Book publisher. Author. Hotel manager. Feature screenplay writer. Max Booth III is doing it all these days.
Actually, he quit his job as a hotel manager last year, so scratch that one off the list.
“I worked at that hotel for eight years and despised every second of it,” said Booth, who co-owns Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, an independent horror fiction press based in Schertz. “I wrote a book about my hotel experience called The Nightly Disease. If anyone reads that, they will know what my job was like.”
Luckily, a week after Booth quit, he got word that one of his novellas, We Need to Do Something, was going to be made into a feature film … in Detroit … during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the sake of full disclosure, we’ll also mention here that Booth is an occasional Current contributor.
The novella tells the story of a family who seeks shelter in a bathroom from an incoming tornado. When the twister hits, a tree crashes through the house and traps them inside the windowless lavatory.
“The family already hates each other, so it’s interesting to see how they deal with being trapped in one small room together,” said Booth, who also wrote the screenplay and got to be on the set for the 18-day shoot two months ago.
During our interview, Booth talked about the kinds of horror movies he enjoys watching and what he was thinking when the film landed actors Pat Healy (Cheap Thrills) and Vinessa Shaw (Hocus Pocus) to play the parents trapped in a bathroom with their 9-year-old son (John James Cronin) and 16-year-old daughter (Sierra McCormick).
We Need to Do Something is currently seeking a distribution deal.
What are your overall thoughts about movies that are set in one location?
I’m a big fan. I really enjoy the claustrophobic element that comes with being in one setting. I like the challenge of making a character stay in one room and not leave. If someone is stuck in one room, it gives you the opportunity to kind of go crazy with dialogue.
Had you tried to get any of your books made into movies before?
I had gotten some TV and movie interest for another book of mine called Touch the Night. I reached out to a friend who has experience in TV and film, and he put me in contact with his manager, who then became my manager. We started looking at some of my other books that could potentially get some interest from other companies. He loved We Need to Do Something because the setting was just one location, so it would be easier to film during COVID.
Did you get to participate in any of the casting or pre-production?
Yeah, I’m also an executive producer on the movie, so I was involved with all the casting decisions and other decisions like how the bathroom in the movie was going to look. I got to watch a lot of audition tapes. The cast came together once the movie was funded.
What were you anticipating when it came to casting?
I didn’t know what to expect. When they told me that Vinessa Shaw was interested, I was like, “The lady from Eyes Wide Shut? Are you serious?”
I really like actor Pat Healy. He had a very small role in my favorite film of all time, Magnolia.
Yeah, every time I bumped into Pat, I was so tempted to tell him to suck my dick. (Something actress Julianne Moore’s character tells him to do in Magnolia.)
Are the kinds of horror movies you like the same as the kinds of horror books you like?
I love anything that is vague. I don’t love it when things are spelled out for you in case you weren’t paying attention. I’m a big fan of The Lighthouse that came out recently. That movie was an inspiration when I was writing the novella. The kind of madness they experienced was what I was trying to achieve.
So, if you were put in this position that the family finds themselves in, trapped in a bathroom, how do you think you’d fare? Would you survive at least a couple of days?
I would die immediately. I would eat my family.
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