Chris Gervais on Fantastic Tales of the Unknown - GigSpotting.Net

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Chris Gervais on Fantastic Tales of the Unknown

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"On a dark and stormy night, laced with lightening and thunder, a 'tap, tap, tap' is heard at the door. He lights a candle and walks ever-so-slowly towards the door, reaching his hand for the knob. Opening the door with zeal, there it stands! The creature leans forward, dripping with the run-off rain of a Fedora. It lurches and he draws back, gasping...this stranger, this creature..."

An idea of something you might find in the upcoming Fantastic Tales of the Unknown, a project by Strawhouse Pictures currently seeking funding at A collaboration team including Chris Gervais, Micah Troublefield, Brian Oxendine and Anil Dhokai.  This interview allows us into the mind of Chris as he explains his passion for things that go bump in the night.

How long have you been interested in making films?

As long as I can remember.

To be more wordy -

My parents were really caught up in the popcorn cinema boom in the early 80s and passed the fixation down to me. Once, I watched Marty McFly pull off a spectacular flip over Biff's 46 Ford and the audience erupted with applause. I'd never imagined such a reaction before that. It told me that secretly, all these people were as lost in fantasy as I was. That kind of connectivity was (and is) rare for me. The feelings in an American Movie Theater kind of sealed my fate. When I hit that point of getting an (unwanted) explanation that I couldn't actually go be Indiana Jones or Luke Skywalker, I transitioned into just wanting to figure out who those guys were. What made them so real to me?

How did you get into it, or has it always been a passion?

Actually pursuing my dreams has been about as easy as putting socks on a rooster while blindfolded. Suffice to say I met some like-minding guys and we've been attempting the impossible under the banner of Strawhouse Pictures for about three years.

Strawhouse Pictures, is this a solo project, or is it a collaboration? 

It is a collaboration. Strawhouse Pictures is myself, Micah Troublefield, Brian Oxendine, and Anil Dhokai.

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What project are you working on now? 

We're currently seeking funding to produce a pilot for a Twilight Zone inspired anthology show called Fantastic Tales of the Unknown.

What is it about the Twilight Zone-era did you want to bring back specifically in this?

Just the energy of it. The complete escapism of looking past the facade of every day life. The idea that every attic, and ally, and junk shop has a a dusty object that gives you the power to change time or become something else. Minds like Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, and Ray Bradbury really tapped into this thing where they were finding sort of "ghosts" everywhere, and turned them into stories.

What did you want to leave behind, if anything, from that era of television and film?

Absolutely nothing. There are things we have no choice but to try and avoid due to modern tastes. I guess those are like stilted acting and cheap effects. There's a 1961 episode called "A Penny For Your Thoughts" in which a man flips a coin that balances on its narrow side. He then gets the ability to hear people's thoughts. How in god's name those could connect is anybodies guess, but somehow it makes perfect sense to me. I think a modern audience would want an explanation. Those are the kinds of "weaknesses" I don't mind holding on to.

When coming up with the ideas for Fantastic Tales, what was the process like? Specifically when working with others on something like this.

One of us will have a concept and either you sort of see the whole story, or you bring it to the table and ask for input. It's incredibly valuable working with those three. Removing myself from the situation, someone should be paying them a lot of money to cultivate and grow ideas.

As far as the initial concept, it really is like finding a ghost or something. Sometimes it just grabs you out of the blue. I'm a big believer in the strangeness of the Zeitgeist, and that it's possibly not as simple as a a bunch of people reacting to shared experiences.

On the Kickstarter page for fundraising, each vote gets you a chance to decide which story line will be chosen, is there hope of doing more than one, or were you all aiming at one major project?

This pilot would be one. The other ideas would go back into the pool in the hopes that the show gets picked up. We have a lot more that could fill out a season or so of a show.

What trials, tribulations, etc, did you experience and continue to experience while getting this prepared? What troubles do you foresee?

No wedding, or bar mitzvah or retirement party has ever come close to being as rife with bad-luck and bumps in the road as production. The golden rule is to be prepared and efficient to avoid problems, and then watch that preperation rendered silly by problems.

For us, it's been all about locations that were nice enough to let us shoot for free before getting sick of us after three hours, and cast/crew who just can't give you the time needed because their lives can't be put on hold for a volunteer short film.

What advice would you give for younger filmmakers out there who want to start something like this, what publicity forums have worked for you?

So far the only publicity we've been able to gather was through our friends in social networking. It's a great way to go, and I guess at this stage in the game, possibly the only one.

Any other advice or words of wisdom for avid, young go-getters out there?

My advice would be to ready yourself for failure and embrace it. Know that you're going to work harder on it than anything else you've ever tried to do. I'm talking about helping your old man re-shingle the roof or juggling swords. That stuff is way easier to pull off. You're going to spend so much more time to accomplish this stuff than you could possibly understand and (if you have no funding like us) in the end you'll be lucky if 7% of that effort is visible on screen. Keep going though. Remember, Spielberg got rejected by USC 3 times, and never went to film school.


Visit the Kickstarter page for Fantastic Tales of the Unknown to learn more about the project and decide which tale is presented next.