Tuesday 12 January 2021

James Pax... Big Talent In Little China

Interview With Asian / American Film & TV Regular Throughout The 80’s & 90’s, And On Into This 21st Century, Instantly Recognised As The Elemental Fu Fighting Force Of Lightning, From Big Trouble In Little China (1986), Actor, Singer, Male Model & Film Maker... Mr. James Pax.

(January 2021)

Ballistic Blood Bullets, in association with The Geek Legion Of Doom, are honoured by the opportunity to chat with James Pax. One of the clean cut, fresh faced, fighting Fu Action & Drama Asian actors with a prolific, and highly watchable, resume of work over the last four decades. A scene stealing performance, at a very young age, as Lightning, one of the three Elemental Forces, from Director John Carpenter’s 1986 Action classic, Big Trouble In Little China. A regular guest support star in a multitude of great American TV action shows that include, T.J. Hooker, MacGyver, Tour Of Duty, Matlock, Nash Bridges & Martial Law, appearing alongside fellow Chinese martial arts Action star Sammo Hung. American movie roles with leading star names such as, Charles Bronson, Donald Sutherland, Chuck Norris, Helen Mirren & George Peppard brought experience & one heck of a Cool calling card for the rising young talent. Hong Kong cinema then gave James bigger roles & the deserved chance to work with such Asian Cinema greats as, Johnnie To, Michelle Yeoh, Anita Mui, Maggie Cheung, Anthony Wong, Simon Yam & many others.

James has a varied & interestingly diverse career pathway to his acting success & having spent time in more recent years building his own business enterprise, as well as developing his love for film through the cinematic craft of producing & directing film, James is soon to return both in front of & behind the camera with a big screen Action Adventure project to be excited about …

[Paul] A Very Warm Welcome to you James. Thank you so much for taking the time out from your very busy schedule to share some of your fascinating life story, focusing of course on your wonderfully rich & highly entertaining wealth of Television & Movie making roles down the years. Most Western audience folk will likely know you best for your Impressive appearance as the character Lightning from Big Trouble In Little China. Was it a role that you enjoyed & how well was the character, & indeed the film itself received in Asia ?

[James] I truly enjoyed being in the movie. It was a long two months shoot. The costume fitting took three times already. My Straw hat was huge, bigger than the real ones that warriors wore during the 18th century. The one they made for my costume was almost ten pounds in weight & almost as wide as my shoulders. So they had to find a way to settle it upon my head, since I do so much action it on. But I got used to wearing after a few days. I heard the hat was later auctioned off for a lot of money. I’m glad that someone got it because I would love to have one to keep in my own bar, Hot Lips, as memorabilia for my guests and fans to see. Who ever has one please do let me know. I’m curious to find out who the lucky one is that has got it now.

How did the role opportunity present itself to you & was John Carpenter an on set creative assistance to you in developing the character, or did he immediately like what you were bringing to the part & leave you to showcase your natural talent ?

John Carpenter was very specific to let me know what he wanted. He said to do something powerful when I dropped down from the sky with the lightning ride. So I created this powerful strike fist form to allow the special effects guy to later add in. I did it with small pauses in between. So as with the tunnel shot scene John Carpenter said to come into this squarish room and fire up your lightning everywhere. So I created the four corners strike. I Didn’t know at the time of doing that it would then become so effective & visually powerful. Then when I walked away from that sequence, the ceiling dropped down with a big fire burning behind me. After that I chased after Kurt Russell's character, Jack Burton, in the same tunnel. Total Fun & an honour to work with such a legendary Director, whom I respected so much for many of his other great works, such as escape from New York (1981) among many other films of his.

The other two colourful & enjoyably energetic roles of your combined trio of Elemental villains were of course played by, Carter Wong (Thunder) & Peter Kwong (Rain), were you aware of their own already established acting careers before pairing up with them for Big Trouble In Little China ?

Big Trouble was my first movie in Los Angeles. I was not aware of Peter Kwong until we met on the set. Carter Wong did movies in Hong Kong. I only knew of him through his screen appearances. It was good to meet him. Carter now lives in Macao.

