Rocky Gray is an incredibly talented musician and artist. The former drummer of rock super group Evanescence has gone on to make a name for himself. Working in several other popular metal groups such as We Are The Fallen and Soul Embraced as well as serving as a composer for films like The Barn, Killing Floor and Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories. He’s now making his directorial debut with a new Halloween themed anthology concept he’s created called 10/31/16. Rocky is definitely a talent to keep an eye on and I was lucky enough to interview him about his various projects. I say “lucky”, but I pretty much demanded he stop what he was doing and talk to me. Being as he’s such a nice guy, it didn’t take much demanding.
PJ Starks: Right now Halloween is a hot topic and anthologies are coming back with a vengeance. Why did you choose an anthology project as your directorial debut and how’d you come up with the concept?
Rocky Gray: In my opinion good indie anthologies are hard to come by lately even though more and more are being made. Coming from a music video production background I thought why not give the transition into producing a horror anthology a shot. Also when it comes to indie film making I think you can get more bang for your buck on an anthology. 15-20 minute segments don’t have to break the bank, you can garner more excitement about the different directors and producers (if you get to work with the talented artists like we have), more stylistic changes in the score for the soundtrack, just so much more in your favor.
PJ Starks: Can you talk about some of the others directors involved and their segments?
Rocky Gray: We have Justin Seaman, director of The Barn directing a segment called “The Old Hag”, the title pretty much sums up that one. Zane Hershberger, cinematographer of The Barn and a director in the upcoming anthology Cryptids is directing a segment called “Trespassers” about a couple on a first date that decide to disturb an infamous old scarecrow on some creepy farmland in their little town. Very unwise decision indeed. Johnny Holt, director of the Dooms Chapel Horror is directing a segment entitled “Kill The Dance”. All I can tell you about this one is that you or your children may not go to a skating rink ever again after seeing this. Brett DeJager, director of Bonejangles is directing a segment called “ The Halloween Blizzard of ’91”. Christmas and Halloween collide in this twisted tale based on actual events. My segment is called “The Samhain Slasher”. It’s about a family in their attempt to cope with the loss of their Mother/Wife to suicide in their different ways. Apparently Halloween is a very rough day for them, especially their very religious Dad. All the segments have a lot of fun, blood, monsters and some quite dramatic elements mixed together and we think that everyone will enjoy themselves on this cool little Halloween journey we have created.
PJ Starks: Looking ahead do you have any larger plans for 10/31/16 once it’s completed or are you kind of going with the flow?
Rocky Gray: We want the film to be all it can be so we’re looking at all the options. Whatever option can take the movie to it’s highest level will be getting our attention for sure.
PJ Starks: Heavy metal and rock music kind of go hand in hand with horror, was transition to horror film the net logical step for you as an artist? And has that transition been easy?
Rocky Gray: It was definitely logical for me to step into horror film and game music. I have a passion for it and it really has been an easy transition. I speak the language of horror.
PJ Starks: Having done two anthologies myself, I know the pressures of having to cast the right actors in a lot of varied roles. How has that process been for you?
Rocky Gray: Casting was a breeze. I was really surprised to be able to get so many great actors from our area. Now scheduling all these great actors was not a breeze and it has been the worst part of the process haha. It’s just the not fun part of making a movie. Once we’re on set though all that is forgotten and it’s showtime.
PJ Starks: Do you know what project you’ll be working on next?
Rocky Gray: I’ll be composing the score for Cryptids next. I’ve completed the scores for Close Calls and In Memory Of that will hopefully be out soon.
PJ Starks: What advice do you have for anyone wanting to get into the directors chair or start working on a film of their own?
Rocky Gray: Plan A LOT in advance. Before that though, have a great script to work from. Let a few people who know what they’re talking about read it and give notes. Leave your ego at the door and do whats best for the film. Surround yourself with people who have a passion for the project as much as you do. Get rid of any negativity. No one needs the hassle. Hire the best composer you can get and a great poster artist. The poster art is essential. Too many movies have sucky posters. It’s the first thing we see. Impress us!