Featured Filmmaker - Joseph Forsberg
Trailer to Zero Tolerance
When a young teen takes his own life after years of relentless bullying, his family chooses to pursue their own justice after authorities and the school don't take action. While seeking revenge they must decide the value of a life and determine who the true victims are.
Links to Zero Tolerance info
Interview with Joseph Forsberg
1) Joseph how did you get into film making?
I’ve always loved films, specifically horror. When I was 6 I saw Halloween and just fell in love with the genre. Honestly it was never my intention to be a filmmaker, it seemed like an impossible goal, like when you are a kid and want to be Batman..which is actually a bad example because I would still love to be batman. Anyways, I go to school for behavioral analysis and I thought it would be awesome to psychologically dissect killers from horror movies and bring them into real life. I called it Psychology-n-horror. So I would interview filmmakers and the cast of movies in order to get their opinions and I would do a write-up. While doing this I met some amazing filmmakers, including Kristian Hanson, Patrick Melton and Eric England. The 3 of them made me believe in myself and helped me transition into screen play writing.
2) Who are some of filmmakers that inspire you?
Kristina, Eric and Patrick really made me believe that I could make this dream a reality. Kristian directed my first film ‘Shadow Theory’ and has been supportive every step of the way, I would not have even started Psychology-n-horror if it wasn't for him. Eric England and Patrick Melton truly inspire me and have walked me through the entire process, from writing the script to getting it on film and submitting to film festivals. They are two of the most humble people I know and I try to take on their personality every single day, because without the support of friends, family and fans we would not be able to do what we do….When I first met Eric he said something that I never forget and repeat to myself everyday.I told him how talented he is and how much he influenced me. I asked him what it's like to be a filmmaker and have people looking up to you, and his reply was –“I'm just a kid from a small town in Arkansas doing what I love”. To me that's true passion, that someone to look up to.
3) What have been some of your past projects that you worked
I only had one film prior to Zero tolerance and that was Shadow Theory. Shadow Theory was a 15 minute psychological horror short based on a full feature I wrote. The film made its run through film festivals and won 6 awards including Best Horror Short and Audience Choice. We will eventually make that a full feature but right now we have a different project we are working on.
4) How did Zero Tolerance come about?
Bullying is an issue that has obviously become an epidemic and the most frustrating part is that I have not seen any sort of solution. People can point their fingers and decide who to blame, but parents and schools have not come up with a way to prevent it. I was never bullied as a kid but I have suffered from severe depression/bipolar my whole life and can relate to the effects of bullying. I've read so many stories of why kids have committed suicide and I can relate, I know how it feels to be trapped and feel like there is no escape. I did a lot of research about bullying, which included interviewing children and parents who have lost a love one to suicide. I used all of that information along with personal experiences to write this script. A couple years back I went to group therapy and did ECT which is modern day electric shock therapy and I heard so many horrible stories from these kids who tried to killed themselves and failed. I learned about their lifestyle, their personality and I mixed all of that in with some aspects of my personality to create the main character Aaron.
5) Zero Tolerance seems to have a lot of horror elements along with being a film that is making a social commentary about an important problem in our society. How did you go about mixing the two together?
It's obviously a very sensitive subject and I wanted to be respectful of victims and their families. However, there has been enough sugarcoating, people need to be held responsible. To say “it's part of growing up” or blaming the parents is complete bullshit. I think we need to discuss how it effects families and the aftermath. We hear the story when it happens but there is never a follow up. So we need to discuss revenge, it's human nature and not something we should tip toe around. It’s gonna be violent, it's gonna expose children to the harsh reality that we live in, but it's the best way to get their attention. While we do explore violence we also make it clear that we do not condone it. The original script was a bit more graphic but as we filmed we all became a little emotional and I had a clearer vision of what I wanted to show.
6) Making independent
films can be quite hard, what where some of the troubles you had in making this
film? And what where you able to do to over come them?
