Your new movie Clinger -
in a few words, what is it about?
is just your average coming-of-age horror film about a girl in her first high
school relationship whose overly-attentive boyfriend Robert dies in an
embarrassing accident and comes back from the dead to kill her so they can be
together for eternity.
Who had the original idea for Clinger,
and how did the project get off the ground?
Michael Steves and I were in the middle of preparing to produce another script he had
written about a family of wealthy cannibals, when Michael called me on the
phone during my senior year in college and told me he had a much better
idea. Mind you, this was after months of preparing to produce Good
Taste as it was called. We decided it was worth it to scrap all of our
previous work (Michaelís screenwriting work mostly), because we loved
this idea so much.
your sources of inspiration when writing Clinger?
used my first high school relationship as well as every awkward moment in
my life as inspiration, as I know my co-writers Gabi Chennisi Duncombe and Michael
Steves did too. In one scene,
Fern completely embarrasses herself at a high school party. In another,
she loses her virginity and itís a huge let-down. I really wish I could
say these scenes were not based on my personal experiences.
can you tell us about your co-writers, and what was the writing process
my co-writers are huge divas and I canít stand their outrageous demands.
Just kidding they are my best friends from high school and life partners
and we now have this trifecta marriage that really works and we couldnít
leave it even if we tried.
Basically it goes like this: Michael suggests that a character barfs something out
of its mouth, and Gabi and I find a way to make that happen.
As a producer, what were the main
challenges of bringing Clinger
to the screen, and how much of a hands-on or hands-off producer were you?
had produced music videos, commercials, and shorts in the past, so I did
have some experience, and I felt pretty confident going into it. But a
feature film is a totally new beast, and I had no idea how much more work
it would be than anything else I had done in my life so far.
I made the mistake at the beginning of production of trying too hard not to
step on other peopleís toes, when really I needed to be checking every
single aspect of the movie at every moment making sure something
catastrophic wasnít about to happen. Even though we had an amazing crew,
itís inevitable in a micro budget movie that things are going to go
wrong, and you have to have your antennas up at all times ready to catch
it before it does. I definitely learned that by the end of production.
was your collaboration with Clinger's
director Michael Steves like during the shoot?
and I had been best friends through high school and college and had
collaborated many times before, so we started off with a better heads
start than many producer/director combos. Michael is a director that knows
how to stay calm in the face of what seems like an insurmountable
challenge. He takes notes and feedback in a productive manner, and is not
at all hesitant to kill his babies (donít worry he doesnít have any
actual children). He also has the unique talent of being able to function
on nothing but an unholy lack of sleep and twelve shots of espresso. I
think we all three, Gabi Michael and I, learned more on Clinger
could have ever imagined about being writers, producers, directors, and
DPs, but also about being supportive of each other and on the same team.
about the shoot as such for a bit, and the on-set atmosphere?
was the most fun and most stressful summer camp in the world. It was
summertime, brutally hot in Houston, TX, and everyone was sleeping at
Michaelís house or my house. God bless our parents. It was a very large
crew for a micro budget film, so it was a social environment. We were on
set for a month. Just like any film set, there were a lot of laughs and a
lot of late nights where we all just wanted to go to sleep and not talk to
anyone ever again. But our crew were the biggest troopers. They maintained
a positive attitude and made it the best summer of my life.
you were also the editor of Clinger
- what were the main issues here, and how would you describe the film's
editing style as such?
Lord where do I start?! First off, it was a lot of fun and I wouldnít
trade the experience for the world. Also, it was horrible and a lot more
taxing than I think I realized at the time. On the weekend we picture
locked I didnít leave my apartment for 48 hours straight. I was so
absorbed in making our deadlines that I forgot about my car and got a
street sweeping ticket. And I was actually fine with the ticket because we
were finally picture locked and nothing could bring me down at that point.
Clinger really taught me how many tools are at an editorís disposal to make a
scene make sense. At first I was really hesitant to use a lot of ADR, and
then Michael pushed me to put ADR in every weak spot in the movie, and we
ended up with a slightly less technical professional product but a much
more complete film. And when two scenes in particular werenít working,
Michael wanted to put animated sequences in their place. They ended up
being standout scenes in the movie. Itís fun working in the horror
genre, especially such a goofy horror movie, because you have even fewer
rules than normal.
