FORMER DISNEY FILMMAKER SET TO RELEASE PROOF OF CONCEPT PIECE FOR FEATURE SCRIPT

FORMER DISNEY FILMMAKER SET TO RELEASE PROOF OF CONCEPT PIECE FOR FEATURE SCRIPT

Featured image courtesy of Julie Chow | Jason Ragosta in San Francisco in 2019

Artist Jason Ragosta

Artist Jason Ragosta

Jason Ragosta was born in Connecticut, and he attended the Maryland Institute College of Art. He started working in stop-motion animation at Wreckless Abandon Studios as a storyboard/concept artist and assistant cameraman before moving to the West Coast to work in film. Jason then went on to manage a sound stage at the Academy of Art in the University of San Francisco for actress Diane Baker (Marnie, Silence of the Lambs) before working for a year as a production assistant in the editorial production office on the Disney film John Carter, directed by Andrew Stanton. From there, Jason spent a decade working in animation, independent films, commercials, and music videos before completing his first independent short film, Boy In The Dark; he is currently in post-production on ZTV: Sympathy for the Devil, a proof of concept short film for his horror feature script, ZTV: The PreZerve, as well as writing and illustrating his prequel comic book series, ZTV: Undead Empire.

Jason Ragosta attending the HollyShorts Film Festival at Los Angeles in 2017 |  Courtesy of Michael Paul

Jason Ragosta attending the HollyShorts Film Festival at Los Angeles in 2017 | Courtesy of Michael Paul

WRITER/DIRECTOR PREPARES UPCOMING HORROR PRODUCTION TO SECURE FOR FEATURE

NIE: Thank you for taking your time and having this interview with us. Congratulations on your upcoming horror film ‘ZTV: Sympathy For The Devil’! What can you tell us about this project?

Jason Ragosta: Our film, ZTV: Sympathy for the Devil, places the audience firmly in the head of Douglas Sikes. He is serving out consecutive life sentences for murder and human trafficking in a zombie-infested quarantine zone that has been repurposed as a privately run prison by ZTV Broadcasting Company. When we meet him, Doug is dealing with the loss of his daughter, Steffie Sikes, who was forced to be a contestant on the PreZerve, a capital punishment reality game show, where she was tortured and killed on live TV. The short film centers around Doug struggling between his sorrow for the loss of his daughter and his powerful lust for violence as he plans for vengeance against the person and the institution who murdered his future.

The film stars Thomas Cokenias (Lasso, The Man from Reno), Mitch Costanza (My Half Eaten Life, Disrupted), Cheyenne Costanza (My Half Eaten Life, Doucheaholics), Emilie Germaine (Sweet Kitty, Hara Kiri), MacCallister Byrd (Strange Angel, Dredgewood), and Teresa Navarro (Sense8, Enter the Fire). We have finished shooting all of the footage and are currently in post-production. We’re hoping to have the short finished to submit to festivals in the fall before using the short as a proof of concept to package a ZTV feature based on a feature-length script that I have written.

From L-R: Jason Ragosta, Pascal Combes-Knoke, Daniel Sullivan in 2019 at Concord, CA |  Courtesy of Pavel Fedorov

From L-R: Jason Ragosta, Pascal Combes-Knoke, Daniel Sullivan in 2019 at Concord, CA | Courtesy of Pavel Fedorov

NIE: What originally attracted you to this project? How did you get involved? And why now?

Jason Ragosta: The project has afforded me the opportunity to explore the limits of human compassion and hatred. Of how a human being, stripped of the niceties of societal conditioning, having been broken by an endless stretch of loss and misery, can adapt and thrive in a world of death and violence. To explore what human beings become when they lose all hope of a civilized future. Seeing the political and idealogical divide widen in America, I set my imagination to the task of conceptualizing a dystopian future where the divide becomes absolute. In the world of ZTV, this is manifested by a zombie pandemic decimating the population of an America divided by quarantine zone walls, generating tens of millions of American refugees who are forced to fight and win a war against the undead. For the survivors of that war, their lives are redefined by incomprehensible loss combined with the horror of the things they were forced to do, things they never thought themselves capable of, in order to survive. Developing the concept begged the question: '‘What kind of place would America become if only killers remained?”

