Quantcast Paul Swearingen interview

Paul Swearingen
The Second Line/Halloween
Paul Swearingen was one of the event organizers, along with Tony Masi for 2003's now historic 25th anniversary HALLOWEEN convention - 'Halloween Returns To Haddonfield'. We talked to him about his experiences putting the event together, the upcoming documentary DVD, what it's like working with Lance Warlock, and how it feels for his story 'The Second Line' to finally come to fruition. - by Robg. 1/05

What are your earliest recollections of the horror genre?

The summer I was going into 7th grade, I stayed up one night late and came across 'Psycho'. Which wasn't the best thing in the world to have seen since I was going away to camp that next day.Thank God it wasn't Friday the 13th, huh? (laughs) Then after that I saw 'Don't Be Afraid of the Dark', 'Black Christmas', then I realized that horror was entertaining to me. But it was 'HALLOWEEN' that just through me back in my seat that first time I ever saw it.

What was your first impression of the Halloween series? Do you remember which one you had seen first?

It was the fall of 1978 and I was 15 years old. I kept hearing the radio ads on 'HALLOWEEN' and it was very intriguing to me. I remember it being a Friday Night and a friend of mine was 17, old enough to drive. He and my two other friends and I decided to go check out this new film. I remember I had to buy a  ticket  to a 'G' rated movie and then just walked into 'HALLOWEEN'. It was a lot easier to do that back then, unlike today. All I remember was, we stayed and watched it again, and then were so freaked out walking out of the theatre to the car. I immediately went home and looked for HADDONFIELD, ILLINOIS on a map. I was sure it existed. The other cool thing was, in my hometown of Elgin, Illinois, we have a Mental Institution, and I remember after HALLOWEEN became successful a rumor was going around High School that the movie was filmed in Illinois and at my home towns Mental Hospital. Which again was a rumor. But it was cool at the time.

Is it true you met Halloween Movies.com's Tony Masi at the Halloween: Resurrection premiere? How'd the idea to organize the 'Return to Haddonfield' convention come about?

Actually, I didn't meet Tony at the premiere, I couldn't find him. It was packed that night. But I really wanted to thank him for the tickets. I was disappointed at the time that I didn't have the chance to meet him. It ended up being a blessing though because I then e-mailed him and thanked him, where we were able to discuss things a little easier had we tried at the premier. We exchanged a few e-mails and then we decided to talk on the telephone. It was then I mentioned to him that HALLOWEEN was turning 25 in 2003, and I causally said we should contact South Pasadena and or the Myers House owner to see if we could have a celebration. Tony had mentioned that he had always wanted to do some type of convention, but knew one person couldn't do it alone. I had some experience with putting together a few of my High School reunions, so it seemed that with Tony's following through The Myers Museum, and my knowledge of planning large events, that a Convention was a great possibility. I still remember it as if it were yesterday, It was July 7th, 2002. The phone calls started that very next day. That phone conversation was also where THE SECOND LINE began.

The convention turned out to be a huge deal amongst fans. How difficult was your end of organizing such a big event?

I have never been involved in something that was so meant to be. I mean it was a lot of hard work, but never difficult. We both realized that if we were going to have fans from all over the world attend this, that the agenda should be full, and that there be plenty for everyone to see and do. As it turned out it was really 2 full days of non-stop 'HALLOWEEN' fun.

Everything came together very nicely and I think it was that when Tony and I spoke about the event we carried a lot of passion about it and it was noticed. This was not just a party, this was now a piece of 'HALLOWEEN' history. I have to also mention all the celebrities because they were AWESOME. They interacted the whole time with the fans and I think that really added a lot. Parties, the bus tour, the Brewery gathering, lunches, dinners etc. I mean we always heard about fans hanging out with the celebrities. I was happy for everyone that got to experience that. Also I need to mention the Akkads, they too supported us in this event, and were happy on how it turned out.

How difficult was it getting people involved in the 25th anniversary convention at first?