Carter Wong was already an established & World recognised star of Kung Fu film from the Seventies, & Peter Kwong had built up an almost parallel career in Asian Cinema & American TV work, as you yourself were later soon to aspire to. Were either or both approachable or forthcoming to help & advise you, or indeed assist in shaping your acting & choice of roles for in the years to follow ?

Yes, both were approachable and good to work with. No they had nothing to do with shaping my career. I did everything on my own with hard work and endeavour. My agent in New York though really helped me out a great deal, and gave good advice to get my career started in movies & then on into TV. Without him & his agency I would not be here today.

Did you have the option to choose which of the three Elemental characters you wanted to play, or was it a case of seniority pick first by Carter Wong & Peter Kwong ? If you could not have been Lightning, which of the other two characters would you have liked to have played ?

No, Lightning was given to me by the choice of John Carpenter. However I would have liked to play the leading man character of Jack Burton’s side kick Wang Chi, played by Dennis Dun. But after doing my role I realised the storms character was more memorable to the greater audience. I don’t regret doing it. When I first got the script I did think how come he doesn’t speak much !? Where is my line to show my good acting ? Ha-ha ! After that I realized that good acting doesn’t need to have lines. Live and learn James !

Are there any on the set stories or memorable moments for yourself from Big Trouble In Little China that you may be able to share with us ?

I can’t recall too much, but I do remember working with two beautiful ladies in that movie. It was enjoyable to meet Lo Pan (James Hong) though. A Cheerful character always. We were in the convention in LA together again several years back, and he was a laugh to me and to the fans. Ha-ha !

Your first Big Screen appearance came with an American production, and with an Action star that is pretty tough to top in anyone's acting career, Chuck Norris no less ! The movie of course being, Invasion U.S.A (1985). How excited were you to be told that you were to have such an opportunity at such a young age ?

I was happy to get the part so soon after Big Trouble In Little China came out. Again, not much lines to say, but I was one of the International Terrorist team. It was fun making the movie with great locations in the swamps in Georgia. Chuck was a legend of course, a very down to earth kind of guy. A big production with tanks and soldiers running about everywhere. The movie really gave an early warning sign before 911 came along.

Invasion U.S.A not only starred Chuck Norris, in his prime, but also one of the best mid budget production regular go to bad guy greats of the time, Richard Lynch. What are your memories of this early experience for you & were you able to rub shoulders with either Chuck Norris or Richard Lynch, and if so how did you find them as both actors & off set regular people ?

Richard is an actor with so many credits. But Chuck was the absolute star that sells the film. I had a small character part to play, so stay quite, watch and learn about the production.

Before your break in American Film & TV you spent a year working as a stock analyst on Wall Street, & honed your acting by doing Off Broadway stage plays in New York City. How was that early life style for a young guy finding his way in the city that never sleeps ?

Yes stock brokerage was my family business in Hong Kong, thus I had the opportunity to work in Wall street. But the acting bug was always in me. So I quickly jumped back into acting.

At such a young age you seemed to cram so much into your life & truly have embraced living during the early period of the 1980’s, even managing to become a sought after name & face in Europe as a male model, working the Italian catwalks for the likes of Top fashion house designer Armani. Is it true that you became the first Chinese model to ever appear on a Milan walkway stage ? This must have been an exhilarating & high confidence building time for you at such an early stage of your life. Do you look back upon those days with fond memories ?

I was an energetic teenager. Whilst I was studying in high school in New Jersey, I was training myself in kung fu, learning fencing, body building & playing a bit of soccer as well as some long distance running. Ping pong was also one of my favourite things to do. But my ultimate love was kung fu Training, learning all the moves of Bruce Lee. He was my absolute hero. He made any Chinese man proud of their heritage.

Working so hard & diversely clearly paid off & led to acting role opportunities back in America with appearances for you in shows such as, Scarecrow And Mrs. King (1986), T.J. Hooker (1986), MacGyver (1986), Stingray (1987), Tour Of Duty (1987). This must have been a fast & furious time for you, almost stepping from one show role to another in quick succession & surely hard to recall particular characters or plot lines that you played a part ? During this time though Please can you share any memories of working with Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner on the set of T.J. Hooker.

