Steven Gladstone: You wear many different hats—writer, producer, director, actor, etc. Do you go by Filmmaker, or is there a distinction?
Gregory Blair: If I’m relegated to a single label, I use “Entertainment Professional,” because it is generic and inclusive enough to represent my writing consulting, TV, and theatre work in addition to my various roles in the film industry.
SG: How long have you been working in the industry, and how did you get started?
GB: Seems like forever, but I didn’t really start until I was in my twenties and, despite some traction here and there, things really didn’t get rolling until my thirties.
SG: As far as working on other people’s films, do you find that having experience in the other skills/departments is a benefit, or do you run into situations where it ruffles feathers?
GB: I find most people appreciate my knowledge of multiple aspects of the industry. I’ve been on sets as an actor and had directors ask my opinion about a shot or script issue. Today, it’s de rigueur (and leaning from recommended to required) for talent to produce their own content. So, more and more people are becoming hyphenates. As a result, it would surprise me that anyone would see additional knowledge and skill as a handicap.
SG: Did you go to school to learn about filmmaking?
GB: Not really. I took classes in various disciplines in a variety of places, but I learned most of what I do from studying people and their work: watching actors, studying directors, reading scripts, etc. Books also helped, though nowadays, videos on the Internet and DVD extras can teach you worlds of information that weren’t available as readily before. I think that and being on sets is the best way to learn the bulk of what you need to know.
SG: Do you prefer to be in front of the camera or behind the camera?
GB: I’ve always believed I was born an actor: that is my quidditas. Everything else came after that. But I love it all; every aspect on my resume gives me great pleasure and satisfaction. That’s why I get excited when I’m hired in any capacity: I thoroughly delight in it all.
SG: What prompted Deadly Revisions?
GB: That script came from two driving forces. First, the practical desire to fill the call of low-budget filmmakers for a script with limited locations and cast; that birthed the writer alone in a cabin element. Second, an idea I had for a novel that never blossomed involved a writer terrorized by his own creations coming to life; the idea seemed a perfect fit for the writer in the cabin. So, I came up with the idea that the writer had amnesia and is terrorized by visions that mix memories with his movie monsters and the audience—along with the writer—must figure out where the truth lies.
SG: The same with production and post: anything interesting related to filmmaking that you would like to share?
GB: The production lesson is that every set is a challenge: the unexpected will happen—both good and bad—and you will learn something new every time. On the downside, our location for the inside of the cabin had an unexpected new construction starting next door; imagine trying to film quiet, emotional scenes as buzz saws rev all around you. We could never have known that was going to happen. On the upside, I let my lead actor, Bill Oberst, Jr., do whatever he felt like in one small moment and he did something that has become one of my favorite moments in the film. I wish I had written it: it’s that good. That’s an example of what I call a “happy accident.” They are golden, unexpected unpremeditated moments that happen. And the post-production lesson I learned is how important sound is. Of course, you want to get good sound on set, but a good sound designer can fill the movie with a rich ambience that belays tone, a sense of space and an almost unconscious, but necessary emotional element. If a movie doesn’t grab you and you don’t know why, because everything about it seemed fine, I’ll wager the sound design is the reason. It’s that crucial.
SG: Overall, how would you describe the filmmaking process?
GB: Long, short, long. If you want to make a quality film, you have many stages of planning to set your production up for success; that preparation is a long road if you want it done right and end up with the roads ahead paved clearly. Then, production is a whirlwind where you often seem to not have enough time. Hopefully, all your planning will keep the machine running as smoothly as possible despite the unforeseeable bumps that always crop up. Once production is complete, things slow down again as you begin the long process of post, marketing, distribution and all that; all of those elements are riddled with procedures and protocols—often making things seem like a race between a sloth and a slug. The goal is to remain sane and remind yourself to love every minute of it. Because you are doing what you love.
SG: It seems like you adopted the low budget aspect of The Evil Dead for Deadly Revisions. Did you find the restrictions limiting or liberating?
GB: Both. I think any creative mind views restriction as a challenge: you either fold to the limitations or you find ways around them that get you excited. I think much of filmmaking is being creative about discovering more than one way to write or shoot a scene. So, limitations often prove added motivation for discovery. So, while fewer limitations allow more options, sometimes restrictions force you to discover a way to do something that you end up liking more than your original idea.
SG: Once the film was finished, did you do the festival path, or was there some other way you chose to promote it?
GB: Took the festival circuit route, but also did press releases, podcasts, interviews, advertising, appearances—anything that would bring attention to the project.
SG: What is involved in the self-promotion of the film?
GB: Everything I mentioned above and more. There’s really no end to the number of ways you can market your film; that’s another area where creativity is a blessing. I listed the traditional options, but the landscape of film and the ways to market it are always evolving. Nowadays, getting famous YouTubers and influencers is an option that didn’t really exist as much as when Deadly Revisions came out. The thing to realize is that you have a limited amount of time, energy, resources and dollars—but you have no end of creativity at your fingertips. So, go crazy!
SG: What is next for you? What films or projects are in the works?
GB: My second feature, Garden Party Massacre, is out on DVD and Blu-ray and soon will hit VOD platforms, as well. It’s won even more awards than Deadly Revisions, and people almost unanimously really seem to love it, so I’m quite happy about that. It was also shot in one location, so it’s another example of not letting limitations keep you from making an entertaining movie. I have other films coming out where I was involved as a writer, actor (and, in some cases, both, including Fang, which is hitting festivals and winning awards as you read this, Beasts of the Field, which is ready to head out the gate, followed by The Horrific Evil Monsters, which will hit next year. A pilot I wrote and will star in, called Winter Haven, is also slated to film later this year. My next project as a director is still on the table: I have several projects I’m considering, but nothing set in stone.
Gregory Blair's Bio
A native Southern Californian, Gregory Blair has been active in the arts for many years as an actor, writer, director, and producer. He has earned multiple awards in all these roles, including a Geoffrey Award (Best Character Actor); a Claw Award (Best Screenplay: Deadly Revisions); a Flicker Award (Best Picture: Deadly Revisions); as well as two handfuls of awards for Garden Party Massacre, including Best Feature from the Fantastic Horror Film Festival; and Best Director of the Year from the Southern Sykos Film Festival. Please leave any comments or questions below.