Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry & hopes his writings will help launch his careers.
Shreco Bakari has been astounding audiences and critics alike since 2018 with the debut of his film The Ominous Project. The film won awards at festivals and spawned a sequel, The Macabre File. Now, Shreco manages The Ominous Universe, an anthology series of intelligent and terrifying horror episodes that are now being praised worldwide.
Now, the man himself is back with an all-new entry titled Carnage, a follow-up to the pilot episode Isolation. Set one year after the events of Isolation, Carnage will follow 3 young adults who have decided to vacation to Florida now that the CDC's precautions have been lifted. But things don't go according to plan, and what they encounter is of nightmarish proportions.
Well, color me excited. I mean, just look at the poster.
"We should have stayed in quarantine."
If the tag line doesn't send shivers down your spine, nothing will. The special effects already look promising and, frankly, quite creepy.
And this time around, Shreco co-directs with Eryn Murphy, a fellow zombie enthusiast and friend. They've been acting together since high school in Columbus, GA. Shreco approached Eryn about the project, offering her the chance to direct, to which she immediately accepted. This will be her directorial debut, but Mr. Bakari is more than certain that Eryn is the perfect choice for this episode. I for one, can't wait to see what she brings to the table.
Production is under way on Carnage and will conclude in late July. A release date is yet to be announced.
But who is Shreco Bakari, the brilliant mind behind The Ominous Universe? Shreco started out auditioning for horror film roles but was turned down time and time again. So, after much thought and prayer, God laid it on his heart to go a different route. Shreco founded Foreman Empire Productions on January 20th, 2015 in Columbus, GA and hasn't looked back since. God knew what he was capable of and showed him a better way, one in which Shreco could utilize his talents the way he wanted rather than how a studio wanted.
I recently had the privilege to talk with Mr. Bakari about both Carnage and his past work. I thank him for his time and his candor. He's an absolute pleasure to speak with and it's obvious his words express just how in love with his work he is and how grateful he is to God for bringing him this far.
Q: Isolation released at the height of the pandemic. Was that planned or was that completely coincidence? Were there any internal discussions on whether or not to postpone the release?
A. Isolation was definitely not planned for the pandemic. However, once things started to get pretty real, I did some thinking and definitely did some rewrites to fit the world’s current situation. I definitely was not going to postpone the release simply because, it’s entertaining and everyone loves a good scare on what either has happened or currently happening in an entertainment form.
Q: Since Carnage is a follow-up to Isolation, can we expect future entries to reference the other episodes? For instance, a return of the monster or more Bloody Mary?
A: Yes, this Carnage episode does not only serve as a follow up to Isolation; but also includes many references and more to a specific episode, which you’ll have to watch to find out. It definitely will make the Ominous Universe seem all too real in a sense. As for having other episodes being a reference or bringing characters back; I’m not too sure. It’s interesting but we’ll see what the future brings for the previous villains.
Q: When you're writing the script, do you already have in mind who you want to play each part or do you decide later once the script is finished?
A: Yes and no. There are times when I’m writing and I’m like “HELL YEAH THIS ROLE IS DEFINITELY TONYA COLE!” and other instances where I’m like “This character is really complex. I wonder who’d be the right person to take this on.”. So in essence, I do and then I don’t. It’s weird. I’m a strange writer.
Q: You have an amazing team of artists. How did you all end up working together?
A: It’s really simple actually. I prayed and prayed for years for God to send me an amazing team of people who are passionate, driven, who believe in myself, my vision and my work. Eventually he sent me everyone I needed since 2017. Unfortunately, now in 2021, those same people I started with are no longer here with the company, however I appreciated their time, dedication and hard work that they’ve given myself and Foreman Empire Productions as a whole. Now in 2021, God has elevated my company and films even higher. Firstly with rebranding the entire company and my entire team (board members). I am so blessed and thrilled to have the NEW Foreman Empire Productions break ground in May of 2021 with Bloody Mary. Our brand new official special fx artist Emily Temeyer, our New Head Producer Ashley Williams and our 2 loyal members who’ve been with me through it all and still remain, Tonya Cole (Financial Manager/Executive Producer) & Itoro Ekwere (Secretary of Communications & Personal Assistant to Shreco Bakari). I couldn’t be more blessed and truly proud of my team. This is just beyond what I could have ever imagined with the rebranding and my new members and more.
Q: Do you plan to return to the serial killer story that started the whole Ominous Universe?
A: The whole serial killer ordeal was a test to see how well this new found footage take would be perceived by audiences and festivals around the world and it worked. I don’t think I’ll be returning to the serial killer at this moment in time, however there have been a few ideas I’ve had on a new killer for the future if it’s possible to do.