Yes, William Shatner is a great pleasure to work with. Lots of acting to do. I remember I had to chase after him in a truck or something like that. The crowd was always gathering around us wherever we went. I also met beautiful girls in Hawaii then. Totally enjoyable work. I went back many more times to Hawaii after, because m parents bought two condos there as summer houses. I love the Hawaiian pace and night life and the good food. It’s not cheap, but fully enjoyable indeed. I met William Shatner again at the London movie convention in 2010.

In 1989 a TV movie pilot came along to give you a Co-Star leading role that was green lit the year after for a complete TV show season. You were signed up to reprise your lead man role as Jimmy Kee, one of a team of special undercover narcotics officers, whose identities were even kept secret from the government heads funding the department. The show was, Nasty Boys (1990) and ran for a full season of thirteen episodes. This seems to be a difficult show to get to see these days, but has all the ingredients of a great Action show of the 90’s that needs to be re-aired on TV & even given the DVD treatment. Please could you share your memories & thoughts about this exciting sounding show.

Nasty Boys was a great idea created by Dick Wolf. My character Jimmy Kee is like a combination of Don Johnson from Miami Vice and Bruce Lee together. I dressed like Don and punch like Bruce ! Nasty Boys was a great production. Many great actors and Directors were on this show. Michael Bay shot our promo video. I truly enjoyed making it, but it was short lived. A shame.

After Nasty Boys you had a very healthy run of solidly produced films, and quite a few Hong Kong productions. Did you move to China during this time for the hectic schedule that included the likes of, The Heroic Trio (1993), Love Among The Triad (1993), Crazy Hong Kong (1993), Lang xin ru tie (1993), The Maidens Of Heavenly Mountains (1994), Shanghai Fever (1994), Ma shen (1994), Enemy Shadow (1995) & Gates Of Hell (1995) ?

I had to get away from Hollywood and try Hong Kong, where my parents lived, because I asked myself, how much longer do I have to wait to get a leading role in a movie ? I played second & third banana to many big Hollywood stars already, but I don’t get to play the leading role in movies or TV Series. So I tried Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a hard market to crack, but I did & enjoyed it. I worked with the best of best among Directors and actors there.

How did you find the shooting & on set organisation style differences between American & Hong Kong (Asian) productions, and which do you prefer ?

A huge difference in terms of size of budget and professionalism. Hollywood shooting 35mm, and Hong Kong was still shooting with 16mm film stock. Hong Kong though has its own way of making movies. Raw and fast ! A movie can be shot in twenty days. Hollywood gave us a Trailer to wait and rest up in. Whereas in Hong Kong we sat on the floor or had to bring our own chair to sit in ! Hollywood had big catering trucks. In Hong Kong we were given a $3 lunch box ! But I have respect for the hard work that the Hong Kong crews put in. Back then though there was too much Mafia money investment in movies. Not my favourite group of people really. I got some threats from Mafia crews telling me what to do and not to do ! I simply ignored them. I said I know all the Italian mob boss in New York, they’re all my friends, and if you want to threaten me with your mob attitude, take a hike ! I don’t take shit like that ! So they stayed away from me, and I stayed away from them too. But over all it was fine.

The Heroic Trio (1993) & its sequel, Executioners (1993) were both Directed by the superb Johnnie To & the leading lady trio of the beautifully talented, Anita Mui, Michelle Yeoh & Maggie Cheung. How did you find the movie making style of Johnnie To, & just how lovely were those talented fantasy action star leading ladies ?

The Heroic Trio was a joy to work on with three such legendary Hong Kong female stars. I was lucky to have met Michelle Yeoh, who introduced me to the Director Johnnie To, and I got the role.

Anthony Wong appeared in both The Heroic Trio (1993) & Heroic Trio 2: Executioners (1993) went on to become one of Hong Kong / Asia’s most respected & recognised acting talents the world over. Throughout the 90’s he notoriously appeared in a vast number of Category III rated movies, including the shocking likes of, Ebola Syndrome (1996), The Untold Story 2 (1998) & A Lamb In Despair (1999).

