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An Interview with Troy Escamilla, Writer and Producer of Party Night

by Mike Haberfelner

February 2016

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Your upcoming movie Party Night - in a few words, what is it about?


Party Night is an 80's style throwback slasher film that deals with six friends who become prey for a sadistic psychopath when they ditch their school's after prom party for their own celebration at a secluded house.


How did the project fall together in the first place, and what can you tell us about your producing partners Renee K. Smith and Kevin Sommerfield?


I wrote Party Night back in 2013. It really was my Valentine to the genre that I grew up loving, and I knew when I finished it that it HAD to be the first film that I produced. I have known Renee for about 12 years now. She has experience as a playwright, director and producer in the Houston area, and I also knew she loved horror. I discussed the project with her and then let her read the script. She was on board immediately and has been instrumental in securing the filming locations and bringing on board local talent.

Since this is my first attempt at producing a low budget film, I wanted someone with experience doing so to be part of the project. Kevin Sommerfield and I have been acquaintances for a few years now. He is actually a member of my Fright Meter Awards committee, and we had the chance to meet in person last year at Texas Frightmare Weekend. He is a writer and producer for Slasher Studios and has written and produced two slasher films himself: Don't Go to the Reunion and Dismembering Christmas. He was eager to be part of Party Night and has offered great guidance so far.


With Party Night being a slasher movie, is that a genre you're at all fond of, and some of your genre favourites?


I absolutely love the 80's slasher era; I have such fond memories of going to my local mom and pop video store back in Iowa each weekend and just being in awe of all the cool and creepy VHS cover art that stared back at me from the horror section. Luckily, my parents weren't strict in terms of what I watched and would let me pick out a movie each trip.

As far as genre favorites go, my all time favorite horror film is Bob Clark's Black Christmas. I feel like it is criminally underrated in its influence to the genre. It pre-dated Carpenter's Halloween by four years and did everything that Halloween gets praised for. Don't get me wrong, I also love Halloween! Some of my other slasher favorites include Terror Train, Sleepaway Camp, Stage Fright, Intruder, Hide and Go Shriek, Prom Night, Hell Night, and of course Scream.


Other sources of inspiration when writing Party Night?


Party Night was inspired by a combination of slasher films and there are references that horror fans are going to get that will make them smile widely. However, the one film I had in mind when I was writing Party Night was the 1984 slasher The Mutilator. Though it has its share of problems, it remains one of my favorites from the 80's simply because I think it encapsulates everything that made these films charming to fans in the first place. I also love the tone and atmosphere of the film along with the creepy and sinister isolated setting.


What can you tell us about your movie's approach to horror (as in suspense vs sudden shocks, atmosphere vs all-out gore and the like)?


While there will be blood, gore (I promise that our kills will be on screen!), and gruesome deaths, the aim is to definitely slowly build an sense of foreboding as the film progresses. Additionally, I truly tried to create a group of characters that the audience will care about. There really are no characters that are in the film simply to be killed off--time is spent getting to know these characters and their bond as friends. Their deaths then, I hope, will have a much bigger impact on the audience.


Do talk about the film's intended look and feel for a bit?


I want to film the have that 80's video feel to it without being too distracting. I'm also aiming for the claustrophobic and sinister tone that The Mutilator mentioned above so successfully achieved.


Your film's director Timothy Sullins - how did he come aboard, and what makes him perfect for the job at hand?


My co-producer Renee Smith actually brought him to my attention. Tim has his own YouTube channel that I believe currently has over one million views. He is a genre fan himself and what really caught my attention is that most, if not all, of his videos and short films were done with virtually no budget. He is very knowledgeable about all aspects of filmmaking and his creativity will allow us to really make the most of out tight budget. Moreover, after reading the script and discussing it with me, there was no doubt that his vision matched mine perfectly.


Anything you can tell us about your key cast yet, and why exactly these people?


We were absolutely thrilled at the number of auditions that we received and there certainly was no shortage of talent. However, there was something special about each of the cast members that we picked. More importantly, besides being talented, each of them are so passionate about being part of this film. I can go on and on about how great the cast is, but I instead suggest you visit out Kickstarter campaign page to watch the video introductions each of them did. You'll know right away why they were selected!


