S2, E4: They Live Inside Us

Witching Season Films joins us to talk about their upcoming horror movie They Live Inside Us.




Ghoulster 0:01

Welcome foolish Ghoulsters to the podcast that keeps the spirit of Halloween alive all year through pop culture and nostalgia. And now it's love at first fright with The Ghoul Mates


Ghost Hostess Mandy 0:17

Hi guys, welcome back to The Ghoul Mates we have a spooky surprise for you today, we are going to be joined by two spooky guys behind the new horror film. 'They Live Inside Us' premiering this October. Some of you might recognize them from the witching season horror anthology, but first you know what to do Rudy, kick us off with some


Ghoulster 0:37

Horror Trivia.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 0:39

Here we go. Okay, this 1931 movie features the classic line. It's alive! It's alive!


Ghost Hostess Mandy 0:51

My main squeeze Frankenstein.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 0:54

Ding ding ding ding ding. That is correct. Finally got one. Good job.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 0:58

I think you're gonna get this one too it's going to be a great show. Who was the director of the 1982 movie Creepshow?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:08

Um, is it Gorge Romero? Gorge A. Romero?


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:13

Yes. Correct


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:16

For you English speakers out there, George A Romero is the correct answer.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:21

Yeah. Okay, let's dig into some haunted housekeeping. Our Youtube is now haunting guys. We dropped our landing video this Monday and you may or may not see some more spooky surprises on there. Now, I'll put the link in our show notes or you can just search theghoulmates on YouTube and you'll see us there. Be sure to subscribe and hit the notification bell because we are just getting started and can't wait to share some stuff we've been working on for quite some time now. Our Patreon is also getting really exciting to share a little bit about what's going on behind the scenes our Familiar created a Discord server. Which is basically a private group where our patrons can talk to each other, and have personal access to the entire TGM team. And by that, I mean me, Rudy and our familiar, huge team over here I'm talking. Really our favorite part has been seen our ghoulsters talk to each other. And actually today, we started to see more of a post show discussion happening amongst them. So if you ever wish you could talk to someone about the episodes you're listening to, we invite you to check out our Patreon because we are loving seeing everyone talk to each other. We have also decided that the first set of bonus episodes we are going to be producing for the top two tiers will be a watch along series for the American Horror Story series.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 2:45

Ooh, spooky.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 2:47

We will give our patrons a heads up about which episodes we're watching. Who knows we might ask them questions like what questions they have, I don't know. We haven't really developed how that's going to play out yet.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 2:59

Yeah if you join us, you could be part of the main group that helps build this community and help build what we do with the Patrons.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 3:07

Yes, so definitely check it out. We want you guys in our community engaging with each other. And our Patreon content is definitely going to be very different from what you're hearing here. It will be unscripted and unproduced and just us genuinely having a good time. Getting to know you guys a little bit better and getting, I guess, giving you guys a better glimpse at who we are behind the scenes. So if you're interested in learning more about that and seeing what all the different tiers have available, check it out at patreon.com/theghoulmates. And also just another reminder that if you aren't already, you should definitely check out our Instagram. We just finished up our one 1K follower giveaway and we gave away five sets of our monster hand stickers. And if you listen further into the episode, we're going to be revealing what our next giveaway is going to be. Whoo. Okay.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 4:01

Spooky.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 4:03

But if you're not, if Instagram is not your thing, we do have a Facebook and Twitter account and you can check us out on all the platforms @theghoulmates G H O U L.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 4:15

Alright guys, we're really excited to jump into our episode today. So we're gonna skip Halloween news for today. But as of right now, I'd say you know, check out what's going on locally and see what's popping up in your neck of the woods for this Halloween season.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 4:30

Yeah, for sure tons of things are starting to brew everywhere. So just keep an eye out. And we also want to mention to keep an eye out on your streaming platforms of choice, because there's a ton of holloween centric TV and movies hitting this fall like on every platform Netflix, I think even Disney plus might have a few a few things.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 4:50

Yeah, for sure.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 4:52

What else uh Hulu, Prime. Everywhere.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 4:56

Yes you said Netflix? Right?


Ghost Hostess Mandy 4:58

Yes.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 4:58

Yeah, Netflix. It's just the it's crazy because, you know, there's all these things that are popping up, like movies and stuff and like you have no idea where they came from. But you know what, this is The Ghoul Mates and we're gonna continue searching and digging, so that doesn't happen anymore.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 5:16

What doesn't happen?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 5:17

That that we're not going to be blindsided by some new movie that's coming out we're gonna do our best to find out what's coming up so we can get it to you guys.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 5:25

That's true because come next year, hopefully we're gonna be like, remember when we mentioned Spooked?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 5:31

Exactly.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 5:32

Remember when we mentioned Hocus Pocus 2 I don't think we did actually. We will eventually catch up hopefully and when we like we remember talking about


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 5:41

Exactly


Ghost Hostess Mandy 5:42

Alright guys. So before we bring on our guests, we want to give you a little bit of background about the movie. 'They Live Inside Us' is a psychological thriller by Witching Season Films premiering on October sixth this year 2020.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 5:54

It's my birthday.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 5:55

And our anniversary.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 5:57

Exactly.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 5:57

It's an exciting spooky day.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 5:59

Exactly.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 6:00

The film starts with a couple of kids riding their bikes around town and ending at the Booth house where the kids talk about the alleged spooky history of the house. The movie then takes you through a writer's adventure as he stays the night at the Booth house with his daughter to get some creative inspiration for a script he's been working on. The only question is, what secrets does the Booth house really hold? And will they make it out?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 6:27

I hope they do.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 6:28

I love how you paused to make it more dramatic.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 6:31

Oh, my eyes are all big cuz you ain't making it really scary.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 6:36

Okay, so full disclosure. We were kindly given the opportunity to watch this movie before the interview. So it's really hard for us not to ruin it with spoilers. Yeah, exactly. It's brand new. So we want to just make sure that everyone gets to experience it correctly. All I do want to share though, is that I really loved the art direction of the movie. I think it's absolutely amazing. The opening scene. Don't laugh at me Rudy?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 7:03

Okay.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 7:03

The opening scene to me felt like drinking a warm PSL


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 7:10

You are always thinking about warm PSL's 24/7


Ghost Hostess Mandy 7:14

How can you not when you see those leaves?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 7:18

You're like 70% PSL at this point.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 7:22

or 80 Yes. So as I mentioned, Michael the director did a beautiful job of capturing like that perfect fall vibes of seen on like an autumn night. Or I guess sunset I should say. And so every scene after that opening scene just has so much Halloween spirit, whether it's a spooky scene or not a lot of detail went into the decor of the movie. Is that the right word?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 7:48

I guess art direction. But yeah, I mean, were there the decor they use, you know, it kind of lends itself to the whole Halloween spookiness fall vibes too


Ghost Hostess Mandy 7:57

Yes, and we're and you'll listen to We're gonna definitely be getting into that more when we talk to Michael and to James, what were your thoughts on the movie Rudy?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 8:07

Um, I guess without giving too much away, we all kind of have a story about a creepy house in our neighborhood. And I think, you know, they play on that a lot. And they, you know, everybody can kind of relate to that, like, everybody has a story about, Oh, I remember that creepy house and everybody thought it was like haunted or whatever. So, you know, everybody's gonna relate to this movie. So what I would say is, you know, get some good, like a big ol bag of Halloween candy. An extra large pizza, get the family around and just enjoy the movie.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 8:45

Yeah, for sure. I think you kind of set it up perfectly, like treat it like a Halloween night because they put a lot of thought into creating that Halloween mood for you, and you get a taste of a few different monsters/villains. You're used to write for Halloween. And so it's kind of like all one big adventure for you.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 9:05

Exactly.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 9:06

So without further ado, I won't keep you guys waiting any longer. We are going to now play our interview with Michael Baliff, the writer, director and producer, and James Morris, the lead actor and producer of 'They Live Inside Us' by Witching Season Films.


Ghoulster 9:25

And now let's give a Ghoulster welcome to Michael and James.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 9:32

Hi, guys. Thanks for joining us on The Ghoul Mates today.


James Morris 9:36

Thank you.


Michael Ballif 9:36

Thanks for having us.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 9:38

Since you guys are our first couple of guests, I figured I'd introduce each of you so that our listeners can get to know your voices. We have Michael belif, the writer, director and producer.


Michael Ballif 9:50

Hey, yes, this is Michael, thanks so much for having us guys. We really it's exciting to come on and talk about the movie.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 9:56

Exciting stuff. And we have James Morris lead actor and producer.


James Morris 10:02

Hey everyone. And like Mike said, thanks for having us on we, we legitimately enjoy doing stuff like this so.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 10:09

Fantastic.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 10:09

We're so excited to have you guys here with us today. We can't wait to talk about your upcoming film. 'They Live Inside Us' and some of your other projects. But before we do that, we like to open up with some Halloween icebreaker questions with our guests. What do you guys think?


James Morris 10:23

Sounds good.


Michael Ballif 10:24

Perfect.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 10:25

All right, since we have two guests, we're gonna start with a round for James and then we'll do around with Michael.


James Morris 10:31

Cool.


Michael Ballif 10:31

Awesome.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 10:32

All right, James. Let's start off with Freddy or Jason.


James Morris 10:37

Ooh, um I'm gonna go with Freddie just because I love the guy's performance. And even in the even in the hated newer Freddy movie, I still thought to the actor, the guy who I know he was also in a watchmen writer. He did he did a good job at least. I've always liked Freddy. The characters are fun one to watch.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 11:00

Yeah, he was really cool. And the newer one I did enjoy that one. Um, what's your favorite Halloween candy?


James Morris 11:08

Ah, if I say Reese's Is that too generic?


Ghost Hostess Mandy 11:12

Not at all.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 11:13

Not at all.


James Morris 11:14

Yeah, either that a Kit Kat actually loved those uh, you know the Kit Kat big Kats.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 11:18

Yeah, yeah, those are cool.


James Morris 11:19

Like 40% wafer. Oh.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 11:21

yeah, I remember those.


James Morris 11:23

Yeah, love those.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 11:24

Okay, what's your favorite Universal monster?


James Morris 11:28

Oh, the Wolf Man. Um, I actually have a mini poster hanging on my back wall of a Wolf Man Lon Chaney, that Mike actually gave me so it's all coming full circle.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 11:39

That's awesome.


James Morris 11:40

I grew up watching those my granddad was really into the old monster movies. And so I was a huge fan watching I have the entire the old collection ranging from all the Frankenstein's and the crossovers and


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 11:51

Oh, that's awesome.


James Morris 11:52

I love those.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 11:54

Okay, then. Vampires or werewolves,


James Morris 11:57

Werewolves, hands down. Yeah. Not even close.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 12:02

And do you believe in any paranormal activity?


James Morris 12:06

Oh, yeah, that that's actually as we as we talk today making the movie we had a few very, very weird things happen to us. And if I didn't believe before I certainly question now so


Ghost Hostess Mandy 12:22

Oh, interesting.


James Morris 12:24

no, yeah, legitimately it was, it was unnerving. Um, I've always kind of believed in it. To what extent I don't know. But, you know, what do they say the absence of proof does not equate the absence of existence or something like that, you know, who knows rightly? Maybe we'll, we'll find out someday. That's, it's gonna happen. So.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 12:48

Exactly.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 12:50

Alright, Michael, are you ready?


Michael Ballif 12:52

Okay, ready.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 12:53

Okay.


Michael Myers or Leatherface.


Michael Ballif 12:57

Oh, Michael Myers, for sure.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 12:58

Yes.


Michael Ballif 13:00

I think the Halloween franchise has got to be like out of the Big Top horror franchises. I think that's that's gonna be the favorite for me but yeah, Myer's all the way.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 13:10

Awesome. Same here. What's your favorite Halloween costume you've done so far?


Michael Ballif 13:16

Oh, last year. so my wife and I always like to dress up in kind of couples costumes but we like to do a photo and try to match like a photo like a promotional photo or something from from the show or the movie or whatever it is. And we did Mulder and Scully from X Files last year and it was it was pretty It was pretty awesome.


James Morris 13:38

Yes, it was super cute.


Michael Ballif 13:40

We set we set up like a fog machine in our garage and then we put like a blue light behind it and got down and like posed like the there's there's some promo photos that we kind of match but yeah, I think I think that's a one of the top ones.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 13:53

That's awesome. We it sounds like we have a lot in common. Okay, aliens or killer clowns.


Michael Ballif 14:01

Oh man. Ooh, I probably say killer clowns, right so i love the 90s 'It' miniseries like more than than I like the new 'It' movies that have come out but I I grew up watching that 90s miniseries and Pennywise was always so terrifying to me so I got to go killer clowns.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 14:21

Awesome.


James Morris 14:22

Isn't Pennywise an alien too?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 14:23

Yeah he is.


Michael Ballif 14:23

I guess that's true. Hey, there you go. So it's actually both


James Morris 14:26

Best of both worlds.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 14:28

And do you believe in paranormal activity?


Michael Ballif 14:32

I'm kind of with James like I I'm open to it. And I think that there's there's definitely the possibility of something going on like of course that we don't understand. But I haven't I don't have any like hard proof like even we'll probably get into some of the stuff that happened at the at the house when we were filming, but some of that it kind of pushed me into more towards believing but I'm open to it, but I'm still a little skeptical. I think.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 15:00

Right. Yeah, Rudy has a an ongoing quote on our podcast that he doesn't believe but he always a levels on the site of just in case.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 15:11

I respect it just in case just in case I'm wrong because you never know.


Michael Ballif 15:16

Yeah with you.


James Morris 15:18

We got a couple of weird stories we'll share with you.


Michael Ballif 15:20

I want to believe, I do want to believe.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 15:22

All right. Well, on that note, let's dive into the nitty gritty as Rudy likes to say, so why don't you start by telling us a bit about 'They Live Inside Us'?


Michael Ballif 15:32

Yeah, so they 'They Live Inside Us' is a feature film about a writer who goes and spends his Halloween night with his daughter in the notoriously haunted Booth house. And he's there dealing with writer's block and hoping to come up with kind of his next big idea that will sort of push him through that. And spending the night in a scary haunted house is sort of his way to hopefully be able To push through and come up with some new ideas, and he starts to realize there's some strange things in this house. And there's a weird connection that he has to it. And it's kind of about him trying to figure out what that is and, and see whether or not he can come up with his big idea. So it's a movie that we, my team and I worked on for the last couple years. And it's our first feature. It's my first as a director. And it's been a real labor of love to get it finished. And it's coming out this October. So we're finally done and excited to finally share it with with the world.


James Morris 16:39

We're never done and never feels done.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 16:43

That's very exciting. We actually did a little bit of digging and we found out that it was originally a short film. So do you kind of want to tell us the process of how it went from being the short film to the big feature film it is now?


Michael Ballif 16:56

Yeah, so it's funny. We prior to making 'They Live Inside Us'. When I say we that's myself James and the Witching Season Films team, Alan Bradford and Jordan Swenson. They're both producers on the feature as well. We made a series called The Witching Season, which is a horror anthology. And it started out as just a web series, we released it on YouTube and eventually we were able to get distribution for it and get it on blu ray and it's on Amazon Prime now. So if you're into Halloween stories like tales of Halloween or stuff like that, then you know, it might be up your alley, but one of the episodes we decided to make into a, we made it it's called 'They Live Inside Us' as well. And it's a short film version of the same idea. Before making The Witching Season I really aspired to make they 'They Live Inside Us' a feature first. So this was like, maybe seven years ago, seven or eight years ago. And for a handful of reasons. It just wasn't really feasible. To jump in and make the movie, I think primarily because I don't feel like I was quite ready to write it as a story yet, just because I knew it was going to be really complex. And I wanted to tell a story. Like, kind of like Shutter Island. That's one of my favorite movies and like a really deep kind of psychological horror story, and I just didn't quite feel ready to do it yet. So kind of shelved it for a while we started getting into The Witching Season. And one of the kind of the mandates with the stories for The Witching Season was to do short films that could have potential to adapt into something bigger later on. So I thought it's a good chance to try this out and see how it goes and, and through making it into a short it really helped unlock many of the ideas that became very important for the feature later on. Like, we're able to finish the short and I was able to look at it and say like, here's all the things that maybe didn't work so well. Here's things that could improve the story and just add more depth. layers to it. So really like The Witching Season enabled the feature to to exist it was like a trial round to kind of get a 'They Live Inside Us' put together you know.


James Morris 19:11

Well it taught us everything to like from logistics to camera work to lighting to monsters like the it was this big three four year trial run of us trying all these new things and when it came time to do the feature we felt pretty ready at that point there was no doubt that we thought we you know, okay we can do this


Ghost Hostess Mandy 19:30

That's Awesome.


Michael Ballif 19:31

It also it also created all the connections to the most of the team that was involved like many of the cast or cast members from The Witching Season and it just like in every way The Witching Season just enabled 'They Live Inside Us' to to exist so it's it's kind of cool to to look back at it that way.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 19:49

That's awesome. You know, I've seen some of the behind the scenes pictures on your Instagram and it seemed like the team was really small the production team. How did you approach shooting the scenes with like a small team


James Morris 20:01

Oof.


