Atlanta Filmmaker James Sizemore Builds A World Of Monsters

Filmmaker James Sizemore is a self-taught monster maker. Along with effects, he has created a monster universe that appears in all his films. CREDIT JAMES SIZEMORE
Credit James Sizemore


As the film industry booms, it’s almost normal to see synthetic zombies walking down Atlanta streets, fake fur werewolves scampering through fields or goat demons partaking in a witch’s ceremony.

The latter is the case for James Sizemore’s most recent short film, “Goat Witch,” which takes place in a monster world that he and his fellow writers at Black Rider Productions have been developing for over 10 years. The world straddles the human realm and an underworld called the Dark Womb, where monsters, gods and demons lurk. The tension in his films usually comes from a human tapping into the Dark Womb or a demon tapping into the human realm, which brings about some sort of evil.

Also set in this monster world, Sizemore’s first film, “The Demon’s Rook,” went on the horror film festival circuit in 2013 and 2014 with great success. His upcoming project, “Black Wolf,” will introduce more characters from the Womb.

Unlike the good-evil dichotomy in most horror films, Sizemore’s characters aren’t strictly evil or strictly good. For example, one character from “The Demon’s Rook,” Dimwos, kills a human boy’s family, but of course, it’s for the sake of the entire cosmos.

The films use practical effects. Sizemore has painted and experimented with clay for most of his life, but he is self-taught in makeup and mask-making. He develops all of the details of the monsters from tentacles and claws to horns and pointed fingernails. Making a mask, and an entire monster body suit for that matter, is a lengthy process:

Though he has deferred most of the gore effects to his filmmaking team, Sizemore experimented with fake blood and guts in his earlier pieces. One of his favorite effects is the skin rips.

“There’s just something about seeing someone’s skin stretched and pulled like taffy and loads of blood shooting out,” he says.

On his affinity for monsters, he says it’s a healthy and fun form of self-expression: “There’s a great big monster inside all of us, lots of monsters actually.”

“24 FPS (Frames Per Second)” is a weekly segment on “City Lights with Lois Reitzes,” where we hear from local, independent filmmakers.

In these segments, they tell us about being a filmmaker in Atlanta, their projects and the how-tos of film production.