Pascal Combes-Knoke and Jason Ragosta on the set of UH OH Music Video |  Courtesy of Olivia Riportella

Pascal Combes-Knoke and Jason Ragosta on the set of UH OH Music Video | Courtesy of Olivia Riportella

NIE: How has your experience from working in stop-motion animation and in the editorial production offices of one of Disney’s films assist in your projects?

Jason Ragosta: Working in stop-motion animation taught me the benefits of comprehensive organization in pre-production. You can save a ton of time on set and ensure a higher quality level for your film by laying everything out and having creative meetings with your key crew members ahead of time. We had two aggressively scheduled shoots for ZTV. The first was all of the PreZerve footage for the Steffie Sikes episode which would appear on Doug’s TV, and the second was the cinematic short film that focused on Doug and the people he was dealing with during this crisis moment in his life. Without the extensive pre-production with my makeup effects team at Pandora FX, my set carpenter Tony Aldrich, and my cinematographers, Pascal Combes-Knoke and Nick Ramsey, there was no way we were going to make it through twenty script pages in three days on each of those shoots.

“I think the secret is to find a balance between the social aspects of the business and the physical work.”

- Jason Ragosta

Working as a production assistant on the Disney film John Carter for a year was a mind-blowing experience. I was in an office right across the hall from Andrew Stanton (Wall E, Finding Nemo), who, as a writer-director, is an all-time hero of mine. Every aspect of the production was operating at the highest level, and it was fascinating [to] see this massive machine operate on a daily basis. But the thing about these massive films is that, at the end of the day, aside from the hundreds of people hired on for the shooting phase of production and working in the VFX houses in post, the core production office is made up of about a dozen people working tirelessly to make the whole thing come together, which feels a lot more like an indie project than one might think. The big films have more money to play with, but ultimately it came down to Andrew coming in each day and working with Eric Zumbrunnen (Being John Malkovich, Her) , our amazing editor (who unfortunately passed away in 2017), and getting the film built, polished, and locked for release. So ultimately, what I learned was that whether the film is large or small, the fundamental work to be done is the same.

NIE: Any particular reason why you are a huge fan horror? And what message are you trying to get across to the world through your work?

Jason Ragosta: As a child, I was cursed with a vivid imagination and insomnia—which proved to be a very potent combination. I would lay awake, paralyzed by terror in the darkness as monsters salivated and lunged at me from the void. So, I made a deal to draw them if they would refrain from killing and eating me. I illustrated my creatures and covered the walls of my room with them, turning my would-be attackers into my protectors. After describing this experience in the opening of a TEDx talk I gave on storytelling, a friend suggested I make a film out of the experience, which resulted in my first short film, Boy in the Dark.

Over the years, my love of monsters has only grown, which began in my youth by reading as many books as I could from Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Clive Barker—creating a firm love of horror before I was old enough to start even watching horror films. My earliest memory of being terrified by films came as a triple punch of Poltergeist (seen on HBO when I was way too young), which spawned my irrational fears of clowns, melting faces, and red jello; followed by Aliens, which I saw in the theater after soccer practice one day and was completely transfixed. That beeping noise of the tracker as Ripley and the Colonial Marines moved through the darkness to reveal the colonists alive and cocooned, building in tension to the burst of the chest and the carnage of the marines going weapons hot in defiance of orders haunted my dreams.

“[She] taught me to stop being a critic sitting on the side lines and challenged me to jump out on the field and start being a filmmaker.”

- Jason Ragosta

The third film that has always haunted me is the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The thing that stuck with me was how once the first pair of those hapless teenagers wandered into that house, the rest were doomed as they each came, in turn, looking for their friends and getting carved up for dinner. That, and the scene with Grandpa and the mallet in the dining room. That’s something I’ll never forget—the sucking sound he made, his flaccid attempts to bash Sally’s brains out with the mallet. It terrified me to watch Sally’s sanity break, driven no longer by logic, but purely out of blind primal fear. Her mind had been reduced to that of an animal, just as her friends’ flesh had been carved up like animals. Leatherface became a powerful symbol in my nightmares for years to come. Since then, my viewing habits always defaulted to horror, which makes me very thankful to Shudder for the amazing streaming selection of all of the obscure horror films we used to have to hunt down on VHS.

