The current issue of the Shriekfest Newsletter carried an interview with writer/director Jim Hemphill. We share the interview with you here, courtesy of the Shriekfest Film Festival & Screenplay Competition

SF: What is your name and the name of your company?

JH: Jim Hemphill… my URL is, but Luddite that I am I haven’t updated my website in eons. Until I do, the URL just redirects to my Myspace page, but one of these days I’ll get into the 21st century…

SF: What is your specialty … film making or screenwriting? If film making, what aspects?

JH: I’m a writer-director.

SF: What are you currently working on?

JH: I’m getting ready to direct a new movie this March – a non-horror movie called The Trouble With The Truth. After that wraps I’m hoping to return to horror with a script I wrote called Hard Feelings. I also have a monthly podcast on cinematography at The ASC and moderate Q&As with filmmakers at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian and Aero theatres.

SF: Busy man! Have you been a finalist or winner in any festivals or competitions?

JH: That script Hard Feelings was a finalist in the script competitions at both Shriekfest and Screamfest this year. Before that, my debut film as a director, Bad Reputation, won audience awards at Shriekfest and the Chicago Horror Film Fest, and we got awards at a half-dozen other horror fests including the Weekend of Fear in Germany.

SF: Wow, congrats! Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?

JH: I think that at their best – and by best I mean movies like Rosemary’s Baby, or Psycho, or Carpenter’s The Thing, or The Shining – horror films provide a safe environment in which to face truly disturbing and unsettling universal fears. The Shining, for example, at its most basic level, is about the fear of not knowing the person you’re sharing your life with, or the fear that you no longer love the person you’ve committed yourself to for life. Rosemary’s Baby taps into all kinds of fears about childbirth, motherhood, and marriage, and The Thing is about the fear of trust eroding. These are potent, serious anxieties, and in my opinion horror movies give society a healthy -and often quite entertaining – way of processing them.

SF: I couldn’t have said it better! What do you love most about this business?

JH: Being around other people who love movies as much as I do.

SF: What do you dislike most about this business?

JH: The fact that a lot of people who don’t give a shit about movies or understand them – people in positions of power at the major talent agencies as well as the studios – exert a huge amount of control over what gets made.

SF: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?

JH: It sounds obvious, but just make a movie. These days, you can buy an HDV camcorder for a thousand bucks. With a camcorder and a Powerbook that has Final Cut Pro, you can theoretically make a movie that can play at one of the enormous number of film festivals that are out there right now. Now, it’s a LOT of work to make a decent movie with no money, but it can be done … you don’t have to ask for permission to make a movie now the way that you did only ten years ago, provided you conceive of something that takes advantage of your financial limitations instead of straining against them.

SF: Anything else you’d like to say?

JH: I really think that as hard as this business always is, now is a really exciting time for independent filmmakers, and we all have to stick together. That’s the great thing about Shriekfest and other festivals – they let you know that you’re not alone, and you realize what a supportive community of horror fans and filmmakers exists all over the world.

SF: Thank you Jim!

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