Q: Do you want to make your universe as big as Marvel or DC with spin-offs and tie-ins? I think an Ominous comic or book series could prove to be quite fruitful.
A: Yes, I am working on that in a SLOW process. I’m not trying to be the Marvel Cinematic Universe of horror but to take the essence of what Marvel does and make it my own within my own horror cinematic universe. Yes I’ve had ideas of collaborating with many authors and comic book creators to create and tell many different stories from many different points of views within The Ominous Universe. However, I take my time and focus on the tasks that are obtainable and aim for the more extravagant and complex projects as time progresses. I want to crawl before I walk and walk before I run. I learn the more steady you are, the more you’ll learn and have the chance to run into people and gain opportunities you wouldn’t have trying to run. So for now, the tie-ins and more will all be within the series with the episodes created. To understand this universe, you do have to watch every episode to understand many things with each episode in a sense. I think that’s the fun part about it all.
Q: Is this your first time co-directing a film? Did you find it to be easier or harder compared to directing alone?
A: This would actually be my second time co-directing. I’ve actually co-directed episode 103 Monsters Are Real with Jacob McCawley and Ty June; and I tell you this, it was amazing, fun and a lot easier to do with a project of that magnitude. I only see my self co-directing a project if it’s extremely complex and very very detailed to where I know I’d need one or two creative directors to make this work. I do find it very interesting and truly a remarkable experience to co-direct, WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE.
Q: You've mentioned before that Zack Snyder is your inspiration and your favorite director. What film in particular of his turned on the lightbulb, so to speak?
A: Hell yeah! Zack Snyder is my biggest inspiration, motivation and beyond. I remember watching his 2004 reimagining of Dawn of the Dead, when it first came out that year. I was already a huge zombie fanatic and seeing how he did that entire movie was BEYOND ME in so many ways. I mean the story, the directing, the zombies. It was like I fell in love with horror all over again. Zack is one of the best directors out there. I don't give a damn what WB says or the hating ass toxic people who bash him. He’s literally a genius and I hope and pray to God, that I can work closely with him one day as an actor in a superhero or zombie horror film. Hell at this point anything directed by Zack, I’d be down for. This episode, Carnage, is heavily inspired by Zack Snyder and pays homage to his filmmaking in the zombie genre and more through my eyes and through the found footage sub genre. It would be really cool if Zack got word of my new project and would watch or even speak to me about my work. I think he’d love it and to be honest with you, it’ll be one of the greatest moments in my film career and I’d probably cry like a baby. He’s such an inspiration in so many ways from the way he handles adversity to how he bounces back from major trauma. I just love the guy as a creator and as a human being. He’d be the greatest mentor ever.
Q: Some people tend to think horror writers use the genre to work through past traumas. Is that the case for you?
A: No, not really. Horror is horror. It’s meant to scare people and that’s what I want to do. I want to touch your mental and emotional state at the same time and then scare the hell out out you whether it be through jump scares or just the overall feel of the world I transport you into.
Q: Out of all the entries in the Ominous Universe, which one was your favorite to make?
A: To be honest with you, it would be this episode. Carnage is something unique and something so different. It’s very experimental and also very much a first in many ways with certain things and ideas myself and my co-Director, Eryn Murphy, have come up with. This is going to be one of the most Disturbing, Entertaining and truly one of the most memorable cinema experiences in the series.
Q: You've received so much praise from literally all over the world. Does it ever stop feeling surreal or does it feel like a dream sometimes?
A: To be honest with you, it never stops feeling surreal at all. It feels like a dream every single time. I scream and cry and I’m in so much awe every single time. Thanking God for allowing me, my team and my work to be recognized and receive high honor and praise worldwide is just one of those things you are always in awe about. Many say “I’m not surprised, neither should you because you work for this. You truly work for everything you have.” But honestly, I’m always surprised. I’m always surprised because of how different my content is and how my technique of filmmaking is not the same. Many don’t understand or want to understand the style and the way my films are made, but who says cinema has to be a specific way with the “Hollywood Style” glow. They can kiss my ass honestly. I’m so sick of festivals and major competitions saying that people who make different styles of cinema is not cinema. Who are you to decide that? I keep going and keep aiming higher because eventually, I’ll be passing those type of people, studios and more.
Q: What's your ultimate goal that you're working towards?
A: My ultimate career goal is to have Foreman Empire Productions eventually turned into Foreman Empire Studios. Making major multi billion dollar blockbuster horror films and television. I’m going to leave it right there and let’s move to the next question.
Q: Do you have a long-term plan for the Ominous series or are you taking things one step at a time?
