THH: So first off, if you just wanted to introduce yourself and what you’ve been doing, what you’ve been up to.
SAM: Yeah. I’m Sam Fox. I am a writer, director, producer. I have my own production company, Foxy Films, which I use to make, so far only genre short films, but, branching out into features, hopefully, writing my first one as we speak. Bit of a mixed genre, I call it absurdist horror comedy, kind of based off of, the inspirations that I grew up with, which were, absurd comedies like, British comedies like Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, all of John Cleese’s stuff, Spike Milligan, and then mixed with kind of the, absurd Twilight Zone, because the world that we live in is insane.
THH: I have, so, correct me if I’m wrong, but if your kind of artist path went from painting to what seemed to be acting to now directing, my question is, In what phase from painting to acting were you casted as a painter in a, what was it? A spicy sriracha chicken sandwich commercial.
SAM: Wow, you’ve done your research.
THH: I tried to get a little bit, you know, I tried to dig a little bit to see what I could find.
SAM: I am so interested to see how that even came up and I would love to see if I can find it. It was just, you know, it was I, I could play the part because I knew what painters do. I had a hard time transitioning from acting or from painting to acting because, you know, in painting you’re in full control of every single aspect of the art that you create whereas an actor, you are. a very, very small cog. I try and tell a lot of actors who think that, you know, they’re so concerned with their performance and how they’re going to do and I’m like, you are, we are all part of something of a bigger something. And You know, you just have to bring like you’re a little bit of what you can do and then you’ve got the lighting and edit like you don’t even have to remember all your lines, but as long as you can remember parts of your lines and you’re blocking, you’re good. So yeah, when I transitioned to acting, I just kind of had this attitude of like, don’t tell me what to do, which is basically what being an actor is. So when I was auditioning for the commercial playing a painter, I just felt like, oh, okay, this is something I know. This is a world that I, I can get into. That was actually a very, very fun shoot. I love doing that. I actually really liked commercial acting because, the sets were always grand. And a lot of the directors that I worked with, I never really did like super grounded commercials. They were always kind of weird and wacky. And so it was always just like a very fun one day shoot of just being on this amazing set. You know, I work in indie film and we have no budgets. So Where we’re just stringing stuff together. There’s never a break, you know, we’re running around like chickens with our heads cut off doing 20 jobs each. So, being on those bigger sets where, you know, you’re shooting a two minute spot in like five days. Not even a two minute spot and 90 seconds gone in five days. It was just, it felt kind of fun. But of course, I wasn’t seeing the madness that was going on behind the scenes.
THH: Yeah. Well, the only reason I really found that I was trying to see if you had any paintings, like your own personal works on your Instagram. And I found a picture of you with a Wendy’s painting. I was like, well, this is something I have to see what this is about. So I kind of. I was trying to see if the aesthetic kind of, you know, if there was a hint there from your physical work to your film.
SAM: There is. I think, I think I actually have paintings on my MySpace if that’s even still existing. Oh wow. So I, I probably, what, I was 18, 19 when I stopped painting and so when I was 19 in 2000. I’m not going to age myself., I stopped painting before Facebook, let’s say, you know, in the MySpace era, or maybe Facebook was around, but it is very, very similar aesthetic. It’s actually, I never planned on that. And then, only like a year ago when I was reflecting on the kind of journey I was taking, did I realize that, you know, my paintings were surreal, very colorful. very dark and disturbing, with also, you know, comedic elements to them. So it, it’s wild how, I guess it’s just my deranged brain and how it works.
THH: There’s no escaping it, whatever, however, whatever canvas gets put in front of me, you’re going to get that neon camp.
SAM: Yeah, yeah, I guess. I mean, I grew up on like, you know, “Rosemary’s Baby” was the first ever film I was obsessed with when I was five.
THH: It was an interesting choice for the number one.
SAM: Well, that was my mom, you know. But then my sister was a huge horror fan, and she was eight years older. So she showed me like Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” quite early. That kind of like psychedelic colorful horror was definitely ingrained in my brain at a very young age. Also growing up in the eighties or, well, I guess it would be, I was born in 88. There we go. I’ve aged myself. So growing up with that, like late eighties, not early nineties horror that have like very, can’t be very colorful, all of that stuff. You know, by the time that I was seeing like the slasher movies, like “Scream” and, and all of that, I know what you did last summer, which was kind of in my teens, my My brain was already formed by the horror that I had seen as a young child. And so when we got into those slashers, they didn’t really excite me because I was like, where, you know, it’s too real. I like the heightened feeling of just being in an alternate. Which also makes it not so scary, I think.
