Jim O'Rear, Director # 3

     Jim O'Rear,  photo by Michael Turner

   Jim onset with Lloyd Kaufman

                    "Thong Girl 4"

    In the original scheme of things I very well set out to find the Top 6 Independant Movie Makers of 2010, searching relentlessly for hours and days  thru thousands of articles all over the internet and  as I searched I met some truely great Filmakers and Jim O'Rear has got to be one of the greatest guys you could ever meet,  and definetly the  most experinced in the Entertainment Field, with a career that spans more than two decades as an actor and stuntman in various films from every angle of  Hollywood from A list to B list this guy has done work all over! However Mr. O'Rear  began Making his own Independant Movies late in the Game,  spending his first twenty odd years in show bussiness as an entertainer rather than a Movie Maker,  Mr. O'Rear stepped up to the plate later in his career and started pumping out his own movies using his own scripts at first with no studio backing but with lots of connections and  tons of entertainment experince and this has propelled him to reach goals much faster than the typical  Independant Filmaker's  I've been reasearching for the past year.

Name ?  Jim O’Rear

Place Born ?  Cordova, Alabama

Place Grew Up?  Nashville, TN… Anchorage, AK… and Tampa, FL

Whats your favorite Place to Visit?  Salem, Mass

Your Favorite Color? Black

Favorite Sport? Martial Arts

Your Eye Color? Hazel

What’s your favorite kind of Music?  I listen to everything except rap

Are you Married or Single? Married
Where did you attend School? The American Academy Of Dramatic Arts – New York, NY
What’s your favorite Movie(s) ?  Night Of The Living Dead (the 1967 original), Halloween (the original),
Stand By Me
Whats your Favorite TV Show?  Pushing Daisies

Did you study to become a filmaker? If so what School? I did not attend school for filmmaking but did attend for performing arts.

Who are your Idols? and why are they?  I don’t really have an idol, but I do really admire filmmaker George Romero – He’s a brilliant writer and filmmaker who knows everything about the industry and is just a fantastic guy.
As an Award winning filmaker, what did you win Awards for?  Which Movie(s)? and from where did you receive your Awards? what year(s)?  That’s a tough question because I don’t really keep track of awards.  I don’t work in the industry with the intention of winning awards, I just want to make films and perform in roles that entertain.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the awards and am honored that people love the work, but I’m usually so focused on the next project that I don’t think too much about them.  I can say that I’ve won Golden Reel Awards, Ace Awards, Golden Cob Awards, Best Screenplay Awards, and Best Horror Feature Awards for my films which include THE DEEPENING, SCREAM FARM, BLOODLINE, MORTUARY OF MADNESS, and VAMPYRE TALES from the years of 2005 to present.
How long have you been filming movies? What motivated or influenced you to become a filmmaker? How did you get your start making films? How old were you when you made your first feature film? And what was the Title of that film?  I’ve been working in the film industry as an actor, stuntman, screenwriter, producer, and director for about 30 years.  However, I didn’t start making my own films until 2004, when Ted Alderman and I teamed up to make the anthology film VAMPYRE TALES, featuring myself and Scream Queen Debbie Rochon (AMERICAN NIGHTMARE).  I never wanted to make my own films but a combination of things made it happen.  I had produced and edited a television show for a Warner Brother’s affiliate called UNDERGROUND ENTERTAINMENT in 1990 that ran weekly for almost 3 years, so I already had the knowledge of how to produce, direct, edit, and put a product together. I met Ted Alderman on the set of a film that I wrote and co-produced called ACONITE (which starred myself, Gunnar “Leatherface” Hansen (TEXAS CHAINSAW), Reggie Bannister (PHANTASM), Linnea Quigley (RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD), and Debbie Rochon (AMERICAN NIGHTMARE)).  Ted was frustrated that the indie films he had acted in had not been released to the public and I was frustrated with the fact that almost every screenplay I had written had been screwed up by the film company that had purchased them.  So, we decided we’d make our own film and get it out to the public…and that’s exactly what we did.  We created VAMPYRE TALES, a vampire anthology, and it got a distribution deal right away.
How many feature films have you already completed? What Genres? And what were the Titles? How long did it take for your first film to reach distribution?  What was the films Title?  Films that I have been involved in making as a producer, director, or both include ACONITE, VAMPYRE TALES, THE DEEPENING, SCREAM FARM, WITHIN THE REALM, RED LIPS, ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, and TORTURE ROOM.  You probably notice a common thread in those titles… all of them within the horror genre.  Projects that I’m currently working on as a producer/director, that are in various stages of production, include TENNESSEE GHOSTS, UNDERGROUND ENTERTAINMENT: THE MOVIE, THE LEGACY OF PAINE, and PRANK CALL… yes, still dealing within the horror genre.  I’ve been very lucky when it comes to distribution.  Almost all of them received distribution deals within two months after completion.  With SCREAM FARM we received three offers immediately the day after the premiere screening.  VAMPYRE TALES was the first to receive a deal and it took approximately two months.
How many films have you worked on, if any besides your own films? Have you worked with any other Directors and if so how was the experience? Who has been the most notable person so far to work with? and for what reasons?
I’ve been working in films for 30 years... too numerous to count, really.  My first horror film was DAY OF THE DEAD (in 1985) for George Romero, which started me on my career in the genre but I’ve also been involved with projects like LETHAL WEAPON 3, COP & ½, STAR TREK 4, COCOON, SUMMER RENTAL, MORTAL KOMBAT, RUNAWAY TRAIN, and many, many more.  So, yes, I’ve worked with a variety of directors and actors over the years.  Every experience is different and each comes with it’s own challenges and learning curves.  There have been so many good directors and actors I’ve worked with, including Amanda Plummer, Chris Sarandon, Martin Sheen, Robert Englund, Eric Roberts, Jon Savage, Mel Gibson, Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Burt Reynolds, Maximillion Schell, Jeff Burr, Jim Wynorski, and many more.  Probably, my favorite director I’ve worked with was Henry “Fonzie” Winkler.  He was the most even-tempered and kind man and made sure that every single person on the set was treated with equal respect and importance.  I think my favorite actor to work with was Martin Sheen, who was much like Winkler… he cared for everyone on set and even showed up on his days off just to hang out with the cast and crew.

