TOM STEEBER – Avant Garde on a bloodied budget…

1) You seem like such a nice guy with a wife and kids,Now explain your attitude ‘To Make Movies’ ?
Wow, thanks. Image is everything, right? I guess that means I have two faces because I am a very normal family guy but I also have this extremely dark sinister side in that I love making people uncomfortable. It gives me a sort of glee to watch people squirm and making movies is my outlet for that dark side. I’ve always been a horror fan and grew up reading Fangoria and GoreZone and fantasizing about one day gracing the pages myself. This is one of the things that drives me.

2) How do you feel about Film Festivals ?

            I love film festivals. Today they are one of the best ways of getting your material seen and they can serve as a means to getting distributors. The down side is the costs for submitting the films. This can be a crapshoot since there are no guarantees the films you submit will be selected to play. You also have to find the right market. For me it’s a very fine niche market and I won’t waste my time submitting to festivals that I do not feel can do my films justice. Audiences can be very picky and they have a bigger selection of entertainment today than in any other time in history so those are always things I consider when selecting festivals for my material.

3) You have a un-natural ‘Like button’ for Cymbal Monkey toys ?

                   Yes, that fascination is fairly new, actually. The idea behind that is that here we have a classic toy that everybody recognizes yet everybody will likely acknowledge are creepy as hell. I find it amazing that these ugly beasts were made and given to children to play with. I have a small collection of them and my famous one with the yellow shirt and striped pants makes cameos in most of my pieces. If you know where to look, it will often be seen in the background of certain shots. But really, I started using them in my logo around 2009. Before that I went by different names including the often abbreviated “A Brain Stuffed Into a Squirtgun Productions”.

4) BEST of ‘The Steeb’ On/Off set ?

                                     The Steeb? That’s a new one although some people have said my fans should be called “Steeliebers”. Alrighty then. But to answer your question, most of the best stuff hits the screen accidentally. In that in my head I see a certain vision but sometimes the end result looks far better than I imagined. One example is the ending to the original Game Camera short. The final shot of my character came out far creepier than I ever could have imagined and things just worked. The cracking of the branches, the dirt thrown into the air, and even the eyes (which was the cameo the monkey made- the eyes).
But the best part off screen comes when I have an idea. When I get creeped out I know I’m onto something. I know I have to make that idea into something to share. Some of my best ideas come from the state as I drift off to sleep, when my subconscious comes out to play. This has spawned some of my best pieces.

5) WORST of ‘The Steeb’ On/Off set ?

           Probably my worst side is my fear and insecurity. Film making is a very competitive world and everybody with a camera and a computer can make films. I’m naturally competitive in things I have a passion for so any time one of my pieces gets overlooked or ignored, I tend to feel offended by the slight. That’s actually the very negative thing that has recently lead me to reinvent myself and go further down the rabbit hole. In my town I’ve gotten the impression that my stuff is under appreciated as Spokane doesn’t have a real horror fan demographic. The successful films in this town are mostly drama bits and serious films. I’ve decided to stop catering to Spokane as a whole and have backed away from participating in the film world here in favor of going back to my roots as a fan and making the stuff that can curl your eyeballs and make you reach for the barf bag. I guess you could say the worst part of me is being used to bring out the best parts.
6: ONE  sentence descriptions…
Ron Ford? Ron is a kindred horror soul who is also under appreciated but has a keen sense of story telling and a contagious enthusiasm for films and acting.
Brad Picard is a funny, generous talented actor who is easy to hate on screen but impossible to hate off screen.
Patrick Treadway is one the coolest actors I’ve met because he’s extremely humble and down to earth which is amazing considering his broad and comprehensive acting history.
       Richard Erhardt was the only person I had in mind when I decided to go underground because his sense of humor is so dark and disgusting and I knew he was the one person would get my new sick ideas, and his ability to understand my thoughts and enhance my writing cannot be understated.
       Anne Selcoe is easily one the best actresses in Spokane and the fact that we don’t see more of her in films is tragic.

