Troy Escamilla grew up watching the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis running away from madmen in numerous horror films. It’s a genre that has always appealed to him. And now the gay Houston screenwriter is looking to make his own leap into the field.
With a crew already in tow and a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $10,500, Escamilla hopes to make “Party Night,” his debut film – and a throwback to what he grew up on. We caught up with the Wes Craven-wannabe to talk about how a high school librarian does a slasher film, his plans for the flick and why people should donate to the Kickstarter campaign before it ends on March 12. (Supporters have donated more than $4,700.)
How did you get into the film world?
I grew up in Iowa and graduated from the University of Iowa in 2005 with a degree in English and English education. I was an English teacher for 10 years and moved to Houston where I am now a high school librarian. But I have been a film lover as long as I can remember, particularly the horror genre. I would seek out the most obscure’80s slasher movies, which was my favorite subgenre to watch. I started a horror blog back in 2007 where I reviewed movies and did my own horror movie awards. Horror gets ignored by major awards so I have been giving my own awards. Over the last several years it has evolved into the Fright Meter Awards. I have a committee of about 55 people involved in the horror genre in some aspect. Every year we nominate films, vote and award trophies.
Because of my background, I have always been a writer, doing short stories, but I’ve transitioned into screenplays. I wrote the screenplay for this first film and am bringing on a crew that have more technical experience than I do. I want it to be as good as it can be.
Tell us about “Party Night.”
I wanted to give fans of the slasher genre a nostalgic film that harkens back to the likes of “Prom Night” and “Hell Night.” A group of teenagers decide to ditch their school’s prom party and have their own celebration in a secluded house. Unfortunately they pick the wrong house. Fans of the genre will enjoy it because there are lots of references to other horror movies.
Why do slasher films appeal to you?
I don’t know. I watched a lot of horror films growing up. “Poltergeist” scared the hell out of me but there was an exhilarating feeling watching it. My older brother was able to go into the video stores and rent and watch movies with me. There is always a specific formula. It’s neat to play with conventions, because the conventions have been set for so long.
Do you have a favorite?
My favorite horror movie is “Black Christmas.’ If you watch it, it influenced “Halloween.”
Do you think being a gay producer gives a unique perspective to the genre?
I think it does. I have found out over the years there are a lot of gay males who are fans of the slasher genre. I think I bring a different perspective. I think I bring a more sympathetic side. The genre is known for exploiting the female characters, but the big priority for me is to create characters that are sympathetic. that the audience can relate to.
Support our Kickstarter campaign to find out! Only 10 days left! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1488629688/party-night. #Kickstarter #crowdfunding #indiefilm #indiehorror #horrorfans #slasherfilms #houston #houstonfilm #texasfilm #horrormovies #scary #scarymovie #promnight #afterprom #partynightthemovie #partynightmovie
Are there gay characters in this?
There are 16 teenagers in this, three couples. There are no explicit gay characters, although some that have read it say they think one of the males may be gay. There haven’t been many gay slasher films. One of the only ones has been “Hellbent,” which was touted as the first LGBT slasher film. All the characters were gay males. Sometimes you get a gay character thrown in somewhere else.
Why did you turn to Kickstarter?
I have seen it be successful for other people and I think it’s a really good way to help filmmakers, or anyone independently creating something, to get fans involved. What I like about Kickstarter is the idea that you are getting something for doing it. Kickstarter allows you to build in different perks for different donations. It’s great to involve fans that way. They will have a stake in following the progress of the film,
Why should people contribute to your Kickstarter campaign?
Fans of indie film or the horror genre can look at the Kickstarter page or the website and see how passionate and knowledgeable about the genre I am. We’ve created a couple of teaser trailers. I have brought talent aboard. People can feel comfortable it will be as good as we can make it.
I am almost at 25 percent funded. I am trying to get $10,500 by March 12. I think a lot of people want to see how close we get before they pledge. What some people don’t realize is that it’s all or nothing. If we don’t raise that amount, we don’t get anything, no matter how close you are.
Track “Party Night's” Kickstarter campaign and follow the movie on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.