THH: Oh yeah, the surrealism kind of, it has its own thrill energy to it, but it definitely takes you out of that space of, this could happen to me, type of thing.
SAM: Yeah, and to be honest, like, I make horror films, I’m obsessed with true crime, I’m obsessed with horror films, but like, I don’t like watching, I don’t like to be really scared, I like to be excited and titillated and entertained, but like, those kind of films, I mean, the one I do like that’s terrifying is the original “Funny Games”, and I think because it’s also just so, the acting and the style of it is so brilliant, but like a lot of these torture porn, I’m just, it’s not my style, you know.
THH: So, you’re not a human centipede fan.
SAM: Well, I actually, I have a funny story about “The Human Centipede” I think we, again, my family. I think I watched the first one with my sister and then the second one we watched as a family pic with like my stepbrothers, I think my grandma, my mom, my sister, and that was such an experience because I think we thought, okay, we watched “The Human Centipede”, like, this will be fine. And then the second one was just completely, devastatingly traumatizing. So watching that with the family was very comedic.
THH: Well, I can say I watched. “Fck’n Nuts”. When I got the screener was in love with it, I’m not usually even like a shorts person, you know, I’m not going to find the newest release shorts from this people, anything. So I was really surprised and how much I truly enjoyed that short. I pushed me to even go back. I went to go see “Unagi” and “Bad Acid”, both of them. Also fantastic. I mean, you found that voice and your kind of style in your shorts. So I’m interested. I know you’ve talked about before, your feature. And I think in a different interview, maybe you were talking about how it was going to be based around New Orleans and artists selling their soul kind of thing. I guess the question is, with “Fck’n Nuts” it was kind of humans effects on climate change, you had “Bad Acid”, which was kind of like vanity and, you know, very, self conscious and stuff and then “Fck’n Nuts” was just family trauma esque, is there, do you go into these having that theme in mind or is it kind of like, however the story starts to play itself out that you try to put a little bit of your spice on it?
SAM: Well, thank you so much for those compliments. That’s that like, you know, as an artist, it’s music to my ears and I appreciate you digging back and watching the, the previous works. It’s kind of, it’s grown a bit. I’ve always loved the idea of that like sci fi element and that absurd element of real life. Stuff, real life stories, because truth is stranger than fiction, but then I also like taking stuff that is really heavy and instead of, you know, saying like, this is the message you have to, you know, you have to fight global climate change. I’d rather just wrap it in like a surreal bow so that it’s. My take my interpretation, my, you know, I’m not trying to, I’m not trying to get like a moral message out there, but I am inspired by the madness that happens around me. So, “Unagi”, I was actually, I was sitting at a sushi restaurant because Japanese food is my favorite food. And, there was TVs there because, you know, a lot of the Japanese watch the baseball and stuff like that. And the screen came on and it was the Fukushima power plant. After the, I think I, I think we knew about the earthquake and then At dinner, maybe that’s when we found out about the Fukushima thing. And I remember just like sitting there eating my sushi and I’m like, Oh my God, this is going to have massive consequences. And, you know, I wasn’t alive during Chernobyl, but I know that that had a huge effect on the food and all over Europe because of the weather patterns that moved the nuclear, toxic and, whatever you call it, waste into Europe. So it was just like one of those moments of realizing also how connected we all are. Like, this is happening across the globe, yet, you know, this, this nuclear waste is going into our oceans and our oceans circulate all over the world. So then I just kind of had this idea and weirdly enough, I think a few months before I was looking in the mirror once and I said, like, I feel like an eel. I don’t know why I looked in the mirror and I felt like I looked like an eel or I was feeling like an eel. I have no idea what it means. So the two ideas kind of came together of like this girl who turns into an eel. And then for “Bad Acid” It, it was really trying to think about, you know, how we can have this, this character who the worst thing in the world can happen to her is to have her world collapse in on her. Because she grew up being made fun of and she’s finally redeemed the status of being the most popular girl in the world. And what’s the worst thing that could happen to her is to go back to that little girl that was made fun of. And so, you know, that’s where the vanity came in. And, and I grew up with a narcissistic