Exclusive-interview with Eric England (Madison County)

Here’s our interview with director Eric England for the English speaking readers!

Cat: Hello Eric, you’re a newcomer in this business. When did you start watching horror movies and did you always want to be a filmmaker?
Eric England: I think like most genre filmmakers, I started watching horror movies at an early age. The first movies that I can really remember scaring the shit out of me were NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, FRIGHT NIGHT and STEPHEN KING’S IT. Along the way there were obviously others, but those were the first few that started it all. Mainly IT.. I’ve always had a thing about clowns.. hence, my thesis film. My parents were always really cool and allowed me to watch scary movies from an early age. I guess you could say they were the “cool” parents. Ha! I think it was great and really allowed me to open my mind and decide for myself what was real and what was fake rather than sheltering me from everything like some parents do nowdays. I think in some capacity I always wanted to be a filmmaker.. when I was younger, I drew a lot of pictures and I watched a lot of movies and would always say things like “I’m gonna make a movie like that someday” or “I wanna do something like that”. But I never really knew how.

When I watched SCREAM for the first film (Which is my favorite film of all time), I was blown away be the sheer terror and suspense of the movie.. not to mention the roller coaster of emotions going through the audience that was so palpable you could taste it. That’s what REALLY got me to start thinking about telling stories.. I would come home from the movies and tell my friends, whose parents wouldn’t let them see the R rated films, all about the movies I had seen. When the films eventually hit VHS, they would come tell me how they liked the movie.. but the way I described it was much better. So I started thinking up my own stories from an early age. And then in high school, I saw CABIN FEVER and it was the first movie that I ever really watched the behind the scenes on.. I was getting more and more curious about how movies were made (at that point, I thought ACTORS made the movies.. I had no idea what those names or titles in the credits meant– I was from a small town, forgive me). When I saw how Eli Roth made CABIN FEVER, I got the filmmaking bug.. it was him, with some friends, a camera and a bucket of blood (not to mention a million bucks.. haha) out in the woods, making a movie.. I thought to myself, “I wanna do that!”.

Cat: Let’s talk about MADISON COUNTY, your new movie after “Hostile Encounter”. The Trailer looks awesome and some of our readers can’t wait to see this. What can we expect of Madison County?
Eric: It’s funny you mention HOSTILE ENCOUNTER– just a quick side note for those who don’t know, Hostile Encounter is the first “feature” I ever made. I did it with no money and no time with Ace, our other co-producer Daniel Dunn and a buddy of ours, Nick Bellinger just to make a movie and prove that we knew what we were doing. It played a huge part in getting the money to make MADISON COUNTY. Without Hostile, there would be no Madison. Hopefully I’ll be able to release the movie on the bonus features or something someday.

But back to MADISON– you can expect a slow burn, old school slasher film in the vein of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Some of my favorite slasher films are the ones that are less gory like Halloween and The original TCM. I love that they’re all about tone and atmosphere. The characters are believable and you care about them.. that’s what I wanted to do with Madison County. The tone and atmosphere was probably one of the key things and the hardest to keep in tact because horror films can become really campy really quickly and I didn’t want to do that. I also wanted to make a horror film that takes place entirely under the safety of daylight. So this film has no horror at night.. its all in the sun.. and there’s nowhere to hide.

The acting in this film is off the charts.. especially for a micro budget feature film. I can’t say enough good things about the cast of this film (as well as the crew!). I wanted to play with some of the key genre cliches and take them somewhere else. This is definitely not a film about a group of dumb teens in the woods having sex and going camping and getting stoned. I took this film very seriously and gave my characters a legit reason for going where they’re going and doing what they’re doing. Usually in these movies, when the shit hits the fan, the kids deserve it and you WANT to see them die. In this film, when the characters find trouble, they find what they’re looking for.. and I can assure you this, if you’re really paying attention to the movie and you’re really invested.. you’re not going to be rooting for Damien.

Cat: How and when did you meet co-producer and actor Ace Marrereo?
Eric: I believe it was in 2008ish when I was casting for my thesis film, Clown Town. In film school, you have to make a final thesis film to graduate.. and naturally, I wanted to do a horror/comedy about a killer clown in a fun house. Haha! So in the script, I wrote a character named “Ace” and when Ace submitted for the role, he said something witty like “I was born to play this role”.. and I was like, this dude’s gotta at least come in to read for the part. Ha! Naturally, Ace was right for any role in the film and got the part of “Ace”. He later told me he had a lot on his plate at the time and almost didn’t do the film.. but I’m glad he did!

Cat: Can you tell me some of your memorable moments on set?
Eric: Definitely. I could write you a book on my most memorable moments.. Honestly, I have too many to name. But some that stick out would be the first day of shooting. Arriving in the middle of nowhere Arkansas to a location we kind of just stumbled upon that was just out of this world.. It was an old junk yard that I found with a friend and crew member while we were location scouting. The owner showed up while we were shooting (and we didn’t have permission to be shooting there) and I ran over to talk to him since I was the only authority figure from Arkansas that he could relate to. Turned out that didn’t matter. He was just the nicest guy in the world and I couldn’t have been more grateful. His name was Roy Melson and we LITERALLY couldn’t have made the movie without his cooperation.

Aside from that, the first day of shooting with all the main characters was a great time. I loved seeing all the personalities mix on camera and see the way they interact with one another. Like I said, I just can’t say enough good things about the actors. But we had a lot of great moments off camera too. Especially when journalists from Bloody-Disgusting.com, DreadCentral.com and Fangoria.com came to visit. Chris (Bloody), Heather (Dread) and Sam (Fangoria) were a blast to have on set and we had some great times back at our hotel. The entire experience was just amazing.