Michael Ballif 20:02

Yeah, yeah, we had a tiny team. I mean, there were there were days where it was literally me and James going out and shooting.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 20:09

Yeah, I know how that goes.


Michael Ballif 20:10

Oh, it's, it's kind of it's kind of a pro and a con, I think to have a small group on one hand, you know, you you're limited with the number of hands on set to move lights around and organize things. But on the other hand, you're not dealing with scheduling thousands of people's schedules, and you're able to there's just the flexibility and the freedom to a small group. That's kind of nice. And the movie was always intended to be kind of a small production that we, you know, we get a few people involved and we all really care about the product and want it to be the best it can be and just kind of worked on it as long as we kind of needed to until we felt like it was ready. So I think just having that small team allowed that, you know, flexibility that was really beneficial and also like telling a feature length story. is totally new to me. So being able to make that like, almost like a test, like, you know, having the just again, it's just the flexibility was crucial.So


James Morris 21:11

It was fun too. It was a lot of fun.


Michael Ballif 21:14

We're all friends. Yeah, we're all friends, you know,


James Morris 21:16

We barbecue and then just yeah, we all have dinner and start, wait for it to get dark and start shooting and then we'd go till midnight, make a big pot of coffee, go get doughnuts and shoot more and then we'd all go home and die.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 21:31

If any of the extras run sound or anything?


Michael Ballif 21:36

Pretty much like the four of us, the producers, so me, James Jordan, and Alan.


James Morris 21:42

Yeah,


Michael Ballif 21:43

We were all kind of in charge of our own specific like areas. So like Jordan Swenson, he was in charge of the makeup effects, right. But he's also a producer. So he's kind of there just to kind of do whatever we need to make sure it gets done. And then Alan was in charge of lighting. So he had I work together really closely, he would always fill in for makeup effects as well. He would do like production designs he would put spider webs up on the walls and and then James is the lead actor but James is also there to move stuff around. And he would I mean, James would would hold the boom every now and then like we would all just kind of fill in but it was just kind of the four of us just


James Morris 22:20

I kinda became the logistics guy too that was kind of my because when I was acting we had like, because all three of us were producing but when I was on camera, obviously that limited but a lot of my producing became behind the scenes stuff. So


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 22:33

Right.


James Morris 22:33

I would work with the actors, I'd set the schedules up I found locations, things like that. And so it was a lot of that stuff. And then once we got on set Allen and Jordan would take over and run everything while I did acting.


Michael Ballif 22:46

and there were definitely days where we had more people there like we did some of the shoots, involved extras and stunt doubles and so there were those days but then for the most part it's it's very intimate in the house shooting these small scenes of this guy writing or, you know, pretty, no, I guess more simple stuff. So


James Morris 23:06

we had a period when we had a, we flew out with Stevie, but she moved to California, Stevie was in California. And then Emily also lived in California. So we had this period of about 10 days where we shot straight and we shot I don't know, probably a third of the movie in that 10 days. And that was a really heavy production period. Like, we had them staying in hotels, and we had that we had the most people on set at that point, we had, you know, on average, about six or seven additional from us, we had William and Sam and a bunch of other people coming in to help run things because we had so much going on during that period, because they were making only come out for so long,


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 23:45

Right? That's awesome.


James Morris 23:46

So those were, those were very, very long days, but we got it and, and that taught us a lot about for stuff for future projects, how to expedite things and how to organize that. So moving forward, that was a good thing to learn. Because I think a lot of things are going to have to be more go that route as we move into other projects, but yeah, it was a it was a lot but it was it was fun.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 24:09

That's That's awesome. Sounds exciting. So we got the chance to see the movie before this. Thank you so much for sending it our way. We don't want to spoil anything since it hasn't even been released yet. But I wanted to talk about the production process as far as like the cinematography and the art direction because that was my favorite thing about it. I mean, like every single scene feels like your favorite Halloween night as a kid even like the opening scene where it's daylight has incredible fall vibes. So this is a two part question I guess where did you film the movie? And also, what was your inspiration behind making sure every single scene had that right lighting and the Halloween decor?


Michael Ballif 24:50

Well, thank you so much. Yeah, that the the whole aesthetic the Halloween atmosphere is always like my priority whenever I do anything. That's the thing that sort of compels me to want to do creative stuff is trying to capture that. Sort of, you know that, like he said, sort of that feeling of childhood and that those memories of Halloween. So we shot in Utah, that's where we're based. And we primarily shoot in a location that's actually called the Booth House. It's down in a town called Nephi, Utah, and we would have to travel about 40 minutes to get there from where we are, every shoot. So it became a I mean, that's, that's not super long, but we went down there. I mean, countless times


James Morris 25:42

60 times 70 days. There was a lot.


Michael Ballif 25:45

We shot down there. You know, a lot and then we would there is a carnival that we shot in which was also down in Nephi. There's a town called Springville, Utah where we shot in the cemetery for the opening and yeah, just kind of all around pretty much in the same area here.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 26:04

Right. Did you write the script based on locations? Or did you like, go out to find them once you had the script down, like the carnival, for example, that just pop up and you're like, hey, let's go shoot that or, or how did that workout.


Michael Ballif 26:20

It was definitely written for the locations that we knew we could use. Because I mean, when you know, and coming up with that the story is about a writer who's trying to kind of come up with this big next big idea, and we get to watch those stories unfold. And each story deals with a new type of sort of horror movie villain or monster. And when thinking about those, it was important to plan a monster or a villain that could be set in a certain location that we knew we could access. So the carnival was one thing where every year here, the carnival comes into town. It's funny, we were actually planning on shooting in the carnival That's here in our hometown that the carnival will come and kind of move through each city every couple of weeks, throughout the summer months. So we wanted to begin it's funny, James, we wanted to start production sooner, but we ended up needing to delay a little bit. No, actually we actually ended up starting sooner than we thought we were planning on


James Morris 27:21

Well, kind of that's a that's a very layered thing because originally we were gonna start shooting the previous October but yeah, that was the original plan and then we ended up not starting until July but it kind of the if I'm remembering correctly, the the hometown Carnival wasn't happening until later but we knew we wanted to start sooner. And so in Nephi were the houses that Carnival was starting. And we were still fine tuning the story and trying to perfect a couple things. But I was kind of like Mike and I'm kind of going back forth I was like we need to start like is if we lose this opportunity. I don't know how this other carnivals gonna play out I felt like we needed to really get going and so things weren't 100% ready with the script yet but we we jumped in and shot the some of the sequences with the the the clown at the carnival, some of those first ones we shot and that's


Michael Ballif 28:18

the first day that was the very first day was shooting the carnival.


James Morris 28:21

That was the first day. That's right. Got to do that makeup the first day of shooting had to get back in that damn clown makeup again. But yeah, so we it was a lot to take on too because it was a big location. There was people everywhere. We had to like, get permission from some people to use this drive or this roadway that had the carnival in the background was just a lot to first day but it was also good because I think once we started we are kind of like, Oh yeah, we know we know how to do this. You know, like, this is where we're home. We had been a while since we did The Witching Season but we were like okay, this is familiar. We can do this and so it was a good it was a good place to start.


Michael Ballif 28:57

So sorry. Just to finish that. We were kind of obligated to get started in the corner there in the carnival but um all the locations we knew we could access so like the house is the house that we shoot primarily in is owned by a good friend of mine named Jake waters. And the main character in the story is actually named after him. But he's built this amazing i mean he didn't build the house but he went through and renovated it and he's he's kind of renovated to match the Victorian period that it would would have looked like when it was first built and all most of the furniture and and you know, everything down to the light switches are almost all period authentic. So it's like a museum when you walk through the house and yeah, I met him like six or seven years ago. And it's funny we we talked about it. The first conversation we had, I told him, I make movies and he was really excited about that and said that You always hoped a movie would be made in his house one day. So that idea just kept turning in my head for a long time. And I had this idea about a writer and then I started to think about him going to a haunted house. And that house was perfect. So it was kind of always meant to be that place. And it really wouldn't. I think if we had to rent a house or find somewhere else to do it, it really would have been a lot. A lot more difficult. Maybe, maybe not possible to work.


James Morris 30:27

Yeah. With how much time we had to spend down there. I don't I don't see how it could have worked. At least add the story as it is now.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 30:33

That's awesome. Ah, yeah, I can imagine that it really helped the creative process to like knowing exactly what you had in mind and seeing it. So the Halloween elements again are so strong. The costumes and makeup were also some of my favorite things. So can you talk about the inspiration behind those and who did the special effects makeup?


