Interview with Director Chuck Jett

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The Acquired Taste is a short film written for screen and directed by Chuck Jett, creator of Empty Coffin Studio Films.  It was tastefully adapted by the short story of the same title by author and producer Alexander S. Brown.  Fans can anticipate a free viewing of the film in 2017.  It is currently being shown at conventions throughout the Southern states.  Its next appearance will be at Contraflow Convention in New Orleans, LA.

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For the third interview from this dark comedy, I would like to shine the spotlight on director Chuck Jett, so that he may elaborate on his part in The Acquired Taste and his life.

  1. What made you want to be a part of The Acquired Taste?

Originally, I was seeking a project in which pre-production could be handled in a few short weeks and filming could be done within the span of a weekend. I had some scripts in the works, and pre-planning other projects was well underway, but I had around a two-month gap to fill and badly wanted to be ­filming.

I asked my friend, horror author Alexander S. Brown, if he had anything he thought might work for a 5-15 minute short. He recommended a few of his stories that he would like (or not mind) to see in ­film.

Ultimately we zoned in on “The Acquired Taste” for a variety of reasons due to creative and pragmatic vantage points. We made a quick screenplay, ripped a lot of flesh from it, scaled it down to 2 locations without losing much of the original pertinence and it became something “doable” within the time limitations.

  1. What was your experience like on set?

In my limited experience in independent ­filmmaking, I have done some cinematography, limited amounts of directing, art direction, propmaster work, set designing, and very little editing.

For this ­film I was tasking myself with the lionshare of all of these duties and it was the ­first time I directed and did all of the ­filming simultaneously. I had lots of help from the wonderful and multi-talented actors on the set with doing makeup and general creative input.

Kerry (not in the ­film) did an amazing job as a grip, running slate (with notation) and general assistant (he is a workhorse and loaded with creativity). Everyone knew their parts and it was easy getting the performances I needed. Filmmaking is an arduous and extremely collaborative task!

  1. What other projects have you been a part of?

“Pinky Swear” was my directing debut and is still being shown in ­film festivals and has won a few awards. It will be showing in a small festival in Brookhaven, Mississippi on September 10th (2016) as an ensemble of ­films leading up to the premier of “Porches and Private Eyes”, a feature which was shot in the area by Arizona production company “Running Wild Films”, directed by Travis Mills.

Before “Pinky Swear” I worked on several independent shorts and a few features, just helping out where I could. I actually acted in a few of them, supplied art direction in others and worked crew on a few. We have a friendly and active fi­lmmaking society growing in the area.

  1. Are there any roles or manuscripts you would turn down? Why?

I won’t work on a project that I don’t believe in. I have to feel a bond with the material and feel that I can do it justice. I am in no hurry, nor do I have time or budget to tackle a feature length project at this time.

I’m not interested in “preachy” ­film projects which try to illustrate or teach a moral lesson, I simply want to entertain my viewers … or “disturb” them in some way that entertains them for a little while.

  1. Why do you enjoy filming horror?

Horror is very challenging. Finding fresh material that entertains a horror fan (Very harsh critics) is NOT easy! I hope I somewhat succeed in this notion from time-to-time. I guess the simple answer is – I LOVE HORROR; therefore, I wish to CREATE HORROR. – I’m sure there are some psychological aspects of this I’m not realizing. Lol

  1. What got you into directing?

Oddly, it just seemed like a natural transition for me. I’ve been a professional visual artist and art “DIRECTOR” since 1988ish. I’ve always loved movies (we ALL do) and have wanted to get involved in ­filmmaking for decades.

It took an actor friend of mine, Joshua “Maurice” Powell to tell me to get into fi­lmmaking. I don’t exactly remember the moment or conversation, but it was one of those “What are you waiting for?” moments. Sort of what alcoholics call a “moment of clarity” .

I come from an age where “fi­lmmaking” was not taught in college. Yes, you could get involved in “media” classes, but no real “fi­lmmaking” options were discussed much around central Mississippi in the late 1980s/ early 1990s. I was busy with my painting, drawing and design classes (I remember when the old Computer graphics typesetter was replaced by the early Apple MacIntosh) and shooting and developing my own 35mm SLR photos.

“Making Movies” was something only rich people could get training in back then, and you weren’t going to receive that training in central Mississippi. But yeah, long story short: you can get involved in ­filmmaking with very little money involved nowadays and my visual arts background has made it a fairly easy transition.

  1. What are some of your favorite movies?

Since we’re on the subject of horror, I would have to say my earliest love for the genre came from staying up late at night and watching some of the Ray Harryhausen stop motion fi­lms, and “Dark Shadows” and the old Universal Bela Lugosi ­films like “White Zombie” and of course the classic Universal takes on Dracula, Frankenstein, The Werewolf and the Invisible Man.

In my teen years I discovered Hammer Film Productions with “Dracula”, The Satanic Rites of Dracula”, etc… I immediately knew that I wanted to be Peter Cushing (well, I wanted to be Van Helsing) and Christopher Lee was an AMAZING Dracula! There are so many great horror ­films!

New ground was broken with “Night of the Living Dead”, campy, cool horror was created by “Evil Dead”, “ZombieLand” added a rebirth of this mixed genre. I actually still love to watch “Nosferatu”. “The Hills Have Eyes” (2006) is probably my favorite visual effects horror film because of their predominantly “practical” effects with just a little overlay of digital enhancement. This answer is barely scratching the surface.

  1. Who are your favorite directors and how do you draw inspiration from them?

Stanley Kubrick, Wes Craven, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, for starters. I draw inspiration from them primarily from watching their work and dissecting it a little, but not overly “studying” their work.

I love all the interview footage of directors and cinematographers, even from directors I’m not really familiar with. The wealth of knowledge on the internet is priceless!

  1. What future projects are you working on?

I have one finished psychological horror script of my own with production on hiatus for now. Another script I am writing is a WWII period piece of ­fiction. There is an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart” I’m trying to develop now and I’m looking at the works of author Kimberly Richardson for a possible short film adaptation. There is no shortage of ideas!

  1. Tell us about yourself.

Not much to say about me. I am a creative artist currently delving into ­filmmaking. I love the collaborative nature of making films. I have been honored to have a plethora of extremely talented friends who have helped me along my creative path. I’ve learned from seasoned professionals and I’ve been taught a few things by small children at play. Wisdom wears many disguises.

I work out of my studio in Jackson, Mississippi. I call my work space “Empty Coffin Studio”. I do most of my film shoots on weekends because I have a solid day job and am nowhere near ready to leave the stability of a regular paycheck.

I paint, draw, write, sculpt and do whatever is necessary to see a project to fruition. I am very passionate, but I NEVER take myself very seriously. I enjoy the creative pathway and the creative process. I wear glasses and eat my vegetables.

Connect with Chuck Jett by clicking on the following social media names:

Facebook

Facebook FanPage

Instagram

Purchase a copy of Traumatized HERE!

Watch Chuck Jett’s first short film, PINKY SWEAR HERE!

 

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