Laura Seli is an Ohio based filmmaker who has produced two films, Sabbath and most recently the film Dread. Laura was kind enough to take the time to spend a few minutes talking to the boxx about what it is like to be an independent Producer. We love to get the opportunity to expose our audience to new voices in the industry and hopefully provide you with a glimpse of what Laura goes through in her quest to bring new terror to screens across the country. Please take a moment to read what this dedicated filmmaker has to say!
- As a producer your job requires you wear a number of different hats. Most of us see the words Produced by appear on the screen every time we watch a Film or TV show but we really don't know what it means, what does it mean for you?
The Executive Producer makes things HAPPEN! Not only do they bankroll the film, they 'hire' everyone, keep the director on track, oversee the script, approve the edit and all that entails secure distribution and finally, promote the film.
For me it includes all of the above plus, write the film, create the creatures/characters, do costumes, make the f/x, create the props, secure the locations, set the filming schedule, provide all tools/equipment, provide all food/beverage, be second unit director/camera op, create ADR f/x and provide additional direction to cast and crew!
- Your first film Sabbath came out just last year. What have you done differently on Dread now that you have that first feature experience under your belt?
You live, you learn. For me it was the need to get more involved.
On Sabbath, I left a few things to others, and was often let down. On Dread, I came in prepared to work hard on Pre-Production, Production and Post, and I feel it paid off.
- In addition to producing, you also write the films as well. Was writing the reason you got into the film business or was your focus originally elsewhere?
I love film and I'm convinced my forte is writing. I never intended on being behind the scenes but, out of necessity, it happened. I don't regret it, but it's a SERIOUS undertaking. I'd much rather write and move on to my next idea, but that's nearly impossible when you are making small films!
- What has been the most difficult aspect of bringing your work to its final stages? (DVD Release)
For me it's securing the locations. Approaching others and asking for permission is always a nail biter. Fortunately, I can almost always rely on the kindness of strangers!
I've landed locales that have denied others past filming requests, so you never know!
And the biggie... which distributor to sign with! Always gut wrenching! It's really the lesser of two evils!
- How did you become involved with director William Victor Schotten?
William Victor Schotten is a very personable guy. I met him at a workplace where he visited as a sales rep. I think he commented on my Mushroomhead mouse pad, and then talked about a film he was making. The next time he stopped in, I discussed a project I had (Sabbath). When it was done, I called him and he said he'd take a look. I mailed it to him, and wow! The very next day he called me excited and said he wanted to direct it!
It just escalated from there!
- Is it your intent to continue working within the realm of the horror genre or can fans expect a curveball into new territory at some point?
I do love horror! I'm really into the supernatural thriller so I'll keep in that vein. Maybe, just maybe, I'll write an adventure/comedy. But, I'll leave that to Hollywood to film!
- Having written the screenplays is it tough to sit back and watch someone else handle your material?
If I get a script into Hollywood, no problem. But for my films, for the most part, I was right there. I'm always VERY shocked how my script can be interpreted so many ways. I had to intervene several times to keep the story on track. Sometimes I was overruled, for better or worse, but it's all good!
- Is directing in your future or would you prefer to sit tight where you are and continue to write and produce?
I'm not a very good verbal communicator, plus I'm a little shy and quiet, which people misconstrue as anti-social. So...probably not, but I'm working one-on-one for my next film and I expect to do a lot better with my explanations!
- Is Hollywood your goal or will you continue to base your work out of Ohio?
I'm definitely staying in Ohio! We get the shaft from the rest of the nation and by our own sometimes, but Ohio has TONS going for it! I'm constantly on an expedition finding new facts, venues, artifacts and hidden things here! I will NEVER run out of ideas or great locations or raw talent here in Ohio!
- With the economy suffering are you finding that your job has become even more difficult and where do you as a filmmaker feel it the most?
We've been hit hard in Ohio and I've noticed over the last two years that Hollywood distributors are not even interested in micro budget films.
I've been fortunate to have interest, but it's not gangbusters like it once was. I'm taking this time for pre-production, and relying on my contacts to let me know when the coast is clear to start filming again!
- What is the most bizarre occurrence you have faced in this business so far and what made it so?
For me it's synchronicity (a happy coincidence)! WOW! It happened like crazy during Sabbath, then got out of control with Dread. Now, in doing my next film, even more bizarre ties with strangers, or things that happen as if by 'magic'! I've been very blessed with good things and great saves when situations got out of hand!
- If you found yourself in the position of having to make a career change where do you think you would be likely to look?
Well, being quiet, I've already started an experiment in terror... I've become a bartender! Wow! Did I misunderstand the assignment! I thought people just mingled with each other, NO! You have to TALK to them! So, I've already had a severe career move. The jury, of course is still out...
- This is always our wild card what if question. If you found yourself twenty five years from now a huge success and were told your films were all being remade, how do you think you would feel about that?
I say, who woulda thunk it! If I'm still around, I say to them - have at it! I will probably want no part of it, once was enough for me! Let them try to decipher what I wrote! I'm still trying to figure it out, too!
KillingBoxx Note: All of us here in the boxx would just like to take the opportunity to say thank you to Laura for stopping by and sharing her wisdom. If you are a regular reader we hope this interview provided you with some insight into not only the responsibilities of the Producer on a film, but a quick look at another up and coming voice in the horror community. Laura has the drive and the determination to hang tough even in the worst economical crunch the country has seen since the depression, show her some support and find yourself a copy of Dread! Send a message to the fat cats in Hollywood that the day of the independent artist is here, we don't need them.
Additional information about Laura and her work can be found at the following links: