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John Portanova and Jeremy Berg
Tonight's Feature Presentation


an interview with jeremy berg and john portanova

The Green Room

I have seen a lot of no/low budget indie horror flicks, but as of this writing, none of them have come close to the quality of The Invoking (which I first experienced as Sader Ridge). In this interview, Director/Writer Jeremy Berg and Writer/Assistant Director John Portanova talk about what inspired them to make a "no budget" suspense style horror flick, and the process involved with finding that film worldwide distribution. They make it clear that it's all about knowing what you want to do and not stopping until you've done it.

The Interview

Ziggy Berkeley: What was the genesis of (as it was previously known) Sader Ridge?

John Portanova: Jeremy and I had known each other for a few years when the idea for Ridge came about. Previously we had collaborated on short films and a webseries, but knew that someday we needed to break into features. Then the first Paranormal Activity came out, and the story of how it was made for $15,000 in 7 days really inspired me. I began saying that our first feature had to be a no budget horror film because that had the lowest amount of risk for us, since we had no connection to any investors or any real money of our own. Unfortunately, I didn't have an interesting location that we could set a scary story in. So the idea of a no budget film simmered for a little while.

Jeremy Berg:  Features were definitely where we wanted to be, but it's a hard thing to break into. For my part, I had been brainstorming for years about ideas that I could execute on next to nothing. But I was never very satisfied with the ideas I did come up with. They were either too expensive or not interesting enough. My friend Matt Medisch and I had talked about shooting a film years ago at his property in Red Bluff, CA, but it was more of a pipe dream than a reality. (This was before the wave of inexpensive digital film cameras and before I had gone to film school.) That idea was shelved until one day a few years ago when it hit me again that the property would be great for a horror film, and now we had the means to do it. When I brought up the idea to Matt, he didn't even hesitate. And here we are.

Ziggy Berkeley: With the idea in place, what did it take to get the ball rolling?

John Portanova: It really wasn't hard to get the ball rolling. Matt and Jeremy brought me on to the process after they had come up with the idea of Sam and her history, the broad strokes of the other characters, and the layout of the property. Once I heard all this, I was sold. This was the location and story that was missing from my plan of making a micro-budget horror film. So we all decided that we would get this film written and made once the script was in shape. The three of us then took a few months to plan out the plot beats and characterizations in detail. Once we had that outline, Jeremy and I dug into writing the screenplay itself.

Jeremy Berg: The project really did have its own momentum. It's very surreal to think back to the initial conversation I had with Matt about using his property and then link it to The Invoking and where it is now. It's hard for me to chart its course from then to now. Some people are very secretive about their projects, but my advice has always been to bring people on board from the beginning, even if it's just having them give you input on your scripts or ideas, because the more people you involve, the more momentum a project builds. It's hard to move on from an idea when people are asking you about it all the time. I think the same principle came into effect here. As soon as Matt, John, and I were all involved, there was no stopping this film from happening.

 Ziggy Berkeley: Even without making any changes to the basic story framework that you have, you could have gone any number of directions here.  Camp, gore, hack and slash… and yet you chose the hardest one to pull off: suspense thriller. Why did you make that choice?

Jeremy Berg: There are many kinds of horror films, and we're definitely fans of most of the genre. That being said, it's different being a fan than a filmmaker. There are plenty of films that I love that probably wouldn't have been satisfying for me to direct. The question has to be: what kind of film would I like to spend two years of my life making? The balance between character, suspense, and atmosphere was absolutely what inspired me personally. I love horror films where you have fun watching the characters get killed off, but for this film, I wanted a more visceral reaction from the audience. When people start dying, I wanted you to have that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. I wanted to make a film that stuck with people past the end credits.

John Portanova: For me, I really wanted to avoid the clichés of no budget horror. I didn't want to try and make a "so bad it's good" horror film for people to laugh at or a gore-fest that has no time for anything except blood. When I watch any film, horror included, the most important thing for me is to care about the characters and their story. If they seem like real people or have interesting conflicts, that draws me into their story and makes me care when they start dropping like flies.

Ziggy Berkeley: If there’s anything that the popular media suggests as defining the modern audience, it’s the short attention span.  If there’s anything that to me defines your film, it’s trust in the audience to stick with it and for them to in turn trust you to not blow the cork before it’s time.  Did you feel that there was some risk involved, trusting an audience well known for not even finishing sentences in emails?

Jeremy Berg: This goes back to the previous question about what kind of horror film do you want to make. For me, the slow burn type of film was it.  My favorite horror films all have the same thing in common: an atmosphere so thick you can cut it with a knife. And I think it's really hard to create that kind of atmosphere with fast cuts and breakneck storytelling. The scariest moments in most horror films are the moments before something happens. I wanted the audience to expect something terrible and then hang them out there while they waited for it. I also didn't want to worry about audience expectation. At the end of the day, I think you have to make the film you want to see and people will find it.

John Portanova: This was actually something we went back and forth on, and I was usually the one saying we needed to have some kind of shock or something horrific at the beginning of the film. I was worried that if we didn't show the audience that this was a horror film straightaway, they would get bored during the long setup. The only problem was that the story we were telling and the kind of film we were making didn't lend itself to just throwing in a random murder at the opening like you see in so many horror films. 

One thing to keep in mind was that this discussion didn't come about until we had our first cut of the film, which started with the friends in the car. Because of these discussions, we shot a couple of additional scenes a few months after principal photography that would introduce the audience to Sam and her nightmares right off the bat. We ended up cutting this new opening way back in the final film, but it did give us what I was worried we were missing: a focal point in Sam, a creepy opening image of the shovel, and the idea that there is a mystery to this film which will be revealed in time.

Ziggy Berkeley: You’re not just trusting your audience; you’re also trusting your small cast.  What is it about each of your players that you think makes them especially suited for keeping this thriller thrilling?

Jeremy Berg: We knew that casting was the most important part of the film. If any of the acting was ever off, the whole thing would fall apart, since our long build up and scares were all reliant on the character interactions. We also needed actors who could pull off the two very different sides of their characters that are revealed throughout the film. So casting properly became our top priority after the script was completed.

John Portanova: We had known a couple of our cast members – D'Angelo Midili, who played Eric, and Brandon Anthony, who played Mark – for a few years and had worked with them many times. This history made it so we knew what to expect from them and they knew what to expect from a film made by us. The fact that their personalities fit so well with the characters was just a plus. 

Jeremy Berg: D'Angelo is just as quiet, enigmatic, and charming as Eric. Now Brandon isn't a dick like Mark can be, but both do share a light air about them that attracts people to wanting to be around them. Both also put their relationships with their friends at the top of their priority list, although that might be giving too much to Mark. He probably cares about impressing girls more than anything else. (laughs)

John Portanova: The actors we didn't know before casting began were Trin Miller as Sam, Andi Norris as Caitlin, and Josh Truax as Roman. Each of them brought the characters to life in ways we didn't imagine when writing the script.

Jeremy Berg: Sam is a very hard character to play; she goes through a lot in the span of 82 minutes. Luckily for us, Trin is such a talented actress that she makes everything Sam is going through seem real and like it's actually happening in front of you. I don't think you ever once see her "acting" like she's breaking down; instead you are watching Sam going through a break down. If anyone else was cast as Sam, I don't think the film would've worked. 

John Portanova: On the page, Caitlin was probably the least developed character in the script. My point of entry when writing my portions of the screenplay was to write from Sam's and Roman's points of view. So in early drafts of the script, Caitlin was just the pretty girl that Roman liked. Through rewrites we gave the character some more to do, but she really came to life when Andi auditioned for the part. 

Jeremy Berg: Andi took her own personality and energy and brought Caitlin to life. Instead of being an object of affection just for her beauty, Andi made you fall in love with Caitlin for her bubbly personality and love of life as much as for her looks.

The other side of the coin from Andi showing us something really different in Caitlin was Josh, who for me always was Roman. I had seen him in some local productions and knew that we had to get him to come in and read for the part.  He truly inhabited the character right from the audition through production.

John Portanova: Much like Ray Stantz is the heart of the Ghostbusters, for me, Roman is the heart of The Invoking, and that has everything to do with Josh's performance. And I don't think it's just because I'm a nerd like Roman. (laughs)

Ziggy Berkeley: As members of the audience, looking at the actors in their roles, what’s your favorite scene to watch?  The most powerful?

John Portanova: I think the scenes between Sam and Eric are the backbone of the film. Anytime those characters interact, seeing how Trin and D'Angelo play those characters is a joy to watch. However, my favorite scene in the film also seems to hold the crown of most powerful for most audiences that watch it, and that is...  well, I don't want to spoil it for you, but you'll know it when you see it. When you watch the film, if there's a moment about two-thirds of the way through where you say "oh shit!" and then the moment continues for another half minute and you say "oh...shit", that's the scene I'm talking about. (laughs) 

Jeremy Berg: Yes! I have to agree with John on both of those. Sam and Eric are the glue, and that storyline really holds most of the mysteries of the film. Every one of the scenes between Sam and Eric is beautiful to watch and leaves you with more questions than answers, in a good way.

Ziggy Berkeley: As guys on set, what was the most difficult thing to shoot, and why?

Jeremy Berg: No question, the dream/vision sequence between Sam and the Father was the most difficult. It was such an intense scene.  Both actors had to go to a dark place and sustain those emotions. Meanwhile, I'm the only other person on set for the sake of privacy. I'm hand-holding the camera and crammed in a corner because there's no room for any equipment and it's the most uncomfortable position you can imagine but at the same time I was so drawn into the moment the actors were creating and there was no distance for me emotionally. When we wrapped that scene, I had to walk outside and take a break to clear my head.

John Portanova: The vision scenes were very difficult to shoot. The actors had to go to the head space of these very disturbed characters and stay there for hours. The most difficult of these sequences for me was the vision at the car in the dark field. As the assistant director, I was running a set that had a complex lighting set up, but which for the sake of the performances was a closed set, meaning only the absolute minimum number of crew was there so as not to distract the actors while they did this intense scene. So a skeleton crew – and keep in mind most productions would call our full crew a skeleton crew, and this was a small version of that – had to run cords all over the property and line up cars with their headlights on to light this very important scene.

Ziggy Berkeley: So many horror filmmakers come back from shooting with stories of haunted sets or ghosts in the editing room or something of that nature.  Any hauntings to report?  If not, do you wish there were?

John Portanova: Funny you should say that. We're actually working on a Bigfoot horror film as our follow-up to The Invoking, and just this week the local news in Red Bluff, CA reported on Bigfoot sightings in the area. I didn't see anything creepy while on set, but it would've been great to be out at the campfire and have seen a Sasquatch wandering through the trees in the distance. I guess now we know where to shoot that next one. (laughs)

Jeremy Berg: (laughs) Yeah, besides the Bigfoot creeping around the fringes of the set, I can't say there was anything particularly creepy about it. Matt and I used to scare each other while hanging out on the property when we were kids, but I never encountered anything supernatural out there. I can say that the woods themselves are pitch black, and that was unnerving at times, even with all the people on set. The sound can really carry out there, and there were moments where a neighbor's horse might scuff the ground or snort and it sounded like it was right over your shoulder.

Ziggy Berkeley: At first under the name Sader Ridge, the film started making its run through the festival circuit.  For those unfamiliar with the process, just how does that work?  How do you choose which festivals to submit to, and just what goes into “submission” and “selection”?  What does the festival process mean to you as filmmakers?

