If you're trying to break into the film business you need to have a new perspective or make a group see things in a different light. That's what Dallas Jackson was tasked with when he had his idea for a slasher movie called Thriller. He was able to take his personal story and add some genre to it, attach big-time producers, and get the budget to make his passion project come alive. 

We're excited to interview Dallas Jackson, who had his hands in every department and delivered a unique twist on horror films. 

Img_2649_0Dallas Jackson

NFS: Where did the idea come from? 

Dallas Jackson: The idea came from two separate ideas. Wanting to tell the story of how bullying in innercity communities is rampant and the possible effects of bullying the wrong person and how that comes back to haunt you, And the second idea of wanting to do a slasher picture with teens of color and what that attitude would look like in the genre. 

NFS: How did you get your budget? 

DJ: Blumhouse optioned the script and financed the movie, then brought the super-producing team of Divide and Conquer to oversee the budget and bring the movie to life. 

NFS: What did you write on / shoot on? / Edit on? (Give us all the specs!)

DJ: I wrote on what every real screenwriter uses...Final Draft. We shot on the Arri Alexa using Lomo anamorphic lenses, and we edited on Avid.


NFS: What was your distribution plan? 

DJ: Well, our initial plan was to show the movie to Universal where Blumhouse had a deal, but then the Los Angeles Film Festival wanted to premiere the movie. So we went that route and opened up the movie to other buyers which is how it landed on Netflix.

NFS: How has the festival circuit treated you? 

DJ: The Los Angeles Film Festival was fantastic! Great press coverage, really cool crowd turn out, fun red carpet. It’s an experience I’ll never forget. 


NFS: How will making a short help advance your career? 

DJ: Making a short for me (INVASION ZONE for Crypt TV) gave me the confidence to direct a full feature and work with SFX, squibs, and practical creatures. It was a fantastic test ground before shooting THRILLER

NFS: What's your ultimate goal in Hollywood?  

DJ: TAKEOVER EVERYTHING IN THE GENRE SPACE…or maybe just make some really good TV and film for the next 50 years. 

NFS: What do you plan on doing next? 

DJ: I’m going to direct a remake of an action film I wrote for Universal this summer and then move into another horror movie hopefully with my same team from THRILLER.


NFS: What's the most important lesson you learned making the film? 

DJ: Take each day moment by moment…if you contemplate too much on the days ahead or worrying about small things, you’ll take yourself out of the moment of doing your best work each second of the filmmaking process. 

NFS: What's advice you'd give No Film School readers about making a short film? 

DJ: If you’re going to make a short…make it INTERESTING! Scary or Funny or Strange or Action…something that will get the people who watch it excited and capture their imagination and the idea of you being a filmmaker they’d like to see more from. Me personally...don’t make a short drama. 

Thriller is the debut from director/writer/producer Dallas Jackson and produced by Greg Gilreath, Adam Hendricks, John Lang and Zac Locke, who executive produced, for DIVIDE/CONQUER, and co-produced by David Grove Churchill Viste. Acclaimed musician RZA, de facto leader of the Wu-Tang Clan, composed original music (to be released), executive produced and acted in the film. The movie world-premiered at LA Film Fest 2018 and was released on Netflix US April 14th, 2019. 

What's next? Start your career by making your own short film

Chances are you’re reading No Film School because you’re not only obsessed with Hollywood, but you want to be a part of it. But breaking in is never easy. That’s why I think writing short films and even making them yourself, has become a viable option for breaking into the business.

Of course, writing a short film is no simple task, but today I’ll take you through a few great strategies to get your short film ideas on the page, and then hopefully on the screen.

Click the link to learn more!