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Film Fetish Article

The New York City Horror Festival – one of America’s largest and most recognized genre film festivals focused on horror and science fiction – returns to The Big Apple from November 19th through the 22nd. Each year the NYCHFF – which was established by director/producer Michael J. Hein in 2001 – celebrates horror classics and new horror films, along with the filmmakers who create them.


What’s sure to be one of the many gems the fest will screen this year is the indie short The Familiar, which has already successfully screened at Screamfest LA. The Familiar – which was produced on an out of pocket budget of $15,000 and shot in 5 days – was directed by Kody Zimmermann and produced by Riley Walsh, who gave me the heads up on the upcoming screening. And based on the trailer, I’m seriously considering going to give it a gander.


The film stars Torrance Coombs, Paul Hubbard and Rachel Sehl, and centers on the character Sam, who holds a life-long obsession with vampires, and is immediately intrigued when offered a career as a “Familiar” – one of their personal assistants. Unfortunately, Sam’s boss is Simon Bolivar, who’s a 400-year old bloodsucker with needs as ludicrous as they are psychotic. It’s billed as being for anyone who has pursued a dream only to watch it slowly twist into a nightmare.


Date: NYC Horror Festival, Saturday, November 21st at 2pm (Program 4)
Location: Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street, New York City, New York 10013


Find out more about The Familiar at


Find out more about the New York City Horror Festival at


This one felt like a feature idea compressed into a (kind of) short film. And if Kody Zimmermann got to make a feature, I would be first in line. It’s the usual sort of “Apprentice eventually resents his master” tale, but well-told, with some great humor both overt (main baddie Bolivar trying on the jogging pants of a guy he just killed) and subtle (the requisite Van Helsing type is named Thomas Holland). And even though actor Paul Hubbard is terrific as Bolivar, his look reminded me of the great Gary Cole, who would make a feature all the more entertaining. Maybe if the upcoming Cirque De Freak does well the studios will be rushing to get their own comedic vampire buddy movie going and Zimmermann will be ahead of the game.


Vancouver-based filmmaker Kody Zimmermann is unveiling his latest short film “The Familiar” at the 2009 ScreamFest Horror Film Festival this weekend. Torrance Coombs (“jPod,” “The Tudors”) stars as Sam, a 21 year-old who has just accepted a very unusual job: to be the assistant to an amoral, immortal, bloodsucking vampire.


Before he hopped on a plane to Los Angeles for the festival, FoG had the chance to ask Kody about this dark horror comedy and his storytelling process.


Q: What was it about the story of “The Familiar” that made you want to make it?


A: I will preface this by saying I have never worked for a literal vampire, but I have worked for a Boss From Hell. A lot of the stuff in the film came from a job I had once being an actor’s assistant and the weird world he roamed freely around in. In that light, it was a cathartic experience.


Q: How many days did you shoot and what was your post schedule like? Any huge challenges during the process?


A: We shot five days. My producer Riley and I are adamant believers that you figure everything out (or as much as humanly possible) before you start shooting, which saves a lot of time and frustration for the crew. The post schedule was a bit longer — about seven months, but was a great process in the end.


We definitely pulled a lot of horseshoes out of our butt on this one. We were given a thumbs-up from the Vancouver film community, with nods from North Shore Studios (which gave us a sound stage to shoot in), Sim Video (supplying the camera package), and William F Whites for the lights and grip equipment. Sharpe Sound threw everything and the kitchen sink into the sound design, which really makes all the difference in the world.


We had a great cast and crew working for us — all pros in the industry who made it look like a million bucks. I’d be a jerk if I didn’t give a nod out to my post team – Chris Buffett (VFX), Rich King (score), Sharpe Sound and Ed Lee (color grading), who all went above and beyond.


If there were any challenges, it would be in actually getting to this film. It’s a journey and a half following the filmmaking star: it’s expensive, detail-oriented and devours a lot of years. Just keeping the faith is challenge enough.


Q: How did you get into filmmaking?


A: Without sounding too much like a cliché, my dad took me to “Star Wars” when I was a kid, and that was it. I grew up in Northern British Columbia, where you spend seven months of the year sheltered from the elements. I overdosed on too many geek related topics – comic books, role-playing games, low-budget horror movies starring Tom Atkins. My parents had this archaic typewriter that I tried writing scripts on, but as a scrawny kid with no upper body strength, banging out a sentence was a test of endurance.


