Justin is passionate about science fiction filmmaking. He believes that science fiction stories have the potential to move and change us in the most meaningful way because they encourage us not only to empathize but also to be curious and wonder. Justin started directing when was ten years old, borrowing his friend’s parent’s video camera and dressing up his basement to look like a mad scientist’s laboratory. His continued interest in film led him to The University of Wisconsin where he received a BA in Cinema Studies. In 2009, his short film THE SHADOW OF THE NIGHT was featured in film festivals nationwide and in 2011 his micro-budget feature FRANCESCA premiered at the Wisconsin Film Festival. In addition to directing his own films, Justin has worked as a director’s assistant on films including THE ACCOUNTANT and JANE GOT A GUN, and the television series THE AMERICANS.
Q & A
Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
Brundlefly. I feel like the story of a man whose obsession leads to his unraveling is very relatable for a lot of filmmakers, but especially through the pandemic, I felt like I was becoming a grotesque version of my former self—a fly who dreamt he was a man.
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?
I believe that if a writer is genuinely excited about a story they want to tell, then it can’t be a bad idea. It’s developing it into a story that’s where things usually go wrong. You can find yourself going down paths that take you away from the thing that actually excited you in the first place. Before I start writing, I want to really know what it is about this idea that I like so much, so that I never lose sight of that as I build it out into a full screenplay.
Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
Not really, but I think I just haven’t found the right people yet. Our festival run was largely virtual because of covid, and I wasn’t able to meet as many people as I would have liked to had it been in person. So hopefully I’ll continue to make films, we won’t have another pandemic, and I’ll meet more people the next time around.
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
Science Friday on NPR. Always something new on the frontier of discovery to inspire a great “what if” premise.
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
Wow, that would be pretty bad. I would like to think I would seek out the people in the underground and join the resistance, but I would probably just end up make movies about societal problems using thinly veiled allegories instead of taking direct action.
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
The Xenomorph, The Thing, Brundlefly, and Dracula (Lugosi). It’s an odd crowd, but they make it work.
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Freddy. King. Practical (obvs). Pre.
How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
We worked with Jim Ojala (Ojala FX) out of North Hollywood, to build and sculpt all of the prosthetics for the films. He did an amazing job, and I only wish we could have had more time and money to feature even more of his incredible work.
What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
Greed, willful ignorance, apathy. The real horrors in this world are the small things, done every day by billions of people, which taken together amount to massive deadly terrors far greater than what any boogeyman could accomplish—ticking timebombs of destruction that quite literally haunt me day and night.
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favorite scary movie?’
Alien, no question. The company cares more about profit than the safety of its workers. After living though this pandemic and watching massive corporations thrive as workers died by the thousands, forced to work in unsafe conditions, it would be hard to imagine a more perfect horror yarn for this moment. McSweeney even ran an article about it a while back where Weyland-Yutani shared their reopening plan. Is it even satire anymore?