Thirty years to the day that Joe Dante’s original The Howling hit theaters, writer/director Joe Nimziki is breathing new life into the long-dormant franchise with his contribution, The Howling: Reborn, which arrives on DVD and Blu-ray everywhere today, October 18th, courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.
Starring Lindsey Shaw (“Pretty Little Liars,” 10 Things I Hate About You), Landon Liboiron (“Terra Nova,” “Degrassi: The Next Generation”) and Ivana Milicevic (Casino Royale, Vanilla Sky), The Howling: Reborn (review here) is centered around a young man named Will (Liboiron) who discovers on the eve of his high school graduation that he’s a descendant from a long line of powerful werewolves, forcing Will to choose between his destiny and his desire for a normal life.
Dread Central recently caught up with Nimziki for a Q&A style interview to talk about the latest entry into the Howling franchise and whether or not there will be more werewolf mayhem in store for the series (and for himself).
Dread Central: Can you talk a bit about how you got involved with The Howling: Reborn– was the script something you had done independently or had the studio approached you for the project?
Joe Nimziki: I was approached to write and direct. I was a fan of the original but was asked to write an original new story with The Howling name.
DC: Had you known while working on the script that you were going to be the one at the helm? Do you think carrying dual roles helped while directing since you were so close to the source material?
Joe Nimziki: Yes, when writing I knew I would direct, which was nice. For example, when you’re writing for yourself, you’re extra careful to make sure whatever you’re coming up will work and is doable on your budget. And while directing, being the writer often came in handy on the set. Besides having little time and money, we had so many issues like bad weather, losing our lead actor for a few days with an eye infection, etc., and I could redo the script on the fly or know what story cuts to make to keep us on schedule.
DC: Had you been a fan of the original or the franchise? Did they have any influence on the story you had wanted to tell with The Howling: Reborn, or was this a way to breathe some new life into the Howling series?
Nimziki: Yes, when I was young, I thought the creatures in the original were great and that the story had some interesting things to say about the human condition. And I did tip my hat to the original in my story several times… but everybody was really clear from the start that they wanted this to be new and fresh, or as you put it, “breathe some new life into” the franchise.
DC: What I think is interesting is that you have a cast of relatively fresh and up-and-coming talents in The Howling: Reborn who are all quickly making names for themselves within and outside of the genre- how closely were you involved with the casting process? Can you talk a little bit about what the cast brought to the table on this project?
Nimziki: I was very involved and had the ultimate say in the casting process. I auditioned actors and actresses for the leads in Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto for two months. It was so great to find Landon and Lindsey (Will and Eliana in the film), and even better when I put the two of them together for a final audition… I knew in that moment I had found my leads. I think they’re wonderful together in the film and hope they both have great things ahead of them.
We were also lucky enough to have some great options for Kay, but Ivana is someone I’ve always been a fan of and thought she was perfect for the part. The rest of the cast I found with the casting company in Montreal… but it was tough finding actors for the roles with American accents. In fact, for the part of Roland I ended up reconceiving the part and hiring the great French actor Neils Schneider because it was our best option.
DC: I noticed that this was your directorial debut- did you feel any sort of added pressure coming onto The Howling: Reborn due to this being your first feature film?
Nimziki: Not really. I joke that between being a studio exec so many years, directing so many commercials along with TV (like “Outer Limits” for Showtime) and having been a movie doctor on so many big films (coming in to re-write, direct, edit, etc.), I’m the most experienced first-time director ever. Of course, having your name front and center on anything creates a lot of pressure. Also, when we were shooting, there were eight other, much bigger American features also filming in Montreal, and everyone on our crew could have made more money on any of them. They were on our movie because they loved the project, and that probably created the most pressure internally because I wanted them to look back in retrospect and know they made the right decision.
DC: Do you feel like The Howling: Reborn is the start to a new series of films now, and if so, have you considered at all where you’d love to see the story go from here? Also, would you want to return to direct a follow-up if asked?
Nimziki: I do feel like this could be the start of a new series of films. I think our end credits show where the story could be headed. In fact, the next story was the one I was initially going to write for this film, but based on our budget I needed to step back and write a prequel of sorts to set it up. Anyway, I hope we get a chance to tell that story. And yes, I’d be happy to come back and make the next Howling.
DC: So what’s up next for you then?
Nimziki: I love the horror genre, but I’ll probably take a little break and do something lighter next (an ode to the 70’s action-comedy entitled The Sinisters).
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