Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: You recently wrapped production on your debut feature film, Demon Protocol, and have released the award-winning short film, Universal Dead. For our readers who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of these films?
Kelly Parks: I'm a nitpicky science geek. Universal Dead evolved from the combination of my love of zombie movies and my science geek disbelief that a virus could be the cause of a zombie outbreak. I came up with an alternate explanation that's still completely science-based sci-fi.
The story takes place five years after a zombie apocalypse. At an isolated research outpost, a scientist gives a presentation to a representative of what's left of the government about the scientist's new theory as to the cause of the zombie apocalypse. The presentation...does not go well.
Universal Dead stars Doug Jones and DB Sweeney and won the LA Web Fest grand prize. It's a 15-minute short that I hope to turn into a feature.
Demon Protocol is about a shadowy religious order that helps clear demons from haunted houses. They've done it many times before, but this particular time something goes terribly wrong and one of them is possessed. But which one? The rules of their order make clear that evil must not be allowed to escape into the world and if they can't figure out who is possessed, then all their lives are forfeit.
It's a claustrophobic, paranoid supernatural thriller. I tried to address a lot of the tropes about haunting and possession that never made sense to me, as well.
BD: What was the genesis for your upcoming film, Demon Protocol, and what was your experience in transitioning from short films to feature films?
KP: I've been writing screenplays for more than 10 years. I've had some success -- sold two and optioned two others -- and I've done well in many contests, including winning the TrackingB screenplay contest and the International Horror & Sci-Fi screenplay competition, as well as placing highly in the Nichol and in the Austin Film Festival, but the only films that have actually been made from my writing are shorts I've made myself. Making short films is fun and rewarding (spiritually, not financially), but when I made my last short (a sort of Star Wars-inspired office parody called "The Complaint" -- see it here) I decided that that would be it. No more shorts. I was going to make a feature myself.
I wrote Demon Protocol to be as contained (single location -- it's almost all inside a house) and simple to make as possible, and I used a large portion of my savings to get it made. We shot it in late July of this year and I'm in post now, very happy with the whole thing. Also, shooting a feature is a *lot* more work, but I never get tired of seeing actors saying what I wrote.
BD: What can you tell us about the process of working with the creative teams of your films and the contributions of these individuals?
KP: This is a pretty small project, so the creative team is mostly just me. But I do enjoy the collaborative process of directing the actors. They will often come up with cool takes on their characters that make it into the final product.
BD: As a filmmaker, what intrigues you about the horror genre, and what are some of your creative inspirations?
KP: Hard to say. I've just always liked it. Maybe it's the idea of seeing a fear actually played out and watching to see who will survive. Like with any storytelling, it's the characters that matter. As far as inspirations, I love a lot of the old stuff. The best zombie movie ever made is the 1985 classic, Day of the Dead. Everyone should see that. I also highly recommend the 1967 Hammer Film, Five Million Years to Earth, an excellent mix of sci-fi and the supernatural.
BD: With the horror genre constantly changing in the cinematic medium, where do you see horror films headed in the next year, 5 years, or decade?
KP: Here's my prediction: Someone will make an awesome horror movie. It will be unexpected and different and fans will love it. Then, a bunch of less talented people will try to make similar horror movies with varying degrees of success. When most of these fail pundits will wrongly conclude that the public is tired of horror movies, when in fact the public is only tired of bad horror movies. Not many horror movies will be made for a while.
This process will repeat endlessly.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are currently working?
KP: Two "for hire" writing projects and a new script of my own.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Universal Dead, Demon Protocol, and your other work?
KP: Universal Dead is on Amazon, and I'd love to have you buy it, but I put it there mostly as an experiment. You can see it free on YouTube here.
Demon Protocol will be available in December.