Your new movie Knock
Knock - in a few words, what is it about?
the story of a former boxer (Sam), fallen from grace, on the eve of his
60th Birthday. On this particularly dark
and stormy night, he finds himself on a wild ride between fact and fiction
as his eccentric neighbors (Olivia, Dragon, and Gretchen) try to convince
him that they're apartments newest resident is a bloodsucking member of
were your sources of inspiration when writing Knock
and ten percent 80's horror comedies, haha. When I initially came up with
the concept it was a bit simpler in nature and style, but the more I sat
with it the more it started to come alive with flesh and tone. I was
inspired by the VHS monster movies I would watch as a kid with my family.
Films that I felt were bursting with fun and creative energy. Some that
influenced this film, as well as ones I wanted to evoke were: The
Monster Squad, Fright Night, Evil Dead II,
Ghostbusters and The
Lost Boys. John Carpenter was probably the biggest influence on what I
wanted to do atmospherically and music wise. There are a NUMBER of
references to Big Trouble In Little China within the film,
haha. Scooby Doo is an obvious inspiration in terms of character dynamic.
Zone was another work that stood in my mind when I was concocting early
drafts of the script, particularly the
episode Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?
Why make a movie about vampires, are
these creatures especially dear to you? And what do you think makes Knock
Knock stand out of the crowd of vampire flicks?
just like monster movies in general. I grew up with them and they're
basically my favorite kind of horror film. There were definitely some
vampire-specific ones that always stood out from bunch though. The
Lost Boys is a big one and Fright Night is a pinnacle of
perfect horror comedy for me. Tobe Hooper's Salem's
a completely underrated classic and Let
The Right One In is
a course in fantastic horror driven storytelling. Also I'm a huge
fan of the recent What We
Do In The Shadows!
I believe that what
out among the crowd is that it truly feels like a callback to fun-driven
horror films, with big villains and underdog heroes, having to rise to the
occasion.It's not a film steeped in grit and cynicism,
which I think often times is a driving style for modern horror films, but
heart and hope. I
combined several classic tropes of the genre and created a world of
dynamic color and sound that's reflective of what I want my Pop Art
Pictures brand to be. From the costumes, to the characters, and set
design. These attributes are unique to Knock
compared to a lot of horror films coming out today. Additionally, one
thing I've always wanted to do with horror films I make, is breed the next
generation of horror heroes. Sometimes I think we need more Ashs than we
need Jasons or
Freddys haha. Knock
full of badasses!
can you tell us about Knock
Knock's approach to horror?
approach to horror was about creating an unnerving atmosphere.
One that would have the neighbors dealing with a sinister cloud lingering
around them, or more specifically down the hall in their apartment
complex. Each of the neighbors' stories takes Sam and the viewer down a
mysterious rabbit hole of "is this or isn't this really
happening"? That tone, combined with Steven Canham's amazing score
really build a sense of tension that I hope follows the audience
throughout the film. Performance was also key in elevating the film's'
creepy undercurrent and man does Lucas Ayoub (who plays the Mysterious
Neighbor) kill it with his overwhelming presence.
You also have to
talk about Knock Knock's
brand of comedy for a bit!
is heart. It's what makes your audience care and empathize with the
characters and the journey you've created. What I really focused on when
it came to humor in Knock
Knock, was how
Sam and the neighbors play off each other, specifically through the lens
of an offbeat family. Coming from a big family myself, I know the highs
and lows of many personalities being in one room for a long time haha. I
also related it to my time living in the dorms in college. Something
really special happens when you have this really diverse mixing pot of
people, all dealing with the similar struggles of school, social identity,
and growing up under one place, they become friends.
Originally when I was putting notes together for Knock
Knock's first draft, it was only supposed to feature the Sam and
Olivia characters. Yet the more I wrote, the more I felt like something
was greatly missing. I quickly I realized that what I need was more
personalities for these two to bounce off of. Once I defined who Dragon
and Gretchen were, the rest of the story and it's fun dynamic fell into
the influence of films like
Lost Boys played
a big part in the humor. They all feature these amazing balancing acts of
knowing when to have some fun with the material with great comedic
moments and then when to bring it all together for some serious exposition
What can you tell us about
your key cast?
WONDERFUL!!! When I was writing the film, I already had everyone in mind
for the parts. And I was so lucky that everyone was completely down when I
offered them the roles. While listening to all of them perform and joke
around during the first cast reading, I knew without a shadow of a doubt I
had everyone I needed to make the film come alive.
