For the brave, this week’s Creator Conversation is the four-part horror anthology film, AXE, from P.P. Urpansoph Films. Gary Berger and Josh Mowatt talk about the movie, what happens to them in their nightmares, working with Count Gregore and Allison Chainz, advice for filmmakers, and the story behind the killer bunny.
Continue reading, if you dare.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your role with AXE.
GARY: Husband, father and US Navy veteran…I am also a graphic designer (owner DBGgraphix) and a production specialist for the Oklahoma Bar Association. I co-founded P.P. Urpansoph Films in 2015 with Josh Mowatt and Willie Harrell. I also am the former owner of Haunt Nation Magazine (covering all facets of the haunted attraction industry). As far as my role? LOL I was an actor, co-director, co-writer, co-producer, editor, and cinematographer. We have a small crew.
What is AXE about?
Axe is a four-part horror anthology about an ax-wielding psychopath, who happens to wear a unique costume. Each segment was created to escalate and build upon the last. Progressing in blood, violence, and betrayal.
What got you interested in making horror movies?
GARY: I fell in love with horror movies when I was a little kid (which was many many moons ago). The first horror movie I remember seeing in the theatre was “Dressed to Kill” in 1980 with Angie Dickinson, Michael Caine and Nancy Allen. In 2015, Josh and Willie approached me with a treatment for a short titled “Sunset” they had been wanting to make for a few years, one day we just decided “What are we waiting for?” and went out to the backwoods of Elmore City in the middle of summer and made our first short film. After that, we caught the bug.
JOSH: The movie Halloween (1978). That movie made a huge impression on me. I remember watching it when I was younger and being terrified. When I got older I would watch it and think to myself, I’d like to make a movie that would scare other people. I love the idea of taking an idea and making it grow into a complete story. Fortunately for me most of my ideas are horror based.
What was the greatest challenge you overcame in this production?
GARY: Figuring out how to do Josh’s death scene in the third segment “B-Roll”. In the past we have always kept our deaths off-screen with implied violence, but this time we wanted to really show the escalation of violence. We tried many different ideas and I think what finally made it on camera works.
JOSH: That’s easy. My daughter, Aubree, was in the fourth installment of the film, ReBirth. I was incredibly nervous for her. To me it is the most mentally dark part of the film. That was definitely the biggest challenge but it’s also what I’m most proud of too.
Where did you film these stories?
• The Klondike Incident was filmed in the actual Klondike Cemetery, Klondike, OK – just south of Pauls Valley/Elmore City
• Bloodshed Lake was filmed at Lake Thunderbird
• B-Roll was filmed inside an abandoned elementary school near Spencer, OK
• Rebirth was also filmed at the abandoned elementary school
• The opening, closing and narration scenes with Count Gregore (John Ferguson) were filmed at The Sanctuary Haunted Attraction in Oklahoma City
What did you enjoy about making this movie in Oklahoma?
GARY: First and foremost, working with my cast and crew, they are THE BEST and are up for anything with the best attitude anyone could ask for. Second, getting to work with Count Gregore. Not only is he a legend and member of the National Horror Host Hall of fame, but he is a good friend and sharp as a tack. He came up with his own dialogue for his scenes, we gave him a minor outline, but it was all him and he KILLED IT we could not have been happier.
JOSH: I’m very proud to be from Oklahoma. This state has brought the world a lot of talent and great art. To be able to say that I’ve brought some art however small it is to Oklahoma, I’m very proud of it.
What happens to you in your nightmares?
GARY: Usually…I die (or wake up as I’m about to die) LOL
JOSH: I’m always being chased by some kind of monster or killer. I always wake up just before I’m caught.
Why should one see AXE and why should one NOT see it?
[pullquote-right]”I think if you are a fan of Count Gregore, you would love to see him bring back his character from Shock Theatre.”[/pullquote-right]GARY: I think you should see it because it is friggin AWESOME!!! LOL of course there might be a little bias there. I think if you are a fan of Count Gregore, you would love to see him bring back his character from Shock Theatre. Or if you ever wondered what the KATT-FM DJ Allison Chainz looks like, she is in the film too. Or maybe to see another performance by Oklahoma scream queen, Katie Monroe. AND support Oklahoma indie filmmakers. We work very hard and lay ourselves out there for all of the bad and good.
There are no reasons not to see it. LOL.
JOSH: Why should you watch AXE? To support local artists. You would be surprised at how much support we get everywhere we film. Why should you not watch it? Well if you want to be an asshole then don’t watch it.
What’s the real behind-the-scenes story with the murder bunny?
GARY: The Murder Bunny was originally a character in my haunted house, played by Josh, we always thought he was creepy and was a natural transition to our shorts. Actually, if you look closely in our short film, The Final Photograph, we hid him in a scene there too.
JOSH: Ever since the Murder Bunny was brought up to me from Gary I’ve loved it. The idea of making a film revolving around it was just to fun to pass up. And now that my daughter is the Murder Bunny, who knows where it will go from here.
Any behind-the-scenes stories you wish to share?
GARY: Not really any stories, but some words of advise…NEVER film in an old building …in Oklahoma…in the summer. Its really friggin hot LOL
JOSH: Not really stories to share but I’ll offer some advice. Remember to stop and enjoy the process. Remember to laugh with your crew. Each we film it’s always one of the most stressful times but it’s always a blast. Seeing your story come to life is something to enjoy. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Anything else you want to say or let people know?
GARY: Besides “AXE” we have also made a couple other short films. Our first was “Sunset”, the second was our multi-award winning short, Servus de Infernum, and our third was “The Final Photograph.” All of these were filmed in Oklahoma and can be found on YouTube as well as listed on IMDB.com. If anyone would like to know more here are the links to our website and Facebook page.