I am so grateful for Facebook. Not only has it introduced me to new friends, but it has brought me back in contact with old ones. It has also given me the chance to be re-introduced to old colleagues and classmates that I had always wanted to know but never had the guts to talk to back in my early years.
When I was a kid, there was this guy who was a little younger than me named Jayson. He lived in the same town and always seemed a bit mysterious. I didn't know him other than a quick 'What's up?' as we passed in the hallway or sat in a random class together. But the look on his face always told me that he was thinking about something big.
Thanks to Facebook, I finally had the courage to say hello after all these years. As it turns out, Jayson really WAS thinking all that time... about movies. Horror movies, to be exact. Over the past few years, I've been following Jayson's progress. Not only has he written several scripts, but he started his own production company Blue Dusk Productions with his friend Chris Ethridge and is also a school teacher with a big heart.
I am very happy to share the announcement of their latest accomplishment The Morningside Monster here on my little blog.
Per the press release:
"The Morningside Monster is the gritty, suspenseful horror/thriller from Blue Dusk Productions and Making Monster Productions. When a series of ritualistic murders rattle the small town of Morningside, NJ, the sheriff and his deputy embark on a desperate race against time to catch the killer, pitting them against friends, enemies and even each other."
The Morningside Monster will be shown this weekend April 5 at 8:15PM at the Garden State Film Festival at Resorts in Atlantic City, NJ. You can buy tickets directly from the link.
I was able to interview Jayson to get a little more insight into the movie and his life as a writer, teacher, and movie maker. Here's what we talked about:
How long have you been in the horror movie biz?
Jayson: I have been writing and making my own films for as long as I can remember. At some point in my early childhood, I had hijacked my father's old video gear, grabbed the kids in the neighborhood and started making films.
My first "official" break in the industry came back in 1998 when I was introduced to director Michael P. Russin. He was looking to do a horror anthology called "Creepy Tales" and needed a third story. I happen to have one called, "Daria 13" that fit the bill and just like that, I was a "professional" writer.
Russin and I went on to work together on a few more features, shorts and music videos. He is a great guy and friend.
But I needed a life change. So, I moved to Atlanta in 2006. At a film festival here I met guy named Chris Ethridge. Him and I hit it off pretty well. We created Blue Dusk Productions and our first feature together, "The Morningside Monster".
Being that you are also a teacher... How do you balance both parts of your life?
Jayson: I wouldn't say there's necessarily any balancing I do. There is a lot of cross over between the two. I work with children mainly ages three to eleven, which I love. They are still in that age of wonder and discovery. Children have a way of creating beautiful art through the most abstract materials. I think a lot of us as adults have either forgotten how or are afraid to do that. Sometimes it is better to color outside the lines. I try and remember that as a writer.
Do your students know about your movie career?
Jayson: Yeah, my older students know. One of the activities we do each year is make movies. I try and teach them the basics of film making. They write their own scripts, pick their cast, learn to work the camera, edit... The whole deal. At the end of the year we hold a family dinner night where the children cook a meal for their relatives. After the meal we have a screening of all the films the children have made during the year. It's a blast!
What made you choose Morningside, NJ as the setting for the movie?
Jayson: I am a Jersey boy, through and through. I was born in Dover and raised in Wharton, which is a small blue collar town in North, central Jersey. I have a lot of love for that small little town. Morningside is based on Wharton. Or at least the town how I remembered it growing up.
I spent many days as a child exploring the alleys, empty buildings and especially the woods surrounding the town. I think as a kid you can do that kind of stuff. Now, I would probably be arrested for trespassing.
Those experiences in that town certainly have inspired a lot of my stories. So, I wouldn't be surprised if Morningside popped up now then in some future project.
Who is your favorite character?
Jayson: That's a hard question to answer. A screenplay changes a lot from paper to the screen. Each actor breathes their own life into the characters you create, which is one things I love about film. The cast in this film is amazing!
Picking a favorite character is kind of like asking to pick a favorite child. Even though one may be a brat and the other angel, you love them equally.
I am someone who is afraid of horror movies. What do I need to prepare for?
Jayson: Keeping the night light on for a while.
...that's what I was afraid of.
Thank you, Jayson for the awesome interview. Can't wait to see The Morningside Monster this weekend!