Sunday, January 23, 2022


A salute to everyone reading this interview. I had the chance to have a talk with JASON WILLIAM LEE, he's from Vancouver, Canada. We went throught the reasons he had to pursue a career into the filmmaking world, and as he said, he felt it when you he realized he could memorize the lines of his favorite movies rather than algebra, summing it up haha. JASON came onto stage in 2016 with the shocking movie THE EVIL IN US, but the theme if this interview is his latest movie FUNHOUSE, a movie about 8 celebrities around the globe that are invited to participate in a reality show hoping to earn 5 millions of dollars, but soon they realize that the price to pay to obtain that money would be with their lives...

FUNHOUSE movie had a theater and VOD released on MAY 28, 2021 in the USA by magnet releasing. and was released in Russia in 2019. The moviemaking process is always a winding road and while you walk that road, variety of feelings are arising constantly, happiness, restlessness, uncertainty, joyness and so others. The trick is be capable to canalize all of them and using them as a channel to concrete the movie, don't let dominate by them, by contrast, use them.

If you are interested to receive and read valuable, worthy and goldy advice from indie horror more experienced filmmakers, please stay  tuned and read this interview out, JASON will give you those words you are expecting for. So, please, eager newbie filmmaker, scroll down and read this great interview with massive advice for you.

EFF: First thighs first, thank you for speaking with us, really. Second, could you tell us where are you from and how did you notice that filmmaking would be your life thing?

JWL: I'm from Vancouver, Canada and I think the first time I realized that film would be my life is when I would memorize every line from my favorite movies so that I could play them out in my head during class in Junior High rather than learn algebra. 

EFF: Your latest movie "FUNHOUSE" has become your second horror feature ever, let me ask you first, why shoot in the horror genre? Is it for a feeling thing or for a niche, I don't know. What gives you the horror genre that makes you like to shoot in this genre?

JWL: I love all genres of film and have written scripts in pretty much all of them. When I first linked up with Sandcastle Pictures and my Producing partner, Michael Gyori in 2012 he was looking for content to shoot. Unfortunately, most of the scripts I had written up to that point had higher budgets so when he found financing for a low budget film I had to write a new script to fit the budget. We decided on a horror script because we felt it offered the best opportunity to get an ROI for our investors and we didn't need to find known talent. The script I wrote ended up being The Evil In Us, my first feature.

EFF:"FUNHOUSE", was shot in 2019, right? But just in may got its VOD format release date... Tell us Why the movie has found a late release date if we can tell from the shooting date to the VOD release date in the USA...

JWL: In a word COVID. We had a theatrical release in Russia in 2019 and released in Europe as well. It took longer in the USA because our world wide sales agent was Swedish and covid stopped them from doing too much business in 2020. 
Funhouse (2019)
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EFF: Covid is the reason so many movies had postponed its world premieres. Could you tell us the timeline of the project? From zero to get it on the screen? I mean, did you have to pitch it out, how the funding process was on and so on.  

JWL: Our Swedish Producer Henrik, saw The Evil In Us at The Sitges film festival in Spain in 2016 and liked it so much he contacted me to write and direct the movie that would become funhouse. We met him in Miami to work out the plot of the movie, I wrote it at the end of 2017 and in the summer of 2018 we went to the picture. It all happened fairly quickly.   

EFF: Prety straightforward the timeline, THE EVIL IN US conducted to FUNHOUSE, great. Let's get the artsy space, how the idea came up to you?

JWL: Henrik our Producer had a very rough idea about the story and together with Michael and I we came up with a basic plot, then I went ahead and wrote the script. 

EFF: How was the writing process? How many drafts you had to write down until get the final one? What were -if there was one or more- the plot holes you had to fix out to get further with the story? 
JWL: The writing process was fairly quick. I think I had a first draft within 2 months and the final within 6. I can usually rewrite forever, but for this film we went to picture fairly quickly so I didn't have that luxury. 

EFF: Can you tell us what the film is about?

JWL: When 8 celebrities from around the globe are invited to compete in an online reality show, they soon realize that they are playing for their very lives, as those voted off suffer horrific consequences, broadcast live to the entire world. - Logline taken straight from IMDB lol.

EFF: What visual elements you used in order to convey the film's message?

JWL: We had nearly 400 visual effects and an animated Panda so it was extremely challenging to pull off on our budget. Most difficult post production undertaking of my life by far. 

EFF: What style did you try to impress on the film, maybe any references to other movies?

JWL: Obviously people compare it to Saw and some video game called danganronpa which i've never heard of. I'm not actually a huge fan of movies like Funhouse, but I wanted to comment on desensitization to violence, voyeurism, social media addiction and general human apathy. What I find funny is how many people online say we ripped off Squid Game when we released it over 2 years before them and their budget was obviously 50 times that of ours so it's like apples and oranges.

EFF: Yeah, I was gonna tell you that, this was a squid game alike style but shoot years before squid game haha. Jason, tell us what setbacks you stepped in during the shooting stage and how did you beat them out?

JWL: Just trying to finish the film in a very short time frame and with a tight budget and non-union crew. Anyone who has made a low budget film knows the challenges. I think we were a bit too ambitious with what we tried to do, but I'm also amazed with what we were able to achieve as well. It's a love hate kind of thing. 
Jason William Lee

EFF: What was the hardest scene to shoot and why?

