Patrick Prejusa Interview
Conducted by Steve Pattee
Owner of Whether The Weather Productions, Patrick Prejusa is an indie movie maker, Filipino American, native Texan and an award winning video creator currently living in North Carolina. He's worked with Poptent.net successfully creating ads for big named brands and companies like CVS and New Line Cinema and was a finalist to be the new host of Indy Mogul's BFX. Creator of the web series Monster Cops, Prejusa is currently writing and directing the feature film REDD. Like most indie filmmakers, Patrick Prejusa is a jack of all trades determined to make good movies. However, he's one of the few to use them to raise money for charitable causes.
Steve Pattee: In 2006, you brought us Monster Cops: The Midnight Special, a terrific mockumentary that was Cops meets The Office meets The X-Files. Afterwards a few more episodes hit the web with the promise of a series, but it seems to have stalled. Is there still hope for this series?
Patrick Prejusa: We were in negotiations at the time to develop Monster Cops into a series, but I walked away when talks started getting complicated with the networks. So we set out to release Monster Cops as a series online. We were able to put out the two episodes, but things get delayed in the world of no-budget. Monster Cops is one of those projects that I'll keep making into my 60s. I've just got so many stories to tell with those characters. We've actually been shooting footage for the past three years. As soon as we can wrap up REDD we can get to putting out at least four more episodes. I'm anxious to do so because our gear, skills, and overall production quality has improved. I can't wait to tell these stories in better quality. We've actually gained a bit of a following. I get a ton of messages from new people who find out about the show and then want to know when new episodes are coming. They're coming. It's just gonna take some time.
SP: Monster Cops, both the movie and the webisodes, seems very off the cuff (in a great way). Is there a working script, or do you give the actors an idea of what you want, or is it a combination?
PP: It's a combination. When you're doing no budget you have to keep things open. You have to write around what you have, what cast you have, and even then you'd be a fool not to see where your talented actors can take a scene. This is especially true with The Midnight Special. We had such a great comedic cast I wanted to see where the improv would take us and how I could shape it into the existing script. With the episodes we still do improv, but we stick a little bit closer to the script.
SP: Where can someone see Monster Cops: The Midnight Special?
PP: It is available on Amazon.com on DVD as well as streaming.
Click images to enlarge.
SP: You've started a new project, REDD. What's it about?
PP: It's very ambitious. It's a futuristic spin on Red Riding Hood. A source of energy deep within the forest is bringing monsters into our world. Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, etc. threaten to take over the world, unless one lone R.E.D.D. Agent can stop them. R.E.D.D. is one of the last remaining secret government agencies on Earth which has only one agent left. This young girl is a bit of a super soldier, and uses her special weapons and tactics to fight these creatures and save the planet. Cheesy, comic bookish, and all out fun is what we're going for here.
SP: Where did you get the idea?
PP: This was originally a sketch idea. Red Riding Hood walking along, the big bad wolf comes out, she pulls out a shotgun and kills him. But then I started expanding upon who this girl is, why does she have a gun, why is she in the forest, etc. it eventually evolved into a Sci-Fi epic. I was dying to do something fun and more cinematic. Working on Monster Cops was very run and gun, documentary style. Here, I wanted an opportunity to create something visually entertaining, as well as fun. Movies like Big Trouble In Little China and Escape From New York inspired me.
SP: Where are you at in filming?
PP: We are little over halfway through. I actually have 45 minutes of the movie edited, with a few blank spots in places waiting to be filled in. I still need to do more visual fx shots with the space battle, a few dialogue scenes, and the huge final battle at the end.
SP: Can you tell me about its stars?
