Monday, September 13, 2021

Interview with Aaron Hawkins, Evil Lurks

This November Aaron Hawkins' ominous and intense horror film "Evil Lurks" will be released.  The trailer (click on the link below) is already raking in awards.  Mr. Hawkins was kind enough to sit down with me and tolerate an interview.  The filmmaker from the Midwest seemed to be a kindred spirit...we both love hour horror horrific and lasting.  When "Evil Lurks" gets closer to its release date, I look forward to posting a review.  In the meantime enjoy this interview with a classy and wonderfully talented horror film maker. 

To view the award winning trailer for EVIL LURKS, click on this link Evil Lurks Trailer on YouTube

CJZ:  Ominous plot? Demon rape?  A coming evil event?  You have made a film that speaks to me (my deviant confession of the day). What films have inspired you over the years...not only branding you as a film maker but inspiring "Evil Lurks"?

AH:  The films that have inspired me over the years, The Exorcist, Chernobyl Diaries, The Nun, The Purge, The Serbian Film (I would not suggest watching this), as well as a video game called Fallout 4.  The reason I spoke of The Serbian Film is because it is dubbed the scariest film in the world and it is the most disturbing film to me.  I get inspired by many things in the world and I am always thinking how a scene would look in real time, at any location I am at.

CJZ:  Amanda Winston has a starring role, Kimberly, is viciously attacked and victimized.  By the end of the film she will undergo a transition from beset damsel/victim to a strong hero on a mission.  Can you talk to us about Miss Winston?

AH:  Amanda Winston (Kimberly) is such a dynamic actor.  I knew we had someone special with her. A little back story on how she was cast. One week before filming her scenes we had another actor cast for the role but she had to drop out at the last minute.  We put out a rush call and 48 hours later we cast Amanda for what is to be the most physical role in the movie.  The attack scene took us story-boarding, choreographing the scene along with numerous rehearsals. It took us well over eight hours to film this one scene.  She did an awesome job as Kimberly as you will see when the film is released.

CJZ:  The low budget for this film provided challenges, I'm sure.  It does not look like you toned down the plot because of that.  How did you meet the challenges of cash shortages in making "Evil Lurks"?

AH:  No!  We did not tone down anything in the making of this film.  At all! I wouldn't necessarily say we had any cash shortages but I will say we are, as a cast and crew very resourceful.  Everyone behind the camera knows how to run cameras, lighting, booms, set decorating...even cooking for the cast and crew!!! For scenes with blood, I made two versions of blood.  One edible (tasted like Girl Scout thin mint cookies) and one non-edible that washes out without staining. Even some of the cast knew how to run some equipment so if I was unable to run, let's say the sound equipment, another actor jumped in. This was really a team effort and at the end, we considered ourselves family.

CJZ:  A normal kid?  A military veteran from Illinois? Staying in Illinois, you became a horror film maker.  This is wonderful.  Can you talk about your upbringing, desire to go into horror films, and also staying home (Illinois) to make films?  Thank you so much for avoiding's so cliché!

AH:  Well, my upbringing was somewhat "normal," that is to say...I am normal...LOL. My mom worked at the phone company until she retired at the age of 48. My dad (biological) owns his own tree-trimming business in West Virginia.  My Step-Dad worked for a GMC dealership in the area so I was always learning how to work on cars, since as a kid I grew up with him. I started my journey in the arts when I was in junior high school (at the age of 13). I would design stuff in art class and draw cartoons.  In high school I designed a house in architecture class so my move for the arts progressed from school and seeing movies and TV shows as a kid.

I did join the military about six months after high school graduation and had fun doing that...but the arts kept calling.  My desire to get into horror is relatively simple.  Horror films are the least expensive to make and have the highest return of investment of all the genres. Oh!  I love how they look and how they keep my mind moving. I hear that all the time that California is cliché and part of me buys into that mindset...but the reality is, as a film maker, you can make a film anywhere.  The cast of "Evil Lurks" is entirely made up from actors and crew entirely from Illinois.  

CJZ:  Getting a low budget indie film made and distributed can't be easy. In addition to a film maker, I'm sure you also have to be a salesman or a pitchman... or in some cases a broker to draw in money.  Do you enjoy that aspect of your role in making "Evil Lurks"?

AH:  Yes and no.  The 'yes' is I love to talk to people and when someone asks what I do, I tell them I am a film maker and actor.  They are immediately intrigued and start asking questions and it is 100% of the time leads them to watching the award winning trailer.  The 'no' aspect is dealing with the legal stuff like contracts.  Outside the actual filming, I would say the hardest part is indeed raising the funds to film.  Along with being the creator of this film I also am the Executive Producer, co-writer, Director, and I even had a cameo role. 

CJZ:  You know who they are.  Unlike you and me, some so-called horror people will be offended by Kimberly's plight and the ominous circumstances that beset her.  From watching the trailer I am guessing some taboo plot devices are also utilized. You will be criticized and the film will be termed "offensive" and "crossing the line."  Do you have a response for those critics?

AH:  To those critics who deem it "offensive" and "crossing the line," I challenge you to watch "Evil Lurks" again with an open mind to the sheer art of the movie and watch the symbolism in it.  After all, filming a movie is an art form and the actors within ANY movie or TV show are performing and engaging in that art form. I fully expect to have critics make comments about this film.  The Horror genre is not for everyone but the die hard horror fans I know will love this movie.

CJZ:  From a business point of view, how are you and "Evil Lurks" doing?  IMDB gives a release date of late November.  Are the financial backers coming aboard?  Are distributors and festivals talking with you?

AH:  Myself and "Evil Lurks" are doing good.  The release date on our IMDB page is rough.  We are hoping to release it in November.  We are in post currently so we are beyond financial backing.  I have a few festivals I will put the film in.  I also have a list of six distribution companies who have reached out to me wanting "Evil Lurks."  We had planned on attending AFM (American Film Market) the first week of November to pitch it to more distribution companies but AFM has moved to online only.  We are still deciding if it makes sense to do the virtual AFM, or not.

CJZ:  "Evil Lurks" come out in late 2021...then what?  This is an ominous and ambitious story.  Prequels?  Sequels?  An entirely different film?

AH:  I am currently writing a prequel to "Evil Lurks" as we speak.  In fact, I started on the writing in the middle of filming "Evil Lurks."  I am also writing another horror movie entitled "Doomsday," and I have two other writers working on this with me.  It's funny, my family keeps asking me when I will stop writing horror and write a comedy.  My response is, as soon as I am no longer on this earth is when to expect me to write a comedy!!!

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