Well, Tony did something really smart there, he launched a poll on the Myers Museum website to see if fans were even interested in such an event. Well, I am sure you could imagine the response. So we knew that there was an interest, and decided to go for it. So in answer to your question, not difficult at all because the fans were so on board from the first mention of it. As far as people helping or volunteering to help, again fans e-mailed from all over wanting to help. We had an AWESOME group of people help us.

What were some of the highlights of the weekend for you personally?

Where do I begin? I have many! Well number one, it was a dream come true. I grew up with this film series and it made such an impact on me that it tapped into my 'creative side'. I mean to look back now and see myself on stage interviewing these wonderful celebrities during the panel discussions, just amazes me, I think to myself, was that really me up there? We were going 90 miles a minute following the schedule and getting everyone where they needed to be, that things were a blur during the convention. I guess being able to proudly say that I was a part of this, to me is a highlight, and one of the biggest ones. I wouldn't change anything about that weekend. It was perfect.

As a Halloween fan, is it surreal to be on a friendly basis with a lot of the people that took part in the convention?

It is VERY Surreal. Just this week alone, Charles Cyphers and Brian Andrews called just to say Hello. Lance Warlock and I have become great friends and I hear from his dad Dick every now and then. Another person I have gotten to be close with is Marianne Hagan. We get on the phone and talk for hours about once a month. It's AWESOME. She just got married on the 15th of January by the way. CONGRAT's TO KARA STRODE!!! And last but not least I usually get a monthly call or so from Brad Loree. He makes me laugh, he is such a great guy. They are all great people. What fan gets to be friends with their favorite celebrities? I feel VERY  fortunate!!!! Another cool thing was one weekend Lance came to L.A. to hang out and we spent the weekend at his brother Billy's (Craig from HALLOWEEN II). We had a BLAST.

Billy had just left GENERAL HOSPITAL where he had played the character A.J. Quartemain for several years, so he was on vacation, Lance was on vacation and I had a few days off and we had a really great time. Billy was really cool and it was interesting to hear about his experience shooting HALLOWEEN II. Another SURREAL thing is I now live in HADDONFIELD.

The convention prompted me to move to South Pasadena (a.k.a. Haddonfield) After I started working with the city and the students I fell in love with the town and made the move in August before the convention. By the time the convention weekend arrived and with all the pre-convention related items involving the city, I felt like I had lived here for years. It is pretty cool to drive by the Myers House everyday, or stop by the Strode house where I am friends with the owners. But the Elrod Alley is even creepy in the day, so what you see in the movie is what it is like in real life. A lot has changed through out the years but you know your in Haddonfield. Again very surreal.

Brad Loree is such a wacky, cool fellow. Got any good Brad stories for us?

I always feel pumped up after I talk with Brad, he has amazing energy. My favorite Brad story is last year on my birthday he left me a voicemail where he SANG Happy Birthday to me. I just cracked up, how often does a famous serial killer call someone to say, let alone sing happy birthday. I still laugh about it today. Plus he isn't a bad singer either. Brad has been great, he put us in touch with his agents when we had some questions about THE SECOND LINE, and he has been VERY SUPPORTIVE, along with the other Halloween Alumni that have gotten involved with the project. He is a talented man!

You're currently working on a documentary of the entire event for DVD release, Halloween: 25 Years Of Terror. How'd that project come about?

It just seemed like a no brainer, of course the event would be filmed. Especially after the drama department at South Pasadena High School got on board and city themselves literally let us turn it back into Haddonfield, Illinois,  we realized that everything had to be captured. Enter Stef Hutchinson and his crew, to do just that. A GREAT group of people, and it was a blast to hang out and work with them the week before the convention. At one point I almost felt like we were making a movie, especially seeing the Students reenact the scenes. Again, VERY surreal.

You're in the editing process of the documentary DVD for the convention. As a fan, what's it like to have access to all this Halloween-related material?  Has it been a difficult project to put together?

