Dead, Buried, and Back! Atlanta Horror Interview series continues with Torey Haas, founder of MonsterBuster Entertainment, Marie Barker who plays Allison, Greg Garrison who plays Desmond, and Tricia Gaulesky the Creature Creator of the indie feature film “Invasion of the Undead!”. Invasion of the Undead is about a beautiful young woman, played by Marie Barker, who gets more than she bargained for when she enlists the aid of two self-proclaimed paranormal exterminators to combat a monster infestation in her new home.
DB&B: Please introduce yourself and share with us about character or responsibility in the Invasion of the Undead! Film production.
Torey Haas: I’m the writer and director of Invasion of the Undead. I also co-edited the film, created most of the visual effects and stop-motion animation, and helped with a ton of other tasks related to the production. You tend to wear a lot of hats on micro-budget productions like this!
Marie Barker: My name is Marie Barker. I play Allison in “Invasion of the Undead”.
Greg Garrison: I am Greg Garrison, actor and producer for MonsterBuster Entertainment. I graduated Kennesaw State University with a Bachelors in Theater and Performance Studies in 2010, and have since then been an actor/ playwrite for The Goat Farm’s resident theater company The Collective Project and story artist at Atlanta based animation studio TRICK 3D. I play Desmond, one of the unlikely heroes in Torey’s Invasion of the Undead and have been an active producer since the beginning of filming. If cameras were rolling I was almost always on set either in front of the camera as Desmond, behind the camera directing fight choreography, or off set making costumes and distressing garments. Sean Patton designed Guy Smiley’s Plantation suit and Alan Sanders choreographed our final Sword fight respectively, but the rest of the costumes and confrontations were a process of taking Torey’s vision and bringing it to life.
Tricia Gaulesky: I was the Creature Creator and Ast. Cinematographer on Invasion. My main job was sculpting painting and creating all monsters, stop motion and in person. I was also responsible for all practical effects, such as blood and gore effects. I also did camera for some scenes of the film, which is a great passion of mine.
DB&B: As we all know… all successful films starts with a great story and script. Tell us what’s fresh about Invasion of the Undead for your character?
Torey Haas: I totally believe that characters are more important than plot, or at least they are for the kind of films that I enjoy. When I was writing Invasion of the Undead my main goal was to create a movie that you want to watch again and again. I was heavily inspired by horror/fantasy/comedies like Army of Darkness, Ghostbusters, Big Trouble in Little China, House, and Waxwork 2- these are all movies that I’ve seen countless times (in fact I’m convinced I’ve watched Waxwork 2 more than anyone else on the planet) and I realized that one of the chief components that make them so re-watchable are their characters… they all feature characters that are likable for one reason or another, be it their attitude, sense of humor, or some other factor. A friend and fellow filmmaker Eddie Ray once said that you should be able to pluck characters out of any story, put them in a grocery store and you should still want to hang out with them. I think that’s sage advice, and I tried to give even the most minor characters in Invasion a moment to make them stand out to the viewer- there were absolutely no throwaway characters. I believe having likable characters is what makes you want to watch a movie again… you’ll always hang out with your friends regardless of the situation because your friends are what makes it fun, and similarly you’ll re-watch a movie even if you already know the plot if the characters are fun. While the basic plot ofInvasion isn’t terribly unique (although I think we brought some cool twists to it that you can judge for yourself when you see it on February 10th) the characters are hopefully what takes the movie to another level.
Marie Barker: As her tagline states, Allison is “not quite the damsel in distress,” and that is what I love about her. She believes in herself, and she likes to solve her own problems. She has real ambitions, which she pursues with determination. When she faces a setback, she attacks her problem directly, and she never backs down from a challenge. Even in the middle of an inter-galactic invasion, she remains creative, curious, and brave. It’s great getting to play a strong female character.
Greg Garrison: I’ve never played a character that’s in type for me, so getting to play a cocky, 8-bit-or-bust gamer with a short fuse and a lot of matches really wet my performer’s pallet. What separates ‘Invasion’ from other action movies, to me, is that most movies reference other films, but Invasion is rife with inspiration from the old NES era of gaming. Where Torey could ape Die Hard, he instead parallels Legend of Zelda. In the moments I could have been James Bond, we instead went with MegaMan. It made Torey’s world virgin territory for me, and it made for an acting playground I never got tired of.
