Exclusive: A Conversation With Headless Producer Kara Erdel

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In our ongoing coverage of indie film Headless – a spin-off of Found (which Elvira called “as horror as horror gets”), here’s a conversation we recently had with Kara Erdel, who is co-producing the film with Found director Scott Schirmer, and happens to be married to Nathan Erdel, who’s writing the script.

Check out the Kickstarter here.

iHorror: As co-producer, describe your role in the making of this film.Kara Erdel: Co-producing Headless is really exciting for me because I’ll get to have my fingers into a little bit of everything. Right now we’re all in Kickstarter mode, so my main focus is there, trying to get the word out on social media in every way possible, helping maintain a presence and keep people excited. After the campaign is over, Scott and I will be breaking down the screenplay together, line by line, to pick out the things that need to be created, bought, and scheduled; we’ll scout and secure all of the locations – basically, we are the facilitators to get the script off the page and into people’s eyeballs.

I’m a total Type-A personality at heart, so organizing and mobilizing really serves that, but my favorite part by far is being on set. I like being available to everyone – as a problem-solver, a caretaker, a means to keep the train running – a diplomat, a cool head, whatever I need to be in any particular moment. I love being that resource and being able to take care of my people – it’s just unbelievably important, and little things go SO far when you’re deep into a shoot. I like being the one to figure out what those things are. It’s very much about taking care of the family.

iH: How long have you been in the movie making business? Can you tell me a little bit about your background?KE: I think it’s safe to say I’ve spent the better part of the last five to ten years in the filmmaking world. I’ve kind of been all over the place – I’ve had a few tiny acting jobs, including a role in the short movie Come, which was directed by Arthur Cullipher, our fearless leader on Headless. It’s weird, though – I spent a long, long time being immersed in indie filmmaking culture without really finding my place, and then I took on my first producing job – on my husband Nathan’s short, Unwelcome, from the summer of 2013 through the spring of 2014. Maybe it sounds cliché, but it was kind of like coming home – I just sort of innately knew what to do, and I really fell in love with producing during that shoot. So I’m collecting as many projects as I can now, trying to build up my name a little so I can keep doing this for as long as long as I can – or at least as long as people will let me boss them around on their sets!

iH: Might we see you appear in Headless?KE: I suppose anything is possible! I really fell in love with the work that goes on behind the camera, though, and feel the most comfortable there. That said, it WOULD be pretty boss to get all bloodied up and be dead on-screen or something. Who knows!

iH: How has the Kickstarter process been?KE: Man, you know, it’s been so gratifying – and surprising, and fun, and a little nerve-wracking. I think that’s normal. But people have just gotten behind us and rallied around us in this way that really speaks to the strength and longevity of Found. It’s really cool that people believe in the project and want to help us make it a reality. It’s really a really encouraging sense of community. We are building the Headless Army! At the moment, we’re coming up on the halfway mark for the campaign, and we’re just about halfway funded – so I think we’re in pretty good shape. We are really lucky – and very, very, grateful.

Note: The Kickstarter only has 9 days left as of the time of this writing, and has raised over $10,000 of its $15,000 goal. 

iH: Making movies isn’t your full-time job. Can you tells a little about what you do? KE: My day job is at the Indiana University Biology Department; I’ve been there a little over five years. So I’m not “in the business” at the moment, which of course isn’t optimal, but it’s very convenient to our situation. I’m pretty lucky, though. It’s a great job for a VERY small department, and I have a lot of freedom, which is rare when you work for a university. Definitely can’t complain.iH: It sounds like you’ve spent a lot of time with everyone involved in Found, but I didn’t see you your name in the credits. Did you work on the movie? What is your experience working with everyone involved? KE: It’s true – I didn’t work on Found. They offered me a small role very early on (which I think was for a victim in the Headless portion, ironically), but I had some family stuff going on at the time that was keeping me really busy, and I had to turn it down. Obviously, now I wish things had been different!

As far as working with the Forbidden Films guys goes – they are really special. So much talent there. And quite a few of them were a HUGE help to us on Unwelcome – Leya Taylor was actually our Director of Photography, Shane Beasley and Arthur Cullipher did our makeups – in fact, the bulk of that short was shot in Shane’s house. He basically re-modeled his apartment for us and let us tromp in and out of there for eight weeks – that dude is true blue. I would pretty much do anything those guys asked me to do – and it’s really cool to be a part of Bloomington’s little filmmaking community. We’re sort of a skeleton crew – which is really a pretty fitting descriptor, when you think about it – but we’re starting to make things happen! It’s really exciting.

For more on Found and Headless, read our interviews with author Todd Rigney (the brain from which both were born), Found director/Headless producer Scott Schirmer, and Headless screenwriter Nathan Erdel. You can also see our write-up of Unwelcome here. Found is due out on DVD this fall.

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