PJ Starks seems a little more excited each time I talk to him; which is understandable, considering he’s a small town filmmaker who gets to work with nationally-recognized talent right here in his hometown. [Actor Moses J. Moseley from The Walking Dead plays “Steven.” Rocky Gray, former drummer for Evanescence, is one of the composers, along with Mikel Shane Prather, who helped score the Sharknado franchise.]
But what most film critics writing rave reviews for Volumes of Blood don’t know is that Starks wouldn’t have it any other way. PJ is a family man at heart, and an Owensboro boy through and through, which comes as no surprise to anyone on set.
PJ’s wife, Katrina, is right there beside him, fully involved in various tasks, from coordinating food for dinner breaks to assisting with makeup and wardrobe. That attitude permeates the entire set. You might think a horror movie set would be somber and intense. But here it’s all smiles and light-hearted laughter in between takes. Cast and crew chit chat like family members, and treat each other like old friends.
It’s the camaraderie born out of working for a common goal; each with their individual part of the greater cause – making a bigger and better film for VOB’s second installment: Horror Stories.
There are still exciting updates piling up from the first Volumes of Blood anthology (through a distribution deal, VOB is now available for rent in Family Video stores across the US and Canada). Since VOB’s release in 2015, the film has been screened at numerous horror film festivals, earning rave reviews and winning several awards, including “Best Anthology” at Fright Night Film Festival in Louisville.
Volumes of Blood began as a collaboration between PJ Starks’ Verite Cinema and Daviess County Public Library’s “Unscripted Film School” program. VOB was an anthology of five short films, shot after hours inside the library that involved over 100 actors, cast, and crew members.
With VOB: Horror Stories, Starks says the VOB franchise has expanded in quality, budget, and production. “The stories in this one are much more developed. The look of the film, the scope and tone – it has all increased from the first project.”
Although the storylines loosely intertwine and build off each other, VOB: Horror Stories is not a sequel in the traditional sense that it’s a continuation of the first movie. Horror Stories features its own set of stories that all take place in one house. “It’s a standalone movie, so you don’t have to have seen the first film to enjoy this one,” Starks explains. “There are some things about it that you’ll understand and recognize from the first one, but if you haven’t seen it, you won’t be lost.”
In total, the Horror Stories anthology consists of seven short films by seven directors. The film will be the first project under the Blood Moon Pictures moniker, a production company Starks formed with actor-turned-producer Eric Huskisson.
The plot involves a couple who move to Owensboro and find a house, but before they close on the house they take one last walk-through floor by floor. As the realtor, Mr. Stine walks them through the house, the husband and wife notice something in every room that triggers a flashback sequence revealing tragic incidents from the house’s past.
I’m not going to give away the ending, but there is an interesting, unexpected twist. A word of advice: viewers will want to stay through the credits because there’s a post-credit sequence that sets up the third movie, which is already in the concept phase.
Starks says the cast and crew expect the air of excitement from the first VOB project to reflect on screen for Horror Stories. This time around, the stories are more advanced, the cast and crew are more experienced, and more sponsors have contributed, producing a larger budget, which allows for better effects. “For this film, our special effects budget alone is the amount we spent on the entire first movie,” PJ said with an almost giddy grin.
Eager fans won’t have to wait much longer. The Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories world premiere is Saturday, October 29, 2016, at the Owensboro Convention Center. The evening includes an early entry option and a Halloween costume afterparty.
With early entry admission, fans get first choice on seating before the doors open to the public, as well as a chance to have their picture taken with celebrity guests, cast, and crew.
To give our readers a behind-the-scenes look at the production of Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, Owensboro Living spoke with composer Rocky Gray (Evanescence, Living Sacrifice, Project 86) and actor Moses J. Moseley (The Walking Dead, 42, Vampire Diaries).
[tw-divider]Interview with Rocky Gray[/tw-divider]
OL: What do you enjoy about composing?
Rocky Gray: I’ve always been a movie guy, but the band thing took over. I was into metal as a teenager. But my love for movies has never stopped. After I left Evanescence, I started researching what it takes to compose for films. Once I did it, I really enjoyed it, and I’ve stayed busy since. I have a wife and kids now, so I’m fortunate enough that I have found a career in music (as a film composer) that works for me and that I have a passion for.
OL: What is your involvement with VOB: Horror Stories?
Rocky Gray: At first, I was only going to compose one of the short films, but over time, some of the other composers dropped out, so I ended up composing five out of the seven shorts. Plus the main title sequence, too.
OL: How did you get involved with VOB?
Rocky Gray: I wrote PJ during the first movie, but they already had a composer, so I told him to keep me in mind. When Horror Stories came along, it worked out. Everybody seems happy with what I’ve done, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m stoked for this movie to come out! It’s a very cool project to be a part of.
OL: How does composing a movie compare to studio work as a musician or touring with a band?
Rocky Gray: In a band, there are four or five people writing and working together on ideas. With movies, I work with a director and that’s it. That’s what I enjoy about it. It’s easy to communicate with directors and producers, because we speak the same “horror movie language,” so we’re usually on the same page. I like how simple it is.