father, so I wanted to explore the theme of narcissism. All my stuff is very, very inspired by my family because my family’s. Fuckin nuts and insane. And, yeah, with “Fck’n Nuts”, I wanted to kind of talk about my childhood trauma because it’s something that I’ve only recently started talking about because I only recently could talk about. My father’s passed away and my mom just wrote her memoir where she kind of exposes everything that happened. So, I now feel like, me talking about it wouldn’t be because me and my mom get along now. I wouldn’t be kind of outing her. But again, because. Of the, the humor that I grew up around about like self deprecating British humor and having to laugh in the face of adversity. I wanted to turn that trauma into a joke because, you know, it’s like the tears of a clown. The next thing I actually, so “Moonchild” is the New Orleans feature, which is kind of about my experience as an artist. I have a really difficult time trusting anyone. It’s really interesting. Like, I just won best midnight feature at FilmQuest. And, like, I was really happy about it. And then I thought everyone was, like, lying. I thought it was a big joke or something. I, it’s, it’s a really messed up brain that I… occupies my head. So I kind of wanted to expose that of like, but this girl, like, she shouldn’t be trusting anyone because everyone is trying to deceive her and use her for her talent and power. And that is something that you encounter a lot as an artist. And then the short that I’m doing with Desiree Staples, our fourth, I think, or fifth thing, fifth thing together, I’ve been experiencing like a feeling of being haunted by my dad. The kind of that psychological stuff that your parents do to you when you’re a child unknowingly and how it informs the way that you think and my dad’s been dead for about 13 years yet still every single day. I noticed this thought process happening and it’s from. My relationship with him. So I wanted to do kind of a sci fi like person being haunted by their parents, but it’s their parents dead and how it’s really just how “Fck’n Nuts” goes into it too. Of the power of your parents that it never leaves you, no matter how far you might try and get away from it. Like they’re ingrained into you, they created you. So that’s something I really like to explore deeper too. Sorry, that was a very long answer.
THH: Oh, no, no, I, I loved it. And I like, it seems like the way you’re going for these new projects is the same with like the older ones, how it’s, it’s the spoonful of sugar thing. It’s like, I’m not trying to, you know, just give you my diary entries in a movie. I’m gonna. But all of my different touches on it, like you said, wrap it in a bow and hand it to you and then you can interpret it that way if you want. But honestly, I just want you in it for the ride and the grand scheme of things.
SAM: Yeah, I think my number 1 goal is to entertain, growing up. I was, you know, as you can. Tell from this conversation. Like I didn’t have an idyllic childhood and I became the mascot of the family. So at a very young age, I was the, I was the entertainer. Like, you know, don’t look over there. Don’t look over here. Look over here. I’m going to do a song and dance. So I think, you know, always like I was biggest class clown in elementary school and, and then getting into the entertainment business. My whole thing is to. Bring people on a ride, which is fun. Might be a bit scary, might be a little bit sad. I like to hit all the things. And, yeah, I think with this next, these next two, I want it to be a bit more grounded. So although there are elements of the supernatural. I think I’m going to make it a little bit more real world, worldy, as far as like lighting schemes and stuff like that, but it is still going to have, I guess it’s a science fiction element to it and then with “Moonchild”, that’s going to be based around black magic and the occult. It’s definitely going to be more horror, more thriller, more psychological, darker, but I have to sprinkle comedy in there through the characters because I, I feel like every film you need to be laughing at least, you know, every few scenes. Otherwise, I don’t know for me, it’s, I like to, I like the levity mixed.
THH: Yeah, I couldn’t agree with that. I could agree with that whole heartedly, just a little break and attention wherever it needs to be.
SAM: Exactly. It’s, you know, fil I think great films are rollercoaster rides, and so that is always my goal, is to try and, take you on something where you don’t know where you’re gonna end up, and throughout the ride, you have these peaks and valleys, and it’s exciting.
THH: I do want to talk a little bit more about “Bad Acid”, but for “Fck’n Nuts” specifically, What pushed you to Cosmic Family Films? What pushed you to working with them? And then also, I grew up in New Orleans. I lived in Slidell for a little bit, so I’m interested on why… Look, I love Slidell, but just why Slidell?
