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HMS Q&A with Jack Thomas Smith

This past weekend I had the opportunity to interview producer/writer/director Jack Thomas Smith; the brains behind the 2006 indie film “Disorder” and also this year’s upcoming release “Infliction.” Continue reading to find out all about Jack, his films, his take on the horror genre and more! Keep your eyes peeled on July 1st for your chance to watch “Infliction.”

HMS: Jack, what inspired you to make a film like Infliction? What drew you to the project and what type of work and research went into this?

JTS: "Infliction" is a dark and disturbing film that deals with the horrors of child abuse and its long-term ramifications on the survivors as well as society as a whole. It deals with the flaws in the system that's supposed to protect the children... But a lot of times protects the abusers. I knew someone who was abused as a child (I was not abused as a child, Thank God) and I could see the psychological damage it inflicted on this person. "Infliction" deals with this head on... Define yourself and don't allow others to define you as a victim.

HMS: The concept of child abuse and neglect seems to be a heavy one in the horror industry. What do you feel sets your film apart from the rest? What can viewers expect to get out of the whole experience?

JTS: I hope that "Infliction" leaves people talking. We've had a number of screenings and the Q&A sessions afterwards have been pretty passionate. "Infliction" seems to be striking a nerve with people... especially with women. When you talk about harming children, it brings the claws out with moms. "Infliction" is not a typical "found footage" film. And I hope it's not categorized as such. The brothers are documenting their actions... But there's a reason behind WHY they're shooting everything. "Infliction" is very character and story driven... It's not a monster or ghost attacking kids who won't put the camera down for whatever reason... There's a reason why they're taping everything... And you can truly feel the pain the brothers are feeling...

HMS: It seems like you are indeed very passionate about this movie as well. How was the experience of creating Infliction different from your last project, Disorder?

JTS: I'm very passionate about every film I do. Honestly, I was just as passionate about "Disorder" as I am with "Infliction." I'm passionate about making films. I absolutely love to write and make my vision a reality. It's part of my DNA. It's almost like having children... You love them all the same. Lol. "Disorder" was a brutal shoot. It was a 61 day shoot, which is unheard of with indies... We joke that it was the "Apocalypse Now" of indies... Lol. A big part was the weather... It rained and snowed on us... And rained and snowed again... And it forced use to drag out the shoot. In comparison, "Infliction" was scheduled to be a 25 day shoot... And it was exactly that. The weather worked with us... Everything just fell into place. It doesn't matter how much you plan and prepare... things can happen that can set you back. With "Infliction", everything went smoothly.

HMS: You mention writing, what other things have you written that you haven't brought to the screen yet? What can your fans anticipate from Jack's future plans?

JTS: My new screenplay is a project called "In The Dark." It's an action/horror film that takes place on a small middle-class island in Michigan. This island is overrun by zombie/vampire creatures leaving a small group of survivors left -- armed with guns -- and fighting for their lives as they try to escape the island. It's non-stop action with strong characters and a strong storyline. I'm hoping to shoot that next year. I'm in the process of meeting with possible investors right now.

HMS: Speaking of zombies and vampires, they're both very popular at the moment. How do you feel about those two particular genres? Do you have a favorite between the two?

JTS: I love them both... And that's tough to decide... But I'd probably go with zombies. I'm a HUGE George Romero guy. The original "Dawn of the Dead" is my all-time favorite horror film. But what made that movie so great... It just wasn't a zombie film... It was a play on American consumerism... We're all mindless zombies going to a mall to go shopping... Lol. I love when there's more to a film than you think. I'm also a huge fan of "The Walking Dead." Absolutely amazing characters... You hope they make it each and every week... And you FEEL it when you lose one... That's what I'm hoping to do with "In The Dark"... create a film that you can connect with the characters... But also make it scary and intense so that you're hoping they survive.

HMS: I agree that you've really got to create strong characters for your audience to connect with, otherwise, who cares if they bite the bullet...Out of your completed projects, which of your characters do you feel is the strongest?

