I had the honor of interviewing title designer, editor, and writer Brian W Collins, check out all his awesome stuff-
Me: You do horror film reviews?, why horror films?, and where can we find them?
BC: I used to run a daily site called Horror Movie A Day, where I’d watch and review a horror movie every day. I “retired” in 2013 after doing it every day for over 6 years, but I still update a few times a month. I also write occasional reviews for ShockTillYouDrop and have a weekly column on horror at BirthMoviesDeath.com.
As for WHY, I just always gravitated toward the horror genre. I’ve been watching them since I was 6 years old (very lenient parents!) and find them to be the most entertaining, and at their best, original and daring genre in film. I never planned to be a writer/reviewer, but it just sort of happened, not long after I moved to LA. It’s not how I make a living, but it’s certainly a fun thing to do for a little bit of extra cash, and occasional free blu-rays.
Me: Why the cut back on horror movie a day?
BC: I cut back on Horror Movie A Day because my day job became more time intensive than it was when I started, and that left me with less free time there. That free time was how I caught up on reading, writing, etc, so it got to the point where I wasn’t spending enough time watching movies for the sake of watching them, or writing anything besides my daily reviews. That, plus we wanted to have a baby, and I knew it would never be possible to do it with a little toddler running around, so it had to go.
Me: How did you get connected with shocktilyoudrop and birthmoviesdeath?
BC: Shock used to be run by Ryan Turek, who is a good friend of mine, so I’d write the occasional thing for him. He’s also suggested me for other stuff over the years, but I’m pretty comfortable at my day job, and now with a baby, I can’t take too many risks with my job situation. I’ve been here longer than I’ve known him or anyone else in LA. As for Birth.Movies.Death, Devin is another friend, and when he was getting ready to launch the site (then called Badass Digest), he asked me to write a weekly piece about horror. I try to do more for them than that (I wrote a lot of Community reviews/articles, for example), because they’re all great writers, and I’m really honored to be a tiny part of the team.
Me: You consider horror to be the most “Original and daring genre”, which film is the most original and daring and why?, where can we find that review?
BC: I don’t usually think in “most” or “best” terms…no matter what movie I say, someone will say it’s wrong and that some other movie is much more (whatever – daring/original in this case). Like I could say Serbian Film, and someone will just say Salo is far more daring, well, OK, then it’s Salo, and then someone will say Serbian Film is more daring, and either way, it doesn’t matter – they’re both pretty brutal experiences that you’ll wonder how they got made, so I don’t really have an answer. It’s NOT the Poltergeist remake, I know that much.
Me: You were the title designer for the “Hatchet” movies, how did you connected with Adam Green?, and what was it like working with him?
BC: HE IS A MONSTER. Kidding. I actually met him when I was volunteering for a film festival called Screamfest that happens every October here in LA. The first Hatchet showed there one year and I introduced myself after the movie because I knew from the film he was a fellow MA native, so I was stoked someone from my neck of the woods had made a kickass slasher movie. By the time Hatchet II came along, we had become pals thanks to a lot of mutual friends like Ryan Turek (former editor of ShockTillYouDrop, now a Blumhouse exec), and since making credits for TV shows was my day job, I almost half-jokingly asked if I could do the credits on the movie, and he said yes. I had also PA’d for a couple days on it, so I actually got two credits on the movie. Take THAT, Danielle Harris.
He’s great to work for. Obviously my contributions were limited at best, but from what I saw, he was very collaborative and also knew what he wanted. I’ve been on other sets where the director seemed like he was unprepared for what he was shooting, which led to a lot of delays, but there was none of that on Hatchet II. You’d be surprised how much of the movie was shot in just those 3 days I was there. I almost got to be in it, sort of – they needed Crowley’s shadow to go across Danielle’s face, and they didn’t want to have Kane do it himself since he was still getting makeup put on, and I’m about Kane’s height, so they almost had me do it, but one of the stunt guys did it instead. I was crushed!