Michael Ballif 30:54

Yeah, so are one of our producers. Jordan Swenson was the creature designer and he did a lot of the makeup effects along with a girl named Alyssa Holbrook the two of them kind of handled it and I wanted the the creatures to all have sort of a I wanted them to be familiar because we're going into stories that he writes that are intended to be somewhat cliche or somewhat familiar on the surface level but of course there's more going on. But I wanted them to have a familiar vibe but also look original and and and also tie them to the Halloween season and that looks so like our clown I wanted him to have like black and orange colors. I've never really seen a clown with like a Halloween clown, you know, right. So yeah, so him having like, he's got like orange hair and he's got little orange diamonds around his eyes and black, black I think around his mouth. And and then for the there's a slasher killer in the movie that you will see when you watch it, and he there's this mask maker I found on Etsy called Eden reshade Studios and they make these really amazing like I saw they had these, like vintage inspired masks, they do like all sorts of different masks, but I saw this cat face mask that they did. And they're actually like child size masks, and I reached out to them. I reached out to them and I was like, Hey, could you make one of those and like because they take special orders and I asked if they could make one and then like an adult size and they let me pick like the color scheme. I sent them an old bicycle Halloween decoration cat face and was like Could you do it like this and then they like aged and just make it look awesome. So So I'd say that monsters are all like vintage inspired Halloween. blended with like, you know, familiar creatures.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 32:58

Yeah. I love that vacuum form mask that you guys put together for that cat. had a lot of Friday the 13th vibes. Also that I was gonna bring this up earlier. That barn too that you guys shot at. had a lot of like Friday the 13th vibes that are really good. But yeah, it was really cool.


Michael Ballif 33:18

Awesome. Thank you. Yeah,


James Morris 33:19

yeah, grandparents on that barn. And so they were cordial enough to let us go and jump out of it for a couple weeks.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 33:26

Yeah, that was pretty cool. I was like, I wonder if anybody like hurt themselves during that during those shots.


James Morris 33:33

We had a stunt guy who came out and stunt guy, and stunt girl. And so the stunt woman she was really good. So she did Haley's version of that, that jump, right and then I wanted to do it. I was like, I want to jump out of the barn. So I had him teach me how to do the rolls and everything. Yeah, I was like, I'm not. I'm not gonna not jump out of this barn. So it happened.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 33:57

Tell people, eh I do my own stunts.


James Morris 34:00

I I definitely like that idea. Right? Like it's I like to do things myself.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 34:04

Yeah, exactly.


James Morris 34:05

It's an opportunity to do that. But now, I don't think anyone got hurt really. There was a ton of Hornets that was the main thing that barn was infested with them. So we're dodging Hornets the entire time. But I think we all made it out unscathed for the most part.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 34:20

So I you played a few of the characters which one was your favorite to act as?


James Morris 34:26

Oh, Lord. Um Well, I mean, obviously, I think Booth was my favorite the main one I just because I spent a year of my life portraying that character but in terms of the monsters the makeup was really brutal on all of them. It took a long time to sit there and do and then even with the the Scarecrow character that the costume, although there was no makeup it was just really cumbersome because we shot most of it in the summer. And so I'm wearing multiple layers in this mask. I couldn't breathe and it was it was rough, but probably Choppy if I had to pick out the monsters just because I got to actually do a lot of dialogue and stuff like that. So I kind of got to move that character in a certain direction and, and he was also my favorite when we did the short that that a incarnation of him in the short was was a lot of fun to do. So the makeup on him was absolutely the worst because you had the contacts you couldn't see anything. It was like 90% of your vision gone. This prosthetic nose and the teeth and just you know things are falling off if you do things wrong. So it was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun to do that character so probably probably Choppy.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 35:40

That's awesome. Yeah, I can't even pick which one was my favorite, but I definitely liked that Michael mentioned that. The inspiration was like vintage characters because that's kind of what stuck out to me. Especially when I saw the trailer. I was like, these costumes look so cool. So what actors or characters did you use as inspiration to study for your roles?


James Morris 36:03

Ooh. Well, Mike previously mentioned Shutter Island. How many times did you make me watch Shutter Island Mike?


Michael Ballif 36:12

We watched it as we were prepping. We watched it at least a couple times. Yeah.


James Morris 36:19

Is it Teddy? Is that the character's name in that? I'm trying to remember.


Michael Ballif 36:22

Yeah. Depends on how you look at it.


James Morris 36:24

Yes. That was one of them. I remember I went back and I and I watched a lot of just haunted house movies. I wanted to watch people how they reacted like Mike and I watched what was the the George C Scott when we watched Mike,


Michael Ballif 36:40

The Changeling.


James Morris 36:41

The changeling? Yeah, watch The Changeling went back and watch some of the modern ones like, you know, The Conjuring and everything. So it was more just a character I'd already played before. So I kind of knew who he was and just his mannerisms, but I wanted to kind of improve my performance away so I went and watched performances from those movies that I really liked, and just how they react to the supernatural, how they react to, you know, the family drama and just kind of drew from that.


Michael Ballif 37:09

Last time around your character is a is a father and he's got his daughter with him. So that sure changed.


James Morris 37:15

That did change yeah. And I have a daughter. And so I actually used that we even talked about this as we were structuring the character because some of the darker things that happen in the movie, you know what I mean? Those are you've seen that I wanted to draw, put myself in that position. And so having a kid a little bit younger, but just you know, in that same kind of it, I guess it just put me in the mindset that made some of those scenes relevant to me. Like I could go there. And so, yeah.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 37:45

So you guys kind of teased us on this a little earlier. But did you ever feel spooked on set or when you guys went home after shooting?


James Morris 37:53

Do you wan me to take this, Mike or do you want to take it?


Michael Ballif 37:58

So you go ahead, you can Describe what happened. There were a few things. But um, there's one big one. So I'm sure James will get into that.


James Morris 38:06

So there's probably six or seven, eight things that happened both during the short film. And during the feature that were very weird. We-


Michael Ballif 38:16

Start with the short film what happened with the short film


James Morris 38:19

So. So when we started filming the short film that we


Michael Ballif 38:23

We shot the movie in the same house. So yeah, the short film and the feature in the same, same house.


James Morris 38:28

So the two things that come to my mind with the short film were number one. We were filming one day, we kept hearing this clinking noise. And we're like, what the hell is that? Because we were trying to film and we're the only ones in the house like, Okay, what because you could hear it on the mic. And we kept coming from the kitchen. So we went in the kitchen, and there was this fork that was just sitting on this cutting board. And I was like, oh, man, it almost sounds like this is getting dropped and I dropped it. And that was the exact sound we've been hearing over and over and over again. Another night, Alan and I were filming and we were all filming but Alan and I were sitting on the stairs. And there's this little key cabinet right next to on the wall that goes up, up up on the stairs and I'm sitting there talking to Alan and this key cabinet door just swings open by itself. Just I looked at out of my exact words. We're not worried my exact sound was cool. Like I didn't know what to do. So that was during the short the feature got even weirder, we we would hear footsteps upstairs. One time we thought someone was upstairs. We thought Alan was there. We're like, oh, Alan's here. Because we heard someone walking around we go upstairs is no one there. So that was weird. But one night, and the best thing about this that the major encounter, right, is that we got the sounds on camera. Oh, well, we heard and so hopefully at some point, we can actually put this out there but so we're filming a scene one night we're all upstairs in a single room. No one else is in the house.


Michael Ballif 39:59

We will sell it to go to a Ghost Hunters,


James Morris 40:02

Yeah. We're all sitting there. And it's a quiet scene to where I'm looking out into a hallway. And all of a sudden we hear this crash and this weird squirting noise. So that sounds weird, but that's what it was. And we're like, What in the hell? So you actually hear Alan in the background say what that was that and so we we stopped filming and we walked down the hallway. And in the bathroom, a bottle of conditioner has been squeezed onto the rug, outside the bathtub and then thrown into the bathtub. So when you go back and you listen to this, it's that's what you're hearing you hear a ketchup bottle squeeze and a fling of this thing getting thrown into the tub. And again, no one's in the house. No one is there. And so we hear this we go in and there's this big pile of condition puddle of conditioner on the rug and we legitimately were on unnerved the entire night after that, we were all afraid something was gonna follow us home. And it was just really quiet and like, oh, we're gonna keep filming. Oh, yeah, let's just take a break and we'll we'll come back.


Michael Ballif 41:14

We like had a really hard time. I think we just kind of called it a night at like, we were pretty much I mean, we were towards the end of the shoot, but I think what a little left to do and


James Morris 41:23

And Jake was just like, yeah, that stuff happens. It's alright.