John Portanova: We all had ideas of festivals we wanted to play at, but over the years I had really been paying attention to the horror festival scene and seeing the best places to get the film noticed and eventually distributed. Back in 2010, my short film, A Visitor in the Night, which also stars D'Angelo Midili and shares some crew with The Invoking, was sent out to horror/no budget specific festivals and that helped give us a place to start when submitting this film. So while we did submit to the usual major film festivals on the off chance that we might get in (we didn't), we mainly focused on horror festivals and micro-budget independent film festivals. We made sure that we weren't just submitting everywhere and seeing what stuck, because we didn't have the money to spend on that. Festivals can cost anywhere from $30-$100 just to submit, and so we made sure we had a good grasp on where we wanted to play and which festivals would help most with the visibility of the film. 

Jeremy Berg:  If you don't carefully select the festivals you want to go to, you can easily bankrupt yourself. It's never a bad idea to try the major festivals just in case you get selected, but after that it can be a waste of money unless you're submitting to places that give you the best chance of getting accepted and seen by an audience.

John Portanova: The festival process definitely means a lot to us. It's really the only way for independent films that don't have millions of dollars or stars behind them to get out there in front of unaware audiences. The only reason we received the notice we did from reviewers and distributors was because of the buzz that built from our world premiere and the festivals that followed. If we didn't go that route and tried instead to release the film ourselves on DVD, I don't know if the film would've traveled as far as it has.

Ziggy Berkeley: Who saw it first: the cast, or a festival audience?  How would you describe the difference as filmmakers between the experience of your first finished screening with the cast and your first screening in front of a festival audience who hadn’t been through the trenches with you?

John Portanova: The first audience for the film was at our cast and crew screening, which also included some friends and family members in December 2012. It was a fun showing at an independent theater called The Tin Theater in Burien, WA. Everyone was really proud of the film, and the guests who had no idea where the film was going had really great things to say about it. Probably the coolest part of the evening came when Josh Truax, who plays Roman in the film, used the opportunity of the screening to propose to his longtime girlfriend. That was a great thing to witness, and it meant a lot to know that Josh appreciated the film enough to want to do this very personal thing there at the screening.

Jeremy Berg:  That cast and crew screening was a great experience. At that point, it had been almost a year since we had wrapped the film, and everyone was able to hang out again as a group for the first time. Having Josh propose to his girlfriend was the perfect ending to the screening. For me, the life of the movie is so much more than just the film itself. When Josh asked me if I would mind having him propose to his girlfriend after the screening I told him I couldn't be happier. It seemed like such an amazing memory to add to this roller coaster ride that's been The Invoking. Everyone had a great time and they were so happy to see the film in its completed form and amazed by how it had turned out.

John Portanova: Of course at a cast and crew or family screening, you always run into the possibility that everyone is blowing smoke because they are somehow associated with the film or the people in it. So we weren't sure what the reaction would be when we had our world premiere at the Sun Valley Film Festival in March 2013. That was the one festival where a group of us from the film traveled to the festival. We had carpools and caught flights into Sun Valley, ID, and had 80% of the cast as well as all three of us October People there for the screening. It was great because we were in a nice theater and playing on a Saturday night: the perfect time for a horror film. We ended up getting both extremes when it came to reactions to the film at Sun Valley. We had our first ever walk out at around the 30 minute mark when three drunk girls decided this wasn't the movie for them. That was a bummer to see, but it's honestly been a rare thing to happen in our screenings thus far, and they were being kind of obnoxious and loud anyway so I was happy to see them leave. After the screening we got some great praise that made us all forget about those girls. Nearly everyone else in the audience stayed for our Q&A following the film, which is a rare thing to happen, as most people get up to leave as soon as the credits start, and they were really interested in how the film was made and looking for our ideas on what the mystery of the film meant. We even had people the next day saying that they had been thinking about the film and what it meant all night, which is really cool.

Ziggy Berkeley: And now you have a shiny new distribution deal.  What can you tell us about that, and how did that come about?

John Portanova: We had heard about Jesse Baget and Ruthless Pictures through David Phillips, who did the titles and color correction for The Invoking. Ruthless was, and still is, acquiring independent horror films to help them get distribution. So once we heard about them we sent a screener disc, and they reacted well to the film. Since they're in a position to see many of the schlocky indie horrors I mentioned earlier, I think they liked the fact that we took our time to tell a different kind of horror story. 

