Indie Horror Online caught up with John Ward, the writer and director of Axemas (2017). We had the distinct pleasure of talking to him about his seasonal slasher and other upcoming projects…
Q: How did you get into horror movies?
A: I was never into sports when I was a kid. While my friends were playing baseball I was watching the old Universal monster movies on TV. Sports never interested me, and still don’t, but the Frankenstein monster and Dracula did. My mother tried and tried to get me into different sports programs, but I always quit. I wanted to watch horror and sci-fi films. Eventually, that led to me getting a Super 8 camera and then a VHS camera and making my own short films. I spent a lot of Saturdays by myself while my friends were playing baseball or football. But when I was making my little horror or sci-fi films all my friends wanted to be in them, so I never felt left out. I ended up being the movie kid and that was pretty cool.
Q: Can you give us a little background on the making of Axemas?
A: I came up with the original idea for Axemas a long time ago. The short film of Axemas is very different from the original idea. I worked at a storage facility and tenants would always make comments about how creepy it is to be in the building alone at night. Once enough people had said that, I knew I had a film. The story that I wrote was kind of boring and bland, but once I added in the killer Santa it all came to life. I pretty much combined the two different Axemas ideas together and I think they worked out pretty well.
Q: How did Axemas become a part of Frames of Fear 2 (2018)?
A: I saw that Brad Twigg was looking for some short films to put on the Frames of Fear 2 (2018) DVD. I liked the first Frames of Fear (2016) and I got in contact with him through Facebook and asked if he would read the script for Axemas. He told me that if the film was as good as the script he would include it on the DVD. I immediately went to work making the short film happen. When I sent him the short film, he thought it was better than he expected it to be, and was very happy with it. If all goes right, Axemas 2: Blood Slay (2018) will be on the Frames of Fear 4 DVD.
Q: Are you already working on Axemas 2: Blood Slay?
A: Axemas 2: Blood Slay has been shot and we are starting to edit the film soon. The first Axemas got such a good response that I wanted to go right into part two. There will actually be four Axemas films, but technically it will be a trilogy. I am very happy with what we have shot on Axemas 2: Blood Slay and I think it will be better than the first one.
Q: Tell us about your upcoming film, Meathook Massacre 4 (2018)…
A: My next film will be my first feature, Meathook Massacre 4. I’ve been friends with Dustin Ferguson for a while now. He watched the first Axemas and liked it and asked me if I would like to write and direct the fourth Meathook Massacre film. I immediately said, yes! The film will be a little different than the other three films. I will be following the original stories for the other three films, but I will be putting my own spin on the fourth film. For example, this film takes place in Las Vegas, so it will have a very different feel and look to it. Some of the original actors will be returning like Robert Lankford (Bubba) and Liane Langford (Ma).
Q: Can you share anything about your upcoming role in Clown Motel Massacre (2017)?
A: Clown Motel Massacre is a film that I was originally a crew member on. I got a call from the writer/producer Phillip Trickey and he asked if I would like to be the killer clown. I said yes, of course! I went from crew member to lead bad guy in a matter of seconds! We shot the film at the famous Clown Motel. The film is being edited now and hopefully, it will be out sometime this year. It’s my first real acting job and I hope people like it.
Q: You have quite a few ‘special thanks’ credits under your belt…
A: I have helped a few filmmakers out on their projects working as crew, but a lot of those ‘special thanks’ credits are through crowdfunding campaigns that I donated money to. It’s a good way to support indie film and meet filmmakers and become friends with them. Because of crowdfunding, I’ve met a lot of filmmakers that I can now consider my friends.
Q: Do you have anything else coming up?
A: This year I plan on making Axemas 3 and 4 back-to-back. Also a larger budget cannibal film, hopefully later this year. I’ll also be helping out the various Las Vegas filmmaker’s as a crew member too.
Q: What would be a dream project for you to work on?
A: I love franchises. I would love to be able to work on an Amityville film or a Children of the Corn film or a Hellraiser film or a Howling film. That’s one of the reasons I’m happy to be part of the Meathook Massacre series. I really dig all these series, and I like watching the history that different filmmakers add to them.
Q: Any words of wisdom for those who might be considering making their own movie?
A: My advice to people who would like to make their own films is, just do it! Work on as many films as you can and see how it’s all done. I realized that with a very small budget and a very small cast and crew I can make a good film. You don’t need expensive cameras and lights or software. Social media is a great place for meeting other filmmakers. A lot of them are willing to give advice. A while back I was told that there are two types of people, people that watch movies and people that make movies. For a long time, I was one of those people that watched a lot of movies. Once I worked on two or three micro-budget films and I realized that I could make my own movies on a micro-budget, I became one of those people that make movies. I still love watching films, but I would rather be making them than spending all my time watching them. It really is just being dedicated and passionate about your project and finding people that believe in it like you do and doing it.
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