“Clowntergeist” is a forthcoming horror movie about a college student named Emma who must confront her phobia of clowns when a demonic entity terrorizes her town and sets its sights on her life. “Clowntergeist” is the feature film debut from independent screenwriter and Director Aaron Mirtes, who owns the production company Exit Ten Films. Aaron hails from Nashville, Tennessee, and owns and operates his own production company. He has directed movies, commercials, music videos and has won awards at film festivals across the United States. Aaron recently discussed the movie and his experiences in the film industry.

Horror

Blasting News (BN): How did you become interested in being a filmmaker?

Aaron Mirtes (AM): When I was eight my brother got a video camera for Christmas and never used it. I picked it up and thought to myself "What do people do with cameras? I guess they make movies!” From then on I was hooked. Filmmaking is really the only way I know how to express what I'm thinking. Later, I studied movies and developed a style.

BN: When did your love of the horror genre begin?

AM: When I was 14-years-old I sat down and told myself that any well-rounded filmmaker should watch all kinds of movies, even horror movies. I was terrified. I was such an anxious and scared kid so I had never seen anything remotely scary. I decided to watch “Psycho” because I assumed that a black and white movie couldn't be scary.

I was so wrong. It horrified me but I immediately fell in love with the thrill and the highly visual style of filmmaking!

BN: One can only assume you have a fear of clowns?

AM: I really don't! I've always loved the urban legend of "The Clown Statue" so I adapted it into a short film. After finishing the short, I kept coming up with ideas building off the legend and I thought it would be a great start for a feature!

I figured if I could make a clown movie that scared me, imagine how scared coulrophobics would be! I'm also fascinated with phobias, having struggled with them when I was younger, and the culture's phobia of clowns.

BN: How would you describe “Clowntergeist”?

AM: I think the title describes the movie perfectly! It's a clown/ghost movie! The title makes it sound a little goofier than it is, but it's definitely a zany, over the top kind of movie.

The only thing that doesn't quite come across in all this buzz is just how terrifying the movie is. It also has some great scares.

BN: Are any other films an influence on it?

AM: “Jaws,” “Poltergeist,” and “Creature From The Black Lagoon” are probably the biggest influences. I also looked a lot at James Wan's films. I also looked at the early slashers from the 70's, exploitation films, and Italian horror movies. I love the visual style of those movies and I wanted our movie to have just a touch of that.

Films

BN: What was it like to start a production company?

AM: I started it to produce wedding videos, corporate videos, and real estate videos. I knew I wanted to shift into making movies. I picked Exit 10 Films simply because it sounded good and was inspired by my love of road trips.

We do primarily thriller, mystery, and horror films. We'd love to move into sci-fi and fantasy as we gain more experience with special effects. Right now, the scripts are all written and directed by me.

BN: What upcoming projects would you like to mention?

AM: I'm finishing up a feature length found-footage-styled mystery film called "Bring Them Home."

BN: What advice can you give to someone who is trying to become a filmmaker?

AM: Don't take advice. Don't obsess too much over the film, books, and blogs, and the "rules" of filmmaking. Don't be so quick to jump into film school. Make movies how you like to make them and learn by doing. You'll quickly learn what works and what doesn't as long as you're honest with yourself. You won't learn much in a class or a book.

I've learned everything by watching movies, reading screenplays, and most importantly, by making a LOT of movies!

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