I think there is a primal honesty to horror. It gives a safe outlet for the human mind to exorcise its demons. To see the worst impulses that a human being could possibly have played out through the safety of the silver screen, connecting to our collective unconscious, memories of being the hunter or the prey, of countless contests of survival, fought against nature or our fellow man.

From L-R: Colleen Carey, Jason Ragosta, Xavier Arbello on set for PreZerve in 2018 at Clearlake, CA |  Courtesy of Avni Levy

From L-R: Colleen Carey, Jason Ragosta, Xavier Arbello on set for PreZerve in 2018 at Clearlake, CA | Courtesy of Avni Levy

NIE: What was your favorite part of a project? What have you learned specifically from each production that will help you in your continued profession?

Jason Ragosta: The greatest part of ZTV so far has been how it has snowballed from me, sitting alone in a coffee shop, spewing letters through my laptop onto the empty page, to it taking on a life of its own. This is all due to working in close collaboration with my producers, Marisa Garay (Garbo Films) and Margaret Caragan Aldrich (Pandora FX). Pre-production started with the three of us working with what was at first a found-footage script that has mutated exponentially into a gorgeously cinematic film, shot on the Arri Alexa Mini with Atlas Anamorphic primes, spanning over two complex shoots, with a stellar cast and crew of over seventy people and counting. So basically, my favorite part is getting a chance to work with all my people. We hired [an] amazing cast and crew and I have encouraged them to dig in to the material and “plus it”, to take control of their department and make their work their own, and they have exceeded my expectations at every turn.

‘Boy In The Dark’ Poster - From L-R: Nani Strides, Tony Marin, Tony Aldrich, Ted Harvey, Robert Matas |  Artist Jason Ragosta

‘Boy In The Dark’ Poster - From L-R: Nani Strides, Tony Marin, Tony Aldrich, Ted Harvey, Robert Matas | Artist Jason Ragosta

ZTV is a much larger-scale production than my last film, Boy in the Dark. From the beginning, Marisa and I focused on building up our infrastructure through partnerships and collaborations with amazing people in an effort to scale up our production, and I am happy to report that we have exceeded our goals.

“You may think you’re the smartest person in the room and that you’re irreplaceable on a project, but you’re not. No one is. In the film business, everyone is replaceable.”

- Jason Ragosta

We hope to continue this progression once we complete our ZTV short to use it as a proof-of-concept to package, raise funds, and produce my feature film script of ZTV, which will focus on the battle between Doug Sikes and his nemesis, Karen Bilsen, the hands-on showrunner/producer of the PreZerve, who targeted his daughter for slaughter as punishment for the crimes he committed during the American Zombie War.

NIE: What position in the industry and what role have been the most challenging for you, and why?

Jason Ragosta: Being a production assistant was an exhausting and, more times than not, thankless job. But productions literally couldn’t function without them. PAs are the lifeblood of the film and television industry. I am thankful for my time as a PA and the countless lessons I learned along the way. I think the biggest lesson being a PA teaches you is to be humble and to check your ego—which was difficult for me at first, but I have learned to talk less and be more thoughtful and observant. It also taught me to choose my battles carefully, which can be very helpful when sticking to a creative position under pressure while working with dozens of passionate collaborators.

“Put equal time and effort in building your craft as with building relationships with people in the industry.”

- Jason Ragosta

NIE: How has directing music videos differ from film and what have you learned from both that will help hone your skills?

