Damien Carter: I was first connected with the Birdemic films by auditioning for James Nguyen’s first film, entitled Julie and Jack. James and I hit it off from the beginning and he contacted me to be the night club singer in Birdemic: Shock and Terror. Patsy van Ettinger was my music manager at that time and it was Patsy who informed me of the auditions that were taking place at San Francisco University.
C: How does it feel to have your work featured in a horror/romance film? Are you a fan of the genre?
DC: Well, it is a good feeling to have my work featured in anything that grabs attention, good or bad. I believe that my work will speak for itself and it’s doing the job that I sent it to do. I’m known all over because of my work. I don’t look at too many horror films, but I do like romance films, if watching with a young lady.
C: Did you write songs specifically for the film, or were they chosen from your body of work? What made you write/choose the songs that ended up in the film?
DC: My songs were written prior to them being placed in the Birdemic films. My album is entitled Freedom and it features “Just Hanging Out”, “Love is Gone” and some others. James was the one that picked the songs that he liked and he really enjoyed “Just Hanging Out.” You know, a lot of people misunderstand “Just Hanging Out.” I wrote it to bring people together in love, happiness and joy. We all go through hard times, and I wanted something to uplift them, if only for just five minutes they could listen to my song and dance, laugh, have a good time. They would forget about what they were going through at the time while listening.
I have read comments from people that state the song is about incest and family members hooking up. This is so far from the truth! The community of people that I’m speaking about is not all blood-related. They flirt with each other and remember the crush they had back in school, and when they see that person again at the gathering it all comes rushing back to them making their hearts race once again. I wrote it to be about love, joy, peace and working together. Yes, the lyrics are kind of stupid and fun, and I wrote it to be so. To not have a care in the world. I really don’t know how it all got turned around, but to each his/her own. Just have fun with the song!
C: How was the experience on the Birdemic set? Would you consider film work in the future?
DC: I don’t know how or why the filming of my scene turned out to be so great! There was a war going on in the place at the time of recording my scene. The war was between James, Alan and Whitney [Note: lead actors Alan Bagh and Whitney Moore]. As far as I could gather, James had a misunderstanding of what was going on between the two stars and he vocalized his concerns. So much so, that people from the other room heard the commotion, came over and tried to stop James from his attack, mostly on Whitney. I just wanted to record my scene and get out of there, but not without keeping Whitney from harm. James demanded he was going to drive her home and told Alan to leave! So he did, but I told James that I was taking her home. I had Whitney call her parents to inform them and I took her home, safe from harm.
On the second Birdemic film set [Note: Birdemic 2: The Resurrection] I had a lot of fun! By this time Birdemic had turned into a cult hit and all the cast just went along with the ride. I thought, “What can I do to be a part of this comedy?” So, I went with the Birdemic flow and fixed my hair like Buckwheat and we all had a ball! I would be happy to work on another film in the future. It was a lot of fun and still is. Hopefully someone can recognize that I have some good work and would be a benefit to their project. Let’s see…
DC: Yes, this is my very first time performing in Philadelphia. But, I grew up on the east coast in Maryland and Virginia. My mom was a gospel singer; she had a great singing voice, who traveled and sang with the “Singing Angels” of Alexandria, VA. At twelve they had a reunion gospel show that I attended and I was hooked! Seeing my mother with these women singing with such power and grace and the way they moved the audience so; it moved something in me to want to sing as well. I informed my mother about what I wanted and she stated, “So, you want to sing?” That summer she started teaching me vocals, tone, harmonies and just being able to stand in front of a crowd while singing. My nerves at that time got the best of me! (laughs) I didn’t realize the professional training I was receiving until years later. So, by the time I was fifteen I was traveling with her, singing at different churches and events and I also recorded my first album entitled, “Jesus Will Be Right There.” So, I started traveling on my own with my mother’s consent, and that landed me in California singing all over the place and then in the Birdemic films. There is something to be said about hard work.
C: Birds can be pretty formidable foes. Is there a particular animal that creeps you out?
DC: Yes Lord!! Snakes and spiders really get under my skin and I have a hard time dealing with it! (laughs) I do believe that James did a good job with the birds and he has put himself in the position that at least people will stop and listen to his announcement, even for a minute. My hats off to James for his hard work.
Come see Damien Carter perform live at PhilaMOCA this Friday, October 18th! Doors at 7:00pm, Birdemic 2: The Resurrection at 7:30pm, performance at 9:00pm! Buy tickets here.
Event trailer from PhilaMOCA, featuring clips of “Just Hanging Out (with My Family)” and “Gonna Be a Star”
Author: Jill Malcolm
Jill is happiest attending midnight screenings with other crazy film fans at her local theater. Her other passions include reading, traveling to faraway places, cat videos, pugs, and jalapeño peppers. She is co-founder of the blog Filmhash.