Michael Ballif 41:26

Even Jake was freaked out. Jake who owns the house. He was like, he was like, I've never had anything quite like that, you know, happened before and, and, and then as we kept shooting, it's just I'm sure you remember James. We continued shooting like later into the month and months down the road. Jake started sleeping-


James Morris 41:48

Mental health deteriorating.


Michael Ballif 41:50

Jake, so Jake's room is upstairs down the hall from where this happened. And he starts sleeping down in the lower level. Like every time we come over, we notice there's a mattress down Downstairs nice. He lives alone in the house and we're like, Jake, what's going on? Why are you sleeping down here? He's like, I just like it down here more.


James Morris 42:06

He wouldn't tell us.


Michael Ballif 42:08

He wouldn't us and then I watched him one time.


James Morris 42:11

Well I caught him with sage remember? You remember I come in the house I was like, a thing of sage. And i was like what the hell is this? Oh nothing.


Michael Ballif 42:20

But then one time we're filming upstairs while so he's sleeping downstairs during this period. And we're upstairs filming and I watch him walk up the stairs and he walks into his room but he opens the door like kind of peeks his head and he walks in so slowly and carefully like he like he looked scared I'm like Jake what what's wrong like Why? What are you doing?


James Morris 42:40

Well, then he say he like heard someone's scream or something like it was when he was sleeping downstairs. We're like, what happened? He's like, Oh, I heard someone's scream and I'm like


Michael Ballif 42:46

He woke up in the night to a scream.


James Morris 42:48

That's not normal. You gotta you got to do something about this.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 42:54

That's so creepy. Imagine everyone leaving for the night and he stays there after everything happened.


James Morris 43:02

He has stories to dating back years because he I guess what, what he has told us is that this house was built a long time ago and obviously any he's looked at the the history of and apparently there was a bunch of stillborn babies buried in the yard at some point. And isn't that what he said? Mike if I'm remembering correctly


Michael Ballif 43:20

Yep.


James Morris 43:21

And yeah, he seen people standing in the windows he had a realtor or something come over at one point and they made the joke Hey, is this place isn't haunted right and Jake saw no and then this door slams in the other room. So yeah, so it was just funny coming into that because he tell these stories and kind of like I was saying earlier I was like, Yeah, okay, whatever. But these things started happening and yeah, maybe the the fork you know wasn't that maybe it was a pipe maybe the door swinging was a spring I you know what I mean? there's always things you can think but you can justify but that that one night with the conditioner being sprayed all over it. To this day we talk about it and Alan keeps trying to play it off. He's like, Oh, no, no, I'm sure there's an explanation. I'm like, well, we haven't found it yet and I think that is weird.


Michael Ballif 44:11

I think I have the explanation the ghost is pissed that Jake bought VO5 it wanted like some high higher end to be there and shit in the house.


James Morris 44:22

It's like to take a bath. It's like what the hell is this? I don't know. It's take it for what it is. At some point. Maybe we can even


Michael Ballif 44:37

We put up the clip on Facebook when it happened.


James Morris 44:39

So it's not Instagram Mike?


Michael Ballif 44:41

It's like the crazy thing is it's it's in the middle of a take. So we're James is it any? It's like too perfect. Like so James. His character is stepping towards an open doorway to investigate like a sound he heard in the hallway. And so he opens the door and he's standing there waiting and it's all quiet. We're all here. We're all behind the camera. And then suddenly the sound you know, the crashing sound, and everyone in the backgrounds like what the hell was that? And then and then yeah, so it's on camera and if you listen back like the audio quality kind of sucks, that's the only thing but you can if you turn crank up the volume you can hear that like James said that kind of ketchup bottle squirting sound it's just just bizarre.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 45:23

Do you guys ever wonder if like you're inviting things in by creating this kind of stuff?


Michael Ballif 45:30

You know,


James Morris 45:31

We had that conversation, didn't we?


Michael Ballif 45:32

Yeah, like what I what I think is so we're making we're in this house making a movie about it being a haunted house. Right. And I think I think that there if there is something going on in the place, I feel like whatever it is, is having some fun with us or it feels light hearted like to squirt out a bottle of VO5 if that never really happened.


James Morris 45:58

Yeah.


Michael Ballif 45:58

It's like, you can Don't want to walk away from it just an experience like shooting a movie in this old house with those types of stories because without it I mean I don't know it just adds another layer of fun to what we just experienced there shooting this haunted house movie in perhaps a real haunted house so I don't know I feel like it's pretty it's not it doesn't feel malevolent to me it's like the vibes of the house are pretty good when you walk through it and like sounds weird but when when we first started I I like kind of put my intentions out there to the house we came in like we're making a movie here we're not you know trying to disparage the house we're trying to honor the house and I really tried to show like what Jake created in this house on camera and tried to capture like the beauty and this this creepy beauty of this house and really honor it.


James Morris 46:52

So it's probably why I did it Mike it's like oh, you're making a movie here Okay.


Michael Ballif 46:58

It ot it got pissed it didn't want me to honor it. Like how dare you?


Ghost Hostess Mandy 47:03

Yeah.


James Morris 47:05

Yeah, I realized to take take it for what it is. It was it was a weird, it was a weird, a weird occurrence for sure.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 47:10

Yeah, we're looking forward to hearing or watching that clip if you guys can find it. Um, I really want to talk about some of your other projects, because one of them especially freaked me out, but before we do, why don't you share all the important information about the movie when it's coming out where people can watch it?


Michael Ballif 47:27

Yeah, so it comes out October 6, and it'll be streaming various platforms digitally on you know VOD. Right now pre orders are up on iTunes and Apple TV. So we've been trying to promote those as much as we can. That's one of the best ways to support the film. If this sounds like a movie you'd be interested in and you can check out the trailer on YouTube is to pre order on iTunes. Those pre orders will really help us to get ranked high on the if we can get on those horror charts. Once it goes live on October 6, we'll have a good chance of, you know, people out there finding it naturally when they go and look through those algorithms. So that's one of the best ways and then there's going to be a blu ray and a DVD that you can buy on Amazon. And yeah, we really hope people enjoy the movie. And it's been a It's been a long journey to get here. So we really hope that we can share it with as wide an audience as possible.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 48:27

Thank you. We're looking forward to seeing the everybody watch the movie and getting reactions and we're excited to just see you guys grow too, because we just barely discovered everything. And so on that note, I actually just I didn't know that The Witching Season one was on Prime until yesterday when you guys shared it on your story. So I started watching the first two episodes, I guess. But before that, I had watched some of the shorts on your YouTube channel, and The Familiar freaked me out. I yeah, I don't I don't know. I will Wasn't expecting it. It was like, in the middle of the day, I was on the computer browsing and I clicked it. I was like, Oh, it's I think it was like a minute or two. And I was like, I wonder what this is.


James Morris 49:08

Oh the short with Sadie.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 49:09

Yeah. And I clicked it. And Rudy was like, right next to me on his computer. And then I was like, Oh my god, no. He was like, What are you watching? I was like, they have these shorts. And I don't know, it was really creepy. And then I watched it again, because I wanted to see it again. And I was like, Oh, my God, this is still too creepy. So of course, later that night, I was going to sleep and I started picturing with these. So it just stayed with me for a few days. And I don't know, it just really shook me up. So I wanted to kind of talk about the history of your projects together, how you guys started working together and just pretty much anything you wanted to share about Witching Season.


Michael Ballif 49:49

Sure. Well, thanks. Yeah, The Familiar is kind of funny because it was it was supposed to be like a more of an ongoing series of little shorts that would go up on YouTube that were actually exactly a minute long. So that one I actually made with my brother and my wife Sadie who plays the lead in that and it was, it was it was we just shot it kind of one night and had this idea my brother had just adopted that little black kitten. Her name is Hex. She's super cute. And and we wanted to shoot something with her. My wife agreed to act in it. And yeah, I had that that creepy old old hag, mask, and we just kind of pulled it together and I'm glad that it was


James Morris 50:37

You have a lot of creepy old hag masks you have in your house.


Michael Ballif 50:40

That's true.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 50:42

Well, what's so creepy about it though is that watching it? I couldn't tell what you use. Like that's what made it so creepy. It's so obscure.


Michael Ballif 50:51

Yeah, it's like a it's like the old. It's just like, I can't remember exactly where I got it. But yeah, it's really scary. The mask. It's about But I wanted to keep it kind of blurred and not not reveal it too closely. But that's awesome. I'm glad that it's weird because when you make things like this, it's like you can't you lose all sense of, you know what it is. So by the time we release it, it's like we've edited it and watched it like 1000 times and don't really know whether it's scary or not.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 51:22

Oh yeah I hate that.


