I have met the most talented people since I’ve started blogging a few years back. I love to promote the Independent Arts including films, directors, producers, writers, and actors. With most of the interviews I’ve done this past year, I owe to the talented actor, Joe Parascand.
Joe recently told me about a new film called Faces and also about the man responsible for the film. Tom Ryan was born and raised in Jersey City N.J. and since his early childhood, he’s had a passion for horror films.
Tom recently put together an Independent Production Company called “Theatre of Terror” and the first short film produced was Day 9. Tom has just completed another film called Faces and we’re going to learn a bit more about the film.
Tom Ryan: “Yes and to put it more simply, I’m more of a writer and director, but the reason I’m an actor and producer is to support my films.” Laughing “Let’s face it that’s the way it goes. I mean acting is fun and I’ve done a few projects now and it’s been enjoyable, but first and foremost I mainly write and direct.”
Marie Gilbert: “I’ve seen that you were in the short film Day 9, but I haven’t had a chance to see it yet, but the T.V. series, Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead, I have heard about this one before because I had interviewed one of the actresses from the show, Genoveva Rossi. But, what was the first film that you made? Was it Day 9?
Tom Ryan: “Yes, Day 9 was my film. It was my first short film that I actually put on public display. I worked on other independent films, but they never made it past my living room VCR. In Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead, I actually met Pat Devaney, the creator of Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead, on the set of a web series called Dead Road and (you can find that on www.deadroad.net) and that’s done by my friend Corrado Gadaleta. Pat gave me the first two seasons of Zombie Hunters to watch and after watching them, I was inspired to write my own zombie short and that kind of launched me into the whole scene.”
Marie Gilbert: “Did you ever write for the series Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead?”
Tom Ryan: “No, I never wrote anything for them. What happened was after writing Day 9 and keeping in touch with Pat and the other creative minds behind Zombie Hunters, they actually wrote me into one of the latest episodes of the series; episode ten. They wrote me in as an F.B.I. agent, Sean O’Malley. Yeah, I’ve spent a lot of time with these guys at conventions and festivals and they are a great group of creative guys and that’s my involvement with Zombie Hunters: City of the Dead. It’s a great show, but I had no involvement in the writing of the show and only played an acting role on it.”
Marie Gilbert: “Well, you never know. You might still get a chance to write for the show.”
Tom Ryan: “Yeah, you never know.” Both of us are laughing.
Marie Gilbert: “Can you tell me about the film Faces without giving too much away. I did get to see the trailer you’d sent me and it was very interesting.”
Tom Ryan: “I try not to give too much away in the trailer, but what I can say is that Faces is about a fellow named Frank Walker; a man down on his luck, and he’s had a troubled past. He’s either spent some time incarcerated or in a mental institution, but we never clarify that in the film. We kind of leave that up in the air. He’s struggling getting himself back on his feet and he’s not a social butterfly to say the least. He has no friends, no love life, no job and we come into Frank’s life when he’s reaching the breaking point and when he’s not sure how he’s going to make it.
One day Frank runs into Charlie (a local guy who spends a lot of time in the bar with Frank played by Paul Gmitter). Paul is a great character actor and a good friend of mine. Well Charlie follows Frank home from the Pub and spends some time talking to him and, without going into too much detail, Frank’s life changes drastically from the meeting. So the movie kind of takes a rollercoaster ride from here and, something to just hang out there, there is a big part of this film that I’m not telling you about.”
Tom Ryan: “The story that I explained to you now is in and of itself interesting, but when you put in the added dimension I haven’t mentioned, it becomes much more interesting but this is the most that I can say about the film. There is a lot more that happens here.”
Marie Gilbert: “Oh...okay, because when I saw the trailer I was thinking the film was more like a crime drama or a thriller.”
Tom Ryan: “Yes, it’s definitely a thriller. That’s for sure, but like I said it has an added dimension that will make you say, “Wow! I didn’t expect that.” That’s hopefully what people will say when they watch this film; that they didn’t see it coming.”
Marie Gilbert: “You have Joe Parascand in the film and I know that Joe was in Witches’ Blood and The Soulless...”
Tom Ryan: “Yes, the trilogy Mary Horror, Sheriff Tom vs. The Zombies, Witches’ Blood, The Soulless and he’s also going to be appearing in the “Zombie Hunter: City of the Dead” and he just wrapped up in Ryan Scott Weber’s new film Pretty Fine Things. Ryan Scott Weber is also responsible for the Sheriff Tom series.”
Marie Gilbert: “Yes, I did post something on Weber’s Pretty Fine Things.”
Tom Ryan: “Yes, Joe is a busy guy, but unfortunately he’s retiring from acting. I was honored and very appreciative to have Joe as a part of our film because, to me, it was one of Joe’s finest performances. He plays Detective Jack Donnelly in the film that is investigating a series of murders. Joe did an awesome job and the film wouldn’t have been the same without him and, in fact, when I wrote the part; I had Joe in mind. We had a great match up there and he was awesome.”
Marie Gilbert: “I recognize another actor in your film, Edward X Young.”
Tom Ryan: “Yep, Edward X Young is probably best known for Mr. Hush and another film called Green Monster. He has extensive experience in independent films and if you look at his IMDb page, you’ll see all the films he has been in like the Sheriff Tom films. Ed was great. I met Ed on the convention and festival circuits and he is a fine actor. In, Faces, what he brought to the character, Henry Benson, he just legitimized the character.
It was great to see what he did with the character because I think he really enjoyed this different type of demand on his acting. In a lot of his films he plays an over the top and in your face type of character, but in this film he plays a kind of sneering type of business man and he just did such a fantastic job.