I eventually got an electric typewriter, started playing around with my grandpa’s video camera and stole whatever book I could find about film at the public library until I was accepted to film program in Oregon.


Q: You’ve crewed on some high-profile features such as “I, Robot,” “Catch and Release” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Any lessons that you learned on those sets that you were able to apply on the set of “The Familiar”?


A: The best show I worked on was “The 6th Day.” Its executive producer, Dan Petrie Jr, is not only one of the most talented screenwriters in film, but also one of the nicest guys, period. He was a wealth of knowledge to an aspiring screenwriter, and I credit him for hammering home the absolute importance of script structure.


I also had the pleasure of watching Lawrence Kasdan direct “Dreamcatcher” in 2001. You observe someone like Larry and you just pray you get something by osmosis. He’s cordial to the actors and crew, confident in his vision and thoughtful in his direction.


Q: “Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” starring John C. Reilly is being released in the U.S. on October 23rd. Are there any similarities that you’re aware of?


A: I think that movie is what Sam (my main character) was hoping it would be like being a vampire’s assistant: a magical ride with a wizened vampire as your friend and mentor. What he got was probably the reality of it – indentured service to a self-centered, thoroughly psychotic bastard who makes him dispose of the victims. Other than that, both shows probably had really good craft service.


Q: Who or what are the biggest influences on your work, and why?


A: Stylistically, I wanted “The Familiar” to have that old-school horror look from the Val Lewton era — unmotivated noir lighting with no rhyme or reason. I showed my cinematographer stills from David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” and “Lost Highway.” The colors are neon and nightmarish, showing an unreal dreamworld for the characters to inhabit.


Writing it, I was influenced heavily by authors Chuck Palahniuk, Christopher Moore and Neil Gaiman. That’s an odd combination, but it’s true.


I also have to mention Sam Raimi. If he isn’t the Patron Saint of indie horror filmmakers, I don’t know who is. When I was a teenager, I was reading some horror zine (probably Fangoria), and there was a picture of Sam wearing a white lab coat, some safety goggles and splattered with fake blood. He had a grin on his face and his thumb “up.” I remember telling my best friend that this guy looks like he’s got the best-damned job on the planet. I think I was right.


Q: What do you hope your short film achieves, and what projects are coming up next for you?


A: We’re gearing up for a feature film, and hopefully “The Familiar” can show people what we can do with very little time and very little money. The feature’s called “The Hollow Season” and it’s an old-style haunted house movie with a “Candyman” tone rooted to it. It’s a different approach than “The Familiar” as it’s a no-holds-barred horror film, a statement I take very seriously. I appreciate genre films and filmmakers that make the effort to scare you – that develop believable characters in actual suspenseful sequences, while painting the screen with shadow and dread. Right now, we’re putting the team in place to deliver that kind of film.


Q: Over what are you currently geeking out?


A: I’m loving this film called “Cold Prey,” this cool slasher film from Sweden. I’m reading “Astro City” and “Preacher” and re-watching “30 Rock: Season 3” and “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” That should sum it up.

FEARNET.COM INTERVIEW Exclusive Interview: Kody Zimmermann, writer/director of ‘The Familiar’ by Alyse Wax

Phobia Friday: Hemophobia or Hemaphobia or Hematophobia – Fear of blood.


The Familiar is a short film written and directed by movie ‘grunt,’ Kody Zimmermann.  In it, a young man leaps at the chance to be a vampire’s “familiar” – basically, his assistant – thinking that it will put him on the fast-track to immortality.  Kody was inspired to write The Familiar during a particularly gruesome stint as a personal assistant.  Kody’s 4am runs were for Cocoa Puffs, not blood bags, but the sentiment remains the same.



FEARnet: This short was inspired by a horrible assistant job you once had.  Was it so bad you hoped to become a vampire?  How did one inspire the other?


Zimmermann: Most good horror movies use metaphor.  Like, Dawn of the Dead was a metaphor for consumerism.  In Buffy, there weren’t real demons in high school, but it felt that way.  I felt like in The Familiar, the vampire was a metaphor for the boss from hell.  I was always interested in the Renfield character in Dracula, and no one ever really did his story – that I know of. 