Michael Ballif 51:23

So to hear that it was effective.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 51:26

What what's your process with creating something scary?


Michael Ballif 51:32

Well, I guess it kind of depends on what the circumstances are. For that one, I wanted to so the challenge with that one was you know, it's exactly a minute long so trying to build a story that feels like it has a beginning, middle and end. That was, that was pretty difficult, but I wanted to set it up, have her you know, we see that she's purchased this house. She pulls this for sale sign away, goes inside cuts to her that night sleeping. And then I wanted to show something somewhere in the middle where we see that Oh, there's something going on, there's something in this house with her. And then she wakes up and you kind of so it seems like a lot of the time something that does work is having some sort of a reveal that's scary or a quick image that's terrifying. Pull back away and kind of let let things calm down. Kind of subdue your mind into thinking that there's okay we're safe and then pulling right back there at the end with something terrifying, you know, another another image or another scare. So that seems to be pretty effective. We've I think we did that a few times. And they 'They Live Inside Us' as well. But um, I think a lot of it comes from watching existing movies and trying to see how they like some of the more effective scares and different horror films that we love. And studying those and kind of creating our own spin on something like that. It's it's hard I mean, it's a It's almost hard to to even describe how you do it. You just, there's a lot of intuition I think and a lot of just your horror history kind of comes into play.


James Morris 53:09

Yeah. It's a very subjective to the individual story you're trying to tell to like if you know, okay, we're dealing with this creature, this monster, you know, what's what's a scary scenario for that one to play out as opposed to like, like with The Witching Season you know, like the short 'They Live Inside Us' is that the haunted house whereas, like, for example, the episode I did not alone, right? Where that's dealing more with like an extra terrestrial kind of thing. And so it's just finding ways to Yeah, tell your own version of what of what you would find scary almost. That's how I that's actually what I've always done is like, I think about movies and things that scared me and I was like, Okay, why did that scare me? Is it because they couldn't see it? Is it because of this, you know, the, the the drama dynamic or maybe the families facing or, you know, these little elements that kind of together but that's kind of at least what I do is Yeah, what what scares me and then I try to scare myself so


Ghost Hostess Mandy 54:07

yeah,


Michael Ballif 54:08

And like a bigger picture question of like that question looking at it in like a larger way I guess like what 'They Live Inside Us' that's it. It's a movie about horror movies and about like horror narratives and it sort of goes into those and like lets you see like what you'd more traditionally see and kind of counters that with like, asking the question of like, what is horror? Like what what is real horror? What does that look like and what, what might be like the scariest thing that I can come up like, that's kind of what 'They Live Inside Us' ultimately does is it answers that question of like, what is the most scary thing or the most terrifying thing that I could imagine happening? Which isn't always the same as what you see in a horror movie like it's sometimes you know, the true horror it's out there isn't something that you want to see on, you know, in a film like you want to go to a movie to a horror movie to have fun, so we tried to bring in all those different elements into it, but also have something bigger to say I guess, like, have a real message to it a real meaning behind it.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 55:12

Right.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 55:12

Right.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 55:13

So to kind of break it down you have The Witching Season one on Prime TV. And then you have additional shorts on YouTube correct.


Michael Ballif 55:23

There are a few other shorts on on YouTube like that that 48 hour film James is talking about is actually there on saw on YouTube, it's just youtube.com/witchingseasonfilms. You can watch those there, but all of the Witching Season is actually still on our YouTube channel. So you can watch all of those there. They're also on Prime. They're also available on like Blu ray and DVD. The Blu rays and DVDs both have like a bunch of special features like making of's and commentaries, stuff like that. So


James Morris 55:51

There's some spin offs on the channel to like Count Spookula


Michael Ballif 55:59

We just shot a new thing with Count Spookula we're gonna release so he's so he kind of spawned from I don't know how far you've gone into the, the the Witching Season stuff but in the final episode is that you Count Spookula it kind of makes his debut there and we just James plays Count Spookula and he's like a typical 80s Horror host but he's also just like a total he's an idiot and


James Morris 56:29

Well I didn't even want to do it that's the funny thing like when we were making is that you because that's the one that I directed and I was like, let's just put a random episode on the TV she's watching we don't have to do and Mike's like no, we need to do our own horror host we need you know, and I was like okay, so it was my opportunity to do a cameo and so


Michael Ballif 56:44

But to your credit, you kind of crafted his whole persona and like, just the way he talks and it all just kind of came together and we realize like this guy is so fun and like, and the comments on that video are like, all like a lot of people are like Talking about how just how they want to see more of that guy. So we started a spin off show with him. We made a Christmas special with him last year. We've been kind of toying with making more episodes. We just shot a new one, like a couple weeks ago.


James Morris 57:13

It's so embarrasing. It really is like I you talking about the characters I like the most. He's really those episodes are so fun to make, because we're just, we're just having, you know, anything goes. But just that character is such an ass.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 57:30

I'd like to like touch on kind of how you got your start, Mike, I kind of want to know like, how you got your start with filmmaking?


Michael Ballif 57:38

Yeah, my parents had an old there was a high eight camera, but I started playing around with that when I was a teenager and we would film like a skateboarding around the neighborhood. And like, I actually recently went through and digitized all of my parents tapes. I got to find a lot of that stuff and I was fun to look at. But we like I would shoot like little stuff. Stop stop animations with Lego figures


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 58:02

Right.


Michael Ballif 58:03

and I did one that was it was The Legend of Sleepy Hollow which was it was just like a character on a horse and then like the guy's running and then the Headless Horseman chops his head off and like I had a fishing line kind of his head


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 58:15

Yeah, thats awesome.


Michael Ballif 58:16

it's all over the ground. And I'd like hold up pieces of paper to the camera for like titles just stuff like that but yeah, I just like started playing with cameras and learning what they're what what you can do with them and that was like the entryway and then


James Morris 58:30

Why haven't I seen this Mike? That's what


Michael Ballif 58:32

I gotta I gotta show you there's like a few Lego things I did and then and then I started getting a little more serious in like when I was like 15-16 maybe I started making like actual short films. And I do like I did a few like little horror things but a lot of like action stuff where you have kids running around with guns like shooting at each other and


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 58:52

oh, yeah


Michael Ballif 58:53

and I learned how to edit like muzzle flashes in you know,


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 58:56

Yeah


Michael Ballif 58:56

get like the gunshot look good old days and yeah. So it started there. And then and the kind of the big turn was like my early 20s. I made this zombie movie called two hours. It's on YouTube and it it kind of went viral like we didn't we released it right around the time walking dead was getting really popular.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 59:15

Right.


Michael Ballif 59:15

It was like 2012. So, yeah, got that out there. And then and then it was like this period after that was released of me like trying to figure out sort of what what it is that is important to me about filmmaking and like storytelling, and that's where like, Halloween really entered the picture. And I kind of realized that like, that's like doing stuff with Halloween themes and like telling stories that are set around Halloween just became super important. And it It feels weird because like, back then I don't know if James even like knew what I was talking about, because like, let's make this series. They're all Halloween centric shorts and like, we'll make them all year long man will shoot them in like December and in January.


James Morris 59:57

Like Yeah, right. Yeah, yeah. first episode, I knew what he what he had in mind. I was like, Okay, I get it.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:00:09

Yeah, before.


Michael Ballif 1:00:11

Sorry. Rudy?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:00:11

No, go ahead.


Michael Ballif 1:00:13

Just say it's like it kept flashing back to like my childhood and like thinking about like, the Halloween season and just how like, it always inspired creativity for me. And I was like, after two hours, I went through a bit of a lull of like, what am I doing? Like, what do I want to do with filmmaking? And it just, like, clicked as soon as I started thinking about doing the like, the Halloween centric stuff, and like The Witching Season quickly came into picture and like, back then, there was no real audience that I knew for, like Halloween themed content to come out consistently, you know, but then it turns out, we start releasing and people are like, way into it, and there's like, Instagram communities for Halloween that like discovered it and like it kind of took off. That way, you know,


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:00:56

That's awesome. Yeah, that's a lot like Mandy because she Like when COVID hit, you know, we're both very creative people and we needed an outlet and I was like, Hey, we should do a podcast and she's like, I don't know. And I was like, just do something about like Halloween. I know how much you love Halloween and she's like, Okay, and then she kind of looked for a podcast that had like, all the things she wanted for Halloween, she couldn't find it. She was like, You know what, we're gonna do it, we're gonna create it. And we're gonna like put it out there. So yeah, we're like really specific with like, celebrating like, Halloween year long, and nobody else really does that. It's always either like, horror or they kind of touch on Halloween themes but it's always about Halloween and that's how we kind of discovered you guys and it just like fit perfectly with like what we are trying to do.


