Thursday, April 23, 2009

Interview With John Birmingham

Claws Bared cornered John Birmingham ("Crazy Animal", "The Vampires Of Zanzibar"), and demanded he give up the goods. Here's what came flying out of him:

What got you started in filmmaking?

was an artist and musician and got into creative writing and I was also
interested in philosophy and questioning religion and the way the earth
works and wanted to change society for the better and I figured
filmmaking encompassed all this stuff.

How many films have you made?

I have made a bunch of short films and projects and two feature legnth movies.

Is the indie horror industry hard to break into?

But here is the bottom line, best advice I will give any aspiring
filmmaker or horror filmmaker. BEFORE you go and start shooting things
and making movies,
you have to learn the art of screenwriting and spend YEARS ON IT. It
is free. No losses there. Either that, or read hundreds of
screenplays yourself, each one 100 pages long about... and figure out
ones that stand out from all the rest and find somewhere that needle in
the haystack a good, really good script. Or like I said, spend years
and learn to write one yourself. Just start writing night and day, you
need that before you jump in and start making movies like I did, lol...

Are you a hardcore gorehound, or have you considered other genres as well?

Well, my new movie, The Vampires
of Zanzibar, has a lot more gore than my first movie Crazy Animal. VoZ
has blood spurting and intestines falling out and being eaten and stuff
like this, a real horror movie
you could easily label it... but I was never in particular into gore,
more into those things I mentioned that got me into filmmaking.
However, I am a big fan of Troma, Peter Jackson's
early stuff... but I am also into Peter Jackson's later stuff and
movies that have a message and help society see something, like Poultrygeist even, though many people may not agree, it at least says something in the end.

Who's easy to work with? Who isn't?

Ron Jeremy is very easy to work with, you
just pay him something reasonable that his agent is okay with and he is
a truly great guy. A lot of times, and I hate to say this, but friends
who you get to act or people with not much of an acting or film resume
are usually gonna be very hard to work with, because their history
speaks for itself, they have made no conscious efforts to do any of
this stuff, so why would they all of a sudden be great on your movie.
I would choose people who love what they do and work at it and have a
good work history in the stuff, unless there is something outstanding,
truly outstanding that you think qualifies them as a seperate case.

Is there anyone you'd love to work with?

Yeah, Jack Black.

What are your plans for future projects?

a REALLY, really, really, really, really amazing one of a kind truly
great and deep and brilliant script before ever making another movie.
I spent months writing both of my previous movies and I thought that
was enough, but I may need to take my writing to the next level as my
wife has tried to ring home to me... I still think my two features I
made are brilliant in their own way however, both took years of my life to make and are works of art.

What is your opinion on the state of today's horror?

Hmmm, well, I think a lot of horror seems
to be sort of like a rollercoaster ride, and a lot of younger people
and young kids go to get a shock out of it, especially SAW movies and
the newer mainstream Japanese horror, they really shake you up and
actually scare you, which I guess is good. But I am more of a fan of Troma movies
that are feel good throughout and just do it sort of slapstick cutting
off people's arms and stuff and it is like obviously fake, but it is
just funny and fun to watch and makes you feel good because it is all a
joke. I don't like the feel bad stuff.

Any advice for aspiring filmmakers?

Yeah, just engulf yourself in film, work on movies all the time, read
movies all the time, study it, get a camera and get better and better
at operating it, get an editing system and get good at it, write more
and more scripts, keep getting better and better at it, take classes,
keep networking, networking with people no matter where your area other
people are doing it.. work on their movies, make friends, marry a
movie person if you want (like I do, haha)... ummm, yeah, make it your
life and just be determined to get better and better and better and it
will start happening. Never stay stagnant, keep taking it to the next
level, and who knows, you may find yourself in Spielberg's shoes one
day, but then you come up with a brilliant idea to create a new form of
mass media like some weird interactive media that society can't do
without, who knows, keep an open mind to better and better
possibilities only and never lose site of what you want,ed to and want
to achieve and if you want it with all your emotion and being you will
get it. The more emotion and energy you put into it and the more you
know it will happen the more likely it will happen.

7even Randoms:

End of the world party; what do you wear?

Naked. Completely comfortable.

If you had to watch one film for the rest of your life, it'd be...?

Hmmm. The Secret.

What makes you
so freakin' special?

I am a genius. I'm invincible.

Head or gut? Stab wounds, we mean.


Vampires or zombies?

Vampires. ...of Zanzibar.

For President, your fave horror icon:

Hmmm. Lloyd Kaufman.
He seems to have a lot of political views I like. I honestly think I
might trust him as crazy as that sounds. I don't know, I would have to
see him do something outside the Troma box, totally left field for him
first to make sure, like, make an Oscar winning dramatic movie of
sorts, or choose a new, really badass cinematographer, though his
movies are great, it just seems like he could get some top of the line
cinematographer if he wanted, no problem, right?

Your booty call soundtrack: top 3 songs.

Wow, I never played music really while having sex. Is this what you're
talking about? Ummm, how about "Enter Sandman" by Metallica, just for
humor and the fun of it. That is the only one that comes to mind.

Check out more of John at and his website for The Vampires of Zanzibar.