What was your favorite horror film from your childhood?
I actually grew up watching old, black&white horror movies with actors like Vincent Price and Christopher Lee. I couldn’t name a favorite among those. But, I remember seeing “The Omen” when I was young (probably on cable?) and absolutely loving it. I loved the suspense and the fact that (spoiler!) the Devil actually “wins.”
What made you want to get involved in the film industry?
I’ve always been fascinated by movie-making – not just the acting part, but all the behind-the-scenes people and the way they make everything come together to look so real. I always stayed to watch all the credits in a film – it amazed me that I’d watch a movie with a relatively small handful of actors on-screen…but there’d be hundreds (or thousands!) of people who truly created the movie.
Why did you start Stag Mountain Films?
I saw it as a way to take a step beyond just “Jeremy Hirsch, Producer” and make it a business and, hopefully, a brand. I’d like people to see the Stag Mountain Films logo and say, “Oh! This will be a fun movie!”
How did you get involved with the Mahal brothers?
It actually started with buying my wife a virtual role and producer’s credit (for “Devil’s Knight”) for her birthday. I figured it was something different as a gift. When the Mahals started fundraising again (for “Camp Pleasant Lake”), Michael reached out to me to see if I was interested in getting a role for myself or my wife. We started chatting about some of the perks…and it just went on from there.
What is the biggest obstacle that you ever had to overcome?
This wasn’t so much an “obstacle” as it was more of a life changing moment. About 9 years ago, I had a routine operation that had some complications. Over the next 2 weeks, I ended up taking a number of ambulance rides, received several units of blood, and had a few more operations. It was a scary time. Before all that, I was running 7-10 miles a week – afterward, I couldn’t walk 50 feet without needing to rest. I recovered (although I walk about 20 miles a week instead of running) and I’m fine now. But it was reminder of how fragile we all are and that we should be grateful for what we have and find what makes us happy.
What was the proudest moment of your career?
Non-film career? When I was a lobbyist and worked as part of the team to help open up the auto insurance market in NJ. That was a huge accomplishment that made things better (and less expensive) for NJ drivers. Film career? Seeing my son Lucas on the set of “Macabre Mountain” last fall. He was 18 and had never acted before, but he leaned into it and he definitely got better as the filming went on. He really enjoyed himself and I loved seeing him having fun.
How do you get a film to stand out in the crowd in today’s landscape?
Having a “name” (or several) attached to the film obviously helps. I think you also have to have something different, if that’s possible. An angle, or plot, or character that is both different and appealing. And a great trailer! In our house, we’ll watch a dozen or more trailers before we pick a movie. A really great one can make all the difference. (Of course, the movie itself has to be great, too!)
What other film professionals inspire you?
I’m inspired by all the independent filmmakers – cast and crew members – who work so hard, often with so little funding, to make the best movie they can make. They do it because they love and believe in what they are doing, and they are some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met.
What is your favorite horror decade and why?
Like with so many other things (including music!), I think the 80s were the best. So many classic movies – and series – are from that decade: Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead, Hellraiser, Prince of Darkness, Poltergeist, Child’s Play, Sleepaway Camp and so many more. They were scary and cheesy and fun. I feel like the 80s were a Renaissance for horror movies, as they moved – for better and for worse – from mood-driven thrillers to jump-scares and gore.
What is the next step in your film career?
I would love to get involved in writing a script and to do a little more acting in small roles. It’s so much fun to die a gory death on-screen! I wouldn’t mind being known as “The guy who dies!” in movies. :-)