OL: What are you looking forward to about the premier?
Rocky Gray: Premieres are always fun. It will be great to meet everybody I’ve been working with, so I’m looking forward to actually talking with people and shaking hands, rather than just messaging on Facebook or email. I’ve never been to Owensboro, but I’m excited to come see everybody.
[tw-divider]Interview with Moses J. Moseley[/tw-divider]
OL: How did you get involved in the horror genre?
Moses J. Moseley: I grew up loving horror, but The Walking Dead is what started me in it. I was that weird kid that loved to see gore and loved being scared. I grew up watching Chucky and Freddie Krueger. Candy Man. I’d say it’s a close tie between horror and action/adventure like Marvel and DC. If I could ever be in one of those movies, that would be the ultimate for me!
OL: How did you get involved with The Walking Dead?
Moses J. Moseley: I submitted my resume and photos to their casting department. Honestly, I didn’t know anything about the show at all. I was just trying to get anything I could. They contacted me one day and asked if I’d like to be a part of it, so I ended up shooting with them for three weeks. It was just a blessing, honestly.
I played one of Michonne’s pet zombies in season 3. I was the jawless, armless zombie, and I got to be on the cover of Entertainment Weekly with them, too, so that was an amazing blessing to be a part of, as well.
OL: You’ve had a pretty diverse portfolio with TV, major motion pictures, and indie movies, too.
Moses J. Moseley: As an actor, you want to have diversity with genres and roles in your portfolio, because it makes you more “castable” and flexible. It helps you be able to take direction well, too. I never want to limit myself, and I want to be really well-rounded.
OL: You mentioned diversity and working your way up to leading roles. So why would you still come back and do an indie project like Volumes of Blood?
Moses J. Moseley: For me it’s not always about the quantity, it’s quality. And when you’re dealing with people as awesome as PJ and his wife, Katrina, they make you happy to be in the production. And you never know how far it can go given the right circumstance. You have a lot of cult classics that are considered amazing by today’s standards that were actually made with small budgets, but still were awesome because of the effort that was put into it. Of course, I’ll take big budget movies, but at the same time, if it’s people I know and can trust who have an amazing idea, then I’ll go with it. It makes you humble. And it makes you open up your mind as an actor.
OL: Is there an advantage to still doing indie projects?
Moses J. Moseley: It gives me an insight to where I can be in these different scenarios and situations, and not only grow as an actor, but as a person. Like here, I get to meet these awesome people. I get to make some new connections, and I get to broaden my horizons a little bit. I enjoy watching how people grow in their craft, too – to see where they might be a year from now, so to me, that’s the beauty of it. It brightens my day to see people grow. I love it! Just seeing that is enough for me. I can’t wait to see how the finished production turns out, because I saw the first movie and was really impressed.
OL: How did you hear about Volumes of Blood?
Moses J. Moseley: I met PJ at a convention. Then I saw him at ScareFest in Louisville last year. He was telling me about the movie, and asked if I was interested in being a part of it. At first, I joked with him like “I don’t know man, can you afford me?” just to give him a hard time but then I said, “Of course, I’ll do it, man. You know I will!” Because the idea was amazing. Then when he sent me the script – I loved it!
He offered me the part of Steven, and it fit me perfectly, because I’m a lot like him. Steven is a good person, but he’s gonna be a jerk about it, and that’s how I am to my brothers and when I’m hanging out with my friends. You know I care, but I’m gonna bust you, too. (Laughs.) So it’s easy for me to interpret Steven on screen. I think he’s a good guy at heart. So just to be able to bring a part of myself on screen, that’s what sold me on the part.
OL: It took a lot of special effects and makeup to make you a jawless, armless zombie on The Walking Dead. How does this set compare with a TV set or a major studio production set?
Moses J. Moseley: Honestly, you’d be surprised how many sets use and do the same things. They may dress it up, but a lot of times it comes down to renting a house just like this one.
To me, it’s all the same. When I see the set, I flip a switch and get into my character, no matter what the set is. It’s all the same in that regard. The only thing that changes is the people. Right now all I see is a set.
When it’s time to flip that switch, you get lost in the character, and that’s when the best stuff comes out – facial expressions and hand gestures that you wouldn’t normally do.
[tw-divider]VOB: Horror Stories Premiere Event[/tw-divider]
Where: Owensboro Convention Center
When: Saturday, October 29, 2016
Times: 6 p.m. – Early Entry/Meet & Greet with Moses Moseley & Rocky Gray
7 p.m. – Doors open
7:30 p.m. – Film starts
9:30 p.m. – After Party/Halloween Bash
and costume contest
Tickets: available at owensborotickets.com
- David Justice – Blue Star Restoration
- Devin Taylor – Castlen Realty
- Matt Stiff – Book & Music Exchange
- Heather Montgomery – Liberty Financial Mortgage
- Jamie Stanley – Liberty Financial Mortgage
- Lindsay Ballard – Liberty Financial Mortgage
- PACE Field Services
- Soak-n-Wet Car Wash
- Terry’s Tee’s
- 3 Monkey’s Pub
- Bad Apple Records