Some of the most terrifying and original horror movies which still resonate with fans today are entries in the slasher sub-genre from the 1970s and ’80s, which can be seen in the fact that they’re continuously being remade today. While several of these films, such as ‘Halloween’ and ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street,’ have influenced actor and producer Shaun Gerardo in his career, he’s hoping to prove that short films can be just as frightening. His upcoming horror short ‘Basement Bugs,’ which was written and will be directed by Nick Coviello, looks promising to do just that.
‘Basement Bugs’ follows a desperate young man who hears a rumor that his apartment building’s superintendent may have a secret safe locked away in the basement. Taking advantage of a building-wide fumigation, the young man breaks into the private space of the superintendent, only to be consumed by the gnawing terror that awaits him.
Gerardo generously took the time to speak with us over the phone recently to talk about the production of ‘Basement Bugs.’ Among other things, the actor and producer also discussed what drew him to his role, what it’s like working with Coviello and why he enjoys the horror genre so much.
ShockYa (SY): You’ll be appearing in the upcoming horror short ‘Basement Bugs.’ What details can you provide about your character in the film, and what attracted you to the role?
Shaun Gerardo (SG): The role I play in the film is actually Amile. He’s not necessarily a bad person, but he’s a person in a tough situation. I wouldn’t say he’s a drug addict, but he’s got exposure to them. He just wants to resolve his situation so that he can feel like he doesn’t have desperation.
SY: How would you describe the story of the film, and what your character goes through?
SG: I think it’s a small high, and then a deep valley. He feels like he has an end to his suffering. He feels like he’s finding what he needs to do to live his life well.
He ends up in a terrible situation. He has nobody but himself to try to get out of it. It’s like he foresaw his own doom in the last 15 minutes of the film.
SY: Nick Coviello is both the writer and director of ‘Basement Bugs.’ Do you find it easier to work with directors, like Nick, who also wrote the script for the film?
SG: It involves a lot of the production process. It’s grind work at times, and you really have to communicate well. But Nick himself is a really gentle person. He’s awesome and very creative. With the script he’s exceptional, so it was a great process.
SY: Nick has written on his blog for the film that he was inspired to write the script because of an apartment building in Los Angeles. Did you have any knowledge of the building before you signed on for the film? What inspired you overall to sign on to star in ‘Basement Bugs?’
SG: I did see the pictures of the initial location. They’re actually very creepy and disturbing. I thought the location was great for a horror film.
I’m definitely excited to jump in this role, because not only is it horror, it’s also not the conventional horror. It’s going to be very creepy and disturbing. There’s going to be a lot of dread building. Nick wants to shoot it in an almost Hitchcock type of way.
This character’s also very deep. It’s a great opportunity for me to show my depth, and I’ll attempt to win some awards.
SY: Does Nick have any plans to shoot in the actual building? Do you have any sets or locations lined up already?
SG: It seems like the location they were scouting out earlier was the creepy building I had mentioned. They’ve talked to the guy (who owns it), so it looks like we will end up shooting there, which is actually kind of nice. The whole atmosphere is going to be really, really spooky, creepy and eerie. It’s going to be like the old horror films.
SY: You mentioned Alfred Hitchcock earlier. Are you a fan of his work, and what horror directors are you a fan of?
SG: Actually, I am a big fan. I produced a film in 2010, called ‘Survival of the Fittest,’ which had a Hitchcock feel. When people cross each other, they really back-stab each other. There are a lot of twists and turns. The writing was very inspired by Hitchcock himself. So I’m definitely a fan.
Then Nick himself knows all the legends and greats. He’s really knowledgeable when it comes to movies, even shot-for-shot. It’s awesome to know how he thinks, and to see his passion for movies.
SY: What is it about the horror genre that you enjoy so much?
SG: I love horror because it’s sort of not everybody’s genre. You can do a horror film poorly and it will still be seen. If you do it well, you’ll be more respected.
I’ve always been a fan of the old ‘Halloween’ films and ‘Nightmare on Elm Street.’ I really liked ‘Scream’ when it came out. If I can watch a movie and be scarred by it, then it’s an awesome experience. To be a part of that, and freak some other people out, it would be great.
SY: Are there any particular horror movies that inspired you to appear in them as well?
SG: Yeah, I was definitely a big fan of ‘Scream.’ I actually saw a movie called ‘The Strangers’ that not everybody liked so much. I really liked that movie because I like horror movies that don’t have many monsters and aliens, or anything really out of reality.
