We interview Suzanne Desrocher-Romero about the George A. Romero Foundation and her passion for continuing the legacy of her late husband.
On July 16, 2017, George A. Romero, the Godfather of Horror, passed away at the age of seventy-seven, leaving a legacy that he, himself, couldn’t always comprehend.
The reality of Romero, he was authentic, an exceptional and humble human being with a huge heart for all those courageous souls that came along his path as he defied Hollywood’s systems. There will never be another George A. Romero.
This Summer, I had the honor of meeting with the heart and soul of The George A. Romero Foundation (GARF), Suzanne Desrocher-Romero, the founder and George’s wife. It was an incredible thrill to interview her at The Living Dead Festival held inside the legendary Monroe Mall in Monroeville, PA.
Established in 2018, The GARF is dedicated to honoring the life work and cultural influence of George A. Romero and supporting a new generation of filmmakers and artists inspired by his legacy.
At the GARF table, I share a short and emotional conversation with Suzanne about my meeting George back in 2015 and what his work meant to me personally. Suzanne was lovely and gracious to share more about the foundation she keeps building and the smiling spirit of Romero.
INTERVIEW WITH GARF FOUNDER SUZANNE DESROCHER-ROMERO
Suzanne Desrocher-Romero: It’s a difficult business, it can break people’s hearts, and what sustained him was his passion, that’s what sustained him.
Morbidly Beautiful: He led us all by example.
SDR: Yes, through passion. The business part of the equation is a difficult one. One of the reasons why we established this foundation was to help provide infrastructure so that we can provide mentorships, and scholarships, and put cameras in young filmmakers’ hands. George was inspiring, but not in a purposeful way.
MB: He was inspiring just by being, showing up; that’s what I pick up from everyone I meet at this convention, what they love about him. GARF is about to celebrate its five year anniversary. What have these past 5 years been like for you?
SDR: Well, you know, you initially take the steps to establish a foundation, you actually don’t realize how much work is involved. After 5 years, I feel that we have grown organically, and incredibly. We’re still very small, but we’re thriving, and we’re going to grow. I think one day we will be, I hope, as impactful as George was.
MB: Where do you see GARF 5 years from now?
SDR: I don’t know. I know that we will be more sophisticated. I think our reach will be deeper. I’m wishful. I’m hopeful that will happen.
MB: Do you think George ever imagined how much his films would continue to create a culture within horror?
SDR: No, at the end of the day, he just wanted to write, shoot, direct, and edit. That’s all he really wanted to do. What happens after that is out of an artist’s hands. I remember once we were on our terrace and at 2 o’clock he had to speak through a telephone to a square in Czechoslovakia. There were 8,000 people there, and he said, “Sue, that’s surreal to me, that’s craziness, that crazy world.” If you are true to your art and the art speaks for you, it’s out of your hands.
MB: It’s like his blessing, all of this.
SDR: Another thing, too, is even though, obviously, organically, he’s not here, he spiritually is so here!
MB: It takes a tribe to build GARF. You have brought on some exceptional individuals – Steve Barton, Matt Blazi, and Eric Kent, who run the YouTube channel. Julia Marchese and Teri Gamble from the Horror Movie Survival Guide Podcast are also coming on board to help build this impact and reach. What are you excited about coming up that you can share with us?
SDR: All these initiatives are really so that eyeballs can go to where we are and live.
All of it is to engage the community, but I have to tell you my jam is all about the archive and the studying of horror. Elevating horror and making it so that it’s not a second-class citizen.
At the end of the day, engaging with the community is obviously a good thing. And I think the community agrees with me essentially. I think that’s our job, our mission to elevate horror, support the world and have fun. George had a great sense of humor, he was fun. You can’t get too serious, but we need to be serious enough.
MB: My friends and I appreciated The Amusement Park, we had the opportunity to see it on the big screen. It meant a lot to us; what a gem!
SDR: Wow. George had dismissed that film. He thought, “Yeah, who cares?” It was a 3-day shoot – bing, bang, boom, 37 thousand dollars. But my job is to ensure that all of his work is protected and cherished. Not having been exposed, I saw this piece as a no-brainer for me. I showed it to a couple of people, key people, to see if I was out of my mind. Is this worth going and doing all the work? And the answer was – absolutely yes! So, we did the work.
MB: It made us think a lot; it was beautiful.
SDR: He always does. When George made a movie, it was always smart. If you didn’t want it to be smart, you just took it for a visceral experience, you could. But if you wanted to dig a little deeper, it was there. I always refer to his work as a lasagna. You can eat the lasagna. But if you wanted to do the ricotta and the meats, it’s all there! It’s all in the dish.
MB: How can the fans inspired by George contribute to GARF? What can they do to help your organization?
SDR: First of all, be attentive at least. Of course, money is important because it keeps the lights on. It allows us to spend money on the initiatives we think are important. I think it’s just a matter of also keeping the community engaged. I can’t tell you how many times people say thank you because you’re keeping him relevant, he’s not fading away.
I think we’re unfading; that’s what you do.
GARF: PRESERVING LEGACY. EMPOWERING INDEPENDENT FILMMAKERS.
In addition to working with the Douglas Education Center and the University of Pittsburgh, GARF is connecting with global Romero fans via YouTube!
Eric & Matt
What Eric Kent and Matt Blazi have brought to the GARF Network in just under two years are new experiences shared from each of Romero’s films that are not always documented on Blu-Ray commentaries or behind the scenes. The content is invaluable.
Be sure to check out in-depth conversations with Greg Nicotero, Steve Barton, Rusty Cundieff, Joe Bob Briggs, Michael Felsher, and many more. Tina, George’s daughter, has cohosted some extra special episodes and the Daughters of the Dead podcast is a must.
Coming Soon! Julia Marchese and Teri Gamble from the Horror Movie Survival Guide podcast present HORROR X, a new show premiering on the GARF Network with a focus on women within the horror film and television industry.
The newest addition to the network takes you to a deeper level of Horror. And who better to lead that discussion and dig into those exploratory layers than Professor and Author Adam Lowenstein, aka Dr. Horror? When he is not teaching English and Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, he’s publishing thought-provoking knowledge with his latest book, Horror Film and Otherness. Kicking off episode one, Dr. Horror had the honor of interviewing David Cronenberg about his career, Jewish roots, and the impact the genre has personally had on his life.
With more exciting interviews and content to come, you can’t afford to miss out, Subscribe to the GARF Network!
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