What kind of a person would devote himself to this sinister, Satanic agent and still call himself a human being?  I thought that was the connection – you are crazy for being part of this world, but you are not exactly the main character, either.  I wanted to bridge those two things, and I think it fit well while I was writing it: serving this greater being while being caught up in this insanity.  A lot of us go into these jobs where we ask ourselves, “why are we doing this?”


FN: What is it about the character Renfield that draws you to him?


KZ: That “selling out.”  What is his motivation for being in Dracula’s employ?  What would make a person want to serve a monster?  That was always a hook for me.


FN: Why did you choose the short-form for this film, as opposed to feature-length?


KZ: Simple: funding!  This came out of me and my producer’s pockets.  If we had the resources  to do a feature, we would have.  The circumstances dictated that we could do a 22 minute short.  Believe me, if we could, it would have been a 90 minute feature.


FN: Do you mind if I ask what the budget was?


KZ: We spent about $15,000 of our own money out-of-pocket.  When you start adding up all the services and people we got [for free] it runs pretty high into the six-figure range.  My producer and I have both been working in the industry for over 10 years each, so we were able to get great help from crew members, production house, post and sound facilities, effects… everything came willingly and graciously.  It was a completely humbling experience.


FN: The pitfalls of working with a small budget are pretty obvious, but are there any benefits?


KZ: Absolutely.  You have to be on your toes.  I had to know my script so well.  The cheapest form of filmmaking is on paper.  That was ingrained in me in film school, so I made sure that every shot was prepped and storyboarded, floor plans were there, constant communication with everyone around you so that they are all prepped and on the same page.  When you have that kind of preparation and you have to make a change at the last second, I can look three steps ahead to see what I can sacrifice, what fat I need to trim to make sure I am still getting the story I want.

FN: How long was your shoot schedule?


KZ: Five days.


FN: And what was the total time from conception to the completion of post?


KZ: It was two years ago that my partner and I decided we were going to do this.  Post was finished around four months ago.  It was a very long process, especially in the edit.  We wanted to make sure the story was there, that it was the story that needed to be told without being rushed along.


FN: All of your projects are horror-related in some way.  What draws you to the genre?


KZ: You can tell the stories without hitting people over the head  [with a message].  It all comes down to when you were a kid, living in that fantasy world.  I love superheroes, comic books, horror films, all that kind of stuff.  I think for myself, I like all that because it takes me back to that innocent time.  I used to watch this great show on TV called Creature Features and there was just this feeling of sitting there, on a Saturday afternoon, watching these morality tales – vampires, werewolves, witches – that just evokes my childhood to me.  Oh, and Creepshow.  I loved Creepshow.  That was one of my favorite movies growing up – I watched it every weekend.  There is just something about the lighting and the style.  It’s kind of this “bubblegum horror” that harkens back to my youth.


When I was a kid, I was flipping through one of those magazines – it must have been Fangoria – and I saw a picture of Sam Raimi.  He was wearing a white lab coat with some safety goggles, and was just covered in blood.  He had this grin on his face, and I remember thinking to myself, “That looks like a great job!”  So I am drawn to the genre because of how it affected me in my childhood, and I like that you can say things in horror movies without being too pretentious, like Romero’s films.  If you want to watch it as a zombie film, you can watch it as a zombie film.  But if you want to read into it a little more, you can do that too.


FN: What are you working on now?


KZ: I showed the rough cut of The Familiar to a couple of guys who have ins with money men, and they just went crackers for it.  They told me they really wanted to do a horror movie with us, so right now I am working on a low-budget slasher movie right now, called The Hollow Season.  I convinced them to include a supernatural element as well, because I like that a bit more than the slasher genre.  So this one is kind of The Amityville Horror meets Candyman meets Carrie.


FN: Will it be feature-length?


KZ: Yes.  I have the first draft written, so now I am going in and ripping out the guts of the script.  We’re really excited to sink our teeth into it.


Film Guru: Before directing The Familiar, you worked as an office production assistant on several films. Tell me how that influenced this film.

Kody Zimmermann: Being an office p.a. is really one of the coolest jobs you can have as a budding filmmaker – and I’ll explain why. You may not get paid a lot, but it’s still a pretty good check come payday. Every coordinator I’ve had has been cool with just twelve hour days, so there’s no 15 hour days like some other film positions. You’re inside, near a fax machine, your computer (to write your scripts at night), a telephone, a photocopier, paper and when the show starts, you get to meet the producers, directors and writers. Because you’re the lowest on the totem pole, you leave the job at the office and work on your own stuff when you’re at home instead of worrying about other people’s problems. You meet contacts, learn a lot about budgets and are free from a lot of extraneous responsibilities because that’s the coordinator’s job. It’s a good gig. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to write my own scripts, shoot and edit my own movies or meet some invaluable contacts.