JWL: Take you pick lol. All of the kill scenes were extremely difficult because they all required blood gags and stunts. The human pinata with Dayleigh Nelson was very hard because we had to hang our actor from the rafters and hit him with a spiked bat. The axe fight between Gigi Saul Guerrero and Karolina Benefield was extremely grueling for the actors and the big fight scene between Headstone and Botis was done in about 6 hours. We were just lucky that all of our actors, especially Headstone (Chris Gerard) could do their own stunts and sell it otherwise we would have been screwed.  

EFF: As you said, take your pick haha. Like every indie film, it was challenge. What camera did you use in the film and why?

JWL: RED Dragon because Michael, our Producer, owned one. We also shot The Evil In Us on RED as well so we were familiar with the optics.
EFF: I can say your horror films delve into the inner demons people may have, and which by the way are the real ghosts out there. Is there any specific reason you touch that topic?

JWL: I think there's a yin and yang inside everyone. Everyone has a dark side. I'm actually a very peaceful and loving person in normal life so perhaps horror films are my way of tapping into that dark place inside. 
Jason William Lee - BTS - Funhouse

EFF: Yin and Yang, true, I think the same. Jason, as an indie filmmaker and taking in consideration the low budget usually an indie horror film can get, what is the most important thing an indie director needs to have in consideration when filming a horror movie?

JWL: Preparation is by far the most important factor I think. If the director doesn't know what they're doing then it all trickles down from there to all departments. I've definitely been unprepared on set before and everything goes to shit, but I'm always trying to improve on that. Also give yourself enough time to get the shots you need on the day. Pick up days are a giant pain in the ass and very costly.

EFF: What kind of director considers yourself? How do you set up your day-to-day work process? Do you storyboard all your scenes or while on the location you configure out the shots and angles?   

JWL: I've tried storyboarding and I always make a very meticulous shot list. Both are helpful but they usually go straight out the window when you're crunched for time. That's the most frustrating part about filmmaking for me. You have all these fantastic ideas for amazing shots, but time and budgetary restraints often shit on your vision and pull you back to reality. It kinda blows. 

EFF: When the film was out and how can people watch it?

JWL: Right now it's on Amazon Prime, Hulu, Direct TV, Apple TV, I-tunes in the US. Hasn't been released in Canada yet and it's on a ton of platforms in Europe. 
EFF: How has the audience responded so far?

JWL: Audience response has been pretty good 5.5 on IMDB and 81% on RT, but the critical response has been very bad. Again, most of the critics say that we are rehashing old material and have nothing original to say, but I have yet to see or hear of anything quite like Funhouse. We live in an era where people love to hate. I say to the critics, write a script, get it made and then we'll talk.  

EFF: Wise words, haha. What are your inspiration; directors or films?

JWL: Coen Brothers, Scorcese,  Coppola, Guillermo Del Toro, Robert Eggers

EFF: What is the hardest thing about being a horror director?

JWL: Trying to scare people. It's a tough thing to pull off. I never thought Funhouse was scary enough and in truth it really wasn't intended to be. I've written what I believe to be much scarier scripts, but haven't had a chance to film those yet.
Funhouse crew/actors

EFF: What advice would you give to those newbie filmmakers based on your experience, I mean, during pre, production or post. 

JWL: Only get into this business if you absolutely love filmmaking and can see yourself doing absolutely nothing else otherwise it will literally crush your soul. I'm only half joking here, because it's quite true, at least for me. Indie filmmaking is extremely hard to pull off as a viable career. That said there is nothing else in the world like it. Seeing an idea from the depths of your mind come to fruition as a projection on the big screen in front of an audience is an amazing sight to behold. It's a rush for sure.

EFF: How have you lived this pandemic? Personally, Professionally...

JWL: Like everyone, personally it has been a huge challenge to adjust to this new world of isolation and disconnection, but professionally it has offered me much more time to write . I've written 2 new scripts during the pandemic so far, polished a bunch of old ones and won the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards for drama so I've been busier than ever in that regard. Now I just really want to film some of them and improve as a filmmaker. 

EFF:  What new projects are you working on now, something you can anticipate us now? 

JWL: I filmed a movie called Keeper Of The Reel in October that I'm currently editing. It's a supernatural romantic comedy so it's a nice reprieve from all the death, darkness and mayhem of my last 2 films. Plus, there's a happy ending which is nice and very new to me lol. I'm also writing a script I hope to shoot this summer. It's more of a dramedy, again moving away from horror. All that said, I still love horror, but want to try my hand at other genres as well. 

EFF: If a producer gives you a chance to direct a horror film remake, what would it be and why? 

JWL: Was going to say Evil Dead, but they just made a pretty decent reboot of that not too long ago. Let's see...Maybe I'd like to take a crack at remaking Rosemary's Baby. I think there's huge potential to make that movie much more disturbing and horrifying than it already is. "What have you done to his eyes" I always felt that was one of the creepiest lines in history lol.

EFF : Would you like to say anything else?

JWL: I'd like to thank you for interviewing me and wish good luck to all my fellow indie filmmakers in 2022! Keep pushing forward!

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Funhouse (2019)
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