Since graduating from USC School of Cinematic Arts, Leigh Scott has directed and wrote over twenty films and is credited as a producer for a couple dozen. The films he worked on include films by The Asylum which between 2005 and 2007 he worked on fifteen Asylum Films. Leigh also worked on films by Roger Corman’s Concorde Pictures. Several years ago Leigh started up his production company Imaginarium which brought us the entertaining film Piranha Sharks which Leigh produced, co-wrote, and directed. You can read the B Movie Nation Piranha Shark review after the interview.
Great white sharks bio-engineered to be the size of piranhas with the purpose of living in rich people’s exotic aquariums terrorize New York City when they get into the water supply and do what great white sharks do best.
Five Quick Questions with Leigh Scott
You’re from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and left to attend USC School of Cinematic Arts. Can quickly share little about yourself and when you knew you wanted to make movies?
LEIGH: I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker from a very young age, probably six or seven. I’m lucky in that sense that I’ve never really questioned what I want to do or should be doing. I wrote my first letter to USC when I was about ten. I don’t come from a wealthy background, so it was a stretch for me to consider going to USC, but I was determined and made it happen.
After you graduated and made the two comedies Beach House and Art House you then took a little break from films. Why and what made you get back into filmmaking?
LEIGH: I didn’t take a break really. I was still working in films and on films, just not as the point person. I worked on crews, basically doing every job possible so I could see the film set from every perspective. And I produced films for friends. I also tried to live a bit more of a “normal” life. I got married, bought a bar and tried to be more stable because the world of indie film is so full of ups and downs. Clearly, since I went back to it 100%, the normal world really didn’t suit me.
Working with two of the biggest B Movie companies, The Asylum and Concorde Pictures, how beneficial were the experiences to your current production company?
LEIGH: They were both great experiences. Corman was cool because of the history. And getting to work directly with Roger was amazing. But you can’t stay with Roger too long. It’s a spring board to bigger things, so I learned what I could and moved on pretty quickly.
The Asylum was a bit frustrating at the end of the day. I was with them at the beginning and I saw it as a great business model with great potential. Ultimately, I wanted to keep growing in terms of markets and to a greater degree, artistically. They are very content where they are. Their idea of expansion is twenty crappy movies instead of ten in a year. I think if I stayed with them, they would probably be making theatrical releases and Sundance films in addition to the Sharknados. But without me, they sort of settled into a groove and haven’t really progressed. Which is kind of sad. I think the three guys who run the Asylum are really good people, probably the most honest and fair that I’ve encountered in the industry. But they’ve sort of bought into their own hype and become part of the machine. I truly feel that “so bad they’re good” movies are okay on the small, fun, indie level. But the Asylum has pushed that logic into the mainstream, which is bad for everyone. It’s makes the culture more cynical and, quite frankly, dumber.
Regarding your company Imaginarium, can you share a little about the company?
LEIGH: I have several companies that I either run or am involved with. Each one does a different thing and involves different people. IFI handles a lot of film financing and sort of the “behind the scenes” business stuff. Imaginarium and Notre Vie are production companies. Notre Vie is a partnership with Ramona Mallory who is a remarkable actress, producer, and musical genius. She’s one of the few people I’ve worked with who gets the overall vision of what I’m trying to do.
But the big one is Angry Armadillo. It’s a distribution company. Not only will it allow us to control the movies all the way to the audiences, but I hope it actually changes the way the industry operates. The weak link for indies is always the distribution. There are far too many pirates and inept companies that operate in that world. Too many things that are unfavorable to filmmakers somehow became “industry standard”. That’s just not right. My last film “The Penny Dreadful Picture Show” had abysmal distribution. That was sort of the final straw. So the Armadillo isn’t just for me, to insure that we get paid for our work, but for every filmmaker. Believe it or not, the concept of a distribution company that is completely transparent and not out to rob everybody is rather novel. It’s downright unique!
The film world is changing so fast, and the business side just hasn’t really caught up yet. So the aim of all of my companies is to use the new tech and the new business climate to make better films and make sure the right people are rewarded and compensated for their efforts. It’s a tall order, but I think we can do it.
Any new developments that you’re able to share with us?
LEIGH: We’re putting together an entire slate of films that should take us through the next year or so. All done in the same spirit as Piranha Sharks. I never wanted to make “B movies”. I’m not the type of guy who relishes watching those types of films on Showtime at 3 AM. I’ve always been into studio films and the more esoteric foreign and art films. It’s just harder to build and make money doing art films. And I’m too much of a rebel to sit through development meetings and let studio people wreck my movie. Plus, I’m a film junkie. I always like to be making films. I can’t imagine taking five years to get one project done.
Next up is “Intergalactic” which is a very original science-fiction comedy. I describe it as “The Terminator, but made by the Coen brothers”. It’s pretty insane. The goal there is to try and get as close as possible to a “studio film” on a limited budget and schedule. I like using the same cast, so it’s pretty much the crew from the last couple of films coming together again. I want audiences to be able to recognize my films and be able to instantly separate them from everything else out there. Using the same cast helps that. Plus, they’re all such awesome and talented people, who wouldn’t want to work with them over and over again? Besides, I think it sucks when actors work with filmmakers early in their career, when the days are long and the pay non-existent, but then miss out when the filmmaker finally “hits it”. This way, we all move up together. I’m big on loyalty. It’s probably the most important thing to me. It’s not very common in this business, but that too, can be changed.
A huge thank you Leigh and here’s the Piranha Shark review to entice you even more to see the movie.
PIRANHA SHARKS REVIEW
The script, acting, directing and all the cast and crew had a part in making Piranha Sharks an exciting movie with plenty of thrills and laughter. The Piranha Sharks originally were intended to be a bio weapon, but ended up being marketed as pets similar to Sea Monkeys by a couple guys with a get rich scheme. Dominique (Amy Blackman) sums it up “you want to sell an advanced bio weapon…to children?”
Brody (Frederic Doss) and Ellen (Ashe Parker) are a funny married couple that can use a little excitement in their marriage. Excellent acting by Frederic and Ashe to make the marriage so realistic and funny. Brody knows there’s a huge disaster lurking with the Piranha Sharks and has to convince Dominique. To get her to listen to him he ends up kidnapping her, but he’s not the greatest when it comes to hostage situations and worse at trying to maintain control. Another important subplot is the story of the exterminators. Ultimately these somewhat slacker guys save the day. Each one of them has their own story and are very likeable and comical characters.
The characters stories develop, so does the infestation of the Piranha Sharks and soon things start to go to hell and there’s a Piranha Shark epidemic in New York City. The plot and subplots keep your interest throughout and you’ll be rooting for the characters and not just wanting to see them brutally killed by the Piranha Sharks (I was rooting for you Jessica and Kristina). In the end there’s only one weapon that will kill the Piranha Sharks. No way can it be revealed here you need to see for yourself, it’s beyond anything you’d dream of, yet simple.
To rent or own Piranha Sharks go to the Vimeo Piranha Shark page. http://vimeo.com/ondemand/piranhasharks
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