FG: As a former assistant to a Hollywood actor, did you have trouble switching roles and being the director? How did it feel to tell actors what to do for a change? (evil grin)

KZ: That’s like the Batman/Bruce Wayne question. If anything, I feel most comfortable in the director role – the assistant role is my fake identity. When I was on “The 6th Day” I had the coolest experience. The director, Roger Spottiswoode, asked me to shoot a “happy birthday” greeting for one of his pals back in LA. I asked if I could have access to equipment and crew, and he proceeded to write a note that granted me keys to anything I needed. Totally out of my mind on adrenaline, I asked if I could use Arnold Schwarzenegger in the video. Roger answered: “We’ll see.”   A few hours later, while filming other shots, my cameraman (Riley Walsh, producer on “The Familiar”) and I got the call. Arnold is on stage and waiting. We go in, and all I’m thinking is “Holy Christ, I’m about to meet Arnold Goddamned Schwarzenegger.” I think you can appreciate the magnitude of having a superstar in your presence and being the one to tell him what to do. Fortunately, a voice in the back of my head said: “he’s just another actor.” And that was all I needed. I was able to give him the simple direction of coming down some stairs, point a gun, say a trademark line and pull the trigger. No stammering, no gushing, no problem. Not even when I had to tell him that the camera bumped and we had to do it again. Or when after telling him that, I got the same look Bill Paxton gets in “True Lies” when he tells him he wants to bang his wife. Arnold’s great; really funny and a good guy.

FG: The Familiar uses voice over narration, something that’s uncommon in this genre. Why did you decide to use this form of storytelling?

KZ: It’s funny, I don’t really classify “The Familiar” as a straight horror movie – it’s more of a dark, absurdist roman a clef that’s set in the horror universe. But that makes it sound sort of crazy and art house, so let’s just label it a dark comedy. Since the story was about Sam’s life, it made perfect sense as a writer that he guide us through his journey. Every screenwriting book will tell you voice over is poison, but I call bullshit on that. It’s part of cinema, a tool. You look at something like “Fight Club” and “Goodfellas” and those narrations are absolutely integral to them.

FG: You have some pretty good effects, especially the scene at the end of the film. Was there anything that you envisioned for the film that had to be cut due to budgetary or other constraints?

KZ: As a writer — for the first draft at least — I go nuts. Throw everything and the kitchen sink into it. In the original draft, during the vampire hunter scene, we had crossbows going off, mist effects and the vampire teleporting. There was also a party scene where Sam is in a room full of different vampires that eventually got dialed down to meeting the “Godfather” character. But when the main bloodline to the film is your own bank account, you think on your feet quick on how to get what you want in camera without sacrificing the story in any way. If you keep the story, the theme and the structure in the forefront, it’s pretty easy to shed the dead weight.

FG: Shooting a vampire story, you’re pretty much stuck with a lot of night shooting. Did you run into any technical problems as a result? Any lighting issues?

KZ: We were lucky that we only had to shoot one night outside – the scene where the vampire takes out a jogger. Everything else was done in an old manor in Vancouver or on a stage at North Shore Studios. Riley procured the best lighting package ever for the film, and our DP George Campbell started as a gaffer before moving up as a cinematographer, so I was in the hands of angels when it came to the lighting. I was adamant that the film have a Val Lewton feel to it – unmotivated lighting, almost noir. I wanted the lighting to act as part of the set decoration, creating subliminal webs in the background. George really went all out with it.

FG: What was your favorite part of directing The Familiar?

KZ: All of it. You start by writing a script, and that’s a pretty cool feeling when you’ve found your blueprint. Then you forget all about that feeling because now you’re focused on finding locations, or talking to your crew or interpreting a character to your actor. You’re in a constant state of awareness; constantly falling in love with the problem you’re solving.

FG: Without giving away too much, it seems that The Familiar ends with a promise of something to come. Any plans to expand the story into a feature or maybe give audiences a sequel?

