because like, she would walk around with their glasses on and then people would want to see her eyes. And that just kind of, you know, just having the red eye. It's just Yeah, freaky to me, you know?

Eric England 1:17:04
Yeah, it was once again, one of those simple, simple tricks and becomes really effective.

Jason Buff 1:17:09
Yeah. Well, you know, we, we've been talking a lot with other filmmakers about kind of body horror, and the concept of having a story that kind of got one foot in reality and one foot in, you know, fiction, which is that there is something very real about what she's going through, you know, it's like you identify with, okay, it's like, she's deteriorating, and there's some, like, kind of horrific science fiction side of that, but at the same time, it's told within the context of this is a real, you know, this kind of connects with something that people deal with in real life, you know? Yeah, totally. I mean, yeah. Okay. Like, I mean, I was talking to Adam Roboto, the other day, and he did The Taking of Deborah Logan. Yeah, I know, Adam, great guy. Yeah. And so it was like, the, the thing that I think connects and they connect in similar ways, you know, which is that you connect with the, the lead character immediately, because it it's based, you know, on something that's real, but it's also, you know, horror, you know, it's also like the science science fiction side of it.

Eric England 1:18:17
Yeah, totally. I like to call it like relatable, relatable horror, you know, and it's, like, it's so fascinating to me, because, like, you know, you can take like, you know, it's something as simple as like Halloween, you know, it's so relatable, because who hasn't, you know, had a babysitter or known a babysitter or been a babysitter, you know, it's like, that's, that's something that really resonates to a lot of people. And then you know, you see something like the strangers, it's like, who hasn't been home alone at night, and someone knocks on the door, you don't know who they are, or you haven't heard a creaky noise outside, you know, it's like that. Those are all relatable feelings and scenarios. And then, you know, but something like, you know, you watch something like the theme or the fly, which are both body horror films. You know, it's like, not many people have been trapped inside of a, you know, a machine that turns you into something or tries to teleport you or, you know, not many people have been stuck in, like, you know, an Antarctic environment with a creature, you know, but it's like, they find ways to get inside your fears and things like that. And it's like, for me, I think we're just kind of taking a more relatable approach, instead of like, trying to take a narrative that's not familiar and make people identify with it. We're taking something that's very familiar to them, and kind of using that as a shorthand to get our point across that much quicker. Because I think, you know, today's audiences check out really quickly if they don't relate to the characters right away.

Jason Buff 1:19:39
Yeah, I mean, I think one of the things that impressed me the most is just the restraint. You know, you let it build and it does happen very gradually, you know, so that you really get to know this character, but it's like slowly things start, you know, is there some way that you kind of like paste that out or like could feel what was the right moment for things to happen? And

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Jason Buff 1:20:10
I mean, do you? Do you go through your structure and say, Okay, I mean something like save the cat or the hero's journey, stuff like that you go through your story and say, Okay, this is going to be when this happens, and then we need to have this happen by this moment and stuff like that.

Eric England 1:20:26
Yeah, totally. That's a big part of my process. But I don't know, if I follow like, traditional structure, like save the cat, like, I've read the book. But it's like, I haven't touched in years, I really, it's more of a gut thing. You know, it's like I, I kind of think, like, what is the audience want at this point? What am I trying to tell them? Where's my character's journey at this point, it's like, really, it's just a matter of, in my opinion, I'm a big fan of ambiguity. And I'm a big fan of, you know, doling out enough information to keep the audience invested, but not enough to where they know everything, and they can figure it out. So it's like, for me, I want to keep them kind of on the hook. And if I have them on the hook, I can, I can pull them up and down whenever I want. And that's kind of the idea was, like, you know, I think some of the biggest, biggest moments in contracted like, at least in terms of like, effectiveness are really in the middle of the movie, because I'm, I'm not a big fan of following the structure of like, everything needs to build, build, build to the climax, and then you know, it explodes. Like, that's kind of the, that's kind of like the tentpole mentality of Hollywood nowadays is like, okay, you know, first we kidnap the girl, and then you know, then there's a chase scene in the middle. And then by the end of the movie, they're on top of a building and someone's gonna die, you know, and it's like, or, or, you know, like, the world's going to explode by the end of the movie, you know, and it's like, for me, I like the idea of, like, there being in a lot of movies are kind of taking this approach, like, if you look at, I don't know why, but this, this one always comes to mind for me, but like, you look at like Skyfall Skyfall, most of the action in that movie takes place in like, the middle of the film. And then the ending in the movie is contained into one house, you know, and it's like, it's almost like an anti climax. You know, it's, it's a narratively and emotionally satisfying climax. But in terms of the action, that's not really where it's at. So, for me, I tried to apply that to contract it a little bit where it's like, emotionally, the movies building and narratively the movies building, but like the action, so to speak in the film, like the grosser moments and stuff like that are kind of saved for the middle of the movie, like, yeah, there's gross moments towards the end, but I think I think they're a little more spread out than they are in the middle. So it's like, yeah, I, I definitely kind of plot and pick and choose where I want my moments to come for sure. Right?

