Friday, January 18, 2019


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"Make films is a dream". When you hear from someone those words, you can check immediately that person truly has a passionate love for filmmaking.That's what you can note talking or chatting with Travis Zariwnya man that consider that successfulness it's not measure by the amount of money in your account bank but in the goals you have achieved, he done one of them, be a filmmaker. With a busy schedule and many projects on board, Travis took out some of his free time and replaid these questions i asked him. We will be talking about his career, his works such as INTRUDER, CABIN FEVER and THE MIDNIGHT MAN. Hey indie filmmaker! If you wanna hear good advices from a skilled director, keep stay and read this interview.

EFF: First off, thank you very much for take some time out and answer me these questions, I really appreciate it. Allow me starting off with, where are you from and how and when you felt out that filmmaking would be your thing to live in and was there an specific event?

TZ: Thank you for reaching out to me, it's always cool to chat film with a fellow creative. I am from Portland, Oregon originally.  I think the defining moment for me was when my dad took me to see Vincent Price in "THE HOUSE OF WAX" at the Joy theater in Portland when I was 7 years old. It was my first 3-D film. It was in black and white and I loved it... We also went to a lot of drive in theaters when I was younger; when they where still around... STAR WARS was the film that pushed me over the edge. Once I saw that, I knew I wanted to be involved in the film making process... I was eight. 

EFF:  You have worked on in several roles into film industry such as producer, writer, in the art department, production designer and so forth, it's a bunch of knowledge. What role did you begin in? And what movie in?

TZ: I always thought of myself as a Director and wanted to learn the process of filmmaking from every department. I started officially in camera department when I got an internship at Panavison:  a 35mm film camera system. I worked my way up from loader to operator to Director of Photography.  Being on set I realized that my skills as an artist could be used in other departments. I then switched to Art Department where I worked my way up as well, from set dresser to art director to Production Designer. I also never turned a job down no matter what department offered it; grip, electric, wardrobe, make-up or special effects. I moved around a lot trying to learn all the gear and what it was used, I worked with a lot of different Directors and you quickly learn what works and what doesn't. 
My official first real job was as a Second AC on a film with Hulk Hogan called "SECRET AGENT CLUB" it was there I meet some cool film peeps that I am still friends with today.

EFF: Now, speaking of your directorial life, your first feature film was SCAVENGERS a Sci-Fi film, written by you. As your first feature film, tell us how was that experience? How the film got life and what setbacks you had to face out?

TZ:  It was insane. I had two months to write it and 10 days to shoot it and 80,000 US dollars. I jumped at the chance and never looked back. It was a great experience. If you have an opportunity to make a film, any film: I would take it. Honestly I was so excited to be making my own movie there was never really any setbacks, it is very difficult to find good producers though. I think that is why many filmmakers become part of the producing team. I have been very lucky in finding good people to work with that have trusted me with the creative process. I am always actively looking to work with new people, production companies and movie producers. 
Scavengers (2013) Imdb |  iTunes Amazon 

EFF: Let's talk about INTRUDER What can you tell us about it? I know the shooting was before CABIN FEVER , right? In addition, I read on the web that the budget was only 40.000 bucks? Tell us the brief plot of the story and how was the pitching process.

TZ: INTRUDER was the breakthrough for me. I had just made SCAVENGERSS and wanted to make another film right away so I got together with my friends and figured out how we could do that. I remember taking the garbage out to the dumpster one night at the apartment I was staying at in LA and I left the door open. When I got back, I thought what if somebody had just snuck into the place and was hiding in a closet or something. Then, later that night I was sitting in bed and the closet door was open just a tiny bit, I 'sneezed' and immediately thought what if "that someone in the closet" accidentally said "BLESS YOU" giving themselves away. That was the idea for the movie.

Ultimately, I used all the experience I had gathered to make that film. I build the sets and my Art Director turned Production Designer Melanie Reign came in and did all the rest, Art department in critical in all my films. I used garden hoses to make rain. We used home depot lights to light with; we truly made an indie film.
Intruder (2016) Imdb |  iTunes Amazon 

EFF: How long it took you shooting the film? What problems you had doing it, locations or logistic?

TZ: We shot for 10 days and 12 hours a day.  Being a crew guy having worked 36 hour days on some music videos and 16 to 18 hour days on some low budget movies I was not going to do that to myself or the crew, If we can't be prepared and do it in 12 hours then I need to be better prepared. 

EFF: CABIN FEVER Eli Roths' Classic horror movie. First, how did you get involved in the project? Who called you and told you" Hey Travis, you wanna be the director of a cabin fever remake"? Tell us the story in general.

TZ: That's kind of a long story but: I made a tiny film called INTRUDER and Cassian Elwes saw it. He invited me to LA for a meeting and asked me what I wanted to do next, I said a 'family film' and he said how about HORROR? I smiled and said: "TOTALLY!"  He slid the script across the desk and I read it that night... I put together a look book and send it to him at 3 am that morning.... the rest is history... Remaking that film was an awesome experience. 
Cabin Fever (2016) Imdb |  iTunes Amazon BestBuy Microsoft 

EFF: Like everything in the life, certain things contains good things and other not so much, from cabin fever experience what were those good things and what were those bad ones?

TZ: Again, making movies is an honor. People are trusting you with money and time and creatively, I really never see the bad in anything, especially in making a movie… It is always full of compromises and creative differences but the process is like no other job on earth. I love it to much to complain.

EFF: it's very stressful make a remake, because fans are always attend to minimums aspects to bash the film, how do you think  it went out the film to critics and audience?

TZ: Honestly, it really destroyed my opinion of critics and fans alike... I read everything and watched every Youtube about the film and literally, it was nothing but "copy and paste" critique. I asked a  Youtuber I was following what he didn't like about CABIN FEVER and he's said he liked it; but "making a negative review"  got MORE LIKES, that was the moment I followed the advice of my fellow filmmakers: Never read the reviews and the internet is toxic. It's sad that apps like Rotten Tomatoes exists, a lot of filmmakers give up because a few ding dongs write totally lame reviews. Making a film takes over 9 months to create with hundreds of people involved at any level, the internet has given a voice to every spaz out there or hack or wannabe.  I read reviews like the camera was shitty or it’s a shot for shot remake… Welllllllll... It's not and it wasn't, I can't help it if you watched my movie on your iphone 5 with earbuds. But in the long run it makes you a stronger artist.
You have to take a risk and be creative. It was a dream of mine to make a movie and I have done that 5 times now, I fulfilled my life ambition, success is not monetary rewards or fame, it's if you accomplished your goal… And I have. I don't know if it's a dream to be a critic or a troll, but there are tons of them.
Cabin Fever (2016)

EFF: Now, we are going to speak about your last film so far THE MIDNIGHT MAN; a legend game to summon a kind of spirit or demon who or which you must to avoid during the game because he or it will comes to you your biggest fears. This film is supposed to be a remake of the 2013 irish film, right? How you got involved in this film crafting?

TZ: The Midnight Man is my monster movie. I loved making it. I actually learned so much that I want to make another monster film, It was a blast. Cassian Elwes who produced INTRUDER and CABIN FEVER asked me to watch the original and see if I had any ideas, so, I wrote the first draft of the screenplay in 14 days and we worked almost 6 months trying to find a location to film at.  I do wish I would have featured the monster more. Just been more confident with showing it... I felt BRUCE THE SHARK was the strategy for the film... Bruce is the mechanical shark from JAWS. According to legend Spielberg was not comfortable with the look of the animatronic shark and didn't reveal the entire shark until the beginning of act 3.  I tried that technique but ultimately wish I had just shot the hell out of the monster and embraced the cheese a little. The actor that played THE MIDNIGHT MAN went on to do THE PREDATOR which I thought was awesome.

EFF: OK, When you accepted to be in the film, what you inspired in to create the story, Anything in particular?

TZ: I was inspired by all the horror films and films I have seen in my lifetime. When you sit down to write a project; you try to imagine what hasn't been done already, or what can I do a little different. For example, my monster SPLATTERS OUT a 8 year old kid in the first ten minutes of the film, that was different.
The Midnight Man (2016) Imdb |  iTunes Amazon BestBuy Microsoft 

EFF: For sure, that was different haha. Talking about locations, the film was shoot in CANADA an USA, right? Did you have any trouble to find the right locations or had any logistic problem? How long it took to shoot the film?