Tricia Gaulesky: The monsters are fresh. They incorporate themes of horror and comedy and really serve as a throw back to the 80’s cult classics we all love.
DB&B: What was your most challenging aspect to your character? And what was your favorite scene?
Torey Haas: The most challenging scene to shoot was easily the sword fight between the hero Desmond and the main villain Guy Smiley. Going into the shoot I knew it was going to be a long day- we had a lot of shots to get- but I also figured it would be a relatively easy day for me directing-wise because I didn’t really have to give any acting direction. Greg and Nathan (Guy Smiley) had been practicing the choreography for months and knew their routine; it was just up to my DP Nick Lauinger and I to capture it. This was totally not the case as there ended up being a lot to keep track of… we had to constantly keep our eyes on their swords to make sure the property wasn’t damaged and similarly that Nathan’s make-up (which was constantly deteriorating as he never stopped sweating throughout the fight) didn’t fall off and stain the walls or carpet. I believe it was scheduled as a 12-hour day but it ended up stretching to 15 or 16 hours. The sword fight is easily my favorite scene in the finished film though; I just wish we could have made it even longer! There’s always the sequel I suppose…
Marie Barker: The most challenging aspect of playing Allison was finding the right balance between softness and hardness in her. While Allison is incredibly caring and empathetic, she is also very independent and strong minded. My favorite scene was the consecration scene with Dylan. The scene was a blast to rehearse and build because it is truly a life or death moment for Allison, and she is under tremendous pressure. In the scene she must take control of her own emotions and fears, while simultaneously allowing herself to be completely at the mercy of Jake’s ridiculous plan. This is very difficult for her, and her success will determine the fate of the entire planet. Shooting the scene was also fantastic because the lighting and makeup really put me in the moment. Plus, Dylan is such a great acting partner.
Greg Garrison: This is actually my first lead role in anything, so I’m used to playing a range of characters, but not a range within a single character. Some scenes felt very natural, but it was hugely challenging to take a sarcastic character like Desmond and play him straight. Marie and I rehearsed the Kitchen scene non stop because I think both of us were trying to ground our hyper-condition characters into a moment of clarity. That was the most challenging. Either that or acting covered head to toe in fake blood, but… details.
Tricia Gaulesky: My most challenging creature was Zatax, the sculpting and idea processes was long and involved several changes until we reached perfection. It really turned out amazing and I’m very proud of it. One of my favorite scenes to watch is “Belle in the bathroom” I did the practical effects n creature creation for this…my rotted head puppet combs off her hair and the result is horrifying.
DB&B: How long was your shoot, and what was it like? Anything go differently than you had planned, or better than expected?
Torey Haas: Principal photography ran for twenty five days; the first ten days were shot over two weeks in April 2013 while the remaining fifteen days were spread over weekends from May to August 2013. We’ve had many informal pick-up shoots since then as well. The make-up for Guy Smiley definitely went differently than planned. Due to a variety of factors (chief among them our inexperience at making molds) we never got to do a full make-up test on Nathan until we started shooting. Our first day scheduled with Nathan in make-up ended up being a complete bust since the latex never dried in the mold, and as a result I was extremely nervous when his next shoot day rolled around. To be honest I didn’t understand our lead make-up artist Tricia’s vision for Guy Smiley but I trusted her because she had created so many great creatures for me in the past. Nathan was in the make-up chair for hours, which only made the anticipation worse, but when he was finally finished and I saw our lead villain for the first time I just couldn’t believe it… he had such a unique look and it was just absolutely perfect. Tricia really knocked his make-up out of the park and (along with our concept designer Brian Hardison and costume creator Sean Patton) created what I hope will be an extremely memorable villain. His glowing smile was also inspired by his make-up; that was not part of the original plan at all, but it just seemed like the perfect touch to cap off his look.
Marie Barker: We shot the movie in spurts over the course of a year or more. We did have about two weeks of intense shooting that included 14 hour days and even a 21 hour shoot. The 21 hour shoot was very difficult. We were filming outdoors, and it was freezing and wet. Everyone got food poisoning after our midnight dinner break, and we still had to film until the sun came up. Getting that final shot minutes before the sky turned pink is a moment I will never forget.
Greg Garrison: Our primary shoot took 25 days, two full weeks followed by subsequent weekends for 4 months. It was a slog balancing a day job along with 10-20 hours of shooting on the weekend, but the term ‘labor of love’ comes to mind. I did get a concussion at one point! I have a dozen fight scenes and a hand full of stunts, but tripping on a sound blanket in a really simple dialogue scene sent me head first into a doorknob. My memory is hazy, but I volunteered to push through and the scene work is some of my favorite in the movie, so that went better than expected. No long-term side effects either.
