Interview: James Cullen Bressack

Rhiannon Irons, a.k.a Ahlephia, here with another amazing interview.  This time I had the pleasure of picking the brain of writer/producer/director James Cullen Bressack about his film Hate Crime as well as the horror genre in general.

I love giving interviews.  It gives me a chance to challenge the minds of directors and writers throughout the world, plus get the inside scoop on some of their films.  Interviewing James was no exception.  We spoke about his film Hate Crime before chatting about what influenced him to create such a movie as well as what he’ll be releasing next and….Leprechauns?!  You’ll have to read it to believe it.

HateCrimeREI:  How did the concept for Hate Crime come about?

JAMES:  The concept of Hate Crime came about in several different ways. I had always wanted to make a home invasion film because I had honestly feared home invasions my entire life, ever since I was a wee little lad. But what really brought on the Idea for the neonazi aspect of the film was a scary chance encounter in Texas. My business partner and I were at a bar and were harassed by skinheads and asked to leave. We, being Jewish  started to feel really hurt by this kind of blind hatred and we looked into it. Sure enough there are many many Hate Crimes in the US per year and an alarming amount of them are against Jewish people and are violent. I knew Hate Crime had to be made.

REI:  Can you give us some behind the scenes secrets for Hate Crime including how long the shoot was, how you found your actors, locations and crew etc.?

JAMES:  The shoot was 2 and a half weeks long and we had grueling rehearsals where I walked the actors through everything. I put up a casting notice and auditioned over 200 people per role and had over 1000 submissions for each role, the best actor ended up with the role. The only person who didn’t have to audition was Jody Barton who played One, I had worked with him before and wrote the role with him and mind. I offered it to him and he obliged.

One thing I can say about the hunt for locations was that it was hilarious. First we found a location and they didn’t want to let us use the location because we were going to film there. We then found another location and they didn’t want to rent to us because we were Jewish, Ironic right? We then found yet another location but we asked them if the oven was big enough to fit an entire person and they hung up on Jarret.

We ended up with the perfect location, cast, and crew and that is what matters.

REI:  How did you get into film making?

JAMES:  I guess it was just a natural transition really. I had been around the business my entire life, both parents being showbiz vets, and I happened to develop a love for film. I wanted to be a storyteller of sorts and so as soon as I had access to a camera I picked one up and started making short films, of which I made MANY. I actually made short films sometimes as school projects instead of actually doing the assignment. We were suppose to do a written report about the solar system? I made a short film parody of Mission Impossible where the villain stole the moon. Needless to say my teachers hated me, but I always had a one track mind.

REI:  Are you a horror fan? If so, what is your favorite horror movie, aside from anything you’ve been a part of?

JAMES:  I am a huge horror fan. For me it’s a toss up between Hostel, Audition, and Brain Damage.

REI:  Out of all the work you’ve done, do you have a favorite project that you were a part of?

JAMES:  Hate Crime was my favorite by far. I have a love affair with it.

REI:  You are a master of many talents. You write, you produce and you direct. Do you have a preference or enjoy each of those tasks equally?548218_419797508080780_1409669759_n

JAMES:  I prefer to Write/Direct. I look at myself as a Writer & Director and I don’t take myself too seriously as a producer. I just produce for fun and to keep myself occupied.

REI:  What has been your biggest influences when creating your films? (This can be movies or people within the industry)

JAMES:  Leprechauns…. Mostly lucky from the lucky charms series. He was a major influence to me. Also Warwick Davis as leprechaun in leprechaun in space was a major cinematic influence on my work. Also I plan on shooting a film in Mobile Alabama in hopes to meet a real life leprechaun. I have a leprechaun flute. —(signed) Tristan Risk

But in all seriousness Eli Roth, Quentin Tarentino, Robert Rodriguez and Chan Wook Park.

REI:  Hate Crime came with very mixed reviews. Some people loved it, while others hated it. What’s been your response to the haters of this film and how do you feel about the reviews in general?

JAMES:  Well we had over 90 reviews and only 5 of them were negative, one of them being this site, the others were all rave reviews so I don’t quite look at that as mixed reviews. We also won awards at festivals around the world.

That being said I made the movie that I made and people either like it or they don’t that is up to them. I just hope it makes them feel something.

REI:  Looking back at your career is there anything that you would change or have done differently if give the opportunity?

JAMES:  I would have killed that damn leprechaun when I had the chance.

REI:  What has been the hardest part of your career thus far?

JAMES:  The Leprechauns… The damn leprechauns…

REI:  Will you stay within the horror genre for the remainder of your career or will you branch out into other genres? How do you feel about combining genres?

rsz_jamesJAMES:  I would like to branch out and am branching out of horror on my next project. I look at myself as a filmmaker, the films I have made happen to be horror but I will tackle other genres.

REI:  What can we expect from you in the future?

JAMES:  To Jennifer & Pernicious.

I hope you have a strong stomach kids.

REI:  What is the best advice you can give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

JAMES:  I’ve learned the worst thing isn’t putting out a product that people may not like, but not putting out a product at all. If you never finish the film, how will you ever know if people would like your style? you wont. So you have to just go for it! Make the best movie you can and market the shit out of it. Make sure people know about your movies.

I would like to thank James for his time in answering my questions.  It was truly an honor and I wish him all the best with his future endeavors.

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