Director and writer James Crow got into making Movies when he purchased a camera and started taking up any job he could find – largely, shooting low-budget movies – but his dream was to write and/or direct his own projects eventually. As a writer, he would later sell scripts to Lionsgate and Studio Canal.

After college, he dived into the entertainment industry. He made his feature debut as a writer on “GBH” starring Steven Berkoff, which released in 2013. Since then he’s written such films as action film “He Who Dares” and “Allies,” a WW2 movie featuring Julian Ovenden.

His feature directorial debut was “Curse of the Witching Tree.”

Crow’s latest film as writer/director is “House of Salem” which was released this month in the United States. The horror film tells of a team of kidnappers that become the unlikely saviors of a child after discovering that they have been set up to participate in a satanic ritual.

James Crow recently granted an exclusive interview discussing this movie, the industry, and more.

Movies, scripts, and cameras

Meagan Meehan (MM): What inspired you to seek out a profession making movies?

James Crow (JC): I think I always had a very visual mind and over-active imagination as a child. Sadly I couldn’t ever paint, and although I’d come up with a lot of stories, I could never seem to get round to completing a novel.

In the end, I think my love of storytelling in a visual sense, turned the camera into my sort of paintbrush. I think filmmaking is a medium which utilizes all the arts, and so from an artistic view, you get to play with everything.

I started out after college just being a jobbing cameraman for hire after getting my own camera.

I did so many low budget productions and different kinds of things. It was a good learning experience though, even the really bad stuff. I got lucky after an actress I knew, who knew I was writing my own stuff, put me in touch with a producer looking to commission a writer. I end up writing some independent scripts and coming up with a range of films which opened the door to my own stuff.

I had to write a lot of stuff for other people before I could write for myself. I remember when I first got paid four figures for a script and that was a huge breakthrough. Although the excitement of seeing your films on TV or in supermarkets for the first time probably is the most exciting and still is!

MM: What kind of cameras do you recommend and have you ever had an interest in a career aside from movies?

JC: I started out shooting on DSLR’s, which worked really well on “Curse of the Witching Tree.” I’ve now moved on to black magic and reds, filming in 4k or higher. I love using digital cameras. I always had this fantasy of working on the film, although we tried to shoot a short horror once on 8mm and it was a disaster!

The freedom digital gives you is beautiful and allows you so much more time and freedom. They are also becoming more and more like film now. I still like writing and takings still photography, so maybe I’d have been forced to finish a novel or become more into still photography. I think I’d have gone into therapy or teaching film, outside of the arts.

Horror, characters, and career

MM: How did the “House of Salem” script come to you, why was it so appealing, and what was the casting process like?

JC: I’d had the idea festering for a long time, and I wanted to do a horror with a crime thriller edge. I love those classic horrors set in big gothic houses, and I wanted to do a character piece too.

St. Peter the creepy lamb had always been floating about. I think the first scene I wrote was the line about the autistic lamb toy. I think these some weird and nice ideas in the movie. I thought it could have a lot of layers with the characters and be something challenging and ambitious. I don’t think it was a straightforward stereotypical horror.

I’ve pretty much cast every film I directed and chose the cast myself. We searched a lot for Josh and Nancy, but I think we found two very young but capable actors in very challenging roles. I’d had Les Mills in mind for Jacob for a while, and many of the other cast too, whom I think did a great job. I actually met Jack Brett Anderson in London one evening talking about going to Cannes film market.

I think the film evolved a lot from talking to actors like Jack and getting up the courage to just do it.

MM: This far in your career, what would you say have been the highlights and where do you hope to go over the next few years?

JC: Getting to visit such interesting locations and meeting so many different people is the best part. Well, that and getting to play with monsters! Several years from now I’ll hopefully still be making films but maybe on larger budgets. I’d love to do more fantasy and sci-fi. I have some ideas and scripts for stuff I’m really excited about, but even I’m not crazy enough just yet to try and do it all on my own without a few million in the bank.

We’ve just finished filming a comedy/horror “Nightmare on 34th Street” that we’ve also sold to Wildeye Releasing.

That will be coming out in November this year. We’re at the moment crowdfunding for a comedy horror about Brexit called “The Last Village on the Right” also featuring Les Mills. We should start filming in next few months. My company is also developing a children’s show called “Grimm Heroes” which is something really different for me, and I’m very excited about. Also, we put the finishing touches to the edit on “A Suburban Fairytale” too, another horror thriller we’ve been keeping under wraps. So its all go!

MM: Have you any advice for the kids out there who are hoping to do what you do?

JC: Be prepared to make stuff happen yourself. Don’t expect it to come to you. And you have to fight for it. The biggest thing I think is having the bravery to make stuff. Sometimes against the advice of people saying you don’t have enough money!