We also had Deana Demko, who has done a ton of independent films and she also appeared in Witches Blood. A lot of these guys crossed paths in the past. Bradley Creanzo, who did Bible Belt Slasher 1 & 2 and is working on a new film called Case at Midnight which he is producing. We have Tom Schorr, another guy from Zombie Hunters and then I had a couple of newcomers to the scene, Jason Greco and Andrew La Bruno who played big parts in the film. Andrew also contributed some of his soundtrack music to the film.
Yeah, we had just a great lineup of people, great talents and a lot of people familiar to the independent scene, but they played roles that where a little bit different than they are used to being cast in. I thought it was great for them and it was definitely great for the film.”
Marie Gilbert: “I’m a big supporter of Independent Films because to me, I feel that there is more freedom in the type of films that are made. As a director and writer how do you like being an independent artist?”
Tom Ryan: “I feel the same way. There is a freedom and I can give you a great example. With our Theatre of Terror Production Company, we don’t do the Indie Go-Go, or the Kickstarter Campaign fund; we fund our own films. This allows us a lot of freedom because people have asked me about raising money before and I’ve always felt like I didn’t want my hands tied by the investors.
I want to know that if my movie stinks, I can stop production on it and no one loses a dime for this except me. I want to know that everything that I do in the film is based on what I want to do and not based on having to satisfy an agreement with people that have contributed money to the film. So, right now I’m in that rare level where I can fund my own films and do what I want to do, cast who I want to cast and it’s wonderful and it makes the experience a lot of fun. It’s fun in general, but because of the lack of restrictions or the lack of demands, the artistic freedom is limitless.”
Marie Gilbert: “You’re calling the shots.”
Tom Ryan: “Yeah and I think I’m easy to work with and that makes it fun too.” Laughing, “I don’t stress anyone out.”
Marie Gilbert: “Laughing, I’d think that important. Now before I ask you about your music, when will the film come out? Will it premiere at first with the Theatre of Terror in December or at the Macabre Faire Film Festival in January?”
Tom Ryan: “Actually, the film has already premiered at the Landmark Loews Theater in Jersey City on October 10th. The Landmark Loews is a beautiful theatre and it was a great location to have the film premiere and we had a great turnout of over two hundred people. It was a big success. After that, we had a screening West Jersey at the Little Chop of Horrors. We had a small screening there and then most recently, Faces screened at Grindhouse Nights at Café Z in Union, New Jersey. That’s an event where they screen independent films, either shorts or features and we had the pleasure of being there on the screen with a couple of other great films like Cleric and Infliction. We had a great response to the film and now the big event is coming up with the Macabre Faire Film Festival which is a part of the New York Horror Show. That’s running January 16, 17th and 18th at the Upsky Hotel in Hauppauge, New York. Saturday the 17th at 6 p.m. in Room # 3 you can see Faces screening there. We’ll have a vendor’s table all weekend and we’ll be selling Faces DVD’s, Vlad the Inhaler CD’s, tee-shirts and posters.”
Marie Gilbert: “I’ll make sure people know this. Are there ever any agents or big studios that come to the Macabre Faire because it’s such a big event? If you’re showing your film an outside studio can approach you, right?”
Tom Ryan: “Yeah, right but I think with these festivals or conventions, it would mostly be a distribution companies. That is basically the extent of it. I don’t think you’ll run into anybody that’s...I could be wrong of course; I haven’t met everybody, but I don’t think you’ll run into anybody from Miramax or Universal that will say, “Hey I just saw your film in room #3.” Although, that would be great, but those types of opportunities come with exposure. If I can get this film a lot of exposure and a lot of coverage then it could lead to opportunities like you mentioned.”
Marie Gilbert: “Well, I’m hoping that my blog will do just that and, I’ll promote the film on Facebook and Twitter.”
Tom Ryan: “Thank you.”
Marie Gilbert: “I’ve been promoting Chris Eilenstine and Ryan Scott Weber with their films and it is my pleasure to help independent writers, directors and I like the independent films because of the freedom and the larger selections of genre offered so I will be promoting you. But now, I want to ask you about your band.”
Tom Ryan: “Yes, the band is “Vlad the Inhaler” and it’s a heavy rock band. We’re all heavy metal fans back since we were teenagers in the 80’s. Our band is definitely on the harder rock edge, but just like our films, we have a lot of creative freedom and one thing that we learned over the years is that we don’t like to get pigeon holed in a particular genre. So, if we’re not doing fast heavy riffs we’re not the band we want to be and that’s just not true. We just want to write songs that we like. Because of our influences we are going to write heavy stuff, but there are going to be times when we write something mellow, groovy, reggae, punk rock or whatever because we have a lot of freedom with what we write, but our music does have a heavy edge.”
Marie Gilbert: “You have a studio album out called “The Human Infection.”
Tom Ryan: “The Human Infection is an eleven song CD, all original music. The album has a flow to it and there is a lot of variety of music to hear on there.”
Tom Ryan: “The band right now is in the process of writing new music for the next album and we don’t have any gigs planned right now, but anyone can feel free to contact us via Facebook or on our website which is vladtheinhaler.com. Check out the music and we are still selling CD’s and other merchandise of sale too.”
Marie Gilbert: “Did you use any of your music in Faces?”
Tom Ryan: “Yes, the film Faces is based on one of our songs and that song appears in the film along with another song, “I Don’t Need”. We also have some music in the film provided by Sylvia Platypus which is a great band and they were nice enough to lend us a couple of songs from their first album. We also have music from some good friends of mine called “Polyabuse” so we have some good offerings in Faces as far as music goes.
Marie Gilbert: “It’s been a pleasure talking to you.”
Tom Ryan: “Same here.”Okay my little zombie snacks, if you have a chance try to go to the Macabre Faire on January 17th and head to room # 3 at 6 p.m. to see Faces and tell Tom, Steampunk Granny sent you.