Director, writer, producer Juan Frausto talks about his newest film “POSSESSION DIARIES” arriving on DVD and digital this June from Uncork’d Entertainment & High Octane Pictures.
Playing with a Ouija board is dangerous, and college student Rebecca Clarkson (Katherine Munroe) is now documenting the proof, as day by day a demon takes possession of her while a webcam audience watch the horrific event.
It’s hard enough to come up with a good movie idea, let alone a good, original movie idea. Well done! Did the success of your previous genre movies motivate this film?
Sometimes success doesn’t guarantee you that you’re finally going be able to do your pet project or another film, especially in the independent world of film-making. It takes a lot of luck and persistence, even years to make another movie. It all depends on the project and the people you know who share the same enthusiasm and excitement as you do for your film.
Honestly, you have to take matters into your own hands and make it happen. I was so driven to shoot another movie so badly. Since, I couldn’t get the finance for other projects that I was pitching to producers because of the cost, I decided to do it myself. I started my roots in guerrilla film-making back in Chicago and I was ready to take the challenge and to step in that state of mind once again. It worked for me once again.
I’m thinking real life stories inspired the movie. Can you talk about any in particular that indirectly or directly influenced the script?
Originally, Rich Wealthy, a collaborator and friend of mine, wrote the script. His script was filled with many clichés that I’ve seen in past possession movies and I wanted to do something different with it. With his permission, I rewrote the script and added my own sensibilities, ideas and my experiences with the supernatural. I never had an encounter with any type of evil entities but definitely with ghosts. I know the fear of being touched, the whispers in your ear, the noises that creep out into the night and the shock of actually seeing them. I instill those feelings and emotions right into the film and hopefully the audience will feel what I felt as a child in those frightening moments of my life.
Can you talk about your writing process? Did you knock it our rather quickly or let it simmer, in it’s own time, over a few months?
So what happened was, the script and idea was by Rich Wealthy. He mainly writes horror and thriller scripts. So one day we had a conversation and I asked him what he’s been up to. He told me he was shopping around some of his scripts including one that is set in one location. I thought to myself, a script mainly in one location? So I asked him what was it about? He told me it’s called “The Possession Diaries” and then he pitched me the story.
I was like wow. Sounds interesting. So I asked him to send me the script. I read it the day he sent it and I liked it a lot. So I had a talk with him the next day and I told him that I think I could get this produced. So we worked something out and I ended up adding some of my own ideas to the script and then the rest was history. Since I liked what Rich wrote already and just wanted to punch the script up a bit, it was a quick process.
Anyone you’d read the pages to to get their feedback as you went along?
No, I like to have a finished draft first and I think Rich is the same way.
Are you a better writer or a filmmaker?
Personally, I feel it is best to write your own scripts, that way it becomes easier to direct your actors because you created them. I guess with time you learn and become better at what you do. Once, an idea or story is engrained in your mind, it’s easier for me to write a script in a couple of weeks. I’m not the perfect filmmaker, but I surely know what it takes to make a good film.
How tight of a budget were you working on? What do you believe could be accomplished with a film like this with more money?
I’m really good at budgeting and scheduling films. I work a lot as a line producer and as a 1st AD. The budget on this film was tight and I’ve managed to finish the film on budget. If I were to happen to shoot in many locations throughout the ten-day shoot, unforeseen expenses and situations would arise and that would definitely put us over budget. The luxury of shooting in one location was a blessing because you have total control of your environment.
If I had more money, I’d would have built the set in a studio and done more coverage from many different angles and movements and give the film more of a high production value and of course have more practical and digital special effects.
What does having a name like James Russo in your film do for it?
I imagine that helps greatly with financing? Just his name gives the film more credibility and his appearance makes the film look more interesting and intense. Of course, it does help get more funding when you have an acclaimed actor as James Russo. He was so awesome to work with and I learn so much from him as well.
Why horror? What keeps you coming back to it?
I’ve done gangster, comedy and drama kind of films through out my career and I was always curious what’s it like to make a horror movie. Films like The Exorcist, The Omen and The Entity really shook me up as a child and I always had an affinity for those films. I always wanted to engage the audience with the same psychological effect but from a different perspective. I have a couple of films that I written in that genre, but they are too expensive to make. Once, I reach a certain level in Hollywood, maybe one day I can make those films into a reality.