Zach Green is a film producer and along with writer/director Richard Powell they form Fatal Pictures, a Canadian independent film production company which has produced four award-winning, critically acclaimed short films that have garnered awards ranging from BEST PICTURE to BEST DIRECTOR. Their previous film Familiar (2012) is available on iTunes now. Their current film on the circuit, HEIR, won BEST SHORT FILM @ Morbido Film Festival (2015) a few month ago in Mexico. Zach took a moment out of his hectic schedule to speak with Fountain Pop about filmmaking, the life of an independent producer and the challenges of making short films.
Bill Howard: First off thanks for taking the time to talk, I appreciate it.
Zach Green: Thank you very much Bill, I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with me and letting me make a few announcements.
BH: How did you get into producing and why horror short films?
ZG: It all started back at film school in 2002. I was attending film school for post production (editing). I met Richard in my final semester of school and ended up editing a film for him. After graduating and working with Richard out of school for a number of years, the next natural move was to start a production company together and market our first film officially. Which was CONSUMPTION back in 2008 under the banner Fatal Pictures. Richard would naturally write and direct these films, and I would of course oversee the entire film and try to put together the best cast/crew etc so Richard can just focus on the creative side.
As for regarding why short films, Richard and I are really learning the craft very well on all of our short films. They essentially run the same as a feature would, minus the duration of the entire shoots length. So when it comes time for our debut feature, we will be mentally as well as physically ready for it. Not to mention, we have some brilliant short stories we would like to produce. We are learning the ropes and learning from our mentors, all the little things and just learning how to problem solve and trouble shoot issues as they arise on set on a smaller scale where the stakes could be less severe. We don’t want to just produce another feature that goes forgotten in a handful of years. We want our features to really make and/or leave an impression on the world.
BH: Do you find it hard getting a short film out there when audiences have much wider access to feature films?
ZG: Absolutely. Short films do not get seen or heard of half the time. Unless it potentially creates a big buzz on the circuit. But with that said, today there are so many digital and internet outlets and distribution platforms such as iTunes, Google Play, Netflix etc. But hey, if you make a good enough short film and you have the right people behind it, I can’t see it not getting some recognition.
BH: All three short films, Worm, Familiar and now the new film Heir, were all directed by Richard Powell and all-star Robert Nolan. How did those relationships come about and why keep working with the same people? Richard’s writing and directing are superb and Robert Nolan, who I can’t help think looks just like Nick Offerman, is just brilliant in all of the films.
ZG: Well my relationship with Richard formed back in 2002/2003 in film school, here in Toronto. Together we formed Fatal Pictures back in 2007. We ended up working with Robert Nolan in WORM (2010) FAMILIAR (2012) & again in HEIR (2015). I was letting a few actors I work with know what my upcoming project was, at the time it was WORM. They would forward me actors they think fit the part. So I quickly set up auditions and came across the amazing Robert Nolan, and the rest was really history with him. Robert is one very dedicated and talented actor and it’s been nothing but an absolute pleasure working with him throughout the years. Not to mention how dedicated he is to the craft. So from my relationship with Richard back in film school in 2002, we really built a strong rapport and relationship in the editing room.
I think Robert compliments Richard’s scripts in such a great way, and bring his characters to life. It’s rather incredible to see on set. Along with the hardest working man in horror today Mr. Bill Oberst Jr., together it was magic, the two of them on screen. Richard’s scripts are very well crafted and very intelligent, always with a very powerful story and/or lesson to uncover. These films will leave a powerful impression on you and really make you think.
BH: Heir in particular is very disturbing but as a viewer you are not certain why. It can be interpreted many different ways but I saw it as a reluctant man who will sacrifice anything, even the well-being of someone he loves, for an inexplicable addiction. As I said, Robert Nolan is fantastic here, as is the always wonderful Bill Oberst Jr. What is Heir about to you and why tell this story this way?
ZG: HEIR really is a very dark yet absolutely brilliant tale. It is quite difficult to discuss without giving away or spoiling anything. The film is made, and all the imagery is shown, in such an artful and stunning way, where you can very well miss what the film is really about. And many people have. The story is a metaphor about child abusers. The tagline for this film is “A touching tale of father & son”. Child abusers are monsters are they not? What if they actually were monsters?
BH: What draws you to these dark stories of human existence and to Richard Powell’s writing in particular?
ZG: These stories that Richard writes are very dark and intelligent, which I really enjoy, and I find them very authentic. There’s a lot of powerful imagery and messages being conveyed, and maybe the scariest part about them are these type of characters Richard creates, how they are potentially living among us. And the only way you will really ever know about them is by picking up a newspaper, or turning on the news. These are very terrifying stories.
As for Richard Powell’s writing in particular? It is very sharp and deep, sometimes downright disturbing. But always brilliantly written with sometimes a lot more meaning to it than just what’s on the surface. I feel a new voice of the genre is emerging, and I can’t wait to expose these dark tales to the world.
BH: The look of all your films is beautiful; they all have a very polished look that belies their budgets. What are some challenges you face having a smaller budget for a short film but making it look as high quality as you can? Many short films do not look nearly as nice as yours.
ZG: I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that amazing compliment Bill. And I know the rest of the production team would too. I can’t give you any specific reason why our productions look as good as they do. It just might be because they are all working industry professionals. And they are lensed by our incredible DP Michael Jari Davidson who gives us the gorgeous sexy look I believe you are talking about. Alongside of course our terrific special effects artist Ryan Luagie of The Butcher Shop whom also did some incredible work on our previous film FAMILIAR (2012).
I would have to say my biggest challenge producing these top-notch short films is the budgets. I’m hoping that will not always be the case, but as of now, I would have to say the biggest hurdle, whether it be in pre or post, is money. When you have a great script and great talent, you find ways to make the film(s). Richard and I really have no lives. This is our lives. We live through the creation of our films.
BH: What is next for you? More short films? Features? Keeping in the genre?
ZG: The next move is into feature films. Richard and I have a few feature scripts lined up. We are hoping that the FAMILIAR feature will be our debut, the script is based on of our award inning short. As for genres, Richard and I plan to work in the genre for the time being, but also, we are working on more dramatic stories as well.
BH: And lastly I have to ask: What do you love most about making movies?
ZG: Personally my love and passion right now in the industry is to produce. I like to be on the production end of things, behind the camera. Putting the shows together for amazing talents such as Richard Powell. I have no urge or desire to be the creative at this stage of my life. I enjoy what I do more than anything else in life, a close second to poker. I really love casting and crewing up a film and getting down and dirty in paperwork and legalities. Call me crazy. I love money, so maybe it’s just a natural fit for me. But the best gratification I get is when Richard and I win awards for our films we have made together or when we are in a movie theatre listening to and watching the crowd react to our films. Just getting into festivals, getting the acclaim, the awards, it’s all worth it.
We really feel that HEIR is a very special short film that will definitely leave you thinking and reacting emotionally. Please check out all the upcoming screening & dates!
On a final note, I would just like to let everyone know HEIR will be continuing its festival run in 2016! So stay tuned for all the great announcements and coverage from anything Fatal Pictures related!
The next HEIR screening will be at the Landshuter Short Film Festival this March in Germany! Check out the festival here. Thank you again very much Bill for letting me talk about Fatal Pictures and our upcoming films etc. Greatly appreciated.
BH: My pleasure, and keep up the good work, we will keep an eye out for your future projects.