Jeremy Berg: Jesse Baget and Ruthless have been great. This part of the process is all very new to us, and it's been invaluable having a guy like Jesse who can walk us through it. He's been very honest and open and we've learned a lot from him that we'll be taking with us into our next projects. Overall, the distribution process has been a positive one, and soon the film will be available to its largest audience yet, so we couldn't be happier.

Ziggy Berkeley: Along with your new distribution deal, you’ve acquired a new title for your movie.  Why was the decision made to change the title from Sader Ridge to The Invoking?  What is it about the new name that (presumably) makes it more marketable?

John Portanova: The retitle really came about because of the acquisition by Ruthless Pictures. They have dealt with numerous distributors and know what sells and what doesn't. They loved the movie we had given them and didn't want to change that, but thought a title that said “horror” more than Sader Ridge would only help us in the marketplace. The Invoking was Ruthless' title, and we thought it sounded good, but weren't really sure if it would work better than Sader Ridge.

Jeremy Berg: Since the retitle we've continued to play at festivals and have heard from a good number of audience members that they were checking out the film because The Invoking told them instantly it was a horror film; they didn't even have to read the synopsis. Ruthless also sold the movie to a home video distributor because of the retitle, so I guess they were right. (laughs)

Ziggy Berkeley: What’s next for you?

John Portanova: Like Jeremy just mentioned, we have made a deal with a US/UK video distributor. They will put The Invoking out on DVD and video on demand. We hope to be able to make an official announcement of the company releasing the film and release date soon.  We're really looking forward to that. We're also working with Ruthless on getting distribution throughout the rest of the world.

The next film for us as “The October People” is based on a script I wrote years ago entitled Valley of the Sasquatch. Matt, Jeremy, and I will once again be producing, and Jeremy will be the cinematographer again, but this time I will be the writer/director. It's been my dream project for years to make a Bigfoot horror film. I was a kid when Harry and the Hendersons came out, and that made me a fan of the creature, but it was shows like Unsolved Mysteries and In Search Of that fed my fandom.  I devoured any Bigfoot information I could find in books or magazines. When I got older, I realized that there was an entire subgenre of Bigfoot horror and suspense films that I had never seen. So after digging into the classics like The Legend of Boggy Creek and Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot, I sat down and wrote the first draft. It has a lot in common with The Invoking in that it's primarily a character-driven drama that turns into a horror story, but instead of being a psychological suspense piece, it's a creature feature. We're currently in pre-production and aim to shoot and release the film in 2014.

Jeremy Berg: We really just want to keep working and make The October People a successful company built around making quality films. We're so excited about the potential and challenges of making a Bigfoot film, and the script that John wrote is a really solid story that people are going to love when it's done. From there we'd really like to ramp up our production model. Our goal is to be shooting at least one film a year. It'd be perfect if I can be shooting my next movie while Valley of the Sasquatch is in post and then John can be shooting another movie while mine is in post. We're currently at a great place to be able to make this a reality.  

Ziggy Berkeley: Why “The October People”?  Where did that name come from?

Jeremy Berg: That name was my sole contribution to the company. (laughs) It was really about expressing a feeling. The Fall is my favorite time of year. It's creepy, it's beautiful, it's atmospheric. Basically all the things I wanted The Invoking to be. My favorite things growing up were the stories of Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, and stories like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and also the Universal monster films and the films of Val Lewton. I think all of those things play pretty well into that feeling I'd like to capture in our films.

John Portanova: When Jeremy told me the name, I loved it instantly. I thought since our first films would be in the horror genre, it instantly let people know what to expect when they heard the name “The October People.” And even when we branch out into other genres, I think we'll always keep that spooky, kind of melancholy atmosphere that comes during the Fall months.

Ziggy Berkeley: As filmmakers, who inspires you?

