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Interviewed by Chris Hartley, staff writer of The Video Graveyard.

If you're a B-movie, low-budget, shot-on-a-shoestring horror fan then no doubt the name Trent Haaga has crossed your path more than once. For those of you uninitiated in our reading audience, Mr. Haaga is a quite prolific screenwriter and actor who got his start with Troma (doing such movies as Terror Firmer and Citizen Toxie), has worked with Full Moon, and has currently seen one of the movies he wrote the screenplay for (Feeding The Masses) coming to DVD courtesy of EI Cinema's Shock-O-Rama label.

With a compelling screen presence (and apparent acting chops as proven by Suburban Nightmare, a movie I chose as one of the "Best of 2004"), a likeable air about him, and a hardworking love of film - Trent Haaga is a name to keep an eye out for in the future. He took some time out to answer a few questions for us, here's what he had to say...


What were the influences that made you want to get into filmmaking in the first place?

I grew up before cable television and VCRs and DVDs and multiplexes. Movies were always something special when I was growing up. My very earliest memories are of my parents taking me to the drive-in in rural Kentucky, so maybe that's where I got this fascination with weird movies and horror flicks and monsters . . . I often wonder myself what warped me into what I eventually became.

You're still relatively new to the business but you've managed to get recognition among the B-movie crowd and have worked with a lot of known companies such as Troma and Full Moon. How hard was it to break into the business? Is there anything you'd do differently?

I hate to spout cliched platitudes, but you get out of life what you put into it. I wanted nothing more than to work with the companies that influenced me as a kid and I was willing to do anything to make it happen. There is, without a doubt, a certain amount of luck involved, but putting yourself in situations that can help facilitate your luck is also a part of it. Troma was my entree into the "scene" and it certainly didn't hurt that I had spent my entire life studying film (and low budget film in particular). I'd really like to be able to make a little bit more money, but overall I don't think that I'd do anything differently . . . I'm still trying to do "it" . . . whatever "it" is!


One of the many blood-filled moments from Feeding The Masses

Now that Feeding The Masses is out (and getting decent reviews for the most part), what do you think of the finished product and how involved were you with the production?

I simply wrote the screenplay and it was shot on the opposite coast that I live on, so I wasn't around for any of the production itself. Which was kind of cool. It was the first time that I wrote a script and wasn't involved in the day-to-day of production. I got to see the completed film for the first time along with everyone else. I really dig the film. Props have to go to Richard Griffin for trying to do something that most folks might consider too ambitious for the budget. Most people with little money make one of those "five teens in a van get lost and are killed by a guy with a ______ on his head" movies. FEEDING was a totally different kind of movie and overall the reviewers really seem to "get" what we were going for.

Looking on your website it seems you're certainly a prolific writer, but you mention a lot of them are in "Development Hell". Of all the titles that currently are stuck in neutral which would you like to see made and why?

I guess Dead Girl, which is also the project that's closest to actually getting done anyway. I really like the script and think that it's something different. And it has Chris Webster (producer of Heathers and Hellraiser 1 and 2) attached as executive producer, so it's going to have a much higher budget attached to it than I'm used to (though it's still very low-budget in the Hollywood scheme of things). Dead Girl's the project that could finally bump me up a notch.

You've proven with Suburban Nightmare that you can be a serious actor, do you have any future plans to pursue more roles of this type that give you the chance to expand your acting ability?

Absolutely. Though I'd still play the "goofy sidekick" or "weird dude" roles again if offered the opportunity. Acting is great fun no matter what type of role you're playing. But it is nice to be taken a bit more seriously, which is what Suburban Nightmare has done. Jon Keeyes, who directed Suburban Nightmare, took a big gamble casting me so it was important to me that I did the best I could given the time and budget (we shot the entire film in nine days for very little money).

You've done acting. You've written movies. Any chance you might take on directing in the near future?

YES! That's really my ultimate goal. I'm doing all of this other work so that I can avoid the mistakes of a first-time filmmaker when the time finally comes . . . and it may be sooner than you think!


Toxie approves of Haaga's writing on Citizen Toxie...

What would you consider your "dream project"?

Something where I had a couple of hundred thousand dollars and absolute control over. I don't know exactly what the script or story would be or anything, but I can tell you what it WOULDN'T be: a sequel or a re-make.

Any suggestions for any of our readers out there who may be trying to break into independent film?

Be prepared to work long, stupid hours for VERY little money. Be sure to marry a girl (or guy) with a good job who can keep you fed as you try to bring in a little cash every now and then. And don't be afraid to just put yourself out there. You are going to fail a Hell of a lot more than you're going to succeed. But it's a law of averages. Eventually something'll happen if you just stick to it.

Favourite horror movies?

Crap. How many gigs of space you got? I'll go ahead and ignore the obvious answers (TCM, Halloween, The Thing, NOTLD, DOTD, ROTLD, F13, EVIL DEAD, etc.) and try to list some of the more obscure ones: Session 9, The Vanishing (original version), Nightwatch, The Untold Story, Funny Games, Irreversible, The Pit, Night Of The Demon, Cemetery Man, and Buio Omega.

What's next for Trent Haaga?

I've got a couple of big projects that are so close to actually happening that I can't jinx em by mentioning them. I'll say one of them involves a certain hockey mask-wearing momma's boy, another one is acting in a larger film that actually stars some folks whose movies you've seen in the cineplex, and another one that would have me doing something on a production that I have yet to do. Sorry to be so . . . mysterious . . . but I'm feeling superstitious today!

Thanks for your time, any parting words for the readers out there?

Thank YOU for the interview! I really, really love film and especially the horror genre, so it's great to be at least semi-respected in the field. I'm going to try and make this a career, so I hope that some of you are willing to follow along with me as I try to make the next freakin' horror classic!


If you'd like more info on Trent Haaga and his career go to his Official Website.

Images are by Scorpio Pictures and Troma, Inc.