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Screamfest L.A. 2012: Exclusive – Writer/Director Donna Davies Talks Nightmare Factory

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With the 12th annual and venerated Screamfest L.A. Film Festival running this Friday, October 12th, thru the 20th, we chatted recently with Nightmare Factory writer, director and co-producer (with Dan Stewart) Donna Davies regarding her documentary on FX legend Greg Nicotero.

The flick is set for its LA debut Saturday, October 20th, at 1:00pm. Read on for the trailer and an exclusive still!

Nightmare Factory (which features appearances by Howard Berger, George A, Romero, Quentin Tarantino, John Carpenter, Frank Darabont, Robert Rodriguez, John Landis and Elijah Wood, among others) focuses (according to the official synopsis) on ‘Greg Nicotero, who in 1989 quit medical school and headed for Hollywood to pursue a dream of making monsters. Together with gore masters Howard Berger and Robert Kurtzman, Nicotero went on to create KNB EFX Group, one of the most prolific make-up effects studios in the world. Nightmare Factory (review here) delves inside the high-stakes world of special FX make-up, and creature design, through the eyes of one of the industry’s key players.’

Speaking with Davies, she stated of her inspiration for the doc, “I visited KNB back in 2007 when I was making a documentary on the mass popularity of zombies called Zombiemania,” she said. “I interviewed Greg and was totally impressed by his enthusiasm for what he does. After the interview we toured the shop, and we were blown away by the racks of body parts, monsters and props from the hundreds of films (he’s worked on). When I was leaving, Greg offered to give me some behind-the-scenes footage he had shot on the set of a couple of zombie films. On the plane on the way back to Canada, I decided I had to make a film about KNB. I just wasn’t sure how to pull it off.”

A year later, while working on a documentary focused on women in horror titled Pretty Bloody, Davies visited KNB once again.

“At that point I approached Greg with the idea about the possibility of making a feature length doc about his work,” she told us. “He seemed to be up for it, so I kept in touch with him over the next two years, as I attempted to raise the money to make the film. I wanted to tell the story about how gross-out geeks like Greg and Howard had infiltrated Hollywood, and had carved out a very comfortable place in the history of cinema.”

Screamfest L.A. 2012: Exclusive - Writer/Director Donna Davies Talks Nightmare Factory

As for funding this idea, “That essentially consisted of me trying to convince Canadian funding agencies to help me make a film about an American make-up fx guru,” laughed Davies. “It wasn’t easy, but I finally got The Movie Network on board, and the rest of the funding fell into place from there. We got Movie Central and the Space Channel after that. Other funding came from Canadian tax credits, and government funding agencies.”

Shot over the course of twenty-four days in Los Angeles, and in Toronto, Pittsburgh and Monessen at Tom Savini’s FX school, “The first days we were filming at KNB, and Elijah Wood dropped by to chat with Greg about a project,” reflected Davies of one of the more memorable moments of the shoot.

“We filmed as Greg took Elijah on a tour of the shop,” she expounded. “It was cool to see Elijah geeking out over the various monsters and body parts scattered about. A few other high points were filming at Savini’s school, meeting Greg’s family, and interviewing Frank Darabont, John Landis and John Carpenter. Those men are geniuses!”

Nightmare Factory trailer from Ruby Tree Films on Vimeo.

“Everyone was pretty receptive once Greg got involved,” offered Davies of those who appear in the film. “He’d just pick up the phone and call John Landis or whoever and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got some Canadians here that want to talk to you.’ The main problem was actually booking time with Greg. His schedule is insane! He was busy with ‘The Walking Dead’ when we were filming the doc, so he was really busy. We spent a lot of time in his office waiting for him to get off the phone.”

Nightmare Factory, while having sold rights in Canada, is currently open to further distribution.

Donna Davie’s production company can be visited online here.

Tickets to the US premiere of Nightmare Factory at Screamfest can be purchased by clicking here.

Tickets to the Opening Night Film & Party of Screamfest can be purchased here, full festival passes can be purchased here, and the full schedule can be found here. For more info follow Screamfest (official site here) on Twitter or Facebook.

Screamfest L.A. 2012: Exclusive - Writer/Director Donna Davies Talks Nightmare Factory

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Sean Decker