Exclusive Interview with Director, Writer & Actor Roger Conners of REBIRTH
Samera Entertainment and Chloe's Chronicles catch up with Actor, Director, and Writer Roger Conners to talk about his new film Rebirth, his passion for horror, and what’s next for him creatively.
Chloe: Hi Roger, it’s so great to get a chance to chat with you about your new project Rebirth, for those of our audience who may not know can tell us a little bit about the film and what inspired you to make it?
Roger: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me, Chloe! My film Rebirth is a retelling of George A Romero’s iconic Night of the Living Dead but set against today’s heated social climate. Romero’s film was not only a landmark horror film but a groundbreaking social commentary as well! I wanted to really focus on that element of the film and honor what made the first film so monumental.
Chloe: For this project, you not only played the lead role of “Adam” but you also wrote and directed the film, how was the experience for you balancing all three of those roles, and what do you think was the biggest challenge and biggest victory as a creative?
Roger: To tell you the truth Chloe, it was stressful as all hell! This being my directorial debut and all, I dove into this headfirst and I just became overly excited about the whole thing. I’ve seen a lot of sets operate in my time and you feel you’re capable of making something really great based on those experiences alone. I really just think my creative passion underestimated the amount of physical and emotional energy running a film set can require. But those early learning curves are truly what define your future as a filmmaker. You can continue making the same mistake over and over, project after project, set after set, or you can take that experience and the knowledge you’ve acquired from it and learn from it and strive to not make those same mistakes again. The gift in the problem, if you will. This experience left me with some really great gifts.
Chloe: Roger, as an avid horror film and thriller film viewer and fan what was an important goal or aspect you wanted to make sure to get right and capture?
Roger: I really wanted this film to feel respectful of the source material, both in how we were directly inspired by it as well as in how we strived to differentiate ourselves from it. We certainly take heavy inspiration from the original film, but we took a lot of liberties to ensure our product felt fresh, relevant, and unique.
Chloe: Something that was interesting about the cinematography of Rebirth was the stylistic choices made in terms of set design, location, and shooting styles that gave it a very unique look. What were your inspirations for how you wanted the world in the film to be portrayed and did you pull inspiration from any other Classic Horror films?
Roger: I really wanted the film to feel like it existed within its own alternate era. Almost preserved in time, if you will. There’s a hodgepodge of 1960s and 70s era vehicles and technology and so forth, but there’s also a very modern element with some of the technology you see and certain fashion elements incorporated. This allowed for us to recreate that great, vintage vibe that gives it a similar tone to the original film. That was very intentional. Films such as Suspiria, The Shining, Messiah of Evil, and Demons all had an influence on the final product.
Chloe: Roger, you are no stranger to the film worlds of Horror, Crime, and Thrillers with roles in films such as The Curse of Lilith Ratchet, Viscera, The Sluagh Awakens, and now Rebirth. What do you think it is that first attracts you to a script or a role and what has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned or experienced as an actor taking on these grittier, supernatural, and action-packed roles?
Roger: I mostly just look for characters that are going to challenge my abilities as an actor. I never want to become complacent in this career, so I always jump at a chance to play something out of the norm for me. If a part scares me or makes me nervous, I’m likely going to take it. It’s all about pushing my own boundaries and enhancing my skills as a performer.
Chloe: Besides, being an Actor/Director/Writer you are also a Podcast Host of the show Dark Night of the Podcast which you co-host with Director, Troy Escamilla, how did that Podcast first get started and what is your goal with the show as it pertains to the Film Industry and Indie Film Community?
Roger: Troy and I met years ago over social media. We were two gay filmmakers who shared an intense passion for horror and that sparked what has become a really solid friendship. He came up to Cleveland one year to celebrate pride with me which led to my being cast in his film Teacher Shortage. It’s really just been one great experience after another for us, so we decided to take that positive energy and run with it. That’s how Dark Night of the Podcast was born. It’s honestly just an excuse for us to ramble about our favorite films for hours on end.
Chloe: What would you say was the most challenging or your favorite scene from Rebirth to transfer from the writing process to screen, and why? What did that entail?
Roger: The truck explosion posed a huge issue for us from day one. We lost a portion of our footage from that day including some major shots of characters reacting to the blazing fire and so forth. On top of that our budget was extremely small, so that left us with very few options regarding the execution of the actual effect. We really wanted to blow up an actual truck, but securing the proper permits to achieve that proved to be damn near impossible on our level. Luckily, my team is very creative and resourceful. Mick Kunz and Malachi Pulte, our fantastic Editors and 2nd Unit Camera Operators, actually constructed a miniature replica of the truck and the property surrounding it. It allowed us to show the effect from a distance with limited digital effects.
Chloe: Roger, you are a proud member and ally within the LBTQ-IA community, as an actor, behind the scenes creator, and media host what goals and changes do you hope to see and help enact within the Film and Entertainment Industry, as well as, particularly to the Indie Community?
Roger: I really yearn to see more opportunities for LGBTQ+ individuals to play characters that fall outside of the stereotypical norm. We’ve always been restricted to supporting roles such as the sassy friend or the comedic relief, but we are layered and textured complex individuals and we all have stories to tell far beyond our queer experiences. I want to be given a platform to tell our human stories and not be restricted to only depicting our queer journeys.
Chloe: Roger, we have seen your versatility as an actor going between many different film genres. What is a role or genre you haven’t had the opportunity to play or explore that you would like to step into next?
Roger: I would love to play a more hardened character or a role that just oozes masculinity, just to prove I can do it. I know I can, but I think a lot of viewers tend to picture me in more fun and flamboyant roles first and foremost. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing those larger-than-life characters, but as an actor, I constantly long to be challenged. So maybe like a cop or a military character, something leaning more into action and drama and brutality.
Chloe: This upcoming year you have many projects in Pre-Production already including Starlets, The Head Case Murders, and The People in the Trees, just to name a few, is there anything you can tease our Samera audience about these projects and your upcoming roles and what else is up next for you?
Roger: Coming out of the artistically-stifling depression spiral that was Covid, I’m extremely grateful to have so many stellar projects lined up in the near future. I start shooting a feature entitled Domestic this Fall and should be on set for She Burns in Hell and The People in the Trees before the year is through. I have so much to look forward to right now, so my spirits are high and I’m plowing forward full speed ahead! There are so many other artists out there who are so desperate to create after being so restricted for the past year. I’m right there with them, and I keep in mind that the greatest art springs from the darkest tragedies. 2020 certainly was a dark time for us, and thus in turn I anticipate seeing some phenomenal cinema crafted over the next few years because of it.
So right now I just hope to work with as many creative individuals as possible, and I truly can’t wait to see what 2022 holds in store!
REBIRTH is now available from Midnight Releasing.
Attention bloggers, horror magazines, and freelance writers, for follow up interviews with the cast and crew, be sure to contact Sharry Flaherty of Samera Entertainment at: SameraEntertainment@Gmail.com or AcortAcquistions@Gmail.com
ABOUT MIDNIGHT RELEASING
Founded in 2009 by Darrin Ramage, Midnight Releasing is a premiere home entertainment distributor of quality independent genre films released only in the North America Region. With a following of thousands on social media outlets, Midnight Releasing continues to draw attention with each release.
ABOUT SAMERA ENTERTAINMENT
Sharry Flaherty CEO and Founder of Samera Entertainment is a seasoned and well known film producer and Acquisitions Executive for Midnight Releasing. Samera consults with filmmakers on their projects that are either in development, pre-production or post-production. Filmmakers are welcome to submit their horror and thriller titles to:
SameraEntertainment@Gmail.com or AcortAcquistions@Gmail.com
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