I first met Rocky and company at the 2010 Indie Gathering Festival in Cleveland, OH. At the time, they were there promoting their new production company, Ghost Walk Productions, and the company’s (at the time) prospective projects. Fast forward two years later and their company already has a film under their belt and are already making the convention and film festival rounds. I was honored when they expressed interest in using a couple of my songs on the soundtrack and theme CD to their new film, “The Farm”. I think we can expect to see some great things come from Ghost Walk Productions. Read on to find out more about Ghost Walk and their film, “The Farm.” Rocky also offers insight to making their first film. This is an interview you do not want to skip over (as if you’d want to skip over any of them 🙂 ).
MU: First, give us all a little background on yourself as a filmmaker and how you founded your production company, Ghost Walk Productions.
RK: I didn’t set out to be a filmmaker, but was trying to make a living a few years back as photographer. This would have been circa 2006. At the time I was developing ideas for haunted/gothic theme shoots with several models. One of the models was Victoria Vardon who became my very good friend and my work partner. The ‘ghost walk’ name evolved from this early work. We formed the company Ghost Walk Productions in 2008 which has grown in several directions; including filmmaking, paranormal, radio mysteries & live interviews, and a magazine. At this time, we’re evaluating all our concepts to see what doesn’t work and what does work.
MU: Now, your film “The Farm” the first of what will be a series, correct? Can you tell us a little about “The Farm” and the role it plays in the Ghost Walk series? What was the influence behind it?
RK: Yes, it is our first film. Although the series could increase in number with more input and support, it is technically the 5th story in a series of 6 films. The base series of 3 movies is set around the Lane Family of 1890s Ohio. This family of both Lanes and Dawsons threads through history and all the stories. The Dawson’s are the branch of family you will encounter in “Ghost Walk: The Farm”. The farm itself is mentioned early in the film as having belonged to “old man Dawson”. The other 2 films have the working titles ‘noir’ and ‘The Dawson War’. Both have major ties to the named “Ghost Walk Saga”. The first 4 films in the series will require major backers because of the epic scale of those stories.
MU: Many of us independent artists have had the experience of literally being scolded by people because Heaven forbid we try to make a living at what we do. I even read an article where apparently people were saying that every artist should plan to ‘keep a day job because they should not be expected to be paid for what they do and they should give away their art for free.’ I find alot of absurdity in that statement, but what are your thoughts and what do you say to those people?
RK: I’ll answer at the end of this paragraph, but want to get to there indirectly. It’s a tough question because everyone needs to be paid for what they do. Art is no different than any other business, but most artists realize they may not get paid as much as the amount of work they put into a project, or may not get paid at all. My personal thought is if you don’t love what you’re doing in filmmaking (or other art) before the money, then you shouldn’t be doing it. But I’ve heard from the other side of the camp who think it’s absurd to not pay union wages for any little thing they do on a film. They would have independents like us run out of business. Not paid and all paid are two sides of the same pendulum. As independent filmmakers, I feel we need to find a balance where pay is equitable both to the ‘business’ and the ’employee’. Just because someone sets a rate doesn’t mean very many companies can afford it. Not everyone can get a million dollar backer just because they want to, and asking is a bit like submitting your book to a publisher. Expect to hear “no” and often. But give away art for free? It’s hardly worth listening to those people or answering. Tell them to give away their time at work for free and go home without a paycheck, because it’s the same damn thing! Just because the profession is named ‘art’ makes it no less a profession.
MU: Are there any particular obstacles you guys faced in the production or promotion of “The Farm”?
RK: Oh boy. ‘Obstacles are our business’ it seemed. The two biggest obstacles are the old ones: money and available time. We had little of either, but we managed to schedule times, pay for motel rooms, and feed our cast and team. The major obstacle ties back to your third question. Many people who could have helped, or should have helped, spoke of pay before even hearing about the project and ridiculed our efforts. We also had a cast member decide to quit during last day of filming without finishing her scenes. This threw us off schedule and made it necessary for me to rewrite part of the script. But we worked together and prevailed. The team we developed made this film for the love of the story and the making of the film. We went in knowing this could be our first and last film, but we as a team family believed in each other, and we now have a short version DVD available and the feature DVD will be released April 2012! We have no plans to quit now.
MU: The mainstream media tends to saturate us with the stories of “overnight successes” with all the reality tv ‘stars,’ American Idols, and the ‘cinderella stories’ of how “so and so became an overnight sensation in a matter of five minutes.” Would you say that such articles and stories tend to give (especially) young people trying to break into the industry a sort of false hope and distorted view as to how the industry really works?
RK: Overnight successes? Hmmm… yeah, there are a few in the fake ‘reality’ series world, but I don’t know any personally. I can’t say I’m enthralled with the quality ‘overnight’ fame produces, but too many in the younger generation are. Most of my friends who have become successful have done it with years of work, plugging away at what they do, perfecting their craft, and promoting it themselves. I can tell you there is not much help in the world unless someone with money thinks promoting you will make them money. That’s the reality of any success and it’s not new. Instant fame does build false hopes in many and those who ‘make it’ are such a tiny number compared to the many who hope they will. But it’s only a degree of difference for those who wished to become a baseball player or other sports figure of my era. True reality needs to kick in to everyone’s goals, but the money media doesn’t want the young to think about it. They want their crazed support with fan worship and product sales. If everyone is a ‘rock star’ who is going to run the utilities, stores, farms that don’t happen by themselves? Who will keep the nation from falling into ruin? I worked most of my life and still don’t have overnight fame, but I doubt I would really enjoy it if it happens. I would tell them, if fame is your goal, then you’re trying to reach the end before you’ve begun. Learn something … then you can work on getting there.
MU: What advice would you give to an aspiring filmmaker?
RK: The same as for anything anyone sets out to do. Don’t give up. Never give up. There are tons of people, including family, friends, nerds and enemies who know 500 and one reasons why you won’t make it. Prove them wrong. But learn from your mistakes as you go, because you will make mistakes. You’ll get hurt. You’ll be defeated. And then you’ll pick up and start again. You may believe you have the greatest film idea ever, and you might. I wouldn’t say it’s not possible. But even if that’s true, learn the basics before making the next Star Wars. “Star Wars: A New Hope” wasn’t George Lucas first film and filmmaking wasn’t his first work. He wanted to be a race car driver which was reflected in his second film “American Graffiti”. Not everyone can be a George Lucas, but you might make something even greater to enrich the world. Never give up!
MU: So what’s next for Ghost Walk and “The Farm”? Where can people find you?
RK: We’re in the final days/weeks of film edit, and we aim to have the feature DVD available for the Mid Ohio Paranormal Convention last weekend of April. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get permission to screen the film. We tried, but we’re evidently not that well known… yet! 🙂 We will have a table with several of us to talk with or to look at our work. Stop by and see us! 🙂
All of our sites, including the film site, can be reached through Ghost Walk Productions at http://ghostwalkproductions.com Events as they become available are listed on The Farm site: http://thefarmfilm.com
For more information on Ghost Walk Productions and the film, “The Farm”:
About the Interviewer: Tiffany Apan is an award winning and acclaimed independent recording artist along with being a stage/film actress, producer, and writer. You can find more about her at her Official Website , Web Blog, MySpace , Twitter , and Facebook . She can also be found on IMDb and her music releases on CDBaby along with iTunes, Amazon, and other digital retailers. She also writes for the publications Rogue Cinema and Horrornews.net . She is also responsible for starting up the Music’s Underworld Webzine .