You’ve been making films for a while, haven’t you?
Twenty-two years. I started in 1981.
What made you want to get into filmmaking?
It was a different dimension at that time (the early 80s) The
super-creative energies from the 70s were still lingering in the air. I was inspired by so many films of that time. I’m not exactly sure what started it, but I do recall that in the summer of 1981 (age 13) suddenly deciding I wanted to make films and nothing would ever stop me. From then on I compared my life with Spielberg every step of the way, hoping to break his record of getting to direct professionally by age 18.
Well, I’m 36 now, it’s 22 years later, that certainly never even came close to happening, and probably never will. Especially in this hideous, over-saturated, drained, jaded, corporate-ruled era of armageddon-approaching, George-Orwellian Sex-Crime-Fear-No-Imagination-Allowed period we’re in.
I hate to describe Reflections of Evil like this, because it’s so easy to do, but it’s the closest thing to a bad acid trip I’ve ever seen committed to film. Did you pull from any personal experiences to achieve this effect?
No, not at all. I’ve never done drugs. Don’t even drink or smoke. I’m not necessarily a “hippie” type filmmaker. I don’t know where it came from.
Are you fascinated or disgusted by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas?
I actually get asked this all the time, but I don’t hate either of them. I was tremendously inspired by them back in the 70s/early 80s, but that was a different time.
You shot some of Reflections of Evil at the Universal Studios and Six Flags Magic Mountain theme parks. How did you pull that off? Were there any problems?
Constant problems; it was a nightmare. Got thrown out of Universal, banned permanently, nearly arrested (for basically nothing). Universal just had their eye on me for some reason. We were constantly “shooting & running” to avoid security.
At the end of the E.T. ride at Universal Studios, did you have E.T. say your name?
Yeah, I think so, at one time. I actually used to work there back in ’91 when it first opened.
The character you play in Reflections, Bob, spends a lot of time wandering around the streets of Los Angeles, harassing and getting harassed by people. How much of that was staged? Did you run into any problems shooting on the street like that?
Yeah, there were problems, there were constant problems with security popping out of nowhere telling us we “can’t shoot” for no reason. I swear to God we could have been in the middle of the Mohave Desert and some security guard would have shown up 10 seconds after we had whipped out the camera, telling us “NO!”
Pretty much all of it was staged. Many were real street people, some were actors. It’s far easier to go out and recruit someone off the street and pay them then to seek and pay an actor. You get much better results, too. Some of those black homeless guys were priceless, I would have NEVER found an actor with that kind of character through other sources.
Do you enjoy acting as much as filmmaking?
I’ve never really considered myself an actor, but many people have praised my performances, not just in Reflections, but the “Star Wars Mock” (just completed) and “Dawn of an Evil Millennium” (1988) as well. So maybe I am an actor? That’s a flattering concept. I’m using the word “I” and “me” too much now, feel like a self-obsessed egomaniac. Yeah, I enjoy it, but not as much as filmmaking.
Did you learn anything from your experience in making “Reflections”?
Well, yes you learn from everything you do. It’s a difficult question to expand upon. I’ve learned that it’s become nearly impossible to make a movie on various locations without permits. (It didn’t used to be.) And that the outcome after all the struggle and strife and hard work and law-breaking is basically nothing. (At least in the immediate time period.) It must be kind of like when Vietnam Vets came home after spending years living in a soggy tent, going through hell, and nobody cared or thanked them.
Few people care much anymore, there are a billion filmmakers and films out there. People are over-saturated with visual information daily, it’s no longer impressive in any way shape or form. Now, of course, that’s just the negative point of view.
Get the rest of the interview in part three of DAMON PACKARD: EVIL STRIKES BACK>>>