John Portanova is a writer and producer of feature films who is excited to release his directional debut, “Hunting Grounds” in January of 2017. The horror movie chronicles the legend of Bigfoot and draws on some real-life events for inspiration. John was delighted to talk about the film and his plans for his future in the movie industry.

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Movies

Blasting News (BN): What originally got you interested in Movies?

John Portanova (JP): I started as a fan. I’m a big Blu-ray collector and before that I had decent sized DVD and VHS collections. One thing I always reacted well to was low-budget films that told stories in new ways and featured different kinds of characters than you would normally see in big budget studio movies. So, when it came time to go to college, I went to the Vancouver Film School and after graduation set about working on shorts and features in a variety of roles.

Young director John Portanova. / Photo via Clint Morris, October Coast PR. Used with permission.
Young director John Portanova. / Photo via Clint Morris, October Coast PR. Used with permission.

BN: How did "Hunting Grounds" come about?

JP: When I left school, I knew that I should have a feature script ready to go should the opportunity ever arise where someone in the position to fund a film wanted to see what I was interested in making. So, after graduation I set out to write the first draft of what was then called “Valley of the Sasquatch”. Several years later, I had started a production company with my producing partners Matt Medisch and Jeremy Berg and we met some people who had liked our previous work and were excited to tell a Bigfoot story.

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BN: Why did you choose a Bigfoot plot?

JP: I grew up loving cryptozoology and the paranormal. My favorite show as a kid was “Unsolved Mysteries” and I would pour over books about Bigfoot or other real monsters whenever I was in a library. I knew all of the classic stories and had seen all of the movies and was really inspired to put my own spin on this legend that I’ve loved my entire life.

BN: What was it like being named the Best Sci-Fi Horror Film at the Toronto Independent Film Festival?

JP: That was a great experience. I was there for the Toronto screening and it was my first time visiting the city. I made sure to hit up the local conspiracy/paranormal shop and all the video stores I could find. The festival showed a bunch of great indie flicks and I was very excited and surprised when we were named the Best Sci-Fi/Horror Film.

Industry

BN: What’s the greatest aspect of being involved with the entertainment industry?

JP: Being able to tell stories and work with talented people in front of and behind the camera to help bring those stories to life.

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Also, filming the gore scenes and monster FX!

BN: Can you tell me what's forthcoming in 2017?

JP: The next October People production is entitled “Ayla” and will be premiering at film festivals later this year. It’s a supernatural drama starring Dee Wallace and Tristan Risk. It also features returning “Hunting Grounds” players Bill and D’Angelo Midili. Beyond that, I have a movie I helped produce called “Dead West” which is coming to DVD on February 7th, the same day “Hunting Grounds” arrives on VOD.

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That’s it for things that are already filmed, but I do have a couple of scripts I’m working on. They’re in the same vein as Hunting Grounds, creature horror, but on a bigger canvas.

BN: What words of wisdom can you offer those looking to forge a career in Hollywood?

JP: Don’t feel like you have to find a literal job in Hollywood. You can work your way up within your local industry for a long time and eventually people will get to know you and will be interested in what you have to offer in a higher profile position like producer or Director. And even when you reach that plateau, it won’t be all money and parties. You never stop working and can never expect that your current level of success will last forever. As long as you keep pushing forward (writing scripts, producing projects, etc.) that’ll be what keeps your career going.

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