Josh Carley started his film-making career as all young filmmakers do – by coercing his friends into letting him cover them with homemade gore for his shorts. Those short films led to experience, and Josh soon began getting work as an editor. Over the past decade, he has edited hundreds of videos. Commercials, music videos, films, documentaries, web pieces – you name it, he’s cut it. Now Josh is resuming work on his own content, aided by the many talented filmmakers he’s met along the way.
Q & A
Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
Michael Myers. No, I’m kidding. Or am I? Yes, I definitely am.
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?
No one idea jumps out at me as bad, per say. But my ability to realize the ideas, or see their shortcomings, has – I hope – improved. I joke that all of my past stuff has to pass a statute of limitations where I stop being critical and try to appreciate it as something that I made, and I was doing the best I could at the time. That takes years, though! That said, a lot of my stuff was way too long, and very often heavy-handed in blatantly expressing its themes – usually through characters blabbing. I watch a lot of it now and cringe! With Samantha, specifically, the original script was twice as long as the short. Henry’s entire journey was the first part of the script, and he doesn’t meet Jodi until halfway through. My cinematographer, Matt Bell, very kindly and very wisely suggested that I focus my efforts on just one of the parts. We both agreed Henry and Jodi’s confrontation was the more dramatically interesting half of the short. I will be forever grateful for his recommendation! How do you get past the bad stuff? It’s a great question, and as someone who is very much still in that process, I don’t know that my answer holds any weight. But I think you just have to keep at it. You have to know what you love, and be able to break it apart and see why it works, and you have to know what you dislike, and be able to break it apart and see why you don’t think it works. And you have to be open to criticism. I’ve been deeply fortunate to work with and learn from people much more talented and experienced than I am, and their insights have taught me so much. Finally, you can’t be precious with your material. You have to be as tough on it as you can be to make sure it’s the best you can make it.
Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
I suppose it depends on what you mean. I’m fairly introverted, so engagement with a bigger community of like-minded people is something I rarely take part in. Not that I don’t want to, it’s just extremely difficult for me to engage in that kind of way. But if you mean someone who loves all things horror – and has from a very young age – and finds himself at home watching, reading, or writing horror - or discussing it at length with close friends – then absolutely, one hundred percent yes!
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
The main inspiration was from falling in love with cosmic horror and weird fiction and feeling drawn to work within that genre. Lovecraft, mainly, but also the work of Author Machen and Algernon Blackwood. The initial spark, however, came from Bloodborne, a video game developed by Hidetaka Miyazaki and FromSoftware. That game, along with the Dark Souls series, was and still is a huge source of inspiration for me. The tone and design of their worlds are unmatched in any medium, and they’re games I return to frequently. The other major part of Samantha’s world is the Louisiana landscape it takes place in. A large number of the cast and crew were either from or currently lived in Louisiana at the time we made Samantha, so that seeped into every facet of the short. Even when we weren’t trying, it was ever-present. At some point I stopped fighting it and tried to embrace it as much as the short allowed!
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
I would be very, very wary of any revelations I felt like I was getting from my dreams!
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
Freddy, absolutely. Someone who inhabits people’s dreamspace and can’t be harmed by normal means is essential – plus he has a sense of humor. The entity from It Follows might be on there too. It’s constant ability to keep moving ensures that the rest of the team could get a good night’s sleep and know we were still fighting the good fight. I’d have to pull an entity or two from Lovecraft’s pantheon just to make sure we had the greater cosmos covered. And finally, Predator. I know he isn’t a horror villain, per say, but having him go full hunter mode would be awesome.
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Freddy. It’s a draw. Practical (yes, the oddity of that choice given my short isn’t lost on me). Pre Apocalypse.
What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
My fears seem to change as I grow older. Since making Samantha, I’ve become a father, and the inability to take care of my kids scares me to no end. That hasn’t made its way into anything I’ve done - yet. The other thing that, maybe scared isn’t the right word, but the other thing occupies an inordinate amount of space in my mind is the state of the world. My general malaise about all of it – especially since Covid – seems to creep into everything I write. I should also state for the record: Every time I set out to write, I don’t pre-dictate what genre something will fit in. Ideas come to me already packaged and I tend to just go with it. I promise I’ve tried my hand at comedies and dramas that aren’t so gloomy, but it just never seems to stick. Maybe that’s another reason I gravitate to horror. It seems to fit my disposition creatively.
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
I have several favorites, but if I have to single out one it’s The Shining. I saw it at a young age, and it scared the hell out of me. The imagery (specifically, the two girls at the end of the hall) has stuck with me for years and never fails to put a chill in my spine. But it’s also a film that I learn to appreciate more as I got older. It’s impeccable in form, and Jack Nicholson’s performance is unrivaled in the horror genre (and every other genre, for that matter). I don’t think it will ever get old to me.