INTERVIEW: Jonathan Patrick Hughes

Jonathan Patrick Hughes Chats About His Upcoming Film (S)AINT NICK and Starting Out in Today's Horror Industry

By Nicole Robinson

There is always a new crop of filmmakers, writers, actors, directors, and more working hard to become the next big thing in horror. As films like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween start to be termed classic horror, a new generation of horror movies is emerging from Generation X.

Jonathan Patrick Hughes

Jonathan Patrick Hughes

It is not often we are given the unique opportunity to explore the mind of one these up and coming directors, but we have been given this chance to meet Jonathan Patrick Hughes. Upcoming screamfest (S)aint Nick is the fifth film from Hughes, and we sat down with him to discuss his new flick and why he stands out.

 

House of Tortured Souls: John, tell us about yourself…

Jonathan Patrick Hughes: Hello Horror Fiends.

My name is Jonathan Patrick Hughes and I just finished shooting my fifth short film entitled (S)aint Nick. I was born in Philadelphia, PA, on Aug. 7, 1979. My mother, Patricia Cullen, was a registered nurse and my father was a Philadelphia police officer. I got my first taste of horror when I was roughly 3-years-old and noticed my dad was watching Friday The 13th Part 2. I remember being highly afraid of the man in the potato sack stalking a woman with a pitchfork. When I was 4-years-old, my mother brought home a VHS copy of Michael Jackson's Thriller. The tape not only had the short film / music video but also the making of it. I found myself mesmerized by how it was made and realized (at the tender age of four!) that I wanted to do the very same thing.

When I was five, I started using my mother's video camera and recording everything in sight. As time went on, I became obsessed with the idea of making movies and hoped that one day that would happen. My two best childhood friends, Rob Montgomery and Alexis Polce, and I always had ideas for films. They were never captured on camera, but at least our minds were boiling with ideas. When I was 15, I started working at local video stores. Even if I wasn't making movies, I still found ways to be involved with them somehow. After many years of working at video stores and cinemas, I realized I wasn't getting any younger and began to think that I would never make movies, and that it was just a broken dream like most of us have. That all changed when I found out I was going to be a father.

In 2010 my fiancé at the time became pregnant with my son, and we moved our life to Pittsburgh. It took almost three years to adapt to a new area and new responsibilities. When I found out that Pittsburgh had a film school program, I researched for days and called many times before I decided to enroll. The scary part was thinking, 'I'm going to go to school. I'm going graduate, and I'm still not going be making movies'. I was accepted into the program with open arms in May of 2013. However, I was unable to start until October. That's when it hit me that I should make my first movie before school just to see what I can do before school as well as after. I wanted to test out my own progression, to see if this is something I truly can do. I was fortunate enough to raise close to $1,400 to make my first movie by using Kickstarter. That is how Apartment 1109 came about. The film was released on DVD on New Year's Eve of 2013.

At school I learned how to write, produce, edit, and (of course) direct films. I paid more attention to the writing/directing parts since that's what I wanted to do the most. The Factory Digital Film Program at Douglas Education Center, which is located in Monessen, PA, was one the most memorable experiences I have ever had. I was taught by filmmakers, not teachers. These professionals take their students through a boot camp crash course on how to make a movie and how hard it is to make a movie. My film father, Robert Tinnell, with whom I still keep in contact, is the director of the program, and I'll never forget him. I drove him nuts, but I never missed a single class. The program is something I recommend to anyone who wants to make movies, but I will say this: if you're gonna go to film school, you better have a passion and you better breathe this shit because you won't make it otherwise. One thing I noticed while attending the school is that the instructors care way too much about their students and will do whatever they have to to break them. Like I said, it's boot camp for film because we make movies and were taught how to survive the struggle and the stress as well as problem solving. At the end, a film is made and the victory is celebrated. I have been out of film school for almost a year and have worked on a few short films and music videos. I also directed a trailer for Alyssa and Rebecca Johnson and just recently finished shooting my newest horror film (S)aint Nick.

 

HoTS: Why do you want to work in the film industry and as a director?

JPH: There is nothing else for me to do. I feel that making movies is fun, creative, and a way to communicate with an audience. Writing and directing is the passion. I have a vision, and I want to express it through motion pictures.

 

HoTS: Why horror? And what do you feel is special about your work that you would like your audience to see?

JPH: Horror films have a special language, like French or Spanish. Only a few people in crowded room will understand what they are experiencing. Horror films have always spoken to me differently than any other genre. I do admire all genres but, for me, horror is where the heart is.

 

HoTS: Can you name two people who inspire you and tell us why?

JPH: John Carpenter and Marilyn Manson.