TZ: No problems...We just kept searching until we found the right house -location. We were scheduled to shoot for 20 days but on day 15 I was told to cut a day, sometimes being to good at your job on a production level is a bad thing. My producers saw I was making my days and noticed a way to save money, I made it work. My thought was: “If I am the captain of this plane (movie) and just because we lost an engine doesn't mean I am going to crash the plane. I'm bringing this one in on time and under budget." Which I did. I think my time working with other directors allowed me to see the outcomes of potential behaviors that caused problems and drama. I try to stay away from that and just have fun making movies, keeping my crew and actors happy while handing off a clean marketable product to my investors.

EFF: I always like to ask about those setback directors could attend during the film, because bad days or moments, gives us experience which are be used in the future for good. In this film what were those you experienced?

TZ: I like this question and think I have answered it all my other answers, filmmaking is tough, Painful, Rewarding and exhausting... but ultimately in my mind one of the greatest creative jobs available at any level. I have been in the industry since I was 8 years old and never looked back. As a writer and director I can imagine anybody’s life or job anywhere in the world during any time period. Imagination is freedom to the soul, creativity is addicting.

Setbacks are merely learning tools. Bad reviews, troll Youtubers and bad tomatoes are all fuel to the creative spirit to keep creating, it's such a radical lifestyle that nothing can take it away.

EFF: Let's talk about the tremendous cast you had in. How was to work alongside with big names such as Lin Shaye and Robert Englund, anything fun you can tell us?

TZ: Both of those guys were amazing to work with. Lin and I are good friends to this day. I have written two scripts for her especially, she is a solid human being. I casted her in a zombie movie I was going to do but ultimately the funding crashed the first day of principle photography. Making movie is heartbreaking and disappointing work but ultimately rewarding when you get it done. Robert Englund was cool as hell and super professional. I would work with both of them again in a second.  I met with Robert for lunch and showed him my artwork for The Midnight Man; he loved it and instantly wanted to be involved with the project. I have worked with him before, as a Production Designer on Scott Glosserman's BEHIND THE MASK and it was cool to work with him as a director:  plus, he played FREDDY K from NIGHTMARE ON ELMS STREET films I grew up with. 
The Midnight Man (2016)

EFF: Something new in this movie from prior ones is you have a monster and was a scary aspect of it, who was in charge of the creation off?

TZ: I love monster movies and want to make another one, Toby and his crew did a fantastic job, we originally where going to shoot the film in BC, Canada but ended up in Manatoba, Canada instead. I had prepped the monster and effects already with Toby and his team in BC and ultimately stuck with them. I drew drawings and had ideas but Toby and his people crafted and built all the amazing masks and animatronic we used. 

I originally wanted nine masks that reflected the Midnight Man's emotions; happy, sad, mad, terror, etc. Which I had never seen utilized before; I thought instead of having just one mask or LOOK. I would have the masks be the emotional representation of the monster. In theory it was awesome but when we got into shooting the film I had little time to really craft the monsters performance.  I look back now and would make an entire different film with the same people of course. 
The Midnight Man (2016)

EFF: Now, sitting down on your chair and watching the final product, what do you think about the movie? Was all good, was there things you wanted to add, do you have a favorite scene?

TZ: I wish I could remake all my movies. I think I could always do better or shoot something different or write a better line or edited it slightly different, there is always a self-doubt and desire to do better. What you set out to make and what you ultimately make are two different things, ideally you could make a movie, edit it and then go back for reshoots and or test the film with an audience... I have not had that luxury yet.

EFF: Directors have regularly a familiar crew group, which they had worked on many movies, I watch that you have found your one, because you repeated Cinematographer and Editor from Cabin Fever and you have the same production designer, tell us about these relationships?

TZ: I love my people, once you find somebody cool to work with you stick with them. Gavin Kelly and I worked together on a few films as Production Designer / Cinematographer and I never saw him lose his cool, I told him one day when I am directing I want to work with you. He is a good friend of mine and once you have that, it's no longer work but creative fun. Melanie, my Production Designer and I go way back, she is very very very good at her job, She was my Art Director on a ton of films I did as a Production Designer and once I leveled up she was the INSTA choice to be head my art department. Kyle and I just got along in the editing room and I liked his style and personality he was just fun to work with and really new his shit. 
Lin Shaye and Travis Zariwny
Travis Zariwny

EFF: Are you a horror fan? What horror films and directors you like most and why?

