Today I’m taking a look at writer/director Jason Paul Collum. Some of the smartest and most dramatic of the horror genre with gay characters, Jason’s movies present realistic characters in real life situations. That is, until things go horribly twisted, dark, and wrong. His current film, the documentary Screaming in High Heels: The Rise and Fall of the Scream Queen Era, is garnering great response. I wanted to take a look back at some of his earlier narrative movies October Moon and October Moon 2: November Son.
How did you cast Judith O’dea for October Moon?
I had met Judith through her agent when I was seeking out horror film actresses in Backstage West. I did a retrospective on her career for Femme Fatales. Then when I made SOMETHING TO SCREAM ABOUT I asked her to participate and she did. So when I decided to begin writing OCTOBER MOON (in 2003) I wrote the mother role of homophobic “Emily Hamilton” just for her, hoping she would say yes to it. And she did.
How did you come to cast Brinke Stevens?
I have a career because Brinke Stevens helped introduce me to people in the industry when I moved to West Hollywood in 1998. So I write meaty roles for her in every project I do. I just assume she’ll say yes to them, but so far I’ve been lucky. I like to give her roles that make her act, rather than just fill in space. I think she appreciates that. She’s really very good, and what I think most folks don’t know is that her memory is so sharp she almost never flubs a line. We just finished SAFE INSIDE, and over the three days she was on set she flubbed her line once… ONCE! That’s simply amazing to me. She deserves bigger roles than people typically give her. Her role in OCTOBER MOON was based on Lisa Coduto, the former editor at Femme Fatales magazine. I knew I wanted Brinke to lay somebody feisty and fun with a lot of zest, so she was always my focus as I wrote the script.
October Moon is more character driven while October Moon 2: November Son seems to be more plot driven. Is this on purpose? What factored into the decision behind that?
OCTOBER MOON was a very personal film for me to write and direct. The characters are all based on real people I’ve known and events I’ve experienced, right down to the stalking element (though there was no actual bloodshed or kidnapping). It was an intimate story. When I wrote OCTOBER MOON 2: NOVEMBER SON, I deliberately tried to branch out and create more of a world outside. I intended to pick up all the characters fans knew, but place them in a new situation, thinking that way if we evolved into a franchise beyond an OCTOBER MOON 3 each story would be fresh while the faces would remain familiar. Looking at it today, maybe that didn’t work as well. I’ve found over the last five years that fans seem to enjoy one or the other, but seldom both. OCTOBER MOON has more devoted, passionate fans by far (they even hold OCTOBER MOON parties around Halloween every year – I keep thinking one of these years I should pop in on one). But I receive a lot of letters and Facebook notes declaring more love for its sequel. It was intentional that the story was colder – the characters a little more blank. They’re all still in shock and this state of purgatory from the events of the original. I wanted it to be a true sequel, kind of how you have to see HALLOWEEN (1978) in order to follow HALLOWEEN II (1981). I tire of sequels that aren’t truly sequels. I want to create a history with this series that will make the viewer watch them as a whole. I will admit, however, that OCTOBER MOON 2 does tend to skew all over the place before it comes back together at the end. I tried to tell too many stories in one setting. One reviewer referred to it as a “gay horror soap opera” – which is actually very accurate. Should I go on to an OCTOBER MOON 3, I’ll probably stay a little more centered on one story, with the original cast/characters, but will continue to expand that universe a little further.
Can you also talk about some of the technical aspects/differences between the two movies?
OCTOBER MOON was shot for $14,000 over – I think – 10 days. It was a very small cast and crew. We became a little family for that time. A lot of drama behind the scenes. Friendships and romances made and lost. I still stay someday I’ll make a movie about the making of OCTOBER MOON. There was so much passion from everyone involved. We lived on fast food and slept on the floor.
Filming OCTOBER MOON 2: NOVEMBER SON was a VERY different experience. It was a bigger budget – $35,000 – and required reshoots for a full year. There was tension between certain cast and crew. It certainly a horrible time, but many came back assuming to relive the original experience unaware all of our lives had changed too much during the interim. On a technical level, it’s absolutely a better LOOKING film. I chose to film OCTOBER MOON with a lot of oranges and reds to keep the atmosphere warmer… OCTOBER MOON 2 used more grays, sepia and blues to make it seem colder and vacant. So as far as the look goes, I’m very happy with it visually.
Between the two films, I’m much more in favor of OCTOBER MOON. It was a very special moment in time, and eight years after filming commenced it continues to be a part of my life on a weekly basis. Who knows…if I ever do OCTOBER MOON 3 I’m sure it will have its own place in my heart as well.