MOHAWK, Publicity, and All That Jazz: Talking to Ted Geoghegan at Fantasia 2017
As our final cherry on top of the wonderful sundae of Fantasia 2017 coverage, I was lucky enough to catch up with director Ted Geoghegan, whose follow up to the impressive We are Still Here debuted at Fantasia this year. In addition to debuting Mohawk at the festival, Ted was a vital cog in the publicity team that promoted the festival. I was able to talk about both of his jobs for a few minutes.
Thanks for taking a few out of your busy Fantasia schedule to chat, Ted. Let’s start with a brief intro. Who is Ted Geoghegan and how may some folks know you?
I am a Manhattan-based filmmaker and publicist. Industry folks know me for the dozens of emails I send them every week, promoting the latest in genre cinema. The rest of the world likely knows me for the plethora of low budget horror I’ve written, or my directorial debut, 2015’s We are Still Here.
You also have a new film that is getting a ton of praise after its premiere at Fantasia, can you give us a brief and spoiler free plot summary?
My new film, Mohawk, was co-written by myself and author Grady Hendrix. It’s about a young Mohawk woman (Kaniehtiio Horn) and her two lovers (Justin Rain and Eamon Farren) being pursued by a group of renegade soldiers through the woods of upstate New York toward the end of The War of 1812.
We’ll hopefully be playing a few more festivals in 2017, but I can’t say anything yet! After that, you can expect to see it released everywhere! We’ll make sure that everyone who wants to see it will have an opportunity!
Veering from your incredible work as a director, I want to briefly explore one of the things you’re best known for, being an awesome publicist. What do you love about promoting independent and lesser known genre films?
Aside from the fact that publicity allows me to work in film 24/7 and introduces me to wonderful filmmakers, actors, and press, I get great pleasure out of helping genre film receive the respect it deserves. As someone who grew up on a steady diet of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, it’s deeply important to me that these brilliant pieces of art are seen and respected by the media.
Did you get into publicity as a means to become a filmmaker or was that just a natural progression? In other words, how do your creative work and publicity work go hand in hand? Or do they?
I had been a screenwriter for many, many years before becoming a publicist. Upon moving to NYC a decade ago, I kind of fell into PR as a means to an end, and it ended up being something I was not only very good at, but also something that felt like a natural fit. I’m a born salesman and a super outgoing cinephile, so I leapt at the chance to talk to people about movies all day!
Very cool! Back to your directorial work… in only two films as a director you’ve gotten to direct living horror legends like Larry Fessenden and Barbara Crampton. What is that like?
Both Larry and Barbara are dear friends of mine. I’d actually written the roles of We are Still Here‘s Anne and Jacob for them in the wild hopes that their schedules would allow them to take part in it. The fact that they did still blows my mind, and I am regularly gobsmacked that I can refer to these titans of the genre as members of my extended family. Both are consummate professionals and amazing talents. I would bend over backwards to work with either of them again.
You also got Wojciech Golczewski to score both of your films. He’s my favorite composer and musician working on genre film today. That’s really cool. How’d that come about and how was working with him?
Wojciech is a powerhouse. He’d come recommended by Dark Sky Films after scoring Adrian Garcia Bogliano’s Late Phases, and just blew me away when he sent me his first We are Still Here tracks. We developed a very specific theme that ran through that film, and I’m so grateful that his work on it was hailed by critics and fans. Bringing him back for Mohawk was fun, especially since the decision to score a film set in 1814 with synth music was such a bold move. We had a lot of fun with it, and were similarly blown away by the depth and passion his moody, atmospheric music brought my second film.
Before I let you run, I’ve got two quick questions… first, what kind of advice do you have for someone trying to get into the film world, whether on the creative side, the business side, or both (as you have)?
Work your ass off, ever day. Don’t rely on social media to get you a gig. Network like crazy. Don’t be an asshole. If someone does a good job, let them know. Be a decent human. I’ve made a fine career out of being nice. I promise you it works.
And lastly, can you promise to join us on one of our podcasts in the coming months to talk Mohawk, horror, and all that good stuff?
Sounds like a plan!
Thanks again, any final plugs or thoughts?
I dunno. Follow me on Twitter at @TedGeoghegan, I suppose?! And be excellent to each other.