Your upcoming movie Party Night - in a few words, what is it
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
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,
Hide and Go Shriek, Prom Night, Hell Night, and of
Other sources of inspiration when
writing Party Night?
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.
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?
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!
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!
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
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
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
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.
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?
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.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
movie's website, Facebook, Kickstarter, whatever else?
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
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!!
for the interview!