Today’s column profiles one of the many young filmmakers who are putting Arizona on the movie map.
Cory Rowe’s career in the film industry really began with writing a few storytelling poems in middle school. By high school he was inspired to write a feature length screenplay.
Over the past couple of years, this 27-year-old, who was born and raised in Arizona, has evolved into a self-taught director. He’s made short films, is set to embark on his debut feature-length directorial project, and just finished shooting "The Reckoning", a Zombie movie with a unique twist. The “Transplants to Phoenix” Examiner recently caught up with Rowe and his special effects makeup artist Vanessa Siler for an exclusive interview.
EXAMINER) How did you begin making movies?
Cory) I began strictly by writing. I didn’t have any formal training, just picked up a pen and started writing. Then I did my own research and started directing films.
EXAMINER) Why "The Reckoning"? Is Zombie/Horror your favorite genre?
Cory) With Zombies being so popular right now, I thought what better time to bring out a Zombie film with a different aspect? I’ve been in love with Zombie movies for a long time. But typically with Zombie films they get bit, they turn, or one shot to the head and they’re down. I wanted to open up the eyes of moviegoers for Zombie films. The whole story line is completely different and it’s definitely a different feel for a Zombie film.
EXAMINER) Can you tell us how it’s different?
Cory) Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say in this story it definitely matters how powerful your weapon is.
EXAMINER) Anything else you can tell us about "The Reckoning"?
Cory) I’d just like to say that if it wasn’t for the cast and crew and everyone’s dedication, this film would not have happened. That’s for sure. We had a great time and a lot of fun. People enjoyed getting “Zombified”. It was a GREAT set. Everyone accepted deferred payments. We had a very small budget. It was pretty much out of our own pockets. As far as meals, equipment, camera, makeup, everyone kind of just pitched in with donations.
EXAMINER) When will we be able to see it?
Cory) I’m submitting it to the Phoenix Comic Con Film Festival, which takes place over Memorial Day weekend in May.
EXAMINER) How large is the cast?
Cory) There were 31 Zombies and 8 survivors.
EXAMINER) How many days did it take you to shoot?
Cory) Two. It was a looooong weekend. It was all shot in the Greater Phoenix area.
EXAMINER) Do you enjoy writing or directing more?
Cory) I really like both. I like coming up with the story and then showing the story. But if I were to choose one, I’d say directing because you get to not only tell the story, you get to show the audience your mind, and that’s what I find really intriguing.
EXAMINER) How do you foresee the future of moviemaking in AZ?
Cory) With Section 181 (giving tax deductions to investors) being available for 2013, it’s very possible that films can come to Arizona to be made. It’s just a matter of attracting them here.
EXAMINER) Is this where you would like to continue to work? Or do you see yourself moving to L.A. one day?
Cory) I don’t want to move to L.A. I feel like Arizona is the next L.A. We have great locations. We have great people. We just need to show them who we are and what we’re capable of doing.
EXAMINER) How can people in Arizona who want to see that happen help and support local filmmaking?
Cory) There are associations that have information, such as the Arizona Production Association and Phoenix Film Commission. But the main thing is if any of your family or friends is in a movie, go see it, like the fan pages, go to the local filmmaking events. Just see what’s out there and what’s going on in Arizona as far as filmmaking goes. The Arizona International Film Festival is coming up in Tucson. There are a lot of film festivals that go on in Arizona besides the Phoenix Film Festival.
EXAMINER) And Vanessa, how did you get into this? Do you strictly do makeup?
Vanessa) I strictly do special effects makeup right now. I was brought into this last May around Phoenix’s Comic Con where they have a Zombie Walk. I was really interested in trying to get into special effects makeup. I have an amazing mentor, David Ayers, who has been in the movie industry both here and in L.A. for over 40 years. He actually worked on many movies including "Close Encounters". He has taken me under his wing and I am so grateful for that. He’s teaching me different processes, how to make molds and prosthetic pieces, and how to blend makeup. So after starting out with Zombie makeup last May, I heard some really great feedback so I just kept going with it, and it’s been kind of busy ever since. Halloween time of course was insane! But I just absolutely love it!
EXAMINER) And how did you end up working on "The Reckoning"?
Vanessa) Cory and I went to high school together, so when he said he was doing this Zombie movie and wanted me on board, I said I’m there! It was intense and a lot of fun! We had so many wonderful people wanting to be zombies so I brought along my assistants Meghan Banyai and Brittani Bailey as well as a few others to get their hands dirty in some zombie makeup. We all had a blast on set!
EXAMINER) Have you worked makeup on any other movies?
Vanessa) No, this is my first one. I worked before at company parties and doing little things here and there. I helped with doing theatrical makeup for the Scrooge play at Living Word Bible Church. But I’ve mostly been self-taught and did my own research online, combined with what David has shown me.
EXAMINER) Cory, what other projects are you working on?
Cory) I have a big one coming up, a feature-length film called "Euphorium: Genesis". That will be filmed here in Phoenix. We are getting some great cast and feedback on that one. We plan to start shooting it in May or June. I have two other shorts I will be doing: "The Other Thief" and "Boutique", written by Stephen Kessen, one of the co-writers for "The Reckoning".
We also shot a short called "The Light Beneath the Door" in November, which should be done with post-production editing by early February. I plan to send that one to the Arizona International Film Festival as well as other film festivals around the country.
EXAMINER) Do you have a day job, Cory?
Cory) I do. But I hope to be making films full-time by the time we get to "Euphorium". And I hope to one day win a “Best Director” award.
Let’s hope so too.
To all the moviephiles out there, support your local filmmakers and you could be supporting the world’s next great artist.
After all, this is where Spielberg got this start.
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