By Kristina Valdez | A&L Editor
Writer, actor and producer Zack Andrews brings the spirit of Halloween and haunted houses to homes and movie theaters with “The Houses October Built” and the recently released sequel, “The Houses October Built 2.”
Andrews is a Baylor alumnus, graduating in 2001 with a bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in journalism — he also, at one point, managed the Arts and Life section of the Baylor Lariat.
Once moving past the restraining barriers he had set for his life, Andrews worked toward his career and the reason he moved to L.A. six months after graduating from college.
“The temptation when you graduate from college is to set these … glass ceilings for yourself,” Andrews said. “You say, ‘If I don’t do this, this and this by the time I am 30, I need to re-evaluate what I am doing in life.’ But when I turned 30, things didn’t happen the way that I wanted them to, but that didn’t matter. Thirty was just an arbitrary number, and once I approached that, I realized that I wasn’t going to set any hypothetical markers for myself.”
He and his business partner, Bobby Roe, stubbornly wrote screenplays until they decided to develop their own movies that they had envisioned for years.
“We were just going to write screenplays until we sold one,” Andrews said. “Eight to nine years later, we still haven’t sold one.”
When Andrews first came to Baylor, he thought he was going to by a psychologist. At Baylor, Andrews said his favorite psychology teacher was Dr. Jim H. Patton, but it was taking that one screenwriting class with senior lecturer J. Brian Elliott that was most impactful.
“He was so caring and he really made an effort to keep in touch,” Andrews said. “I think our relationship is much closer now than at Baylor. Brian does such a good job of keeping everybody in touch.”
Elliott said that he keeps in contact with his former students because he genuinely cares for each one of them, and he wants to see where life has taken them.
“The greatest reward in teaching is simply being around the students – watching them grow, struggle, ponder, and hopefully, ultimately, thrive,” Elliott said. “As a professor, there’s not a greater joy than playing a small role in helping the students become the people they want to be and the people they feel called to be.”
It wasn’t until his junior year that he found an interest in film while bouncing off movie ideas with high school writing buddy and longtime friend Bobby Roe, while he was in LA.
“I would fly out to LA and he would fly out to Waco, and we would spend the weekends writing,” Andrews said. “When I graduated, I just knew that I had to get out to LA, so that’s what I did.”
Andrews describes “The Houses October Built” and its sequel as Halloween adventure movies and love letters to the spirit of Halloween. “The Houses October Built” premiered Oct. 10, 2014, and the sequel came out Sept. 22.
“Our recommended path for seeing this movie and enjoying this movie is go to your local haunted house and [then] go check out the film,” Andrews said.
Growing up loving horror films such as “The Shining” and being influenced by writers like Stephen King, Andrews gifts his audience a treat that is no trick for the Halloween season.
“It’s funny because Bobby and I went to high school together and during the Halloween season we would go to a horror film and then we would go to a Halloween haunted house,” Andrews said.
“The Houses October Built” is about five friends who, while looking for the best haunted house, are stalked by ominous characters. Both movies combine authentic interviews from real people at haunted houses with the movie’s narrative. This type of filmmaking and directing blurs the line between reality and falsity, making the film increasingly frightening.
“A big part of our process is being authentic, going to haunted houses and interviewing real people,” Andrews said. “We let our narrative weave through that while still being as authentic as possible. From the feedback of fans, [having real people with a scripted narrative] is our unique angle.”
Along with writing the screenplay, conducting interviews and acting in the film, Andrews produced both movies. Andrews described the experience of wearing many hats while filming.
“As a producer, you are in charge of everything,” Andrews said. “A joke is that producers don’t do anything because they do everything. Every aspect of it is your project that you must make sure is that it starts and finishes. And I love that role — that is probably my favorite role in the process.”
“The Houses October Built 2” is a continuation of the abruptly ended part 1. Andrews said his greatest reward is moments of completion and meeting fans during their press tour.
“What is even more rewarding for this movie is knowing that people were waiting for this sequel,” Andrews said. “When they heard it was released, they were hitting me up on social media just talking about the first movie and how glad and excited they are that were making a second one.”
Andrews gave advice for those aspiring to work in the film industry.
“If you are going to make it, it just has to be your life,” Andrews said. “You have to sacrifice.”
You can watch “The Houses October Made 2” in Waco. Buy your tickets here.