Your movie, Gates Of Hell (1995) was also a CAT III rated film. Were you ever aware of the ratings applied to movies made in Hong Kong that you appeared in, & do you feel that receiving the Category III from the censors board helped or hindered the success of a movie ?

Category III can mean violence or indecent exposure scenes in it. But mine got Category III was because it was violent. I was asked to star in many movies requiring me to take off my pants, but I turned them down. I don’t believe in doing roles like that. I believe I’m an actor with substance, like Marlon Brando & Robert De Nero.

Another very famous star today of Hong Kong / Asian cinema is the terrific Simon Yam. He too though did his share of infamous CAT III movie, perhaps the most startling, even to this day, being the senses shattering, Run And Kill (1993). You worked alongside Simon Yam in, Love Among The Triad (1993), did you enjoy the experience & how did you find him as an actor & person at that stage of his career ?

Simon Yam was a Cool guy. He is what I called a PR man. He can speak to anyone and make them feel comfortable. Good actor too. He was also a Kung Fu guy in his early career.

Who have been your favourite movie making influences down the years for both Directors & Actors, from both Asian & American cinema ?

My favourite actors include Robert De Nero, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Morgan Freeman, Yul Brynner, Toshiro Mifune. My favourite Directors, Akira Kurosawa, John Carpenter, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, RomanPolanski, Ridley Scott, David Lean & Francis Ford Coppola.

What is your preferred genre of film, & could you please share with us some of your favourite films that you have seen down the years ?

I like all types, but Drama, Action & Comedy films are my favourites. Black & white classic movies and Japanese Black & white Samurai related film.

Would you have ever liked to have collaborated with some of the more diverse film making country styles such as the French, Spanish or Italian or indeed any other World Cinema stage that you may care to divulge ?

Yes, French and Italian films I would have loved to have done. I was screen tested for The Lover (1992) by a famous French film maker. I didn’t get the part. Hong Kong actor Tony Leung got it instead to star alongside the very young British actress Jane March. But I always thought I should have gotten it. I don’t know what went wrong !? But in life you can’t have everything that you want ! But I would have loved to have played the role in that.

For the last twenty years you have been living in Beijing, China where you have been furthering your reputation & enhancing your film making & producing skills. The culmination of which I understand, with great excitement, that we may very soon receive notification of your most welcome return to the cinematic universe. Might you Please be able to share any news of what is in development & what fans of Action cinema can look forward to from you ?

I have spent five years writing a new project called, Pirate Warriors Of South China Sea. I hope to get it made in 2022. It is my dream project. It shall tell a historical story of real life High Seas Piracy in a dramatic panoramic film shot way. Showcasing incredible Kung Fu Action, along with all the period piece detail and fighting styles that I like.

The last time that we got to see you on screen was back in 2006 with the most impressive outing, The First Emperor (2006) in which you delivered a showcase lead performance as the emperor, alongside fellow Chinese stalwart of so very many big Fun action outings down the decades, Richard Ng. This was a massively well received picture that you should rightly be proud of. Just how much have you missed being involved with the movie making process, & how excited are you about your imminent return ?

I worked tirelessly for some three months preparing and shooting The First Emperor (2006) with English Director Nic Young. We spent good time in revising the script to make the character more profound and real. We experienced hot days filming during the summer that year. I lost twenty pounds in body weight & was sick after. But was all worth it. It was a success when it aired on Discovery USA & Channel 4 UK. All Television stations around the world had bought the viewing rights to it and it aired in three continents.

Is there a closing message that you may like to share with your fans & fellow lovers of Action Cinema & TV as to what we may all look forward to in the very near future from James Pax ?

I would like to give everyone the Best Wishes for 2021. Let’s get through this terrible Covid virus so that we can then get back to our normal lives & make everyone's life better. Like with myself, Don’t ever give up on your dreams. My motto, the minute you give up you lose ! You Don’t give up, you never lose ! Thus I’m still doing my best to chase after my dreams. Dream on !!!

James, Thank You. This has been a personal pleasure. On behalf of myself and Leo at the Geek Legion Of Doom, as well as the Channel following subscribers, and all Action Fu Fantasy, Asian / American Drama Television & Movie viewing lovers the world over, we very much look forward to 2021 and beyond as being the time that LIGHTNING strikes again !

