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An Interview with Robert Mearns, Director of Prank

by Dale Pierce

October 2012

Films directed by Robert Mearns on (re)Search my Trash

 

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You are both the writer and director for the film Prank. Tell us about the plot!

 

Prank is a short film based upon a feature length screenplay which I wrote. I took the back story from the full length - which is revealed in flashbacks - and crafted a short film around those visual/narrative elements. Prank is the story about a group of high school kids who amuse themselves by pulling pranks on their fellow students, teachers, etc. They are all popular, good looking, the rich, privileged kids voted most likely to succeed and the assholes you just love to hate. One night, a prank at the beach goes horribly wrong - which we see in the short film - and a teenager is bullied and killed. The gang covers it up as a drowning accident but five years later, their lives are turned upside down when the leader of the group Jimmy Edwards - the creep who pulled the beach prank - is killed by a serial killer wearing a bizarre Marilyn Monroe mask. Jimmy is hung upside down and baked to death in a car spray painting booth.

 

Where can this be ordered?

 

Great news! You can see it online for free at http://vimeo.com/44686726.

 

You have a showing at this at Shriekfest in California, correct?

 

This Sunday Oct 7th, 2pm at the Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave in Hollywood. Prank has been nominated for the Best Short Film under 10 minutes.

 

Are any other showings planned in the near future?

 

Happy to say that Shriekfest is the first festival Prank was entered in. Stay tuned as it looks like I'm going to have to enter it in more.

 

Is this your first film?

 

Yes. I wrote and directed plays for the theater but this is my first time behind the camera.

 

Are there other films planned?

 

There are several projects that I'm working at raising the financing and am extremely excited about. Of course raising $$$ these days is a daunting task, especially if you're a creative type and unfortunately inescapable if you ever want to see your work done.

 

How do you anticipate reaction will be at the upcoming Shriekfest?

 

I think Prank is going to be well received. We've already been nominated for the Best Short under 10 minutes so that's encouraging. And Prank is shot beautifully, the sound is terrific and it moves through passages in time in under seven minutes all the while keeping a really creepy tone. Hopefully it'll get under everyone's skin at Shriekfest. Would really make my day.

 

Are there any interesting behind the scenes stories to tell about the filming of Prank?

 

I live in LA and spent a day driving up and down Pico Blvd looking for a car spray painting booth where I could hang somebody upside down. For the record, the auto body shops on Pico are littered with the swarthiest, most repugnant, unforgiving cast of characters you can imagine. They could care less about you, your stupid little movie, and they would rather see you dead than give you the time of day. I thought to myself "This is never going to happen! I'm finished!" But the next day, I drove up LaBrea and saw an auto body shop with a perfect spray painting booth inside. Just so happens the owner's son was about to graduate from the AFI's Directors Program, he had shelled out 70G for his first movie and he let me have his place for $100. God bless him! Another interesting tidbit: The guy who plays the killer Marilyn in Prank also worked there and didn't speak a word of English. Still can't get over that!

 

How did you choose the title?

 

Al Hayes, my producer, thought it would make a great title for a horror movie. So I went home, wrapped my head around the prank concept, and three months later I came back with a fantastic screenplay.

 

Would you see a sequel in the works?

 

That's the idea. But the first step is to raise the financing to turn Prank into a feature. I see no reason why this can't be the next great horror franchise.

 

Do you prefer writing or directing?

 

Writing is hard. Really hard. Every time I start something new, I have no idea how I'm going to make it through. But I have to say I really enjoy directing since it seems like a natural progression from what's on the page to what's on the screen. And it incorporates the four disciplines I'm very familiar with: writing, acting, music and art.

 

Did you run into any difficulties in doing both?

 

Definitely. As I was crafting the short from the screenplay, I was cramming in way too much information for a short film to handle. Just because something was in the full length, didn't mean it had to be in the short. Took me a while to realize the short was its own entity.

 

Any other things you might like to touch on?

 

I wore a lot of hats trying to make this movie happen. I did the casting, I found the locations, I designed the mask, I pulled the props together, I made sure everyone on set was fed. It was incredibly stressful getting 15 people in one place, all at the same time and all for little money. But they came on board because they believed and there is no way in hell I could have done it without them.

 

Closing comments?

 

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I recently came to the realization where I can look back at the horror movies of my youth and smile fondly. Going to the theater, getting scared, girlfriends clutching on to your arm scared out of their wits and you trying to be cool, peaking through your fingers when you were just as frightened. I wrote an ode to the horror genre which I posted on my vimeo page and only seems appropriate to share with you here...

 

AN ODE TO HORROR MOVIES:

Maybe it was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. God how I loved that movie. The Wolf Man, Dracula, Frankenstein. Even a cameo by the Invisible Man. Saturday mornings were never better.

Or maybe it was The Exorcist. I wasn't right for a month. But I knew every line of dialogue. "Your mother sucks ***** in hell!" Classic.

Or maybe it was Night of the Living Dead. Midnight outside the Lincoln Theater in Union City, NJ. I refused to walk home. My father had to pick me up when I swore everyone in Hudson County was a flesh eating zombie that craved brains. He was not pleased.

Or the end of Friday the 13th when Jason shoots out from the bottom of Crystal Lake and Eddie Devaney and Billy Faulkner damn near had heart attacks.

When Prank turned my corner like an unexpected knife in the night, I knew I must heed its call.

Does the world really need another horror movie?

Yeah, maybe we do.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Dale Pierce


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
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starring
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