Geoghegan: Rave On with Sweatshop’s Determined, Talented Writer By Brian Kirst
From penning graphic novels to introducing Raine Brown to the sharp hospitalities of crazed German outbackers in Barricade, Ted Geoghegan has been giving horror fans a thrill ride for years. Known as a respected producer (Fearmakers) and occasional actor (100 Tears), Geoghegan is now prepping for his industrial tinged, deadly rave masterpiece Sweatshop. Taking a moment away from Sweatshop’s scantily clad dancers and film inspired animal pelts; Geoghegan recently answered some incisive, entertaining questions for us.
Brian: Who were your first artistic inspirations – The boundary sucking creatures of Lovecraft – The revolving schemes of Pluto (the planet or the dog) – A decrepit journalist uncle with a fondness for Shakespeare and Henry James?
Ted: Pluto? Decrepit journalist uncles? Dude, those are some of the most wonderfully descriptive and completely inaccurate assumptions anyone has ever made about my inspirations! What on Earth are you talkin’ about?! – I’ve always been inspired by the movies I grew up with – plain and simple. I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never been anything more than a scholarly reader. I have my degree in English, but I can’t think of any literature that has truly inspired me to pick up a pen and write a film. – My work is more about kicking back and having fun for 90 minutes. Friday the 13th and Night of the Demons are far more important inspirations to me than The Turn of the Screw.
Brian: What began your initial intrigue with the graphic novel format?
Ted: I was hired to write one in 1997. I’ve only read a handful of comics, but it seemed fun – and certainly opened a lot of doors for me. I never touched the medium again until late last year, when I penned the seven-page comic tie-in to my latest feature, Sweatshop.
Brian: Carroll O’Conner is an interesting starting point for a career writing science fiction and horror. What were the basic elements that you learned from him that you can apply to all fiction writing?
Ted: Carroll was a brilliant man. I had already been writing for several years before I met him, but he was always open to discuss writing techniques and styles. He wrote very differently than I did, but appreciated anyone who tried their hand at the medium. – I don’t think there were any basic elements that I can apply to ALL fiction, but he certainly had a way with words – and would do anything to see burgeoning screenwriters reach their full potential.
Brian: You often multi-task on your projects. Do you find that while not easier that is preferable to you? Or do you enjoy focusing on one thing but circumstances just get in the way?
Ted: I initially started as a screenwriter, but after seeing my scripts turned into films that bore little to no resemblance to my original work, I decided I wanted to have a little more say in the creative process. – I tried my hand at directing a short film, which was fun, but I’m a little too easygoing to be a director. Producing is nice because it gives me a say, but lets someone else be the tough guy.
Brian: What was the initial inspiration for your German “Hick Horror” massacre-piece Barricade?
Ted: I was originally given a ten-page treatment for Barricade by writer/director Timo Rose. It was essentially a German version of Wrong Turn, right down to the gruesome use of razor wire and crossbows. I removed a bit of that, beefed up the characters, and made it feel a bit more original. – Timo changed a lot of the script while filming, but the final result – a mixture of slasher film and torture porn – worked pretty well for us when the film debuted.
Brian: In scanning your resume many of your projects have a more mythical and foreign appeal than standard terror films. Is that something you cultivate or is it circumstance taking control once again?
Ted: I don’t know about the “mythical” part, but I have worked on a number of German movies, which might explain the “foreign” aspect. The first film I was hired to write was for German splatter director Andreas Schnaas. I have since written two more features for him, and it was through Schnaas that I met Timo, whom I have also worked with on a number of horror films. – I love working with people outside the US – it helps indie filmmakers realize that there are a lot of us, all over the world, working toward the same goal.
Brian: What was the most memorable part of appearing as Sullivan in the graphic clown as serial killer piece 100 Tears?
Ted: Well, I’d probably have to say the most memorable part was my death… since that’s all the role really is. I show up 45 minutes into the film, and thirty seconds later, I’ve been bisected and decapitated. Director (and FX guru) Marcus Koch really knew what he was doing on that film, though. The results were absolutely stunning.
Brian: Monsters n’ girls! Girls n’ monsters! What sparked your interest to create the (hopefully) wildly entertaining Sweatshop?
Ted: Boy, I hope its entertaining, too! Sweatshop was born out of my love of scantily-clad raver kids and my desire to make a slasher film featuring them. The concept behind setting it in an old factory and having the killer wear a welding mask and animal pelts was kind of born from these kids’ industrial music. Industrial music needed an industrial setting with an industrial bad guy. – I really adore the movie, and consider the finest film I’ve ever had my name on. I’m immensely proud of it.
Brian: Cool. Did you always imagine a return to the graphic format with Sweatshop’s beginnings’ comic book saga? Or was this something that just landed on your lap like an ink strewn puppy?
Ted: What? Why would someone cover a puppy in ink? Man, your descriptors are all over the place! – Anyway… we never originally planned on the comic prequel to Sweatshop, but it grew out of the project as we continued through post-production. -When we realized we had the opportunity to kill one of the film’s characters in it, and that we could tie it rather seamlessly into the final film, we decided it had to be done. Artist Thomas Mason did an amazing job with it and, as director Stacy Davidson says, it’s almost like a missing scene from the movie. It fits in that perfectly.
Brian: Lastly, any words of advice (IE: Don’t try to rekindle an old love in the forest when savages are on the loose) or future projects that you’d like to tell us about. And thanks- this has been definitely better than trying to find your sister’s killer any day of the week!
Ted: Advice? Don’t make a movie just because you have a camera. Make it if you have a story to tell… even if that story is simple. – And as for the future, right now, all of my attention is on making Sweatshop the best film it can possibly be, and making certain that it gets the best release we can. Once its out and we can finally wash our hands of its ample blood, I’ll start something new. Until then, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather spend all of my time promoting.