Calling Corey Norman a “local guy makes good” story seems a bit silly. After all, apart from his position as chair of Communications and New Media at Southern Maine Community College, Norman is a Maine filmmaker, whose feature “The Hanover House” and several of his short films (“Tickle,” “Natal,” “Suffer The Little Children”) winning awards at colorfully named film festivals such as the HorrorHound Film Festival, Crimson Screen Horror Film Festival, The Austin Revolution Film Festival and The Anti-Hero Genre Fest.
A graduate of Southern Maine Technical College video production program, Norman worked his way up through the ranks of professional documentary filmmaking (mastering everything from camera operator to editing to producing), before taking a teaching position at SMCC while simultaneously launching his independent movie making career. A co-producer on this year’s “Damnationland” horror anthology (still playing around the state – see damnationland.com for details), Norman’s most recent success sees his contribution to the 2013 “Damnationland,” the psychological horror short “Natal” included on the recent horror anthology “The Invoking 2,” which has received international distribution from Image Entertainment. (You can find it for sale on Amazon, Walmart, and local chain Bull Moose, or rent it at any Redbox – or local video store.) I talked to Norman about how Maine filmmakers can make the leap.
First off, congratulations. How did “NATAL” get chosen?
After doing this for five years, we’ve seen the majority of our success over the last two, which I attribute to the number of screenings and festivals we’ve participated in. You meet a wider audience, they see your work and know who you are. Attending them is important, too—I’m a poor filmmaker, but I make it work. We (wife Haley Norman, makeup artist and partner in Norman’s Bonfire Films) have slept on couches and eaten a ton of peanut butter sandwiches. We finally broke through getting reviewed by (influential horror website) Dread Central, and that’s a direct result of putting ourselves out there and talking to as many like-minded folks as possible.
Is working in the horror genre an advantage?
I think our genre is the main reason we broke out a little bit – it’s the one genre where you don’t need a big name star to get your work out. Dramas, comedies – you need a recognizable name. Look at the history of horror – Kevin Bacon (“Friday The 13th”), Jennifer Aniston (“Leprechaun”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“Critters 3”) all kind of got launched from horror. Plus, horror fans are probably the most loyal group I’ve ever met. They’re hungry for content and, if they like your work, they’ll go out of their way to support you – just the nicest, most generous people.
Be honest – when “NATAL” was released as part of “The Invoking 2,” did you seek the DVD out?
I did! [Laughs.] The day it went out, I went to every store and took selfies with it! For me it didn’t seem real until it happened. We even have a page on Rotten Tomatoes—it still doesn’t seem entirely real.
So what’s your advice for Maine filmmakers trying to extend their reach?
I try to pride myself on the fact that, when I make a film, I try to get it as much exposure as possible. All these people coming together to make it, I want to return the favor. So we submitted it to a lot of film festivals after “Damnationland”—some 10 different fests. We brought it to the Fear Fete in Biloxi, Mississippi, which is sponsored by “Fangoria” magazine, and someone from Image saw it and really liked it—it was the right producer seeing it at the right time.
Bonfire Films’ “NATAL” can be purchased pretty much anywhere as part of “The Invoking 2.” For details, and info on more of Norman’s works, check out http://bonfirefilmsonline.com/). And keep an eye out for more Bonfire Films news—Norman says there are other deals in the offing I’m not allowed to talk about.
COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS
Frontier, Brunswick | explorefrontier.com
Thursday-Sunday: “Peace Officer.” In a country increasingly aware of police violence, this documentary, about a rural sheriff who comes to doubt the wisdom of militarizing the police when his son-in-law is killed by the very SWAT team he helped found, should help further the conversation.
Nickelodeon Cinema, Portland | patriotcinemas.com
Friday: “Room.” Oscar buzz abounds (especially for lead actress Brie Larson) for this disturbing, improbably moving drama based on the novel by Emma Donoghue, about a young woman held captive for years, and her relationship with the curious five-year-old son fathered by her captor.