       Jim O'Rear and Misty Poteet and Kayla Perkins from the Horror film "The Devils Playground"

 As an Award winning Independent movie maker, what’s your take on working with Actors? have you worked with any known stars? If so how was the experience? who were the stars? 
For me, working with actor’s is a breeze because that’s my background.  I’m a trained actor and worked as one for 25 years before ever directing my first movie.  It really helps, as a director, to understand the acting process and what actor’s go through in their minds when portraying a character.  If you understand how an actor works, internally, it’s much easier to direct them.  I’ve directed many horror stars, including Gunnar “Leatherface” Hansen (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE), Reggie Bannister (PHANTASM), Linnea Quigley (RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD), Debbie Rochon (AMERICAN NIGHTMARE), and many more and they were all a dream to work with.

Which Directors have influenced you the most? and why did they influence you? What Actors have influenced you the most? and for what reasons?
I touched on some of this in the previous questions, but I think directors who have influenced me are George Romero, John Carpenter, Renny Harlin, Chris Columbus, and Rob Reiner because they all have a vast knowledge about every part of filmmaking from writing, editing, acting, etc, and it shows in their work.  They are visionaries, pioneers, and remain very truthful in their work.  Actors who have influenced me are numerous.  Some of my favorites include Martin Sheen, Kevin Bacon (believe it or not), Robert Downey Jr, and Johnny Depp, just to name a few, because these guys always have strong commitments to their roles and always play their characters with genuine honesty.

    Jim and Debbie Rochon               Jim and Martin Sheen              Jim and Linnea Quigley

Can you tell us what makes Jim the man tick? (what makes you want to be a filmmaker? and why? and what do you enjoy doing when not making films?
Wow, I wish I knew.  Ha ha ha… As far as filmmaking, acting, stunts, etc, it’s the creative process.  Any kind of art touches me deeply… whether it’s film, music, theater, paintings,  books, etc.  Even “bad” art is good because it’s someone (or a group of “someone’s”) baring their soul and creating something new.  The creative process touches me and drives me to work harder.  Plus, I have always enjoyed entertaining people.  I think life is too hard, sometimes, and people need moments to smile, laugh, cry, and be scared… just to celebrate humanity, however flawed it may be.  If I can provide some enjoyment to someone’s life… even for a brief second… all the work was worth it.  When I’m not working on a film or appearing at a convention/film festival, I lock myself away at home with my family and multiple family pets.

How has the audience reacted to your films and Style of filmmaking? How about the Media? Are you an activist? if so what organizations do you work with?
The public and media have all been very kind to me.  Of course, there is always an occasional critic that just doesn’t understand the work or it’s just not their “cup of tea,” but that’s great, too.  Everyone has an opinion.  Everyone is different.  If a filmmaker gets into the business with the idea that everyone is going to like his work and it’s going to be the greatest thing ever… they are in for a HUGE disappointment (believe me, I’ve run into a TON of filmmakers who believe this about themselves).  I’ve been extremely lucky, though, to receive a lot of great reviews, accolades, and awards.  Just the fact that someone forms an opinion of your work… good or bad… means that you have touched or affected them in some way, and that’s all an artist can ask for.
As far as an activist… I can’t really say that I am one.  I do participate in some things, occasionally, but I’m not one of those protestors that regularly gets thrown in jail.  I do have some strong feelings when it comes to animal rights, human cruelty, the homeless, and the environment, though.