KZ: The idea was originally conceived as being a feature. When we decided to make it a short, I still wanted to retain a feature’s story structure – a clear setup, middle and climax. We get a lot of people telling us this should be a TV series, which has sparked some ideas on how this world of Familiars and their masters would play out every week, particularly Sam’s journey. I think we’re open to anything.  

FG: You made a horror film, so I have to ask… What frightens you?

KZ: My mortgage. Now that’s a monster.

FG: This is your first time in the role as director. Who’s work would you say influences you?

KZ: This is actually my first role as a director for a film I’m proud to show. Actually, that’s not true. I did an adaptation of a Neil Gaiman short story called “We Can Get Them For You Wholesale” a few years back that I’m proud of. Mostly because Neil liked it a lot, and when you can get one of your idols to throw you a “thumb’s up,” it’s worth it. As far as my influences, here’s you go: John Carpenter’s up at the top. He has this unmistakable style – the flowing camera, the uncompromising characters. It’s easy to throw out props to “Halloween” and “The Thing,” but I could watch “Christine” or “Prince of Darkness” any night of the week too. That man knows how to end a movie. James Cameron has never made I film I disliked. When I lay down money to see a Jim Cameron movie, I know I’m going to be entertained. He’s the consummate filmmaker: a technical genius and incredible writer. He knows dialogue and character. Martin Scorsese’s style seems effortless. He’s the definition of filmmaking. You watch something like “After Hours” and there’s a shot where Griffin Dunne is in a diner and decides to talk to Roseanna Arquette. With one camera move, you understand everything there is to know about that scene, the emotions, the character’s state of mind. Who else can do that? I also have to mention Sam Raimi. If he isn’t the Patron Saint of indie horror filmmakers, I don’t know who is. When I was a teenager, I was reading some horror zine (probably Fangoria), and there was a picture of Sam wearing a white lab coat, some safety goggles and splattered with fake blood. He had a grin on his face and his thumb “up.” I remember telling my best friend that this guy looks like he’s got the best-damned job on the planet. I think I was right.

FG: What are you working on next?

KZ: I’m starting the second draft to my haunted house film called “The Hollow Season.” It’s still in its early stages, but the characters are starting to “talk” to me – and I think any one who writes knows how great that is when it starts. My producer Riley is completing the preliminary budget so our other partners will be able to hunt down the investment money. I give my partners the same pep talk: that when Springsteen went into the studio to create “Born to Run,” his ambition was to “sound like Phil Spector, write lyrics like Bob Dylan and sing like Roy Orbison.” So, with that in mind, I tell them to hit The Hollow Season with a bit of the same outlook: it should have the style of “The Ring”, the tone of “Candyman” and presence of “Session 9.” If you’re going to aspire, aspire for the best.

Film Guru Review

If you’re a fan of workplace humor like The Office or Office Space, you will probably have a soft spot in your heart for Sam. As the titular character in writer and director Kody Zimmerman’s short film The Familiar, Sam (Torrance Coombs) has one of the worst jobs imaginable. He’s a familiar for Simon (Paul Hubbard), a 400-year old vampire. For Sam, this once sounded like a perfect job, especially considering the promise that one day he, too, might join the ranks of the living undead. But being a familiar is hard — and often disgusting — work. And after five years of it, Sam is having second thoughts.

Zimmerman manages to make Sam a sympathetic character. Sam narrates the tale, so we’re meant to see things from his sardonic point of view. With his pop culture references and his desire to advance in his career, he’s not particularly dark and brooding. He’s that guy who works in the cubicle next to ours. What makes Sam believable as a character is his voice. This is a character that knows what it means to suffer silently. The Familiar is a small film, but it’s well done with some surprisingly good effects. It may not always be laugh-out-loud funny, but it is amusing. And by the end of it, it has us cheering for Sam, too.


Interview with Kody Zimmerman, writer and director of the short film, THE FAMILIAR


FR: What is your short film about?

KZ: It’s about being fascinated with something only to have the reality of it crash down on you. That could be anything—a girl you have a crush on, a career you’re pursuing, a sports hero you admire.  In this case, it happens to be a kid who’s obsessed with vampires, the same way someone might be obsessed with “Star Trek” or “Star Wars.”

I read a story once where Bruce Springsteen hopped the fence to Graceland to meet Elvis.  At the last minute, he turned back.  He knew the reality could never live up to what he built up in his mind.  Unfortunately, in my film, the main character decides to go through with meeting his “idol” and pays a price for it.

FR: What inspired you to come up with this story?

