Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Brooklyn Original recently interviewed Panther Productions' Joe "Panther" Attanasio about his short films, the horror genre, and how the two fit together like two peas in a bloody pod!

How did you get into short film making?

About 2 years ago, I decided that I needed to get some of my old ideas out of my head and bring them to life. It just felt right that I go into film making. I could combine everything I do artistically into one medium. I felt doing one particular thing like playing guitar or drawing just wasn't cutting it. My patience for writing music just isn't there like it used to be. Same with drawing or even writing. But if I combine everything with an inevitable goal in mind, it all comes together and I'm able to become excited about the project. It works out really well this way for me.

You're also a graphic designer and have been know to doodle. How do you apply these other art skills into your films?

It depends. I don't have rules with how I do things. If I feel I need to draw something or create some graphic images then I do it. It's all about getting the point across. Whatever way possible. Animation is real fun to me as well. I've done some of that recently.

Your work ranges from introspective and trippy meditations to horror. What goes into the thought process of doing one or the other?

It's usually whatever is in my head or what my interest is at that specific moment. I'm always thinking about scary stuff. It's like an obsession with me. The meditation ideas came about because it's something I like to do when I want to unwind. I made one video and got a lot of positive feedback so I continued to make more based on that. But my real love is for horror. It's pretty scary living in my head.

How has the advent of You Tube helped to get your vision to the masses?

If it wasn't for that site, I wouldn't even be doing this. How else would I get exposure? Before You Tube, I don't think there were sites that let you upload your own work unless it was some bloopers short or something. I'm not sure but just being on You Tube has gotten me way more attention without the burden of dealing with talent agencies that never call back.

You recently uploaded a fake trailer for a fake full length movie entitled "INSANED IN RUIN" and it seemed like the reaction was very good. Does this inspire you to break out of short films and go for a full length feature? How would your approach differ?

Right now, I'm taking it slow. Full length is risky this early in the game. Especially when you work with practically no budget, no actors, nothing. At least for now, anyway. I only have myself to rely on so I put forth my best effort.

I'm more into getting my point across so short films and stories are where it's at for me. Insaned in Ruin has potential but that will be way in the future unless the ideas start rolling in that direction next. I never really know the direction where my head will go. Insaned in Ruin may never happen, or it will. I don't push anything.

Horror has seen quite the resurgence in the last few years. Does that in any way drive you?

Well.. Yes and no. I had ideas for horror films many years before I even thought to pick up a camera. It all started with The Blair Witch Project. I saw how they took a simple way of film making and still made it pretty damn creepy. That movie definitely inspired me because it was so different then everything else that was out at the time. Not 100% original though because there were a couple of other films based around similar premises that came out prior to Blair Witch. Just clearing that up. Ha..

How do you rate the current crop and trends of horror movies compared to the movies of the 70's-80's?

As far as the remake trend, it has to stop! Ha ha.

Seriously, it's getting rather ridiculous now. Originality is taking a back seat to rip offs and hack directors just looking to make a quick buck. It's sad, really. The 70's and 80's were amazing years for horror movies. Especially the 70's. I really wish I was old enough to watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Exorcist back then.

As far as other horror films go besides the remakes.. I've seen some good quality stuff come out. Mostly overseas though. The Asian film industry seems to have the upper hand these days. Good for them, I say. Someone's got to produce, damn it! Ha ha. The original Juon (Not the Grudge) is very scary in my opinion.

What must horror film makers do to evolve their product away from these trends? Or should they?

They should definitely evolve, without a doubt! I would say just be creative and don't be afraid of your ideas no matter how out there they may be. You can't break any ground unless you're willing to go all the way with an idea. That's how I see it.

Which horror movies have inspired you over the years, and why?

Blair Witch and Texas Chainsaw Massacre like I mentioned are definitely big inspirations. I like the old 70's grit and dirt movies. The look mostly. And the feel they had. Just raw and real! Like you're there as you're watching. No slick nonsense, just ballsy good horror. I guess you can say that's where the inspiration comes from. Plus, horror video games like Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Manhunt.. Silent Hill has influenced me a lot. I loved the movie version. Atmosphere is important too sometimes. I'm learning that more and more every day.

Conversely, which horror movies have turned you off, and do these movies charge you to make better movies than them?

Just the rip off remakes and trendy bubblegum horror that was started around the time Wes Craven's Scream came out.

I can't say that I allow these movies to fuel my desire to bury them, but my mind knows better then to tread along the trendy path.

Brooklyn has always been seen as a tough place, and if some places down right scary! Has growing up in Brooklyn affected your films in any way?

No. Can't say it has.

Some of my own personal issues have influenced some of my work though. I did a film on OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I've suffered from it all my life on and off. It was kind of hard to do that film because I had to show the symptoms I had. But it was worth it.

What are your plans for Panther Productions, and where do you see yourself fit into the growing horror community?

Hopefully I'll carve myself a nice notch so I can trap everyone with no escape in sight! Ha ha.

I would like to see more people become interested in what I do. I hope to scare and creep out as many humans as possible. That's a real challenge these days 'cause most people just don't scare that easily. I'm up for the challenge though.

We'll see what happens.

Thanks, Joe! For more on Joe's movies check out the Panther Productions channel on You Tube.

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