I was fortunate enough to be able to catch up with writer and director Jack Thomas Smith for a short interview about his life, both personal and professional, his films and his future endeavors in the #Film industry.

Jack Thomas Smith debuted as a film director with the psychological thriller "Disorder" in 2006. This year, his film "Infliction" made its debut at select theaters throughout the country. "Infliction" is a dark, psychological drama starring Jason Mac, Elliott Armstrong and Ana Shaw. The film takes a dark look at two brothers in North Carolina that filmed their murder spree in 2011. "Infliction" is very intense and will make you stop and think about how society truly is as a whole and how a person's past life can affect them as they grow in the world. After viewing the film I can honestly say this is the best "found footage" film that I have personally ever seen. After watching, be prepared to lose sleep for days, or even weeks as you ponder the darkness of the world around you.

Angela: What was your childhood like?

Jack Thomas Smith: It was definitely interesting. I was born in Philadelphia and my father had a job transfer to the Detroit area, where we lived for a few years on a small island community called Grosse Ile. This island served as the inspiration for my next film "In The Dark." From there, my father's job took us to Sparta, New Jersey, where I lived until I was eighteen. I loved movies at an early age, especially horror movies. I was really into sports as well and played football and baseball in organized leagues.

Angela: What do your parents do and have they always supported you in your decision to be a film-maker?

Jack Thomas Smith: My father has always been a businessman. He worked his way up at a couple different corporations before starting two chemical companies of his own. He's done amazing for himself. My mom has also worked in the corporate field primarily in accounts receivable. My parents divorced when I was twelve but my relationship has always been strong with both of them and continues to be so to this day. They were very supportive of my decision to be a filmmaker. My father bought me a Super 8mm camera when I was thirteen and I made horror and comedy shorts with my brother and friends in the neighborhood. My dad and I watched films together and we'd discuss the themes, storylines, camera angles, and acting. It definitely helped my growth to understand that there is more going on with a film than what you're seeing on the surface.

Angela: You're in a relationship with actress Mandy Del Rio who worked in the film "Angels in the Outfield" as well as your latest film, Infliction. Was it a challenge to direct your partner in your film and do the two of you have a close working relationship?

Jack Thomas Smith: I met Mandy on the set of "Infliction." We shot "Infliction" in North Carolina and had an open casting call for extras. Mandy and her daughter, Luna, had just moved there from California. Mandy auditioned as an extra and, honestly, it was love at first sight. I cast her to play one of the judge's daughters in photos you see around his house in the film. During the photo shoot that day, we absolutely hit it off and we've been inseparable since. Mandy worked as my assistant on the film and she also did the voice-over of the first 911 caller at the beginning of the film. We've since worked together on a number of music videos and Mandy now has a local TV show in NJ, where we live, called "The Indie Lounge." Mandy interviews indie artists, who are in film, music, and TV, giving them a platform to promote their latest work. "The Indie Lounge" can be seen on channel 21 on Cablevision in Northwest New Jersey. I produce her show and help secure guests. We have a very close working relationship.

Angela: What film or films most impacted you as you were growing up?

Jack Thomas Smith: The movie "Star Wars" changed my life. I was eight-years-old and I saw it opening day. When the two ships flew overhead in the opening scene, I knew from that moment on I wanted to make films. And then a year later I saw the original "Dawn of the Dead" and it's my favorite horror film to this day. After seeing that, I knew I wanted to make horror films. Other films that impacted me growing up were "The Shining", "The Thing", "Halloween", "Escape From New York", "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "Friday the 13th", "Creepshow", and numerous others.

Angela: How long have you been writing and have you written any books?

Jack Thomas Smith: When I was nine-years-old, I read "The Shining" by Stephen King. From that moment on I knew I wanted to write. I began writing a horror novel at age nine and completed it when I was twelve. The novel was never published, but it was a great experience. After that, I wrote a number of short stories and then I made the leap to writing screenplays when I was a teenager.

Angela: How did you go from writing stories to writing films?

Jack Thomas Smith: It was a natural progression for me to write films. As I mentioned earlier, I knew when I was eight-years-old that I wanted to make films after seeing "Star Wars" and after reading "The Shining" by Stephen King, I knew I wanted to write. So I combined my passion for films with my passion for writing, and I began writing screenplays when I was a teenager. I went to the library and took out a book that explained how to write screenplays and I figured out how to format and structure scripts. I've been writing screenplays ever since.

Angela: When did you make your first film and what was it about?

Jack Thomas Smith: The first feature film that I directed, wrote, and produced was the psychological thriller "Disorder." The film is told from the perspective of David Randall, Darren Kendrick, who is a paranoid schizophrenic. He witnesses a number of murders, but you're not sure. Is someone setting him up? Did he do it? Or did he hallucinate everything? So you're not sure what's real and what isn't. And right when you think you have it all figured out, there's a twist ending.

"Disorder" was an indie that we shot in the Poconos in Northeast Pennsylvania. The film opened in select theaters, then was released nationwide on DVD by Universal/Vivendi and on PPV and VOD by Warner Brothers. It screened at the Cannes Film Festival and has been sold worldwide. It was in every Walmart, Hollywood Video, Movie Gallery, and select Blockbuster locations. It was really cool to walk into a Walmart and see it on the new release shelf between major Hollywood films.

If you could work with any actor, who would it be and why? - Daniel Day Lewis. He's an amazing actor. He's won three Academy Awards and when he plays a role I never see Daniel Day Lewis. I see the character he's bringing to life. Think about some of his films; "My Left Foot", "Gangs of New York", "Lincoln", and "In The Name Of The Father." He's the best of our generation.