Jason Ragosta: I love directing music videos. It is a great way to experiment visually and try out things you can work into your narrative filmmaking. A great example is when I was directing the UH OH music video for Jaki Nelson. My producer, Marisa Garay, who built and crewed up the project, introduced me to my cinematographer, Pascal Combes-Knoke. It was an amazing experience working with Pascal and his crew, and I think the beauty of his cinematography in that video really speaks for itself. This was a fantastic warmup for the grand cinematic feel of his work on ZTV. The imagery he captured with the Alexa Mini and those Atlas Anamorphic primes blew me away. This was made possible by the amazing work of Ben Slavens (1st AC) and Matt Lacorte (Gaffer), who were also in those respective roles on the UH OH video.

The main difference between music videos and narrative is how much dramatic meat you are able to hang on a scene. UH OH was a narrative-style video, but consisted of a rhythmic montage of key moments, leaving the lyrics of the song to do the heavy lifting story-wise. Whereas on ZTV we were really able to dig our heels in and spend some time working with our actors to really get the pacing and intensity of the scene humming. One of my favorite moments involved Pascal going handheld in the dining room scene covering Thomas Cokenias, who was playing Doug in the scene opposite actors Mitch and Cheyenne Costanza.

To warm up, we took take after take in the Master, and I kept pushing Tom to go back to the start; I believe it was four or five times. The frustration built in him until suddenly, the scene exploded to life. Doug’s performance became quietly ferocious and terrifying. Pascal was on him with the handheld camera, locked in, operating expertly to the performance, capturing every beat. Crowded around me at the monitor, the rest of the cast and crew leaned forward in their seats, holding their breath, and Tony Aldrich’s dad (who owned the house we were shooting in), unaware we were shooting, opened the front door—and we all jumped a mile. That was easily my favorite moment. I’m proud that one of the scariest moments of the film didn’t involve blood or gore (of which our little film has plenty)—just extraordinary work from a cast and crew at the top of their game. We managed to capture a bit of lightning in the bottle that day.

NIE: What do you personally take out of a production when you are a part of it, and what impact does it have on you?

Jason Ragosta: For me, as a writer and a director, I live through a production in stages. The writing and pre-production phase is a time of excitement and unlimited possibility. It's exhilarating exploring the raw idea and pitching it to everyone in an effort to entice them to come aboard and be a part of it. The second phase of budgeting and fundraising is a period of terror and mercilessly killing your darlings as you struggle to scrape together enough resources to give your beautiful little snowflake of an idea flesh and blood. The third phase is production. The main event, the shoot itself, which is equal parts exhilaration, terror, and mounting stress as you work at breakneck speed to create the very best raw material you can in a very limited amount of time, as unexpected obstacles hurl at your face in an effort to eviscerate your shooting schedule.

Once the shoot is completed, after a period of decompression, the fourth phase of editing can be a massive relief and much more pleasant experience, where you get to craft the final draft of what your story will be. Then on to the fifth phase of the finishing work, which includes color correction, sound, and score, which can be really exciting as everything comes to life and becomes shiny and clean. This is followed by the publicity and marketing phase, hyping up the anticipation of your film (which personally I love), before sending your baby out into the world of festivals and hopefully distribution, which can be a whole lot of fun and lets you meet amazing filmmakers and industry professionals, some of which will hopefully become future collaborators. I find the whole thing thrilling and really can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.

NIE: Where did the desire to be in the film industry stem from?

Jason Ragosta: I was in my third year of college at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) studying illustration when I realized I didn’t want to be a professional illustrator. This scared the hell out of me until I realized the thing that I had always loved most, that had brought me the most fascination and joy growing up, was movies. Don’t get me wrong—I still love drawing, and I have been using my illustration skills to adapt some of my screenplays into comic books (including a ZTV prequel comic that I am currently working on called ZTV: Undead Empire), but when it came down to it, my first love was movies.

