Interview with Filmmaker Jerry Lentz

If you’re not familiar with the work of Jerry Lentz, you should know that he’s a consummate horror fan, a wizard of practical special effects, and a pretty cool guy to boot.  His short film, Visitor, is creepy as hell.

But that’s not his only terrifying short.  Slash Her is also must-watch viewing.  Jerry sees horror as a lens through which we view the world we live in.  Like many of our readers, he knows that horror is infinitely more than stabs and chainsaws (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  We’re thrilled that Jerry took some time to answer our questions.

unnamed-8THW:  You’ve been working in film for many years.  Where would we have seen your work?

Jerry Lentz: Film Festivals, MTV, Bravo, IFC, Ovation, ABC, Sundance, Museums, Art Galleries, Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook, www.jerrylentz.com…

THW:  Do you have a favorite project that you’ve worked on—or is the current thing always the best?

Jerry Lentz: I still enjoy ANGRY BLUE PLANET, a concert film I made starring Pearl Jam, Dramarama, The Charlatans UK, Bjork and others… It was made in the early 1990’s but I still receive email and messages about it. There is quite a cult following for that film. People really attached that film to a special moment in their lives. That makes me feel really good.

THW:  You strike me as a life-long horror fan.  Can you remember your introduction to the genre?  Do tell.

Jerry Lentz: I was about 5 years old. Living in Kansas City, KS. My oldest brother was in Viet Nam. He was replaced at the dinner table by a Tee Vee set on a rolling tray so we could watch Dan Rather reporting from the jungles in black and white 16mm film. My mom explained to me that Dan Rather was real because it was black and white, shaky camera, scratchy and poorly lit film… While MANNIX with Mike Connors was fake because it was in color and properly photographed. Then one Halloween not long after this lesson, the local 6 O’Clock News showed Thomas Edison’s silent, scratchy, shaky, black and white, FRANKENSTEIN and I lost my lil’ mind thinking it was REAL!!! My other two brothers had to pull out the 8mm home movies to show me what film was and that there was no reason for me to go insane over a series of still photos, what film was/is. Even then, at such a young age I knew film was powerful.

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THW:  What does your family think of your work?  Do they ever ask you to do something pleasant? 

Jerry Lentz: They never understood. Don’t understand the process. Never comment on it. I’m ignored. My wife and close friends dig it, though.

THW:  The Visitor is creepy as shit.  What made you want to take on that subject matter?

Jerry Lentz: I love the folklore of UFOs and Alien Abductions. Just the idea of a home invasion when you’re in bed and defenseless and have no control really scares me.

unnamed-3THW:  The sound design is fantastic.  Can you tell us how that was developed?

Jerry Lentz: Thanks for the kind words! I have an extensive background in radio as a personality, a voice talent, listener of old radio dramas, theatre of the mind… I love making sounds, sound effects, and music in nontraditional ways.

THW:  What kind of reactions have you been getting from viewers?

Jerry Lentz: Very wonderful responses! 90% of the positive reactions is to make it longer and or a feature. That is very sweet to hear.

THW:  Please tell us a bit about the antagonist.  Was that your design?

Jerry Lentz: I’ve very lucky to be very close friends with Ed Edmunds, the founder and co-owner of Distortions Unlimited Corporation, who specializes in building animatronic monsters, creatures, zombies, aliens and stage props for some of my favorite bands, including Alice Cooper. He and his wife Marsha had a very popular TV series on the Travel Channel called, MAKING MONSTERS that I’m sure THW readers know. With Ed’s and Distortions Unlimited’s help, I’ve been making a weekly short film based on his and his crew’s creations. Ed is also in my documentary MONSTERS, CREATURES AND FX ARTISTS OF HORROR, FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, along with other geniuses like Brent Armstrong, Alec Gillis, Nicole Michaud, Jordu Schell, Andy Schoneberg, Shannon Shea, Anthony Taylor, Matt Winston, Tom Woodruff Jr., David T. Woodruff, Marc Scott Zicree, Steve Johnson, Steve Wang, and more…

unnamed-2THW:  Which side are you on in the Practical FX versus CGI debate?

Jerry Lentz: I LOVE Practical FX!!! I love old school, DIY, Low Tech, Rubber Bands, Paint, Smoke and Mirrors… BUT I also love CGI that doesn’t look like CGI. CGI that sticks out and pulls me from the film is just the worst! Nothing quite like being really into a story and suddenly it becomes a bad video game… Like a kick in the nuts. I love the handmade feel of art in film, but I love it when it’s all invisible to support the story. 

THW:  Who do you think Negan killed on The Walking Dead? 

Jerry Lentz: You know… I’ve never seen a single episode of THE WALKING DEAD. But I loved it as a Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore comic book.

THW:  What should we know about I Juice Your Brain?

unnamed-1Jerry Lentz: You should know that I JUICE YOUR BRAIN will be completely fucked up and retarded! I’ve been working on it for about 5 years and when I finally finish it, it won’t look like it. You’ll think I shot it on a weekend. It is mind-numbing. There are a 1000 ideas in it! Trippy and seizure inducing. No shot in the film is longer than a few seconds, some edits are down to one or two frames. It’s maddening! If anyone likes it, those people will be the ones you’ll want to stay away from. It’s about madness and it is madness, with full frontal nudity. I hope someone likes it, if not, I don’t want to hear about it.

THW:  When will we be able to see it?

Jerry Lentz: I keep telling people “soon” but who the fuck knows.  There’s a lot pressure on it to be released, a lot of eyes are on it, and I can’t stand that feeling.

unnamed-5THW:  What advice would you give to aspiring directors?

Jerry Lentz: Don’t work at a job other than the job of you making your films with friends! Find a way to have family, friends, or marry someone wealthy to support your habit. Film and storytelling is heroin, and it should be your addiction. If you aren’t willing to be called a “Bum” or “Homeless’ for living in your car or sleeping on a friend’s couch for free to make your films, then you really don’t deserve the honor to be labeled a “FILMMAKER” as far as I’m concerned. I could be completely wrong about that, but I’m not thinking too clearly at the moment. Why? Because I’m addicted to the drug, “CINEMA” and I’m high.

THW:  What about people who want to do FX professionally? 

Jerry Lentz: I’m all for it! But be AWESOME with your style and have something to say that stands out. Be different! Be willing to fail! In fact, FAIL a lot! A LOT!!! Intentionally fail and learn from it.

THW:  Thanks so much!

Jerry Lentz: No, thank you!

Check out the trailer for “I Juice Your Brain”…if you dare!

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