Joseph Nanni is a Canadian filmmaker who lives and works in Toronto. He is the writer, director, and producer of two recent Lovecraft inspired short films: The Casting Call of Cthulhu and Elder Sign. He has aired them to universal acclaim at numerous film festivals and has been nominated for multiple awards. He attended the Ontario College of Art & Design where he studied illustration and design, and he currently works as a professional creative director.

We asked Joseph to tell us about how he got started in filmmaking and Lovecraft.

LNN: First, tell us about yourself. What is your background in life, film, career, and H.P. Lovecraft?

Joseph: I discovered HPL as a boy - I was a boy, Lovecraft was already dead. The library was my second home (I know what you're thinking - "NNNNERD") I would head over to the Sci-Fi section, which at the time was were they put everything they weren't sure about, and I would just stare at the HPL covers trying to figure out what the hell I was looking at. But I didn't read any of it until I was 13. Two years later I saw Re-Animator and there was no turning back. I read everything I could and rented anything remotely Lovecraftian - not excluding Goonies or including Porky's. Good times.

LNN: What was the impetus for your production company Bad Advice for Good Times?

Joseph: I make television ads which is a riot but there's a lot of consensus building and compromise around things like how big the logo should be. In Lovecraft films there is also a lot of consensus building and compromise but around things like how big the claws should be. But seriously, I started the projects to make some entertaining films that were completely different from what I was working on, based on material appreciated by a really specific group of people. And also I'm a nerd.

LNN: Some of the traits that separate your projects from other short films in the genre is the high production value and the acting. Are all of your actors versed in Lovecraftiana?

Joseph: None of the actors are HPL fans, some had never heard of him. I think this helps. They just look at Matt and I like we are crazy - makes us feel like true Lovecraft protagonists.

LNN: Do you even bother trying to explain the sensibility of cosmic horror your projects gleefully cultivate to the dolefully uninitiated?

Joseph: Elder Sign was shot in just under two hours and CCOC in a short day, so the talent didn't even know what hit them. There was no time for questions like, "What's my motivation?" Their motivation was the camera is going to be wrapped in 10 minutes. I will be using Jim (Doctor) and Dan (Plumber) in another short and a feature but I haven't told them yet so they purposely don't have time to research. And if they're reading this I am talking about another Jim and Dan who coincidentally also played a Doctor and a Plumber in a Lovecraftian short.

LNN: Tell us about your relationship with 4 Stroke; how did you get involved with them, and what do they bring to the table?

Joseph: I have worked with 4 Stroke and their founder for a number of years on various television projects. They are quick, creative, total craftsmen, and they don't ask a lot of questions. I brought them an image of a bunch of coral collaged together and said, "It should look like this but pulsing, constantly changing shape, and it hovers, and also it needs five tentacles so when it rests on the ground it leaves an impression like a massive footprint . . . but we won't see it do that." And they're like, "We'll have something by next Tuesday." Because I don't have real money to pay them they have complete creative freedom and I think it shows.

LNN: How does your work with these two short films and Lovecraft in general affect your daily life? (I.e. Is this just a hobby you do for fun or is it something more?)

Joseph: Is a hobby when you spend all your time and money on something you love and not get paid? 'Cause if it is then Lovecraft is a hobby. Actually it is more of a compulsion. We made CCOC for the soul purpose of entering it in the HPL Film Festival. Matt and I were talking about going to Portland, we were on set during some shoot and I looked around and thought, "we do this every day, surely we can make a short." It's a good thing we got in the show or it would have been awkward. Anyway, I sent the film around to a bunch of people who had shared HPL related stuff with me and people really liked it and asked what we were doing next . . . so we made Elder Sign. Then I wrote a long form piece based around some of the talent we had worked with, showed it to some people and they said, "let's shoot it." So now we're in preproduction on a feature.

LNN: Tell us about the responses you have received for these projects from fans and how they have fared at the various conventions and film festivals you have attended?

Joseph: Elder Sign is a huge hit with the RPG crowd. The video has been embedded in about 300 blogs and forums mostly related to gaming. I don't know why. I guess it is all part of nerdmosphere in which we spin. I've rolled the icosahedron and painted a few miniatures myself so it only raises my charisma to be accepted by that culture. But I certainly didn't expect it. CCOC on the other hand really took people by surprise, in a strange way. It was nominated for Best Comedy at Dragon*Con and the HPL Film Festival, it was heavily downloaded on Yog Sothoth, it was officially selected in 17 festivals around the world, but it did nothing virally. The whole thing is supposed to be Doctor Who meets Monty Python and by the time you get to the Yithian you are completely taken by surprise. But some viewers didn't even make it to the Yithian - I think they thought we were taking our prosthetics seriously.

LNN: What was the most horrifying moment in the creation or distribution of these films?

Joseph: Making the packaging for Elder Sign. You can read about it here:

That being said, both films can be purchased through Etsy, packaging handmade by me: (here)

LNN: What is the next step in distribution and festival participation for CCoC and Elder Sign?

Joseph: We are done with CCoC as it has had its run at the fests and most die-hard fans have seen it. Elder Sign on the other hand just showed at Fantasia in Montreal, it will be at Dragon*Con, Shocker Fest, and we are very pleased to announce Fantastic Fest in Austin.

LNN: What can we look forward to in the future with your company?

Joseph: We'll be shooting a sequel to Elder Sign at the end of August and the feature, Drawing Baphomet, starts shooting in September, a trailer will appear in the next few weeks. DB will be thick with HPL atmosphere and baddies (coming through corners of rooms no less) but we will maintain our sense of humour. It isn't a comedy but funny things happen.

LNN: Anything else you want to put on the record?

Joseph: Yes - support your local Lovecrafters - Yog Radio, HPLHS, Lurker Films, Arkham Bazaar, HP Podcast, John Coulthart, Paul Carrick, Unfilmable, all of them, buy a button, a sticker, a t-shirt, embed their link, just support them. They do it for the love of the genre and it keeps weird fiction alive for new audiences.

For more information about Joseph Nanni and his production company, visit his film blog here:

The Elder Sign DVD can be purchased online from this site here.

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