Horror Filmmaker Corey Norman Speaks About his Film Career – Horror Movie News

Interview by Andrew Bard

I recently had the privilege to speak with Corey Norman about his film career and his and his wife’s company Bonfire Films. Besides being a successful and talented filmmaker Corey is also a department chair and teaches film at Southern Maine Community College (SMCC). Corey’s presence in the film community has been a strong and positive one. He has worked with the Emerge Film Festival, conceptualized and spearheaded the Dead at the Drive-In (a horror themed film festival held at the Saco Drive-In) and is a familiar face at Damnation Land (an invite only showcase of horror films created by Maine filmmakers which began in 2010). Corey and his wife Haley’s accomplishments include numerous awards for their work and having two of their films picked up for distribution. Their Feature film “The Hanover House” and their short film “Natal” which is being featured on the DVD “The Invoking 2”.

AB: You’re a successful filmmaker but also an established college instructor at SMCC. How would you say you stand out as an instructor? Do you incorporate first hand experiences within your lessons?

It all comes down to respect. As a filmmaker, I’m out there working really hard outside of class trying to make my dreams come true. My students see the hard work I put into this business and the results that come of it. They respect that. They know that when I spend three hours lecturing about budgets, although they might not be the most enjoyable part of the filmmaking process, they must be important because we’re taking the time to cover them. I’m honest with them. Sometimes all it takes is hearing about one of my mistakes to really solidify a point or lesson. Mistakes are, after all, the best way to learn.

Those students who work hard and rise above their classmates are given the opportunity to join Bonfire Films on set. Ninety percent of our team is actually former students of mine. I can’t tell you how proud I am when they make the leap from student to peer.

AB: What was the first experience you had that ignited your passion as a filmmaker that allowed you to spearhead Bonfire films and begin making movies?

I’ve always enjoyed movies, but it wasn’t until I took a video production class my first year in high school that I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Thank you Mr. Bell.

AB: You recently had some wonderful news that the Hanover House was picked up for distribution. With the immense success and notoriety that film has brought you what are your plans for another feature?

I’d love to make another feature. But unfortunately, the film business isn’t what it was even five year’s ago. Piracy has drastically impacted sales, and unfortunately, as a result there is becoming less and less financing options for anything less than blockbusters or more than a self funded micro budget. We’ve got several projects ready to produce once financing is secured, but until that happens, we’ll continue to make shorts. As long as I’m making something, I’m happy.

AB: Your wife Haley is co-owner of Bonfire films, do you find it difficult at times running a film company together separating the two worlds, personal and professional?

Not at all. In fact, there wouldn’t be much of a company without her. Over the past few years we’ve begun to strike a nice balance between home and “work,’ and while we’re in work mode, there’s no one I trust more to get the job done than my wife. I’d say it’s the perfect marriage.

AB: You have built a solid reputation in Maine with your company but you also travel outside the state for work. What are some of the most memorable places you’ve gone and most memorable gigs?

This is a hard question. I feel like each place we’ve visited has had it’s own charm. I mean, I absolutely fell in love with the city of Austin. From the food to the culture, it was pretty amazing. But that being said, Indianapolis and Cincinnati have become our home away from home. We’re out here roughly 3 times a year for some of the best conventions we go to. It’s also home to some of our favorite people. We drive every time we go, so we make it a point to catch some sights on the way. We almost always stop at Niagra Falls. Charleston’s historic district is beautiful, and the film community there is so welcoming. The weekend we’re making our first trip to New York City, so who knows, maybe that will be my new favorite.

Being horror fans, we always try to do something morbid on each trip. So far this has meant things like: touring the Waverly Hills Sanatorium (the most haunted place in the US), visiting John Wayne Gacy’s house, and posing for photos in the Night of the Living Dead cemetery.

AB: To touch again on being a college instructor how have you been able to balance your time between teaching, shooting and traveling?

I think being a teacher actually makes me job as a filmmaker easier. I have 15 contact hours a week of teaching, and the rest of my work comes in the form of grading and lesson prep, which can be done from just about anywhere with a laptop and the internet. Plus, I get to teach what I love, which means I’m always trying to digest more new information through books and videos, which in term helps me grow as a filmmaker. Oh yeah, I also have summers off. That really helps.

AB: What would you say has been one of the biggest challenges for you to overcome as a filmmaker?

The biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome is my own self-doubt. I feel like most artists, heck most people, are insecure by nature, and when you put your work into the public spotlight, criticism is bound to happen. It can be devastating when you get your first bad review, but you’ve got to remember that it’s just someone’s opinion. Besides, we can’t all be Carpenter on our first attempt.

AB: When you begin a project from the early conception stage how do you go about it? Do you think of a story specifically you want to tell or does an idea come to you that you write a story around?

This is a hard one to answer, as I’m not always the one conceiving our projects. Haley wrote our short Tickle, so I didn’t get involved until after the script was finished. For films like NATAL or our feature film The Hanover House, those two concepts begun as a single image. Once that image was clear, I began to build a story around each, and I put together the first passes of the scripts. These were essentially shells of what the story would later become. After the idea had been committed to paper, I would hand it off to Haley and the collaborative process would begin. We rarely argue during this phase, and continue to go back and forth until everything is solidified. To be honest, Haley really does the brunt of the work during this part.

AB: From personal experience only what are some key Do’s and Don’t’s that you would give as advice to new filmmakers?

First, just make a movie. Don’t let anything stop you, just do it. I encourage you to make mistakes, and lots of them. Learn from your mistakes and grow as a filmmaker by doing so. Once you feel your films are ready to be shared, submit them to as many film festivals as you possibly can. Shoot for ones that you never thought you’d get into, because you just might. It’s at these festivals that people will see your work. If the right person sees it and likes it, you may just get offered a deal. This is exactly how we landed two of the distribution deals for our films. Lastly, attend as many of these festivals as you can, and try to talk with everyone. Not only will you start to build a fan base, but you’ll also begin meeting other filmmakers, press contacts and actors.

AB: What does Bonfire films have in development right now? Do you have any projects you’re planning and where can people find your work?

We actually have all kinds of irons currently in the fire. In the immediate future, we’re going to begin work on a sequel to our award winning short Tickle. While we’re in preproduction for that, we’ll continue to search for money to bring one of several features to life. We have a 70’s style revenge film called The Reservation, a period vampire piece called Thicker than Water, and a currently untitled anthology film.


You can keep up on all things Bonfire Films by visiting one of the links below:

Website: www.bonfirefilms online.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Bonfirefilms
Twitter: @bonfirefilms