Interview by Paul Cooke 10th January 2021

Full Video Interview With James Pax Now On YouTube:


Thank You To The Following Important People For Making All Of This Possible:

James Pax



Leo At The Geek Legion Of Doom


Thursday 3 May 2018

GRIZZLED ! Nature Fights Back...BIG Time

'The Peng-Ultimate Big Game Predator'

A New Creature Feature / Mutant Monster Movie Production 
From Writer / Director Rycke Foreman

Readying To Be Unleashed To The Big Screen Early 2019


Hearken back, if you will, to those halcyon days of movie matinee monster flicks & late night double bill creature feature / horror movies, you know the ones as a kid where your cool dad would tell you not to let on to your mum that you were allowed to stay up and watch ! 

The stylish Seventies silliness and the Eighties Action Greats. When nature fought back & mutant monsters ran amok. Movies like, Night Of The Lepus (1972), Phase IV (1974), Jaws (1975), Bug (1975), The Food Of The Gods (1976), Day Of The Animals (1977), and one of my all time personal favourite nature bites back, man poisons the environment features, Prophecy (1979).

Well, fellow fan and all round 'B' movie loving, writer / film maker, good guy Rycke Foreman has been working his natures knee to the nut sack off to bring back the very best of all things gone Wild In The Country. Fear not, he isn't bringing us a horror remake of the 1961 Elvis Presley vehicle, although Elvis squaring off against an army of reanimated peanut butter & deep fried banana addicted killer squirrels will now be forever Always On My Mind ! Maybe one for the future ? Right now though Rycke wants to bring us ... GRIZZLED !

GRIZZLED ! is a love letter and semi spoofing satire of the nature run amok genre, particularly inspired by those wonderful schlock horror releases from the Seventies, and a spritzer infused dumb fun dose of Airplane & Airplane II from the early Eighties. Rycke's fully realised script is about three forest rangers and a grizzled hunter, thrown together in a monstrous game of cat and mouse with a giant mutant penguin, as they attempt to rescue the President's lost daughter on the 4th July.

What the Elmer Fudd ! So this is a modern day mutant monster movie about a King Penguin ?!
Yes indeed, but it's a Big F**KING PENGUIN !!! The Biggest WMD threat of all. A Wingless Mass of Destruction, looking to waddle its way into the memorable annals of all things great about creature feature, mutant monster movies that we have all come to know and love down the years. A re-watchable, smile to the face schlock horror satire, infused with blood & thunder, aimed at a teen / adult audience.

Rycke is looking to deliver a Million dollar movie on a quarter to half a million dollar budget.Putting all the money into the movie itself, showing it up on the screen, and giving us the fans, and patron paying public, value for money, along with an after movie friends and family proud call to action cry of, 'Go see GRIZZLED !, NOW !'

To get this done, in the very best possible way, for us, Rycke also needs us ! GRIZZLED ! is currently slated to begin filming for 3-4 weeks this August 2018, with a pre-production period of about 8-10 weeks. For the biggest and most bad arsed version of Grizzled ! to get made though Rycke is seeking our assistance by way of extra cash generation through Crowd Funding.

A Kickstarter page has gone live and will remain so through until June 8th 2018. Please do check out the link that follows here & find out even more about this 'Funtastic' project, as well as more information about Rycke himself.


Please do give GRIZZLED ! any & all support that you are able to in order for Rycke to bring us, the fans, a good old school slice of Seventies / Eighties style proper schlock horror, creature feature Goodness, that we have been far too long starved of.

A Kickstarter contribution is not only very welcome and so very much greatly appreciated by Rycke & his film making team, but also offers many great rewards for backers of the movie. The perfect feel good factor relationship between film makers and film investors.

Just like John J. Rambo, all Rycke really wants is for fans to love his film project as much as he loves it ! And for GRIZZLED ! to get made Rycke is gonna need a bigger scope to shoot the movie he wants, and we deserve.

Remember the ecological disaster / nature turns on man fear feature, Frogs (1972) ? Let it then with our help, inspirationally spawn ... GRIZZLED !

