Wow! Fangoria just featured The Smiling Man in their article "15 Submissions To Die For: AJ Briones' The Smiling Man!"
It reads very much like that dream article every filmmaker has ever wished to read about themselves but would never dare admit, because it's such a crazy thing to think! As a filmmaker, you make the best possible film you can make with the resources available to you and you just hope that it resonates with some people... but you never really know how it's going to be received.
I've had a very fortunate life with many career highlights: I helped launch the Sega Dreamcast, worked alongside Sonic Team to help create Sonic Adventure, created one of the very first virtual cameras using a shoe, was part of James Cameron's team that created Avatar (my boys have a picture with the Oscar to prove it), and got to help create some of the biggest film franchises out there, learning from some of the best artists and filmmakers along the way. I have to say, having my short film featured on Fangoria with such a positive and flattering review belongs right up there with all of them.
I have to provide context to explain.
When I was a kid I was obsessed with horror movies. I never had a subscription to Fangoria, but I would take regular trips to the bookstore to buy the latest copy, alongside Cinefex, Heavy Metal and sometimes Rue Morgue. I think I had a stack of at least 50 Fangorias in my room; a room which had posters of Evil Dead 2, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Darkman and a big honking Freddie Krueger gloved sweater hand bursting out of the wall, complete with cut paper and cardboard made to look like broken drywall. In that very room I spent countless hours sitting in bed, poring over the pages of Fangoria, reading every little article and classified ad. In the corner, I had 2 VCR's strung together and a crude A/B mixing board to edit my home made movies. On my desk, my dad's VHS camcorder. Next to it, a tackle box filled with an array of paints, waxes, latex prosthetics and fake blood. I was one of those kids you could rely on having a surplus of Halloween supplies all year round.
I made short films, most of them were of the horror genre. They were terrible. One I can still remember was a serial killer revenge film called "Don't Mess with Les," about a kid who gets beat up by a gang of thugs and methodically gets even, one victim at a time. It was absolutely dreadful. But, it was a great deal of fun to make, and I'd like to think that it helped make me who I am today.