Watching something like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, or Gremlins on the big screen as a kid was pure wonder, so I decided to devote my life and my artistic skills towards being a filmmaker. I bought every book on filmmaking I could find, bought a beat-up secondhand 16mm non-reflex Bolex film camera, and set to making my first two films. One was a black-and-white music video set to a David Bowie song (that I do not remember) that I called “Love your Machine”; the second was a color stop-motion animated short called “Lim’s Interdimensional Adventure” which, just like countless first-time filmmakers before me, incorporated a little too much from the Obelisk scene in Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

From there, I graduated college and got hired at a stop-motion animation studio called Wreckless Abandon Studios, headed up by a really creative guy named Michael Bannon. I was hired as a storyboard artist (so that illustration degree paid off after all!), and then went on to do concept art and some lite set/prop building as well as doing 1st Assistant camerawork with Mitchell 35mm rack-over and Fries Film cameras (this was old school, before DSLRs took over stop-motion). Working at Wreckless was an amazing experience that taught me all of the skills that I would need when I moved to San Francisco and began working in independent film.

In San Francisco, I worked at the Academy of Art University, managing a sound stage for Diane Baker (Marnie, Silence of the Lambs) before getting hired on for a year as a production assistant on Disney’s John Carter. While on Carter, I was asked to direct a pair of pre-production BTS videos which led to a co-directing project with Daniel Gregoire (World War Z, Star Wars Eps II & III) where we created a series of short documentaries on the art of pre-visualization for the Previsualization Society. After that, I went on to win first place in multiple Tongal crowdsourcing advertising contests, [and] writing, directing, shooting, and animating multiple stop-motion animated shorts for Lego that have gone on to have millions of views on YouTube and are available on Xfinity on Demand and other streaming services. From there I went on to develop, write, and direct my first short film, Boy in the Dark, which premiered at the Dances With Films festival and also screened at the Hollyshorts Film Festival and Connect Film Festival, where it was nominated for their Apollo award.

NIE: What would you say is the biggest asset for any filmmaker in the industry to achieve?

Jason Ragosta: Building your brand as a filmmaker is the most challenging and valuable asset to achieve, [especially] doing work that builds your name and reputation as someone who can make entertaining films worth putting money into because films cost a massive amount of money and no one in their right mind is going to hand you hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars unless they have some confidence they have a good chance to see that money earned back, hopefully at an X return. It’s not enough just to make a great film—you have to be ready to do the work to build your social media presence and [do] whatever you can to aid your publicity and marketing team to target a specific audience and get that film seen by as many of the right eyes as possible. I say “right eyes” in that finding the film’s true audience, as in the people who the film will really speak to, will hopefully lead to good word of mouth which will expand its reach beyond the amount of dollars spent to advertise it.

NIE: What are some of your secret tips that help you in this industry to keep grounded and focused?

Jason Ragosta: I think the secret is to find a balance between the social aspects of the business and the physical work. If you are a writer, for instance, it's important to block off chunks of time each day specifically for reading and/or writing, to take time to keep building your craft. This is to keep projects moving forward and to keep fuel in your creative tank. It's easy to get swept away by all of the meetings and the social aspect of the business which, as it turns out, is equally important. This industry is based on relationships, so it's important to make an effort to get to know people and to be respectful and appreciative of their time. It's also very important to be liked, which I didn’t understand earlier in my career. As a solitary artist, I was used to sitting alone in a room and filling blank pages with art, which always impressed people and led to opportunities, but led me to concentrate solely on the work and not enough on building relationships with the people around me. This led to several dead ends in my career. Like Lester Freeman said to Jimmy McNulty in the Wire, “The work ain’t gonna save you, Jimmy.” You may think you’re the smartest person in the room and that you’re irreplaceable on a project, but you’re not. No one is. In the film business, everyone is replaceable. I know these concepts seem diametrically opposed, but it's the duality of being able to deliver quality work on a tight schedule and having strong relationships with people in the industry around you that’s what forges a sustainable path to success.

From L-R: Marisa Garay, Mitch Costanza, Cheyenne Costanza Thomas Cokenias, Jason Ragosta, Pascal Combes-Knoke in 2019 at Concord, CA |  Courtesy of Pavel Fedorov

From L-R: Marisa Garay, Mitch Costanza, Cheyenne Costanza Thomas Cokenias, Jason Ragosta,
Pascal Combes-Knoke in 2019 at Concord, CA | Courtesy of Pavel Fedorov

NIE: Who inspires you to be a better at your profession?