Tricia Gaulesky: I think it’s been about a year and half, for me. It was much longer than expected, but when you’re shooting with your best friends the fun never stops. Plus, a loose time schedule meant that every time we thought of a cool effect we were missing, we had time to add it.
DB&B: It looks like the film would have been a blast to shoot. What would you like to share about working with each other on set?
Torey Haas: One of the things that I think sets us apart from other production companies is that we’re all pretty close friends… some of the crew onInvasion I’ve known since middle school. This made the shoot much more relaxed and fun than it would have been otherwise since we were essentially just making a movie as we hung out. Of course, there were several actors we had never met prior to the shoot but regardless I always tried to keep the environment as fun and relaxed as possible. On a micro-budget production where people are hardly getting paid (if at all) I believe it’s really up to the director to set the tone and make sure that people want to be there, and consequently it’s crucial to keep a sense of humor and stay relaxed while still getting stuff done. It’s just a balance you have to find.
Marie Barker: If you want to see me cry over how much I loved this cast and crew, you only have to watch my Behind the Scenes interview. I cannot adequately express how much gratitude, camaraderie, fun, and respect was built during this filming process. Everyone worked hard. Everyone played together. Important friendships grew. It was an absolute blast.
Greg Garrison: Dylan, Marie, and I actually did a 6 week rehearsal process for our play ‘The Theory of Everything’ a couple months before the shoot. Going into the movie with that kind of rapport gave us a great foundation of trust that came in handy later. The hardest shoot was the 21 hour shoot in April, 20 degrees outside all night rolling in wet grass or rummaging through bushes. Marie and I huddled under a blanket together and ran our lines through chattering teeth while Dylan and most of the crew had food poisoning, but all the way up to 7 AM we were there keeping each other focused being each other’s cheer leaders. When the sun came up and the last few of us were still standing, I remember Dylan saying ‘We’re making a movie.’ Something about the confidence in that reminded us all of what we were accomplishing, and if it seemed like a pipe dream before, that made it a reality to all of us.Tricia Gaulesky: So many hilarious stories…. that no one would want me to mention in this interview. Seriously though, it was a blast and we all managed to combine joking around with hard work and make it a fun experience every time.
DB&B: How did you get involved with Invasion of the Dead? Was it something you were approached with? Can you share with us about your audition experience?
Torey Haas: I knew I wanted Greg to play Desmond since I saw him in the stage play The Theory of Everything back in 2010; while I had previously worked with him on my short First Date it wasn’t until I saw this play that I realized the range he had as an actor since he bounced effortlessly from serious to comedic roles across the production’s different vignettes. He also had a bit of a live-action Adol Christin (from the video game series Ys) look to him which was a cool coincidence since Desmond was partially modeled after that character. As for casting Desmond’s best friend and business partner Jake, I asked Greg if there was an actor he had good chemistry with and he recommended Dylan Schettina, who is his best friend in real life. We did a quick screen test and it was obvious they were both perfect for the roles. Allison was a little more difficult to cast though- I auditioned a handful of actresses with Greg and Dylan and they all did a really great job. Marie was my gut instinct, but since it was such a tough decision I ended up showing the audition tapes to close friends and family for their opinions and the unanimous consensus was to cast Marie. Looking back, I can’t see anyone but her playing the role… she just has the perfect combination of confidence, looks and attitude for the character.
Marie Barker: It was actually on my first MonsterBuster project that Torey asked me to audition for Invasion. We were filming a 48 Hour Film. I felt so honored that he asked me to audition on our first meeting. I thought the audition itself was both challenging and fun. I had already done a play with both Greg and Dylan, so I felt comfortable with them, but a film audition is much different than a theatre audition, which is more in my wheelhouse. After the official audition was over, I told them all a ghost story, and that may be what actually got me the part.
Greg Garrison: In 2009 I was just a student at Kennesaw State and a friend of Torey’s asked me to audition for one of his short films with her. When I walked into the audition Torey saw me and froze, just kind of sizing me up for a second. The character I was auditioning for was sweet and awkward but he told me to try the lines ‘completely wrong, just totally brash and sarcastic.’ I got the part in First Date, but he told me he had a film series he wanted to make and I looked just like the main character he saw in his head. 5 years and a dozen short films later ‘Invasion’ is a reality. In a way I’ve been cast as Desmond longer than Torey and I have been friends, but we got along famously right off the bat.