About 85% of Party Night are taking place in just one location - so you have to talk about that location for a bit, and where do you see the advantages and challenges of filming there?


We are grateful to have secured the location that we have. It will be perfect for the project! It's just outside of Houston and is several acres of land. Completely isolated. It also has all of the physical structures that we need and the lake, which has a role in the plot of the film. The only disadvantage I can think of is that it will June in Houston! Hot, humid, sticky!


Party Night is currently still in its fundraising stages - so what can you tell us about your campaign?


It's been a learning experience. It almost is like another full time job constantly promoting the Kickstarter campaign and sending out reminders to contacts. I am sure my friends are sick to death of hearing about the film! However, I am very pleased with the support that we have received so far. We are very close to the 50% funded point and still have about 11 days left. While I truly hope we raise the remaining amount within that time so that we can make the film, if nothing else we learned what to do differently with a crowdfunding campaign next go around.


Once the budget's in place, what's the schedule? And even if it's probably waaay too early to ask, any idea when and where Party Night will be released onto the general public, however tentatively?


The plan is to begin filming around June 8th. We are tentatively looking at seventeen day shooting schedule. I am hoping that the film will make its debut in October. Certainly, our Kickstarter supporters will be the first to view it, and we are also planning for a premiere here in Houston. Additionally, the plan is to submit the film to film festivals that cater to the horror genre.


Any future projects beyond Party Night you'd like to share?


Well if all goes well with getting the funding together for Party Night, all good 80's slasher flicks need a sequel, right?


What got you into the filmworld in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


My love of film and the horror genre is what propelled me to make this film. I personally have no formal training in filmmaking, which I why I am trying to bring on board individuals who do have experience who I can learn from.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Party Night?


Does pledging to other Kickstarter campaigns count?  While this will be my first film project, I hope that my passion and knowledge of the genre shine through.


You just have to talk about your blog Fright Meter and the Fright Meter Awards for a bit, and the philosophy behind it all?


In 2007, I started a blog called Fright Meter, where I offered reviews of horror films. However, my main goal of the blog was to create and award specifically for the horror genre since it often is drastically overlooked by mainstream awards. It is frustrating to see horror films garnering critical acclaim year after year (recently The Babadook, It Follows) but get virtually ignored come awards season, so I want to create an award solely for the genre. While I know there are other genre awards out there, such as the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, the Fright Meter Awards differ because the categories mirror those of the Oscars. While Best Death Scene and Best Villain are fun categories, I wanted these awards to be taken more seriously.

I must say that the awards and the blog have taken off tremendously in the last few years, over 4000 hits per month, and interviews and acknowledgments from Fright Meter Award winners and nominees, including May and The Woman director Lucky McKee, Insidious and Dead End star Lin Shaye, The Woman star Polyanna McIntosh and the Soska Sisters [Soska Sisters interview - click here].

Currently, there are over 50 members of the Fright Meter Awards committee who are responsible for determining the nominees and selecting the winners each years. These individuals work in the genre in some capacity; we have bloggers, actors, writers, producers, and directors on the committee.


Filmmakers, writers, whoever else who inspire you?


Stephen King has always been a huge inspiration to me. The stories he tells have been so influential to the modern horror genre and he has given us some of the most memorable horror characters of the last thirty years. I'm also a huge fan of John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, and the late great Wes Craven.


Your favourite movies?


My favorite films are probably The Wizard of Oz, Psycho, Fargo, American Beauty and Chicago. These are all easily films I can and have watched multiple times.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


I'm the type of person that tries to find positives in every movie, but I can tell you that a few I really hate are Funny Games, the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake, and the Poltergeist remake. Talk about bland, soulless pieces of shit.


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Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Just that as a lifelong horror fan that I as appreciated the genre for a long, long time, I can ensure fans that Party Night is going to be a blast! However, we do need your help so please visit the Kickstarter page--there are some great perks available for our backers. Even sharing the link will be appreciated! Also, follow the progress and production of the film on our Facebook page! Thanks so much!!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




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


A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD