Thursday, October 27, 2011

Staying Scared With Scopel!

October, the leaves are falling off the trees, flickering grins wink at us from pumpkins, candy abundantly appears in bags held by costumed children, and Thomas Scopel scares the crap out of us unwary readers. 

            If you’re one of those people who are afraid of evil clowns, then you’ll want to wear a diaper when Mr. Scopel is in your hands or on your screen. But seriously, underneath the bloody, grimy, creepy makeup, Thomas is a sweet heart—I promise (he only bites on the full moon).  I saved Mr. Scopel’s interview especially for Halloween time, because most of all, I truly enjoyed reading his short story ‘Twitch’, not to mention all the other amazing short stories and entertaining blog posts he writes. And don’t miss this cleverly horrific creative author’s new webcast: Wee Willie Wicked!

NS:  *SCREAM* Oh, it’s just you Thomas—you scared the heck out of me! Now that you’ve snuck up on me, why don’t you tell everyone out there who you are, and give us some links to your sites and webcast.

TS: Well, there’s my main website Then there are two blogs that I write on. Http:// is what I like to consider my official blog, while is my evil clown alter ego’s blog. On a whim I started the webcast and tried on both Ustream, as well as Livestream, but found both to be a bit slow. And, while we’re on the webcast subject, I am regretful to say that due to recent changes in employment, time constraints have reared their ugly heads forcing me to limit some of my horror endeavors. It was a matter of selecting one or the other, and since I’ll never eliminate writing, the next in line was the webcast. I hated to do this, but there are some things more important like food and shelter. Although, and at this point I can’t say for sure or exactly when, but I suspect that this webcast will continue. In the meantime, time permitting, I’m occasionally creating little creepy videos featuring Wee Willie Wicked and posting them at various places.

NS: One of my favorite things to learn about authors is what they were like as children. So, what sort of a horrible munchkin were you? And what were your hobbies back then?

TS: I grew up in the shadows of Pittsburgh’s Chiller Theater. This was a Saturday night staple featuring Chilly Billy Bill Cardille (the newscaster in the movie Night of the Living Dead) that I began watching at a very early age. Every Saturday night from 11:30 pm until 3:00 am I could be religiously found glued to the television watching. Sometimes I made it through both films and sometimes I didn’t. This show is what I primarily contribute to starting me on the road to horror. I also read voraciously too, and am a huge fan of horror magazines and comics. There was a massive Oak tree in our front yard that I had climbed and wedged an old chair seat from one of those single piece school desks into a couple of branches. This is where I did a majority of my reading. Comfortably perched high and hidden by the foliage. With the exception of an occasional car passing by, it was serene and secluded, a perfect reading spot. This is where I found the likes of Poe, Lovecraft, King, Stoker, Serling and so many others.   

As far as hobbies were concerned, besides reading and film, I built the old Aurora monster models and had them scattered around my room. I also had a fair amount of horror type ceramics too. When I hit my early teen years, I found special effects, masks and such, to be quite interesting. I suppose that’s where Wee Willie Wicked stems from.

NS: Everyone has someone who influenced them. Who or what influenced you to be truly passionate about horror?

TS: I guess Chilly Billy would be considered my most influential. Even though he never wrote horror, he certainly introduced me to it. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee from the old Hammer films had a lot to do with this too. As far as writers’ are concerned, I’ve admired and enjoyed many, but don’t truly have a favorite. I really enjoy horror anthologies filled with established and the up and comers.

NS: So, I have to know, will there be a companion story to Twitch? And what other haunted goodies do you have in store for us?

TS: I’ve been asked this a number of times and yes, there is another Twitch tale in me. When? I can’t say other than I’ve jotted a few things down and it will be his chronological middle story. I’m working on fleshing it out, research and with how to make it a standalone. I may take the novella and rearrange it, include the middle tale and make it a novel. But, I’m not sure yet and would like to finish a few other things first.

Otherwise, I’m working on a horror / sci-fi type novel called Future Past. It is a story about a company that you can go to in order to see what could have happened had you taken a different route in life. But, you can’t change it and this has various repercussions for the characters.

