[Exclusive] Interview with Filmmaker Keith Collins on His New Horror Film, "The Meat Puppet"

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with up-and-coming filmmaker Keith Collins about his latest project, "The Meat Puppet". The film revolves around a man, Andrew, who seemingly has everything: looks, money, women, etc. But he also has one minor flaw: an insatiable craving for human flesh. Andrew has perfected his operation for getting his regular fix, but when a hard-nosed detective starts digging into things and threatening Andrew's lifestyle, he struggles to conceal his true motives.

Collins, working as neo-renaissance man on the project, is not only producing the picture, but also developed the story himself and will star as the title character. Collins came up with the premise for the film many years back, but it wasn't until it reached the hands of brothers Joseph and Billy Pepitone that it really took off and became a screenplay. Collins trusted the pair with his vision and together they were able to bring characters to life. As the final piece, once they brought in Joe Valenti ("Lying Beside You") to direct, the production was finally able to move forward. Filming recently started for the picture, and if all stays on schedule, it will get its worldwide premier sometime in October of this year.

After the jump, check out some of the notable tidbits from our Q&A session, in which Collins discusses some of his earlier movie-making experiences, his visions for this project, and what specifically us as horror fans can look forward to - and trust me, it sounds like he has some great plans for this one; it'll definitely be worth keeping an eye on!

For those of you that might not be incredibly familiar with Keith Collins, he's been in the film industry for over a decade now, working in all different areas. He's appeared on such television shows as "Guiding Light" and "Sex and the City", and has had starring roles in films like "Stuck in the Middle", "Games People Play: New York", and "Bidentity Crisis", the latter of which earned him the 2011 Best Actor Award at the Downbeach Film Festival. IMDb notes that Collins is on the path to becoming one of the next rising stars, as he continues to pick up more and more acting credits in a variety of medias, generally garnering critical praise with each.

Because of everything above, I was thankful to get a few moments to talk with the filmmaker about not only this upcoming project, but some of his past experiences in the industry too. Here is some of what we discussed:

What are your inspirations? What made you realize that a career in film was something that you really wanted to explore?
I am inspired by so many people in so many ways. I have always been a performer ever since I could remember putting on those talent shows in my family’s living room. It’s just something that has always been a part of me. I’m thrilled to be able to be doing it today and having people see my work; I’m completely blessed I am able to do it.  
Which project(s) that you've worked on in the past, good or bad, stand(s) out to you the most? Any really memorable experiences?
I have had the best experiences ever on many films, and I’m sure like others I've also had my share of not so great ones. A few films that stand out are my 2004 theatrically-released film, “Games People Play: New York” by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker James Ronald Whitney. Not only was it a wild film to work on, but I made friendships that turned to family on that project. It also allowed me speak easier about Tourette Syndrome, which I am an advocate for. In the movie [my character] speaks about Tourette Syndrome intensely and about growing up with the disorder. “Stuck in the Middle” was also one of the best experiences I've had and the finished product was amazing. It’s a hilarious comedy film. With the bad I’d say nothing is totally bad if you are expressing your art and trying as a filmmaker. You have to try to succeed; I’m a go full-force type of guy and not a quitter, so I’d have to say a bad project is one that doesn't get done. If you set out to make a movie, make sure you finish it. There are way too many people who give so much time and effort to work hard on a project and give it their all for it not to get completed. 
You latest film, "The Meat Puppet", is a horror production. Looking over the many other films you've produced, you've worked in a good variety of different genres. Which is/are your favorite? 
I like Drama, but I would have to say my favorite is Comedy. I really love comedy films. I actually never thought I would be doing horror movies, they scared me to no end when I was little. But now I can’t get enough of them. I love the suspense, the thrill of them. It is a great genre to work on as an actor and filmmaker. 
This is the first full-length feature that you've personally written that we'll be seeing come to the screen. How has it been working on a film that you wrote? Any more frustrations or appreciations than when working with someone else's script? 
I only wrote the story to this film. I came up with the idea a very long time ago and just needed to get it into the right person's hands that had the passion I did and liked the story as much as me. NY Emmy Award-winning writer Joseph Pepitone and his brother, Billy Pepitone, wrote [the screenplay for] “The Meat Puppet”. They are brilliant writers and brought everything to the story that it needed and then some. The script is so clever and unique, I can’t wait for it to be shared with audiences. As far as this script or someone else’s, I appreciate all stories. As an actor, to me if the story is good, whether it's mine or somebody else's, if I like it and have that fire about it I give it the same as I would give my own. 
As I just mentioned, "The Meat Puppet" story was written by you, but you'll also be producing and starring in the film too. How do you find the balance between all of it? Which aspect is your favorite? 
Oh, that’s a good one. The character of Andrew Shelton Is one I created and I couldn't see anyone else playing it; I have been dying to get him out to the public for people to see. And I absolutely love producing and putting things together. It really makes me feel fulfilled and accomplished. It also makes me tired - it’s a lot of work but I live for it all; keeps me going and creative. But in the long run I’d have to say acting [is my favorite]. I am an actor and it’s what I live for. 
As for "The Meat Puppet", what can we expect out of this film? What aspects does this film bring to the table that horror enthusiasts will appreciate?