Jason Ragosta: As a writer, I find Tina Fey, the Cohen Brothers, Aaron Sorkin, Quentin Tarantino, and David Milch as huge sources of inspiration that push me to constantly improve the dialogue I am writing. As a director, I am inspired by Guillermo del Toro, who has such an amazing, creature-obsessed imagination and has managed to transcend how the horror genre is traditionally perceived—[he] achieved critical acclaim as well as the love of his fans. From a core directing standpoint, I take inspiration from Stephen Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, Ridley Scott, Martin Scorcese, Paul Verhoeven, Ken Russell, Bernardo Bertolucci, David Cronenberg, and William Friedkin. Newer sources of film inspiration come from Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Ari Aster, Panos Cosmatos, Jennifer Kent, Robert Eggers, Jeremy Saulnier, Andrew Stanton, James Gunn, Taika Watiti, [and] the Russo Brothers. Inspiration from comic books comes from Rick Remender, Alan Moore, Brian Michael Bendis, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, and Ed Brubaker. I could really go on and on with an endless list, but the main point of it all is that for anyone who is stuck with writer’s block, take time to read books and watch films and episodic shows. There’s so much great stuff out there being done by masters and you can learn a lot by doing postmortems on the stuff you like (or don’t like) and rooting around their innards to see how they were constructed and figure out how they tick.

NIE: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue a career in the field?

Jason Ragosta: I heard this advice countless times in the past and never believed it (hated hearing it each time), but if you can do anything else for a career and be happy, do it. Being a writer and/or a director is a seriously long haul before you make any real money doing it. As a director (a lot of people don’t realize this), you end up spending every penny you have and tens of thousands of dollars you don’t (loans/credit cards) to make your films. Some people have even mortgaged their homes. You have to be in love with it—like crazy in love with it, where you can stick with it even if it hurts you. That’s what it takes to build a professional career in film; unless you are independently wealthy, in which case, we should talk about some great scripts that I have sitting on my shelf that are ready to shoot...

Nani Strides as Diana in ‘Boy In The Dark’ in 2016 |  Courtesy of Jason Ragosta

Nani Strides as Diana in ‘Boy In The Dark’ in 2016 | Courtesy of Jason Ragosta

NIE: What are the most impactful words of wisdom someone told you and who was it?

Jason Ragosta: When I was managing a soundstage at the Academy of Art University for Diane Baker (Marnie, Silence of the Lambs), I would get overly worked up or opinionated about a script or a scene we were shooting on the sound stage, [and] she would say to me, “What have you done?” Which stung at the time, but kicked me in the ass to start actually producing things and put them out in the world for people to see. It’s much harder than it looks. Diane taught me to stop being a critic sitting on the sidelines and challenged me to jump out on the field and start being a filmmaker. It was exactly the push I needed.

“In the film business, everyone is replaceable. I know these concepts seem diametrically opposed, but it's the duality of being able to deliver quality work on a tight schedule and having strong relationships with people in the industry around you that’s what forges a sustainable path to success.”

- Jason Ragosta

NIE: What are three things you would say to your younger self that you know now?

Jason Ragosta:

  1. As a trained illustrator, it should have occurred to me much earlier to adapt my scripts into graphic novels. What’s great about a comic is that it lets you build a fanbase and establish the project as a preexisting IP (Intellectual Property). It also makes a great leave behind for a meeting, recognizing that most of the people you talk to won’t be reading your script that early in the game—if ever. It has to go through readers and be evaluated and moved up a chain to make their way back to the people you’re actually meeting with; and you know, a script is literally a pile of white paper from the outside. I have nightmares about this picture I saw once of a massive pile of scripts, stacked six feet high, along an entire wall of a studio office—just a wall of what could be blank white pages. Whereas when you hand someone a comic or graphic novel, they tend to flip through it at least, giving them a chance to hopefully see something they like that may stick with them and make them curious to find out more about the project. It’s also a great way to stand out on the post card/promo tables at the film fest and markets.

  2. Put equal time and effort in building your craft as with building relationships with people in the industry. Go to festivals, film markets, screenings, premieres, [and] industry events. Don’t just work in seclusion and think you’re going to be magically discovered.