Tricia Gaulesky: I actually acted in a couple MonsterBuster projects, they got wind later that I was in school for film and sculpture making Horror themed projects and asked me to make Belle, the first creature for the fime. After that, I made everything. I then started branching off into camera work.
DB&B: With the World premier right around the corner (2/10/15 at the Plaza) do you have special plans for the premier?
Torey Haas: Haha, Greg and Marie are both in charge of planning the premier… I’m desperately trying to finish the last few visual effects so we actually have something to screen on the 10th!
Marie Barker: I plan to wear a dress, drink champagne, and sit next to Greg. The last time I sat next to Greg at a movie, he was wearing a tux, so it’s only fair I get dressed up.
Greg Garrison: I’m putting on my best suit and showing up with a beautiful woman on my arm for the press. Sorry boys, she’s already taken. She’s my mother and she’s happily married.
Tricia Gaulesky: It will be really special for me over all. My father, a big supporter and backer for the film passed away recently. We’ll be dedicating the film to him after the credits and I can’t wait for myself and my family to see that.
DB&B: Tells us about the premier and how our readers can get tickets
Torey Haas: Sure thing! The premier will take place on February 10th at 9:30 pm at the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta. Tickets are $10 at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1152069 and $12 at the door. Please buy online in advance if you can! It really helps us to have as accurate of an account of the people attending as possible. Invasion of the Undead has been in production for nearly three years and a lot of hard work and passion has gone into making it the most fun and epic micro-budget movie we possibly could. Come see what we pulled off!
DB&B: What are your hopes for Invasion of the Undead?
Torey Haas: : We’re self-distributing Invasion of the Undead, and I’m mainly hoping we can find our audience. I love making movies and I specifically love making movies with MonsterBuster, so now the only missing component is whether or not people will love watching our movies! It’s both an exciting and depressing time to be an independent filmmaker… exciting because of the accessibility of the technology but depressing because of the amount of indie films getting released. It’s just really hard to stand out, and our greatest challenge is not making the film but rather just getting it out there.
Marie Barker: I hope people like it. I would love for Invasion to get a cult following that will keep us moving forward as a company. If I had a genie, I would wish that ten years from now I would be watching Invasion in a theatre, while actors play the parts in front of the screen, shout things, and throw stuff.
Greg Garrison: If ‘Invasion’ finds its audience and makes good money, there’s a sequel coming up behind it. My hopes are that the series gets fully realized, Torey saved a lot of the coolest stuff for the follow up films. I ride a dinosaur in one movie? Someone give this man money so I can ride a dinosaur!
Tricia Gaulesky: I hope it gets so big that Brad Pitt plays Desmond in the sequel.
DB&B: What are your plans for 2015?
Torey Haas: My new year’s resolution is to at least start pre-production on another movie by this summer. I don’t know if it will be the Invasionsequel (which is already written) or another genre film, but I definitely want to get something else off the ground. You’re not a filmmaker unless you make films, you know? If I don’t make the Invasion sequel I think I want to make something more R-rated… the Desmond and Jake films are more ’80s PG-13 fun, and while I love that style I’m also a huge fan of all kinds of horror; my DVD collection proudly includes Cannibal Holocaust, many Fulci and Argento masterpieces, drive-in classics like Eddie Romero’s Blood Island trilogy and countless others. So we’ll see.
Marie Barker: In 2015 I would like to work with MonsterBuster to build a larger audience for our film. I would like to take Invasion to several new cities, participate in conventions, hold Q&As, and create new ways to broaden our fan base.
Greg Garrison: “Invasion” comes out alongside our webseries “Cinemantics!”, the story in the life of four room mates coming together told in different movie parodies. 2015 will consist of learning a lot about marketing, making a reel, and taking the Atlanta film scene by storm. There is also talk of filming another movie this summer depending on how ‘Invasion’ does, so stay tuned for details!
Tricia Gaulesky: I’m getting married in August. I just started a new job in sales. I also hope that we all find time to keep making badass movies together. This time I wanna do even more camera work.
FREE Question #1:
Torey Haas: You mentioned that the sequel is already written. Can you tell us anything about that?
