Interview: JM Stelly – ‘The Demonologist’

❉ A spooked detective is the only hope for the end of days in spine-chiller ‘The Demonologist’…

A detective is haunted by nightmares of his past and visions he cannot understand. When he investigates a string of brutal murders, he discovers a Cult that worships the four King Demons of Hell, who plan on bringing them forth to destroy the Earth. He must stop the Cult from starting the Apocalypse and finally come to grips with his birthright and destiny as The Demonologist…

Premiering On Demand January 1, 2019 by Uncork’d Entertainment, supernatural thriller The Demonologist is the latest film from writer-director J.M Stelly and stars Brian Krause (Charmed, Sleepwalkers), Lara Grice (Logan), and Thomas Francis Murphy (Mindhunter).

We chat with J.M Stelly, writer-director of The Demonologist…

J.M Stelly.

“I’m a Nihilistic Satanist and have studied the occult and the history of the occult for years. For me this was my swan song to the mythos of Lucifer. So I turned to my studies for this film…”

Is filmmaking what you do for a living?

Filmmaking is exactly what I do for a living. I have held many roles in the film industry. I mostly work with coloring and processing footage and have done photography for a number of films such Jeepers Creepers 3.

And I guess that’s one thing most folks don’t get about independent filmmaking – unless you make a Jumanji or a Greatest Showman you’ve still got to ‘pay the rent’ by working for the man.

You also need a strong support system behind you, I imagine?

Absolutely. Making a film is a collaborative effort. It takes more than one person to get it right and as a director, you have to be able to lead your team to success. I’m lucky to be surrounded by amazing people with a lot of talent.

Do you have a lot at stake – even personal investment – tied up in your productions?

Within Madness and ABACUS were 100% me. My own time and money, so yeah with those films, everything is at stake but with The Demonologist, it’s my ability to make a movie that is successful for everyone involved. So my career as a director is at stake going forward and in this business it always is. You have to make something that 1: will make the money back and a profit and 2: that will showcase your skills. It can nerve racking but that’s half the fun.

When do you consider the risk worthwhile?

It’s always worth it. If this is what you want to do, you have to take the risk and stand by logical and rational decisions that marry your creative.

Do you have a plan for your career?

Absolutely but plans change. People change and you have to be able to self analyze and make the adjustments accordingly to be the most successful person you can be. No plan is concrete. It’s always more of a blue print.

Would you prefer to keep working on original productions or would you be quite happy if, say, Paramount knocked on the door and offered you the chance to direct the next sequel to Transformers?

I’ll always want to make my own movies but I will forever be open to directing a studio film I believe in and see the beauty in. Just blindly going into something would be terrible. I’ve never wanted to direct super huge blockbuster action films but if Universal asked me to take over the Dark Universe, I would do it in a heartbeat. Or if FOX allowed me to do FROM HELL in series form with a writers room at my disposal, I would jump at the chance to do that.

How much do good reviews mean to a filmmaker?

I think reviews are one of those things that to most people are a necessary evil. Critics will be critics. Some praise and some will tear you apart. It comes with the territory. You can’t please everyone. I love reading great things about my films. It makes me feel good and I think it helps up and coming directors greatly but does it kill your career? I don’t think so. There are plenty of films I love that didn’t get great reviews and there are films I hated that got praised up and down. The thing you have to remember is, you will never fall in love with your work. You shouldn’t. Nothing will ever be the way you always wanted it to be. You just have to remember that art is imperfect and that’s a beautiful thing.

And do they also open doors for you as a filmmaker?

I think they can. I hope so. As a filmmaker, I want others to see what I’m capable of. If a producer sees reviews that are positive, subconsciously I think it gives them a perception of what that artist is capable of but at the same time, that’s steep and slippery slope depending on certain aspects.

How easy did you find to get distribution for it?

When I was approached about The Demonologist, which I conceived, we knew that the production company had a relationship with Uncork’d and so everything was sent over and right out of the gate they wanted the film. It was kind of an easy deal. I was very fortunate with this movie.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given from anyone?

Don’t think you’re a genius and keep your nose to the grindstone.

Did you reach out to anyone else that’s made a movie like this before tackling the subject in this movie? There’s some heavy stuff!

I’m a Nihilistic Satanist and have studied the occult and the history of the occult for years. For me this was my swan song to the mythos of Lucifer. So I turned to my studies for this film. I knew I didn’t want to create just another generic demon movie. So I focused on creating a true crime piece with a supernatural element. No one I know has made a movie like this, so it was just me, pouring myself into it.

What type of research did you do before writing the screenplay?

I researched everything from The Golden Dawn, to the works of John Dee for Enochian purposes, to demon mythos. The idea for The Demonologist started back in 2011 so for seven years I’ve been building a huge world to base everything off of. A mixture of history and my own homemade myths and legends.

When can we see it?

January 1st!


The Demonologist, premieres on VOD January 1, 2019 by Uncork’d Entertainment.

News source: October Coast.

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