  3. As a writer, join sites like Stage 32 (www.stage32.com) and use the career building tools, such as professional script coverage and access to real Hollywood executives that you can pay a fee to have them read and discuss your script with you. This will make your scripts more viable for competition placements and wins, which can lead to securing representation, and hopefully make a script sale and get your career going as a writer. What’s great is that Stage 32, along with some of the better screenwriting competitions, includes mentorship, script development, and setting up meetings for the winners, which can be more valuable in many cases than cash prizes in terms of helping you build a fishing pole rather than tossing you a fish.

Artist Jason Ragosta

Artist Jason Ragosta

NIE: So what is next for you?

Jason Ragosta: We are currently gearing up for a pretty awesome crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to complete post-production on ZTV: Sympathy for the Devil. Once we’ve completed this proof-of-concept short film, our festival run will hopefully begin in the fall and carry into next year as we shop around the project to potential distributors and executive producers in an effort to package and raise funds for the ZTV feature. I’ve also been working on the prequel comic, ZTV: Undead Empire, which I am hoping to have the first issue completed in time for festivals in the fall.

NIE: Thank you for having this interview with us. Before we let you go, though, is there anyone you would like to thank?

Jason Ragosta: I would love to thank Margaret Caragan Aldrich (Sorry to Bother You, Fruitvale Station), and her makeup VFX company, Pandora FX, for their amazing work and support of all of my films. Margaret is one of the pillars of my filmmaking family and one of my most trusted collaborators, as well as my second sister from a different mister.

To Margaret’s husband, Tony Aldrich, our set carpenter and my partner-in-crime, spending countless hours on Home Depot/coffee runs and building all of the glorious wooden torture devices for the PreZerve TV show shoot, as well as the elaborate and surprisingly accurate blood rigs that allowed us to make such a glorious mess on both shoots. Marisa Garay (Hara Kiri, Boy in the Dark), of Garbo Films is my producer and my business partner who has believed in ZTV from the beginning, working tirelessly for the past two years, standing beside me, willing this project into existence. Pascal Combes-Knoke for believing in ZTV and being a critical part of our team. He brought his amazing talent and resources to this project, as well as introducing us to Nick Ramsey, who did a fantastic job filling in for him as cinematographer on our PreZerve TV footage shoot. All of the footage is beautiful and has exceeded my expectations. A huge thanks to both of you guys.

To the rest of our amazing ZTV cast and crew who put in a ton of sweat [and] long days and nights cramming all our amazing footage into the hard drives. We couldn’t have done any of it without your dedication and your trust that the project would be worth the extra effort. The people of Clearlake, CA, who embraced our little production with open arms and were the best damn extras I’ve ever seen on a set. Standing out multiple days in the hot sun is one thing, but letting us spray them down with [a] hose filled with blood went way beyond the call of duty, and they faced every second of it with a smile on their face and their fists pumping in the air, always ready for another take.

Matt Lacorte, our Associate Producer, for stepping up beyond his role as gaffer (of which he did an amazing job) and going above and beyond the call [of duty], being my feet on the ground in LA, and shooting behind the scenes interviews with our ZTV peeps down south. He will also be serving as editor for all of our crowdfunding and behind the scenes content.

And last, but never least, my parents, Michael and Gloria Ragosta, and my amazing girlfriend, Julie Chow, for supporting me through all the madness and struggle of this ongoing journey that is my filmmaking career. None of this would be possible without their love and support.

Follow Jason and all his exciting content at his website at www.jasonragosta.net.

- Mary Swanson

VISIONARY RELEASES FOUR PRODUCTIONS SIMULTANEOUSLY IN FILM FESTIVALS AROUND THE WORLD

VISIONARY RELEASES FOUR PRODUCTIONS SIMULTANEOUSLY IN FILM FESTIVALS AROUND THE WORLD

FILMMAKER ON NATIONAL TOUR AND PREMIERES LATEST FILM IN BEVERLY HILLS

FILMMAKER ON NATIONAL TOUR AND PREMIERES LATEST FILM IN BEVERLY HILLS