Invasion of the Undead is actually the first movie in a four part series, with the subsequent entries tentatively titled Siege of the Cat Goblin, Return of the Bloodsucker and Night of the Necromancer. The original drafts of all these scripts were written back in 2002-2003 when I was a freshman at Georgia Tech. I’m a huge Marvel and Stephen King fan, and I always loved the idea of a shared universe that is central to comic books and King’sDark Tower series… at the time Marvel wasn’t making movies yet so I felt it was a really unique idea to create a cinematic universe of characters that could interact with each other across different films, and that was the initial impulse to create Desmond, Jake and Allison as the central characters in a sort of horror/fantasy universe. Of course, with Marvel and now DC both creating cinematic universes it’s not as original of an idea as it was, but it’s still something I find really compelling and I don’t think it’s been seen in micro budget films at the very least. As it stands Invasion of the Undeadfeatures cameos by characters from our past short films (which can all be seen at www.monsterbusterentertainment.com and also from the recent indie film No Soliciting; these moments will probably have 99% of our audience scratching their heads but I still wanted to include them.
Marie Barker: How did you find Josie Levy, the actress who plays Ashley Amberson? When I am not acting, I teach drama to elementary and middle school students. Josie was a former student of mine. While Torey and I were auditioning girls for the role of Ashley, we went to an advanced acting class that Josie was in. All the girls were great, but Josie stole the part right away. She is so adorable and natural both on camera and off. She is confident, cool, and cheerful. She stole the hearts of every single Invasion cast and crew member.
Greg Garrison: You had to learn fencing choreography for the film. How difficult was that? Did you Incur any injuries? With my musical theater background I’ve done a lot of choreography, so in perhaps the least manly way possible the sword fighting came very naturally. Alan was a phenomenal teacher, and ironically was the only one to get injured. He was excitedly showing me some techniques on the shoot date when he accidentally punctured his pinky on my sword. He got a couple stitches, but he took it like a champ. He didn’t even leave set, he went and got it treated some 6 hours later.
Tricia Gaulesky: Which Invasion of the Dead crew member do you think is most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse and why? Rhetorical question! The Jay Man! He’ll find a way out of anything.
FREE Question #2:
Torey Haas: What else about Invasion of the Undead makes it stand out from other indie films?
As much as Invasion is inspired by horror/fantasy films it also heavily influenced by old school video games. I grew up playing The Legend of Zelda,Final Fantasy and other adventure games, and I definitely wanted to pay homage to them in my first feature film. Creatures flicker when damaged by our heroes and the final fight between Desmond and the stop-motion-animated, fireball-throwing demon king Z’athax takes place in a swirling alternate dimension patterned after the final boss fights in Final Fantasy IV and Ys III. For the most part the video game references are integrated naturally into the world of the film and are not as blatant as they are in a film like Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World; you’ll have to come to the Plaza Theatre on February 10th to see what I mean!
Marie Barker: What were your favorite off camera moments? My favorite off camera moments were playing Monkey Numbers with Tricia and Katelyn, smoking a cigarette on the roof with Quyen and Greg, and forming a band with Dylan.
Greg Garrison: What would you say is the biggest selling point of the movie? What can fans expect to see if they come to the premier that will surprise them? Marie is drop dead gorgeous, the fight scenes are top notch, Torey is a phenomenal special effects artist, and there are more video game references than you can shake a stick at. Personally, my strongest reaction was batting energy balls with the final foe of the film ala Legend of Zelda. On set I had to imagine it, but seeing it on screen really blew me away. There is something for everyone in this movie, so come find out what we put in it for you!
Tricia Gaulesky: If an Invasion crew member had super powers who and what would it be? Easy, Kevin “Man Falcon” Hicks, he would have the power of flight, but it would be really slow flight…he’d pretty much fly over to his nest and take a nap.
Monster Buster Entertainment Links:
Watch the official *Invasion of the Undead!* trailer MonsterBuster Entertainment website
MonsterBuster Entertainment Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MonsterBusterEntertainment
About the interviewer Bruce Downs
Bruce Downs is a writer, director, producer, actor, and owner of the production company Mile 29 Films. His most recent film, “No More Forgiveness” (website, Facebook, imdb), had great success on the festival circuit. His current feature film “Atlanta Vampire
Movie” (website, imdb) is in post-production and he is in early development for his next feature film Carter’s Lens. Follow Bruce on Facebook and imdb. View all DB&B post by Bruce Downs here.