Besides that, I have a number of short pieces (A Lawnly Existence, The Sidewalk Ends, Legacy, Dreamented, Rudely Yours and more) in various stages.

Most recent publishing includes The Pumpkin Patch (NorGus Press’s Look What I Found anthology) and The Christmas Help will be in the Open Casket Press (an imprint of Living Dead Press) Dead Christmas anthology slated for release in December.

NS:  In the future, when you have a story that will appear on the big screen, which producer/director do you most wish to work with?

TS: I’ve never given this much thought and actually never considered one of my tales for the big screen. But, now that you’ve mentioned it and planted the seed, if it ever happens, Rob Zombie would probably be my first choice. And, I might add that if this were to occur, I would like to follow the Stephen King route and play a very small role too.

NS: I’ve heard rumors and want to clarify—were you really chased away from a carnival by an angry mob with torches and pitch forks?

TS: I guess my clown outfit wasn’t appreciated heh heh.

NS: What is your costume for this Halloween? And where in the world will you be materializing during October?

TS: A lot of people hate clowns and since I am to frighten, I’ll most certainly be Wee Willie Wicked. However, his brother Jack (a jester who is just as wicked) may also show up on a doorstep somewhere. And, there is a little film in the works that includes both. Mwhahahahahahahaha!

NS: Any bloody bits to impart on the readers (quick, everyone don your raincoats—he took that literally—WATCH OUT!)?

TS: The dull crack of the cleaver gashing into and through her skull bone was music to his ears. Somewhat disappointed the scream didn’t last as long as he had hoped for, the warm blood spraying across his face made up for it. And the taste was oh so sweet…

Wow, you are one freaky author Thomas, and I’m super excited you stopped by for the interview. Many, many spine-chilling thanks! Happy Halloween Everyone!!!

Find Thomas Scopel here:


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Women In Horror: Crimson Stained Lace

Lisa Coffelt {director}
Crimson Stained Lace Productions

It gladdens my heart when I come across women supporting women in horror, and one such person is Lisa Coffelt and her production company ‘Crimson Stained Lace’.

     If you visit the CSL site you will see they are busy at work on projects ranging from a horror benefit cookbook, to their newest scream-a-licious films.  Media today makes it possible for great indie production companies to empower all walks of life, and it only takes a little interest and love from us dedicated horror fans to keep them thriving—so, check out CSL and show them some props!

NS: To start, why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your history, like where you grew up, and what inspired your passion for horror.

LC: Well my story is a little vast, but I'll give you the run down. To start, if you wondered how to pronounce the last name it is "cough-felt". I normally do a hand gesture when I explain it. Anyhow, I grew up in a teeny tiny town of Glasgow, Kentucky. I wasn't really allowed to watch scary movies, but I would stay up late at night after everyone went to sleep to watch anything scary. Horror has always fascinated me, I'm kind of a scare junkie. When I was a kid it was a thrill to watch The Exorcist, Pumpkinhead, Candyman or the X-files. I think though the most memorable experience that drove me to my love of horror has to be Edgar Allan Poe, I was reading his work from the time I was probably 9 years old, and throughout grade school I watched a lot of the Roger Corman/Vincent Price films. So my love for the scare doesn't stop at movies, Kentucky has some haunted places, and even though ghosts and hauntings scare the bejeezus out of me, I can never get enough.
     Before I graduated high school, I started writing scripts and stories, because I wanted to go to film school. My now husband, bought me a Digital8 Handycam for a graduation present, but it set on the shelf for a couple of years. After feeling like I was in a rut, and going to school for anthropology, I dropped everything and started making horror films in 2007. I taught myself everything from camera operation, producing and editing, my husband helped me along the ride. We made a few films there and in 2009, we moved to Los Angeles. I decided to attend the New York Film Academy for a 12 week workshop, just to help brush up on things and from there I made several more films, including my dancing zombie flick called "The Sound of Zombies". My husband, James, has been writing most of the stuff for the past 4 years, up until this past year I've been able to write some great stuff, including my new flick. So in short, I'm a writer, producer, director, editor. Directing is my real passion though.
     There's something about horror that baffles me, it also helps me to overcome my own fears. I kind of have a thing about people on ceilings in movies, it really freaks me out. So now I know I need to make something with someone on the ceiling, horror is kind of a messed up therapy for me.

NS: There’s a lot to learn from your adventures, can you give us some links to CSL, and we’re dying to know more about your production company.

LC: I started Crimson Stained Lace in 2007, it’s really my own. When I came up with the name, it was really something that I wanted to inspire horror but have a touch of femininity, so most everything is updated on our website The website has a good run down of the company and our people. We're also on YouTube, where you can watch trailers and some of our films which is And right now we're running an IndieGoGo campaign, until October 16th, to fund our new film Internal Thoughts: There's so much happening right now, that we are trying to update all of it.

NS: Do you have a favorite female horror producer? And why is she on your kudos list?

LC: I gotta tell you this is a hard question. I didn't come out of the womb knowing that there were women horror filmmakers. It was only in 2008, that I found it out when I was at a festival, and a guy came up to me after my screening (where I was the only female horror director there) and told me about Shannon Lark and the The Chainsaw Mafia. After I learned about her, the world changed for me. I learned about so many women and realized that some of my favorite movies were directed by women. For instance, American Psycho gained a whole new perspective from me after I learned about Mary Harron. But since being in the world of women in horror, I have to say that one of my favorite female filmmakers in horror is a friend of mine, Marichelle Daywalt. She has made some fantastic pieces, what drew me to her was one of her firsts "Anniversary". It's a gorgeous short that proves women can be just as messed up as men, maybe even more so. She has the most twisted ideas, and I love it.

NS: If you could pick any female actress you wanted to be in one of your films, who would it be?

LC: Oooohhhh another tough question, but an exciting one to answer. Quite honestly, I'm not into fancy-shmancy glamor Hollywood types. A friend of mine wrote a story for me to direct, it's a fantastic story, but is going to require some cash, more cash than we have right now. But there are 2 main characters, and I had only 2 women in mind for these roles Shannon Lark and Tiffany Shepis. Two of the most amazing actresses that I know, that don't get enough praise and recognition. They are the two women that I want in one of my films if not more. Sorry I couldn't narrow it down to one.

NS: It takes a lot of people to make a film and run a production company, tell us a bit about the rest of Crimson Stained Lace’s crew.

LC: Well it started out with only me and the hubby, and it was that way for a long time. We've had a couple of people go in and out of the picture. But right now we have a few reoccurring players, and I love the team we have, we're so connected and we're all friends. James Coffelt, my husband, has been the go to guy, he's my grip, artist, actor, he's operated the camera a few times (although he doesn't like to), he's muscle, a carpenter, makeup effects artist, you name it and he's done it. He's currently going to school for animation and visual effects, so hopefully that will help future films.
     Now we have Chris Wingood, who I met when he was software producer, and we converted him to take his hand at film. A little something that's interesting with Chris is that horror isn't exactly his thing. I think we are slowly converting him. We have Crizzle, she's a fantastic AD and Script Sup. She's so handy, no matter what challenges I give her, she adapts and figures it out. She's kind of been my right hand for the past few films. On the post side of things, we recently brought on Jerry Barksdale, who's a great composer and musician. He does all of his work all the way from Kentucky, and we actually didn't connect until we moved to LA. As far as makeup effects, we have Lauren Ishii, who knows her stuff. She came aboard this past year. And then lastly, but most certainly not least is Ron Chavez who's a fantastic photographer. Everyone is friends with everyone. We don't make any money; we all do it for free because we enjoy making movies. In fact, most everything that we have monetarily goes into making films.

NS: What are your near future projects?

