Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rob Kuhns and the undead at ETSU

October 21, 2013 - Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, East Tennessee State University

From Rob Kuhns:

Anita DeAngelis, Director of the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, greeted me at the hotel and she and her husband Steve Jackson, graciously took me to dinner before the screening, which was a delight - Steve’s a very funny man. Another friend of theirs, Mike DePollo is a zombie fanatic (and Boy Scout executive!), and excited to watch Birth of the Living Dead.

There was a great showing of about 85 people at the auditorium. The audience was very engaged and laughed in all the right places – a very happy sound. I was sorry that Esther, who worked so hard to help create this film with me, wasn’t there.

There were a lot of questions about Romero – what else has he done and what is he doing now? I was happy to talk about my other favorite Romero films – especially Dawn of the Dead, Martin, and Knightriders – and gratified that Birth seemed to get some people to want to seek out his other works. Romero is indeed working on another film and will probably keep at it until he himself is among the undead (and maybe even then). I think it’s very inspiring that he keeps finding new ways to build on the mythology he started and make it relevant to each and every moment of history he’s in. 

Probably the most surprising question of the whole tour came that night – If I could direct any comic book as a movie, what would it be and who would star in it? My answer was The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s certainly fun to fantasize about such things.
Rob, Anita DeAngelis, Heidi Erhle & Lise Cutshaw
Anita and her staff, including Heidi Erhle (Assistant Director) and Lise Cutshaw (Marketing Director) did a wonderful job organizing the event and set up snacks in the lobby so that we could all mingle comfortably after the Q&A. I got to chat with some serious horror fans, who were excited to have a documentary made about their favorite genre. There was a lot of talk about The Conjuring, which scared the living crap out of me. A high school student and her mother asked my advice about how best to pursue the craft of filmmaking. I told her to try and find people her age who share her passion to collaborate and learn with and that it’s simply important to keep making films. I always stress to film students that it’s important to follow projects through from beginning to the end, even if your films aren’t shaping up to be exactly as you envisioned them. That way you learn the most from each film. She also asked me about editing software – I recommend Avid, which students can get “Academic” versions of very reasonably.

Thanks very much, Anita, Heidi, Lise and all of your volunteers, for putting together such a great event!