Editor’s Note:  Much of this material originally appeared on the OCScreenwriters website (Victor serves on its advisory board) and in his IMDB listing.  We plan an interview covering specific projects in future publications.  We will also be publishing some of his works in the coming months.  Victor has a great sense of humor and he is always a joy to work with.  He is a great guy to know and work with.  Okay, now for some of the official stuff about him.victorphanVictor Phan is an Orange County creative talent who produces thrillers and horror films, writes, is a talented artist, educator, and, mentor to other writers and up and coming filmmakers.

Raised in Fullerton, California, his lifelong dream was to become a comic book artist.  However, during his teen years, his focus shifted from the world of graphic novels to film and its ability to reach a wider audience.  At the age of 18, Phan began working as a production assistant on Vietnamese music videos.  Victor spent his college years working on sets during his weekends, while attending Fullerton College weekdays. While there, Phan was greatly inspired and influenced by his film professors such as: Marie Perez, Darrell Kitchell, Jay Goldstein, and Mike Moore. Victor graduated with honors from the college, and went on to transfer to Cal State Fullerton, where he would finish his four-year degree.

While still an undergrad, Victor interned as a reader at Mark Wheeler Management and Ben Katz Productions. During his internship, Phan impressed Katz with his ability to draw, and was hired by Katz as storyboard artist on a feature film, ‘Hereafter.’ Phan soon met his long-time editor and creative consultant, Clark Jones. Through Jones’ guidance, Phan achieved his first publishing, in small circulation magazines and anthologies, establishing a foothold in the world of Horror with a series of short stories.

During his senior year, Victor partnered up with Jones and Ryan Amendt to form Torture Chamber Productions, an independent production company based out of Orange County, producing thrillers and horror films.  Their company soon produced Victor’s thesis project, ‘The Perfect Girl,’ with funding from Cal State Fullerton’s film department.  Victor graduated cum laude with a GPA of 3.8.

After graduation, he was invited to teach screenwriting at Fullerton College.  He spent the following year placing screenplays in contests and continuing to publish stories.  Victor has since worked on assignment as writer, storyboard artist, and production assistant, as well as producer and director of his own independent projects.

Victor continues to work as a professor at Fullerton College, as well as working freelance in the film industry.  He is on the board of Fullerton College TV-Film Production Advisory Committee and Orange County Screenwriters Association.

The following was edited, with permission from Victor, from his recent, autobiographical article that appeared on the OCScreenwriters website.  His is a fascinating story about his path to success (so far, since he’s only 29) and leaves little doubt he will continue to be a presence as an entertainment professional.  Here is his story.

My production company, Torture Chamber Productions will celebrated its fifth year anniversary on February 24, 2011.  Our dream has always been consistent, put out genre media that is creator owned and operated, and never spend our own money.  Let me take you on this adventure on how we came to be and how we got to where we are now.

THE GENESIS
During my senior of college I met my creative soul mate Ryan Amendt.  He and I were in the thesis film class together and one day he entered wearing a black Metallica shirt.  We began speaking because we were the only 2 metal heads attending Cal State Fullerton.  To my surprised the committee chose my short horror script as one of the films to be made.  Ryan became my director.

I needed a banner to make the film under.  For years I had played around with different names but I needed something that would immediately tell you what genre I specialized in.  I wanted something so as soon as you heard it you’d never forget it.  So I came up with Torture Chamber Productions and the name just stuck.

Clark Jones had already been my editor getting my short horror stories published in horror magazines.  Clark had a wealth of experience running these types of companies since he was a bookseller and publisher in the eighties.   It also helped that he had an MBA.  Torture Chamber Productions was official.

THE FIRST FILM
A paramount rule that we all agreed to employ is that we would never use our own money to produce films.  Since we already had funding from Cal State Fullerton we were set and ready to shoot.  Ryan and our crew shot the entire grueling week of production for our first film – The Perfect Girl.  We sent it to festivals after we premiered the film at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood.

perfectgirlWe made massive copies and gave them away at Comic Con and The Weekend of Horrors.  Even though the film wasn’t the greatest piece of cinematic work, it acted like a business card and told people that we knew how to raise money and deliver a product.  It opened up the doors to legendary filmmakers like Guillermo Del Toro and Mick Garris who we still go to for support and advice to this day.  Years after we made the film it won the horror section at the Knights of Shorts Film Festival 2009.

