Travis is primarily known as an actor and director in horror films, however in his teenage years and early 20s he was also a music artist who released several albums and compilations. His family is no stranger to fame, he has relatives who were in the NBA, Olympics, professional wrestling, modeling, etc. He is best known for directing the Ed Wood inspired film “Shadows In The Woods,” which stars two actors from the Star Wars universe Michael Sheard and Eric Walker, along with Peter Mayhew appearing on the special features of the DVD. 1950s Ed Wood actor Conrad Brooks was a mentor to Travis for many years and also stars in both Shadows and also Travis’s first film “2020 An American Nightmare.”
ECIM: What was the first thing that inspired you to become an artist?
TRAVIS: It was really a combination of things from when I was young. The first was my Mom, she was on a car commercial when I was a little kid back in the 80’s which I thought was really cool. Then I had a cousin that was a big college basketball star when I was a teenager and I was always watching him on TV and I remember thinking how amazing it was that all these people would make such a big deal about him. I also had a cousin in NY that used to be a DJ out there that would hang out with celebrities like the Nelson twins so I would hear stories about that from my family. I say those things are my first inspiration because in order to have the ability to achieve a goal you have to believe that your able to achieve that goal and with seeing other family members be in the entertainment world or be around it I never had that feeling of thinking it was impossible or anything. Not to sound egotistical but when I was younger I always felt like it was more of a matter of when is it going to be my turn.
ECIM: What was the point you decided you wanted to start making movies?
TRAVIS: I would have been around 15 or 16 and I watched Tim Burton’s movie Ed Wood. After I watched that movie that was it, I knew I wanted to be not just a director but an indie film director. Then around 21 years old I met Conrad Brooks from not only the Ed Wood movie but also from the real Ed Wood films of the 1950’s. He became a mentor, we would talk sometimes every night when I was young and he would tell me stories about Hollywood back in the 50’s and stories about Ed Wood and Bela Lugosi who for your younger readers that might not know, Bela was the original Dracula. Conrad has given me all kinds of advice and has been in every full length feature I ever made.
ECIM: When did you start Eerie Frequency Entertainment and what was your first project?
TRAVIS: I first started Eerie Frequency somewhere around 2003 with my friends Joe Mohn and Justin Lamar. Me and Joe were into the production aspects of it and Justin’s interest was marketing and online. The logo was created by a fellow that used to work for Marvel Comics. It was cool to have Justin helping us back when we started because he already had experience around the entertainment world as his brother in law was in a famous band at that time called Cake. The very first time I yelled action was for my film Shadows In The Woods starring Conrad Brooks and Michael Sheard. However 2020 An American Nightmare came out first because some producer was making a compilation of short films so we had put Shadows on hold and we’re supposed to make 2020 a short film, we put Shadows on hold and made 2020 but the producer fell through on the compilation and we had more footage than we needed but we were wrapped on 2020 so we released that movie first and then finished production on Shadows. I enjoy 2020 but Shadows really meant a lot to me because I had Michael Sheard fly out here from the United Kingdom and he stayed out in Ohio for a week and I learned so much from him. I really didn’t appreciate the significance of what he did for me until I was older. This was a man who played in the greatest Star Wars movie ever made, Empire Strikes Back as Admiral Ozzel, has action figures of himself, played in various Dr Who episodes, played Hitler in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade as well as portraying Hitler in more films than any other actor ever, and starring on his own TV show in the UK called Grange Hill and here he is coming to Warren Ohio to film in some kids movie. To even think about it, it’s just crazy, what an amazing person he was to that! He also wasn’t the only actor I had from Star Wars in Shadows, I also had the star of the full length Caravan Of Courage: The Ewok Adventure which was a Star Wars spinoff movie that George Lucas released to TV, he also did a sequel called Ewoks: The Battle For Endor that Eric was also in.
ECIM: What is your favorite genre and what is your process for writing your films?
TRAVIS: My favorite genre is science fiction thrillers, basically a cross between science fiction and horror. When I write a script I have to have an idea that is something that really interests me, so much so that I know it’s something that can keep my interest for a long time. Then I study whatever it is that I’m writing about, I may do this for a week or months and the reason for this is that I need to know everything that I’m writing about. Then I create a character list, this starts as a list of only a few characters and it grows as I write. Then when it’s time to write I normally listen to music and picture the story playing out like I’m watching it as I type.
ECIM: You have made a cameo in all the shorts and feature films you’ve made, and are recently playing a bigger role in your newest movie.
TRAVIS: I started as an actor before I became a director. I did some short films, some work with an old company called Doorway Productions, and then I had a small part in Dead Life. I would study the directors while I was on set, the makeup artists, the actors, people helping and everything that was going on. When it came time to do my own projects I followed what Conrad Brooks had done and also acted in my films, I knew from him that playing a role in the films I directed would sell more copies of the films because in many cases when I would be making appearances at conventions fans would always ask if I was in the films too so I have to say that Conrad was 100% right about that. But the reason wasn’t just financial, I’ve always had a love of acting and I feel like because of my past work and actor friends that I’ve had that I can also bring experience to the table when I do a project. As for myself playing a large role in this film it goes back to one of my favorite director actors Leonard Nimoy, I saw him at a lecture he was giving in Akron, Ohio a few years ago and he said that the hardest thing a director can do is to also star in their own film so it was always something that I wanted to try because I love a challenge.