The editor was hired by Malek, so he and Tony have worked closely with him. Stef too (from England). It has been cool to meet some of the additional celebrities (post convention) to get their interviews and stopping by Trancus and viewing and learning the process of how a project like this gets put together. From what I have seen it is a very interesting process, and it has been enjoyable. As far as Halloween related material, ANYTHING HALLOWEEN is awesome!!!

Can we expect tons of extra footage and special features for the DVD release?

Now there has to be some anticipation on the release, so I am going to be closed lip on this question, however I will tell you to keep posted to the www.halloweenmovies.com website, especially the clip of the month. But in all honesty, I feel that everyone will love this documentary.

Are you planning on taking part in or attending the Monster Mania Tribute to HALLOWEEN in New Jersey this August?

I have been speaking with Dave Hagan, the head of Monster Mania and I hope to attend his show. Plus I know Lance and Dick Warlock are attending and they want me to meet them out there. So, yes it is something that I want to attend. I have also received some e-mails from fans that attended the H25 convention here in L.A. asking me the same question, and it would be great to see everyone again.

Tell us a bit about your writing background?

I did some essay writing in high school, and I was also on Yearbook and the Newspaper. I entered some short story contests in college, but besides that, nothing too deep. However, The Second Line was a story I started to develop years ago, and it seemed more like a movie in my head then a writing project. Never haven written a script before I didn't know really how to go about it. So collaborating on this seemed like the solution.

You & Tony have collaborated on a few script and story ideas, including 'The Second Line' which takes place in your hometown.  Can you tell us a bit about the backstory that inspired this story?

The Second Line is the only thing that Tony and I have collaborated together on, except of course the convention and documentary. The same night we discussed the possibility of the convention is when I pitched to him the story of 'The Second Line'. The cool thing was he said he was intrigued by the title and immediately saw the trailer in his mind. Which to me was very flattering. After becoming a 'HALLOWEEN' fan back in 1978, I realized that there was a form of entertaining people by scaring them.

What impressed me so much about Halloween was how everything took place in an actual city. That to me made the movie REAL. So I always wanted to do something like that involving my hometown of Elgin, Illinois. Now the funny thing is Elgin is somewhat scary and has a ton of urban legends. Check out www.eerieelgin.com there is a ton of them listed. Also listed there is a little back story on The Second Line, and how it ties into an urban legend as well. So combining my love of HALLOWEEN, real elements and true stories within my hometown inspired 'The Second Line'.

When did the idea come along to involve past Halloween alumni in 'The Second Line'?

After the convention there was a discussion about one of Tony's scripts that he wrote called CAMELEON, and giving a couple of the roles to Halloween celebrities. Then we realized that some of the roles in TSL could also be filled by them as well. I think too, even though the convention was over, we were still on our high about it's success. So the idea just came to be.

What's the current status of 'The Second Line' and who's definitely involved at this point?

Well I have to thank Lance Warlock for he was the one that helped getting the ball rolling on this for us. It was Lance that informed me about Mike Nichols and his production company Moves Productions. Mike was looking for a short film to produce and then move into a full length. Lance and Mike became friends at the convention and had been staying in touch. I had met Mike at the convention and knew who he was however thinking back on the convention I probably met over two thousand people, so I really didn't know what Mike's profession was until Lance mentioned it. I e-mailed Mike about 'The Second Line' and the rest is history. Status is: Mike is in the process of getting everything all lined up to get ready for pre-production.  So, www.movesproductions.com is a great site to stay in touch with, along with www.imdb.com/title/tt0413239 this is the IMDB site for 'The Second Line', which Mike keeps updated very well. There is a message board there which some of the fans keep going also. Involved so far: P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, Brad Loree, Marianne Hagan, Ellie Cornell and Alana Curry.

You're also partnering up with Lance Warlock on a few projects, including his upcoming 'Radio Mechanics'. What can you tell us about that?

Radio Mechanics is BRILLIANT. You have to check it out @ www.radiomechanics.com. I was blown away on how this 18 minute presentation told such a complete and interesting story. Lance and his partners from Unit 12 approached me to manage them in the Los Angeles area, since they live out of state and they were impressed and encouraged with the fact that we were successful with the convention and how it all came together. Lance and I are also working on a documentary this summer (non horror related) and I am really excited about that because Lance is also writing and composing the soundtrack for it as well.