GRIZZLED ! ain't no Turkey. Cross this big angry bird and you'll be all outta Pluck !

So go get you some GRIZZLED ! Goodness ...

May The Farce Be With You

GRIZZLED ! Coming Soon ...

''To Give Humanity The BIG Bird !''






On Behalf Of Rycke Foreman &
 Ballistic Blood Bullets


Friday 17 June 2016

Susannah O'Brien... One Vision At A Time

Interview With Independent Film Maker
Susannah O'Brien Ph.D
(June 2016)

Ballistic Blood Bullets, in association with The Geek Legion Of Doom, are delighted to have the opportunity to chat with independent film maker Susannah O’Brien. Writer, producer and director of such recent creative horror films as, Encounter (2015), Hallucinogen (2016) & The Doll (2016).

[PAUL] Welcome Susannah. Thank you for taking time out from your busy daily schedule to be with us today. Your movie output certainly seems to have a prolific purpose about it over the last couple of years. Was this how you envisaged it to be ?

[SUSANNAH] Hi, and thanks for interviewing me. You might want to fix my grammar, I refuse to use it ever since my dissertation lol, and my mom being my English teacher, it's my way of rebelling. These two years have been a shock to me actually moving to Los Angeles, making three movies, trying to find my niche, and where to fit in here. Losing my father to cancer I've had a tough two years, but when you can go to the theater and see your movie it's all worth it. 

Have horror films always been a passion of yours, or are there other favourite genre influences also that we might get to see in your future film making projects ?

My sister is actually the horror fanatic. I always hold my ears when I see horror films, it's all about the loud sound. It is really fun scaring people. She used to make haunted houses for me to go in when I was little, and scary masks. And we lived in a haunted house growing up, so that was scary. I always loved, Friday the 13th (1980) and Halloween's.

Before your career in film you actually qualified as a psychologist and became a counselor. This in itself must have been rewarding work, and also perhaps very useful to you now in character profiling actors for your films. How do your psychology skills assist in your film making processes ?

I counseled to help people look at life differently. I'm sure my degree helps me write faster. After you do a dissertation writing for a script seems easier, lol. I wish I could say it was my degree but all my creations and scripts are definitely from God. I think he creates, not me. I'm just a messenger. I am the biggest Christian in the world, and Jesus freak. I even had a ministry at one time to help people, and I think it's funny when people say my visions have to be from a dark place. All of my scripts have a hidden meaning or message. I feel like I'm a ghost buster ! I tell a story that needs to be told, and we can't enjoy the good without the horror, and if God created all things.
But we definitely do get haunted on set some, lol. The Hallucinogen entity is no joke, it haunted my nephew. He is in the beginning of the film. That's his true story, and when I wrote the script the ghost went away, so it's worth it. I think horror movies do bring up some funky energies that need to be cleared. Most sets get blessed by priests. So I just use my visions to write, and make movies, and I hope I am a good enough conduit. I think if I had the funding my scripts could be shown on film so much better. Most of my flaws are due to budget !

You experienced very real horror when death itself became an unwelcome bed fellow in your own personal life, but your faith in the higher being, at such a terribly traumatic time, had it seems a very profound affect upon your purpose to write screenplays. Do you recall the thought transition at that time which then enabled you to visualize a multitude of scripts ?

It was my worst hour, but I have had many. I had a tumor. I was sick at the Mayo clinic, but it was a job like experience. When the scripts came in I had recently lost everything. My grandpa, my dogs, my soul mate, and I was sitting on my porch and God came to me, and said be still and trust in the lord, and I think the scripts came to help me through that year.
All years are hard, it's life, nut the stories I wrote, that were shown to me in the vision, really helped me. Creating helps me, and I think God knew my dad was going to die, so he sent something to fulfill me. The stories I wrote and my work do that.
Encounter (2015) was a clear vision. A true story that happened to two people who were just married. The original vision took place in the 1960's, and I think this couple tragically died on a farm, and no one knew. And their story had to be told, to release their souls ! I was sad when I got the vision for Encounter. I felt what they felt.