Anything you can tell us about
critical and audience reception of Clinger
seems to be getting a really solid reception from the indie and horror
critics alike which Iím really proud of. People are willing to excuse
some of the amateurish elements of the film because of how much heart it
clearly has. And I think they are recognizing that Clinger
to say both about how ďnice guysĒ sometimes feel entitled to girls and
about how incredibly powerful yet ultimately misleading first love can be.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
Michael Steves and I arenít tired of each other yet for some reason so we wrote
our second feature together, The Cold Descent, a supernatural western
starring Tony Todd (Candyman) Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Terminator), and
Michael Eklund (Bates Motel). Itís currently in post, and weíre really
excited it about how itís coming out!
entered the filmworld as a commercial and music video director - so do
talk about that aspect of your career for a bit, and did you receive any
formal education on the subject?
the time I started producing
Clinger, I had just graduated from USCís
Film & TV Production program, and I had been directing for my entire
life. Which like I talked about above basically means nothing when
youíre making your first feature. USC prepared me as much as any set of
classes could. Ultimately though, there is no way to learn how to make an
indie feature, other than doing it yourself.
What can you tell us
about your filmwork prior to Clinger?
Clinger, I did a lot of music videos and shorts. One short that
Michael and I made, Workout Buddies: A Bro Love Story, got over a million
hits on YouTube and helped us get funding for Clinger.
During post on Clinger, around this time last year, we had a music video
gain traction online for portraying an aging same-sex couple looking back
on their life called #ThisCouldBeUs. It was covered in The Huffington
Post, Upworthy, Logo and some other outlets -- that was a very rewarding
experience and obviously super different from Clinger. This year, Michael
and I co-directed a spot about the recently deceased, 103 year-old founder
of an insurance company who left his final message to his company before
he died. Itís very sweet and inspirational, and I canít wait for
people to see it. It was my first time co-directing with Michael, and it
was a blast. Gabi produced too, which was new for her.
writers, whoever else who inspire you?
your own feature allows for a very unique phenomenon known as ďan
appreciation for bad moviesĒ. First of all, movies that I used to think
were bad I now think are total genius as long as I walk out knowing
exactly what happened in it. But
more importantly, it now doesnít matter to me if a movie is considered
bad or good before I watch it, because if itís good, Iíll enjoy it,
and if itís bad, Iíll enjoy everything I am learning from it. I
realized that I learn a lot more from bad movies than I do from good
movies. Good movies are inspiring artistically, but you get too
emotionally involved in the film to be able to recognize all the mechanics
of it. I find that bad movies (or even better, mediocre ones) teach me so
much more about how to make a good movie.
So my answer isÖ bad movies inspire me!
to write and produce Clinger
made me into a horror fan. We delved deep
into the genre to write this film, and I found so many movies that I
consider among my favorites today.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
taught me a very important lesson. If you walk out of a feature film and
you know exactly what happened in it, it is actual genius. In a short,
commercial, or music video, itís pretty easy to get the audience from A
to B in a story, but a feature film is so different. We would finish
shooting a scene, patting each other on the back, thinking we had
absolutely NAILED it. Then weíd watch the assembly the next day and we
would look at each other and ask ďwait what the hell just happened in
that scene?Ē In fact, the first cut of the movie (pre our reshoots six months later) made
very little sense for that reason. And that is why I learned to respect
Adam Sandler movies. For most of them, you can walk out of and at least
know what actually occurred in them. And that is so much harder than it
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
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having been said, I donít like films that arenít enjoyable to watch out
of a belief that they are somehow more artistic that way. I think films
should always be enjoyable to watch, and if youíre movie is boring,
youíre fucking up. Thatís why I didnít like The Tree of Life. I
actually think Clinger is better than The Tree of Life because itís
never boring. Itís a lot of other things. Yes it's clearly made by a
bunch of recent college grads who had never made a movie before. But
itís not boring! Clinger: 1, Tree of Life: 0.
for real though I really did like that one second shot in the Tree of
Life where the mom is magically floating in the air like an angel.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
@ClingerTheMovie on Twitter & Instagram
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
you pretty much covered it!
for the interview!