Interview with director, writer and actor Steve James

Today I once again speak with Steve James. Steve is a director, writer, and actor among many things, and has been filming and making creative content for several years now. I spoke with Steve last year about his film Predator: Final Stand, which is a high octane sci-fi fan film based on the Predator franchise. After watching it, I knew I’d be following his future endeavors. His latest film, Where Darkness Lives, was something I was anxiously waiting for as I was curious to see what his take on horror would be. I just watched it last week and terrifying barely begins to describe it. Where Darkness Lives is a haunting tale with great back story and atmosphere. I was frightened and yet captivated by it, a truly powerful film.

“Steve is a director, writer, and actor among many things, and has been filming and making creative content for several years now.”

actorSteve, so how did you come up with the idea behind Where Darkness Lives?
It’s something that rattled around in my head for years really. I had always been a fan of old, gothic ghost stories and the atmospheres in them. Where Darkness Lives is a combination of all the elements that impacted me the most.
In the film you go back several centuries and tell the history of the de Haversham family and how the haunting started, which looks great by the way and was incredibly spooky!

Was it hard arranging filming in period costume, and why that time period?
It wasn’t too bad getting most of the costumes, it just took time to track them down, and thankfully my friend and co-producer Frank had a place that had tudor style décor in it. The flashback was set in the 1600’s, and was done that way simply because I’ve always found that period to have a deeply haunting feel to it. Also, several of the real ghost stories that inspired my film are actually from that time period.

I noticed that you have the character of April mention several references to hauntings similar to Harrowgate. Were those from real accounts?
Yes indeed, all of them were. There were a few others that inspired some of the story of Harrowgate as well that weren’t named, specifically Raynham Hall in England. Definitely plenty of sources to draw from.

Did you have the cast already in mind when you wrote this?
I did actually. I knew I had pretty good ensemble to pull from and that they could really make it come to life. I definitely envisioned Ashley and Frank in their roles beforehand because I had worked with both of them before and knew they would shine. Brandy was new to the group but really did an amazing job, and Athena was handpicked to play Cora the psychic. Rachel as Josette was terrifying though. I got chills filming her scenes!

I noticed that you played a character as well, Demetrius de Haversham. Do you enjoy acting in films that you direct as well?
I like jumping in with the cast, it’s the actor in me! They are great to play off of and this was just a great group to work with!

Any new projects on the horizon?
I am looking forward to seeing Third Son: The Black Files, looks intense! I have several, but that’s the main one at the moment. It is definitely intense and has some action scenes that will push the envelope way beyond what I’ve done before!

I also had a chance to ask some questions of actor Ashley Reed and Frank Fazzio, who play the characters of April and Lionel in the film. I’ll start with Ashley.

In Where Darkness Lives you play April de Haversham, the heiress to Harrowgate Manor. What similarities do you share with your character in your opinion?
Actually, I feel like April and I have a lot of similarities. But a few I noticed right away is that April is very strong, kind, smart, and she is willing to face her fears. I like to think I’m a lot like that, too.

What made you want to take this role on?
I had worked with Steve before and he messaged me asking me if I’d be interested in this new script he was writing and explained the character of April to me. It was perfect timing. I was really needing an acting project in my life and I was extremely excited after hearing about it and reading the script. I just couldn’t wait to dive in!

What was your experience like working with the cast and crew of Where Darkness Lives?
It was truly a great experience! I had only worked with Steve James and Chris Jordan before filming Where Darkness Lives. So it was the first time I had worked with the rest of the cast and crew. They all showed up to set, ready to work and make it fun! We all got along so well and that made acting with the cast feel so natural. I’m happy to have been a part in making this scary film!

Do you believe in ghosts, haunted houses, etc?
I really do! We had some unexplainable happenings happen while filming even. That place was plenty scary enough for me. The abandoned house we filmed in provided me with a lot frightening feelings to work with as an actress for the film.

Next I spoke with Frank Fazzio.

In this film you play Lionel Markinson the group leader. Was it easy to slip into that role? What other characters inspired you in playing Lionel?
Yes, very easy to slip into this character in Where Darkness Lives. I’ve played several different roles through the years that help prepare me for Lionel. Had some favorite creepy movies in my days. The Changeling George C. Scott, Poltergeist and The Haunting to name a few.

What was your experience like working on Where Darkness Lives?
I’ve worked and collaborated with Steve for sometime now. So I already knew the experience for cast and crew on “Where darkness Lives” was going to be exhilarating and fun! Steve’s writing style in this genre shines in my opinion. Steve’s respect for his cast and crew is spot on!

Having the opportunity to work again with some familiar cast and crew members that I admire for their own talents and professionalism on set is always a treat. Topping it off was having the chance to work with several new talented cast members who energized and inspired me. I hope I did the same for them!

Steve mentioned that you also direct and write as well as do cinematography, any new project in the works?
Yes, when I’m not in front of the camera, I’m usually behind the camera, or writing, and editing. I’m currently finishing a script that I hope to begin shooting this summer called “Jean”. It’s semiautobiographical, much different genre, touching and moving story about two people who feel isolated from the world around then in different ways. And how their meeting in the park one day and through a period of a month changes their lives forever.

Are there any similarities between you and your character in real life?
There is categorically a part that I’ve lived and is inside me, Enough said!

Thank you all for taking the time to fill us in and answer my questions. Where Darkness Lives can be found on Steve James’ Youtube channel, be sure and give it a watch! Just make sure you leave the lights on!

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