An Interview with Michael Haberfelner by Dean Sills
UKHS – Welcome to UKHS. You were recently in the UK to start work on a new indie film which you have written and also producing called ‘There’s No Such Thing as Zombies’. Can you tell us a little about this project and how it came about?
MH – A little? No, sorry mate, but you’ve opened the floodgates, now try make me stop telling you about it!
More seriously though, ‘There’s No Such Thing as Zombies’ is set in a world after the zombie outbreak, but the media can’t really report about it because it might hurt ‘the economy’ and anger their sponsors – and that’s the backstory for Carlotta inviting her ex Paul into her home, not acknowledging that he’s actually one of the undead, while her husband Colin, who has (unbeknownst to her) actually killed Paul, he is … well, a bit worried – but he still tries to sell Paul a car insurance.
Carlotta’s played by the wonderful Eirian Cohen, who’s also producing this with me, and she’s amazing in front of and behind the camera and has saved my butt on this project a few times too many to be true already. Colin and Paul are played by Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi, both of whom I’ve worked with before, so I knew they’re great, but they have exceeded my expectations. By some stroke of luck, we also got to cast horror icon Lynn Lowry from George A. Romero’s ‘The Crazies’, David Cronenberg’s ‘Shivers’ and Paul Schrader’s ‘Cat People’ as CEO of the company responsible for raising the dead who’s denying the mere existence of zombies – and working with her was beyond exciting, and at the same time she was such a pleasure to work with, and an all-around lovely lady! Other cast include Rachel Brownstein, Alexander Fernando, Paul Sutton, Martina McClements, Rosie Pearson and Chris Kaye – and I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people, really! The film’s directed by Eddie Bammeke, who’s beyond great to work with and whose energy is simply infectious – to a point that we finished early each and every shooting day so far.
Speaking of “so far” – ‘There’s No Such Thing as Zombies’ is in fact far from finished, we’ll have one more shooting day in January to finish a promotional short and then shoot the rest in late spring – provided funds are in place … so if your pockets are lined with gold and you like your zombies on the comedic side, it’s not too late to spend a few quid on ‘There’s No Such Thing as Zombies’ 😉
You can find more info on the movie here: https://www.facebook.com/theresnosuchthingaszombies/
UKHS – Will this be a follow on from your last film ‘A Killer Conversation’ considering you have Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi in the cast?
MH – That’s a great observation, and yes, ‘There’s No Such Thing as Zombies’ was actually meant to be a sequel to ‘A Killer Conversation’ – but what can I say, projects just change over time, plus some of the cast and crew of the earlier film had to pull out for personal reasons, so the sequel approach was dropped, plus the material was strong enough to stand on its own – so that’s where we stand now. That said, for fans of ‘A Killer Conversation’, I’ve hidden plenty of Easter Eggs in ‘There’s No Such Thing as Zombies’ which ought to make it fun to watch from this perspective alone.
Oh, and if you haven’t seen ‘A Killer Conversation’, you might get yourself a copy here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00PCSVL4O/researmytras-20
UKHS – You are from Vienna in Austria so how did you find yourself getting involved with British directors and would you have still got ‘A Killer Conversation’ made if you had decided to film in Austria?
MH – Hah, that’s an interesting question … and I think the answer to the second part of your question would be no – but let me elaborate a bit: Through my indie movie website www.searchmytrash.com, I’ve made contacts with filmmakers from literally all over the world … except from Austria (with a couple of exceptions maybe) – don’t ask me why, it’s just a fact, no intention behind it. As for working with you Brits, that’s actually totally random – the wonderful Melanie Denholme, who produced and starred in ‘A Killer Conversation’ was actually the first person I showed the script to (other than my flatmate at the time I wrote it), so when she hopped onto the opportunity to produce it, who was I to say no. That said, I love the UK, and here in Austria, “British comedies” are held in the highest regard, so to make some of them is simply great.
Rachel Brownstein, Eddie Bammeke, Alexander Fernando, Lynn Lowry, Michael Haberfelner from There’s No Such Thing As Zombies!
UKHS – We all know story ideas exist but as a writer how do you come up with them and why horror?
MH – Now that’s a hard one, because I’m not sure whether I can answer this … but basically most of what I write starts with “that’s a silly idea” or “that’s a terrible idea” or “we can’t do this unless …” – which leads right to the second part of your question, why horror? Actually, while I LOVE the horror genre, writing horror doesn’t come easy to me. But let me give you an example: I’m with this writers group, the WPaD, and we occasionally publish short story anthologies of different genres. So once we did a romance anthology, and no problem, I just made up a story about a shrunken head (silly idea). Then we had a Christmas one, so naturally I did something about a serial killer (terrible idea). Then we decided to do horror – and I drew a total blank. I tortured my brain for a few days, then just said to myself, “That’s it, I can’t do it – unless I call my story ‘So Cute and Cuddly'” – which I did, and you might want to read it in ‘Creepies 2’ – http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B017AXQVDE/researmytra00-21
UKHS – OK, let’s talk about your fantastic website (re)Search my Trash. How did this get started and how many reviews and interviews have you done to date?
MH – Back when I started (re)Search my Trash 12 years ago, I just wanted am easily searchable website that would cover genre, B and exploitation movies from all ages – and since I couldn’t find one (back then) I decided to just launch it myself, figuring my DVD collection big enough to last me a while. At first, I actually featured vintage movies mostly, but it wasn’t long before I got contacted by more and more contemporary indie filmmakers who wanted me to review their stuff and do interviews – which was great of course, and still is. I really enjoy doing press for all these movies, and the contacts I make are priceless.
As for how many reviews and interviews: I’m beyond confident I’ll review my 8,000th movie in 2016, and have probably done 1,500 interviews, give or take a handful … which probably makes me sound like a big show-off, so maybe I ought to just answer with an evasive “Oh I really couldn’t tell.”
Lynn Lowry & Michael Haberfelner
UKHS – What’s your favourite horror film and why?
MH – Tough one, as I love so many – but if I had to reduce myself to one, it would probably be 1935’s ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’ – wonderful cast, the most elegant direction, and the perfect mix of terror and irony. I can only hope to one day make something that’s half as good …
UKHS – Finally, where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
MH – Hah, that’s an easy one: Exactly where I am now. Sounds defeatist, right? But quite the opposite is true: For one, there’s nothing wrong with liking one’s life, and on top of that, as a writer you just spend most of your time in front of your computer almost by definition … plus I do hope in five years I will also be in the process of booking an airplane ticket to the UK (or wherever fate takes me) to go over for a spot of filming, as I plan to do later today (booking, not filming). That said, I hope to have a few more movies under my belt in 5 years, and you’ll find me a worthy enough interviewee to invite me back for another talk then – or sooner even 😉
In the meantime, though, thanks for this one, was great talking to you!!!
UKHS – Thank you for your time, it was great talking to you too!