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January 28, 2011

Interview: PJ Woodside

by James DePaolo

1.What kind of childhood does a PJ Woodside have?

I had asthma and got my ass kicked a lot. I spent a lot of time at the beach, too. There are lots of home movies of me in a bathing suit. Stop it. I was little.

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2.What is your first film memory, that made you a fan of movies?

Mary Poppins. My favorite scene is the one where they float to the ceiling from laughter. Though it’s not a movie, I am also a huge fan of Gumby and Pokey. It was freakish to watch the characters turn to clay balls and then get remade into something else. It was like being on acid to a four-year-old. I might be telling my age here. The first scary stuff I watched was Dark Shadows. I LOVED that show. No mirror reflection? How did they do their hair?

3.What was your first job?

I worked as a cashier at a drug store. Boring.

4.Have you ever been fired from a job? Looking back do you ever think ha ha what did McDonald's know I am a famous director? 

I never had plans to become a famous director. My goal was to be a famous writer. I’ve never been fired from a job, but I have gotten a LOT of rejections of my writing. And yes, I thought they were pretty stupid and wanted to kick their asses.

5.How did you get discovered by Big Biting Pig Productions?

I have been with the Pig since the beginning; in fact, the Biting part of the name is my contribution. Steve Hudgins and I have partnered on every BBBP film so far. He and I met doing theater in 2005, about a year before he made his first movie, The 3rd Floor, with a couple of friends of his in Paducah. I had a small role in that one. However, after he asked me to edit it and we worked together on it for billions of hours, we realized we made a pretty good team. He established Big Biting Pig Productions at that point. I maintain my own production company, PJ’s Productions, which develops local commercials and other video projects. Our companies are separate for business reasons, but we partner on almost everything.

6.What was more nerve wracking being in front of the camera for the first time, or behind it?

Behind it. I have acted for years so that part didn’t bother me. Being in charge, whether directing or holding the camera, always makes me nervous. I will say that as an actor I always feel more vulnerable. You count on the director to give you direction (duh) because you can’t judge your own performance from inside of it. When I’m directing, I am in charge and I can see the whole thing. However, the stakes are also higher.

7.If you could only do one which do you prefer? Acting, Directing or Scripting? ( which means writing a script and not trying to sound like a idiot, I have connections in the biz ya know)

You forgot editing. To me they are four different ways of telling a story that inform each other and make my work richer. I love doing all four, and I love that I get to rotate through them pretty regularly. Right now I’m sick of editing and itching to write my next script (already in development). I just spent a good chunk of time directing, so I’m okay with a break from that. What I really miss right now is acting. I think it’s best for me to do all four, so don’t make me choose or I’ll kick your ass

8.Personally, do you think nudity and sex sell a movie more to indie fans than talent?

If you just want nudity and sex, get a porno. I personally hate horror films made just for the slash and porn thrills. Some indie fans will only be looking for more and greater cheap thrills. That’s not what I do and not who I make movies for. If nudity or sex are called for in the story, then I have no problem writing it in. But the story always comes first.

9.What is more exhausting to deal with, budget restrictions, knowing you don't have the money for this or that, or having to start from scratch and write a script?

I love writing scripts, so that is not exhausting at all. Budget restrictions can be exhausting, I guess. We just look at what our resources are and make the most of them, being creative in whatever ways we need to. I would love to have a $30,000 camera, but other than that we like the freedom and flexibility that comes from being a micro-budget company.

10.What would you do if a talent did not agree with your script or direction, do you fire them on spot or do you take them in back and smack them around till they see your vision?

First of all I try very hard not to cast someone who will not take direction. It’s a pretty big rule of thumb with us. Second, I would do neither of those. Making movies is a collaboration, and sometimes a third solution is best. Third, when I get really stressed I kick somebody’s ass

11.Hell is Full, are you shocked at all the press this film is getting, what was the experience like working on this film, that seems to be redefining the zombie genre?

It’s a delightful response – the Fangoria review in particular – but I’m not shocked. It is my favorite movie so far, and I am very proud of it, from the script development all the way through the final edit. The shooting was great, excellent cast, dedicated crew, plus I had a really fun role in it. All of our movies have gotten good reviews, and our production values have only gotten better. It stands to reason that we would get noticed eventually.

12.When you are in normal everyday life do you get recognized, and if so do you get nervous? Or do you tell them you have no money and run off to the BMW and flip them off?

This is funny. Sometimes I don’t get recognized even at a premiere or festival where I obviously should. It happens all the time that someone will recognize Steve and introduce themselves and fall all over him, and just look at me like I’m a passerby. Locally I do sometimes get recognized, but usually it’s for my stage performances. And no, it doesn’t make me nervous, although it is a little weird for people to know who I am when I have no idea who they are. Plus, gah, why would I drive a BMW?

13.All these things you do, can you honestly sit in a movie say like for example Inception and not dissect it, and be entertained? See, I did college radio and I cannot listen to a podcast and not dissect it.

It is one of the downsides. I loved Inception, though, and enjoyed the ride all the way through. I didn’t pick it apart until I watched it at home on DVD. Often, even in a movie I’m enjoying, I will notice the shots, how they are set up, unusual angles. I consider this educating myself, but it does take some of the raw “first view” entertainment value out of it.

