Your new movie Krampus
Unleashed - in a few words, what is it about?
is a non-sequel follow up to the film I did last
year, Krampus: The Reckoning. But in a few words, itís a straight
up monster movie. A bit retro, a but comedy, but basically a
creature feature staring my favorite yuletide demon.
have previously made another movie about the Krampus
actually, Krampus: The Reckoning - so in what way are the two films
related (if at all)?
Other than the obvious, they both
feature Krampus, there are no real similarities. With last yearís
film I was going for that Twilight Zone kind of twist ending. This
year it was basically monster movie 101. We replaced the digital Krampus
and went full on practical. Blood, guts, mayhem but most of
all fun! Fun was the underlining theme I was going for and I think
we pulled that off. There are still a few scenes that are kind of
sad but for the most part, I tried to keep it lighthearted. A big
influence for this was the Monty Python sketch from the
Meaning of Life.
The live organ donor sketch was kind of the tone I wanted to go with.
Violent yes, but often silly.
Why did you choose the Krampus
as the villain of your movie in the first place, and did you do any
special research on the character?
Iíve been in love with
ever since I first heard of him a few years ago. There are a
lot of darker elements to the myth of Krampus, not least of which is
dragging children to hell, but I steered away from that kind of content
this time. I think my film last year presented Krampus
punisher of people who deserve it, where this year our log line was
ďnaughty OR nice, heís coming for you!Ē Most of the research I
did was for last yearís film. But itís not Tolkien. Other
than a few blurbs here and there that give a general description, most of Krampus
lore in my films, I needed to come up with myself. And that
was a fun exercise in its own right as it gave me a chance to do some
(Other) sources of
inspiration when writing Krampus
I wanted to make the film fun so I
looked to some of the more light-hearted horrors such as Tremors.
I wanted an eclectic group of characters pitted against a powerful
monster. Predictable plot lines and funny one-liners are great camp
that I didnít shy away from. Another influence was the
ultimate classic creature-feature, King
Kong. A big hairy monster
whoís out to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting and unprepared world.
The 1930ís King Kong was one of my favs as a child and, as with many
filmmakers, I tend to want to make films that remind me of my first
cinematic influences. Decades later when we go to film school, we
learn about the master works of cinema but for me at least I like to draw
inspiration from the movies I saw early in life that made me a fan of film
in the first place.
Unleashed being a slasher movie, is that a genre at all dear to
you, and some of your genre favourites?
Yes, slashers are a
lot of fun. Itís amazing but when you introduce a bit of comedy
into a film, you can make even the most grotesque violent imagery
palatable. Again, going back to my childhood, I was a big fan of
Friday the 13th. Dumb people doing dumb things that inevitably lead
to their demise. Things one should never say if they find
themselves in a monster movie such as ďIs someone there?Ē or ďIím
going to take a look around outsideĒ are instant death sentences. But
then admittedly there are some troubling death scenes. One scene
that stick out is when Emily Lynneís Amber character bites the dust.
Amber is Tommyís (Bryson Hollís) mom and seeing her get gutted in
front of her young son provides some shocking imagery. I felt
this was necessary though in order to avoid the film becoming too silly
and predictable. I donítí want to provide any more spoilers but
I think we made it clear after the first few kills that anyone was fair
game and it would be hard for an audience to guess who was going to live
and who was Krampus food. People do things that should, by monster
movie logic, lead to a quick death but they manage to survive.
Others who I built up as potential leads and survivors, end up getting the
ax pretty quick. So I embrace all the stereotypes then try to turn
it around so the audience is left guessing.
No slasher movie
without at least a bit of blood and guts - so you just have to talk about
the gory bits of your movie for a bit, and how were they achieved?
true and all the credit for the blood and guts goes to the amazing FX team
I had. Cat Bernier and Marcus Koch [Marcus
Koch interview - click here] did an amazing job making the
mayhem. They also did a wonderful job with Krampus himself played by
Travis Amery. Cat and I have worked together on several projects but
it was my first time working with Marcus and all credit for the gore
belongs to them. Cat and I decided early on that this was going to
be the bloodiest Krampus movie anyone has seen and I think we pulled that
off. I wanted it bloody and gory and I told them just make it look
as gross as possible. Iím not an FX artist and its tuff when
working on a tight budget to know just what your limitations are so I
deferred all the creative kills to Cat and Marcus. My only real
direction to them was not to worry about what was in the script, just make
it as cool and bloody as time and budget will allow. They took it
from there and did a fantastic job.
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
As a director, I more or less approach all of my films the same way.
First and foremost, I tell my actors that regardless of the overall tone I
am going for I want them to think of every scene they do as if it were a
serious film. Keep it real and keep it credible. The humor and
craziness on the page will take care of itself but I never want an actor
to approach a character as if they are supposed to be funny. I
donít want them to act like they know they are in a film with comedic
elements. Iím also very hands-on in the camera department. I
know what lens I want to use for a particular shot and how I want the
scene lit. Travis, Joe (camera department) and I start our day with
me giving them a brief rundown of how I want to film the scene and they
take it from there. Weíve all worked together for a while now so
itís kind of 2nd nature. The one area I try to be very careful
with is FX. As I said, Iím not an FX artist. So I listen to
Cat and Marcus. I tell them what I want and then let them figure it
out. Once they have a solution I ask them where I should put my camera.
