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The James Balsamo Interview

Anyone who adores the independent horror scene will love the endearing work of James Balsamo. If you check out his page on IMDB it claims that James is a jack of all trades; especially since he acts, writes, directs, sculpts and writes song for his films. He came to our attention here at HMS after the release of his 2012 feature I Spill Your Guts and we’ve been following him ever since.

Our roving reporter P.J. Griffin recently contacted James about sitting down for an interview and with great luck the time was granted for a chat. The pair discussed a great deal about horror and film making, in addition to his latest project Bite School. So without further delay, let’s take a bite out of this one, but please pardon the pun though.

HMS: What would you say are some of your biggest influences? Do you feel there's any work or artists that are directly responsible for your involvement in the horror world?

James Balsamo: I'm a movie guy, plain and simple. I don't like sports and I don't like to run; I like movies. Before I made movies, all I did was watch them. I was raised on classic American horror directors like Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm St.) and John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), but I quickly became addicted to Italian horror films. Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento are big influences of my work, as well as Mario Bava. Actually, Bava was the inspiration to the main characters name in my film "I Spill Your Guts,” Joe Bava. I believe that filmmaking is just like playing a musical instrument -- you can always learn a new trick from someone else.

HMS: Horror and comedy is a very popular mix these days. Can you tell us a little about why you feel these two elements fit together so well?

James Balsamo: Let’s face it: everybody loves to laugh, that is unless you’re a miserable douchebag (and even then you can crack a smile). Violence appeals to most audiences. Really, who doesn’t love a good decapitation with a birdcage? And sprinkling some goody pie tricks really helps in those situations (if you don’t know what I mean, go check out my film Bite School).

HMS: What is your creative process like? Are you more organized or do you work when the creativity hits?

JB: My brain is always running – and I mean always running – like a hamster on the wheel. I’m always thinking about projects and film ideas and they may not even be related to what I’m working on at the moment. There’s always that driving force that propels you forward on projects (but admittedly sometimes you get slowed down when have to buy some tacos along the way). So just like the ocean in our upcoming feature Killer Waves, you’ve got to ride the wave on the human flesh surfboard or you’ll get caught up in the riptide.

HMS: Can you give us some info about your latest release Bite School?

JB: Bite School was released in September. You can get your copy now at Tony never thought a toilet plunger-shaped stake would save his life. Fast cars and big-breasted supermodels could be a thing of the past when Tony’s life takes a sudden change after his grandfather cuts him off from his inheritance – that is, unless Tony goes to night school to get his GED. With his fortune on the line, Tony has no choice but to go back to school, where he falls in love with his classmate Vicky, a vampire princess, and makes friends with her roommate a Hawaiian-shirt wearing, pot smoking bat named Spat. Vicky, the heir to the throne of a vampire underworld, wants nothing more than to abandon her royalty, but a power-hungry high priestess is hell bent on taking Vicky’s crown anyway. When a blood moon rises, the priestess shows her true form as a two-headed bat creature with a snake body. Armed only with his plunger, Tony will need to stop her from destroying the world. But killing the beast and studying for a final won’t be easy. See the most outrageous vampire horror-comedy that doesn’t suck. It’s an education you can really sink your teeth into.

HMS: Is there a particular position in the filmmaking world you feel most connected to; do you consider yourself an actor, director or writer first and foremost, or is it all of equal interest to you?

JB: I act in all of my films. When I was growing up I couldn't find anyone that was shooting horror films to act in. I went to film school so I could make my own movies to star in, and I did just that. Now that I have directed five feature films with worldwide distribution, I'm living my dream of being an actor. I just also happen to be a director, writer, producer, and FX artist. I have made a ton of friends in the horror community, and I'm always honored to have cameos in fellow filmmakers’ upcoming projects. But acting and directing are two completely different animals. It's like comparing oil and a punch in the dick. Acting is a very ego-centric career choice. You have to worry about your own lines and actions. In a sense, of course, as an actor you care about the project, but most actors aren't on set every day. As a director you're essentially the parent of the cast and crew. When the director says it's a great shoot, it's like daddy is going to take you out for ice cream. The director takes the good with the bad. The cast and crew might reflect on the few times you were tough, but damn it they respect you, just like a good parent.


"I went to film school so I could make my own movies to star in..."

HMS: Are there any specifics subjects in the horror world that you are eager to cover in future projects?

JB: We have lots in the works. I don’t want to give away too many secrets so you’ll have to stay tuned for our next exciting adventure!

HMS: You've worked with some notable people in the horror and music worlds such as Tom Savini and Andrew W.K. Can you tell us a little about how you've come to involve fan favorites in your projects?

JB: Acid Bath Productions is a growing company and we work with a number of celebrity names. We’re always eager to work with staples in the horror community and actors we know our fans love. As for Tom, I had met him a few times in the past, but I bumped into him at a horror convention and I told him about Cool As Hell. He thought it was a great concept and was on board. Working with your idols can be a great experience, and working with Tom and Andrew was nothing short of that. Tom and I cross paths on the convention circuit all the time now, and he's always such a fun guy to chat movies with.

HMS: Lastly, do you have any advice to those looking to get into the world of independent filmmaking?

JB: Filmmaking is not a science. If you have a desire to make a film, go out and do it. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it, with some elbow grease and help from your friends and family. If you don't have friends, invest in a tripod and make a movie.

HMS: Thank you James, we at HMS are anxiously awaiting to see what's next for you and Acid Bath Productions!

P.J. Griffin, HMS

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