Jeremy Berg: There are a ton of filmmakers I could mention. I tend to gravitate towards visual storytellers. Kurosawa is huge for me. His films are so visually interesting, and he really knows how to capture the "cinematic" quality that can be so elusive. Kubrick is up there. (The Shining is probably my favorite overall horror film.) I also love Ingmar Bergman. I marathoned his films over the course of 3 months or so when I was first going to film school, and I can honestly say it was a life changing experience. His ability to tell deep human stories and to know precisely where to place the camera to elucidate a moment is unparalleled. Sergio Leone is another big one for me. He's also able to capture the cinematic, and his spaghetti Westerns are some of my favorite films in all of cinema. They're big, weird, wonderful, beautiful works of art. But I also find myself really inspired by the early filmmakers like Theodor Dreyer and F.W. Murnau. Murnau's Nosferatu gets all the attention, but I think his later films are much more accomplished. What always strikes me about the early filmmakers is how they were discovering new techniques daily, and they always managed to use those techniques in restrained, tasteful ways that never overshadowed the storytelling. It's such a reversal from many of today's filmmakers where all the techniques are already known but the styles are overblown and gimmicky.

John Portanova: The biggest influences for me when it comes to filmmaking are John Hughes, John Carpenter, and Kevin Smith. I was a film lover and collector before I got into filmmaking, and that is thanks to Hughes and Carpenter. When I was in junior high I saw The Breakfast Club and Halloween within months of each other and fell in love with both films. They inspired me to go out and start not only watching, but collecting as many slasher movies and 80s teen films as I could find on VHS. That then led out into other subgenres, and I'm still buying new releases on home video every week.
The bug to become a filmmaker came from Smith. I saw Clerks in high school and saw a film that I could relate to, and also thought that I could pull off something similar myself. I started writing short films because of the amazing dialog in that film. If you ever have the misfortune of seeing something I made in high school, you will see two characters analyzing life and pop culture in a very sub-Smith fashion. 

Getting that filmmaking bug then made me go back and re-examine the horror films I loved through different eyes. That's where I began to study Carpenter's filmmaking styles and his amazing technique as a visual storyteller. So in the scripts I've written thus far, I think you can see the correlation of all of these filmmakers. The dedication to letting the characters dictate the story and not the other way around is from Hughes, giving the dialog time to breathe and striving to make it feel like real conversation and not "movie talk" comes from Smith, and the love of all types of horror comes from Carpenter.

Ziggy Berkeley: Your turn to inspire.  Someone reading this has an idea for a horror movie and wants to make it.  You’ve each got a paragraph or two to play the sage.  What do you tell this person?

John Portanova: We've actually had some high school age filmmakers come up to us after screenings and ask for advice, which has been great. What I tell them is that the best thing to do is to just do it. If you have an idea for a story, write it. If you want to make a short film, but don't have any money, write something that can be made for nothing and do it. Even if you don't have actors, you can still get stuff done. Act in it yourself just so you can still have the experience. Even if what you end up learning is that you should never be an actor – which is what I learned – at least you did something and cut your teeth shooting or directing or editing. You gain the most experience by just doing it. I learned more on The Invoking than I did on anything else, and can't wait to apply that knowledge to Valley of the Sasquatch. 

Jeremy Berg: I think you just have to keep doing it, no matter what. Keep putting one foot in front of the other every day. Even if your first script is terrible, your second script sucks, and your first film is unwatchable. Just stick with it. There are many people who grow up wanting to be writers, filmmakers, painters, etc. The only thing that separates the ones who make it and the ones who don't is that the ones who make it just get up each day and keep trying.

Ziggy Berkeley: What’s the best horror flick you’ve ever seen, and what made it so?  How about the worst?

John Portanova: My favorite is An American Werewolf in London. Werewolves are my favorite movie monsters, and for me this one stands at the top of the pack. The script by John Landis is incredibly funny and also smart in the way it brings a gothic monster into the 20th century. He takes the time to let the characters develop through their banter and realistic reaction to this fantastical situation. I can't think of another movie where, when someone realizes they are a werewolf, they call home to tell their family they love them and then contemplate slitting their wrists! The movie also doesn't skimp on the horror. The scene on the moors where David and Jack are stalked by the werewolf, which is always just out of sight, is one of the scariest I've ever seen. And of course Rick Baker's transformation and werewolf effects are top notch and hold up even better than the new CGI effects we see in movies these days.