Your creative movie making house, Sahara Vision Productions, seems itself prophetically born out from your personally quoted experience of having to cross the desert to reach Hollywood, and face your personal fears. Do you feel in having full creative control this has afforded you greater respect and opportunities to attract financing, and like minded creative individuals to work with that you can trust, in the otherwise infamously avarice minded industry ?

I don't know ! I love having creative control but it keeps you isolated. I would love the opportunity to work with more people, and get more funding, and have some exec look at my pitch book. And see my visions ! But I'm not going to wait around for Hollywood, so I just make them myself.

The inspired camera work & cinematography of David M. Brewer is evident to see in your film, Hallucinogen (2016), complimenting your own keen directors eye for framing scenes. How pleasing is it for you to be able to work with such talent, well respected for being involved with such recognized horror films as, Insidious (2010) ?

Working with Dave was a pleasure. I actually feel sorry for him working with me, lol. My stes are run very differently than a studio set. That was the first movie I had an Assistant Director on. lol. I really use the visions I see in my head to dictate a scene, and I am still learning to talk to dp's ( Director of photography), and story boarding is new to me. We didn't really have a shot list, I just told him my vision, and I know my weird style. We didn't get the coverage he wanted. We shot the movie in a record eight days, at ten hour days. But I sit with my editors and sound, and say where to cut, so I know when I have the shot I need, and how to edit around stuff.
It was a great learning experience for me. I am trying to adapt to the studio style of film sets, but people have to adapt to my eccentric way of shooting, using my vision.
So Dave was great. I use what I call a conduit on set, which happens to be my script editor, his name is Michael Phillip Edwards, and he can see my visions. So I would have him run around set and tell people what I see, and explain it in film language. It's just my style to stay in vision because I am sort of a psychic spiritual medium, so to speak. I live in two worlds, and I actually get orders from the other side, as creepy as that sounds, as what to film and where to edit.  

Your visualization in camera of the predominantly interior house shots from, Hallucinogen (2016) are simply, yet well dressed, with a great use of light shading to accentuate the moments of tension. This was reminiscent of the impressive style of the great Italian director Mario Bava in his horror films, and also Dario Argento, as well to certain degree Roger Corman. Are such renowned film makers or similar an influence upon your own style of film making ?

I think the only style I have is maybe, Hitchcock and M. Night Shyamalan. I can watch any of his movies and to show I see his vision, and where he gets it, and it's very similar. And as far as Alfred Hitchcock, my style is very 1950's and 1960's. I am a huge horror sci-fi geek from that time period. More so sci-fi ! I have box sets that I watch. Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954) is so scary and one of my favourite examples of horror meets sci-fi.
As far as lighting, I really love the orange glow, Encounter (2015) had. My dp for, The Doll (2016) Allister Conway, is a lighting genius, and The Doll (2016) looks like a French painting. He always jokes with me and says watch this movie, see the lighting, and I'm like no I don't want to, I want to see the acting and the story. Who cares if it looks good if there is bad acting, and no story !?, lol. So we are both right.

Which films and film makers have indeed been a memorable & influential part of the young Susannah O’Brien’s past right to this day ?

Since I was kind of indoctrinated into film making from my near death experience and visions I never said I want to be a film maker, that's what's so weird about my journey. So I can look at my style and say that vision reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock or M. Night Shyamalan, (and I hope I'm spelling his name right, lol), but I never really tried to be like anyone. I always did watch the Oscars growing up, and knew someday I will get one, which was always shown to me in visions too, so how I will get from horror to the Oscars I don't know. I just take it one vision at a time, and it got me across the desert, and my first movie theatrical release.

Were your parents aware that they had a budding film maker in the family, and encourage such pursuits, or was it envisioned that you were destined for that career in the field of psychology ?

I started out in the stock market, and then real estate. I loved building houses and buying real estate, and flipping them. That was my passion. And I did counseling as more to help people, and I was good at it. I hot my Ph.D for my mom. She has hers, but I never really cared for school. It was always easy for me. I was a self learner. But I was more of an entrepreneurial brain, so they had no idea. I think they and I always thought I would write books, and that I would have a book out first.

