A collection of Scott's movies from The Asylum.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Leigh Slawner moved to Los Angeles at the age of 18 to attend USC's prestigious School of Cinema-Television. While in school he obtained an internship working for Roger Corman's Concorde Pictures. At Concorde, he worked in production, marketing and development.
Upon graduation, at the age of 22, he successfully produced and directed his first feature film Beach House. He followed that up four years later with Art House, a comedy that was an official selection at the Aspen U.S. Comedy Arts festival.
For a period of six years he left Hollywood to pursue other ventures including ownership of a popular college bar near U.C.L.A. After the bar experience he set out on a world wide tour that included meeting Tibetan monks, searching for escaped Nazis in South America, and an extended period of time working for a covert, British intelligence agency.
In 2004 he returned to Hollywood to work for The Asylum. A genre film company which produces and distributes films for video and cable release. In addition to producing, writing, directing, and editing, Mr. Slawner possesses the power of invisibility which he uses to fight crime on a part time basis.*
*Biography courtesy of IMDB.
HorrorTalk: You once worked for Roger Corman's Concorde Pictures. How did that go?
Leigh Scott: Working for Corman was great. It's a lot like The Asylum, although I think we try a lot harder to do better work. Over there, it seemed like they enjoyed making bad movies. If we make a bad movie, I assure you it’s by accident.
HT: You directed two independent comedies in the ’90s: Art House and Beach House. Is it easier to shoot a comedy rather than a horror film? Have you ever thought about going back to comedy?
LS: They're very similar. Both genres are designed to illicit visceral responses: either terror or laughter. The movies sink or swim based on whether or not the audience responds the right way. It's all about the pacing for both genres. And I know I’ll catch some heat for saying this, but the last movie I just finished for The Asylum is probably the funniest thing I have ever done, so I guess I already returned to that genre.
HT: What is the average amount of time it takes you to write a script? Where do you get your ideas? Who or what is your inspiration?
LS: It varies from script to script, but i'm pretty fast. I really enjoy working from classic stories as inspiration. I've been catching a lot of heat lately for making "rip-offs" of old movies or studio movies, but I don't see it as a 100 percent bad thing. A lot of stories have never been done right, or need a new spin. It's fun to make a film like Frankenstein Reborn because you get to put your own spin on something many filmmakers have tried in the past.
HT: Leigh Slawner, Scott Leigh, Leigh Scott and A.B. McKorkindale are all names you are credited under, according to IMDB. What is the one you prefer most, and why so many?
LS: Well, Scott Leigh is a mistake, I’ve never used that one. A.B. McKorkindale is an inside joke that I used on one project. Leigh Slawner is my real name. Leigh Scott is the one I prefer. Scott is my middle name and growing up, people just put the two together, so I got used to responding to that.
Directing Sara Lieving in King of the Lost World.
HT: How did you hook up with The Asylum?
LS: They distributed my second film, Art House. When they started their production division, I was one of their first calls. They are good friends and a lot of fun to work for.
HT: You are a very prolific director for The Asylum, releasing three movies in 2005, and you’ve already have one released this year, with another one coming out next month. Do you think this rapid-fire moviemaking is hurting or helping your craft?
LS: It definitely helps my craft. All of the filmmakers that I really like and respect either came from the low-budget world or hour-long television drama. I do think I run the risk of alienating some hardcore genre fans. I don't want to be known as another David DeCoteau (Beastly Boyz) or Uwe Boll (House of the Dead). I know I’m a better director, but when you make this many films, you can't help but beg comparison.
HT: King of the Lost World had quite a few CGI shots. By comparison, Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers had, I believe, only one. Having done films both ways (with CGI and without), what is your preference?
LS: I enjoy practical stuff better. I think it's a better match for low-budget filmmaking.
HT: In your blog, you mentioned in an entry that with the advent of the Internet, everyone has a site and everyone can be a critic, while hiding behind a pseudonym. You had a valid complaint against both critics and moviemakers utilizing today’s technology without experience or training. Even I, a critic with a pseudonym, agree with you 100 percent, and it’s a very fair criticism. But, also because of the Internet, low-budget movies, such as yours, have a much bigger audience because of the ability to spread the word of the movie worldwide. So, because of the Internet, there are untrained reviewers and untrained filmmakers — both pimping their amateur product. Where do you think the happy medium is?
LS: I’m not sure what it is. I just get bent out of shape with these little knuckleheads living in their parents’ basements using the Internet as a way to personally insult those of us out there and doing it. I do think it's a lot harder to get a movie made than write a blog or review, so there are fewer amateur filmmakers out there that obtain the exposure necessary to become completely dangerous. Sadly, a lot of big websites have given space to guys who lack the professionalism and maturity to be taken seriously.
On the set of King of the Lost World.
HT: Of the movies you’ve directed, which one are you most proud of? Why?
LS: Probably a toss-up between Frankenstein [Reborn] and Dracula's Curse. Both are total labors of love and very stylish. I also had a lot of creative freedom on those films and got to work with my favorite crew and talent.
HT: If you could work with one actor or actress, who would it be?
LS: Harrison Ford. He's Indiana Jones and Han Solo. Christ, could he be any cooler?
HT: What’s next?
LS: I just finished Pirates of Treasure Island with Lance Henriksen. It was a blast. I'm actually working on a political thriller right now that The Asylum is rolling the dice to let me do.
HT: Any advice you can give to low-budget filmmakers?
LS: Keep filming. Don't be arrogant. You're not that good! No matter how bad-ass I thought I was at 22 when I made my first movie, I learn something about myself and the craft every day. Also, nobody likes a jackass. Don't hide your insecurities by being pretentious or a loudmouth. Get your crew behind you. Get your actors behind you. You never know when you're going to want to shoot a 15-hour day.
HT: In a behind-the-scenes featurette of one of your films, you mentioned that it is in your contract to kiss a hot girl in each movie you are involved with. I did not see you kissing any hot girls in Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers. Is The Asylum going to make up for this oversight in the next movie, by letting you kiss TWO hot girls, or is there a lawsuit for breach of contract in the works?
LS: My lawyers have been notified. If The Asylum keeps it up, they're going to have to do a co-production with Vivid Video to satisfy my contract.
You can pick up Leigh's movies at The Asylum's store.
Scott contemplating his next big picture.
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