SAM: Yes, Slidell in the house. So Joe, it’s it’s really funny actually, Joe from Cosmic Family Films, Joe Badon, he messaged me back in, God, it must have been like 2017, 2018, his method of communication is Facebook Messenger and still is to this day. He had caught the first film that I wrote and produced, co wrote and produced, called “Wowzers”. I think he found it on Amazon or something, which was very surprising. And he wrote me a message just saying, like, I thought it was so cool and we, we communicated a bit back and forth, and then… I think it’s fast forward maybe two or three years where he had a film called sister Tempest and I had a film and I had “Unagi” and they were both playing at another hole in the head together and he messaged me again and said like, Hey, I, I’m going to, I missed “Unagi”. How can I watch it? So I sent it. It’s him. He sent me “Sister Tempest”. We talked again and then flash forward another two years and I had “Bad Acid” and he had “Blood of the Dinosaurs”. And we were then playing not just one or two festivals together, but almost every single festival together. After a while I’m just like, we have to meet, you know, this is now the third film, it’s time. So Vincent Stalba, who’s Dan in “Fck’n Nuts”. And also Mr. Oh God, what’s his name? Bobo, Bobo, I think his name is, I don’t know, in “Blood of the Dinosaurs”. He facilitated a meeting at a Starbucks, after, Desiree Staples and I were at AFM last year. And I kind of said, like, I’ve got this idea for a film, I think it will be way too expensive to film in Los Angeles because it’s got puppetry and costumes and special effects and I said, you know, I don’t want to be, I can’t be spending 40,000 on a short. So I asked him, you know, if he could make it for me for 15,000 and he said, yeah cause he’s just tapped into this amazing, like DIY, New Orleans, passionate style of filmmaking, which is just, I feel like once people get out of college in Los Angeles, it just, it disappears. People become jaded. People start working on commercials, people, you know, it’s so expensive to live out here. That, that passion, I really felt it leave once like. You’re working with people over 21 years old, yet in New Orleans, because it is a city based around arts and creativity and making, you know, making stuff for the parades. It’s so rich there. I mean, it’s just New Orleans is so rich with flavor and color and personality. Every time I come back to LA, I feel like I’m living in like a void of robots and I get really sad but Joe is, I think, 4th generation Slidell. I think, I think his grandpa was like some, I don’t know, head of Slidell something. So, when it came time, I was kind of telling him. I wanted, I wanted this house that felt like, you know, these, this family has been outcast by society. They’re like the aliens to society. So they have to have this house on the edge of town where I’m the only neighbor there is. You can only hear him. You can’t see him. There was houses on either side, but we lit it in a way where you couldn’t see him. It does feel like the only house in the area. It was actually a house that belonged to Joe’s brother in law, and we basically got to use it for practically nothing. And, Sandy’s bedroom, the pink amazing bedroom, is actually Joe’s bedroom with his wife. That bed is his marital bed. He is a, again, colorful character. Yeah. And, and that’s how we came to filming in Slidell. We actually, I found a great Caribbean restaurant in Slidell. The Airbnb that we stayed in was the strangest place ever but it was inexpensive and we were able to, you know, get people to drive in from New Orleans and house, quite a few cast and crew in our Airbnb and then for the feature of the “Moonchild” feature that I want to do out there I’m looking to shoot. It’s set in the Bayou but I probably don’t want to shoot in the bayou because I know it’s really gnarly. Heat, sweat, all of that stuff. So I might shoot like exteriors and then I love built sets. I would, if I could build every single set, I would. So depending on budget, if I could build those sets and even build like fake exterior bayou sets, that’s the goal. So we shall see.
THH: Heck yeah. Yeah. Just however the funding comes in.
SAM: Exactly. Which after this run, I, I’ve had been approached by a few different production companies looking for material and development. It’s very cool. I think because of how the horror genre scene has expanded in the last few years there are a lot of independent producers that want to get behind it. Not only because they know that it could possibly make its money back, but because it’s exciting and there’s lots of people that are into it. So yeah, hopefully I get some bites back.
THH: Well, I’m sure you will. I, like I said, I was in love with “Fck’n Nuts” and then I enjoyed “Unagi” and “Bad Acid” right afterwards. Were you always kind of a fan of New Orleans or were you kind of like, I know they kind of have a local indie movie scene, low budget stuff. I, maybe that’s an opportunity because of the guy from Cosmic Family Films or was this a “Let’s see how New Orleans is.”