This is very important and you have to listen carefully to your FX team.
They are the people who designed the gag and they know where you need to
be to get the full effect of what they are doing.
Do talk about your cast, and why exactly these
My favorite part of being a film director is
working with actors. I try and make sure I give them as much time as
I can to discuss their character and I listen to them. I try to
develop the character with the actor and listen to what their instincts
are telling them. This is a process that begins in pre-production
and I was lucky to have not only a great cast, but a great casting
director in Tami LaRovere. This was a relatively big cast and we had
the added challenge of casting a lot of people who are supposed to be
related to one another so the chemistry needed to be there.
Married couples, children and parents. All that meant we did a lot
of chemistry reads to come up with actors who were not only talented but
convincing members of this on-screen family. This was my first time
working with the majority of the cast and I was very happy and proud of
all of them.
A few words about the shoot as such, and the
For the most part it was great. We
had our bumps along the road but nothing unexpected. On indies we
have little time and less money to make a film so at times the shoot can
be tuff on all of us. But really, overall I think we had a great
time. Indie films donít pay a lot so you know that everyone who is there is there because they love what they do. No one had it easy
with the hours we were pulling but everyone gave this project their all
and I am very grateful for that. For us, itís a lot of
seriousness. The film might be a corky little monster movie, but
when weíre shooting a scene itís all about making it the best it can
possibly be and trying to squeeze in as much fun along the way as the
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of Krampus
So far the response has been great.
Itís funny because after six movies I never know what people will think
of it. Last year I got beat up pretty hard by audiences and critics
but the film performed well enough for us to make another go at it.
I stand by all my work but it is nice when critics and audiences
appreciate it. I make these kinds of films to entertain people.
I want the fans to get their money's worth and I work as hard as I can to
see that they do. People have so many choices in entertainment today
and itís always a compliment when fans take a chance on small indies
that they end up enjoying.
Any future projects you'd like to
I have a film called The Covenant that comes out in
early 2017. About as far from Krampus
Unleashed as it gets.
Itís a dark tale of demonic possession. A bit of a serious drama
that addresses serious social issues. Iím really hoping people are
ready for a serious film form me as I havenít made one in a while.
I guess weíll see. But itís a film I fought hard to get made and
itís a movie thatís very close to my heart. So look for it on
VOD/DVD after the new year. Also, working with the very talented
Paul Shrimpton (Inbred, 2011) on a new script that Paul has just finished
the first draft on. Itís a thriller/slasher with a very gritty
undertone and I am very excited about it.
What got you into filmmaking in the first place,
and did you receive any formal education on the subject?
been a filmmaker all my life. I started out as a child making films
with my grandmother's VHS camcorder and kids from the neighborhood. I
made a lot of little projects with my brothers and friends until the high
school years. I didnít do anything productive during that
time of my life as I was big on ďexperimentationĒ. I tried drugs,
partied a lot and got into way too much troubleÖ my poor parents L
But after that crazy time, I went to college. My grades were not
even close to good enough for a university but I studied film at a trade
school and the local community college. This paid off as I was able
to make my first feather with my film school classmates and I havenít
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Krampus
It started in film school. After a
few shorts, I made my first feature Redemption: A Mile into Hell
(2009). The film was a dark Western that I was able to do for a very small
budget of about 30K because the crew were all my fellow students and I got
an enormous amount of help from Wild West reenactors with everything from
period clothing and firearms to horses. I live in Arizona so there
was no shortage of local history buffs who wanted to help. The film
went on to make a lot of money on home video but sadly for me I got
screwed out of every dime by the crooked sales rep. I wonít say
his name again because I think heís been run out of the business but I
learned very quickly how shady the independent film world can be.
Luckily when it came to my second film, Exit to Hell (2013) I found a
great company in Uncorkíd Entertainment and CEO Keith Leopard and Iíve
been with them ever since. My upcoming film The Covenant will
be my fifth time partnering with Uncorkíd and I couldnít be happier
with how my career has been going.
How would you describe yourself as a
I think others should do that J I hope they would
say nice things. LOL. I guess what I can say safely is that I love
what I do. I get to play make-believe for a living so it just
doesnít get any better than that.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
big listÖ Here are a few Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Robert
Rodriguez, Clint Eastwood, Rob Zombie, Mel Gibson, David Fincher, Michael
Man, Tim Burton, John Carpenter, George Lucas and of course Steven
Spielberg. Then Ridley Scott, his brother Tony RIP L Danny Boyle,
The Coen Brothers, Peter JacksonÖ Itís a big list that goes on but
here are a few.
Again a big list. Here are a few,
Silence of the Lambs, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, Grindhouse (both films)
Unforgiven, Braveheart, The Godfather 1 & 2, Trainspotting, Ed Wood,
The Thing, Star Wars (originals not prequels), Jaws 1, True RomanceÖ a
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Yes but I never say. I think filmmakers who
criticize other peopleís work publicly truly suck! J
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
Just a big shout out to the
amazing cast/crew of Krampus
Unleashed. You guys Rock!
Thanks for the interview!