TZ: I love horror. I watched horror movies growing up with my dad. We literally burned out the video section at Blockbuster when it was around and then Netflix brought in a new wave of films and then finally Amazon, which is the best. Anybody that made a movie could put it up on Amazon, that is when I started to see what rookies and everybody with an idea or camera was making. It is an exciting time to be a filmmaker, I love watching bad lighting, terrible sound, goofy acting and bad special effects,  because somebody poured there heart and soul into that 92 minutes and I truly recognize that: I should be a critic. I would give every film at least 4 stars just for getting made... it is that difficult really.  

EFF: What directors has influenced on your career, directly and not directly?

TZ: Oh boy every one of them... While I was super young the big three for me where Spielberg, Lucas and Ridley Scott. Now there are so many creative directors out there making killer stuff I can't even name them, but I am watching there movies and learning from them. From first timers to pros, I love the mexicans! Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez and Guillermo Del Toro and the Italians: Sergio Leone, Mario Bava and Martin Scorsese.  I started following Chole Zhao after her film "Songs My Brother Taught Me" as well as Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola, Mimi Leder, and the awesome late Penny Marshall who was making movies before anyone told her she could.  I literally watch every movie I can, I love Joe Bob Briggs, The Asylum to Dreamwork, all movies are good because a group of people got together and did what they dreamed about doing.-making a film.

EFF: What advice would you give for those want-to-be filmmaker who are undecided in how to make their first film?

TZ: I would say jump into the process and be brave. Mistakes will be make. It might not be your best work but it is a film. If you can make a movie from start to finish you have achieved something few people have done, do not compare your work to others... EVER... A movie is like a drawing,  everybody can draw as kid;  but along the way; somebody said your art sucked or you compared you work to someone else  and then quit drawing, sad, never do that, just make it and see if you like it.

EFF: What equipments, cameras did you use for your films, Cabin fever, Intruder and The Midnight Man, and please, do you have a particular angle, take, or technique you like most?

TZ: I love Panavison cameras because I grew up and trained on them, but as film switched to digital 4k I found the Arri Alexa to be my favorite motion picture camera to date. I have worked with countless systems and each has their own unique traits and looks. I would recommend using whatever camera your budget can afford.

EFF: What is new in your career, where people can hear you from?

TZ: I forced myself to buy a camera and made a documentary this year (2018) as well as three 'long' experimental short films. I also got Final Cut X and started editing my own projects. Much like anybody can write a book and self-publish, anybody can make a movie and get it out there. I discovered the creative freedom of experimental film as well as found footage methodology and I am currently making and producing my own stuff for fun.  

EFF: Do you see yourself making horror films always? Or you see shooting another genres?

TZ: I really like making horror films but I want to expand into other genres as well. I have written over 17 screenplays and only 5 of them are horror. It's funny because you get less money to make a monster crawl across the ceiling and splash blood around then you do for  a drama with two people talking in a coffee shop. A lot of my film background is SUNDANCE. I grew professionally working on dramatic edgy stories and that is where I really want to go.  It's easier to make people cry then to scare them, a beautiful drama is what I want to make next. 

EFF: If a rookie filmmaker with no experience at all, goes to you and ask you for an advice about a cheap camera or equipments he or she can uses to make his low budget film, what would you recommend him or her?

TZ: I would say you have everything you need in the palm of your hand; lots of filmmakers are using the iPhone or any Smart phone really, as a tool to create. I think the modern audiences are tuned into the different "looks and styles" of so many different filmmakers now, that the market is wide open. You have more opportunity to get you stuff out there, more than ever before: no matter what it looks like. There are more platforms to display your work:  hundreds if not thousands of film festivals, YouTube, Vimeo, etc... But you have to make something.
I am literally following my own advice here… There is no excuse to not make a movie if you truly want to make a movie. 

**Travis Zariwny's | Imdb |  **

**INTRUDER (2016) Imdb |  iTunes Amazon  **

**CABIN FEVER (2016) Imdb |  iTunes Amazon BestBuy Microsoft **

**THE MIDNIGHT MAN (2016)  Imdb |  iTunes Amazon BestBuy Microsoft  **


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