Your upcoming movie Hide-a-Key - in a few words, what is it
In the fewest words? It’s Othello with more nudity and better
kills. In a few more, slightly less pretentious words, it’s about a dude
who locks himself out of his house and when he opens his hide-a-key, he
finds, instead of his key a memory stick containing videos of an unknown
intruder seriously fucking with his family. It’s about the thing
we fear the most, we are not safe when we think we’re the safest.
But seriously… there’s going to be some kick ass murder in here.
What were your sources of inspiration when
dreaming up Hide-a-Key?
Two key things happened
kinda back to back after my wife and I bought our first house:
1. I had to
go there a lot at night to put up paint samples and like the big strong
man I am, got really scared of my house at night. Seriously.
No… like I was in there and these noises to start happening and I would
get that fast heart beating nervous terror, sweats going and by the time I
was finished, I would be running out to the car after.
On the DAY we moved in I had one job… go there early and wait for the
movers. So naturally I locked myself out of the house and had to climb in
a window… after which I went to Home Depot to buy a hide-a-key, and as I
was trying to find a suitable place to hide it, I had the thought…
“what if I opened this late at night and the KEY WAS GONE!”
process of Hide-a-Key has been a rather unique one - care to
I used to frequent an amazing writer-centric
website called Movie Poet, until its founder, Chris Messineo had to shut
it down to dedicate his time and considerable talents to The NJ Film
(I’m not affiliated with this school at all, I just think it’s
awesome so you should check it out). Anywhoo, as the website shut down,
the writers kinda scattered to the wind and started winding up in odd
social media places… like the proverbial old bit-coin penny…
When I got the idea for Hide-A-Key, I figured, you know, I have a series
of film clips depicting this intruder messing with this family, so why not
just put the call out there for people to submit scripts. I gave
them the basic premise and then said “go for it”. And then the
scripts started coming in and I instantly knew that a) I had a winner
because this is the most fucked up stuff I’ve ever read, and b) I’m
going to need money for this because I’m going to have to pay people to
let me do this stuff to them… because this is the most fucked up stuff
I’ve ever read! (Is it getting annoying that I’m doing this
a…b… things? I can try to stop…)
What can you tell us about
approach to horror (as in suspense vs sudden shocks, atmosphere vs
all-out-gore and the like)?
Can I just say, YES to all of
those? That sounds great! I think, as a horror junkie, I’m
trying to make the ultimate horror flick for ME… the stuff that I want to
see… the experience that I want to come out of… what I think is missing
in a lot of horror movies in the modern time… Rob Zombie
notwithstanding, a lot of horror has drifted into safe, predictable cutesy
PG-fucking-13 realms and it’s just very rare to go see a movie NOT
directed by Rob Zombie and come out of it with, what I think HORROR does
best: fucking catharsis… the, as the ancient Greeks would do
literally, vomiting up of emotions based on a shared experience with a
group of people. Horror should expose us to the things were are
actually terrified of and through that, we can see in ourselves that we
are all the same and not alone and maybe we can let go of some of the
things we’re holding in. And that is a tall fucking order for a
movie to pull off… but to do that, you have to be willing to go to places
that make people uncomfortable. That is my goal… I want to make something
that feels real… something that… listen, I am easily scared… STARTLED
actually… meaning if I’m watching something and the obligatory IT’S
JUST A CAT in the closet moment hits, I’m the dude who is going to
scream the loudest at that… but then I feel cheated because you have
merely startled me… you have not SCARED me. When I saw Silence of the
Lambs for the first time, when Clarice Starling is in Buffalo Bill’s
basement and the lights go out… there was a feeling that came over
me… the heart races the pulse quickens… sitting up in the seat, not
wanting to watch… genuine dread. Same thing (I may get some shit
for this but It’s true so shuttayouface) I got when watching The
Blair Witch Project for the first time and even that last moment in the original
Paranormal Activity. I’m having a genuine moment of terror. Of dread. THAT is
what I want from Hide-A-Key. Yes, we are going to have boobs and shocks a
plenty and tons of gore like you have never seen before… but ultimately I
want you to experience what this poor father is going through… as he
watches these video clips and it dawns on him what is really happening… I
want you to kiss that hopeless feeling of true dread. That would be the
ideal. That was a very long answer….
For a film like
the location seems to be (bad pun ahead) key - so what can you tell us
Well it’s MY house. And it still makes me a
little nervous… true story… I’ve never in my life and I’m an old
fuck fallen down a flight of stairs. NEVER. Not once. In the
first month of living in my new house I fell down TWO sets of stairs.
The second time carrying a full glass of water… and that will wake your ass
right the fuck up… It’s a gorgeous house and we love it.
But there are times, when I kinda feel like it’s out to get me.
Like the Amityville Horror but with an asshole house and not a murder
house. But it’s old, from the 30s and it’s all creaky and there
are lots of really cool angles and stuff. I imagine a lot of this
movie, beside my cheapness, has to do with my trying to exorcise a few of
my fears. But trust me, the house will scare you. My wife, on
our first night there… after making fun of me for WEEKS about my telling
her I was eeked out by it… woke me up saying “what’s that noise”
Do talk about the intended
and feel of your movie!
Okay, I’m going to cop to
it… there are going to be some aspects of “found footage” in
this… hey wait… where are you going!!! I know I know… believe
me I KNOW. And you know, fuck that… I’m not even going to call
this found footage. Because no one is finding this footage… this footage
is being shoved down our poor guy’s throat. In fact, I’m not even
calling it found footage. This is the world’s greatest FORCED FOOTAGE
movie. So yeah. There’s that. A lot of this is hacked
security cams and hidden camera and handheld POV stuff, but then we are
shooting a lot of the connecting scenes with a RED. So it’s going to be
a hodge podge. Some grainy shaky stuff with HD crisp clean
security footage, but then also like normal film looking stuff.
