Recently I spoke with Writer/Director Lilton Stewart III about his new film.
How did you get into directing and what was your big break?
I found my way into directing pretty late in life. I always wanted to be in film. I started out in cinematography as a Director of Photography, but that journey started in my early career doing music videos, weddings, etc.
I honestly don’t think I’ve had my big break yet, but the first feature that I wrote and directed was “The Burden of Guilt.” It’s nearing the end of its festival run, and we’re looking for a streaming home for it now.
• What attracted you to the project?
“Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey” is responsible for this project to a certain degree. I was so frustrated with my viewing experience as a filmmaker, I sought to find a character, a story I could tell with the mindset of anything you can do, I can do better approach. I stumbled on Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and that character just really stuck out to me. I related to his history, having already known about his existence via video games.
• There has been a lot of news about figures entering the public domain this year, was there much issue over what you could and could not do with the character?
We have been very cautious and respectful of the original IP in this process. We received multiple legal opinions about our story and script, redrafting it each time to make sure we were not in any copyright infringements. So, we are in the clear with what we are bringing to the table.
• How far along was the script when you became attached?
I am the writer of the story and screenplay, so its very inception is from me. Before I wrote one page of the script, I drafted over 20 pages of lore and mythology to help tell the story properly.
• What was the spark behind the film and when did production start?
The spark came from finding out that Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’s Trolley Troubles was in the public domain. Having a history with that character already just clicked in my brain, and the rest is history. Production, however, hasn’t begun yet. We are aiming to shoot principal photography in the Spring of this year.
• Have you had to consult with the original rights holders for clarification at any point?
No, we haven’t. The legal team we used did all the research to make sure we were not and would not be in any trouble with existing copyrights or current copyright standings.
• What can you tell us about the film that sets it apart from others in the genre?
Well, in terms of the public domain horror genre boom, we are giving this film care and attention yet seen in this space. Combining a great story with likable and memorable characters, along with melting live-action and animation together, will truly give this film a Disney-like presence through the lens of horror and adventure.
• What were some of the biggest challenges and the greatest successes for the film?
Well, that is yet to be seen since we haven’t completed the project yet. I’d like to hope that outside of getting the film made and giving it a theatrical release. Selfishly, I’d like “Oswald Down The Rabbit Hole” to break the “crappy public domain film” curse/trend and hopefully go on to become a cult classic of sorts.
• If you had carte blanche to do any type of film or show, what would it be?
There are two projects, actually. I have an amazing story for a “Nightmare on Elm Street” reboot that I would love the opportunity to do and a new original story in the world of Star Wars; I’d be ecstatic to tell as well.
• Have sequels been considered?
I have an entire trilogy not only planned but fully outlined for the Oswald series. The second film is essentially Terminator 2 of the franchise, while the third film is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2.
• What are some of your favorite films in the genre?
Some of my favorite horror films, in no particular order, would be “The Thing,” “Get Out,” “Hereditary,” “Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors,” “Us,” “Nope,” “Talk To Me,” “Doctor Sleep,” and “The Cabin In The Woods,” just to name a few.
• What type of promotion and release is planned for the film, and will you do conventions?
Right now, we are focused on letting everyone know that it is happening. Later this month, we will release the Announcement Trailer, and from then on, just keep updating the community as updates unfold. I’d love to do some conventions, podcasts, and more interviews to help get the film out.
• What do you have lined up after this one?
I’ve written a few scripts since the Oswald script’s completion. I am also developing a couple of stories I’m getting excited about, but overall, my main focus is on this and, hopefully, the sequels shortly after.
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