Steve Parker is one half of Cthulhu Crush Productions, a US based production company that are pushing out some very unique (and some might say controversial) films. Their latest is The Dark Place, a Jody Wheeler-directed thriller that encompasses all the usual thriller elements – though the lead is a gay man. Later down the line, the company has WTF! Coming out – a traditional ‘Cabin in the Woods’ type thriller. In this interview Parker gives us the lowdown on both films…
Steve, you have so many projects going on. Are these funnelled out through your own production company?
Yes, generally. Cthulhu Crush Productions is the hub for all of the work Jody and I do, separately or together.
Why did you begin producing?
Projects don’t start themselves. And producing was how to create the projects I wanted to work on. My primary love is editing, but I also have a software engineering job. As I started producing, I found I had an aptitude for it though. And the results of producing has ended up being very edifying, although it is hard work.
Is it hard to break into? I mean, can one simply just get up in the morning and say “That’s it. I’m going to be a producer”.
The primary thing you must have is the drive to do so. It helps to have a good general knowledge of the world—financing, investing, contracts, hiring, promotion, and of course making movies. And you need to lead people and solve problems. It’s important that everyone involved believe in your leadership and believe in your solutions.
What can you tell the readers about The Dark Place?
As a lover of mystery-thrillers, from the first read of the script I appreciated how tightly constructed the mystery was. Jody had spent over a decade crafting something really amazing.
It has some noticeable differences to most thrillers, doesn’t it?
Choosing to have the main character have hyperthmesia, a real condition, meant that he has both a handicap and a special talent. His unique recall skills means that he can remember key details, but it also means that he cannot forget. His challenge is in the face of memory that does not fade, finding forgiveness, while in the face of the mystery at hand he needs to find the pieces of the puzzle to solve the mystery.
Did you have any trouble securing US distribution?
It was some challenge finding distribution because the story is very unique. Besides hyperthymesia, we have a movie with gay characters but without a gay story. By that I mean they just happen to be gay. Nothing about their stories has anything to do with gay. One of the richest elements of the story is between Keegan and his mother, and it’s related entirely to their shared personal tragedy from his childhood. All audiences respond well, but distributors were hesitant to treat it as anything but a gay movie.
It’s out on a few formats – do you prefer people get the physical DVD over the VOD? Or vice versa?
These days VOD is a movie-maker’s friend. Without the costs of physical media, we see a little more money. But the difference is minor. It’s more important to tell your friends about the movie.
Are you big on putting extras on your DVDs?
The distributors always push for extras on DVDs. We have director Jody Wheeler and star Alison Lane (Sheriff Timmer) doing a commentary I like best. They’re really hilarious. And we have the cinematographer’s alternate edit of one of the more creatively filmed scenes.
Were you already thinking about the next film while working on this one?
Well, not quite while we were working on The Dark Place. But by the time we were late in post, we had a collection of scripts, as well as a TV series based on a book series that we knew were among our next potential projects. It’s important to do that because you never know how quickly or slowly a given project with progress. Jody and I are committed to always having a couple irons in the fire.
What is the next one?
We have two primary ones right now. The TV series is based on Luc Descamps best-selling novel series, The Dark Numbers. Bestsellers all, they were published originally in Dutch and French, and it’s a hugely popular cross between Harry Potter and Dr. Who. And the other one is a creature-feature set in a glamorous part of L.A. where construction stirs the creatures. Should be very fun!
How many given projects might you have on at any given time?
We try to keep two primary projects at the this-one-next stage.
What can you tell us about WTF! – the title is great!
It’s a delightful “Cabin In The Woods” sort of set up, except the killer is one of the group. But which one? We have a great cast of newcomers, and a great composer.
Is this more a traditional horror movie than The Dark Place?
Yes, definitely. One of the “kills” will make every man in the audience squirm!
Do you have a passion project you’d like to get off the ground?
I’ve just finished the edit a short film I directed this summer with Thea Gill (Queer As Folk), and Dakota Daulby (Black Fly). Inspired from by friend Julian LeBlanc’s life growing up gay in foster care, it’s a sweet and touching little piece. It was also a return to the passion of directing for me. We hope that will hit film festivals this summer.
The Dark Place is out now on VOD and DVD, courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures. Click here for more info on WTF!