DireChat – Jose Prendes of the Haunting of Whaley House

Hello everyone and welcome to another DireChat on The Movie Guide Blog, I’m pleased to say that we are joined by my one of many directing friends Jose Prendes the director of the Haunting of Whaley House, really hope you enjoy reading this.

MG: Thanks for taking the time to do this Jose, I Really Appreciate it
JP: My pleasure, pal! Thanks for asking.

MG: What inspired you to become a Director?
JP: My father took me to see SUPERMAN when I was a kid. I believe it was the first movie I saw in theatres, too. Anyway, I can remember vividly the emotions the film evoked in me. I was experiencing the highs and lows of cinema for the first time. And I would look around at the audience and see them reacting the same way, with big happy smiles on their faces, and I remember thinking: “I want to do that. I want to be able to make that happen.” Writing had been in my blood, thanks to my late father, and directing was just a natural extension of wanting to create things out of thin air and entertain people. I kind of always make movies for that little boy sitting in the dark…even if the material isn’t always appropriate for him to be watching it.

MG: Can you tell us about some of the other projects that you’ve worked on?
JP: I was hungry, man. I’m still hungry. But right after high school, after spending my time writing scripts and filming shorts with my pals, instead of looking for a girlfriend like a normal, well-adjusted guy, I wanted to make my first film. But my parents forced me to go to college so I pacified them with a 2 year film school stint to get an associate’s degree. It’s bullshit, because you don’t really need a degree in film, just experience, and the best experience comes from making movies. So after I graduated I shot an end of the world spoof called THE MONSTER MAN with my pals. It was a feature and to this day remains my purest, most perfect filmmaking experience. It’s a rough, amateurish film of course, but I love every inch of it, warts and all, because it meant a dream was coming true. Anyway, that got released and I wanted to go bigger and better and went right into CORPSES ARE FOREVER, my James Bond meets zombies opus. We shot it on 35mm (which is nearly extinct now) and I filled it with b-movie horror superstars. I got to work with the amazing Richard Lynch, who has since passed away, but the power of movies is that whoever you are you always live forever. Anyway, that got released, but didn’t do the gangbuster business I had hoped, so I took a few years to regroup.

Now we’re going to talk about The Haunting of Whaley House.

MG: Where did the Idea come for The Haunting of Whaley House?
JP: The Asylum hired me to write a haunted house movie based around the Whaley House in San Diego. My job was to write something that wasn’t the typical “family in a haunted house” movie, so I tried to combo the feel of SCREAM with POLTERGEIEST and that’s what we got in the end.

MG: What is the plot of The Haunting of Whaley House in your own words?
JP: A tour guide and her pals break into the historical Whaley House where she works to see if there is any truth to the rumours of ghosts running amok in the household. The rumours are true. They are screwed.

MG: Can you tell us the Crew who were on the movie and what where they like to work with?
JP: Most of the crew was doing me favours, which is something that doesn’t always happen in films, but I have this magnetic charm that bends people to my will (he says, with tongue firmly planted in cheek). I loved my crew, because everyone gave a shit and in the end, that is all you need. If everyone is behind the captain, then the ship can be steered in the right direction.

MG: How did the main cast come about and can you tell us about them?
JP: I had a stellar cast, and I am not saying that just because they are my friends and I see them on a day to day basis and they may get mad if I say they are less than stellar. When I was writing the script, I already had my cast in mind and wrote to their strengths. They had to audition for the producers though, and there was some nervousness there in the waiting, but I was confident that they were the best choices and they were the ones who were destined to play the parts, so I was never worried that I wouldn’t get my dream cast. At the end of the day, I sat down with the producers and said this is who I want and they agreed. Arielle Brachfeld was wonderful to work with, and she managed to keep her sense of humor despite all the tumultuous emotions her character was going through. Graham Denman was such a blast to work with. This was his first major part, but I knew he had the chops and he displayed them, so I was happy to give him a stage. And Stephanie Greco…well, I’d be lucky to have her as my leading lady for years to come. That is if she’ll ever put up with me again! She’s no fun on set, but has tremendous focus and poise. She’s a star. I loved everyone, to be honest.

MG: Can you tell us a little about the production of the film and if there was one moment that made it that more special?  
JP: We shot the film for under $100,000 in 12 days and it was a decidedly brisk production. But like I said the team was on board,  and people where having fun, so for the most part we got to have a wonderful time collaborating. One moment stands out to me, and I haven’t mentioned this to anyone before. It was day 3 and we were shooting the scene in the bedroom when the gang of kids team up with the ghost hunter Ray and the psychic Keith. All my friends were in the shot and I was looking at the monitor and it hit me that WE WERE MAKING A FUCKING MOVIE TOGETHER! I had to excuse myself and went to the bathroom. I got a little misty eyed and had to take a moment. I had been fighting so long to make another film and here we ALL were, working together, and getting paid for it (not well, but still one cannot complain when their dreams are coming true). I never told anyone that until now…so there you are, Jaime! A damn exclusive. Ghosts make director sappy!

MG: One thing that I Love about Films is the music, and You’ve got a great soundtrack, can you tell us how it come to be?
JP: All the credit goes to me! No, I’m kidding of course. My composer and pal, Graham Denman, who also acted in the film as Craig, did a fantastic job. I first knew him as a musician. He has a wonderful voice and a great song writing style. He is talented as fuck, man, and he is such a film dork that he puts me to shame sometimes. He had always wanted to score something, and I think I have a knack for telling when someone has “it”, so I gave him the job and he rose to the challenge. I told him I wanted early John Carpenter. I referenced THE FOG and PRINCE OF DARKNESS, and he ran with it. I wanted a simple, memorable score, like HALLOWEEN, and he nailed it. I love his work on this. He has a future ahead of him, I know it. He is currently working on the soundtrack for the film 12/12/12.

MG: The Final Question is, Can we expect any more great movies from you?
JP: Oh, I will be making MANY MORE movies, whether they will be great is completely up to the audience. I will be writing and producing a western in the spring called A MAGNIFICENT DEATH FROM A SHATTERED HAND and I am really excited about that. It’s going to star Nick Nolte, Jeremy Irons and Thomas Jane, who is also directing and producing. It’s going to be epic. Also I am developing a feature film right now called STRANGE TRANSMISSIONS, which I am also very enthused about. It’s a VIDEODROME-style body horror film. Then I am still in development on my film DOG EAT DOG, which is probably going to be retitled QUEEN OF VIOLENCE. It’s a bloody revenge thriller. Think LADY VENGEANCE meets RESERVOIR DOGS. I am thinking of casting Stephanie in the lead, if Amanda Bynes doesn’t get back to me in time (inside joke). There is also a prison thriller set in the UK in the works and a serial killer revenge film I am working on as well. That’s all I can announce right now, but I am always writing. No one ever got anywhere by standing still. Making movies is extremely taxing and frustrating and emotionally draining, but anybody can do anything if they keep fighting. Like Rocky said: “It ain’t about how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward…” (of course a movie geek would end his interview with a movie quote)

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