Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Peter Simeti: The creator of "The Chair" Graphic Novel

Peter Simeti is the publisher of Alterna Comics and is the creator/writer/and co-artist of The Chair graphic novel.
You can follow him on twitter @petersimeti

What is "The Chair" about?

The CHAIR's story follows Richard Sullivan, a death row inmate who's been witnessing a lot of his fellow inmates getting tortured and killed at the hands of the prison's insane and sadistic Warden.  Not much has necessarily happened to Sullivan in this prison, but he figures he must be next in line because the prisoner count is dwindling.  With that in mind, he decides he needs to fight, even kill, to survive.  In doing so, he's pushed to the brink of his own sanity and the story just goes from there.

Why did you create the graphic novel?

I created the initial idea of it as kind of an "artist outlet" because I was pissed off after hearing about some psycho that killed a bunch of kids in a daycare or a school.  For whatever reason, the story just hit me at a bad time.  I mean, why on Earth do people do these kinds of things? Anyway, I had created the character of the Warden kind of out of a wish-fulfillment sorta thing.  A character that could do horrible shit to vicious scumbags that deserved it.  The conflict of The CHAIR though, is that we're told that Richard Sullivan is an innocent man on death row and he's in for the same fate that everyone else has been getting.

Why do you want to make a film adaptation of graphic novel?

Aside from the fact that it would just be cool to see great actors bring these characters to life, I think The CHAIR is a story worth telling as it touches on a lot of different themes.  Child abuse, capital punishment, the ethics of torture, the political argument about the humane treatment of convicted killers that didn't get that option to their victims, and mental health - these are all part of The CHAIR's story.  It's not just a straight-up horror film where someone is killing a bunch of unsuspecting group of people that are all too stupid to fight their way out of a paper bag - The CHAIR has a lot of strong psychological elements to it and the characters have a lot of depth.

Why use Kickstarter to fund the film?

Because for the most part, there's nothing else like it.  It's a tremendously useful tool to gauge interest in your project (as long as proper word gets out) and it also allows you to gain the interest of people you might have never reached in the first place.

Why should people support your project?

Hopefully they support it because they like the story presented!
I'm not looking for pity dollars, haha, I'm not going to say that this project will save lives.
It is what it is - a psychological horror film based on a graphic novel that has a great cast and crew, an entertaining story for fans of that genre, and something that will hopefully take you away for 90 minutes and get your adrenaline pumping!

What is the casting process like?

The casting process consisted of reaching out directly to actors and agents and for the most part, 90% of the cast was attached through social media.  Literally, I'd tweet to actors or send them a facebook message to see if they would be interested in coming on board.  Even the actors that respectfully declined, were just so nice about it!  I figured, as long as I'm respectful and honest, the worst that can happen is that they say "no".  We were fortunate enough to attract a lot of amazing actors and talented crew members to this project.

How have your previous projects prepared you to make this one?

Comics and film are so different but so similar. In terms of prep and promotion, it's sort of the same. But that's kind of where the similarities end.  A film is just an all encompassing thing. I think that's part of the "movie-making magic" - the fact that people who aren't involved in creating it, will just have no idea whatsoever of how arduous a task it is to create something that you can watch for 90 minutes or more. And then if it's actually something you like or even love, that's even harder to do.  Movies and comics are all about creating circumstances that are exaggerations of reality, sometimes it's an extreme exaggeration and sometimes it's a small one, but it's always *just* removed from realism.  It's a chance to make the impossible, possible - and that's pretty awesome. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to create a graphic novel &/or film?

Well, I think if you're not prepared for the time and energy commitment that it takes (for instance, I get up at around 7 or 8am and work till around 2am or so...) then this isn't the life for you.  You have to be obsessed, on almost a mentally ill level, haha.  You just need to create as much, if not more than, your need to eat or sleep.  There's times that I go to bed and I'm just pissed that I have to because I'd rather get stuff done.  It's that "workaholic" mentality - I hate that that kind of mentality is kind of looked down on so much now though, because it's the mark of a passionate person.  It's not an anti-social thing, it's not a distant person thing - it's a passion thing.  It's someone whose drive is so unrelenting that simple words like "no" and "you can't" don't stop them.  That's who you have to be.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Sure, I'd just like to thank everyone for being so supportive of this film, for the cast & crew that believe in it, for Erin Kohut for doing a great job turning a 22-year-old's comic book prison story into a fleshed out living breathing screenplay years later, and I'd like to say that there's a lot more to come, a lot more awesomeness.  So please check out our Kickstarter, be a part of comic and film history and say hello on twitter @petersimeti and @thechairhorror.  Above all, keep reading comics!