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Shock Interview: Zachary Quinto on Producing Horror & The Banshee Chapter

The Banshee Chapter ReviewThe Banshee Chapter is now available on VOD before entering into a limited theatrical release on January 10th.  Blair Erickson – who we spoke to here – writes and directs, but did you know who was behind-the-scenes?  None other than Zachary Quinto, star of Heroes, the Star Trek films and American Horror Story's first two seasons.

Quinto shepherded the film through his Before the Door production shingle, which also brought us the Robert Redford-starring All is Lost this year.

The Banshee Chapter is definitely a unique turn for his company so we hopped on the phone briefly to talk about his leap into producing a low-budget horror film and more.


Shock Till You Drop:  The Banshee Chapter marks your first full-on foray into producing a horror film…

Zachary Quinto:  Yes, I mean we've done other genres, but in terms of horror/psychological thriller stuff, this is our first step in that direction.

Shock:  What was the impetus behind that?

Quinto:  Ultimately, it came down to Blair Erickson's passion for the story and his clarity in how he wanted to tell the story.  The story itself I felt was well-written and interesting.  It was a good way to step into that territory for the first time.

Shock:  How did Blair get on your radar?

Quinto:  We knew Blair because he also when to Carnegie Mellon [University] which is where myself and my business partners went.  We're always interested in and open to people who come from that background and that experience, new storytellers and new directors – give them a platform they might not otherwise have is part of our goal.  That was something that factored into the decision to make this movie as well.

Shock:  What have you learned from others that you might have applied in this specific case?

Quinto:  We're operating on a different level, so the question was how could we do this most significantly less than ideal?  And how to we maintain the integrity of the story and the power of the genre.  I think that's something Blair did a really great job with.  He had the ability to work with something that wasn't ostentatiously expensive and draw this audience in and throw these scares back at them.

Shock:  What kind of producer are you?  Hands-on and on the set or do you step back and let the creator do his/her thing?

Quinto:  It depends.  In this particular movie I wasn't hands-on because I was working on other projects as an actor so I wasn't available.  It's a project by project case.  If I can be involved, I will be.  If I can be on set, I will be.  On this one, Corey, my producing partner took care of the day-to-day and I supported from afar and was involved a bit in the casting.  But once they moved to Mexico, I was not involved in that aspect.

Shock:  What surprised you about Blair's vision once you saw the rough cut?

Quinto:  I appreciated his openness in the post-production and editing process.  He really has the best interest of the film in mind.  Sometimes the writer or director can get in their own way a little bit, but that was not the case with Blair.  He really wanted to maintain the quality of the film.  I respected that and valued that.  I think his instinct for the story itself was really strong and valuable.

Shock:  Where do your personal tastes lean when it comes to horror?

Quinto:  I like the historical context.  I always like a story that might be closer to the truth or made to appear it's partly rooted in truth.  That's what I like about this story.  And I like to be scared when I'm watching a movie because I don't know what's going to happen.  But I also like to be scared when I'm watching a movie because I like the jump-in-your-seat kind of scare.  And this film pays off in that way, there are startling scares and then there is a lingering mood that you can't escape.

Shock:  Do you look forward every day to putting on the producing cap?

Quinto:  Yeah, I like it.  I like building a company and everything that goes with that.  I'm in the process, in a lot of ways in terms of my work and this play I'm working on, of looking forward to where the road takes me.  It doesn't mean I'll leave acting or act less, but for right now we'll see how it plays out.

Shock:  What do you think of American Horror Story: Coven, are you making time to keep up?

Quinto:  I am keeping up.  I've been enjoying a lot of the twists and turns.  I felt this week it was distilled and palatable because we're invested in the handful of stories it's telling and the characters and the world they created are great.