Interview with writer and filmmaker Donald F. Glut
Donald F. Glut is a writer and filmmaker who has continued to make an impact over the years, with a legacy of work including comics, fiction and non-fiction books, TV and of course film. With the upcoming release of his latest film Tales of Frankenstein, I got an opportunity to ask Donald a few questions about the film and his varied career so far.
You have had a successful career as a writer in various forms, but what inspired you to start writing originally?
I never really started out to be a writer actually. As a kid, writing was one activity I enjoyed. My goal starting out was NOT to have a regular 9 to 5 job doing something I didn’t like. I went through various “careers” – music, art, acting, etc. – before settling into writing. Published authors were heroes of mine. And so, when the music and other phases didn’t work out, I just naturally segued into writing.
You have been involved in screenwriting children’s television shows, which includes Transformers, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Land of the Lost and Masters of the Universe. What were your inspirations for writing these stories?
Getting paid. Those were all for TV and fairly formula. They didn’t require a lot of thought and they generally paid quite well. The story editor gave you the basics for the show and you wrote to conform to those ideas. Out of all of them, I only have pride in about a half dozen. Most of the shows were written to appease the network censors or, like TRANSFORMERS, as half-hour commercials to sell toys.
I’d been involved in some of the Star Wars projects already, like the comic books. A friend of mine working at the company presented some of those published works, the company liked what they read, and they made me an offer. And I took the offer. Simple as that.
The novelisation has some differences to the original film, such as Yoda’s skin and Darth Vader lightsaber which are Blue. What were the reason for these and other changes which you made?
The lightsaber thing was just a mistake I made that no one caught. Not being a Star Wars fan myself, I didn’t remember. As to other changes, the script kept changing. And what was filmed did not necessarily match the pre-production artwork I saw. They were still making script changes after the novel went to press.
You have a new horror anthology film coming out called Tales of Frankenstein which is based on four of your short stories, can you tell a bit about what we can expect from the film?
Easier to tell you what it’s NOT. It’s not a huge CGI spectacle like so many recent movies. It’s basically a kind of “retro” movie made in the “classic Frankenstein tradition,” like the old Hammer films, but with a lot less money and time. So, you can expect a lot of traditional tropes like mad scientists, body snatching, brain transplant s and angry villagers with torches and pitchforks.
Did you make any changes from the original short stories when writing and directing the film?
Yes, many, because the stories were written long ago without any movie in mind. They were not always visual, which a movie of this nature has to be. The story ‘Madhouse of Death’ required the most changes. And even the prose version of that is quite different from an earlier radio drama (which is included as a bonus feature on the Tales of Frankenstein DVD. The radio play was the first go-round for that story.
What was one of your favourite moments to film?
That is a very difficult question to answer, because the whole experience – despite the stress and lack of enough money and time – was such a joy. But I think the best part for me was working with such fine actors like Jerry Lacy, Ann Robinson, Mel Novak, Beverly Washburn, Tatiana DeKhytar, T.J. Storm, Jim Tavare’, John Blyth Barrymore, Buddy Daniels and, well, so many others. This movie has a huge cast!
You have made several films in the last few years which look to cover universals classic monsters which includes; Dracula, The Mummy, Werewolves and now Frankenstein. Are there any more monsters who you would like to bring to the screen in the future?
At the present, I’d like to keep working with the Frankenstein concept and already have a sequel written. I have a vampire film I want to make after that. NO plans for a zombie movie!
You have been involved in several projects over the years, as a screenwriter, novelist and director. Looking back over you career what are you most proud of?
Again, very hard to answer that. Probably some of my non-fiction books, like my Dinosaur: The Encyclopaedia series and, of course, my new Tales of Frankenstein movie.
Do you have any other projects which you are working on?
Always. Aside from all the projects relating to Tales of Frankenstein’s upcoming release, I’ve been writing horror comics scripts for a magazine called The Creeps. I’ve knocked out a LOT of them in the past few years!
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to write and direct their own film?
Move to California and never give up. Also, figure out ways of raising money to make your film. Without the backing to make your project, it’s all just talk.