LC: I thought you'd never ask. So there are a couple of hush-hush projects looming around, but I mentioned "Internal Thoughts". It's written and directed by me. It's a story based upon a point in my life where I might have been psychotic and crazy. But the IndieGoGo campaign is going on for that; we have some great cast and crew, which is approximately 70% female, including DP Jessica Gallant, & Angele Caron as our stunt coordinator. This film stars twins Rachel and Rebekah Rife, Truett Butler and Adam Smith. We are extremely excited about this project, because we finally have everything we need to make this film right, including cast, crew and equipment.
     I just finished a non-horror comedy, which is in post-production called "CrotchRocket Mission". This is definitely something new that we tried. It stars Shey Lyn Zanotti and James Coffelt.
     Then we have the "Have A Heart For Horror Cookbook", which is set for release in February 2012. Although, it's not a film, it is a huge undertaking. It's all about women in horror from all aspects, including writers, artists, filmmakers and more. I really wanted something that could bring women in horror together, something that you could collectively take with you or have. It's also something that demonstrates the yin and yang of women, yes we can be suzie-homemaker, but we could slice you open with a butcher knife without a second thought. We have a ton of women, and right now we are looking for art and poetry by women, and also anyone can purchase an ad space. I'm hoping it goes over well enough to do a second volume. All of the proceeds goes to "Project Get Safe", which helps to prevent real life horrors such as abuse and domestic violence.
     I'm also working on a documentary, which is going to take a few years and is about boardgaming, my other passion. If you don't find me with a camera, you'll find me rolling a D6.
     There are also a couple more surprises like zombies, steampunk and other things that we're planning for. But at this point, I think we're going to start drawing things out of a hat for what is next, because there is so much to do.

NS: Where would you like to see CSL in the future?

LC: I'm not 100% sure. I really want to bring the knowledge of filmmaking back to the south. My family has a lot of land, and maybe I can create a compound of sorts with a huge 10,000 sq foot warehouse that we can have green screens and such and live there. I'd really like to do a few things with CSL, maybe an after school program for children to learn how to make films. Create a small festival for horror in my hometown. But, the ultimate goal is to keep making awesome movies and making them bigger and better, and just maybe having enough of a following that will help us fund our films for the future. We really love making shorts, but would like to try our hand at making a feature. It's kind of a toss-up, CSL and I are one in the same, and I want a lot for it. So for now we'll just live in the moment.

NS: Where can we find you this Halloween, and what costume will you be traipsing around in?

LC: Hmmmm....I might not be dressed up, but I'm hoping to go and see Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer here in LA. "Internal Thoughts" is kind of picking my pocket, because it’s such a labor of love. So Halloween may consist of jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin ice cream and Charlie Brown may be in my plans, which will be perfectly fine with me. However, I recently went red, and if at all possible I'd like to just dress up as Poison Ivy for no reason. I'm a fan of being crazy and dressing up anytime. Don't be surprised if I do that for a red carpet event. Halloween is awesome, but I don't really have a strong pull to dress up and do crazy stuff just on that particular day, everyday should be Halloween.

NS: Any advice you would like to impart on those aspiring to create their own horror films?

LC: Just make a film, get a camera, and get some friends. Make a film that's a couple of minutes, and then get longer and longer which each following film. It doesn't matter what camera you use. In all honesty its more about sound. I had a teacher to tell me that you blink your eyes not your ears, so you can miss the visual mistakes, but your ears are not so forgiving. Don't overwhelm yourself, it's a good idea to start off with as few players as possible, then add more and more as you get comfortable.
     Keep in mind that a bathtub of blood is a lot of work. it once took me about 12 hours to mix one up for my very first film. Funny story. Really just be passionate about it, don't get into making any sort of movie with the idea that you're going to make money, because you'll be disappointed. The last piece of advice is, it's ok to panic. Right before I film any of my films, I go into a small anxiety attack, which may or may not require a visit to the toilet. But panic before filming, it'll get it out of your system and keep you cool for the shoot. It's my secret to share with aspiring filmmakers.

NS: Last parting words? J

LC: Thank you so much Nishi, for having me. Sorry if I've talked your head off, it's really been a blast. I'd just really like to encourage everyone to support female filmmakers, they often don't quite get as much recognition as their male counterparts, but they make some awesome films, and a lot of them will be featured in the cookbook. One last this is to go check out the IndieGoGo campaign for "Internal Thoughts". We thought we would have another go with trying IndieGoGo, last time we had some success. We're offering some really great perks and awesome items in exchange for donations. It's really worth checking out.

What a pleasure to have you over for an interview! I’m thrilled to the bone for Crimson Stained Lace, and plan to see great projects gracing the horror industry.