You have a group of like three people, like in ‘The Strangers,’ preying on people, I think that’s much scarier. It can be more personalized, and is more likely to happen. Those people always freak me out.
I feel like ‘Basement Bugs’ is on that line, because it’s about the unknown and that process. It’s a great script.
SY: As you mentioned, you’re also a producer. Do you feel that being a producer helps you when you’re acting?
SG: It does. You get to see both sides of the business. You get to see how people maintain and utilize their resources for their benefit, whether it’s for exposure or financial purposes for a project. You get to know the ins and outs.
It also helps in the creative process, because you have more creative input. Ultimately, it’s a team effort, and the goal is to put art out there that people love and want to watch. If it’s horror, we want to creep them out.
SY: Also speaking of producing, ‘Basement Bugs’ is being produced by actor Denzel Whitaker, who has appeared in such film as ‘The Great Debaters’ and ‘Training Day.’ What has the experience working with Denzel been like on the short film?
SG: It’s great working with him. (laughs) He’s a hard worker. I’ve seen him work like 20, 22 hours straight. He’s directed me a few times as different characters on (this year’s sci-fi action short) ‘Operation: CTF,’ which just got accepted into the Hollywood Shorts Film Festival.
So working with him initially was great. We get along really well, and we really have the same vision when it comes to projects. He’s a great actor too, and he gets recognized for that. It’s awesome to work with someone who’s more than just a successful person, but also a great artist.
SY: Also speaking of festivals, once ‘Basement Bugs’ is completed, Nick also said he hopes to submit it into several festivals, including the Toronto Film Festival and South by Southwest. Do you hope that the short will be accepted into the festivals, and do you feel overall festivals are good exposure for your films?
SG: I definitely think so. That’s definitely the goal with ‘Basement Bugs,’ to definitely push it into different film festivals, like Screamfest. It’s also great for the L.A. area, because it’s a web of great thinkers. It’s also a way for people with the same creative visions in one place at one time. I think it’s very powerful for the industry.
The goal is always try to get it there, and even win some awards. We want to do the best we can, and move onto the next.
SY: Are you planning on having any stunts or special effects in the movie?
SG: There are; there’s going to be quite a bit of prosthetic work. We initially contacted Jamie Kelman, who I worked with before. He was too busy and had to turn it down.
But there will be a lot of prosthetics involved. I think some of the preparation takes about two weeks to complete. I don’t want to give too much away, but I get a little bit dismembered. (laughs)
SY: Do you have a preference of appearing in short films, like ‘Basement Bugs,’ or feature films?
SG: I enjoy the role, but I prefer to do features, just because of the way they can get exposed. They have a better chance to get seen, ultimately, when it’s finished.
But with a short, if it’s a great script, I’ll never say no to it, especially when I get to work with some of my good friends. It’s definitely a reward and an advantage to do it. I think shorts are always going to be a great way for people to showcase their talent without too much money, and ultimately trying to get more exposure and bigger deals for whatever their plan may be.
SY: Do you take a different approach when preparing for shorts and features, or do you generally prepare in the same way?
SG: I don’t think it’s any different. I think if you’re making good decisions in your career, and your managers have your back, and you’re doing things you want to do that have great scripts, whether it’s a short or a feature, there shouldn’t be any difference in preparation. I don’t think I’ll prepare any differently for this one. It’s definitely a great script and a great opportunity.
SY: You’ve spend most of your acting career on television, on such series as ‘Big Love’ and ‘Everybody Hates Chris.’ What is it about television that you enjoy so much?
SG: TV I think is great, because it can be a week-to-week thing, and you can hop on and do your three days. Definitely compared to independent films, it definitely pays better, which is great. I also like TV because it has a lot of solid actors. Even a lot of film legends like doing TV now. It’s definitely been an evolution of a process.
SY: Do you have any upcoming projects, either acting or producing, that you can discuss?
SG: I’m producing a trailer right now, it’s called ‘MMA Undercover.’ The other producer is Michael Placencia, and we’ve got a couple of people attached. It’s going to be good. Ultimately, we’re going to use it to make a feature or series.
We have a great little series, and it’s going to be inter-cut very well. There’s going to be a lot of suspense. We have Chad Michael Collins and Emily Kaiho attached. We’re just knocking down the final cast, and it’s a great experience.
Written by: Karen Benardello