ECIM: Tell us a little about your newest film “Midnight Massacre”
TRAVIS: It’s based on a story originally written over 400 years ago. It’s about the falling of one government to resurrect another, both sides feel their cause is just. One side everyone can relate to, it’s the way we think in the here and now but the other side is the side of who we were and where we came from. The villains of the story appear evil even though I think the audience will enjoy them. I think there’s a part in them that is inside all of us, a dark part that we try to hide and pretend doesn’t exist.
ECIM: How did you come up with the idea of writing this type of film?
TRAVIS: When I was young we did a DVD release party for The Devil’s Rejects in 2005 called Dark Xmas in downtown Warren Ohio. We had Sid Haig (Captain Spaulding), Leslie Easterbrook (Mama Firefly), and we were scheduled to have Matthew McGrory (Tiny Firefly) who had passed right before the show. Anyway it was this huge event that had over a thousand people cramped in this little hotel and it was a blast. I would eventually have others from the film at my events and I also really loved the movie. I loved how you cheer for the villains in it and I loved how Rob Zombie would use interesting actors in his movie who had cult followings. I’ve also always loved the movie Mad Max and that apocalyptic setting. So I decided to mix the two core elements of those films together to create something completely different and then retell the story of one of the greatest plays ever written by William Shakespeare and set the movie in the near future.
ECIM: How long did it take you to write the script and what challenges did you meet while writing it?
TRAVIS: It took me around six months to write it. The biggest challenge was that when we first rolled in November 2013 the script wasn’t finalized. I had to jump ahead and write a scene out of sequence going off the timeline of the story. It all worked out though.
ECIM: You have an interesting cast of actors in your film, like Byron Cherry, Don Pedro Colley, Linda Harrison, Susie Feldman, Matthew T. Metzler, and a couple Wrestling stars like Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Chris Hahn Aka Johnny Paradise.
TRAVIS: This is a formula that I started back when I first started making films and others such as Rob Zombie use. I love having actors in my projects that have a cult following.
ECIM: How did you come up with such a diverse set of actors?
TRAVIS: Linda Harrison is Hollywood royalty, her family created 20th Century Fox and she starred in the first two Planet Of The Apes films and secretly I had a huge crush on her as a teenager so it was very cool to have her not only act in my film but also be an Executive Producer on it. Planet Of The Apes is an apocalyptic film series and before there was a Star Wars it was science fiction so I really wanted her on this project, to me it was the equivalent of having Leonard Nimoy in the new version of Star Trek. Then having Don Pedro Colley, he was a co-star with Linda in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes but also was in George Lucas’s first science fiction film THX 1138 and he’s been on tons of TV shows like The A-Team and The Dukes Of Hazzard so he made sense being involved and brought a huge level of experience to the set. Byron Cherry was someone I was a fan of as a kid when he starred as Coy Duke on The Dukes Of Hazzard and he’s a pleasure to have on set and makes the other actors better. Matt T Metzler not only just moved back to Warren and is a great actor but he also brings the same type of energy to the set as Byron and was featured in multiple episodes of the last season on Breaking Bad. The wrestlers involved were Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Chris Hahn who was known as Johnny Paradise, and the Honky Tonk Man and I loved having these guys involved, they’re just great people to work with and also have tons of experience from their work in the WWE. Susie Feldman I had wanted to be in The Girl originally with Corey Haim but that didn’t work out so when I was casting for this project she had a different agent and everything worked out amazing this time and she was a delight to have involved!
ECIM: You mentioned that there was a reason that you were making this film with everyone you’ve worked with at Eerie Frequency. Tell us a little about that.
TRAVIS: In all my films I’ve used Eerie Frequency actors but normally it will either be Matt Jefferson having a big part in The Girl for example or Joe Mohn having a big part in Shadows In The Woods while other actors have smaller parts. So for this project I wanted the core of Eerie Frequency to have larger parts with nods to past Eerie Frequency projects too, we have a great appearance by Lindsey Sokol who was the star of Shadows In The Woods and we’re working on doing a cameo with Bill Bankey who starred in 2020 An American Nightmare, and I already filmed Conrad Brooks scene who’s acted in every full length film I’ve ever made. I actually drove down to West Virginia to film Conrad’s part in the movie. Another really exciting and fun thing I felt was not only brining back Hank Fiorini but bringing him back as the same character he played in Shadows In The Woods.
ECIM: Is there any type of Kickstarter or crowd funding projects you have for anyone wanting to be a part of this movie?
TRAVIS: Yes, please go to www.midnightmassacre.net and view Support Us on there. We don’t have millions of dollars like the Hollywood movies do so any and all help is very much appreciated and will be put to great use! You know on Hollywood sets everyone there at the end of the night gets to go home or go back to their hotel room and relax but we don’t get that kind of luxury, most all of us have to leave from the set to our 9 to 5 job until this project takes off which I do in all honesty believe that it will but until that time we really need support and it’s not a one way street, everyone who helps us gets something in return.
ECIM: This is your first role as director in three years. How difficult was it for you to jump back into it?
TRAVIS: One might say it’s like riding a bike but one would be lying. It was really something that took some time to get back into but it really helped having Jim Danko as DP and co-producer and my former Assistant DP Mike Kolovich on board with this project. The one really big thing though that I noticed is that our crew meshes great, everyone seems to have fun but be professional at the same time and I think that really helps production. No one, even our star actors shows up on set with egos, no one wants to quit, and everyone just really takes the project very serious. Now as the great Lloyd Kaufman would say, “Let’s go make some art!”