Jason Buff 1:22:38
Do you feel like it's better to kind of, like, if you have a mystery that's going on in your story, it's like, better to keep that going as long as possible. Because inevitably, once the mystery is solved, it's like, okay, it's like, you know, it's not such a big deal, but like keeping people on the hook that the whole time, you know, that you're trying to figure it out? I mean, that seems like most, most stories nowadays have that like, some element and that you're kind of putting things together, you know, yeah, once you figure it out, it's like, whatever.

Eric England 1:23:08
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I'm a huge fan of mystery, like, mystery is one of my favorite genres. So it's like, I try to infuse a little mystery into everything I do, if at all possible. So I that that to me is part of the fun. It's like my favorite movie of all time is scream and, and it's like the who done it, the Scooby Doo, pull the mask off the end of the movie, like that element of it is my favorite thing. Like I will forever be a fan of the whodunit sub genre. Because if you can have a movie with cool characters, and horrible things are happening to them. And then by the end of the movie, you have to figure out who's doing it and why. Like, that's, that's a, that's a formula that never gets old for me. So I'm a big fan of of incorporating that. And, you know, keep keeping the audience on the hook, as you say, but it's funny, because, you know, with contract, it's like, to be honest with you, I didn't expect for there to be much mystery, like, you know, when I was writing the movie, I was kind of, you know, I was like, okay, like, people are gonna get what this is like, what she's turning into. And it's funny because the mood kind of took on a life of its own when people didn't realize like, what she was turning into until the very end. And it's so funny, because, like, at the end of the film, after the car crash, and she wakes up at like, the, you know, I watched the movie in theaters in Mexico and Spain, all over the world and all over the country. And it's like, the gasps at like, certain moments in the movie. I'm like, Really, you guys didn't see that coming? So, you know, it was it was really kind of eye opening for me to see, you know, how far you can take audiences and what audiences picked up on and what they didn't so, you know, it was it was kind of fun for me that that people you know, found that element of it to be really exciting.

Jason Buff 1:24:42
Well, you know, I think people are used to being told what, you know what it is and what how they're supposed to feel and you left that open, you know, yeah, exactly. So, just fast forwarding a little bit. I know you've talked a lot and you know, your blog, I highly recommend your blog for anybody who is a You know, out there wanting to know about filmmaking, and I was reading through it, and I got, you know, it was really nice to get, like a perspective on, you know, not like a politically correct written, you know, blog, but a blog that's actually talking about what you actually feel like and what happened. Can you talk about what happened with contracted after, you know, after you finished it? And, you know, of course what what has happened with the sequel?

Eric England 1:25:28
Yeah, I mean, you know, the short version is the movie, the movie was, you know, it's sad, it was finished. And then, you know, we started trying to sell it and showing it to people, and everyone thought it was so weird or to do gross or something, you know, there was always one excuse or another, we got really close to getting into South by Southwest, we got really close into getting into Tribeca, but at the last minute, it just didn't happen. So, you know, people I was trying to get work, I couldn't get hired for anything. And so I kind of thought I was a failure. My producers didn't think they were going to sell the movie for very much money. And then, um, you know, something crazy happened, people, you know, our poster got leaked, which ironically, the poster initially was something I made with a guy named Zack Palmisano. Um, you know, he and I just kind of cut it together really quickly after I sent him a couple ideas. And we were told it wasn't going to go public. And our sales agent accidentally posted it on their website when they weren't supposed to. And, and a new site found it and let it slip. So, you know, so

Jason Buff 1:26:30
Was that the one the one that everybody seen? Or was that something else?

