ByJessica Harmon, writer at
The ultimate fangirl - spends most nights watching back-to-back old Buffy episosdes and complaining about being tired for work the next day.
Jessica Harmon

Available On Demand today, Wishing for a Dream tells of a Hollywood actress and her up-and-down journey along the way to the top. The film's producer, Gabriel Campisi, sat down with Movie Pilot to talk about the film, some of his other work (including recent new release Little Dead Rotting Hood) and answers that oft-asked question : What's easier, comedy or drama?

Gabriel, how many movies can one guy have out at any given time? When do you stop?

That’s an interesting question, and I don’t know if I really have an answer to that, except to say that when you love what you do there’s no need for down-time. There’s no need for a vacation to get away from it all. You’re in your element, and you thrive, come what may.

At the American Film Market (AFM) last year in Santa Monica, I had 5 films with 5 different sales agents or distributors. Wishing For A Dream, Little Dead Rotting Hood, The Horde, The Valley Drowner and Toby the Burping Pig.

It was pretty exciting to see so much activity taking place all at once.

Was it intentional to make 2015 and subsequently 2016 a busy time, choca-bloc of projects for you?

No, it wasn’t planned at all. As you know, most movies that audiences watch today are conceived and executed months or even years earlier. So I’ve been busy these past few years. But as much as time-frames are projected for movies to be released or taken to market, things don’t always work out as planned. Most of these movies just worked their way to the market like this by themselves, and audiences are starting to see them now for the first time.

Of course there was a conscious effort on my part to push a continuing slate of movies with my partner Jared Cohn. There’s a lot more coming down the pike, too. We’re just getting started.

It would seem every film you try and do you get up - - is that right?

That’s only partially true. It’s a matter of gauging which projects will work and which ones won’t. I’ll put feelers out to see which projects garner interest from a variety of entities – investors, sales agents, distributors, production companies, actors, etc. You can pretty much tell when there’s an attraction to the project, and when there’s not.

If I don’t get a good sense of feedback, I’ll scrap the project, or put it on the shelf for another day. If I get the vibe that the project will work, then I’ll push it 110%, and typically the project will get made. But that push, that effort, is a whole lot of work, and it can be very intimidating. It involves a lot of effort and coordinating a lot of elements, like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. All the elements are a different piece to the puzzle, and if you’re missing even just one piece, chances are the project will not get made.

Wishing for a Dream
Wishing for a Dream

Was there one project that has made things easier for you?

Every project is different, and every new project brings its own new set of challenges. So there’s nothing that makes things easier, as it’s just a new set of circumstances. Making movies is a lot of hard work, and you have to be fully dedicated to the art, craft and business of it to make things work.

The only thing that might make things seem easier for me or anyone working in this industry is to attain some level of success, no matter how small -- something to prop up your confidence. When you gain that, things become a little less intimidating, and you can approach and deal with things differently. People will respect you and appreciate you.

Can you talk about your relationship with Jared Cohn, whom you’ve now worked with on several films – including your two latest movies, Wishing for a Dream and Little Red Rotting Hood?

Jared Cohn is the most talented director and filmmaker that I know. We own Traplight Media together in Los Angeles, which is a development and production company.

We share the same values and appreciation of filmmaking, so it’s easy to work together and go after the same goals. But sharing the same goals isn’t enough. The key to any solid working relationship is mutual respect, and Jared and I have that for one another.

Although we have so much in common, we also bring different assets to the table, and this is what makes the perfect partnership. Together, we possess extensive filmmaking backgrounds, knowledge and experience that complement each other.

The latter, in particular, especially intrigues us. Is it a loyal take on the classic fairytale? We joke, of course…

Of course it’s the most loyal take on Little Red Riding Hood that has ever been brought to the screen, minus the Bugs Bunny version. That one will never be topped. Hehe…

Although Little Dead Rotting Hood is a mashup of the classic fairy tale with zombies and werewolves, I did keep the most well-known elements in place. The movie has Little Red Riding Hood, of course, her Grandmother, and the Big Bad Wolf. It even shows Grandmother’s cabin, and the fight between Red and the Wolf. They don’t follow the storyline like the original fairy-tale, of course, but if you look carefully you will definitely see the cabin in the woods, and recognize how the characters revolve around it.

Little Dead Rotting Hood
Little Dead Rotting Hood

Do you find it funner working on projects like it, as opposed to more straight dramas like Wishing for a Dream?

I think all the different projects are fun to work on, but definitely the genre movies are my favorite. I love things that challenge the imagination, and push the limits of creativity.

That’s not to say the more straight dramas aren’t challenging. They can be just as challenging and even more so.

I imagine it’s a much lighter mood on set on a campy horror film?

All sets are different, actually. A lot of it has to do with the morale of the cast and crew, and the mechanics of what is taking place on the set at any given moment. Sometimes a horror film can be more daunting in that regard, if you’re dealing with blood and creatures and effects. There is more demand from the crew, which can turn into levels of stress -- whereas a straight drama might rely more on just the dynamics and performance between the actors.

But performances alone can also influence the mood on the set, especially if the scenes are dealing with a heavy subject matter or dilemma.

Gabriel Campisi and Jared Cohn
Gabriel Campisi and Jared Cohn

Can you give us an update on any other projects you’re currently working on?

Jared and I are in post-production right now on The Valley Drowner. It’s about a troubled young kid who grows up to be a serial killer in Los Angeles. It’s a pretty disturbing storyline, actually, because the catalyst that sets him off on his twisted path in life is sexual abuse as a child. So while it may be disturbing to some, the story is based on a very real problem we have in society.

We’re also currently in preparation on the movie Dead Vengeance, which we’ll be shooting in March of this year. I won’t say too much about the storyline, except to say it will give you the creeps!

Also on the horizon are the movies 323 and Damnation Come.


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