Your movie Murder
University - in a few words, what is it about?
is a loving homage to the slasher films of the early
80s. Even more so than the American films like Friday the
13th, it was
inspired by the European knock-offs like Pieces.
did the project fall together in the first place - and perhaps related to
that, what was your collaboration with your screenwriter Lenny Schwartz
I wanted to work with a young actor named Jamie Dufault whom I had
seen in a short film - well, Jamie had acted in some plays written by a
fellow Rhode Island named Lenny Schwartz. I knew Lenny had a great track
record for writing really original material... Humorous but sometimes very
dark. I contacted Lenny out of the blue and asked him to write the
screenplay. I really just had a title, the concept of a murderer stalking a
campus, and I wanted Jamie to play the lead.
Well, within 24 hours, Lenny had written the first seven pages of
the movie... and it was incredible. The movie just took off like a shot,
and very quickly we were in casting mode. Shooting lasted for two and a
half months, and it was a complete joy.
University is a rather obvious hommage to 1980's genre cinema - so
what do you find so interesting about that period, and what were your
inspirations but also challenges to make a film set in the 1980's?
Well, I was a teenager in the 80's, so I know a lot about how people
dressed and spoke during that decade. It just felt right to me. I also
wanted the movie to look like a Duran Duran video directed by Dario
Argento. Hyper stylized with really garish colors. My director of
photography, Jill Poisson, pulled that off beautifully.
As for challenges... well, finding the right clothes was a big
problem. Finding vintage clothes from the 60s and 70s is really easy...
but pieces from the 80s are a bit trickier. But, I think we pulled it off
to think of it, quite a few of your movies are "period pieces", Atomic
is set in the 1950's, Disco
Exorcist in the 1970's - isn't that a strain especially on a low
I love a challenge. I've been making
movies for over 20 years now, and I love the challenge of getting the most
production value out of a dime as I can. As for my love of period
pieces... I think a lot of that is to do with fact that I'm not really a
fan of the time we're currently living in. I grew up in the 70s and 80s
where music and fashions were really amazing, and I like to reflect that
in my films.
University is of course also a slasher movie - a genre at all dear
to you, and why (not)?
My first real exposure to horror movies - outside of the classics I
would watch on television (I grew up in the 70s, pre-cable television and
pre-VCRs) - was John Carptenter's Halloween
- that was a major influence to
so many of us in the horror genre. By the time I was old enough to see
horror movies in the theaters, the slasher cycle was in full bloom with
Friday the 13th, Madman, Pieces (which I actually saw in a
theater - it was insane).
So, I feel very close to them and still find them to be the
"comfort food" of this genre.
University does get quite gory at times - so what can you tell us
about your gore effects, and was there ever any line you refused to cross?
Well, most of the FX in Murder
University were done practically. I'm
not a big fan of CGI gore - mostly because it just never looks real. I
was blessed to have two great FX artists, Eric Rodrigues and Jordan
Pacheco. They pulled off some amazing things -- including one of the best
fake heads I've ever seen -- on a shoestring budget.
As for drawing a line? Well, I wanted the gore in the movie to be fun.
It's completely comic book. Also, if you notice, a lot of the kills are
directed towards men in the movie. I'm not a big fan of "torture
porn". I think horror movies should be a fun, harmless roller coaster
talk about your principal cast for a bit, and why exactly these people?
Michael Thurber, Jamie Dufault
As I mentioned before, I had wanted to work with Jamie after seeing
some of his amazing work. He really is the glue that holds the whole
picture together. He brings a certain innocence and awkwardness to the
role of Josh that I thought was key.
The rest of the leads are amazing as well! Michael Thurber, who've I've
had the pleasure of working with on Exhumed and
Disco Exorcist brings a
really wonderful, burned-out charm to his role as Detective Forrester, and
Sammi Acampora -- outside of possessing a face the camera just loves --
brings a great deal of charm and sass to her role as Meg.
And Nat Sylva is really chilling and seductive as the lead murderer. I
think it's one of the most unsung performances of the film, and
deserves a great deal of attention.
The entire cast, from the leads to the extras are perfect. I couldn't
ask for a better group of actors!
can you tell us about the actual shoot, and the on-set atmosphere?
shoot was amazing! I had a great cast, a hard-working and talented crew,
and enough money and time to make the movie the way I wanted to make it.
Everyone had a blast. No bad tempers or blow-ups. We're a family here at
Scorpio Film Releasing.
few words about Murder
University's audience and critical reception so far?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
far the reviews have been very kind, including a rave review on Ain't It
Cool News. One critic REALLY hated the film! I mean really hated it! Which
is wonderful! My films aren't vanilla ice cream... they're not for
future projects you'd like to share?
In January we're
premiering our newest film Normal, which is a very dark drama written by
Lenny Schwartz. It's unlike anything I've done so far. I just wrapped on a
sci-fi action film called Future Justice that was written by Nat Sylva.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
You can check us out on
Anything else you are
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
out for our upcoming production Accidental Incest, a twisted romantic
comedy, also written by Lenny Schwartz, coming in 2014!
for the interview!