FILMMAKERS AND FREELANCERS
After graduating college in 2006 I immediately worked on professional sets as a freelancer.  At the end of the day, I would pass my card around to everyone on every set.  The name of my company stuck to all of their memories and if you were to mention it to them now, they’d still give that sly smile and immediately remember Victor Phan.  Whenever my team wasn’t freelancing for the studios, we’d develop our own intellectual properties.  Clark and I continued doing what we did best and wrote stories for print and get them published.  I came up with the idea of creating short horror comic books and getting them published as of a way of reaching more audiences.

We assembled two teams to work simultaneously.  The first team was composed of my girlfriend at the time, Julie Nguyen, and myself.  The second team was writer Joseph Carlos Perez and our unbelievably talented artist from New York – Joe Guido.  Both teams produced short comic books that were used to further promote what we were doing in Fullerton.  The promotion worked.  People began coming to us with their scripts all ready to shoot.  What they needed were people who could raise money and provide crew.  Fortunately for them, that was our bread and butter.  From 2007-2009 we produced the following films in conjunction with other filmmakers: Blind Society, Final Warning, Trigger, and Self-Destruct.  People liked the way we handled business and word spread getting all of us more work individually as freelancers on other productions.

THE FALL
Everything was going well until the economy tanked in 2008.  Our initial strategy of co-producing other peoples’ intellectual properties, raising the money and providing crew, no longer worked.  We had plenty of projects we wanted to get off of the ground but it was impossible since no one wanted to invest anymore.  The only way we could make films is if we self-financed, and that wasn’t an OPTION.  2009 rolled around and we lost everything.  Freelance work dried up.  The only money I could get coming in was from doing background work on the NBC show Community.  Clark and I lost our home.  We considered closing all of our business accounts and parting ways for good.  Clark moved back to La Mirada, Ryan moved back to Brea, and I moved to Pasadena.

TRIPLE THREAT COMES FULL CIRCLE
Living in Pasadena and being so far from my hometown of Fullerton was my lowest moment.  Everything just seemed to be falling apart, but I couldn’t give up.  I used being in LA County as an advantage and I networked more than I ever did before.  I called everyone I knew in LA and met up with all of them for lunch.  I went to every screening and film festival I knew of in Hollywood since it was only 20 minutes away from me.  It worked!  I was hired by Josh Cohen to illustrate comic book pages for his show ASST. The Webseries.  Josh is an all around great guy and if everyone in Hollywood was like him, we’d actually be the filmmaking utopia we advertise to the rest of the world we are.  Josh was so impressed by my artwork that he actually invited me to a party for cast and crew at his place in Park La Brea.  That’s completely unheard of!

From that moment on I knew where I wanted to go with my company.  I had been playing around with the idea for years but it took meeting a guy like Josh to make me commit to implementing it.  I met up with Clark and Ryan and pitched my idea to them.  I told them the problem with relying on filmmaking is that it costs too much and takes too long, so we’re not making money any time we’re actively looking for investors.  Let’s focus our business around something that costs us nothing (but our own creative labor) to make, something we can deliver immediately and then invoice.  I said there’s never going to be a shortage of people wanting to get their films made who can’t afford to shoot them.  What we should do is adapt their screenplays into comic books for them to use to shop around to producers or production companies.

page2The guys immediately agreed.  This was the perfect strategy because it satisfied all of our criteria: costs us nothing, can be done immediately, and it’s a quickly invoiced product.  It also stuck to our original vision of putting out genre media that was creator owned and operated.

We assembled our teams.  Joe and I would both illustrate and ink, Ryan would color, and Clark would do lettering and product management.  We contacted our resident tech genius Robert Abe (hot as wasabi) to update our site and implement what were going for.  He delivered spectacularly.  We contacted all of our friends in the print and horror world and they advertised for us.

THE FUTURE
So that leads us to where we are today.  Things are looking up.  Clark does an average of 30 quotes a day for filmmakers who want their visions realized but can’t get the $80 million to shoot a film in today’s post-conglomerate industry.

What’s the Torture Chamber Productions difference?  We are a fully functioning triple threat: we do writing for print, we produce films, and we produce comics, all with the same intellectual property, all in house.  If that wasn’t impressive enough you can check the copyrights to the products we produce and you’ll see that all of the intellectual properties are owned by their respective authors and not by us.  We do things the way we think they should be done and have been doing it for 5 years now and hope to do so for many more.  I don’t know about you but ‘creator owned and operated,’ I like the sound of that.

Visit the Torture Chamber Productions website at http://www.torturechamberproductions.com/ Victor can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Thursday, May 25, 2017
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Irvine, CA
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