JTS: That's a great question! I'd have to say it's a toss-up between David Randall from "Disorder" and John Stiles from "Infliction." David Randall is a paranoid schizophrenic... And the entire film is told from his perspective... So you don't know what's real and what isn't... And you can feel his internal struggles as murders begin to happen around him... Is he the one doing it? Or is someone setting him up? And right when you think you have it all figured out... There's a twist ending. Now with John Stiles from "Infliction"... he's driven by his own demons, the pain from his past and he's dead set at making things right at all costs... Nothing is going to stop him... But along the way, he questions his actions... Are they doing the right thing? But his rage and pain drives him... And throughout the film you ask... Who are the true criminals... And who are the true victims? I love the anti-hero. They're very complex characters. The age old debate... Nature vs. nurture... What makes us tick...


"I'm very passionate about every film I do."

HMS: Is Infliction getting a theatrical release?

JTS: "Infliction" has screened in select theaters. We've had screenings in Charlotte, NC; Buffalo, NY; East Stroudsburg, PA; NYC; Lake Hopatcong, NJ; Blairstown, NJ; Norfolk, VA; and we have screenings lined up this summer in Pittsburgh, Washington, NJ; Gettysburg, PA; Salem, MA; and the Chiller Theatre Expo in NJ. "Infliction" will be release on DVD, VOD, and Digital HD on Tuesday July 1st by Virgil Films & Entertainment, which is the same company that distributed "Supersize Me." We're going to continue pushing the theatrical screenings even after the DVD release to help keep the buzz and interest going.

HMS: OK, three part question. How did you get into the film industry? What initially drew you to horror and what do you love most about the genre? What are some fun facts that can you can share about the filming of infliction?

JTS: When I was a teenager, I worked at a video store in Sparta, NJ. A customer by the name of Lee Estrada would come in and rent horror movies all the time. Needless to say, Lee and I would talk about horror films and we became friends. At that time, I had just started working on my first screenplay, which was a horror script, and I told Lee that. He gave me Ted's information and told me to reach out to him when I was done writing it. As soon as I finished writing it, I contacted Ted and sent him my script. He read it, liked it, and suggested we work on a screenplay together. He felt the budget for the screenplay I wrote would be too large to shoot as an idie. So Ted and I co-wrote "The Regenerated Man" and raised the financing to shoot. Ted directed it and I worked with the crew so I could learn. When we completed the film, we were able to secure distribution with Arrow Entertainment and doubled our investment. After that, I met John Russo at a horror convention in NYC. John wrote and produced the original "Night Of The Living Dead", which is one of my favorite films. So it was cool to meet him. And I was able to raise the financing for a film he wrote called "Santa Claws", which was about a guy dressed in a Santa Claus costume going around killing people. I learned a lot on this project as well and we secured distribution with ei Independent.

After working with Ted and John, I took what I had learned from them and applied it to my film "Disorder", which I wrote produced and directed. "Disorder" was later released on DVD and PPV & VOD by Warner Brothers... I'm a huge fan of horror films. I love the suspension of disbelief... Sitting on the edge of your seat... Not knowing what's around the corner. I was inspired as a kid by Stephen King when I read "The Shining" and I was blown away by the original "Dawn of the Dead." From that point on, I always wanted to write and direct horror films!

Here's a crazy story... So we showed up to shoot outside of a restaurant. Behind the restaurant there was a lake... And while we were setting up, we heard a guy yelling for help. So the gaffer and I ran to the lake and found some drunk guy practically drowning... We pulled him out of the water and then went back to work. It's all in a day’s work.

HMS: OK I have one more, it's a tradition…The zombie apocalypse has just started, the object directly to your left is your weapon to defend yourself against the undead. What is it?

JTS: M-16. The more firepower the better.

HMS: I'm concerned that you have an M-16 sitting beside you right now.

JTS: LOL! Honestly, I can't wait for the zombie apocalypse to happen!

HMS: Lol!! Alright well awesome interview, thanks a lot Jack!

JTS: Thank you!

Keep your eyes open for “Infliction” this week and get your copies ASAP!

Check out the Official Site for the film.
Check out the Film’s IMDB page.
Become a fan on Facebook.
Follow Infliction on Twitter.
Follow Jack on Twitter.

Stevie Kopas, Managing Editor HMS

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