The horror! Q&A with local actor-director Mark Joseph Peek
GLOVERSVILLE – City native Mark Joseph Peek is an actor, director, producer and writer for both the stage and screen, having appeared in dramatic productions at local theater venues such as the Glove Performing Arts Center and Johnstown’s Colonial Little Theatre.
Peek, 36, graduated from Gloversville High School in 1994 and earned a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2003. Last June, he directed a production of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Glove.
His film production company, Wicked Six Productions, has collaborated with Utica-based Mad Angel Films on the production of several “ultra-low-budget” films, mostly in the horror genre.
Among his film credits: He produced and co-wrote “Three Days in the Woods,” which was screened at the Glove in 2010, and he stars in “Half Dead,” Mad Angel’s most recent release, in which he plays a gangster who comes back from the dead to take revenge on those who wronged him. The film premiered at Utica’s New Uptown Theater on March 22.
The Leader-Herald asked Peek a few questions about his background, his outlook and his current projects.
The Leader-Herald: How did the debut of “Half Dead” go? Are there any plans to show it around here? Is it available on DVD or in some other format?
Mark Joseph Peek: The premiere of “Half Dead” went very well. Just under 100 hundred seats filled. We also sold the bulk of the DVDs we had for sale.
I’m currently in the works with Bruce Wendell of the Emerald Cinemas in Amsterdam to have a local showing. We had a showing of our last film, “Night Run,” there, and it went well. Bruce is a fan of all local arts and makes it very easy to show and promote my movies.
LH: What is about the horror genre that appeals to you? Do you have any interest in making films in other genres?
MJP: Horror films terrified me as a child, oddly enough. After a while, the nightmares they caused became fun. When it comes to the horror genre, there is more room for creativity, in the script and the final film.
We have done films in other [genres]. “Night Run” is an action comedy, and the new film “Slade Collins and the Tree of Life” is in the vein of Indiana Jones, a kind of action/fantasy/comedy. But, I prefer the horror genre. Wicked Six is geared toward the horror aspect of what we do.
LH: What films and filmmakers have inspired you and influenced your film work?
MJP: My biggest influence in writing and directing is John Carpenter. Many a childhood evening was spent watching “Halloween,” “The Fog,” “Big Trouble in Little China,” “Assault on Precinct 13” … the list is endless. When it comes to acting, my biggest influences are Bruce Campbell (of “Evil Dead” fame) and William Shatner. Their delivery and deadpan expressionism is amazing.
LH: You have appeared in several theatrical productions in the area in the last few years. Do you see acting on stage and acting on film as two sides of the same coin, or do you have radically different approaches to the two?
MJP: Yes, acting for film and stage are two totally different animals. I can’t say if I really like one better than the other, but they are different. Theater by and large is more of an audible medium; you have to sell emotions through inflection or big movement. Since the audience can’t see everything on stage, it needs to be bigger.
In film, you should show and not tell. With the luxury of the camera, you decide what the audience can and can’t see, so you can be smaller and more subtle. Both have their unique challenges, and both are fun.
LH: What creative pursuits are you working on now? Is there a new film or stage production on the horizon?
MJP: The horizon is endless. On stage, I will be directing “Blithe Spirit,” a “spirited” comedy set in the 1940s and written by Noel Coward. The show will be performed on June 8, 9 and 10.
In July, I will be stage-managing a production of “Shrek: The Musical.” Both will be at the Glove.
Also, Wicked Six Productions and Mad Angel Films will be releasing “Savage Christmas,” a Christmas-themed horror film written by me, and we start filming “Slade Collins and the Tree of Life” in May. I will also be appearing in Trochman Films’ (another Utica based production company) film “The Vampire,” which also starts shooting in May.
To suggest a future Community Q&A column with someone on the local arts-and-entertainment scene, contact Features Editor Bill Ackerbauer at email@example.com.