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For producer Steven Schneider, the dream came true: He found a cheap little movie that turned into the 2009 phenomenon Paranormal Activity, a film made on a $15,000 budget that grossed $193 million worldwide, spawned three sequels and opened the door for Schneider’s partner on the project, producer Jason Blum, to launch a horror empire.
But for Schneider. the success was too much to handle, as he reveals in an interview on KCRW’s The Business to promote his latest low-budget genre film, The Houses That October Built, now playing in limited release.
“I went bananas,” Schneider says. “I managed to piss off a lot people and [had to] start a process of getting help for my drug problem, which I have done, frankly.”
Schneider says he was not prepared for Paranormal’s success. “This was the first thing that I had anything to do with that came out or worked in any capacity,” he says. “For the first thing to be this anomalous, crazy ride, probably f—ed me up in some ways. It really messed with my own sense of expectation. People thought I was smart and ambitious before, but now I was a genius.”
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At one time, Schneider was working with mega-producers Lorenzo Di Bonventura and Michael Bay and says he had “offices at three different locations.” He was intrigued by “all these strong personalities who have different experiences of their own to show me and teach me…all that stuff was really exciting.” But Schneider failed to deliver on his commitments, leaving his relationships in tatters.
At this point, he says, “it’s been a process of making amends when I can and figuring out what I want to do and who I want to be. And that means right now, doing more with less, being really focused on creative producing all the way through the process instead of setting up things and trying to be prolific…. I needed to maybe go slower and work on my character issues and personal demons.”
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Santa Barbara International Film Festival