Cat: Nick Principe, better known as Chromeskull, playing Damien. How did it happen?
Eric: Nick was someone that I just randomly approached. When I was making Clown Town in film school, I really wanted some cool knives. Knives to me are really important to a horror film. You can’t have a weak looking knife (the knife in Madison is covered in rust and AWESOME 😉 but Nick worked with the props on Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN and I really loved the knives from that movie. So I hit up Nick and he gave me some info. He also told me that he was an actor and wanted to kill people on camera. He said slashers were his favorite. So I always had him in the back of my mind. When the time came, he was the first guy I went to. He read the script, loved it and was on board right away.

Cat: Finally the film will premiere in October. How excited are you?
Eric: I’m beyond excited! This is the film that I’ve had in my head for years.. since I was just a kid! It’s gonna be great to finally let new people lay eyes on the film, especially in a theater as well known as the MANNS! I’m very proud of everything in the movie. Is it perfect? No. What film is? But when you watch the movie, I think you can see the passion from the filmmakers on the screen. It doesn’t look like a low budget film, which I’m really proud of, and I think it will throw people a curve ball in terms of their expectations. I’m a big fan of polarity and contrast.. I really like Ti West and his films because of his views on how horror/terror/suspense should be done and what evokes true horror. I completely agree with him in that horror needs time to be set up. So with Madison County, I stayed true to my instincts, even when some folks suggested I shouldn’t. So kind of like House of the Devil was a slow burn Satanic Panic film, Madison County is a slow burn Slasher film.

Cat: I have heard that you’ve worked together with Tom Hodge (The Dude Designs) for the film poster. That’s awesome, I love the “Hobo with a Shotgun” poster. How does the poster look?
Eric: Oh man, Tom is a genius. The guy is a true artist and one of the best out there right now. I love his work on all the posters he’s done so far (especially HOBO and INNKEEPERS) and it was an honor to work with him. We do have a very special MADISON COUNTY poster that will be out in the near future.. all I can say is that it definitely has The Dude’s aesthetic with a little MADISON COUNTY flare 😉

Cat: I hope we will get a chance to see Madison County and of course your other movies, too. We can demanded the movie, right?
Eric: Yes, you can! Here’s the link: http://eventful.com/performers/madison-county-/P0-001-000249087-1

We want to get this film out to the widest possible audience and part of that is letting the distributors know you want to see our film and others like it! I’m a big fan of supply and demand.. if you demand it, Hollywood will supply it! So we need to really make sure that in this day and age with the technology that we have that people are making sure they get their voice out there.. because it will be heard!

Cat: What can you tell me about your next movie “Roadside”?
Eric: THANK YOU for asking about ROADSIDE.. this is my next movie that we’ve already shot and we’re in the post-production process right now. It’s a completely different side of the genre and one that I love. It’s another very low budget film and it takes place entirely at night on the side of the road– really the opposite of MADISON. Haha! But it’s about a man and his pregnant wife held at gun point on the side of a desolate mountain road by a man they can’t even see. I really wanted to do a movie that was a challenge in every possible way. From the script and creating a story in a very limited location to actually shooting the movie and telling a story visually. It’s a very contained movie and those are usually some of my favorites. It’s much more of a dramatic/Hitchockian thriller. Not many people know about it yet, but I’m excited to get more news out about it because its one that definitely deserves some attention!

Cat: It seems that for viewers, the more controversial a film is, the more it’s interesting. Is there anything taboo for you?
Eric: Honestly, no. As long as its all a movie, fiction and just pretend.. I’ll go for anything. When you start killing animals and stuff on camera and doing things that are just plain wrong for the sake of shock and exploitation, I don’t get off on that. But with films like The Human Centipede and the upcoming sequel.. I’m all about it. Even if the film isn’t that great, I love anything that will get my ass in the seat. Who doesn’t love a good controversy? It’s great marketing and marketing is key when you don’t have money.

Cat: What are some of your favourite horror movies?
Eric: It’s funny.. a lot of people I know have trouble answering this question and I could certainly go on for hours listing my favorite horror films, but I do have a few SET favorites.

My first is obviously SCREAM. Like I said before.. it’s just everything I want in a movie. Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN, The original TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (and the remake was great!), Hitchock’s PSYCHO, Stephen King’s IT, THE EVIL DEAD, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET..

And since we’re on the subject of other films, I wanted to say that my buddy Bradley Scott Sullivan has a film playing festivals right now called I DIDN’T COME HERE TO DIE which is a GREAT blend of horror and comedy. Track it down and see it when you can! Also, another film I’ve fallen in love with lately is A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE (lots of “to dies” here, huh? Haha!) Adam Wingard is a fucking great director and Simon Barrett’s script was just brilliant. Loved this film and can’t wait for YOU’RE NEXT!

Cat: What are your plans for Halloween?
Eric: Ace and I made a little short film that we’re excited to share with the world soon and other than that.. I’m just looking forward to grabbing drinks, seeing friends and maybe partaking in a party of two. I need to pick out a costume..

Cat: So, what’s next for you after the premiere?
Eric: Well, I’ve got a lot of things happening that I’m really excited about. It’s just about which one happens first. I’m working on my first studio films with MOSAIC (who are producing Greg Mclean’s next film 6 MIRANDA DRIVE) and I’ve been talking with a couple of other companies about some films that I’m excited about. I’m also working with the producer of A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE and I couldn’t be more happy with that. I’m also developing things on my own for the future.. I’m kind of a workaholic.

Cat: I thank you for this interview and wish you much success in the future! Maybe we will see you soon at a premiere here in Germany.
Eric: Germany, here I come! Thanks for having me 🙂

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