The films of Edward Martin III are strange, earnest, and fun. They contain more heart than you might expect (and more gore). For Tigard residents, they also include shots of the city you live in. Martin, along with his Tigard-based media company Hellbender Media members, has been making films in the Tigard area and beyond for years. The company has created works including The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, an animated feature based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, and Flesh of my Flesh, an incredibly ambitious, low-budget gorefest that is not for the faint of heart.
When I ask him how long he’s been interested in horror, Martin says, “As long as I can remember.” In fact, Martin cites his early childhood as when he first knew he wanted to be a filmmaker. It all began watching horror films with his mom as a kid. “My mom would stay up watching horror movies. Then, she would get freaked and wake me up to watch the rest of the movie with her.” That soon led to a realization that people actually make movies, and the rest was history.
When recounting his early filmmaking ambitions, Martin says, “I would have these sort of imaginings like any kid does. What’s watching from underneath those bushes, or why does this building feel so weird?” These questions remain part of his films even now. One of his current developing projects follows a group of monsters trapped underground because of the pandemic. When he recounted this to his partner and fellow filmmaker Amber Bariaktari, she said, “Oh my god, that is gross. When can it be done?”
That seems to be the ultimate spirit of Hellbender Media. Indeed, their roster of films, web series, and miscellaneous projects are often spontaneously filmed and completed in just one day. “I don’t need to be prompted much to film something,” says Martin, “Crazy bushes over here and a little pond over here? I can do something with this!” This ambitious spirit can also be found in the filmmaker and collaborators’ ability to make gloriously imaginative special effects. Currently, he and Amber Bariaktari are working on creating an animatronic crab out of magnets. When these creative ideas and crafts come to fruition on screen, Martin says that everyone on set can be found “grinning at each other like kids.”
Martin and the rest of Hellbender Media seem driven to create and collaborate with as many people in the community as possible. This collaborative spirit is evident in their YouTube web series The Creative Draw. The premise of the show is simple. Different artists from all walks of life, including filmmakers, sculptors, and composers, draw a random notecard with a question about their creative process. Of the series, Martin says, “If you’re a horror filmmaker, I want to know what your favorite love story is.” The episodes run at only a few minutes, but there’s a wealth of inspiring material to be found watching the show, especially if you’re an aspiring creative yourself.
The show is another aspect of Martin’s work that reveals an interest in building a greater artist and filmmaking community here in Tigard. Many of his films have featured shots and locations throughout the city of Tigard as well as Wilsonville and Portland. When asked if he collaborates much with other artists in Tigard specifically, Martin says, “Not yet.” That forward-thinking spirit seems to drive his filmmaking ambitions. “Wouldn’t it be great to do a Tigard-based project?” he says. You get the feeling that as soon as he says this, he’s already thinking of a story.
Martin’s drive doesn’t seem to have been halted by the pandemic, though he has made some adjustments. Of the pandemic’s influence on his work, Martin says, “Certain things aren’t funny to me anymore.” With so much stress and uncertainty in our day-to-day lives, he seems more compelled to explore the absurd and fun moments in life, even within the horror genre. “I’ve been thinking a lot about positive things. Fun stuff.” For example, he cites a story he’s got in the works about a house that takes revenge on some aspiring residents. Once the house realizes that the couple just wants to flip it and start over, the house (seemingly a living creature) subsumes them as an act of vengeance.
Gruesome? Maybe a little, but you can’t help but sympathize with the house’s perspective. This is just another example of Martin’s interest in the absurd joy of even the most frightful moments.
If you’re feeling brave this Halloween season, check out the delightfully grisly films of Edward Martin III. Even if you’re not, there’s something for every Tigard resident in the works of Hellbender Media.
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