Me: You mentioned appearing on film, you also appeared in “Dead in America” and “Infected”, tell us about those
BC: Dead in America was our student film from film school; half the class worked on one movie (Dead in America), half the class worked on another that never got finished, far as I know. I was the editor and I played a few zombies in it. It taught me a lot, and helped me cement my decision to focus on editing instead of directing or whatever. Infected is a short film that I played the monster and helped edit. I am a shitty actor (as I’m sure the directors of both shorts will attest), but I was the only one the director knew who would work for free and was big enough to play an imposing monster. In human form, the character is played by AJ Bowen, so that was pretty cool. I had to get my torso plaster-casted for it, and I swore off ever doing it again (at least, for no pay hahaha).
Me: You also worked with Adam on Hatchet III and fairy tale police, what was your involvement in those?
BC: Hatchet III I just did the titles. For Fairy Tale Police, I shot a bunch of behind the scenes stuff and edited a little making of piece that was originally supposed to be released along with FTP itself on Xbox, but it ended up just showing on Youtube. Was a fun shoot, I miss doing shit like that, but again, time/baby keeps me from doing so.
Me: You’re also an editor and have worked for NBC, what have you have edited for them?
BC: I don’t edit for them in the traditional sense, I just do the credits at the end of the shows. It’s technically editing since I use an Avid, but it’s all very technical, not much creativity in the process. Doing movies and short films on the side is where I usually get to have a little more fun. The job has other perks however – free parking at Universal is a very nice thing to have. Very easy commute too!, and on Fridays, we get bagels. All very important things to me. Any regular editing I do is at home, freelance gigs.
Me: Do you have any interested in making your own movie?
BC: I used to, but when I made a short film in college, I realized quickly that I would probably not be the best director. I have a tough time explaining what I want and I also have control issues – I’d be the asshole telling actors exactly how to say lines and grabbing the camera from the operator to shoot something myself. So I gravitated more toward editing, because it allows you to input creative ideas without having to deal with all the micro-managing that I’d be terrible at. Plus you can move on when you’re having trouble; if you’re cutting scene 23 and it’s just not working for you, you can just go work on scene 24 and worry about it later – can’t really do that when you’re directing!, I’ve always loved doing jigsaw puzzles, and editing is kind of like assembling a really big one, albeit with more flexibility.
Me: Have you considered 2nd unit director?, like some editors do
BC: Nah, I wouldn’t be any better at 2nd unit directing than I was at 1st unit, hahaha. I directed a short in 2002 and it came out awful. It is not in my skill set.
Me: You mentioned loving editing because it’s like a jigsaw, is that your favorite part?
BC: It’s fun to get all that footage and start making something out of it. Like you get these 10 minute clips of people saying the same four lines over and over, and it’s boring, right?, but then you start cutting it up and making the scene out of it, and suddenly, it’s this entertaining element of a movie someone will love. That’s awesome. Plus, you’re largely free of the on-set bullshit that can make filmmaking such a chore – actors hiding in their trailers, sun coming up… all that stuff is in the past and now you get to just put the movie together.
Me: What are your current/upcoming projects?
BC: Right now, I am working on finishing up Horror Movie A Day: The Book (I know, creative title), which will be a year’s worth of horror recommendations. Not all obscure stuff, but more in that vein – I didn’t want to be like “You should see The Shining!” because every horror book says that (and rightfully so). If you haven’t seen The Shining yet, I won’t be the one to convince you. So it’s mostly indie/foreign/DTV stuff that stuck out for one reason or another over the 6 years I was watching a horror movie every day. If all goes to plan, that will be out before the end of the year (perfect holiday gift!), for Kindles and such, but hopefully we can get a small print run too.
Me: What all can we expect from you in the future?
BC: Besides the book, in the future, you will hopefully see more updates to HMAD; not daily anymore of course, but hopefully at LEAST once a week, preferably every 3 days or so, because of the book, I’ve let it slide; there are some months with only like 2 new reviews, and that’s no good, and also, once it’s done, I can start doing longer/more intensive installments of my Collins Crypt column at Birth.Movies.Death, and contributing other things to the site, but I also already have an idea for another book that will take a lot of research and movie viewing, guess we will see how this first one is received before deciding to plunge into another.
Me: Thank you so much for this interview!