KZ: I’ve worked in the film industry for a while and have done my fair share of assistant work: producer’s assistant, actor’s assistant—you name it. 

The majority of the people I’ve met are great—real salt-of-the-earth types.  But every once in a while, you find yourself in bad company: the screamers, the damaged souls, the power trippers. 


One job in particular, I realized I wasn’t serving a sane person, and this is someone whose work I admired.  I started sympathizing with the Renfield character in “Dracula”—just a meager slave trying to survive the top dog’s demands.

Since most people can relate to their boss as a bloodsucking fiend from Hell, the metaphor fit.

FR: Romanticized vampires such as in TWILIGHT, TRUE BLOOD, and VAMPIRE DIARIES are in vogue right now, yet you take a more “old school” approach. Was this deliberate?

KZ: I can’t speak for “True Blood” (I still have the DVD box set in wrapping on the table), but “Twilight” and “Vampire Diaries” are marketed to a completely different audience that aren’t tried-and-true horror fans.


I was raised on movies like “Fright Night,” “Lost Boys” and “Near Dark.”  I like my vamps charismatic, dark and shrouded in the supernatural, so I’m more inclined to show that version.


It’s funny though.  I showed a rough cut of the film to a friend of my wife’s who criticized my portrayal of vampires.  She’s a huge “Twilight” fan and informed me vampires don’t smell bad or sleep in coffins, but are perfect beings who constantly struggle with their humanity. 


Which, in a roundabout way, does sum up Sam’s journey in the movie.  He’s bound by his own misconceptions.  He thinks these guys are rock stars – rich, misunderstood, and confident.  What he actually encounters is a petty and downright evil bastard. 

You can’t miscalculate something like that – even when you think the tiger’s been de-clawed, you still better watch out for the fangs.

FR: Both leads are very engaging and amusing, how did you go about casting your film?

KZ: Torrance Coombs – who plays Sam – has this open vulnerability to him that just cried out to be abused by some evil Satanic force.  He had to be a complete contrast to the vampire’s world-weariness.  It helped as well that Torry’s a sci-fi fan, so he understood the “being obsessed” angle right away and the sarcastic attitude that goes with it.


We lucked out with Paul Hubbard, our vampire.  My producer worked on a commercial with him, so when it came to finding our bloodsucker, he told me he was a “must meet.”  Paul has this whole “lived-in” aura to him and gave the bloodsucker a shifting personality that went from threatening to belligerent to neurotic.

FR: How did the production come together? What was the budget & how long did it take to shoot?

KZ: Five days and fifteen grand.  We had a heap of help from the Vancouver film industry that would’ve thrown it into the six-digit mark if a final total were tallied up.


My producer Riley Walsh and I called in favors, and thankfully, fortune favors the foolish. 

The production designer of “X-Files 2” gave us a ton of flats to build our sets with and then proceeded to build the sets for us.  William F Whites delivered a five-ton truck of lights and grip equipment.  We got a great deal on our Sony F-900 camera package from Sim Video, who also transferred the footage and made the dubs for us.  North Shore Studios opened up an empty stage for us to shoot in, and Sharpe Sound threw everything and the kitchen sink into the sound editing, foley, mix and design. 


Our crew was comprised of professional industry vets.  People who usually get paid $500 to $700 a day were coming out for free, treating it like a professional film set. 


In post-production, we were privileged to get great work out of VFX, music and sound design. 

FR: What do you hope your short film achieves?

KZ: At the end of the day, anyone sitting behind a monitor with a script in hand really wants to tell an audience: this is how I see things, I hope you like it.  If someone has a good time watching it, that makes me happy.


I also think every short is built as a calling card for bigger projects.  Hopefully it does that too.

FR: How did you get into filmmaking?

KZ: Without sounding too much like a cliché, my dad took me to “Star Wars” when I was a kid, and that was it.  I grew up in Northern British Columbia, where you spend seven months of the year sheltered from the elements.  I overdosed on all sorts of movies and started writing my own screenplays on a banged up typewriter. 


I screwed around with video cameras and Super-8, stole film books from the public library (thank you to the Prince George library for my set of “Cult Movies” by Dan Peary) and eventually went to film school in Oregon.

FR: What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers?

KZ: Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, choose your partners carefully and make your own luck.

FR: Which filmmakers inspire you and why?

