Drew Daywalt

Drew Daywalt first came to my attention with his 2002 film Stark Raving Mad, which Daywalt co-wrote and co-directed. The film, which stars Sean William Scott is one of those all too rare DTV gems, and has gone on to become a cult hit. His follow up, the 2004 Christmas movie Karroll’s Christmas, is another film which flew under the radar of many, but those that have seen the film hold it in high regard.

In 2007 the writer’s strike hit Hollywood, and Daywalt, like many in the industry at that time turned to the internet as an outlet for his creativity. Along with David Schneider, John Crye, Kirk Woller, and Paul Hungerford, Daywalt formed FEWDIO.

However unlike Daywalt’s previous efforts, the group would concentrate on producing short horror films that would surface online and on DVD and since forming, Fewdio has put together over 35 short films – scooping up attention and accolades along the way, including Daywalt’s most recent Halloween Horror Nights Chiller Eyegore Award for his short Bedfellows.

Daywalt recently took time out of his busy schedule to talk to Blogomatic 3000 about how he got started, forming Fewdio, the horror industry and his latest web series Camera Obscura.

What inspired you to get into film-making?

Drew Daywalt: I think a lot of filmmakers can point back to that one “Ah Ha!” moment in their childhood when they could say THAT was the day they decided to make films. For me, there isn’t so much a defining moment, as much as there’s a small constellation of moments that lead me to where I am. The first moment was undoubtedly when I saw my first movie in a movie theatre… and it was Star Wars. I remember sitting there being completely overwhelmed as a 7 year old, thinking, “It’s just a movie, but it seems so real… someone had to make all that stuff, write that story… to make it seem so real.” That was the moment my eyes were opened to the possibility of building my own worlds. That was my first ah-HA moment, but there were more along the way. Mostly when I would see a movie that blew me away. I also spent a lot of time reading my brother’s Heavy Metal and Weird Tales Magazines. For me, the journey began not as “I want to be a film maker” so much as it was, “How can I build my own worlds.”

Fewdio was born out of the writers strike in Hollywood – it seems during that time a lot of filmmakers, yourself included, turned to the ‘net for their creative outlet with varying degrees of success. Do you think that’s changed the way the industry, filmmakers in particular, approach the internet?

Drew Daywalt: Absolutely. In a way, it legitimized it. The internet (as an entertainment medium) was just sitting there, the bastard child of the entertainment industry, and the combination of talented creative artists thrust into sudden unemployment for a year, along with the increasing ability to stream and upload high quality video content was like the spark that started the bonfire. Before, putting your stuff online was looked down upon. That was your struggle. Now, though, the struggle has shifted to being able to get your stuff seen in the unbelievable worldwide ocean of new content constantly appearing online. But yeah, the genie is out of the bottle. If you want to do it, you now can, and there is a great possibility to get your creation out to the world as never before.

When Fewdio set out to do short films, what attracted you all to horror? Was it an genre you had an affinity for?

Drew Daywalt: We did. It was our one common denominator. I for instance grew up in one of Ohio’s most haunted homes. I’m a bit of an agnostic when it comes to believing in the paranormal, but we had a lot of odd things happen in that house. There was that, and my affinity for the old Hammer horror films of the 50′s and 60′s as well as the then burgeoning slasher genre. I don’t do slasher films, but I love em. Horror is a great genre because it’s the one genre of film that doesn’t depend on movie stars, big budgets or expensive special effects. It’s the one genre that depends entirely on storytelling. And I like that. It’d definitely the writer-director’s medium. I wrote comedy for years, and I have to say that there are a lot of people out there that are a lot funnier than I am. But not many people can do scary, and I wanted to try my hand at that. Turns out, I’m a pretty creepy person!

Where did the idea for your horror short ‘Bedfellows’ come from?

Drew Daywalt: Bedfellows came from me wanting to visually communicate my very own boogeyman from childhood. When someone said boogeyman, THAT’S who I thought of. We worked for a long time on the facial design to get it exactly right. And apparently it worked, because the face that haunted me throughout my childhood has scared the shit out of a lot of people now. Glad to share my pain, lol.

How did it feel when ‘Bedfellows’ won the Halloween Horror Nights-Chiller Scary Good Film Competition?

Drew Daywalt: That was an amazing night. There I was with Rick Baker at Universal and I was getting a trophy for scaring people. IT was the first trophy I ever got, by the way. I sucked hard at sports. Overall it was a great indicator that I’m on the right path now, creatively. I really feel horror is my home now.

‘Bedfellows’ makes great use of suspense (and a final ‘jump’) rather than piling on the gore. Many cinematic horrors go for the gore and forget the scares do you think that’s something that needs to addressed in horror?

Drew Daywalt: I do. I feel like the genre title “Horror” has been hijacked by gorehounds. Gore is fine, but if it’s all you got, you don’t have much of a film. I really feel like it all comes down to story. I just completed the Web Series
Camera Obscura, and there’s actually very little gore. It’s all paranormal horror, demons, spirits. I like gore, but it’s a spice and too much spoils the dish. It all comes back to story. Story and Character. I feel like we have to take back the genre from teh gorehounds and exploitation hacks. To me, horror is story and not special effects. i look to the masters for my horror – H.P. Lovecraft, Poe, Serling, Whale, Bierce, Stoker. That was true horror.

What’s your favourite piece of your work so far?

Drew Daywalt: That’s tough. It’s like asking a musician what’s his favorite song. I think if you consider Bedfellows a hit single, then my favorite B-side is very probably Suicide Girl, which is a 4 minute short I’m launching in December 2009. But as far as my favorite work ever, it’s very likely Camera Obscura. I put heart and soul into every 5 minute episode, (there are 19 episodes). And so did my amazing cast and crew. Working in a web series was great because it caused us all to work out on an entirely new muscle set. We had to create 3 acts, dramatic tension and a cliff hanger for each episode. I can’t wait for everyone to see it when it launches in the next few months.

Have there been any recent horror movies that you’d have loved to have worked on? Perhaps a “dream project” that you’d like to be a part of?

Drew Daywalt: Well, I’m not interested in remakes. I wish that trend would just go the hell away. I’ve been really inspired by movies like Orphan, Let the Right One In, Rec… I love dark fantasy components to my horror. I also just rented Midnight Meat Train, and that was an incredibly beautiful film. Loved the supernatural component to the film that kept it from being a typical slasher. That was fun.

Your latest work is the web series Camera Obscura. What’s it all about?

Drew Daywalt: Camera Obscura is the story of Clara Carson, a woman raised by her grandfather, who, upon his death, has to clean out his house. What she quickly discovers is that he wasn’t just a crime scene photographer. He was also a demon catcher, who hunted and imprisoned demons with his antique camera. And when she accidentally destroys the scrapbook which is their prison, they escape and run riot all over the city. So Clara is forced to take up her grandfather’s supernatural mantle and hunt the demons before they come looking for her and her inherited camera… I planned on an October launch but some studios became interested in what I was doing and now I’m talking to them about all the options. But the show will launch very soon…

Many thanks to Drew for taking the time to talk to Blogomatic 3000. To check out more of Drew Daywalt and Fewdio’s work, visit their official website here and their YouTube page here.

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