We talked with one of Hauntology’s producers, Alan Lastufka, about his favorite films and what makes him tick.
Where are you from and what’s your background?
I’ve worn many hats over the years, but currently I am the owner of the small independent press, Shortwave Media, operating in a tiny town just outside of Portland, OR. My small press publishes genre fiction with a focus on dark sci-fi, fantasy, and horror.
I’m also a writer, and my debut novel, FACE THE NIGHT, was released in March 2022 to starred reviews and strong sales. Recently, FACE THE NIGHT won the Hoffer Award for Best Commercial Fiction. Before all of that, I co-owned a record label and merch company with authors and brothers, Hank and John Green. I met them through my time on YouTube, where I uploaded vlogs, music videos, comedy skits, and other original short-form videos I directed.
What do you look for in a film you'd want to produce?
I enjoy a wide range of films, from blockbuster action titles to disgusting indie horror to quieter slice-of-life character studies. But mostly, I look at the heart and the hook. Does the story care about its characters? And does it have an intriguing hook?
The latter is so subjective it’s difficult to define. What hooks me might bore the next viewer to tears. But the former is a bit easier for most to agree on. All the special effects or creature makeup in the world can’t save a story if I don’t care about the characters.
What filmmakers and creators do you think are really innovating in the world of film and TV?
I’ve been a huge fan of the work Jordan Peele has been doing. Get Out and Us were both masterpieces, and I am very much looking forward to seeing Nope soon.
Also, Mike Flanagan. The first film of his I saw was Hush, which was terrifying and really well made. Then he adapted Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep and brilliantly weaved Kubrick’s iconic, but not author-approved, changes into King’s current narrative. Of course, he’s killing it on the small screen too currently with Midnight Mass and The Haunting of Hill House.
Greta Gerwig is another director I’m watching closely. I haven’t seen all of her work yet, but I loved Lady Bird, and her involvement in the big-screen Barbie film has piqued my interest.
What are some of your favorite films (indie or mainstream)?
- Ghost World (2001)
- How to Kill Your Neighbor’s Dog (2000)
- A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) & Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
- That Thing You Do (1996)
- Knives Out (2019)
- Halloween (1978)
- Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
- In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
- School of Rock (2003)
- Scream (1996)
Who is a dream filmmaker or actor you'd want to work with?
Sam Neill. What a talent. We could sit and talk about Jurassic Park all day. Then In the Mouth of Madness the next day. And then we could finally get to work creating some new on-screen magic by day three.
Oh, or Sadie Sink. She’s really one of the strongest cast members on Stranger Things and I enjoyed her work in the Fear Street films.
And Lakeith Stanfield. I first saw him in his debut film, Short Term 12, an amazing indie film that also stars Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr, Rami Malek, and Stephanie Beatriz — all before they were famous. What a first film! But I also thought he was fantastic in Knives Out, Uncut Gems, and Sorry to Bother You.
What is something most people don’t know about your job?
Writing is rewriting. First drafts are really, really sloppy and mostly incoherent. They’re almost stream of consciousness. The real work begins after you’ve typed THE END and then start again from the top, editing, revising, and rewriting. That’s when the real magic happens.
What is a recent film that inspires you creatively?
Lamb. It’s an Icelandic folk horror film distributed by A24, starring Noomi Rapace. The time it took to build its story, the landscape and relationship in which the story unfolds, all of it was just so refreshing.
What’s your favorite scary movie?
Scream. A Nightmare on Elm Street. In the Mouth of Madness…
Okay, ignoring any of the scary movies from my Top Ten list above, let’s go with the Sleepaway Camp trilogy. I know it’s not a good series of films, but wow is it a fun series of films? And they perfectly encapsulate that era of ’80s slasher horror.
With the same caveats, I also really enjoy Pumpkinhead and Raw Head Rex from that same time period. Any film where you can tell the creature is just a dude in a suit is fun. Practical effects are definitely my jam.
Stay tuned for more Q&As from other talented members of our cast and crew.