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An Interview with Richard Griffin, Director of Seven Dorms of Death

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2016

Films directed by Richard Griffin on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new webseries Seven Dorms of Death - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Seven Dorms of Death is an original nine part webseries that was written by Matthew Jason Walsh, and it's a loving tribute to the shot-on-video horror movies of the 80s like Blood Cult, Video Violence and Boarding House. And as much as it's a satire, we also like to think it shows great love for and respect of the horror genre.

 

Why did you decide to release Seven Dorms of Death as a webseries - and in what ways (if at all) does shooting a series differ from making a feature film?

 

Well, it was originally written to be a webseries, but when we were in production, we decided to shoot it just as if it was a feature film. It runs exactly 90 minutes, so it was really no different than making a regular feature. In Matthew's original screenplay there were three commercial breaks, but we decided to expand on that and not only created more commercial breaks, but also added the horror movie host Baron Von Blah (played by Michael Thurber) to tie it all together.

 

How did the project fall together in the first place?

 

I had written an outline for a straight horror feature titled Grand Guignol, and being a huge fan of Matthew's writing, I asked him to write the screenplay. The funny thing is, he thought it would work best as a satire of 80s horror, and not played straight. I was a little apprehensive at first, but when I received the first few pages, I knew Matthew was right!

 

What can you tell us about your writer Matthew Jason Walsh, and what was your collaboration with him like?

 

I actually had very little input once Matthew started writing the screenplay. We made some very small changes as the shooting went on, but for the most part the movie is almost exactly what Matthew wrote. It was honestly one of the funniest screenplays I have ever had the pleasure of reading, so it required very little in the way of changes.

I do have to give a shout-out to writer Michael Varrati, who wrote all the hysterically funny Baron Von Blah bumpers. Michael is a dear friend, and a very talented screenwriter who's penned our movies Flesh for the Inferno and The Sins of Dracula.

 

With Seven Dorms of Death paying tribute to 80s horror hosts, shot-on-video movies and slasher flicks - what do you personally find appealing about these?

 

I was born in 1970, so I started really getting into horror movies in the early 80s. And at that time there were a lot of horror movie hosts on the air. For me, it was the Son of Svengoolie which was syndicated to my local UHF channel. It was where many of us of my generation -- pre VHS and pre cable TV -- would first see horror movies.

And around 1985 I rented Blood Cult from my local mom and pop video store. I was totally hooked. What was so cool about that movie was that it looked like something me and my high school pals could have made! It's just so charmingly threadbare, but there's a real innocent charm to it. It's cinematic comfort food.

 

A few words about Seven Dorms of Death's brand of humour?

 

Seven Dorms of Death has a really fun mix of both Matthew's knowing sense of humor, especially his spot-on observations about the sub-genre of 80s shot-on-video horror movies, and my more absurdist sense of humor. The trick really was to make sure certain elements of the movie - especially the visual style -- was played perfectly straight, and a LOT of credit for that has to go to my brilliant director of photography Jill Poisson [J. Poisson interview - click here].

My main inspiration for the movie was the original Airplane! film, which everyone in the cast was playing their roles like they were in a serious disaster film. Also, it was a complete blast coming up with some of the sight gags in the movie, and it was very liberating to know that if a mistake was made in a scene in terms of continuity or mismatched eye lines, it would work perfectly in context of the humor of the final piece!

 

What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

Directing Seven Dorms of Death was a fun challenge, because it was all about balance. The movie is supposed to be terrible, but you don't want to make certain elements bad (the sound, especially) or you'll just end up alienating your audience. One of the main responsibilities I had directing was to help each actor find their own unique bad performance. It was a real challenge, because a good actor has a certain resistance to unlearning everything they've learned about their craft, but everyone really got into it and it was a total blast.

 

Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?

 

It's hard to discuss just one actor in particular, because it's an ensemble cast. But everyone really brought their A game, and outside of their professionalism, they were just a wonderful group of people to spend the 14 days of shooting with. It's very rare for me to break up laughing during a take, but there were several times, especially with any scene Aaron Andrade was performing in, that I just couldn't keep it together and a few good takes were ruined by my uncontrollable laughter. I have to give them all so much credit, because of the sheer amount of trust they must have had in me. As I said before, it's not easy for a good actor to deliver such beautifully terrible performances, but they all went out on a limb and delivered some extremely entertaining lousy performances!

 

What can you tell us about the shoot as such and the on-set atmorphere?

 

I have directed 20 features over the past 13 years, and I'll tell you... I have never laughed so hard on a set. Everyone just had a complete blast. We pride ourselves on having very fun, light sets... but at the same time, we like to get our work done to the best of our budget.

 

The $64-question of course, where can Seven Dorms of Death be seen?

 

People can see the series right here on Scorpio Film Releasing's YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5gPIs42XM8

 

Depending on the success of the series, could you ever be persuaded to shoot more episodes? And/or other future projects you'd like to talk about?

 

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USA  amazon.com

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Germany (East AND West)  amazon.de

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Well, the story of Seven Dorms of Death wraps up perfectly at the end of this series, but who knows? Maybe we'll make another entirely original web series down the road. As for now, we're focusing on pre-production on our most ambitious production to date... a feature length adaptation of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, which will go into production in July.

 

Seven Dorms of Death's website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Seven-Dorms-of-Death-1507994002790610/

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner

 

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