Eric England 1:26:34
It's the one it's the one where only half her face is exposed. Oh, and I think it's like, actually the DVD cover now. But, um, but yeah, that was just something that, you know, I had cut together with Zach on our own, like, just, you know, they were like, Hey, we need something to represent the movie. And I was like, Look, I don't want to show her entire face yet. So I'll send them this half cut poster. And, you know, we'll just call that, like, the teaser image for right now. But I told the company, I was like, Look, don't let this go public. Like, we don't want anyone seeing this yet. And within four hours, it was all over the news sites. And I was like, freaking out, because I'm not a poster artist. You know, it's like I didn't, I thought we just ruined our film. But it caught on and everyone was like, I started getting text messages and all kinds of stuff. And people were like, wow, this is incredible. Like, we love this poster. And, and then you know, and then you know, IFC bought the movie, and, and, you know, the producers weren't happy with the sale initially. So, you know, they were like, alright, we're never gonna make any money off of this. So let's just start focusing on what's next. And, you know, at the time, they had no interest in working with me again, they were like, alright, you know, you, you, you made a movie, it's not gonna make a lot of money. But you know, congratulations, you might get another job off. We're not ever gonna see a dime. And I was like, I was like, I was like, Guys, I'm not getting hired for anything. Like, no, no one will hire me. Like, they think this movie is weird. And, you know, it's like, I don't know what's happening. And then, you know, the craziest thing happened, the trailer came out, and everyone started talking about it. And then the movie came out. And every even more people started talking about it. And Howard Stern was talking about it. And it's like, you know, it was over the course of just a couple of weeks, like, every everyone's perspective change. It's funny, I started getting emails from companies that had passed on me for things or said, No, we don't like your movie, who were suddenly like, hey, we watched your movie, did you change something? And I was like, No, I didn't change anything. The movies, just the movies just popular now. So you want to talk to me, you know, so it was, it was really eye opening for me. And it's funny, because I signed with my agent, like, the day after the movie came out in theaters. And, you know, my agent hates when I when I, you know, this this period of our exchange, but you know, I told my agent, I was like, Look, I don't want to take meetings with people who passed on my movie initially, or they only want to work. Because, because they thought, you know, contracted, you know, did really well or, you know, they think I can make them a lot of money. It's like, Yeah, this is a business and I get that, but it's like, I want to work with people who like what I do, not people who just like me, because I made someone else a lot of money, you know, so and my agent was like, no, no, this is Hollywood. Like, you have to be okay with that. So, so, you know, it's fine. Now. It's like, I've kind of come around to it, but it's like, I still stand by that to a degree. It's like, I like working with people who like Eric England films, not Eric England films that make money, you know, so that's kind of that's kind of my mentality when I approach it, but you know, it was very eye opening, because, like I said, a lot of people who initially wouldn't talk to me or, you know, didn't think I was good enough or whatever, suddenly, you know, open their arms were like, Hey, let's have a meeting. Let's talk what projects do you have? We have some projects, you know, so it was, it was just a very, very bizarre kind of chain change of pace, but you know, I wouldn't I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Jason Buff 1:29:45
Okay, so walk us through a little bit of what ended up happening with the sequel.

Alex Ferrari 1:29:53
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Jason Buff 1:30:02
That, you know, I'll note that you're you weren't involved with other than doing the screenplays. Right? We're working on a screenplay for it.

Eric England 1:30:12
Um, yeah. So I, so basically what happened was, you know, I started writing a screenplay for them. And, you know, it was just decided that we weren't going to, you know, make the movie with the the budget, I was told that we were initially going to get so I said, Look, I'll still be involved, I'll, you know, I'll continue writing the screenplay, I'll produce the film. And, you know, we'll keep in the family, I'll kind of mentor the new director, who I hired, you know, Matt Mercer to do who was a producer and star the first one. And, you know, ultimately, what happened was they they decided that, you know, I was a better director than I am a writer, which I can't necessarily. And they didn't want to, they didn't want to pay for me to write the screenplay, or produced the film, because they thought I was gonna cost more money than I was worth, which actually wasn't, wasn't a lot of money. I was I was kind of, you know, given them the friend price at this point. So, you know, it was just a, you know, a little bit of, you know, Hollywood, Hollywood disagreement, you know, but bottom lines are important. And some people think, you know, $5 over what they're willing to spend is too much.

Jason Buff 1:31:20
So, do you still have people coming up to you and talking about how much they liked contracts?

Eric England 1:31:25
Um, sometimes, I mean, I have people, I had people, you know, come up to me and say, Hey, I'm about to watch the sequel. And I'm like, Look, I you know, I didn't make that one. And then I have people who reach out to me, and they're like, Hey, I can't wait to see contracted to and I'm like, you know, I didn't make that. Or I had people say, Hey, why didn't you make contract it too? So, I mean, yeah, you know, that. That's the whole reason I've kind of been vocal about my lack of involvement with the film is because, you know, when people think contracted, they they think of two people they think of Nishihara who played the lead actress and myself. And so I want people to understand that, you know, just because I made the first movie doesn't mean I had anything to do with the sequel. And it's like, I, if I liked the sequel, it would be a different story. Because then I would say, Yeah, I don't mind people associating me with that, but the sequel was it one, it's not a good film, but two, I even if it was a good movie, and I still had no involvement with it, it's like, I would let them know like, Hey, I liked the movie. But I didn't make it, you know? And but it's like, I don't like the movie. I don't think it's very good. So it's like, I don't want I don't want to be represented, or I don't want to be associated with that anyway, regardless. Right?

