Interview: Bumps in the Night Part 2: Greg Benevent

Today, we’re talking to Greg Benevent, also out of Los Angeles, in the second of our Bumps in the Night interviews.
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IFP: Tell us about your current project. What is it called?

GB: It’s Ghost Hunters if Ghost Hunters were a show done by two people that loved the show, and one that hated it.

IFP: What was the inspiration for Bumps in the Night? Where did you get the idea for playing ghostbusters who were also pool cleaners?

GB: We came up with pool cleaners because, honestly, our friends had a pool. The inspiration was really from just leaving the Sci-Fi channel on in our apartment. Ghost Hunters would be on, and then, later, if you were lucky, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace would be on, and it just sort of went from there. I remember, around the time we came up with the idea, seeing trailers for a movie about a documentary film crew that goes to Africa to do a documentary about a 200-foot Crocodile that eats people. That was supposed to be a horror movie. I thought it sounded like the best set-up for a comedy movie I’d heard in years. That went into making Bumps in the Night, too.

IFP: What do you want to tell the audience with this series?

GB: I’m not sure of anything we want to tell the audience other than: “We’re Good At This, Please Watch More.” But, if the show had a message, I would think it was something like: “Hanging Out With Your Friends, Even If It’s Against Your Better Interests, Isn’t the Worst Way to Spend Your Time.”

IFP: How do you feel Bumps in the Night fits into the horror/ghostbusting genre?

GB: I wish there were more of a “genre”, because then there’d be a template to work from. I think, as our first season goes on, we’ll deal with more “horror” tropes. As for “where it stands in the ghost hunting” genre, I would imagine it stands as the show that’s intentionally funny, and is the one with the fewest goofy effects. (Negative images, cutaways to a wolf howling or something, etc.)

IFP: What other projects have you done? What was your favourite?

GB: Hah! I’ve written a lot of stuff I need to get out in the world. I write with Facilitator Films, developing scripts that (hopefully) get made soon. Before that, I wrote a bunch of plays in college and I wrote for the beloved and sorely missed Deek Magazine. My favourite thing I’ve written is this novel I just wrapped up, Nerds Die Kinda Hard. It’s like Bumps in the Night, but for action movies instead of ghost hunting.

IFP: What is your favourite genre in television?

GB: David Milch isn’t his own genre yet, but that’s my favorite stuff: mostly cops, with some kind of internal conflict, getting someone to confess in the final act, etc. In the last few years, all my favorite shows: NYPD Blue, The Shield, The Wire, and Deadwood all disappeared. But I can’t get into the new stuff like that. The Mentalist makes me throw rocks at my TV.

IFP: How do you think webseries differ from traditional television and film?

GB: In a web show you really have no moments to set everything up. Like, in a movie you get at least a couple minutes of explosions to let us know who the good guys/bad guys are; in a regular TV show, you usually get the teaser through the end of the first act. But in a web show, everything has to be laid out and easy enough to understand for someone that was really Googling for pool cleaning products and just happened to end up here.

IFP: What do you see as the biggest challenge in producing a webseries?

GB: The three most terrifying words in the webseries world are: “And Then What?” Getting the thing up/keeping it moving after you’ve “gotten it out there,” whatever that means. (Also: “Getting It Out There” are either the 4th or the 7th most terrifying words in the webseries world, depending upon how you’re counting.)

IFP: Do you have a favourite ghostbusting show?

GB: Paranormal State actually just did an episode near where I grew up, (the “Hotel Conneaut” one) but absolutely, the original Ghost Hunters guys. Ghost Hunters International has the feel of really talented muscians who met in the studio, while Jason and Grant seem like if there were no cameras around, they’d still be in Rhode Island somewhere hunting ghosts, unclogging drains, etc. There’s genuine authenticity there that goes beyond the logo on a t-shirt. Also: we need t-shirts.

IFP: What is your favourite film or TV show?

GB: The three best movies ever made are: The Godfather, Casablanca and Big Trouble in Little China. If I ever have children, I’m going to have DVDs of NYPD Blue running on loop in their cribs, so that they (hopefully) grow up to have the speaking patterns of Sipowicz and Simone.

IFP: Who is your favourite showrunner?

GB: David Milch. That man could make a poetic, human, intense drama about the world of mixing spoons.

IFP: What artistic accomplishment are you most proud of in your life?

GB: I was in Nintendo Power once for having a great time in the original Super Mario Kart. No, really, it’s the novel I just finished. It was the first thing I ever wrote where I turned off the computer and said: “You know, if I was hit by a bus tomorrow, I could live with that, because I got this out on paper.” Not that I’m looking for the bus, mind you.

IFP: If you could be a Lovecraft/Mythos monster, which one would you be?

GB: Nyarlathotep is one of the few that I’ve seen (and I only have about eight books of Mythos fiction, so I’m by no means well-rounded on this) that seemed like he could function in the human world, as well. I think that would be important if I were to be one of the Mythos figures. The “bigger” names seem like that’d be hard to be in those shoes, creatures larger than a planet, etc. Nyarlathotep could still get a hot dog, or take a nap, in between those moments of tearing our fragile universe asunder.

IFP: What is your favourite Lovecraft/Mythos story?

GB: I really loved “The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath”. As a kid, it was one of the easiest for me to lose myself in, and I was utterly surprised that Randolph Carter didn’t die. Beyond that, “Pickman’s Model”, and I’m sure this is going to sound ridiculous, because of this publication, and I’m sure you hear this all the time, but “Shadow Over Innsmouth” is definitely my third. (That’s not butt-kissing there, or anything. I used to practice free-style swimming just in case the fish-folks ever came west.)

IFP: Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

GB: Hah! I always dread answering these questions, because if I mention something and it doesn’t work out and I look at this interview later I feel like a real stooge. (I’m sure somewhere in my past there’s all kinds of yearbooks saying I’m going to “Grad School” or “Be a Lawyer” or something.) But, beyond that: I have a TV pilot that may be picked up, and a horror script (“THE DIY KILLER”) that’s “out there” (Hollywood talk for: “There’s Someone, Possibly With Money Or Power, Who May Or May Not Be Reading It”) about a psychotic guy that decides to make his own horror movie before he dies. He kidnaps several beautiful woman and tries to kill them…only to find that’s much, much more difficult than he ever could’ve imagined.

IFP: What is your dream project?

GB: Sunday nights on HBO: From Beyond: The Series. Jeffrey Combs plays Randy Carter, a hard-drinking psychic detective who may be able to go to a parallel universe when he sleeps, or he may just have horrible mental problems. Taye Diggs plays “Nyar”, a wise homeless man who may be an undercover cop who may also be Nylathotep, we don’t know. Together, they solve crimes on both sides of the wall of sleep.

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Photo by: Arielle Haze Photography

Bio: Greg has been hunting ghosts and steady writing work in Hollywood since at least 2003. He has landed at Star Trek: Enterprise, Facilitator Films, and Altered Visions — the rest is a mystery.

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IFPInterview: Bumps in the Night Part 2: Greg Benevent