Two genius artists who have very dark yet colorful visions. John Carpenter can make any genre of film while Manson can entertain anyone with his over the top stage performances. When I listen to a Marilyn Manson record, it's almost as if I'm listening to a film he directed.

 

HoTS: What is your favorite horror movie and why?

JPH: John Carpenter's Halloween.

It is genius - a 90 minute film that captures every kind of feeling and emotion and that isn't afraid to be what it is. A classic film with a classic story, a classic theme, and a classic icon.

 

HoTS: What upcoming projects can we expect from you?

JPH: I'm in talks to direct three music videos for bands Kill the Stigmatic, White Trash Stars, and Post Mortal Possession. I'm also in talks to write and direct two sixty second horror films for 60 Seconds to Die 2. I'm currently writing my feature film that will be dedicated to my son Liam. It's a kids movie entitled Bedbugs. It's a nod to some of my childhood favorites like The Goonies meets Ghostbusters, Gremlins, and Little Monsters. I want to show my son how awesome it was growing up in the 80s. I hope he has the same experience that I had when I viewed these films that were so much fun and filled with both adventure and excitement.

 

HoTS: What was it like filming the soon-to-be-released (S)aint Nick?

JPH: Being on the set of (S)aint Nick was a bag of mixed treats. Some days were smooth, while others felt like a bumpy road leading to Hell. Everyone was under stress, and everyone was at each other's throats just trying to make this film. Some people even left set and dropped off because of the content as well as the vision I was trying to get across to an audience. In the end we were able to finish shooting the film, and now we're waiting on a locked edit so we can go forward with music and sound. I'd also like to add it was my first time directing a 9-year-old, and that was a little rough, but in the end he did a great job and I'm happy with his performance as Bill.

 

HoTS: What is one thing that got you through the rough times?

The disgusting man known as Horace Jones, played by the ever so funny and loveable John Seese, made the rough days better with his clever one liners and over the top acting skills. I salute you, John Seese, not just because you’re a friend or an actor, but because your presence can light up the darkest hour. And I'm proud of you as well as your magnificent performance. Last, but not least, to my number one cinematic sister: I absolutely adore you as well as your acting skills. Just know that I could never make a movie without you and will never. We been in this together since day one in August of 2013. Since then we both have grown, and we will continue to grow. You're my number one scream queen, and I love you!

 

HoTS: Where did the idea for the movie come from?

JPH: Death metal and hardcore sexxx. Hahahaha.

The idea first entered my mind right after we finished shooting Apartment 1109. I knew I wanted to attack the Christmas holiday and turn it into a disturbing tale that is sure to leave a foul taste in your mouth.

Christmas has always been a holiday I never really agreed with. After I learned the truth about Santa Claus, the magic went out of the window. Many years after, I started believing that this certain holiday is an uneven one. They feed us the same Christmas carol year after year, talking about how great the time of year is and how everyone is happy. Just because you drive down a street with 30 houses covered in 500 chasing lights does not mean the people behind those closed doors are happy. I thought it would be a good idea to take an audience inside a house where it's not about candy canes, smiles, and mistletoe. It's about two siblings who are now living with their stepfather who is a verbally abusive alcoholic and all around disgusting human being who will make you want to shower every time he appears on screen. Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year at this house. I'm hoping that when people see this they will understand where I'm coming from.

 

HoTS: When is it going to be released?

JPH: Release date TBA. We're working out a deal with a production company as we speak. However, I will self-distribute a DVD with all 5 of my films including Apartment 1109, A Gamble With Death, Empty, All Hallows' Eve: Chapter 1 – The 11th Hour (which is still in post-production after a full year) and, of course, (S)aint Nick.

 

HoTS: What was your favorite experience while filming the movie?

JPH: My favorite experience would have to be either when I actually vomited on set during a very disgusting moment - I didn't expect that to happen. It's gross and I was thinking about cutting it out but everyone begged for it to stay in. It's in the film. The other experience would have to be directing the bloody goodness. This is the most disgusting film I have ever written and directed. It was kind of cool to see body parts being detached from the human body.

 

HoTS: Anything else you would like to share with us?

JPH: Everyone has a dream. Stop dreaming and start living. You have one life, so fucking live it. Making movies is like having sex: when you're done, you feel great, stress free, and relieved, and within minutes you're ready to go back and do it all over again.

I like to add that I'm really thankful for my cast and crew. They really helped so much making this nightmare a reality and I couldn't be happier with the job well done.

Jonathan Patrick Hughes taking a break.

Jonathan Patrick Hughes taking a break.

Posted by Alan Smithee

1 comment

Have the dvd of Apt 1109, now anxious for SAINT NICK. Always been a horror fan. Saw The Exorcist when it was in theaters, got me hooked.

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