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The Ghosts of Edendale

#33: “We Didn’t Think Anyone Would Watch 1½ Hours of Crappy Video of Running Around in the Woods”: Stefan Avalos on Found Footage Precursor THE LAST BROADCAST

Today’s guest is Stefan Avalos, who was once profiled by Wired magazine as “one of the twenty five people helping to reinvent entertainment”. Together with Lance Weiler, he wrote, produced, directed and starred in the found footage thriller THE LAST BROADCAST, a film which they also shot, edited and scored themselves – and which became the first feature film that was released digitally in commercial cinemas in 1998. The film is a true crime documentary about the two hosts of a cable access show called Fact or Fiction who disappear in search of the mythical Jersey Devil creature. A strange fan who accompanied them and returned unharmed is seen as a murder suspect, but the documentarian believes that the footage will reveal a different story.

Before making THE LAST BROADCAST, Stefan Avalos directed his feature film debut THE GAME in 1993, an edgy crime thriller about two college boys who become involved in a deadly counterfeiting scheme. Later on, Stefan directed the supernatural horror film THE GHOSTS OF EDENDALE, produced films like Paul Tarantino’s black-humored horror comedy HEADHUNTER, and worked as a visual effects creator. His documentary STRAD STYLE about a man from Ohio trying to make a perfect copy of a Stradivarius-quality violin without any formal training in violin making, was released in 2017 and won several awards at festivals like Slamdance.

In our conversation, Stefan Avalos relates the true story behind his first feature film THE GAME and talks about the development and thought process behind creating THE LAST BROADCAST – including the surprise ending and the documentaries which inspired the film. He discusses the strategies he and Lance Weiler used to make their film look authentic, and remembers a few incidences where people were somewhat confused about the reality of the story. He also talks about the ideas behind THE GHOSTS OF EDENDALE and discusses his future projects. In our conversation, we also dive into a fascinating discussion of what AI will be capable of and how that might affect the future of filmmaking – and the future of film consumption.

The interview was conducted in connection with our German-language podcast Lichtspielplatz, so if you speak German, please check out Lichtspielplatz episode #68, which features an in-depth discussion of THE LAST BROADCAST and many other found footage horror films. Also, make sure to listen to our interviews with found footage filmmakers Dean Alioto, Ted Nicolaou, Brian Leslie and Ron Bonk here on Talking Pictures.

So without any further ado, here’s director Stefan Avalos!

The mp3 file can be downloaded HERE.

Photo courtesy of Stefan Avalos
Editing: Christoph Schwarz
Music: Clark Kent

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