A Conversation With Noah Segan
A former child actor turned genre icon, Noah Segan has starred in many of your most favorite horror, sci-fi and dark thrillers released in the past nine years.
Beginning with Deadgirl in 2008, Segan has amassed a sterling resume, but if you don't know his name, you definitely recognize his face and his laid-back screen persona.
Segan's latest, Camera Obscura, is a brutal downward spiral of best intentions gone spectacularly wrong. The Chiller Films production is currently available on most streaming Video-on-Demand platforms, and comes highly recommended by BVB: Blood Violence and Babes.
Segan was gracious enough to agree to speak to BVB about his new film, as well as several others, in a free-wheeling, spirited phone conversation.
BVB: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me for my website, Blood Violence and Babes. I have to tell you how excited I am because you’ve literally starred in some of my favorite – most favorite – indie films of the past 10 years. It’s just incredible to look at your resume. Deadgirl, Someone’s Knocking at the Door, Starry Eyes, The Mind’s Eye. I mean, it’s crazy. If it’s a good, original premise for a film, it’s like you magically appear. You’re there in the cast.
NS: You have to say my name three times.
BVB: (Laughing) What I love even more is I sat down, I can’t remember, it was probably last year, I had gotten a review copy of Ernesto Diaz Espinoza’s Redeemer, which is a ridiculously entertaining action flick, and all of a sudden, there you are as the big bad guy.
BVB: And I never would have imagined you being there, but you just looked like you were having the best time ever.
NS: I think I – that was definitely one of the ones where we had the best time ever. When you get the chance to just pop on down to Chile for a few weeks with one of the most challenging action filmmakers, designers, actors in the world, that you’re a fan of – I mean, I’m a fan of their films, Marko (star Marko Zaror) and Ernesto – you can’t help but have a great time.
BVB: Right! That’s awesome. You seem to have a really great sense about the projects that you pick. What do you look for? How do you have such a great track record of picking films that are so beyond the same old same that so many movies today are? Your films are always very original.
NS: Well, thank you. What is the secret? The secret is I have good friends who could possibly be the most talented people in the world. That’s the entirely [inaudible] secret behind being lucky enough to work on these cool movies. You have to – it takes so many fucking miracles. But that’s the thing, you get people like Rian Johnson or even somebody like Aaron Koontz. These are people who are incredibly talented and incredibly disciplined and equally kind and generous and lovely people. And also the smartest motherfuckers you will ever meet in your entire life. I guess the secret is try to find those people and befriend them and then just pray that miracles happen.
BVB: (Laughing) That’s good! I totally agree because it seems like a lot of the people that you work with, it seems like a very tight-knit community where you’ve got a lot of the same actors…like, take The Mind’s Eye, Joe Begos, he has a stable of actors that have kind of appeared in and out of most of the, the three films he’s done so far, and it seems like you gravitate to toward directors who really have a lot of vision, but also the ability to execute that vision, which is really cool.
NS: Any of these movies that we do, that we’re talking about, they started as a crazy idea, but that crazy idea had to actually get done by these guys and their friends.
BVB: Now did you – I know Aaron Koontz, who directed Camera Obscura, he was a producer on Starry Eyes. Was that how you guys hooked up?
NS: Yes. We were also friends in the scene, the Drafthouse, a pretty wide group of people who get together a few times a year to watch movies and drink a lot of beer. Aaron is a part of that community. Actually that’s how he got involved in Starry Eyes and then how he and I got involved in Camera.
BVB: What was it about Camera Obscura? I thought it was a fantastic film. And it’s very dark, but I love that it just keeps ratcheting the tension as it becomes increasingly more violent and more unpredictable to the point you’re just not sure where it’s going to go. What drew you to that? What did you like most when you read that script or heard the pitch?
NS: The two interesting aspects of Camera Obscura are, for me, I think even before I read the script, just talking to Aaron about it, about this idea, the haunted camera. You know, it’s like this obviously great long line of hauntings where you go, oh it’s haunted. Is the house haunted? Is the doll haunted? What the fuck is haunted here?