Your faith and particularly your mother are clearly most important to you. In other written articles you have talked about just how grueling film productions have been, and that there is a very tangible aroma on set after long hours of shooting, to which apparently your dear mother assures you’ll get used to, with the added motherly advice to just use Febreze. What advice and reassurance do you find yourself giving to people around you during the working day ?

My editors and dp's prob want to murder me, lol. I just am always working, and try to get all of us to stay in vision for the project. If anything Allister Conway, my dp and editor, always keeps me going. He's like, don't give up !, and give me great advice.

Encounter (2015) was your debut feature film. How much of a proud parent releasing her baby to the world were you upon its release, and did you sneak into theaters to experience with an audience, and if so what was the reaction to the screening ?

I took my mom to see, Encounter (2015). It was so surreal to see it next to, Star Wars ( Star Wars The Force Awakens (2015). There is no experience like taking your mom to your own movie.
I was at AFM (American Film Market) before it sold, and snuck into a a screening, and some execs were in there. My assistant and I felt we couldn't leave or they would think we didn't like it, so we acted scared, and gasped, and it was really funny actually. I almost missed a meeting with Paramount over it.

Before feature films did you make any short experimental movies or write scripts for others that were then shot on camera in any shape or form ?

I didn't. I don't really see the point of shorts. It does leave me wanting to see more, but it's hard to sell them or get funding. I just say make a feature ! I didn't have any films or scripts prior to my visions.

It is refreshing to have another female film maker such as yourself breaking into the business with such cumulative success, particularly in the horror genre. Kathryn Bigelow for instance has done fantastically well, and of course herself given us the mercurial horror feature, Near Dark (1987). Do you feel that opportunities behind the camera, and roles in front of the camera are better for women today or as difficult & as stereotypical as ever !?

I have heard out here that female directors are in demand. It's like a rumor going around, so maybe it's easier to get the job now than before.

Your latest film, The Doll (2016) features You Tube celebrity Valeria Lukyanova. The Ukranian living Barbie Doll sensation is inspired casting and from the movie trailer looks to be perfect for the role. How did you come to cast Valeria in your film ?

I had a vision of Valeria before I knew she existed, and I have five Doll scripts. I kept seeing this perfect doll person in my visions, so I wrote them a year before I knew she existed, and one day my assistant was on You Tube and said, look it's your vision ! Valeria is very spiritual as well, and she thinks we were linked by the same spirit guide.

How was working with Valeria Luckyanova, and do you feel that she may have a potential future in the movie business ? Her unusual look would be potentially perfect for a reworking of the French chiller classic, Eyes Without A Face (1960).

Valeria was a true doll to work with. She worked long hard hours and days, and never complained. She was a natural for the part. She def has a future. She's in Mexico now and going to be in a lot of TV shows on Telemundo. She has a look and presence that is of a true star, so people will def see more of her. She attracts fans.

What can the growing fan base of Susannah O’Brien expect from you & your Sahara Vision Productions company in the future ?

I want to do more sci-fi. I really loved, Encounter (2015). I want to do dramas. I think my horrors are actually good dramas. I have more comedy scripts than horror, for the 'A' list comedian.
I think the film industry is changing, and I would like to take You Tube stars and put them in movies, and stream to a website that fans really want.
I really love sci-fi fans they are so loyal, and forever. So if I could mix sci-fi with horror, and make the fans happy, with the budget I have, that would be my goal. And those two Oscars I was promised in my vision would be nice :p

Is there a closing statement that you would like to share here with the readership and horror film community who support and follow you ?

I hope you enjoy my first three films. I am learning and I want to hear what the fans want, and make better movies. I want my fans to come home from work, and go to my future website and look forward to downloading my movies. So if you don't like these I will get better, lol.
It is super hard with a low budget, you can't please everyone. The visions are what they are, and sometimes I don't even know what they mean or why !?

It has been an absolute pleasure to have been afforded such a conducive all access pass to discuss your movie making passion with you Susannah. Thank you so very much, and every best wish for continued success to you.

May the Febreze be with you.

Ha Ha, thanks.

Interview by Paul Cooke 13th June 2016

Huge Thanks To The Following For Making This Possible:

Susannah O'Brien Ph.D


Leo at The Geek Legion Of Doom