14.What is the most embarrassing cd in your collection? Or song on the ipod?

This is probably the hardest question on the list. I guess I don’t think of any music as embarrassing. Okay, wait, I’ll go look. Uh-oh – you got me. I forgot about the CD I made years ago featuring me singing 60s songs. It’s . . . pretty darn embarrassing. We called the band Grendel’s Feast. Do you know what Grendel ate? Look it up.

15.What does the PJ stand for? (extra plugs if you say Perfect James)

My brother’s name is James. Does that count? Funny story: when I get tired of telling people what PJ stands for, I give the answer “Pickle Juice.” So now I’m called Pickle in some circles, and I have a cousin who calls me Juice. But, oh hey -- you wanted to know what it really stands for? Kiss my ass. Or look it up. ;)

16.How was the set of Widow, you know Cindy Maples ( the star) and Steve are on my facebook. Anything negative you want to say? And why does Steve in every film have to make out with the lead, is it a written clause that if you star in his films, this is what goes down?

Wow. How did you guess? I don’t think he kissed anyone in The 3rd Floor, and technically he didn’t make out with the lead in Maniac on the Loose. Seriously, I loved working with Cindy and Steve – they are both always prepared and take direction very well. Very few bad takes with those two on camera. All I can think about right now is the fact that I don’t have that clause in MY contracts. Hmmmm. I might have to kiss someone in my next role

17. If right now you can tell someone who is downloading a copy of Widow or any film you are involved with anything, what would you say?

Don’t steal too much and if you like it spread the word.

18.Is there a set in stone release date yet for The Creepy Doll? Will it hit theaters, or direct to dvd?

The premiere right now is set for June 25th, here in Madisonville, KY. else is too soon to tell.

19.What can we expect from The Creepy Doll, anything like a plot you can tell us right now? And will Steve be kissing or making out with this female lead as well?

Gosh, I hate to give away anything, but yes, Steve might have a romantic interest (darn! I can’t believe it happened again!), though he is not the main male character. There are a lot of dolls in this movie, and at least one of them is creepy. In general I tend more toward psychological horror than slasher. I also like to explore women characters, push the boundaries on what people expect. It bothers me in any movie when people act like idiots just to advance the plot, and especially when women are just there for T & A. My characters are real, rounded, possible, and sometimes unhinged.

20.With Creepy Doll, what kind of budget and time line did you have?

Um, budget was under $10,000. (You don’t really want to know how much under. It’s kind of ridiculous). I began writing the script during the shooting of Hell is Full. The idea was spawned at a Fright Night Festival where we had a booth next to Susan Andrews of Paranormal Babies. I finished up the script in the spring of 2010, held auditions in May, began shooting in August, wrapped in late October, and have been editing ever since. That’s our usual routine.

21.When Creepy Doll is all done, what is next? Will we be expecting a sequel to Hell is Full? Is this even being discussed or do I look like a ass right now...

No sequels planned, not at this stage of the game. Steve and I plan to alter movie years, so he is already working on the script that will be shot in the second half of 2011, and I have a script in development for 2012. In your pictures you don’t look like an ass, but one never knows.

22.Here is a fun question...does bad press upset you? Like if you went on a site and they said they hated your film, or acting?

Yes, it upsets me but I try to look at the big picture. So far all reviews have been more on the positive, especially concerning the writing and directing. Those are what matter to me the most, and also what will keep us in work for the long haul.

23.As a indie film maker, that is a safe term indie filmmaker. Do you ever think if you spent more ( or Steve) on 3D technology it would sell a picture more than just standard film? Like if Hell is full was 3D do you think it would sell more tickets?

That’s a whole different ball game. I think big studios are desperate to get butts in seats, and that’s what 3D comes out of. I have my doubts about whether it can improve storytelling, but who knows? The same has been said of other film-making innovations that eventually became standard. Hell is Full in 3D could be pretty awesome.

24.Alot of people know I am all about causes, and always speaking freely about human rights. Do you think if we gave less press to people who commit cruel crimes it would help solve the problem, we just punish them and not give them one ounce of press?

I think atrocities need to be publicized so that people will know how to look out for such behavior. However, I think we also should keep crime in perspective. I use an example from my childhood to talk about how the news makes us more aware of heinous crimes but also makes the world seem like that’s all that goes on. When I was a young girl growing up in Charleston, several teenage girls disappeared over a matter of months. No one went looking for them. It was said they were probably runaways. Turns out they had been tortured and murdered and buried on the beach. Some captured girls got away and that’s what led to the killer’s arrest. If that happened now, the killer would have some fancy name and it would be in the news for weeks. Yet it did happen. The world wasn’t safer without 24 hour news. It just felt that way. The world today is safer, and sometimes we just need to turn the news off and recognize that the majority of us are genuinely okay.

25. This is your chance to just plug away, hope you had fun..thanks 

Check out Big Biting Pig Productions so you will know all about The Creepy Doll premiere and our other upcoming projects. Go to, like our Facebook page, and buy all our movies! If you don’t I’ll kick your ass!


  1. That was so much fun. Thanks, James!

  2. A lot of ass-kicking going on. Looking forward to watching Creepy Doll.