PP: Sure. April Crum plays the title character REDD. She initially auditioned to be in another feature film we had to put on hold, but I knew she could handle the action and REDD's insanity. She's actually featured in a future Monster Cops episode. Chris Plouffe plays Smith, the troubled soldier recruited to help REDD. Chris is probably best known for his role as Windows in Monster Cops. Amanda Elizabeth plays Beth, the skeptical scientist who has trouble accepting that there are monsters in the forest. She's very talented and has actually been a huge help on set, helping out on camera and with make-up. Alethea Delmage plays one of the main bad guys, Snow. A bit of a spin on Snow White, she wields a knife and an axe and is assigned to kill REDD. Alethea is great, she really has that bad ass vibe down in this role. Richard Gaither is our muscle bound eye patch assassin Chapel, also assigned to kill REDD. Richard's great in those foreboding big man roles. Folks may know him as Jones in Monster Cops. And we also have Eve Butler, who plays REDD's holographic sidekick named Rick. Eve's got great timing and a great work ethic and has just been amazing to work with. There are a lot of fast-paced dialogue scenes between her and April that are just hilarious, their chemistry is great. We've got a huge cast which also features Jennifer Russoli, Nick Karner, Ron Rice, Brooke Hammrick, Addy Miller and many more. This is very close to an ensemble piece and everyone is just amazingly talented.
Click images to enlarge.
SP: Addy Miller is probably most famous for her small but memorable role in The Walking Dead. How did she get involved?
PP: I knew of Addy Miller because of The Walking Dead. I had a couple more smaller but extremely important parts to cast and I was being very careful about who I wanted. One specific role is for one of the main bad guys at the end. I needed a little girl who could handle the heavy dialogue and convey creepy and just give an overall great performance. Amanda Elizabeth and Ron Rice both knew her mother, and I was able to get in touch with her and Addy that way. I sent them the pages and she said yes. It helps that we're kinda all in the same state.
SP: Where was it filmed?
PP: We've been filming in NC. Winston-Salem, Mocksville, and Greensboro.
SP: How hard was it obtaining locations?
PP: Not hard at all, actually. The people around here in NC have been very helpful and everyone seems to love the footage we've shot so far.
SP: Having watched the trailer, I notice it has a very similar feel to Monster Cops sans the mockumentary style. Is this in the same universe?
PP: Kinda. This is actually taking place in the same town, Magic Valley. This tends to be the fictional town most of my stories end up in. Magic Valley is the name of the forest and nearby town in REDD in the year 2233, and it's also the same town the Monster Cops patrol now in present day.
SP: Will there be a possible crossover in the future?
PP: You may see something like this kinda sorta in a future Monster Cops episode. Hint: It's the one April will be featured in.
SP: You have a Kickstarter page for funding of REDD set up. Where is that money going and what can people get with their pledges?
PP: [The money is going to] gas money and feeding the cast and crew. There are a number of post production costs we need to cover as well, extra hard drives, software upgrades, gear for the scoring and sound mix. Also, we need to cover some of the marketing costs, film screenings, ads, film festival fees. We're offering producer credits, DVDs, and a chance for you to submit your picture to be included in a scene in the movie.
Click images to enlarge.
SP: Tell us about your efforts to raise money for cancer.
PP: My mother is a cancer survivor and my mother-in-law died from cancer. So cancer has had somewhat of a profound affect on me. In my efforts to combine creating with healing, I decided that every movie I make and sell, we'd give a portion to cancer charities. A portion of each DVD and digital download we sell will be donated to the American Cancer Society as well as to other cancer charities that need it. And it's something I'll continue to do with each movie I make.
SP: Do we get to hear any of your harmonica playing in REDD's soundtrack?
PP: Sadly none of that is planned. The score is full on cinematic orchestra, but you never know, I may have a revelation and realize that the final mix might need some blues harmonica.
SP: Are there any tips you can give to up and coming filmmakers?
PP: If you're just starting out then just start shooting. The best way to learn is to do, so go do it. Make the best of what you've got and just make something.
We'd like to thank Patrick for his time and wish him luck with his film! Make sure to head over to the REDD Kickstarter page to score yourself some cool items with your donation!
Want to share some news? Click here to hit us with it!