As a Filmmaker which genres of film do you prefer to work in the most? Horror? Comedies? Dramas? Action? What’s your own take of the filmmaking process? is it hard? easy? a struggle? a pleasure? What do you enjoy most about making films?
As you can tell from my films, I’m primarily a horror filmmaker.  However, I do try to infuse those films with elements from other genres.  Since I am a stuntman and Martial Artist, I LOVE action.  So, for example, in SCREAM FARM I have worked in several action sequences that involve complex fights involving the Martial Arts.  So, the film actually becomes a zombie/Martial Arts flick…. which also sets it apart from the normal zombie film that 90% of filmmakers like to make.  If you balance the mixture of genres correctly you can successfully make all kinds of films within one primary genre and still get good reviews.  The reviews for SCREAM FARM praised the uniqueness of the zombie story equally as well as the brilliant Martial Arts choreography done by Miles Spence.
The filmmaking process is a love/hate relationship.  It’s not easy or everyone would be doing it.  It’s a struggle and a pleasure all at the same time.  On one hand you are getting to create, bring characters to life, entertain… while on the other hand you struggle with technical issues, personality conflicts, complex business decisions, and more.  In the end, though… when you have that final product in your hand and on the shelf in the store… it’s a joyful experience.  I often equate filmmaking with going off to war.  You fight and fight and fight, but in the end you have freedom, peace, and joy that’s unimaginable.

As an accomplished Independant filmmaker how has it been to find Distribution for your films? Do you currently have any films signed with major or minor Distributors?  What’s your take on the whole process of Distribution?
I have been very lucky to find distribution quickly, dealing with companies like Lionsgate, Phoenix, York, Brain Damage, and others.  It’s not hard if you have something that’s unusual, unique, and different… or if you have something that currently fills a market niche.  If you go out and make a film that’s basically been done before, you’re going to search for a distributor for years.  I know some filmmakers that have made 8 movies and still haven’t got a single one of them released.  You really have to do your research and see what voids need to be filled in the market, and then fill that with a well executed script and movie.  The whole distribution process is currently in a state of flux, though.  Now that we have a wealth of new media outlets at our fingertips… such as streaming, VOD, download, etc… the traditional distribution map is changing and it’s getting harder to sell independent films through major distributors.  Who knows where these changes will take us in the next 5 years, but it’s going to be a bumpy ride for a little while.

 Mr. O'Rear, as an Award winning Independent movie maker can you give any advice to the upcoming Directors trying to scratch out their own way into the Media Spotlight? Any advice for them starting up? Working with actors? Advice on the process of making a feature film, through your own experiences? and can you give any advice to the Actors working with Directors?
First you have to ask yourself, is this something that you can’t live without doing?  Is your need to become a filmmaker so great that you can’t live without it?  Are you are willing to give up everything (except, of course, family and God)?  If so, you may be ready to take a chance, because your drive has to be that strong in order to make it and become respected.  Then, like I stated earlier, do your research… find out what gaps need to be filled in the market and create a script that’s unlike anything that’s been seen before.  Don’t be afraid to take a chance… that’s a great freedom you’re allowed in the indie market that gets stripped away from you once you hit the majors.  Work on other peoples films, while gathering material for your own, to see how the process works and then, when you’re ready, assemble a reliable team to bring your vision to life.
As far as directors working with actors… take some acting classes.  Learn the craft of acting and how an actor thinks and develops a scene.  This knowledge will go a long way when it comes time to get a performance out of your actor.
Actors working with directors… please listen and learn to trust your director.  The director usually knows in his head how a scene is going to cut together.  He may ask you to do something that doesn’t make sense, but, 99% of the time it’s going to look differently in the final product that the way it looked when you did what he asked you to do on set.

Lastly Jim, where do you see yourself ten years from now as a filmmaker? Still making movies? Do you have any new films in the works? And just as a journalistic curve ball, What’s your take on Western films?
I’ll probably still be working in films and making films until I’m physically no longer capable of it.  It’s a part of me… always has been and always will be.
New films in the works include a comedy documentary titled UNDERGROUND ENTERTAINMENT: THE MOVIE (based on the television show that me and my co-producer Bryan Wilson did 20 years ago).  The teaser trailer for this film is already online on Facebook and YouTube as well as on the movie’s website (www.uethemovie.com).  I think people are really going to enjoy this wacky and fun documentary.  I’m also working with Debbie Rochon on a documentary titled TENNESSEE GHOSTS for PBS and the Travel Channel where we visit haunted locations.  Also in the works is THE LEGACY OF PAINE (a civil war vampire movie based on actual events) and PRANK CALL (a 1980’s style slasher film with some unusual twists).

More info about my projects and upcoming films can be found on my website: www.JimORear.com.
Western films?  I LOVE them.  I’ve always wanted to act in one or make one but have never had the opportunity.  Stylized period pieces are a favorite of mine and the “Wild West” is one of my favorite time periods in history.