Your new movie Rise
of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth - in a few words, what is it
about a writer that cannot produce and is sort of lost in life moving back
in with his father after the death of his mother. He thinks that the
return home and reconnection to the family will break the writerís
block. He soon meets up with a love interest and some campers and some
killer scarecrows. There are some secrets revealed and the writer must
find his inner strength to contend with the monsters in the woods and some
unexpected turmoil to survive.
To what degree is Rise
of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth related to your original Rise
of the Scarecrows from 2009, and what made you revisit its concept
after all these years?
The 2009 film was shot in 2003. It took that long to get distribution
for it. When it came out, it actually put me on the map more than any
other film. It was on Netflixís
new streaming service and got some attention from some major websites,
leading to the onslaught of reviews and they werenít pleasant. I was
very young and didnít take the criticisms as well as I do now.
So, after quitting film from a production standpoint in 2014, more or
less, and contending with tons of negative experiences with some
unscrupulous filmmakers, I decided that I wanted to come back one more
time. While I was deciding, I noticed a scarecrow mask in my office
looking at me, and it made the decision clear. I wanted to make a Scarecrow
film that was better than the 2003 one and make one that people
just donít trash.
is not a sequel. Itís sort of a reboot or different universe sort of
film. Initially, my thought was to make it as sequel but I ended up starting
anew with many nods to the first for sure.
I've described Rise
of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth as a "mix of slasher movie
and folk horror" - would you at all agree, and if so, could you
elaborate on that blend a bit, and what drew you to both genres?
agree! Part of my agenda was to create a world, an atmosphere that felt
small town and relatable, and add some slasher elements. I didnít want
this to be a mindless slasher film. I wanted people to feel the town, the
characters, and then as they become part of the town, the scarecrows come
in and in a big way. The third act of the film is really action packed and
I think it made it worth the wait as the viewer now knows all the
characters and the town.
sources of inspiration when writing Rise
of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth?
a HUGE fan of the Friday the 13th series, especially number 6 and 7, and
that was sort of the feel I wanted in this, and you can notice some nods to
the series. The scarecrow
ripping through the tent, one of the characters fist fighting a scarecrow, Friday the 13th, Part 8-style, and much more was a direct
tribute to those films that meant so much to me as a child and even now.
other inspiration was my instincts. It drew me to this film and producing
it was a necessity. I knew that it was going to be made because the
universe asked me to do it. It was all I thought about for 10 months
leading into the production.
of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth does have its violent bits - so
do talk about the gore scenes in your movie, and how were they achieved?
people were responsible for bringing the gore to the film. Matt Hebert was
largely responsible for the approach to the bigger kills like when one of
the characters was hanged from a hook and when another was chopped in two
with an old saw.
Delta Ariel Waegelein-Hall was heavily involved in the gore and made the
features of the scarecrow when he loses his mask. She and Hebert really
did an amazing job.
Rick Caride, created the masks and was another essential person in the
gore process. Heís worked with me on many other projects, and this trio
of terror proved unbeatable and added so much to the film.
few words about Rise
of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth's approach to horror?
approach to horror is to tell the story from my heart and mind, and not to
go after whatís trending or any gimmicks. Sink or swim, Iím making the
film the way that I want to, and if the people love it, great. I hope they
do love it. I want them to love it. If they would rather see sharks or
clowns or shark clowns, then my films arenít going to check those boxes.
of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth has been doing really well and
Iíve gotten a lot of positive messages and reviews.
talk about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand!
a great degree, I go with the current unless there is something glaring or
something that I need. A lot of the time, the actors and actresses will
approach the character in a certain way I didnít expect, and I let it go
a little to see how it grows. If I donít like it, Iíll pull them aside
and guide it.
am energetic and have a blast directing and talk too much by nature. It
works well in the field. I feel at home on set, and when itís all working
well Iím so full of joy and energy. I need it when we go to 5 AM
shooting a scene.
can you tell us about Rise
of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth's key cast, and why exactly these
I decided to return to film, I had three people in mind. I needed a strong
foundation to build this film on, and I stacked the deck with my first
three choices of Brent Northup, Eric Michaelian and Lorrie Bacon. I
followed up by choosing the rest of the cast as carefully as I could. I
made it a point to make a film that didnít have any glaring stuff wrong
Marr, Jesse Delta Ariel Waegelein-Hall, Nathaniel Cook, Tom Hebert, Martin
Du Plessis, Matt Hebert, Aaron Schacht, Phil Godeck, Brandon Macey,
Bayindir Citak, Pawel Watracz, Justin Hortie and all of the rest of the
cast were chosen as carefully as I could have. This film had nine months
of planning behind it. I left nothing to chance.
A few words about the shoot as such, and the
love these people. These people are my family. I have NEVER had a film
like this before where everyone just immediately clicked and worked hard
and had fun. Like any other film that you shoot on a mountain in the
rainiest July in history with the worst tick season in history, we had our
fair share of stress, but we had plenty of rainy nights of drinking and
laughing and just understanding that we canít control the weather and we
just needed to regroup. This was the most understanding and talented group
Iíve ever had the honor to work with.
thing I want to mention too is that Gregory Hatanaka/Cinema Epoch kept the
morale up by feeding us so well and showing continued support.
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of Rise
of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth?
night was sold out and the audience reaction was amazing. If I could
bottle a moment in time, it would be the time when the cast and crew were
on stage and the audience was all smiles. It was super meaningful and made
it all worth it. Beyond money and beyond anything else, that premiere
night was as good as it gets.
projects you'd like to share?
filming a Christmas drama/comedy called A Christmas Invitation that is
going into production in March of this year and will be a reunion of sorts
with my Rise
of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth-team. I love Christmas movies and I always wanted to
make one. So itís happening. Because my 2014 anthology Scary
Tales: Last Stop has found legs and is getting huge traffic now, I might think about
another anthology after the holiday film.
Your/your movie's website,
social media, whatever else?
encourage everyone to find me on Facebook. Iíll befriend anyone that
isnít a catfisher or somebody that tags me and 200 others in consistent
posts. If youíre cool and you like my films and films in general, please
find me on Facebook. Rise
of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth also has a
Facebook page. I encourage people to find my other films on Tubi. I also
want to give a mention to Amityville Cop, a film I wrote that was directed
by Gregory Hatanaka. Really great stuff.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Anything else you're dying
to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
want to give a mention to a co-producer and cinematographer, Pete Baez. We
really worked together well and he has so many projects of his own coming
down the line soon. I want to thank the musicians including Frank Palangi,
Joe Becker, Sonora and Gary Steinour for their contributions. Matt Hebert,
another co-producer, put his heart and soul into this one and really
raised the bar on this film by his actions and contributions.
for the interview!
you! I canít thank you enough for the interest in my films and the
interest in my Scarecrows.