James Morris 1:01:44

We have shot Halloween and every season now that's a shot. The Witching Season since we have episodes that were shot in February, in July in April. We I actually killed my lawn because I had these big bags of leaves store Right for shooting and I forgot I forgot about in my backyard and it just I moved up my grass has just gone and so my great but there's a there's a level of devotion where store or dry storing leaves so we can use them in our stuff.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:02:15

How about how many containers of Halloween stuff do you guys have in your place?


James Morris 1:02:20

I just like Mike do it. I've got I've got a big tote Mike's got about 60.


Michael Ballif 1:02:25

So like I actually collect like vintage Halloween stuff. So I have like, I have a couple totes of like just paint like old paper decorations. Like I have a bunch I have way too much like I just recently moved in like I had to move at all and look at it and like holy shit. This is fucking crazy. So much stuff. But uh, yeah.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:02:46

So I kind of just wanted to circle back to the Halloween topic like so. Have you just always loved Halloween, and you finally realized you could apply that to your filmmaking or


Michael Ballif 1:02:59

I think that That's what it was. It's like it's always been like my favorite holiday and like, growing up, I don't know if I felt aside from like playing with cameras and stuff. I don't know how because I could never draw. I never really wrote much as a kid. And I think like, every time Halloween would come around, though, I'd always get really excited about like making a cool costume. And I think that creative spark just kind of started to come into my life through Halloween. And yeah, I was Yeah, I think that's that's a good way of putting it I just didn't really connect the dots that I could tell stories with this. Like, focus on capturing like an atmosphere and a feeling of Halloween through the stories that makes sense to like really trying to set a stage for those memories that I had growing up and those those creative sparks and it's, it's like I uncovered this like, as soon as That kind of clicked it really felt authentic like it felt like this is me in this this is what I'm all about really like I didn't I don't know it's just it's hard to explain but it really clicked and and I you know I was the type of kid growing up where I would watch Halloween TV shows that I'd record on VHS throughout the year like I would just put them on and they were like, they were like a comfort blanket for me. I was like anxious or something as a kid I just put on like, the Boy Meets World Halloween episode.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:04:33

We just watched that.


Michael Ballif 1:04:34

I love it.


James Morris 1:04:35

We always tease Mike to like when we're on set. We'll be filming. We're like alright, does a shot have enough pumpkins in it? We don't have enough pumpkins shot.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:04:46

Did you ever watch Monster Vision on TNT?


Michael Ballif 1:04:50

I didn't but I recently started watching the last drive in so I really I wish I would have because I know I would have loved it but i i never caught it as a kid.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:04:59

Yeah. I did the same thing to have like a bunch of tapes of just different monster movies. I'm really big into Godzilla and I have like,


James Morris 1:05:07

Have you seen Godzilla versus the smog monster?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:05:10

Oh, yeah, of course with the kid, right?


James Morris 1:05:12

Thats a masterpiece.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:05:13

Hell Yeah.


James Morris 1:05:14

He's like yelling out at Godzilla. Don't leave me.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:05:16

Yeah I remember that.


James Morris 1:05:18

Walking away all sad Oh, magic.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:05:21

Oh, yeah. Yeah, the latest Godzilla was pretty crazy. I think the the director I forgot his name, but he did. Um,


Michael Ballif 1:05:30

Michael Dougherty.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:05:31

Yeah. Michael Dougherty


Michael Ballif 1:05:31

Trick R Treat.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:05:32

Yeah, did Trick or treat. Also a great film. But yeah, his stuff like he did. He, like gave a lot of nods to like the Godzilla fans. And I kind of feel like you did a lot of that to Mike. He did a lot of nods to like a lot of the horror icons that are out there. And I think that's great, because when you're watching the film, you're like, Oh, yeah, that makes me feel like Halloween Friday the 13th all these like great films and it just and I am I think you nailed it on the head when you said that like these films that you have on VHS is kind of like a warm blanket I kind of felt the same way to like it was just like this comforting feeling when you're watching the feature like you just remember all these things when you're young so that's one of the things I remember.


Michael Ballif 1:06:17

Thank you. Yeah, I don't I don't know it's like, I want to try to create like with this one with a live in sight so that balance of like, in a different way because like with with the Witching Season it was a lot of the stories are really fun, like kind of light hearted. Like you look at something like princess like none of them really go too deep. I guess that the short film 'They Live Inside Us' is the deepest and the most, the darkest I guess but what 'They Live Inside Us' the feature it is a pretty dark idea once you get to the core of it, but I wanted to try to layer in that same you know, warm blanket aesthetics and that feeling throughout the entire piece. So That was the that was the big challenge of balancing those two elements together. So yeah, to hear that is, that's awesome to hear that it it kind of comes across that way because I worry that when I watched the movie, like I get to the end, especially if I watch it with like a family member or something like they're just gonna be like Jesus Christ What the hell's wrong with you?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:07:19

Oh yeah, I know what you mean.


Michael Ballif 1:07:22

Like are you okay dude? It's like yeah, I don't know,


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:07:26

I do the same thing to like, I'll send my friends something that I produced I was like, Hey, what do you think of this but I won't tell them that I did it they need a genuine reaction of like, like what they really think about it and they're like oh, that's okay is like okay, well I need to like fix it so I exactly know. I know exactly what you mean,


Michael Ballif 1:07:42

Right.


James Morris 1:07:43

You lose objectivity you really do on your own stuff and like Mike was saying earlier, like I can't. I watched the movie. And I just like like, I feel nothing like I'm like, I don't know if this is garbage or if it's decent, like,


Michael Ballif 1:07:56

You're like everywhere. James here. James plays I don't know if we've said this yet, but he plays all of the monsters as well as the main character. He's also Counts Spookula on the TV, James just in every frame. So it's like, it's I'm sure it's hard to separate yourself when you watch it.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:08:15

Alright, it's been great having you guys. We're so excited to see the movie get released and get everyone's reactions. Before we let you go. Do you kind of want to share where you want people to connect with you like on Instagram? Any final last last words?


Michael Ballif 1:08:30

Yeah, so we're, we're at Witching Season films on Instagram, Facebook, and then on YouTube. We always post like updates about the movie and other projects that we're working on there. We'll also announce like we're gonna we'll know soon What platforms The movie will be coming out on on October 6. So yeah, check us out there and then I'm @MBallif. B A L L I F on Instagram. That's my personal and yeah, yeah, James.


James Morris 1:09:00

Yeah, what he said I'm @JamesMorris7403 on Instagram. I post a lot of the same stuff, but I also mix it up a bit too. And then I'm at James Lindsey Morris. L I N D S E Y Morris on Facebook. So and then obviously the Witching season Stuff. But Mike mentioned before so we're always we're always doing joint stuff on that


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:09:27

Awesome it was great having you guys and we're so excited to see the movie get released and we can't wait to keep watching the rest of the Witching Season on prime either.


James Morris 1:09:38

Thanks defenitley let us know what you think about it and we appreciate you guys so this is finally we we do like doing this kind of stuff. So


Michael Ballif 1:09:44

thank you guys. You guys have been awesome. This has been this been fun.


James Morris 1:09:46

Yeah, for real.


Michael Ballif 1:09:47

Yeah, we really appreciate you guys.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:09:50

Awesome. All right, guys. We will hopefully talk to you again soon.


James Morris 1:09:55

Yeah, sure.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:09:56

Thanks, guys.


