A couple of weeks ago I got to sit down in my little world and have a chat with author, filmmaker, artist and all around do everything guy, Michael Freeman. With two books being released at the same time, I thought I would share our conversation. Sit back and relax and enjoy the ride.
AJ: Michael Freeman, tell me a little about yourself.
MF: I am a 44-year-old indie filmmaker/director/writer with eight kids.
AJ: Eight kids?
MF: Yep…and it is enough.
AJ: Man, you’ve been busy.
MF: Nah, most are gone from home now. I only have three left at home Few more years and I can run around the house in my underwear again
AJ: Before we get into talking about writing and film making, what’s it like to be a dad to that many kids? I mean, one more and you could have had a baseball team.
MF: Feels like a referee at times. But I love my little monsters, and we have a lot of fun when I am not so busy. Heck, I don’t have to pay staff for our haunted house attraction, they all work for candy.
AJ: Hahahahaha—and I bet they do a good job.
MF: My two youngest daughters are terrifying.
AJ: And how old are they?
MF: Six and Seven.
AJ: Ooooh yeah, that age where they realize they can drive their parents crazy.
MF: Yep. Or sneak in your room in the middle of the night and stand next to your bed so when you open your eyes, you fly across the room.
AJ: Hahahaha! The Boy does that. It is creepy as crap.
MF: Mine do it all the time. It scares the hell out of me every time
AJ: Yeah, me too. So, tell me about writing. What do you write and why?
MF: Most of what I write is horror or sci-fi. I write it because of the haunted attraction industry. I worked for a Jaycees Haunt back in Jr High and loved that I could make someone into a creature that scared people. Off seasons I would write stories.
I have been doing this since before 1982 and it never gets old for me. And most guys out there think it is a way to get rich or make a ton of money, but I write, film, draw for fans. Money is great but I got that covered enough to take care of mine, so this is what I do because I enjoy it.
AJ: So working at a haunted attraction got you into writing and film making and drawing? Did you actually do the make up for those people at that attraction?
MF: I did. I started in special make-up effects and have worked in some of the largest in the country.
AJ: So then you have a LOT of experience with this. That is awesome.
MF: I got to be on the Pumpkin Head set when I was 18 and learn some new things. I have learned a ton from Dick Smith, Tom Savini, Allen Hopps.
AJ: I bet you have had a lot of fun doing that, too.
MF: It’s been good. I just got an invite a few months ago from the Krampus effects guys to come visit a set in August for a new film they are doing.
AJ: Are you going to do it?
MF: I don’t know yet. With how things are going right now, I may be filming the Virus K series in August.
AJ: Tell me about Virus K.
MF: I can’t tell you too much about it. What I can say is the Lolipop Guild meets The Walking Dead but not zombies
AJ: Ha. Top Secret.
MF: Yes. We keep that one guarded closely until the treatment book is released.
AJ: What is a treatment book?
MF: It is a book that goes out to test the market for the story. If the book catches on and does well then the series moves forward. They are usually around 70-100 pages, like a pilot episode. Lisa has read it since she is publishing it. Well episode one anyway.
AJ: Very cool. You said Lisa, do you mean Lisa Vasquez of Stitched Smile Publications?
MF: Yes. She has the pilot book. The way we are thinking about the release is episode one/book one package deal.
AJ: When you say episode one/book one, do you mean like a movie/book deal?
AJ: That would be cool. You can read the book then watch the film right after.
MF: It is a DVD set with up to 16 episodes per season and 4 seasons written so far. Casting has been a nightmare since there is over 200 extras that are kids
AJ: 200 kids? That has to be like herding cats.
MF: It would be if I could ever get them cast, and then we have to get them in make-up chairs for prosthetics.
AJ: Are you the creator of the series?
MF: Yes. I created it
AJ: What inspired you to create it?
MF: It was a dream I had a couple of years ago while I was Dying from Xanax withdrawal. Doctor over prescribed then took me off too fast when he realized his mistake. Damn near killed me.
AJ: Oh wow. That is crazy.
MF: Had some pretty good dreams, though.
AJ: How long did it take you to recover?
MF: Four months and eighteen trips to the ER.
AJ: Eighteen trips to the ER? Holy cow.
MF: Yeah My brain does not create serotonin, and they had me on those to try to balance it out. When they took it away after 6 years of overdosing me, my body went into shock.
AJ: So, what are you doing for the serotonin now?