I had been trying to write a vehicle for Kerry Tartack (Sam) since I met
him, and when the idea for Knock
to gestate I knew I found the project. Sisi Berry (Olivia) had never acted
before, but I knew she had the personality and ability for it. Seeing a
funny conversation between her and Kerry at work was initially what
inspired the idea in the first place. Sisi is also the singer in an
awesome band called Torino Black here in Austin. One of their singles is
the final track to Knock
Knock's epic credit
sequence. I had worked with Chuk Hell (Dragon) on various sketches and
short films and was just eager to get him involved with something horror
related. He was pretty jazzed about being a part of the project and has
been one of the most beloved characters for those who have watched the
film. This was Rachel Atterson's (Gretchen) first film. She came from a
theater background, but was eager to make the transition to movies. She
was incredibly professional and had such great comedic timing throughout
the filming. Her personality just pops big time when your see her on
screen. From the minute the story for Knock
in my head, I knew that I wanted my buddy Lucas Ayoub to play the
'Mysterious Neighbor'. His performance and presence took everything to
another level when he was on set and he crushed it every way he coul .
Currently, he's rocking the acting scene in Atlanta. People hire this
guy... HE'S AWESOME!!!
Knock is mostly shot in just one location - so do talk about your
location for a bit, and how limiting but maybe also liberating was it to
film there, what kind of a challenge was it to keep things interesting?
totally! When I was in film school a big part of my producing class was
the concept of 'Write for what you can get.' And since I was in the process
of directing my first film after a few years of producing, I was taking
this concept greatly into consideration for Knock
Knock. So, I
decided to craft a story that focused greatly on its characters and used
the location as one too. It did take a little time to find the right
apartment for the film. We needed to have an area that looked great, but
also needed to functional with enough space for everyone to work in. After
scouting a few different spots, my production coordinator found out that a
mutual friend of ours was interested in helping us out.
I got to see her apartment, I knew we had the right space. I
utilized the flashbacks as a way to mix things up visually, but keep us
all in the same location for filming so we didn't have to
consistently move everything throughout production. I worked with my production
designer Hilarie, art director Eddie, and props master Robert
to really flesh out everyone's apartment and fill it with various items
unique to each characters personality,
really turning the space into their homes. My DP Don was the final piece
in helping me make each "location" visually engaging, fresh, and
dynamic to the story.
funny out of all the apartments in the film, Sam's is the most bare. That
was on purpose. It's mainly due to where the character's head has been for
the last few years. But as the neighbors get to his place one by one,
there's a liveliness that fills the room and comes from the people who
truly care about him. His friends are what make his space stand out
compared to the others' places.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
it was pretty positive, everything kept us so busy and focused it was hard
to get distracted by the little things. But like all film sets, something
always goes wrong: set pieces don't work, schedule/storyboards change,
equipment is misplaced, special effects don't work exactly how you
planned, and stress can rear its ugly head. It's then up to you and your
team to problem-solve together and come up for the best solutions for your
road blocks. In the end, despite any difficulties we might have had, we
came together, made something we were really proud of, and celebrated our
when we held our cast/crew/patron screening in Austin. I am so proud and
grateful of everyone that helped and shared this journey with me. Everyone
was a blast to work with!!
$64-question of course, where can your movie be seen?
film can be seen exclusively on Vimeo on Demand for $2.99 - http://www.vimeo.com/ondeman/knockknock2017.
We also have plans to place the film on YouTube
later this year.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Knock
So far the critical response has been
very positive, which is wonderful. There have been some incredibly kind
words towards myself and the film. To finally return to a place creatively
that enriches and drives me and then have people respond to it positively
means so much and greatly motivates me to continue telling these colorful
and exciting stories, whatever the genre. Audiences are also having a lot
of fun with the movie, telling me how much they dig the characters, the tone,
and the music, which is EXACTLY what I wanted.
Any future projects you'd like to
I'm in the process of writing and directing a new
comedy short film starring Kerry and Lucas again. This time the story
revolves around an actor trying to reconnect with his con-man father by
seeking advice on a new role he's auditioning for, that of a con-man. I've
recently finished a first draft and we're having a lot of fun with it.
Additionally, I'm co-writing a feature horror film set in WWI and a
treatment for a baseball-driven comedy. I do have some exciting ideas for
a sequel to Knock
and a script for really fun monster-driven macro
short that I've been wanting to do since we wrapped up Dorm of the
a while back. I am hoping to make that my next big project. I'm also
working with a great writer down here in Austin, who's developing a great
feature length script called King & Lionheart.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Yes! You can follow
any updates about the film on the Knock
And any additional updates on this film or other projects from my Pop Art
Pictures brand at:
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
just continue to do great work supporting and showcasing independent film!
Thank you so much again for the opportunity to talk about this movie and
share my story. I really hope everyone gets a kick out of Knock
and wants to see more of the gang in action!
Please let us know what you think, who your favorite characters, etc. on
our social media, it'd mean a lot to us! Remember to go and support indie
projects, people, it's tough work but man is it a labor of love!
Thanks for the interview!
Thank you Mike!