Now, time for a few standard Halloween related questions. Which do you prefer better. Halloween 6 producer's cut or theatrical version?

Honestly, I have never seen the Producer's cut but I have heard it is what the fans like better. Along with some of the stars of the film as well.

Whoa, never? Well, which to you is the best of the Halloween sequels?

For me it is HALLOWEEN II. We had to wait 3 years to find out what happened back in 1978, so the fact that they picked the story line up from where it ended in the first film was great.
Which actor or character has stood out as one of your favorites in the Halloween series?

Well I loved Laurie Strode, because she was the foundation to the story line. Plus I am a huge Jamie Lee fan. This is a hard question because all of the characters have played such an important role in all the films. Sorry if that sounds lame, but they're all great.

How did you feel about the ending of Halloween 4, in which the series could've gone in a radical direction? Would it have been revitalized with Jamie as the killer?

At the time when the film came out, as a HALLOWEEN fan I was just so glad to see another film and I really didn't analyze it that much, however I thought the end of H4 was an understandable ending because bottom line Jamie is related to Michael, so some of those 'crazy' family traits could of been passed down through the generations.

Which do you prefer - Halloween: theatrical version or extended edition?

No preference either way, the more of Halloween I can see the better. But the theatrical version was and is still perfect. A MASTERPIECE!!!

How close are you to the production of 'Halloween 9'? Anyway you can fill us in on the status?

Well I cannot tell you anything now, but if Malek allows me to share some teasers while I am on set, I will let you know. I spoke with him the other day and he invited me to the filming once it starts.

A recent rumor broke out on Fangoria's website about a project titled 'Halloween: Asylum'.  Is this truly a sequel the studio is considering as the next Halloween?

Like you, I heard that rumor as well. I am sure Halloween Movies.com will update everyone here soon.

As a fan, what direction would you like to see the series take that it hasn't already?

There are a lot of things I would love to see, but I think somehow incorporating both Jamie (Danielle Harris) and John (Josh Hartnett) in one family setting is something I would like to see, plus I think it would be an interesting twist. Even thought Jamie is dead, I would like to see that those loose strings be dealt with as a subject matter. I would also love to see Michelle Williams (Molly) be involved in another HALLOWEEN film , I think she is an awesome actress and did a great job in H20. I also think it would be cool if all of the 'surviving' characters were able to be regrouped, somewhat like the convention. But I am sure no matter what it is we will all love it. Also I LOVE the original HADDONFIELD (South Pasadena). I think that is where the next film should be shot. Especially with the reactions of the fans when they visited here. Plus I know all the homeowners now and they actually were bummed that nothing went on this HALLOWEEN. They really got into it last year having all the fans here in town.

Have you followed any other Halloween related publications such as the comic books?

Funny you ask that, when someone purchases a poster or comic or the pictures of the Myers House from the Halloween movies gift shop, I am the one that ships those particular items. I enjoyed the 'One Good Scare' comic, I thought it was dark and good.

What's next on the agenda for you?

Well, the documentary with Lance Warlock this summer, and I think we're planning on taking a road trip or two to check out a few other projects as well. Of course working with Mike Nichols on 'The Second Line'. I am currently the Chairman for the American Cancers Societies (ACS) yearly event called Relay For Life. It is a 24 hour walk a thon that we do here in South Pasadena (a.k.a. Haddonfield), to help raise money towards research and hopefully soon a cure. I am also writing and producing a promotional reel for ACS on our event. I am in the process of forming my own company and will have that up and running by this summer. I have been approached by two other writers to collaborate with, and I also am working with my cousin Jayson Creek, who is an actor and we have developed a few television shows that have sparked an interested with THE POWERS THAT BE at a particular TV station. Staying busy and enjoying life.

Thanks for talking to us, Paul!

Contact Paul @: halloweenguy03@yahoo.com
Halloween Movies.com

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