Jason Buff 1:32:31
Do you have any of that, like copyright and stuff that you had with the the other ones that you were talking about?

Eric England 1:32:37
I have no control over

Jason Buff 1:32:39
That's not part

Eric England 1:32:40
No I don't I don't own contracted. I do own part of the franchise. So like, I will make money off of the sequel, but, you know, it's it's Yeah, I don't control what happens with it.

Jason Buff 1:32:52
Right! Is the lead girl I haven't seen the second one out of respect. I don't know if that's good or bad, but haven't seen it yet. But, um, is the same Lead Actress in it, or is it completely?

Eric England 1:33:06
It's completely different people. She's she's in it for like, literally two shots.

Jason Buff 1:33:11
That kind of sucks. All right. Yeah. Um, so. Okay, so your your latest film? What can you tell us about that? I unfortunately, haven't seen it. So I don't really know. have specific questions, but have you? Is that Is it like, in the same? Can you can you talk a little bit about it?

Eric England 1:33:30
Yeah. I mean, I can't say much because the movie is not out yet. It'll be out. Okay. Oh, but um, but yeah, I mean, it's once again, completely different movie. It's more of like a dark comedy thriller shows a lot of humor. You know, I wanted to do something a little different tonally and, you know, it's, it's a crowd pleaser, I wanted to do something that I felt like I would like to watch as an audience member and something that I thought, you know, fans in this world haven't necessarily seen before. It's definitely a unique, dark and fun movie.

Jason Buff 1:34:02
When is, what what's the plan with that? Is it gonna go to festivals? And then

Eric England 1:34:06
I don't know, I mean, I like I said, I'm not a big, you know, I love festivals, but I think their mentality is a little different than mine. So, we may play some festivals, if we find the right ones that I think you know, kind of fit within the world of what we want to do with the film. But, you know, the goal is to release it next year, just kind of get it out to the audience.

Jason Buff 1:34:25
Okay, do you do you ever go to AFM or any of that stuff?

Eric England 1:34:28
I don't personally, I mean, my sales reps and everything like that do it's not really a filmmaker friendly place. Okay. It's kind of like going to a cattle auction and you being a cow.

Jason Buff 1:34:40
Okay. So, you know, I'll just kind of wrap it up with this. If you could just maybe give a little bit of advice or what you let's try this. If you could give advice to yourself, let's say, you know, you're relatively young director, one of the things that kind of impressed me when I was looking through your information was, you know, You're born in 1988? Like, it kind of, I'll be honest, I mean, it, it annoyed me a little bit, you know? Sorry. It's okay. No, it's good, you know. But if you could go back in time to when you were younger, when you were like, say, 19? What? What advice would you give to yourself about filmmaking?

Eric England 1:35:22
Um, you know, the, I give the same advice to everyone. And I think it's the same advice I would give to myself, which is be as original as possible. You know, the craziest thing for me in my career is I started making movies when the world perspective of filmmaking and also the marketplace itself was drastically changing. I mean, you have movies now with two of the biggest stars, like, you know, like Bradley Cooper or Jennifer Lawrence and that are going straight to VOD now, you know, so it's, it's a completely different world. And so the best thing you can do is just make the movie you want to make but also know that you're making it for an audience. You know, don't the world of just making movies for yourself is dead, like, you can't be a filmmaker. Like that's, that's now a hobby. You know, like, if you want to be in a tour, and make films that only you like, then then you know, make it as a hobby. Filmmaking is too expensive to try and do that on a on a mass level. But I think if you truly want to be a working filmmaker and you want to be in the movie business, then be original, but know that your originality needs to be commercial to someone so that they can sell your product and continue getting you work. And I think that's the best thing you can do. Be aggressive, be original, and, you know, keep a good head on your shoulder be objective.

Jason Buff 1:36:36
Eric, man, I appreciate it. Thanks for coming on the show.

Eric England 1:36:38
No problem. Thanks for having me,

Jason Buff 1:36:40
Talk to you later.

Eric England 1:36:42
All right.


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