How I Got to Where I Am Today By Michael S. Freeman

 

Living Nightmare Publishing/

Next Evolution Films

           

My first account of writing was in Junior high. I wrote a piece on the Vampire of Dusseldorf. It was a story about a man that took the Dusseldorf children and savagely murdered them for years. This piece got me suspended from school for 3 days because of the graphic nature of the content. I knew then that writing was something I enjoyed.

Later I went on to work at the school paper in an unknown town my mother moved us to. I wrote a piece on racial inequality of the 1980s and drew a picture of a white man hanging a Jewish person from a swastika for the picture to accompany the article. It was not intended to be a racist picture or story, but instead to show people what the cruelty was that was devouring the school I was attending. Two weeks was my punishment, one for the story and one for the picture. The story was confiscated as we only used typewriters in the 80s, so no files to save and I lost the whole thing. To me that was more damaging than being kicked out of school.

At 15, I embarked on my first book called “COLD AS ICE” about a young boy that was shot in the inner city and confined to a wheel chair. A demon came to him at night and granted him powers to freeze people and shatter them. It was more of a vigilante tale that numbered in the 200 page count category. Now mind you, I could have published this book, but never did because of the rejections at school for things I had written. As it was explained to me, “THE THINGS YOU WRITE ARE TOO GRAPHIC FOR YOUR AGE.”

That same age I wrote a parody of Star Wars my friends and I shot with an old ass RCA Camcorder. (THAT CAMERA SUCKED)  We used broken bottles of varying color to use as filters and the movie itself was cheesy and hilarious all at the same time.

Nightmare on Elm Street premiered during that week and by then we knew how to sneak into theatres. We got in and watched the whole movie from the back of the theatre. I was in love with the crowd and their reactions to the story being played out on the screen. I knew what I wanted to do from then on. Horror and Film.

I began my quest by working in the Haunted Attraction industry. I soaked up everything in creature make-up. By 16 I could turn an ordinary person into a horrific, ooze dripping monster that would scare the pants off of anyone that dared come close. We had a catwalk to watch the scares from above and it was like a drug to see those people jump and scream from a creature that I created.

Over the next five years I studied the works of Tom Savini, Stan Winston, and Rick Baker. These guys were masters at scaring the hell out of people. But this was not the only research I did. Horror movies. I watched horror movies from the 1920s up through all of the 90s. I wrote horrific stories that made my mother ask why I could never write a children’s book or a book about cute little fluffy bunnies. I explained that the cute bunny in my story would hop through the forest only to have its head ripped off by the creature that lurks in the dark. She was not amused.

Nashville, Tennessee changed my life forever with two events. The first was when my ex-wife tried to murder me. And the second was meeting Rob Zombie while I was managing a Hooters. He talked about film and his love for it. He spoke shortly of Devils Rejects, and I was glued. I went home that night thinking this was the greatest day of my life. I got to overhear White Zombie talk business and Rob discuss leaving to pursue other paths like Devils Rejects, (not named at that time).  I was sure it was just an idea that was milling around in his head like most writer’s have. I knew I needed to learn screenwriting.

David Trottier introduced the Screen Writer’s Bible shortly after, and I snatched up a copy. I began to convert the trunk full of stories and books to screenplay format.  It was long and tedious and a monumental task that I abandoned by 1999. 

During the course of 1999 I wrote a film called FELINE that was well received in the competition market. That same year I wrote a trilogy called VAMPYER WAR that followed a half vampire through the war of her species. The Trilogy was optioned by then COLUMBIA/TRI STAR. That event sealed it for me. I knew my writing was rock solid, but I was missing something. I wanted to film my own pictures.

The Film Industry optioned up another 2 screenplays, one by Warner Brothers and the other by New Line Cinema in 2000, but I pulled the projects because they wanted to change the storylines so much that it wasn’t my writing anymore.

I left conventional filmmaking and went back to writing for the thrill of writing. I write every day and I still love it, but I was also laying the ground work to start a production company. I opened Living Nightmare Publishing in August 2011 to publish my books and in January 2015 I started Next Evolution Films. I have 6 books out, 38 screenplays, 2 short films and have a Direct-to-DVD series and books in the works. I help other writers get their feet wet in the business end of writing and I am always looking for talented people to work in film.

Now for the process of taking a book to film. The first thing is story. There has to be a well-developed storyline with rich characters. I will take and convert a book or short story and build off of the bare bones of the work. I build and break the story into an outline then begin the long process of turning that into a shooting script.          

Once I have the script in hand, the search is on for talent. I have to find the people to progress the story forward like fluid. While the talent search is on, I begin building sets. Make-up and creature effects have to be planned out. Then come the open auditions. These are the most trying on your patience, but the payoff is outstanding. Everyone thinks they can act and only 5% can. Those are the people you are looking for.

Principal Photography starts with a shot by shot run through with the camera and lighting crew. They need to find their marks before the actors are there to get everything right. This step could take up to 3 days to plan out every shot.

Shooting days are filled with responsibility and creative flow. Actors are allowed to ad lib lines, just as long as it enhances the story. The set is buzzing with everyone from Gaffers, Grips, sound crew, and actors to get that perfect shot.

Once shooting wraps, I like to take a day to rest before the long task of editing and visual effects. This process is one of my favorites if you have the right program. I use Sony Vegas. I add lighting, sound mixing, theme music, background music; if I can think of it I can add it. Now once all the editing is complete, I hit render and walk away, because this is where the process takes the longest. Adding and putting it all together can take anywhere from 10 hours to 2 days to render a complete feature film. It is best for me to rest, spend time with the family, or start the whole process over for the next film.

I can answer questions for anyone that wants to learn more in depth of this process or needs help writing. Just leave a comment or send me an add on Facebook.