Thursday, January 13, 2011

Q & A with Marksman Entertainment, Inc. Founder / Co-Producer Scott Hand

Fresh off of the success of last year’s Hunt’s Legacy documentary series – which chronicled the history of the legendary seaside amusement park – filmmakers Scott Hand, Diane Pooler, and Steve Miller of Marksman Entertainment, Inc. have several projects lined up for 2011.

First up will be Jim DeMusz: Master Innovator, which highlights the work of the legendary amusement display artist and designer, and his contributions to many of the Jersey Shore's legendary attractions including Morey's Haunted House, Long Branch's Haunted Mansion, and Brigantine Castle.

The film will premiere this Monday, January 17th at 7:30 p.m. at Crest Pier (Ocean Ave. & Heather Rd.); the event is open to the public and admission is free.

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Hand, also Marksman's founder, to learn more about the film and to get the inside scoop on his upcoming projects…

Wildwood 365: First off, Scott, thanks for taking the time to talk about your latest Marksman Entertainment collaboration with Diane Pooler and Steve Miller.

Scott Hand: My pleasure.

365: Before we get into things, can you give our readers some background on Marksman Entertainment and its objectives?

SH: My three main objectives in making my films are: number one, to inform; number two, to educate; and number three, to entertain. I’ve been practicing this approach for years, even before starting Marksman. This is the mentality that I go into every project with to ensure that the quality of each documentary is top-notch.

365: Tell us a little about the subject of your next film and the importance of telling Jim’s DeMusz’s story?

SH: Jim’s story had to be told because of his level of expertise and his contributions to the amusement industry as a whole. After meeting with Jim, I immediately knew that he had done so much and remembered so much that we had to do a standalone show just about Jim. He always thought outside of the box and still does too. Some of the people that worked with Jim at Brigantine Castle always identified him with the line: “Is it real or is it… Jim DeMusz?” Jim likes that line, and also says to define him is undefinable!

Scott Hand and Jim DeMusz at recent Fun Pier reunion (Courtesy of Scott Hand)
365: What was the nature of the work Jim did at Brigantine Castle, in addition to the Haunted Mansion in Long Branch and Morey’s Haunted House?

SH: Jim brought different levels of expertise and different levels of contributions to each of these projects. The reason being is because that each one of those projects possessed a different level of complexity and challenge. Therefore, Jim as a professional acted on these projects in a different basis.

365: Is there a particular project that Jim is best known for being a part of?

SH: I would say Brigantine Castle. One of the most remarkable things about Jim was his level individual intuitive that he brought to bear on each project. With respect to the projects that Jim had worked on, he not only conceived and developed the concept but then had the background and expertise to execute it. It was important to keep the mood going in these places. That included costuming and illusions too. The one that Jim had the most creative control of was Long Branch‘s Haunted Mansion. Jim worked with the architect from the ground up on that one. He does not like to copy anything!

365: The subtitle of the film is “Master Innovator.” What would you cite as Jim's most notable innovations?

SH: Jim did full life size scenes. As I said earlier, Jim wanted to create an environment. In Brigantine Castle he created a plaza scene which consisted of a butcher’s shop and a movie theater. It was created like a little town with old street lights and a deep hole illusion. Jim liked to use scenes where things would come out of nowhere. There are so many. I remember hearing about the Jack the Ripper scene from Brigantine Castle. People still remember that!

365: What kind of legacy did he carve out within the industry?

SH: The legacy is one of creativity and originality! The environments that were created was Jim’s way of trying to take someone into a unique place and time that made you feel as you were being taken away from our world and into another world. Adding the colors and amplify what had to be amplified were part of the creation of those environments.

365: What is Jim up to these days? What kind of recent work has he done?

SH: Jim has been creating shows for the road. The Great American Frontier Show is probably his latest/biggest project to date. Jim also letters and numbers commercial fishing boats and is still selling his paintings.

365: In addition to this film, you, Diane, and Steve have some other documentary projects lined up for this year that are sure to get people excited. The Hunt’s Legacy films were very well received last year. Tell us about next installment of that series.

SH: Hunt’s Theatres was a multi-faceted corporation which involved not just the amusement pier. The movie theaters, Starlight Ballroom together with such other operations as two miniature golf courses and what in this day and age would be regarded as property management. We are going to take a deep look into all the movie theaters, the ballroom, and the rest of what Hunt’s was. Remember, the Hunt’s legacy ended in February 1986.

365: And then, you have a Fun Pier film set for April. I know this is a project you've really been looking forward to…

SH: Yes, I have been nurturing the Fun Pier project for years now. I had originally wanted to do the Fun Pier documentary first but the opportunity to do Hunt’s Pier was what was happening for us. We had to put Fun Pier on the back burner until the time was right. Then, last summer… the time was right!

365: Any other films on schedule or long term projects you can let us in on?

SH: (sporting a big grin) No… not quite yet. But, stay tuned.

Thanks to Scott for taking the time out of his schedule to talk with us. Look for our follow-up interview as we approach the premiere of Marksman Entertainment’s Fun Pier documentary on April 18th.

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