Eric Burleson is a freelance writer, director, and producer, born in New Jersey and now located in California. He graduated magna cum laude from Temple University in 2017 with a BFA in Film and a Concentration in Directing.
He is best known for his short film, “the bef” (2020), which won Best Actor & the Award of Excellence at One-Reeler Short Film Competition in Los Angeles, Best Actor at Toronto Independent Film Festival of CIFT in Canada, Best Horror, Best Production Design & Honorable Mention: Director of Short Film at Florence Film Awards in Italy, Best Horror at New York Movie Awards in New York and Best Horror at Media Fright Fest in Pennsylvania.
His previous film, “Return Safely” (2017), won Best Director, Producer, Cinematographer and Editor at Temple University’s Thesis Screening, Best Narrative Short at Trenton Film Festival in New Jersey, as well as Best Cinematographer at Philadelphia Freedom Shorts in Pennsylvania.
His work can be found on his Vimeo page, burlesoneric.
Q & A
Name a Horror character(s) you relate to on a personal level?
Tucker and Dale from Tucker and Dale vs Evil because people tended to misjudge them based on book cover assumptions in the film, which were normally wrong.
You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
The idea is only as bad as the amount of time you put into it. A lot of ideas may start off as feeling bad but after time and persistence, you never know what that idea could morph into. the bef started as a simple image I kept seeing in my head of a young child tending to the needs of an infant. That one simple idea sat with for a while before it began to morph and merge into many different alliterations that ultimately ended as the bef it is seen now.
Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
I love horror films and have many friends who also enjoy the genre but I do not feel it is a horror community.
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
I get inspiration from locations and physically standing in them. I know the type of feeling I am looking for but when I am writing I never want to think too narrow minded on locations. I think it is important to allow the script to grow with the locations and vice versa. Some scenes in earlier drafts of the bef script I didn't have scene location names, other than TBD, because I was still searching. I knew what was going to happen in the scene and the tone I wanted but would spend hours and days with and without the cinematographer driving all over New Jersey just to find the perfect spots. The pool scene in the bef was found by accident. While scouting a failed location down the street we ended up missing a turn and passing the pool house and decided to stop because why not. From the road it looked like nothing but upon seeing the green water after parking and getting out of the car, I knew immediately that with a little art and the perfect sun placement, this spot would work phenomenally. At my level of filmmaking, I found it easier to find locations that need enhancing rather than ones that need to be entirely built, especially when it's a super small crew.
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
Not follow Sammy and move far away.
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
The Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth because it looks like he knows how to prepare a good meal. Jigsaw from Saw because of his riddles and lastly, I would have Bagul from Sinister and Freddy Krueger because I would rather have them on my side than fight against them.
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
-Don’t really have a favorite between Freddy or Jason but I do like the idea that Freddy hunts in the dream world. That concept alone makes it hard for anyone to escape his wrath. So I guess Freddy. -Stephen King but just because I've read and watched more of his work. -Practical all the way when possible but sometimes CGI is needed and can work great. -Post Apocalypse
How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
The set and props help tell the story and create the atmosphere. They are part of the script and as I am writing the script and scouting locations, my mind is always thinking of how I want the scene to look. Once you have the vision, you need to engage the help of like minded creatives and build a team of trust, collaboration and friendship. I like to set my films in the 1990s or early 2000s as much as possible. Something about that pre-smartphone era resonates more with me. I like the idea of not constantly being connected to the outer world.
What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
What hides in dark places, whether it's there for real or not. Your imagination can be a power tool if harnessed and used correctly. This totally inspires me to affect the imaginations of the audiences with the use of dark places and pools of light vs darkness.
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favorite scary movie?’
Tough choice, but first one that came to mind was The Mist from 2007. I remember leaving the theater after seeing it and needing to call someone and talk about it immediately. Such a powerful and impactful ending.