Ray Szuch, founder of North Coast Central Casting and worldEonline. With many interests and talents, it’s not surprising to discover that he possesses a seventh degree black belt and is a master of Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido. To add to his passion Szuch expanded his knowledge of the film industry by providing an array of talent for any production including actors and extras, crew, support staff and everything in between.
ECIM: How long have you been a martial arts practitioner?
RAY: Since January 15th, 1960
ECIM: What inspired you to start The Cleveland Academy of Self Defense?
RAY: I always loved the sense of teaching and inspiring youth.
ECIM: You’ve won 3 Emmy’s for stunt co-ordinating for Crime Stoppers on NBC. How did you get into stuntwork for television?
RAY: Early in the 70s, the film and television industries turned to the martial arts because of its flamboyant style of fighting. Since then, it became my main passion to do it and do it correctly.
ECIM: You’ve also won the Telly Award for producing The Reel Show. That’s a great acheivement as well. What was it like receiving the award?
RAY: This award was exceptionally important to me because of the fact that I had trained Kristina Michelle from early on in her career and saw her develop into an outstanding actress. Together, with the concept of being involved with independent films, we created the show and expanded to a full network, The Reel TV Network.
ECIM: You’ve founded several companies and events geared towards the independent artist and worked with talented people within Hollywood. Which area do most desire to work in?
RAY: Independent film, because it’s a greater sense of creativity, working within their budgets to create the best end-product.
ECIM: You help many independent artists network with other individuals in the field. What is your most satisfying role in helping these artists pursue their dreams?
RAY: Seeing two individuals from different fields, like producing or acting, come together by my introduction – whereas their paths may have never crossed – is a great feeling.
ECIM: This is the 18th year for the Indie Gathering. Tell us a little about how you started this International Film Festival.
RAY: The Indie Gathering started as a local networking party at bars and nightclubs, happening once a year. Due to its growth and the interest it gained, we gradually expanded from that to what the festival is today.
ECIM: What goes into planning a big event like this and what is the most people you’ve had in attendence?
RAY: A great producer (for me, it’s Kristina Michelle) is a key-factor in the year-long process of developing an event like this. The largest attendance we’ve probably had is about 700, all related to independent film.
ECIM: When did you start the Indie Filmmaking Hall of Fame?
RAY: Three years ago.
ECIM: Can you tell us a little about your company World Entertainment Online? WEO is like the umbrella group of all my companies and endeavors.
RAY: It brings together all aspects of indie filmmaking into one place.
ECIM: What is your outlook for The Horror Hotel? Will it grow just as big?
RAY: I believe that over a period of time, in developing Horror Hotel just as The Indie Gathering, it will be all film-related individuals until we open it to the public, which will make it exceed The Indie Gathering. The Indie Gathering will always remain film-related, but Horror Hotel will eventually become more publicly recognized.