Four-time NC State graduate Alan Watkins certainly doesn’t try to hide his hobby of making horror films.
He didn’t when he uploaded his self-made movies, including Halloween Nightmare and Blood Clown, to his YouTube page.
He didn’t when he asked his pastor to let Watkins film a scene in the sanctuary of the church where he serves as deacon.
And he didn’t when he let his two daughters put on makeup and be extras in A Few Brains More, a movie that intersects the 1970s hippie movement with a zombie invasion. Watkins served as the lighting technician on that film.
“I showed my wife the pictures, and she didn’t want me to show my mother-in-law because she would hate them,” Watkins says.
Watkins, a full-time IBM software developer who also lectures in NC State’s Engineering Online Program, is taking five films that he’s had some hand in making to the film festival at ConCarolinas this weekend. That is an annual three-day science fiction, fantasy and horror convention held in Charlotte.
Watkins has been making movies since the mid-1990s, when he was studying communications at NC State. But he started a relationship in 2010 with a group of about 10 other filmmakers in the Triangle who share his love of making movies. They call themselves the Adrenaline Group.
Watkins’ films eschew the more violent and sensational trappings of contemporary horror movies. They instead serve as a throwback to psychologically tense movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th.
“The ones I personally write are tame,” he says. “I’m personally much more about telling a story rather than doing the shock-and-awe type of thing. I don’t write any bad language in my scripts.”
Loneliness, a short feature he’s submitting to ConCarolinas, tells the story of a woman who cannot let go of her dead husband. “She sees him in her dreams,” he says. “And the horror ensues from there.”
Watkins says he loves horror movies because “you don’t have to think too much about them,” which is different from teaching at NC State, which he also loves.
“Back when I started teaching,” he says, “I thought it was something I’d try and do once. Now that I’m in an industry where I can pass along information and help [students] with their career path, it’s just enjoyable.”
Despite his prolific moonlighting — Watkins says he averages making a couple of films a year — he’s modest about his efforts. He doesn’t lose sight of who he is.
“I’m a computer science guy,” he says. “I don’t see myself as creative at all.”