Bio: Mr. Freeman's first account of writing was in Junior high. He 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 him suspended from school for 3 days because of the graphic nature of the content. He knew then that writing was something he enjoyed. At 15, he embarked on his 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, he could have published this book, but never did because of the rejections at school for things he had written. As it was explained to him, "THE THINGS YOU WRITE ARE TOO GRAPHIC FOR YOUR AGE."
Mr. Freeman discovered he was more in love with the crowd and their reactions to the story being played out on the screen. He knew what he wanted to do from then on. Horror and Film. Mr. Freeman's began his quest by working in the Haunted Attraction industry. Soaking up everything in creature make-up. By 16 he could turn an ordinary person into a horrific, ooze dripping monster that would scare the pants off of anyone that dared come close. Over the next five years he would study the works of Tom Savini, Stan Winston, and Rick Baker. During the course of 1999, Mr. Freeman wrote a film called FELINE that was well received in the competition market. That same year he 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 him.
Mr. Freeman's knew his writing was rock solid, but he was missing something. He wanted to film his own pictures. The Film Industry optioned up another 2 screenplays, one by Warner Brothers and the other by New Line Cinema in 2000, but Mr. Freeman pulled the projects because they wanted to change the story-lines so much that it wasn't Mr. Freeman's writing anymore. Mr. Freeman left conventional filmmaking and went back to writing for the thrill of writing. He writes every day and still loves it, but he was also laying the ground work to start a production company. Mr. Freeman opened Living Nightmare Publishing in August 2011 to publish his books and January 2015 he started Next Evolution Films. Mr. Freeman is now credited with 6 books, 38 screenplays, 2 short films and a Direct-to-DVD series with other books in the works. He is more than willing to help other writers get their feet wet in the business end of writing and is always looking for talented people to work in film. Mr. Freeman lives in a quiet Missouri Town, where he continues to write and film screenplays.
Next Evolution Films Page on FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Next-Evolution-Films/1677595262467660?fref=ts
Let's start with your writing. When did you know you wanted to write and how it would work best for you?
I think the first thing I really wrote and shared with people was in Decatur Illinois, Douglas McArthur Junior High. I wrote a very small piece with a comic strip on how racism was thriving within the school.
The piece had a comic picture with it that had a student hanging from a swastika while the rest of the student body looked on pointing and laughing. My editor read the piece and understood that it was not intended to be derogatory to anyone in the student body, but rather a piece to bring to light that the hate groups of the school where still, in fact, bullying people of different races. I wanted to be their voice since most where too scared to stand up for themselves at that time.
This piece launched a fire-storm within the whole student body and staff. Bringing to light the ugly truth that the school covered up got me in hot water with the school system and I didn't really care. I knew those that where being wronged should not have to deal with these problems along with puberty and the awkwardness of the life changes happening at the time.
I thought then that I wanted to go into Journalism. I saw how it evoked a series of raw emotion in people and how it could affect the outcome of something so bad and perhaps make it right. Unfortunately, I was removed from the school paper and spent a month in ISS (in school suspension).
Later that year my family moved away from Decatur and I was in a new school. There I focused on writing a piece for a project given by the English Teacher. We was supposed to write a story about something past or present in the news. I began digging right in and found out about the Vampire of Dusseldorf.
In that piece I found a niche. I embellished the graphic nature of the crimes, painting a vivid picture of the crimes this man did.
I watched my teacher read the 10 page paper and witnessed the horror spread across her face as she read through the ficticious/non-ficticious papers. I felt a sense of joy knowing that my writing was evoking such a range of emotion.
Of course, I was suspended from school for awhile for this paper. Got a B on it, but the content was not age appropriate for this grade.
I took the time and began to write ideas and short stories.
Then it happened, that one moment in your life that changes everything. Wes Craven released Nightmare on Elm Street. I snuck in and watched this movie with excitement. When I left the theatre I wanted to know how to make people jump out of their seats or scream in terror over something on a screen.
I joined the Jaycees Haunted house as a creature creator. I would watch from the catwalk as people would literally pee their pants because of a creature I made. Satisfaction.
How did you make the transition from fiction to film? How long did you have to study to get to a point you felt grounded in?
The transition from fiction to film started while I was working at Slaughter House in Nashville. My first project that I wanted to see in film was COLD AS ICE (ACTION/HORROR) about a boy that witnessed the murder of his parents by the mob, leaving him paralyzed from the incident.
The boy summoned a demon that granted him the powers to freeze people and shatter them, sending their souls to hell.
Technology had not caught up to the world of film just yet, so I put the project down and began the VAMPYER WAR (ACTION ADVENTURE) Trilogy. I wrote the whole book series then the screenplays. The idea tanked with Hollywood execs, only to have BLADE come out 10 years later and smash the box office. I was pretty mad.
What was your first professional film and how did things go? Do you think you learned anything with the movie? Did it influence later projects?
My first attempt at a professional film was FELINE (HORROR). It was a film about a woman possessed by a cat demon and I began filming it in the late 90s. How did it go? Well filming started out pretty good, but my main actor decided to cheat on his wife with an extra while his wife was the main character of the story.
I had a scene come up where the wife was supposed to hit him with a car. The scene was set to have the car move 5 miles per hour and him jump up on the hood and roll off, then we would speed up the scene in post. The wife knew about his little indiscretion and hit him at 25 miles per hour, breaking both legs and getting her thrown in jail. PRODUCTION STOPPED.
I walked completely away from film and writing after this. I was depressed and mad all at the same time.