KZ: That question is a Pandora’s Box, but I’ll do my best to keep the list as brief as I can.


John Carpenter’s up at the top.  He has this unmistakable style – the flowing camera, the uncompromising characters.  It’s easy to throw out props to “Halloween” and “The Thing,” but I could watch “Christine” or “Prince of Darkness” any night of the week too.  That man knows how to end a movie.


James Cameron has never made I film I disliked.  When I lay down money to see a Jim Cameron movie, I know I’m going to be entertained.  He’s the consummate filmmaker: a technical genius and incredible writer.  He knows dialogue and character.


Martin Scorsese’s style seems effortless.  He’s the definition of filmmaking.  You watch something like “After Hours” and there’s a shot where Griffin Dunne is in a diner and decides to talk to Roseanna Arquette.  With one camera move, you understand everything there is to know about that scene, the emotions, the character’s state of mind.  Who else can do that?


I also have to mention Sam Raimi.  If he isn’t the Patron Saint of indie horror filmmakers, I don’t know who is.  When I was a teenager, I was reading some horror zine (probably Fangoria), and there was a picture of Sam wearing a white lab coat, some safety goggles and splattered with fake blood.  He had a grin on his face and his thumb “up.”  I remember telling my best friend that this guy looks like he’s got the best-damned job on the planet.  I think I was right.

FR: What is next for you?

KZ: A feature called “The Hollow Season.”  It’s an old-style haunted house movie with a “Candyman” tone rooted in it.  It’s a different approach than “The Familiar” as it’s a serious, no-holds-barred horror film and I’m taking that statement completely to heart. 

First and foremost, I’m a horror fan.  I appreciate genre films that make the effort to scare you by creating suspenseful sequences, painting the screen with shadow, following believable characters.  Right now, we’re putting the team in place to deliver that kind of film. Article


A New Dark Comedy Film from Kody Zimmermann

by Raven Kai


I am a huge jPod fan and, as such, I have made an effort to stay on top of the careers of the brilliant actors who starred in the short-lived, sorely missed television series. Whenever possible, I do what I can to help spread the good word for these talented young folks. Through their exploits, I’ve stumbled upon many wonderful shows that I may not have otherwise had a chance to see. Recently, I discovered that Torrance Coombs (John Doe on jPod) was starring in a new short film. The trailer (which isn’t available to embed yet so you’ll just have to follow the link to see it) tweaked my interest.

Sam has always been obsessed with vampires — from the time he was a child watching them on children’s programs, to when he was a college student reading horror novels on the side. On Sam’s 21st birthday, a mysterious gentleman offers him a peculiar career choice: become an assistant to a real-life Vampire. Intrigued and enthusiastic, Sam takes the job and meets Simon Bolivar, a 400-year old Vampire. Everything about the Vampire does hold some truth to it; a truth followed by a dose of hard-reality. Sam soon realizes that it is not so pleasant to serve his corrupt and neurotic behavior. Told from Sam’s point of view, the Familiar is for anyone who has ever pursued a dream only to watch it slowly twist into an unrecognizable nightmare. Be careful what you wish for… it may come back to bite you in the end!

I commented on the video and the Familiar creator Kody Zimmermann and I started chatting.  After he shared some background info on the show, I was downright intrigued.

With all the “romantic” rewriting of vampires in books, films and television these days, it’s nice to see someone showing the bloodsuckers as the bad guys they are supposed to be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the sultry vampire (Frank Langella was smolderingly sexy even to my 8-year-old self when I watched him in Dracula for the first time) but today’s vampires are shallow and pose no true threat or danger. Getting bit by today’s vampires is like getting a hickey — it’s unsightly, but no real harm done, and there’s no stigma attached to it.

The modern creatures are empty and untormented the way the traditional vampire used to be. There were, after all, two kinds: the monster and the victim. When I think of vampires, I always remember the lines from Sting’s “Moon over Bourbon Street”: “It was many years ago that I became what I am. I was trapped in this life like an innocent lamb…” and “I have stood many times outside her window at night to struggle with my instinct in the pale moon light. How could I be this way and I pray to God above. I must love what I destroy and destroy the thing I love…”

So, here’s the Familiar, a regular guy who buys into the whole modern concept of how cool vampires are and learns his lesson the hard way that giving up being human could also mean giving up your humanity. I can’t wait to see this show, and you can be sure I’ll be posting the trailer as soon as it’s available.