SAM: I’d always wanted to go. I actually only went for the first time this February during our location scout, but I remember my mom went for jazz fest, like way back in the day, I think maybe even before I was born or right, right when I was super young and then I just heard the stories of. Of friends going and just saying how lively it is and the live music and the art and all of that stuff, which are things that are I’m so in love with. And of course, bars and food too, two other big hobbies of mine. I knew that it was a place that I would greatly appreciate. And when Joe, when I got to talking with Jonah, I’m like, Oh, cool. Like you’re from New Orleans. That’s so awesome. I’ve always wanted to go knowing that there was a bit of a film community that’s been bustling up there. I’m seeing that he had crew there that were all very talented. I got there and I was, I was destroyed and in the best way possible. I think I was there for the location scout four nights. I think it was like a four or five in the morning, night, every night, because. It’s just, it’s like the whole idea of you’re never, you never stop moving, you know, and it’s because you can take your drinks with you. So you go to dinner, you don’t finish your bottle of wine. So then you like walk to the next place that’s playing some live music. You go there, you finish your bottle of wine, maybe you meet some people that are going to another place and you end up in these incredible, like there’s just so much life and action and, you know, coming from LA, we’re like. Bar shut at two in the morning, it’s like 25 for a tequila soda. You have to drive everywhere. And Uber’s are, you know, I live on the West side. So Uber’s for me are like 50 bucks each way. The bars are soulless. I’m not trying to, I’m not trying to tear down LA, but compared to New Orleans, it’s such an exciting city to me and it’s real life. It feels so real. There’s people with like real problems. Like you guys have. Crazy storms and like crazy weather and, you know, poverty and corruption. And, it just, it’s inspiring, I guess that, and there’s not very much inspiration where I’m based. For my style of filmmaking, at least.
THH: Just a couple of final questions. When it comes to, you talked before, you have this grand scheme plan for a “Fck’n Nuts” movie. It’s like a rock opera thing, down, down the road. Like you said, you have the New Orleans feature, you have the other shorts you’re working on. I’m curious if we’ll see an “Adventures of Sam Sam 11”.
SAM: Oh, wow. Okay. I mean, you and many other people, I’ve surprisingly still get messages about when are you going back to “Adventures of Sam Sam”? And I’m like, dude, I’m making like movies, like real movies. Like, can’t you be happy with that? You know what the one problem with “Adventures of Sam Sam” was, is that, It, I would always do it on like actual trips, like vacation and it just became like not fun for anyone because it, you know, I’ll be like, all right, all right, like, you know, that person that like every dinner, it’s like, hold on, you can’t eat yet. Like, I have to take 20 pictures of the food. And that’s kind of how it was. And I actually did the company, the travel company, Herschel actually picked it up. I can’t remember when it was like 2015 maybe and we filmed an episode in Bali and I was like, this is it. I am the next Anthony Bourdain. I’ve seen it and the episode was great and we got to the edit and I was about to do the voiceover and then the team that was, my production team, they had some layoffs and my main production team, they shut down that department and so. It got canned and I think after that, I was just, I was a little bit heartbroken. I’m like, I, you know, I’ve now become very dependent on not being the only person on set. And even my earlier shorts, I was, you know, I did every single thing and I’ve fallen in love with now being able to like actually advocate and lead a team. I’ve fallen in love with the team aspect of filmmaking. So maybe one day, if I can get a production company behind me and a team. Yeah, I’d also like to direct a play. You know, I feel like let’s do it all. There’s a good bit of stuff.
THH: I mean, I, I would definitely watch a Discovery Channel, Nat Geo, “Adventures of Sam, Sam”, if that ever became a thing.
SAM: The only thing is I, I feel like I have to be like, better behaved now if I’m gonna be a, a, a filmmaker who’s maybe making, I don’t know, the next Marvel movie one day when I need a big paycheck.
THH: Oh yeah. You gotta keep everything tight. Yeah. We’ll just have to see where things go in general, I guess. Final thing. More of a joke. “Fck’n Nuts” one last time, fantastic short. Loved it. Everything about it. However, as a man with peanut allergies, do you think you are making light of peanut allergies?
SAM: I think I’m bringing attention to peanut allergies. I think, you know, it’s really funny, I’ve had a few people that have come up to me afterwards and said that they’ve got a peanut allergy and I asked them if it bothered them and they said absolutely not. But it’s, it’s funny because I have encountered that before and it’s like, there are movies where people like rape children and like murder babies and like you’re upset with me of my like peanut allergy thing.
THH: Yeah. There’s bigger fish to fry.
SAM: There’s, there’s much bigger fish to fry. And if anything, I am representing an underrepresented community.
THH: Heck yeah. Well, I appreciate that. I appreciate the talk. I appreciate the time. I appreciate your art. Thank you. And thank you for doing this.