Angela: What are your all-time favorite horror films and why are they favorites?

Jack Thomas Smith: As I mentioned earlier, my all-time favorite horror film is the original "Dawn of the Dead." I love the feel of the film and the underlying theme - the play on consumerism - we're all mindless zombies going to the mall. After that, I would say "Halloween" and "The Shining." John Carpenter's "Halloween" was all about suspense. If you watch the film again, you'll see that there's barely any blood or effects. It was all about the feel of the film, building the tension and the music. Where's Michael Myers at now? Is he around the corner? The film was scary because it kept you on the edge of your seat and didn't need effects or gore to keep you engaged.

Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" is a masterpiece. The imagery is amazing. The mood and feel of the film is creepy and unnerving. In my opinion, it's Jack Nicholson's greatest performance. Again, just like "Halloween", it was all about building the tension, keeping you off balance, the music and then the gore was the icing on the cake as everything came to a head. When I first saw "The Shining" I hated it because it was so different from Stephen King's book. But then when I saw it a second time, I loved it as a film separate from the book. In other words, I love the book AND the movie, understanding that they are different but both brilliant.

Angela: Your latest film Infliction was released in July of this year and has rave reviews so far. Can you tell us how you came up with the idea for this film?

Jack Thomas Smith: I once knew a person, who came from an abusive family. I saw the cycle of abuse. Her parents were abused by their parents and their parents were abused by their parents and so on. This person I knew and her siblings had been abused by their parents. When her siblings had children, they weren't the best with their kids either. I don't want to say "Infliction" is based on a true story, but honestly, if I said it was based on a true story I wouldn't be lying. All you have to do is turn on the evening news everyday and you'll see parts of "Infliction" happening somewhere in the world.

Angela: What was the most difficult situation for you when making Infliction?

Jack Thomas Smith: The actual filming of "Infliction" was very difficult. In the movie, the brothers shoot their actions with basic home video cameras. But we really shot the movie on a Sony F3, which is a very high end camera. This required the actors and the Director of Photography, Joseph Craig White, to be in sync with the camera movements. This was challenging for the actors, who not only had to focus on performances, but they also had to remember the exact camera movements. And this was challenging for the DP, who had to be in sync with the actors and their movements and also had to keep the shots in focus and framed properly. We had to choreograph a number of shots and it required a lot of rehearsal. Joe and the actors did an amazing job. There's not a single shot in the film that doesn't match with the actors' camera movements.

Angela: Were there any interesting moments while making Infliction that stood out for you?

Jack Thomas Smith: The secret room scene definitely stands out. We shot that scene in one night and we were firing on all cylinders. Jason Mac (John Stiles), Elliott Armstrong (Kenny Stiles), Catherine Trail (Patti Stiles), and Don Henderson Baker (Joe Stiles) all gave amazing performances. We could feel the true pain of the brothers. The DP, Joseph Craig White, was spot on with the cinematography. And our SPFX artist, Vincent Guastini, put the final touches with gruesome effects that made this the most brutal scene in the film. Everyone brought their A-game that night.

Angela: I watched Infliction myself and it is an outstanding film. Can you tell us a bit about the film in your own words?

Jack Thomas Smith: "Infliction" is a disturbing assembled footage film that documents a murder spree committed by two brothers in North Carolina in 2011 and the horrific truth behind their actions. It's a brutal film, more of a psychodrama than a horror. "Infliction" deals with a subject matter that unfortunately affects way too many people.

Angela: Where can people find Infliction now that it has been released?

Jack Thomas Smith: "Infliction" opened in select theaters last spring. We've had screenings all over the country and are continuing to screen at horror conventions to keep the momentum going. "Infliction" recently screened at the Horror Realm Convention in Pittsburgh, PA; the Chiller Theatre Expo in Parsipanny, NJ; and the Days of the Dead horror convention in Chicago, Il. We have a screening lined up in 2015 at the Macabre Faire Film Festival in Long Island, NY in January and a screening set in Flemington, NJ in February. "Infliction" was released in the U.S. and Canada on July 1st, 2014 on DVD, VOD, and Digital HD and is available at most major online retailers. You can find "Infliction" for purchase at FYE stores, Saturday Matinee stores, iTunes, Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Bestbuy.com, Barnes and Noble, foxtrailproductions.com, Columbia House, and many others. For rental, you can find "Infliction" at google play, cinema now, vudu, vimeo on demand, and many others as well.

Angela: What does the future hold for you now? I'm excited to say that I have heard you were working on a new film now. Can you tell us about the next one?

Jack Thomas Smith: I'm hoping to shoot my next feature in 2015. It's an action horror film called "In The Dark." I've already written the screenplay and I'll be directing it as well. It takes place on a small island in Michigan that gets overrun by zombie vampire creatures. There's a handful of people left alive armed with guns and they have to fight hundreds of these things as they try to escape the island.

The creatures need blood to survive and their need to feed is maddening. They're rotting and crazed. This isn't "Twilight." Lol. When they attack, they tear their victims apart to feed on their blood. And "In The Dark" is more than that, the characters are strong and there's an underlying theme to the story that is consistent throughout with the protagonists and antagonists. There will be imagery in certain places in relation to the characters' specific flaws. I love blurring the lines between villains and heroes.

I want to take a moment to thank Jack Thomas Smith for this interview. I know he is a very busy man and his time is very valuable. If you haven't had a chance to see "Infliction" yet, I am personally recommending this film as one you need to add to your "must watch" list. Intensely dark, this film will stop you dead in your tracks and will awaken you to the horrifically dark ways that the world, and those living in it, truly work. #Celebrities