Steve Hudgins is the founder of Big Biting Pig Productions. As the co-creator of ten horror films, Hudgins and his partner-in-crime PJ Woodside have created an impressive portfolio of indie films. Though he is still incredibly busy, he allowed me to interview him about his latest project, a novel called Hell is Full.
Nicholas Yanes: I last talked to you in 2017 to discuss It Lives in the Attic. How has life been for you since then?
Steve Hudgins: The main difference is that we’ve taken a hiatus from film making and I’ve transitioned to writing books. I’ve been pretty busy. Anyone who is interested in checking out my Amazon Author Page can do so at the following link: https://www.amazon.com/Steve-Hudgins/e/B07KH2GMBF
Oh yeah, and I got married too.
Yanes: Covid-19 is something no one predicted. How as this pandemic impacted your approach to telling and developing stories?
Hudgins: Authors tend to fall into the recluse category while they’re writing anyhow, so honestly, not much at all.
Yanes: You and PJ Woodside recently published Cheapskate Movie Makers: How We Made 10 Horror Movies in 9 Years with Nearly Zero Budget. With filmmakers wanting to get back to work while dealing with Covid, what are some tips you could offer?
Hudgins: We’ve been working on that book for a while and are happy to finally have it released. It’s been quite well received thus far!
One tip I can give to filmmakers who have a movie on hold is to use this time to polish up the script. Or start working on your next script. It’s also a good time to do some in-depth story boarding and making shot lists so once you’re able to start filming again, you can hit the ground running.
Yanes: I see 1968’s Night of the Living Dead as the start of the modern zombie genre. And half-a-century later the zombie genre is stronger than ever. Why do you think zombie stories are still so popular?
Hudgins: I think there’s just something about the apocalyptic aspect of it that resonates with people. And if you look at how easy viruses spread such as covid, the flu and even the common cold, I don’t think the infectious concept behind the zombie genre is difficult to comprehend.
Yanes: Your latest project is the novel Hell is Full. What was the inspiration for this story?
Hudgins: When watching other zombie movies like Dawn of the Dead where we see a zombie nurse and zombie hare krishna, I thought it would be interesting if we saw their back story. Who were these people and how did they become zombies? And that’s what Hell is Full is really about. Focusing on how each zombie became what they are.
Yanes: In 2010 you wrote and directed a movie also titled Hell is Full. What is the connection between the movie and the novel?
Hudgins: It’s the book version of the movie. But when I write a book, the restraints are off! I’m not limited to keeping it a certain length so that it fits an approximate 90 minute movie. Nor am I limited by what we can realistically shoot. For example when I’m writing a script for a movie, I couldn’t write a car crash. We operate with no-budget, so such stunts aren’t possible for us to do, thus the script needs to be conformed in that manner. With a book, anything goes. It’s neat to write these stories without having boundaries.
Yanes: You used a screenplay/novel hybrid writing style for Hell is Full. What was the motivation behind this style choice?
Hudgins: When I was young, I wrote traditional novels and they took a long time to write. And I’m the kind of guy who has a hundred ideas floating around in my head all the time, so after a while I’m champing at the bit to get to the next one. When I discovered screenwriting, I realized that was more up my alley.
I also enjoy reading screenplays and stage plays. They read at a lightning pace compared to a novel and I like that!
When we took our film making hiatus and I transitioned to books, I thought I’d combine the screenplay and novel methods and come up with my own style. In my style of writing, the descriptive portions aren’t as bare bones as a screenplay but not as extensive as a novel. It makes for a quick read. And in this day and age, with over 7 billion people in the world, I figure there’s got to be a fair amount of people who like shorter, faster paced books. And that’s where I come in!
Yanes: How do you think the zombies in Hell is Full differ from other stories?
Hudgins: Do you remember the very first zombie we experience in Night of the Living dead? He walked around sluggishly, but he chases a car and he smashes the window in with a brick. Yeah, they’re kind of true to that sort of zombie.
Yanes: When people finish reading Hell is Full, what do you hope they take away from it?
Hudgins: I hope they’ll enjoy a fresh take on the general concept. One that focuses on the first 4 hours of a zombie epidemic and spotlights how each zombie came to be. It’s different. I hope they enjoy the change of pace.
Yanes: Finally, what else are you working on that people can look forward to?
Hudgins: I’m taking a breather for a week or two before I start work on my next book. I can’t announce what that is going to be yet…although I know! But if anyone wants to be the first to find out, they should join my newsletter. Everyone who joins gets instant access to a free book and movie.
To sign up, just go to our website and click the Newsletter link at the top of the page. People who join the newsletter are affectionately referred to as Piglets!