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Zombie Boys and Vampire Families

By Jessican Bowman; For the Clock
On December 15, 2017

Zombie Boys and Vampire Families 

Jessica Bowman

For the Clock

jasmith1@plymouth.edu

Artists, authors and musicians alike will agree that getting that spark that leads down the road to stardom is the hardest thing to accomplish in any creators career. In this world it is nearly impossible to get noticed. Yet, many aspiring artists hang on and hope for the one event or product that can send their career over the edge of fame. Jamie Sharps, a 43 year old independent filmmaker from our very own Plymouth, New Hampshire is one of those souls hoping for this spark of success.

Upon first impression he has a very happy go lucky personality and dreams of high hopes for his career in independent filmmaking. Sharps has the kind of face that looks his age but shows his youthfulness in his glowing smile and crinkling eye laughter. By the end of this winter that spark of stardom may begin to glow for Sharps.

Coming late February into early March at the Flying Monkey on Main Street, Plymouth, New Hampshire is the premiere of Jamie Sharps eighth movie The Beaumonts. Sharps’ new movie is a story about a family of century old vampires who are trying to fit into a small town while also being targeted by a duo of vampire hunters. Sharps has had this movie in the works for about a year now and is excited to finally be in the final stretch of its cutting and editing.

When interviewed about his new movie Sharps said, “I like to throw in a little comedy too. My friends will say ‘Oh I don’t want to watch your movie if it’s scary’ and I tell them well that is why I add comedy, so anyone can enjoy it really.” More often than not Sharps’ style of writing comes with an added touch of satire. Although his movies are classified as horrors, he likes to lighten the mood and make them more self aware.

This unique mixture of writing leaves Sharps’ films with a kind of meta-ness that allows for larger messages to be pushed through. In The Beaumonts Sharps admits there is an underlying subplot of drug use which, by the end of the movie, is addressed and rectified with one character’s decision to dispose of his drugs for good.

But The Beaumonts is only the newest of Jamie Sharps’ films. Currently he’s written four movies, edited seven and filmed eight. Born and raised in Sanbornton, New Hampshire, Jamie Sharps recalls it was Raider of the Lost Ark that fueled his filmmakers muse. Since that movie, along with influences from other great 80’s films Sharps has been producing movies in any way he can. Which for an independent filmmaker is often a lot harder than it would seem on the surface.

When he was younger and not yet declared as an independent filmmaker Sharps would employ the help of his younger sister, Kelly and her friend Julie, to play parts in short skits that he would write.

Back in the 80’s Sharps had a VHS video camera that he used to film his skits. When receiving an education from New York Film Academy he wrote and produced three short black and white films-about five minutes each. Still, Sharps admits that his first professionally produced film was one called Half-Dead. Released back in 2005, four or so years after joining New York Film Academy. When questioned about his previous works Sharps said; “That one [Half-Dead] was a long time ago and I think I’m getting better. The quality of my films is improving.”

Improving indeed it is. Sharps has never received lower than a 6.1/10 on IMDb among his most recognized titles. Things are looking up for Sharps Films even now. “There’s a lot of shameless self-promotion.” Sharps says, leaning over as his eyes crinkle with laughter.

When anyone puts in as much effort as Jamie Sharps for his mov- ies I would call the self-promotion not only smart but needed. To be independent in making films means that Sharps is in charge of his cinematography, the editing or cutting, the makeup, the costumes, the lighting and sometimes the music and sound department. Include just about everything else that goes into making movies and Sharps has earned his right for self-promotion.

Major motion pictures do not just have a team of people working on a movie, they throw millions of dollars into set design and locations. All the money that goes into Sharps movies usually comes out of his own pocket, likewise being independent means that he can not afford to pay his actors for the work they do. “The hardest thing is getting them to show up.” Sharps says with a laugh.

However, Sharps claims he has a very good crew helping him and a few of them have been close friends for a long time. Matthew Cheney is one such friend. The award winning author, best known for Blood Stories is a local author who acts in a few of Sharps films. Cheney starred in Sharps’ 2015 movie Zombie Boy and even reminisces about some of the highlights for shooting that movie over on the website sharpsfilms.com.

Sharps had a bigger crew working for the Zombie Boy set, he even had his own makeup artist, Katherine Schoenweiss. Unfortunately his makeup artist moved down south before the filming of The Beaumonts. So Sharps was back to doing all the actors makeup by himself. Yet, Sharps is excited for the work he and his crew did filming The Beaumonts and wished to mention their names.

“Matt Fletcher was the protagonist-he played the vampire hunter. James Parry did the music, he’s a big synth guy. [James also played the lead villain] Al Gilman has been in almost every one of my movies [he plays Gabe], he has been a close friend to me for years. There was Sherri Lee, she was Camilla, and James Richardson who was Edward. And there was so many others. Filming that movie was great.”

Sharps has been trying to get his career to take off for a while but he says the moments that really drive him are small moments from his past. A few Halloweens ago, Sharps heard a local producer Rob Fitz promoting his own film at the Flying Monkey and in that moment Sharps thought, “If he can it, I can do it too.” Again in 2015, during the premiere of Zombie Boy Sharps remembers seeing his friends and family gathered around the Flying Monkey laughing and enjoying his movie. They conversed and made the theater a lively place. Sharps claims this was the moment that made it all worth it. “That was the moment I knew why I did what I do.”

Adding to his comments Sharps goes on to say, “I chose horror mostly for the shock value. It is easier to get noticed that way. But really I just want to entertain. Being independent means having fun and not taking it too seriously. And with filmmaking I really liked the freedom of expression it gave. That and entertaining the community.”

Sharps went on to mention his mentor and inspiration, Ernest Thompson. Years ago Ernest Thompson heard about Jamie Sharps after watching Sharps 2009 documentary satire film The Bigfoot Diaries. Ernest Thompson is an academy award winning author of On Golden Pond and runs Whitebridge Farm Productions Company with Morgan Murphy. Murphy also happens to be the Instructor for Film and Theater here at Plymouth State University. Murphy was the one who originally found Sharps movie, showed it to his business partner and the rest was history.

Thompson took a liking to him, Sharps claims, and became his mentor. Together they created two movies. Heavenly Angle and Time and Charges. Sharps spoke earnestly and fondly of Ernest Thompson, obviously still grateful for everything his mentor was to him.

Sometime in the future Sharps and his mother hope to produce a reality TV show featuring stories of paranormal hauntings around New England. “Because,” Sharps says, “there’s a lot. If you live up here than you know there’s a lot, especially in New Hampshire.” If this reality show is able to get off the ground Sharps hopes to call it Haunted in New England. Sharps said as a side note that he would get back to the idea once he finishes editing The Beaumonts and has more time.

In addition to being an independent filmmaker Sharps dedicates his time to his day job with the family lumber business in Sanbornton, New Hampshire. On the surface Sharps is a citizen just like any of us. But underneath is a man who works hard and patiently waits for his shot at becoming “the next Steven Spielberg” as he says.

To other artists and upcoming, aspiring film producers Sharps gives this advice; “Start writing. Get out there. Just start making your movies. It does not even matter what equipment or training you have. Just start.” Sharps ended his wise words with a hopeful smile and shining eyes. Truthfully, this may be all the advice any producer or artist may need. You never know how good you are until you start and no one can say you will never be the next big hit. Take it from Jamie Sharps, just start. 

 

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