You ask any filmmaker for advice on making a film and they will always say “be prepared, because everything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. This was my first time directing and I was surrounded by talent that I've looked up to for years, so I was already extremely nervous. I’m not going to lie, there were times where I would get pissed and want to give up, there were times when I didn't think I could do it and that this would not be something the cast would want to be a part of. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. We lost locations, had to change locations, we had to reshoot an entire scene at a different location. I can say with 100% certainty that if I did not have John Sovie (DP), Russ Matoes (1st AC) and Chris Bouffard (AD) this film would not have been made. Originally I was not going to Direct, but I knew that John Sovie and Russ Matoes would be able to walk me through the process and help me out with any issues that I had. I took on way too many jobs while filming so there were times where I would had to take care of other things if a scene took too long, and I had confidence in John and Russ to finish the scene alone. He was extremely creative with angles and shots, I wish I could take credit because the film is going to look Fucking beautiful. He had a lot on his plate, which originally included sound, but luckily Scott Clementson stepped in and did an amazing job. We ran behind and at one point, it didn't look like we were going to get everything shot, but Chris Bouffard stepped up and figured out the fastest and most efficient ways to film scenes without losing quality or meaning. Throughout we were stressed and wanted to rip each others heads off, luckily Russ kept his cool and this team together on top of beast molding the shit out of this film. It's all about passion, chemistry and drive, and this team has it all. There is no other team I would rather work with..
7) What is the message you like your film to give to audiences?
I think the message is obvious..FUCK BULLYING. I don't know where our society got the idea that one life is more valuable than another. Not only that, but they feel like it is their right to put people down and make them feel like pieces of shit just to make themselves feel better. It doesn't matter what you look like, what lifestyle you live, if you have a mental illness, or different beliefs, you deserve to be happy and treated with respect. For every kid out there who is being bullied, you can be somebody, you can get through school and prove those little shits wrong. You are worth something! If you need inspiration or feel like you are trapped, email me ([email protected]) and I will help you find a way out. You can fight through anything and come out on top. It doesn't matter what other people think.
8) What is the plan for releasing the film?
Right now we are working on getting this film edited and ready to be shown, but we are in discussion with distribution companies and will of course submit to film festivals.
9) Can you tell us some of your experiences working on the set of Zero Tolerance?
Like I said before, it was crazy, stressful and one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do, but it is also without a doubt the most fun I have ever had. When all is said and done it was also the most satisfying. As a first time director you don't expect to get the opportunity to work with some of the talent I was able to. I have loved Clare Kramer since she was in Buffy and she was actually one of my very first crushes as a child. Seeing her onset and seeing how she brought the character to life was very surreal, I really can't put it into words. Madeline Carroll is beyond talented and one of my favorite actresses, she worked so hard on and off set while bringing so much to the team. Madeline and her mother knew this was my first time directing and they were so helpful, could not have done this without them. I had the opportunity to go into a music studio and listen to Madeline do a cover of ‘How to Save a Life’ by THE FRAY and it was phenomenal, could have never guessed it was her first time singing. Yancy Butler, Anthony Quinn, Natalie scheetz, Lindsey Lamer, Sam Dobbins and Beau Brians brought so much energy to the set. I know this answer is getting to be a bit long, but I have to also mention the two young stars Rylee Button and Brennon Ramirez…first time actors that blew me away with their auditions and I knew they would be great. There were days when we could do an entire scene full of dialogue in one take because that's how good they were.
10) What advice can you give to people looking to get into
Be ready to take criticism and do not take it personally, you may think you have the perfect film, but you don't. You can go through 20 drafts and still find things you want to change, but sooner or later you have to trust yourself and the people you are working with. You can’t please everyone, so just believe in what you are doing, take criticism, learn from your mistakes and keep moving. Do not compare yourself to any other filmmakers, if you do, you will get discouraged and quit. Everyone has their own path and you just have to believe in what you are doing. “Just grab a camera and start filming”-Eric England.
Bonus Question: You find yourself trapped in a horror movie, what movie would it be and why?
I would say THE COLLECTOR, because I have seen it so many times that I would know how to get out of the house and save the family without being caught. Now once I'm there I would probably freak out and shit my pants, but I'm hoping I could get the fuck out of there.