A: I’m taking things one step at a time and moving slow and steady with the series. I don’t like to have a set plan because plans can change. I like to have ideas come to me from movies, conversations or random things. That’s what truly gets me going if it comes naturally and not forcing it, trying to figure out what to do or what to write next. My only thing for myself is, I want every single episode to be unique, different and scarier and more entertaining than the last.
Q: Do you have any crossover entries planned?
A: That’s interesting. I mean I’ve thought about it and conjured some ideas together in my writers room but nothing concrete or official. It’s definitely a concept that has been thought about on numerous of occasions with tons of notes saved. I guess we’ll have to see.
Q: Being a man of God, was the demon possession scene in Devils Within difficult to accomplish?
A: Yes, the demon character I played in episode 102 The Devils Within was the most challenging character I’ve played to date. For one, it was already one of the most terrifying topics I’ve written about and two, I freaked out playing the role. I made sure I prayed so many times before even thinking about writing and giving that episode a green light. I waited for God to give me the okay to bring this to life because I knew what it entitled and the major spiritual risks that can come with doing something that powerful. After seeing the ending product, I still can say that I can’t really sit through the entire episode. It truly scares the hell out of me in many ways I cannot even begin to explain.
Q: Has anything strange or eerie ever happened on set that freaked someone out?
A: Yes. Episode 102 The Devils Within. I fell very very deep within the demon character and when my producer yelled “Cut” I couldn’t hear anything and I was literally still in character. They had to literally snap me out of the role for me to come back. This is everything they’ve told me. I don’t remember anything. I only remember crying a lot after I realized where I was. It was like something took over me and almost didn’t let me go. I ran to the mirror and saw my character staring back at me and literally screamed and cried wanting it to go away. My special fx artist at the time along with a co star, had to literally help me take everything off. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life in film. There were also times within the scene where I speak Latin and was completely off script and had no idea what the hell I was saying. It flowed out so naturally as if it wasn’t me and like I’ve known Latin all my life. After reviewing the footage I freaked out, bad. How did I know to say those words? How did I know to use them in that correct manner? I tell you, it was not a game. I was traumatized for literally two weeks after everything concluded. It took me a while to edit because I knew looking at my character, it wasn’t me. That was something else.
Q: What's your favorite part of the filmmaking process?
A: I’d have to say it would be two things: The table reads/rehearsals and the editing process. Those are just so awesome and enjoyable to do.
Q: Do you think you'll ever make an alien story in the future or have aliens become too cliché in the film world?
A: That’s another thing that has been on the table and that’s all I’m going to say. (laughs) next question please.
Q: Are there any other urban legends or myths that you'd love to put your own spin on or do you have a particular fondness for Bloody Mary?
A: Lord! Y’all want all my secrets! (Laughs) we’ll see what the future holds.
Q: Did Amanda Shanely return to work on the special effects for Carnage? She did outstanding work in Isolation.
A: No, unfortunately Miss Shanely is on different journey within life and we are no longer working together. However she did an amazing job in Isolation and we will always be grateful for her work as a fresh new artist. However, Emily Temeyer is Foreman Empire Productions’ official special fx artist and she is going to do some crazy work with Carnage! I’m so thrilled to see her work come to life! As you saw with episode 104 Bloody Mary, Emily Temeyer is amazing in all ways! She’s already won Best Special FX in France at the RED Movie Awards and in Hollywood at the Hollywood Blood Horror Festival. Emily is just getting started with the “wow” factor. Just wait until you see what she’s doing with this next episode. I’m so proud and very pleased to have her. God knew just what he was doing and I’m so proud of her. Emily, you’re amazing girl! I’m so freaking proud of you and glad to have you on my team!
Q: Were you in love with horror as a kid or did you fall in love with the genre as an adult?
A: I fell in love with horror as a kid. My grandparents Clee White and Phyllis Gilmore watched horror literally all the time. I remember being terrified of many movies and my grandma would always say “Come on now look it’s ketchup. Stop all that hollering.” and I would be like oh okay! Cool! As I got older I realized that nothing was ketchup (laughs)! I was like what in the hell! (Laughs). I appreciate my grandparents for getting me into horror at a young age. If it wasn’t for them, there wouldn’t be a Shreco Bakari. That’s the truth.
Q: Lastly, if you had the pleasure of working with any actor or actress out there today, who would you want it to be?
A: Uh duh! My all time favorite actors who are my inspiration and motivation and more! Zendaya, Keke Palmer, China McClain, Janet Jackson and of course everyone who knows me knows I love Michael B. Jordan. It would be an honor to have them in my future projects within The Ominous Universe.
© 2021 Nathan Jasper