You were optioned for film projects with Columbia/Tristar for NECRO in 1999, and then Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema for two other screenplays in 2000. What did you take away from those experiences?
After a 2 year break from it all, I opened my word processor and wrote NECRO (HORROR), CRAVE (HORROR), EVOLVE (HORROR), and THE RAGGEDY MAN (HORROR) all over a 4 month period. I queried and submitted synopsis for these screenplays and got hits on 3 of them.
I was excited to see my writing come to life on the screen, until I got the re-writes from staff writers at these companies. The stories had changed so much that they were not even mine anymore. I offered to do re-writes myself, but was denied the opportunity.
The biggest thing I took away from "THE SUITS" , as I call them, is that they were sharks preying on a little independent guy that they thought knew nothing about film. I pulled my projects from pre-production and began a long journey to learn every aspect of film from each job through distribution.
Do you think you would ever consider working with major studios if the opportunity came up again?
I actually have two out to Warner Brothers right now. They have 45 days to give me a decision on them. I just have terms and they are considering those terms. I retain all the rights to the written aspect of the film and they get a 40% filming right. These terms are non-negotiable and they know me enough by now that I won't play their cat and mouse games. I will pull the projects and film them myself.
I am also trying to get a deal with NETFLIX STUDIOS on the upcoming VIRUS K series and the negotiations have not been answered as of yet. If they decline, then I will take it to Network and Amazon Streaming.
How do the traditional and indie markets differ in filmmaking practices? What are the advantages of each? The negative aspects?
The biggest differences in Indie Film and Traditional film are People and Money. Indie film requires people to intern more and the use of no name actor/actresses. Though that is a benefit for those looking to get into the industry, it has drawbacks. An Indie Actor/Actress can get their name out there and maybe land a big budget role that will launch them, but they have to be with the right indie company that works the film fest market.
As for Money. I have built my editing computer to where big houses have rooms of computers for editing. I use a DSLR Camera that is around $1,600.00 while big houses use the RED at a staggering $48,000.00. I splurged and got a Sony Vegas to edit with just so I could get the same look that you can get with the RED.
The other drawback is, as an Indie Filmmaker, you have to know every aspect and job involved in filmmaking because on most days you have to wear all of those hats.
You've since created your own production company in 2015. Next Evolution Films and are at work on the film TWISTED, THIN LINE, DAY OF THE DEAD, and the series VIRUS K how have things been progressing?
TWISTED (THRILLER) is ready for filming. I believe we will be shooting this weekend and next weekend for it.
THIN LINE (ACTION) is in the casting phase. I am almost done there.
DAY OF THE DEAD (HORROR) is in casting and location scouting.
VIRUS K (HORROR/DRAMA) is still in the writing phase.
What can we expect to find in your short films?
My short films…. VOICEMAIL (DRAMA) was a challenge offered by a film fest to shoot the whole thing from a cell camera. I used a Samsung Galaxy S 3 for the entire film. I composed the music, live acting, directed, wrote the script, and my wife did the voice over work.
Voicemail focuses on never being promised tomorrow with the ones we love.
RIPPLE EFFECT (DRAMA) Was filmed with the DSLR and shot against greenscreen for some of the scenes. There is a Behind the scenes to that one on Youtube that explains a lot. I wrote, Directed, acted, edited, lighting for that film. With voice overs done by my wife and son.
Ripple Effect focuses on the after effects of drinking and driving.
You finished 106th of 1300 in the MYRODEREEL 2015 Film Competition, what was the competition like? Which project earned you that rank?
Ripple Effect finished 106th in the MyRodeReel 2015. The competition was grueling and getting votes was the worst part of it. Self promotion is a task I am not so good at. I find that I would rather film it and if someone likes it, then my job is done.
You're currently working on the TV Series Virus K, Short film Twisted (entered into the Stage 32 film Competition) in London, England, and the feature length Day of the Dead. How do you feel about these projects? Can you tell us a bit about them?
Twisted I really can not discuss at this time. The competition is all about discretion so that people can try to figure it out before the ending.
Virus K is about an alien strain of DNA getting into child immunizations and spread. There will be several storylines going at once, spread across the US.
Day of the Dead is a Voodoo tale that focuses on the kidnapping and possession of children.
You've managed many accomplishments in your life and career, not only do you write and direct but you're also an Ordained Minister in several faiths and identify with a Multi-Faith belief structure. Can you tell us about these and your work with them?
It's simple. We all share and live on this planet no matter how we got here. I don't believe one faith is more important to anyone over another. My thought is a Multi-faith church where people of all faiths can go, do their service, then meet in a main hall and have open discussions on whatever without all the judgment and demeaning comments to one another.
What are some other projects in writing and directing as well as in your everyday life you hope to achieve or finish within the next year or so? Any major goals you're hoping to complete that we haven't already talked about?
I am working with Joseph Gordon Levitt on a graphic novel that I hope to have illustrated before the end of the year. I have a book that I need to finish up called FAWN. It is a werewolf tale with a twist. I am wanting to get into a bigger studio. And I have some small projects going for festivals that will be available at the first of the year.
I also have another series that is incubating in my head, I just need to work out the logistics of it and see where it could fall on the genre scale.
7th CIRCLE (HORROR) in option at Warner Brothers Pictures.
STRYCHNINE (ACTION/SCI FI/HORROR) in Optione at Warner Brothers Pictures.
And in my everyday life… I want to do a haunted attraction in October and maybe get some sleep.