Jeremy Berg: I always come back to The Shining as my favorite horror film. A big part of it is the atmosphere. The feeling of isolation that Kubrick captures is deep and suffocating. It's also a film that still has many secrets and mysteries after all these years. I'm a fan of special features and reading about the making of films, but there's still a lot that isn't known about The Shining, and I think that has helped to build its pedigree over time. There are sites online devoted to pieces of paraphernalia from the set of The Shining, and I've spent hours reading those sites, something that I wouldn't do with just any film. In many ways I respect the air of mystery surrounding the film as much as the film itself, and that mystery helps The Shining to retain its power to affect audiences.

John Portanova: As for worst, I can't think of a specific movie, but I can think of tropes that I really don't like. I can't stand films where every character is an asshole that you don't give a shit about. I also like films to stay consistent with their storylines. So if in your movie, every night a group of people turn into monsters, don't have a plot twist be that one of the main characters who has been fine all night suddenly reveals themselves to be a monster in the finale. I thought the change just happened every night; how come that one person can control their transformation while others can't? Stuff like that bugs me.

Jeremy Berg: Just like John, for me the bad horror films are all about tropes I can't stand. "Let's split up!" Uh, how about we not do that. Also, too much CGI. Takes me right out of the movie.

Ziggy Berkley: Your own work aside, what other projects are coming up the pipe that you’re aware of and looking forward to seeing in the near future?

Jeremy Berg: This time of the year I tend to watch a lot of old horror movies with my wife to celebrate Halloween. As far as new stuff goes, I've heard a lot of good things about You're Next, so I'm curious about that. I love Alfonso Cuaron, so Gravity was high on my list. Also, Inside Llewelyn Davis because it's the Coen Brothers and that's all I need to know. I'm also really curious about 12 Years A Slave. Steve McQueen's two previous films were both fantastic, and I think Chiwetel Ejiofor is one of the best actors working right now so I'm excited to see him as the lead.

John Portanova: I tend to watch fewer and fewer new release movies as the years go by. I tend to spend most of my time watching Blu-ray re-releases of movies I like or that are well regarded but I never got around to watching. So I'm looking forward to hearing about the new releases from my favorite independent home video companies such as Scream Factory, Synapse Films, The Criterion Collection, and others. I look forward to their announcements and also watching whatever great bonus features they eventually come up with.

Ziggy Berkeley: I went with Cracker Barrel Cheddar and Anchor Humming Ale.  What kind of cheese and alcohol would you pair The Invoking with, and why?

John Portanova: I'm not a foodie by any means. I like to eat very basic things. When I get a burger, it usually has cheese on it and that's it. Our sound mixer Jens Larsen, who we've worked with for years, has accused me of hating food. So I'm not the person to ask about cheese or alcohol as I don't often drink either. Jeremy is the resident alcohol and food connoisseur of The October People.

Jeremy Berg: Yeah, it's best to let me field that question. (laughs) Beer is always great with a horror movie, maybe a brown ale to go with the color of the property and the dead trees. But a good bourbon might be even better. Something you can sip and enjoy at a pace that matches the films. And a nice bleu cheese.

Ziggy Berkeley: And what cheese and alcohol would you pair yourselves with?

Jeremy Berg: Well, I bartended for a long time, so I appreciate most liquors, depending on the situation. My favorite is probably a good aged tequila, neat. But if we're having cheese (a parmigiano reggiano or a brie, preferably), I might have to have some wine. Damn, now I'm hungry and thirsty! (laughs)

John Portanova: Did you ever see that episode of Full House where Stephanie Tanner folded over a slice of cheese, bit into the fold, and then opened it up to reveal a "cheese donut"? Well I guess I'd pair myself with a cheese donut and a Pepsi. I think that about sums me up. (laughs)

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- Interview conducted by Ziggy Berkeley, October, 2013

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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