This film is so clever and different and unlike one you have ever seen before. There are so many twists and turns, enough to give you heart palpitations while watching it. The quality of the film is superior; acting was strategically cast for every role. The producing and production team assembled is impeccable, which is always key. Blaze Kelly Coyle might possibly be the best person to have on any given project and Director Joe Valenti is amazing at what he does. I don’t think any single person out there can accomplish and execute as well as Valenti. The suspense and scare factors for this film will definitely give moviegoers the fright of their lives. Let’s put it this way, and this is true: the first time I read the final script, [that night] I slept with the light on. So I’m looking forward to seeing how people react to the film. 
Following that up, and what all of us horror fans want to know, what is the gore content like in this film? How does it stack up in that category? 
There will be plenty of gore, blood, body parts, torture and killings. However, it’s all strategically assembled in the film. Psychologically damaging and permanent shock is really what we are going for here. I don’t want this to be a basic slasher film like so many others. I really wanted it to “hit” you when you’re not looking and not be prepared for it. Even if you think it’s coming, think again because “The Meat Puppet” may get you or get in your mind when you least expect it.

Finally, what sort of release information can you share with us for the film? 
If all falls into place, the movie should be released in October/November of 2012. We are actually slated to have our world premiere at the 2012 Downbeach Film Festival Atlantic City Cinefest in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Tons of great stuff there, and it really does give me so much interest for the film. This sounds like exactly the type of horror film I'm into, and I think that Keith really has a good grasp on the premise he's working with. More than anything though, I just love talking to filmmakers. This is one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to start writing about movies - talking to other people who have similar passions as me is truly satisfying. And though I don't think Collins or his team need any help from me - as they're clearly already well on their way to something special - any chance I have to help promote an independent filmmaker (and horror to boot!), I'm happy and excited to do so. I think Keith and the whole team working on this project have a potential gem in their hands, and I'm eagerly awaiting its completion so I can see how it turns out.

We'll see if time allows for a trip to the Downbeach Film Festival for its premier, but if not, we'll try to get our hands on a copy of the screener as soon as possible so we can provide you a review of the film and let you know when and how you'll be able to access it.

To cap this post off I've attached the official Press Release for the film below, which includes the full synopsis. Also, be sure to check out the film's official website, Facebook Page, and Twitter Profile for all the latest info!

(1. meat puppet; (noun) person(s) that have no will of their own; somebody that lets others control them. Another name for a human being, especially one who doesn't think for him/herself, has no soul and is therefore controlled by others). 
Currently filming in New Jersey is this year’s new bone chilling horror/thriller “The Meat Puppet”. From the mind of Award Winning Actor Keith Collins, along with Silver Phoenix Entertainment, Valenti Vision Films and the pen of NY Emmy Award Winning writer Joseph Pepitone and Billy Pepitone (“Stuck in the Middle”) comes a sadistic thrill fest, full of twists and turns, that is sure to give movie goers the fright of their lives.

A vain, successful playboy tortures and kills beautiful girls and uses them to make the perfect meal for his lavish dinner parties. Body parts, blood, torture, cannibalism and NO escape are a few ways to describe this clever new terrifying and psychologically damaging creep show. 
“The Meat Puppet” tells the story of Andrew “Drew” Shelton who has it all – looks, money, women and an insatiable taste for human flesh. His vanity is only surpassed by his obsession with finding the perfect tasting meal and it has fueled his appetite for killing, preparing and cooking beautiful women. He throws lavish dinner parties and serves his guests his latest victim and one unlucky guest becomes the main course of his next get together. When a no-nonsense detective starts putting the pieces together, it leads to a game of cat and mouse that only increases the stakes. But is Drew the soul-less, cold-blooded killer that he appears to be? Or is he just the Meat Puppet for a more sadistic mind?

Overall, what do you guys think about this project? Are you as interested by it as I am?