How to Get a Monster Movie Made – Interview with Damian Vargas

Damian Vargas is a northern New Jersey native who stepped into the world imagination as a professional wrestler on the independent circuit. Since retiring not-so-long-ago, he has stepped into the […]

1385799_527596783999522_67073596_nDamian Vargas is a northern New Jersey native who stepped into the world imagination as a professional wrestler on the independent circuit. Since retiring not-so-long-ago, he has stepped into the world of filmmaking.

Currently, Vargas is raising awareness for his project “Patient 23.” According to their site, it is about:

“The government knows of the existence of Vampires. In an attempt to protect humanity from them, they created something worse. With the world in peril, humans formed a truce with the vampire race and the two are forced to work together to end what is known as Patient 23.”

We asked Damian about his project.

QUESTION: Where did you get the idea for this?

DAMIAN VARGAS: The idea, creation and concept was by the director of the short film Anthony Gutierrez.
Being a lover of zombies and seeing how the horror business is big right now he wanted to create something that has not been done before. So Anthony let my mind loose and boom “Patient 23” was born.

Anthony and I are are old friends from my wrestling days and knew I had just retired and jumped into acting. So Anthony gave me a buzz to play a role. I really loved the idea and brought aboard Ron due to his experience in the genre.

Then [my wife] Veronica has a long writing background and started to lend a hand with ideas before deciding to fully come on board. With the help of Ron, Veronica and myself along side Anthony the original short film grew leaps and bounds in terms of character development and story from the original script.

QUESTION: Why make the movie yourself? Why not send the script (or idea) to someone and let others make the script?

DAMIAN VARGAS: As  I said this was original Anthony’s idea, story and concept. This was something he really wanted to do.

After the rest of us became attached to it business wise, we became emotionally invested as well. Everyone began taking personal relationships to their characters. Putting a part of themselves into it. Plus as the ideas began developing collectively between Anthony, Ron, Veronica and myself we didn’t want to just hand over or sell to anyone else to do. And we were offered. It became a very personal writing venture that also became a goal of “can we do this?”

Also after hearing from so many that we potentially have something really good that can take off-we knew we had to see this through the whole way, our way…our vision.

P23 1

QUESTION: Is this a chance to showcase your acting skills as well?

DAMIAN VARGAS: I wouldn’t say showcase necessarily as I am new to acting still and I have a lot to learn. But it was most certainly an opportunity to portray a role I really liked without being a masked character and dubbed. A chance to really just let it all hang out and bring everything I got into the role of Triggs.

He has a lot of things going on within him. Along with the visible constant disdain, there is a lot of inner pain he carries. Pain that we will see unravel as the story progresses. Out of the few things I have had the opportunity to do, Lt. Jason Triggs is absolutely my favorite (next to Deadpool of course..lol). There are many elements to him I find relatable from things in my life-and I intend to bring it all out in my performance.

QUESTION: How long did it take to put this together?

DAMIAN VARGAS: Between the full casting, garnering the little bit of supplies we could coupled with the generosity of some supporters on out Amazon Wishlist, rewrites and re-shoots it collectively took between three to four months. It was no easy task and we met a ton of pitfalls along the way. But in the end I am so proud of the result.

QUESTION: What has the response been to the final project?

DAMIAN VARGAS: Shockingly positive!

We knew there were limits technically and special effects wise. But we made it work. We also created in the writing certain mysteries would home make people have questions that made them not only publicly ask them, but demand more of “Patient 23” to have those questions answered. In the end, we did exactly that!

Fans have so many questions and all have been standing by anticipating the full feature. We couldn’t have been prouder and more honored by the response and out pouring for more. Trust me, there is A LOT more in store for the feature length!

QUESTION: How did you get the actors for this?

DAMIAN VARGAS: Some of the actors we had already been familiar with when we started with “Night Of The Warriors” and felt they would be good fits to certain roles. Other actors we brought in as extras but saw there was potential for a larger character such as Justin Clayton who plays Adrian Jax (the Police Officer beside the General in the short film). Others are actors/actresses we we also familiar with from other works and some actually did send us their resumes and reels.

QUESTION: With entertainment saturated with vampires and zombies, how do you bring something new to the table?

DAMIAN VARGAS: We all wanted to not necessarily reinvent the wheel. But breathe new life into the genres with an old school style mixed with a modernized look. We went back to the old lore and rules and restructured them. There is a reason why our vampires are in daylight, a reason that dates back into old lore. There is also a reason they are steampunk styled. It isn’t just for looks, there is purpose.

Patient 23 himself, is actually not a zombie. He is a bio weapon. The zombies are the diluted spawning of those attacked. As we go along, there are throwbacks to what we loved so much about these horror classics we had to revisit that no one else was. A time they were feared and before they became diluted with what I like to call “tween-teen” angst, pretty people and romance.

There is a solid story behind this that has developed. But, the horror and traditional prosthetic gore will be there. It’s going back to the traditional style and look that I think is really going to set us apart from the rest. We know what the fans want, because we are the fans of it. But we have also blatantly asked them what they love and hate by today’s versions on zombies, vampires and special effects. All the responses were pretty close to ours. So it just reinforced we had to stay the course cause we are headed in the right direction. As they say “what’s old is new.”

QUESTION: Would you be up for seeing these characters in other mediums?

DAMIAN VARGAS: Absolutely!

We have a lot of material. To quote my co-star and one of the writers Ron, “We have enough material for a trilogy and more!” Some things just not financially feasible for us to do. So we have spoken about potentially doing some comic books for not just the story as a whole, but individual character spotlights. This is an area we are very interested in and excited about the potential of doing.

QUESTION: What is the best way people can contact you?

DAMIAN VARGAS: They can find me on Facebook at DamianDragonEntertainment as well as Nerd Herders Radio [which is a] weekly geek/nerd themed show I co-host with my wife & co-writer Veronica “Foxy Foxxy” Vargas called “Nerd Herders.” I’m on Twitter and, of course follow Patient 23 at www.P23Movie.com where there is links to ALL the other sites you can follow as well as watch the short film.

If anyone wishes to contribute to the project the can do so with the guarantee it goes towards the film by visiting and purchasing from or Amazon Wishlist here.

All contributors receive a signed copy of the short film.

QUESTION: Thanks, Damian!

DAMIAN VARGAS: Thank you!

Images courtesy of PATIENT 23.

About Don Smith

Before self publishing 'Ghost Investigator' under the Spirited Comics Publication banner, Smith has written comic books for Heske Horror and Bluewater Comics. His bio comics, 'Political Power: Ronald Reagan' and 'Political Power: Rush Limbaugh' garnered national attention on 'The Rush Limbaugh Show' and 'The New York Times.' His upcoming comic 'American Defenders: The Army' gives a history of the United States Army. Smith also garnered acclaim with his latest history book, THE GOFFLE ROAD MURDERS OF PASSAIC COUNTY, that detailed the first murders in Passaic County, New Jersey and their unusual connection the administration of President William McKinely and Vice President Garret Hobart. Visit his site at http://donsmithwrites.wordpress.com.