MF: I take a substitute. I am waaaaaayyyy medicated. But not non-functioning medicated. That is what I would be without medication
AJ: That’s crazy. I’m sure I’m not the only one to think or say this, but I am really glad you are doing okay right now.
MF: Thanks. Me too
AJ: So, what do you enjoy most about being a writer, a film maker and an overall artist?
MF: Fan reactions.
AJ: Man, I know exactly what you mean.
MF: That has always been the payoff, good or bad. If it is a good reaction then I am great. If it is bad, then I have learned to do something different next time
AJ: I think you said something very important that all artist (no matter what the venue) can take away from this: if you get a negative thought from a fan, then you can take that and learn from it. That is how you get better as an artist.
MF: Always. Too many people that write or whatever path they follow take criticism the wrong way. They get all bent out of shape instead of listening to those people that follow them and their work and make the adjustments to not only make their experience better, but improve on a lifelong craft centuries old.
AJ: It is said to do any sort of art, you have to have thick skin, but I would also add that you need to take things in stride as well. I try not to get too up or too down–those emotions can ruin you.
MF: For sure.
AJ: You are also a partner with SSP, right?
MF: I merged two of my companies with SSP a few months ago and if Lisa needs something I find a way to get it done.
AJ: How has that partnership been so far?
MF: I think it is going fantastic. We bounce ideas off of each other, and it seems to be a perfect fit. SSP compliments my businesses, and I would hope mine compliment SSP.
AJ: Good to hear.
So, tell me what else can we expect from you in the near future?
MF: This crazy ass film challenge, four graphic novels, a kids series, and if all goes well season one of Virus K, plus what Lisa throws at me.
AJ: Film challenge? Tell me about that.
MF: I have been offered a really unique challenge from the My Rode Reel 2016. They would like me to submit ten short films on or before May 1st. I took 8th place in this festival with one film last year and now they want ten. So now people know why I have been all over the place like a mad man.
AJ: Ten films? How many have you finished so far?
MF: Two done. Six written ideas and on the final two.
AJ: And you have less than two months to finish it all.
MF: Yep. I am filming Whispers tomorrow, editing Sunday then shooting down the list in two-day intervals.
AJ: How confident are you that you will meet the deadline?
MF: Oh I got this if I have to do it all. I work good under pressure or pissed. I think with this one I may be a little of both.
AJ: Is there anywhere that we can get updates on this as you continue forward.
MF: Rode Reels
As the films become available to vote on I will post links there, do thunderclaps, pretty much drive social media crazy every day until June 1st when voting closes.
AJ: Okay Michael, is there anything else you want us to know before we close this down tonight?
MF: I think you know it all now. LOL. If not people can feel free to send me a message or email and I will get back to them as soon as I can. I usually check those things twice a day.
AJ: And where can people contact you?
MF: email@example.com. @ne_films on Twitter. I have other accounts that I can’t think of off the top of my head, but those are what I check the most.
AJ: Okay, Michael. I appreciate your time. I know you are a very busy guy.
MF: And don’t forget Strigoi and Strychnine.
AJ: Oh yes, tell us about those if you don’t mind.
MF: Strigoi is five years of study I did on the Vampire religion for the first book that leads to the vampire war. And Strychnine was originally a rock opera with the main band being a pack of werewolves as a metal band with a new mission to save the earth.
That was pretty brief
AJ: It was. You have a co-author for one of those, right?
MF: Donelle Whiting started as my editor on both, but her additions to the stories were so good that I wanted her to leave them in and co-author on both so she had the credits for her hard work.
AJ: That is totally cool, as a writer, to do that. Most other writers would not do something like that.
MF: She basically made both of those books shine. I have gotten into writing screenplay format, and she just fleshed them out and made them better. She did the work; she gets the credit.
AJ: I agree with you there.
MF: And one other thing to be watching out for is I will be uploading two classes on screenwriting and one on Graphic Novel writing for authors that are interested.
AJ: You are diverse, aren’t you?
MF: Gotta be today.
AJ: Yeah, man, truth. Michael, again, thank you for your time. I appreciate you sitting down with me with your packed schedule.
MF: Not a problem. I needed the break from edits and cuts.
AJ: Have a good night and I’m going to let you go, buddy.
MF: Sounds good. Take it easy and have a good night. I am going back to editing footage. LOL.
You can find Strychnine here.
You can find Strigoi here.