Michael Ballif 1:09:57

Take care.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:09:59

All right guys, we hope you enjoyed listening to our conversation with Michael and James as much as we enjoyed talking to them. Before we move on to


Ghoulster 1:10:07

Fables From Our Familiar


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:10:09

We have an exciting announcement about 'They Live Inside Us'. Michael and James have hooked us up with two free download codes to the movie when it releases on October 6. So as mentioned earlier, this giveaway is running on our Instagram. It'll be launching at some point today, Friday, September 18. So keep your eyes peeled Ghoulsters. Okay, so as you guys know our Familiar likes picking stories kind of related to the theme of the episode. So this time he chose a clown story.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:10:39

Oh man.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:10:40

Yeah, since there's a spooky clown in 'They Live Inside Us' as you kind of heard about the whole makeup stuff. So


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:10:45

Right.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:10:46

Are you ready Rudy?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:10:47

Hit me with your best shot.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:10:49

Okay, this


Ghoulster 1:10:51

Fables From Our Familiar


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:10:53

is about Wrinkles, the clown


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:10:56

Oh no.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:10:58

So here's the Legend of Wrinkles. It all started in November 2014. When a mysterious YouTube video called Wrinkles The Clown caught on CCTV was uploaded. This video looks like a nanny cam clip showing a little girl sleeping in her bed. The drawer at the bottom of the dresser starts to open and Wrinkles comes out taking a stuffed animal, kissing it then placing it next to the sleeping child. He looks around and sees the camera grabs it and the video ends. The video description says that Wrinkles was hired to strike fear into this child for misbehaving. The child didn't see Wrinkles at the time but her parents showed her the video after then they warned her if she kept acting up they would threaten to call him back.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:11:43

Nope. No thank you.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:11:46

That's mean.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:11:47

That's pretty mean. See, that's scary because that's real. That's a real person that goes to your house scares the crap out your kids


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:11:55

and watches you while you're sleeping


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:11:57

and watches you.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:11:57

Okay, so after this video Wrinkles stickers started to appear on payphones street signs and sidewalks throughout South Florida. The sticker was very simple. A headshot of Wrinkles his face, his name at the top and a phone number at the bottom. Wrinkles phone blew up with the kids calling out of curiosity, people calling him to hire him to scare and eventually parents started calling out of concerns and threats.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:12:25

That's pretty insane. And it had to be Florida. Because Florida is crazy.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:12:31

So in November 2015, his popularity grew when the local news reported on this mysterious clown. Wrinkles was interviewed and said that people hired him to scare their friends. We also learned that he started as a professional clown but wanting to make some extra money. He ends the interview saying he just wanted to make some extra money and have fun before he dies.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:12:53

Yeah, that's really creepy. Do you remember I think it was like four years ago and there was a news stories about clowns coming out at night and scaring people.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:13:05

Yes, that's in here.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:13:06

Oh, I was like, I wonder if that had to do with him.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:13:09

I think that's part of the story.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:13:10

Okay, cool.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:13:11

So his popularity started growing even more when he had an interview with The Washington Post. In this article we learned he's a 65 year old military veteran that moved to Florida to live out the rest of his years. He wasn't interested in golf or hanging out at country clubs, so he ordered a clown mask off eBay and made some business cards and stickers. More videos were posted throughout the years between 2014 and 2018. On the YouTube channel, HvUSeen Wrinkles, where people spotted Wrinkles at a parking lot waving on the side of the road and even caught him dumpster diving. more creepy video started appearing where families started to encounter Wrinkles at their home. A video posted in January 2016 starts with a family watching TV. A figure appears at their living room window. It's Wrinkles standing at the window looking inside. The girls scream and runaway but the camera man assumed to be the father using his phone's camera walks toward the window and Wrinkles makes his way to their front door. As the camera man approaches the front door, wrinkles appears at the door window. They scream and the cameraman tells him to go to their room and the video cuts off. So here's where what you were saying comes into play. In October 2016. The clown scare paranoia started when people all over the United States were reporting seeing random clowns. People were calling the police saying there were clowns lurking in their yards looking for children. Clowns started to appear everywhere on social media.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:14:38

Yeah, I do you remember that and what's creepy is that it kind of reminded me of John Wayne Gacy. He was like a serial killer from like the late 70s. Early 80s I think,


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:14:52

Uh huh.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:14:52

So yeah, clowns, no thank you


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:14:55

Did he dress as a clown?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:14:56

Yeah, he just is the clown. Oh, and he just I think any I don't know if he murdered people in a clown costume. But I know he was a professional clown, but he killed a bunch of people with just your sorority girls actually.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:15:08

Wow.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:15:09

Yeah, it was crazy.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:15:09

Sounds like a follow up.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:15:11

Yeah. No Thank You to Clowns


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:15:13

Okay, so in October of 2019 Wrinkles the clown documentary was released. The documentary allows us to learn a lot more about Wrinkles, we see his daily life where he lives out of a van, or mini RV. Enough space to hold a bed, kitchenette and a tiny TV. We see him prepare his frozen dinners watching TV all while his flip phone is ringing. These are people wanting to talk to wrinkles tell him they love him. Some threatened to kill him. Others dare him to come visit them. Parents are also angrily calling asking why their children have his phone number saved in their phones. All this attention led to people wanting to know who Wrinkles the clown was halfway through the documentary. Things abruptly change. We're going to warn you now that there are spoilers ahead. We learn that Wrinkles is not real. It was all a hoax. The man that created wrinkles wasn't actually a 65 year old retired veteran. It was all an elaborate art project or a social experiment to play on people's fear. Wrinkles, never visited homes or was actually paid to scare any children. The videos posted on YouTube were staged with paid actors the man at the beginning of the documentary was also a paid actor. The actual person behind wrinkles never revealed his real identity, saying wrinkles already received enough attention and death threats. He doesn't mean that in his personal life,


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:16:38

Is he the Banksy of the horror community.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:16:42

Possibly. The doc explores the idea that Wrinkles became a modern day digital folklore or Boogeyman like Slender Man, bloody mary or Charlie Charlie. The unique thing about Wrinkles is that kids were able to actually get in contact with him since he was only a phone call away. People created their own myths about wrinkles, he became a YouTube sensation with tweens. They would make their own videos calling the number and leaving a voicemail for wrinkles. These tweens idolized him inspiring them to buy their own clown outfits. To others, he was believed to be a real kidnapper, a killer clown. At one point he even got a voicemail from the authorities saying if they saw him near children, they would shoot him.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:17:24

Geez. Come on, guys, just a trick.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:17:27

Trick show. Okay, so the doc ends with commentary on how people process information, how they view the media and how they handle social media. What did their imaginations come up with? Here is a quote from the man behind Wrinkles. Individual minds are such humongous places, the places you can go can be the darkest, deepest depths of just awful terribleness to some of the most enlightening, most beautiful places. It's interesting to see where people decide to go. They took very small Information and everyone took it in different directions. Even though now we know wrinkles isn't real. You can still call him and leave him a voicemail at 407-734-0254.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:18:14

Should we give him a call?


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:18:16

I think so.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:18:18

Okay, let's see if we can get him on the line.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:18:22

Wait, do you think he's gonna answer?


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:18:25

I hope he doesn't answer because I want to sleep tonight. But we're gonna do this for you guys. We'll see if we can get this guy on the line and see what it's all about. I'm gonna lose some rest because of you guys so.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:18:37

He's not even real. Oscar was creeped out by this one too. And this is the one I'm not scared of.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:18:43

Right? Okay, let's see if we can get him on the line.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:18:48

Okay, guys, I don't know what's gonna happen but if I get the opportunity, I'm gonna leave a message.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:18:53

Okay, let's see if we can get this guy here. Okay, I think its ringing. There it goes. Don't be nervous. This is creepy.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:19:23

I'm looking at his picture and it's really scary.


Wrinkles The Clown 1:19:29

Hello you've reached Wrinkles a clown. I'm not here to take your call leave me a message and I'll call you back.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:19:39

Hi Wrinkles. This is ghost hostess Mandy from The Ghoul Mates Halloween Podcast and we are currently recording a show about you. We'd love to have you come on our show and scare all of our listeners. Call us back! Sending you ghouls and kisses bye.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:19:55

Okay it ended.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:19:56

My heart is racing.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:20:01

That is so creepy. He's gonna call us right now while we're recording.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:20:04

I think I would freak out. My like heart is racing so fast right now. I scrolled down on the script that Oscar wrote for us and his picture came up while we were calling here like, this is how he looks.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:20:24

Oh, God. Yeah, don't ever.


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:20:26

So while we're on that note, that's something additional that we're sharing on our Discord server for our patrons. We're sharing the photos that Oscar finds for these stories. I'm sorry, I can't like shake it off now. It was like creepy with the sound and the picture. Oh, okay. So I can't believe this episodes over already.


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:20:53

It's a creepy one. Definitely. It's one of the creepiest ones that we've done for me like it's just no that picture put me over the edge


Ghost Hostess Mandy 1:21:00

If the phone rings right now I can't even like plan anything. Okay, before we let you go, we want to give you a heads up about next week's episode. Back in season one when we asked for feedback, a few people said that they wanted to hear more about lesser known gems in horror and Halloween movies. We don't think this one is that well known because Rudy didn't know about it till he met me and you guys have heard through horror trivia. He knows way more than I do. So your Ghoulster homework for this week is to watch the Monster Squad or don't but it will be nearly impossible for us to do the episode without spoilers. So you've been warned. And also you just don't want to miss it. It's a super cute movie. Okay, so that's it for today. Don't forget to check out our Instagram to enter the giveaway and possibly win one of the two free download codes to be one of the first ones to watch. 'They Live Inside Us' when it comes out in October. Until next time, we are stunning new ghouls and kisses. Bye!


Master of Scaremonies Rudy 1:22:02

Bye!



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