NS: Actually, photography is a great love of mine, still a hobby. It was something I considered doing for a job for a while because it runs in the family. So that was something that just excited me from a geek perspective. And then this idea it truly was, it truly is, I should say, about someone trying to [inaudible] this horrible thing that is happening to them, and horrible thing that has happened to them, for [inaudible]. Scary movies about trying to stop the inevitable, or trying to stop this thing you know is bad from happening, are the scariest to me. Movies about desperation, movies of that sort of – I don’t even know…obviously movies in that genre, like a Final Destination or whatever, but I – there is something, like I told Aaron, in a weird way that is sort of a genre. It would be interesting to know what that genre is…knowing you are awake while [inaudible] in a nightmare.
BVB: Right. And as in the case with this one, you know, he’s doing it for love. He’s got – he’s trying to show he’s moved beyond the awful things he saw covering the war and he’s trying to be there for his girlfriend, and all of a sudden it just becomes this snowball into hell, where everything, the worst possible things that could happen, start happening.
BVB: So, I totally agree with you, there is, it’s never been named, but there definitely is a subgenre of films that just focus on that type of thing, which is cool. I wish someone would give it a name.
NS: Yeah, somebody’s got to look into that. Maybe that’s something like an intrepid journalist like yourself can…
BVB: Right! (Laughing) You have tasked me with a quest, sir. I will not let you down.
BVB: I know we don’t have much time, but I was so jazzed to see two things – and I know IMDb is not always the most reliable, but you’ve got two films coming out that I know I’m super excited for and I know a lot of fans are going to be excited for. You’ve got Mohawk, which is the new film by Ted Geoghegan, whose We Are Still Here was just jaw-dropping. How was that working with Ted?
NS: Oh, Ted is – I hate to sound like a broken record, but it’s another example of working with people you love. You know, Travis Stevens is an incredibly prolific producer, and he produced Starry Eyes, which I worked on, and he produced Here and he and Ted got back together for Mohawk. And we went to upstate New York to make this incredibly visceral, horrific action movie on location in the year 1812 for the war of that name. That’s what it’s about…And it will fuck you up. It’s great.
BVB: I am super jazzed for that, and I may be even more excited for Chuck Hank and the San Diego Twins, because Bellflower was just, it just stunned me. It was so good. It just left me speechless. And I just got to see the trailer today, which looks insane. What can fans expect from Chuck Hank?
NS: That is a movie that has left me speechless simply because the guys who made the movie, Coatwolf, that’s what they call themselves, they’re all Renaissance men. They’re all jacks of all trades. They all act, they all produce, they all edit, they all do special effects and camera work. And they all have insane fucking cars. And they’re cool guys. They’ve been working on this movie for years to ensure it is the most gonzo thing that you could imagine, and as a result of being the most gonzo thing you could imagine, I can’t fucking imagine it. I just know it’s going to have crazy action with these sort of – I don’t know how old you are, but I am 33 and grew up on 8-and-16-bit videogames, and I never dreamed in my life that I would get an opportunity to, like, act in one.
BVB: I’m a little bit older than you, I’m 46, but that’s why I’m so – I had one of the first Atari’s when it came out. I always was in that gaming – as they kept progressing, Nintendo, ColecoVision…I loved all the early, the 8-bit, the 16-bit, so when I heard them first describe this film, because they did a Kickstarter for it, right after Bellflower came out, and the way they presented it was almost like a Double Dragon scrolling fight movie, like you’re standing in the arcade watching a film at the console, so I’m just incredibly excited for that.
NS: Me too, man, because I know it has really been, it has really taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears for that to happen and we’re finally about to see and get their, the benefits of all their hard work, and we’re about to enjoy them.
BVB: I can’t thank you enough for taking the time. I am super excited to promote Camera Obscura. I thought it was awesome. And it’s like each new film you do suddenly becomes a must-see picture, so I’m excited for what you’ve got coming out and hopefully we’ll get a chance to talk again sometime.
NS: Anytime, John, anytime. Thank you for taking time out of your day to talk to me.