On a side note, if you are a genius DP, give me a shout.
Anything you can tell us about
your cast yet?
Only that they are fucking amazing.
I’ve locked down three actors… all people I love dearly and thank my
lucky stars that they aren’t busy this Thanksgiving! See there’s
a trick for you budding film makers out there… shoot your movies around
lame holidays where people might have a bunch of time off but don’t
really get to open presents and it’s like manna from talent heaven!
If you check out the campaign page
you can see the updated casting info.
Hide-a-Key is presently still in
its fundraising stages, right? So do talk about your campaign for a bit!
I’m taking a slightly different approach this time around (‘tis my
second campaign) and doing my absolute best to make it so that any horror
fans can get a chance to see the movie. At this point I am trying to find
like-minded sickos that want to see the film. And I’m making it
crazy affordable. For a measly five smackers, you can see the film.
That’s slightly less than a pay per view (of a first run feature also in
theaters and slightly more than a regular pay per view). And we have
a ton of other fun stuff… DVDs, shirts, you can adopt one of the
security cameras and actually get raw footage from the movie that nobody
else will ever see… we have a few really special ones including the
ultimate Hide-A-Key experience where someone will leave a hide a key at
your house with a memory stick version of the movie. (for some of you,
that someone will be the mailman… but if you live in New Jersey… who
knows). But the best thing is that any contribution, even a
dollar, will get you full access to all of our behind the scenes
shenanigans. Shenanigans for a dollar? Fancy that!
Oh… and for a very limited time, check out our Stranger Danger bonus
upgrade… the first 5 people we don’t personally know who contribute
will get a super secret bonus upgrade.
the budget's in place, what's the schedule - and any idea, however
tentatively, when and where the film might be released yet?
this Thanksgiving with the goal of festival submissions starting in the
early spring and then… we’ll see. I’d love to get into a nice horror
fest or two or four or ten.
future projects beyond Hide-a-Key?
actually an interim project that came up while I was doing pre-production
on another feature film, The Soul Garden. I’m looking to get back
to that once Hide-A-Key is in the proverbial can (you can check it out at my
I am about to launch a webseries I did with my best bud, called Meantime
(check out the trailer here: https://vimeo.com/138819049). Right
now I’m kinda feeling very lucky because a lot of stuff is coming
together at once. Plus my twins, Maggie and Zack are about to turn
three and I hear that’s when they start actively trying to drive you mad
so there’s that…
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
training on the subject?
I grew up in the 80s. I had one
of the first VCRs in my neighborhood and yes that made me feel cool.
I grew up in the golden age of (pre-Blockbuster) movie rentals… every
Friday taking my allowance to Video Box Office in Waycross, GA and
watching non-stop movies all weekend. I kinda ack-basswards fell
into directing… the first school I went to didn’t have a film program
so I chose the next best thing (right?), Theatre, and took that journey
all the way through an MFA in Acting of all things. And looking back on it
now, I’m glad I went through that path even though it did take me a long
time to start doing my own flicks. Coming into filmmaking, writing,
producing and all that jazz AFTER being an actor I think gives me a nice
perspective on things. But I always made short films and stuff
throughout my gloriously misspent youth.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Hide-a-Key?
I’ve made many
movies, 3 features and 20-ish shorts. Two of those features will never see
the light of day but you can watch my “official” first film, F**k New
York (OFFICIAL selection at the Queens World and Hoboken International
Film Festivals woot woot!) right here for FREE:
You can catch my shorts on my YouTube channel
but please don’t watch Battleact. Seriously. Don’t watch it!
you describe yourself as a director?
I try to be as
unobtrusive as possible. I cast and hire geniuses and then let them
be brilliant. I think the director’s job is to find themes and
through lines and then craft a series of moving images to illicit a
prescribed response… one doesn’t need to be all precious about it…
From a horror perspective, pound for pound you
just don’t get any better than Rob Zombie. David Cronenberg is
probably my “if I could BE any other director” director. He is
just fucking brutal and brilliant. I saw Videodrome with a group of
kids at some band function… no... MARCHING band (told you I was cool) and
I remember them all running around going “the Videodrome problem” like
making fun of it but I was all like “long live the new flesh” and they
totally didn’t get it. I don’t know why I just remembered that.
But I love him. I love Robert Rodriguez and am always inspired by
him… true maverick. But I suppose if I had to pick a favorite/mentor
kinda guy, it’s Lloyd Kaufman? How could it not be. He’s the
Your favourite movies?
I am a
Friday the 13th-series FREAK and love them all… every single cotton
picking one of them… yep even THAT one (so what if he was only in
Manhattan for like 20 minutes?). Actually we cold probably be here
all day if I don’t curb my enthusiasm but I love 80s horror… the
slasher stuff: Dorm that Dripped Blood, Happy Birthday to Me,
Valentine… but I will also watch pretty much anything that Cecil from
Good Bad Flicks recommends. But if you really want to know, my all
time favorite movie is Joe Versus the Volcano.
and of course, films you really deplore?
None of them,
really. I really try (try being the operative word here) to not bash
other people’s stuff because, look… it’s really fucking HARD to make
a movie and if you can put one together and pull something out of the
ether and make it tangible and in the end have an actual movie… well that
is a fucking miracle in itself and I applaud you. Yeah, everything
doesn’t speak to me but if you have made your movie, that’s a fucking
victory. Having said that…I will cop to thinking that all cynical
art is a crock of shit.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
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movie's website, Facebook, IndieGoGo, whatever else?
@quitefilm at Twitter.
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
were very thorough and I thank you for that.
for the interview!
No. Thank YOU. This was awesome.