7) So,Is the goal to make feature films or shorts are good enough ?

             Shorts and features are totally different worlds, actually. Features are what I should be striving to do as they perform better in the long run and are more marketable. But they also far more expensive and time consuming. Whereas a short can often be made over a weekend with a few people and done with pocket change, a feature requires a much larger commitment and with the films I’ve been involved it, it often means relying on a talent pool that is strictly voluntary. Trying to make a name for oneself and make some bucks to upgrade equipment is very hard and so to compensate for a lack of funds, decent cameras, and so on, I’m forced to concentrate on story. I feel that the story is the most important thing in a film. Far more important than the technical aspects because even shooting on a RED, with beautiful cinematography, if the story is weak or boring, I won’t care and I’ll forget the film soon after the credits roll. On the other hand, if you can make something that lingers in the viewers head and keeps biting at their brain like a tick, then you’ve done your job. That’s why going underground isn’t my only ambition. Many underground horror films rely on cheap gory shocks to make their point, often times slicking over the story. With what lies ahead, I only want to do films that disturb by combining those shocking images with a story that also gets under your skin.

8) Amazon sales,Better than Ebay ?

            This is an area that I’m really not too familiar with as I’ve never used eBay as an outlet. Amazon is good for reaching a wider audience but because of their cut, if really doesn’t leave much meat on the bone for you. To be honest, I think the future is going to be video on demand. I’m still going to market to the DVD crowd since I myself like actually owning a tangible object and with DVDs you can add exclusive content to reward the buyer for going that route. Many people have seen my film, “Bianca” but few have seen the half hour documentary about the history of the story that is only available on the DVD. My plans for distributing will be focused on underground circles. Roku is a new and exciting option that I’m getting involved with because of all the new horror channels popping up that are looking for original content. My shorts will probably continue to go to YouTube for now and as extras on DVDs. With my new film, “Eucharist”, I plan to sell it as a DVD on amazon but also send it to Zom-Bee TV and circulate through more unorthodox channels such as bittorrent so that the word of mouth gets the films seen and in the hands of the crowd I’m making the films for.

9) Why aren’t you in Hollyweird, Ca. ?

                  I live in Spokane and continue to because I have a family and a home here. My roots are here and I’m realistic about my chances by packing up and hitting the road for LA. LA is the home of movie dreams, but many of the dreams are shattered and I feel I have just as much chance of “making it” by staying put in my hometown.

10) Final thoughts about films,fans,festivals ?

 I am first and foremost a story teller and an artist. An artist’s job is create things that provoke emotion, whatever that intended emotion is. For me, I try to disturb the viewer. I work to dig into their brains. I love gory films myself but I try not to make gore the subject. I use it as needed by the story but not as the star of the film. But since going underground, I am now in the place I feel I belong. I’ve been a fan of extreme cinema for years and for some reason it never occurred to me to make those films myself. It’s seems like a no-brainer now but I was so focused on making a name for myself in the mainstream that I ignored the fact that it wasn’t where I belonged. I feel I will be much more successful in the shadows. Most people will never see my films or even know about them but I’ll be making stuff for the same kind of horror fans that I am myself. The extreme horror world has a faithful following yet that is rare example of where films are under represented. It’s the only place I know of that isn’t constantly being flooded with new material so I feel I will have a distinct edge working on that world that I am so familiar with.
There will be festivals in the future for sure, but only the festivals that are devoted to good old fashioned horror, the ones that won’t shy away from more controversial topics and subject matter. My new stuff will be offensive to the wrong crowd. I’m not making it for them though.
In closing I believe films can serve many purposes. They can entertain, educate, or act as an escape. My films aim to be hot peppers. Something you know will hurt you but is still not going to kill you.           (Z Hunter pic (c) Shawn Shay)

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