Exclusive Interview: Actor Brandon Slagle Talks Zombies, Hauntings, G.I. JOE And More
Brandon Slagle was born just outside of Austin, Texas and spent his his child and young adulthood divided between Texas and New York City. Growing streetwise and business savvy, he never took anything lightly and never expected any hand-outs. Coming from a strong work ethic as well as well as an extremely rich cultural and diverse ethnic background, he has been able to make amazing things come from very little, and has begun to leave his mark on the film world. He refuses to be completely satisfied – always looking for the next great role, the next amazing opportunity, and the next chance to do something that hopefully will prove a little more “interesting” than the prior one was.
It’s been a few years since we caught up with Slagle who definitely wears many hats when it comes to filmmaking. Acting, Writing, Directing and even producing, the guy does it all and keeps busy cranking out new and interesting projects.
Check out my latest “Versus” with Brandon Slagle who gives us updates on his currents projects and shares what he thinks of one of the biggest blockbuster disappointments of 2012, Peter Berg’s Battleship, which absolutely sunk at the box office.
Alien Bee – Your new movie Patient Zero just released, congrats!. (For our readers) Tell me a little about this movie and your character.
Brandon Slagle – Patient Zero is essential an origin film for the zombie virus. I portray Dr. Jonathan Wright, the Doctor who is responsible for creating it. Whether he does it intentially or accidentally I’ll leave for you to decide when you watch the film. He’s essentially a 30-year-old former child prodigy, a Doogie Howser, if you will, who seems to also be trained in the ways of kicking ass.The film isn’t necessarily a prequel to the director, Brian T. Jaynes’ previous film, Humans vs Zombies, but can be viewed as such. The distributor, Hannover House, is also marketing it as such. I enjoyed working on the film, not just because Brian and Frederic Doss (who portrayed Frank in HvZ and has an interesting supporting role in this one) are friends of mine, but because the crew worked their asses off and kept the ship moving, which is incredibly conducive to keeping the actors in the moment for this type of film. Now that I’ve seen it, it may in fact be my personal favorite of the films I’ve had a major role in, as I’m normally notoriously, damningly self-critical.
Alien Bee – You have a lot of projects you’re working on. Give me an update on these titles and any other projects you’re working on.
Brandon Slagle –
I directed this one. We haven’t quite been able to push it to festivals and such due to my two other directorial efforts – Area 51 Confidential and The Black Dahlia Haunting – gaining momentum the way that they did, but I can say we should have it on Video on Demand and DVD shortly. I actually just cropped the film to the 2:40:1 aspect ratio in preparation for the release, to keep it on par with the look of Black Dahlia.
Most of the team behind Humans Vs Zombies and Patient Zero worked on this one, so it was of course a great experience, also because I finally got to work with a friend of mine, Holt Boggs (The Prodigy, Sinners and Saints). Plus we had Nick Mancuso (Under Siege, Rapid Fire) in the film and WOW does he have some stories. It’s also always great when a film veteran still speaks so lovingly of the craft and enjoying the performances of others. This one will be on DVD and SyFy/Chiller early in 2013.
I know this one is complete. They actually shot a pickup scene with me a little over a month ago. I THINK that it is pretty close to locking a decent distribution deal, of which I should keep secret for now.
THE ZODIAC LEGACY
This is the next one from THE BLACK DAHLIA HAUNTING team. I’m writing/directing again. It’s another film – like Dahlia – inspired by an unsolved incident from the past, in this case THE ZODIAC KILLER. Essentially this film is about a homeland terrorist who believes that he has deciphered a message buried within the letters that the original ZODIAC wrote to the papers and is now continuing what the original ZODIAC began.
What I’m basically trying to do in this one is portray a modern day world where one individual, who lives on US soil, is able to instill fear into the psyche of the nation. When you read about the original Zodiac, The Son of Sam, Unabomber, etc – each of them had a gigantic social impact on the way people lived their daily lives. I plan on taking that a step further in ways I’m not at liberty to describe just yet – but trust me, it will push a few buttons.
Alien Bee – Tell me about The Black Dahlia Haunting. this is getting some nice buzz!
Brandon Slagle – We (Devanny Pinn and myself) decided to make a paranormal film, but there was one problem…I don’t like most traditional paranormal films. People hearing noises in the dark or seeing shadows at the end of the hall has been done more than the masked slasher. So to anchor the film, we felt we needed something pretty profound, which led us to exploring the idea of basing it off of the Black Dahlia case of the 1940’s.
For those not familiar with the story, “The Black Dahlia” was the name given to Elizabeth Short, a young woman from Massachusetts who had been trying to make it as an actress in Studio-era Hollywood. One morning in January 1947 a woman and her daughter found Elizabeth’s body in an empty lot (which is now a nice quiet, affordable neighborhood near USC) in Los Angeles, cut in half and maimed beyond what I care to describe here…I suggest google for further study. Her killer was NEVER found, although there have been some pretty strong suspects.
We decided than in our story, Elizabeth has begun a vengeful spirit, and uses the minds and bodies of victimized individuals to help them gain vengeance on those that have hurt them, for better or worse. We also decided to tell the story more like a psychological thriller, as opposed to a classic ghost story. Also, we wanted to go further into the theories behind Elizabeth’s murder, as well as present the murder itself clearer than previous films had done.
We got some great talent in the film. In addition to Devanny turning in a pretty stellar performance, we have Britt Griffith from Ghosthunters making his debut in a leading role, up-and-coming teen actor Noah Dahl turning in an effective performance as Devanny’s blind younger brother, Alexis Iacono as the vengeful spirit herself, Cleve Hall from Syfy’s Monster Man as our interpretation of who murdered Elizabeth, as well as Jessica Cameron as a young Norma Jeane Baker – aka Marilyn Monroe – who is rumored to have run in the same circles as Elizabeth, as well as had an affair with her…but who knows, that may be the stuff of salacious legend.
Based on the response so far, it seems that we may have crafted something pretty effective, and what’s great is that it seems to be reaching more mainstream audiences as well as genre audiences. We just got the opening night spot at the SHOCKFEST film festival in Hollywood, so hopefully that helps further bring the film to audiences.
Alien Bee – You also worked on the G.I. Joe: Initiate web series. When will episode 2 drop?
Brandon Slagle – Soon I hear. Hopefully very soon as the fan response has been remarkably positive, especially considering how hard some of the JOE fans are to please.
Alien Bee – You write, direct and act. What’s your favorite and If you had to pick just one which would you pick?
Brandon Slagle – Each of them has their perks. Technically, I pay my bills as an actor, so I suppose that may be the default answer. However, I enjoy each aspect for the same reason – each being a way to tell a story. Sometimes it’s better I’m the writer, or the director, or the actor – whichever is the best way to bring the story to life.
Alien Bee – The more of these projects you work on do you find yourself learning new tricks and shortcuts that helps you with filmmaking?
Brandon Slagle – Of course. Anyone who says they aren’t learning anything with each new project is either a liar, a fake, or is working on their last project and just doesn’t know it yet.
Alien Bee – If there was one blockbuster movie you could remake which one would it be?
Brandon Slagle – Battleship – and then cancel the film and use the production budget on numerous better scripts that would fare better with audiences.
Alien Bee – Since Halloween is right around the corner. Give me your top 5 favorite horror films from 2012.
Brandon Slagle – Battleship takes every spot. It was incredibly frightening. #sarcasm
Alien Bee – Would you like to say anything to everybody checking this out?
Brandon Slagle – I still like cats.