Barry Jay, founder of Barry’s Bootcamp (now with 55 studios worldwide!), recently got to fulfill his lifelong dream of making a horror movie. The tyro director’s Ashes, a crafty horror piece encompassing a truly unique yarn that was inspired by the filmmaker’s own aunt, recently hit VOD and DVD. We had the chance to talk to Barry about his lifelong love of film, his adoration for the horror genre and his next film, Killer Therapy.
After a family’s estranged aunt passes away, they’re reluctant and creeped out to receive her cremated ashes. But when a series of supernatural misfortunes beset them, they’ll have to go through Hell to be rid of her angry spirit.
The horror fans seem to be really digging the movie, Barry. I imagine you’re use to hearing praise for your bootcamps but not for you – the film director!?
Barry Jay: Thank you! I wasn’t used to it, but it was nice, and I really appreciated the support this being my first time out….
So, are you going to juggle the two careers now?
Barry Jay: Well I did retire from teaching at Barry’s last year – I still take classes there and when I travel to our other locations sometimes I’ll teach a class if asked… so the two careers now are writing and directing.
When did you first decide to tackle movies?
Barry Jay: Oh around 2010. I love horror and came out to LA from NY in 1983 to be a songwriter then turned to script writing – so it was a buried passion that just surfaced for me again in a big way. I wrote a lot of scripts to hone the craft – then a friend asked to read a few. After he read them he said we should write something together and that was The Chosen produced by Terror Films (2015).
Horror, they say, is the easiest sell. Is that part of the reason you chose to direct a horror movie?
Barry Jay: No, not at all. If it isn’t horror, I don’t even wanna write. I watch horror every night, I have loved it since I was too young to be watching it. I was happy horror was a good market to write for, but that had nothing to do with my writing it – I came home every day and just had to sit down and write horror – I would write 8 hours a day.
This film, mind you, has a lot of humor in it too. What spurred the decision to inject some light humor into proceedings?
Barry Jay: So honestly it wasn’t a conscience decision. It was based on something that happened in my family… so when I started writing it I just found things funny as I was writing. I would tell myself “this is horror” but I then I would say “so what, its funny leave it” – I talk to myself in my head, not out loud. If you were wondering.
Now is the film inspired by anything in particular?
Barry Jay: My Aunt Marion died in Ohio and my sister received her ashes. Yeah, there is a lot of truth, but I also went overboard with some stuff for the sake of horror.
Most reviews mention what a skilled director you are. Have any filmmaking education at any time during your life?
Barry Jay: Thank you that’s really nice to hear. I haven’t read a lot of reviews – lol – first timer here, was hoping some were good. No formal training no – I had amazing crew – the DP Jay Lee and I had a blast doing the shot and what terms I didn’t know he told me, then I knew it. And if I forgot it, he was there. I read some screenwriting books or used a couple of programs to learn (I truly loved “How To Write a Movie in 21 days.” For a beginner like I was it made it easy and fun to understand story structure and I love something I can get done fast). Ashes itself was film school for me and I loved learning as I went every minute of it. I had a vision for what I wanted and Jay would say “Just say what you want to see and we’ll figure out how to get it done.”
I imagine you’ve quite a few celebrity clients, and many of them filmmakers, did you talk to any of them about your film. They have any tips?
Barry Jay: One of them happen to be close friends, Richard Arlook and Vanessa Fung – they were there from the first moment I said I want to write horror screenplays. They read my early works (God bless them) and they’ve guided me along the way step by step and neither of them were too surprised when I had contracts for them to look at. There are a lot more friends and clients that have been there for me in amazing ways and I’m forever grateful! Especially to Ben Jehoshua who said “lets write a script together” that was my first script sold and it got me another writing job directly after.
Is there anything different you’d do on the next one that you did or didn’t do on this one?
Barry Jay: Yes. And my next one is in post, its called Killer Therapy and I did quite a few things different. I got the canon c300 a 4K cinema camera (Ashes was shot on the canon 5D), I love a good contained horror, and the 5D was perfect for it… but the 4K let the editor, Dustin Fine (yet another amazing friend/client from Barry’s) really make some creative choices with the edit…he’s an incredible talent that is so kind and thinks out of the box. It was also cool to open it up and have so many locations. I love the cast of Ashes, I can’t say enough amazing things, but with Killer Therapy I got to work with actors from some of my all time favorite iconic horror movies – I was a kid in a bloody candy store. Pun intended.
Ashes is now available on VOD and Digital from 1091 Media.