Your new movie End
of the Road - in a few words, what is it about?
J- A small-town waitress offers a warm meal to an enigmatic drifter in a
rundown diner, unintentionally setting a vicious and calculative
werewolf loose on the diner's colorful population.
of the Road
is the struggle of a young woman finding her place in
the world and a young boy on the verge of puberty. The werewolf
transformation is really just a metaphor for the changes we all go
through at some point in our lives. In my mind, Ryder’s unnaturally
swarthy appearance comes from the terrible affliction that has been
bestowed upon him, growing up. So really this film is just a “coming
of age” piece. *Joe (J. Spencer) gives Blaine a perplexed stare. Blaine finally
did the project fall together in the first place?
J- Blaine read my first crack at a feature-length werewolf script (Through the
Woods) and the craving for movie making could not be
denied. We struggled over many a meeting with how we go about actually making an
adequately budgeted feature film. And then it hit us... We needed to make a werewolf short that highlights the type of
characterization, pace, thrills, chills and creature design we had in
mind for a feature. The werewolf short would be used as a striking calling card to help get
the feature-length werewolf movie made.
what were your sources of inspiration when writing End
of the Road?
of the Road’s inspiration came from Grimms’ Fairy Tales and
other ancient stories that were read to children to make them more
cautious and wary of the dark world outside their homes. I’ll also say it came from my early years of watching old episodes of
The Incredible Hulk on the Sci-Fi Channel.
Is the werewolf genre a genre at
all dear to you, and some of your genre favourites?
J- The werewolf genre is extremely dear to me. The main reasoning being
the feeling that it hasn’t been properly represented for some time. When I was a kid, my mom took me and my brother to a special makeup FX
exhibit at a museum. There, on display was the werewolf from An American
Werewolf In London. On a monitor nearby, they had the stellar
transformation sequence playing on a loop. That, combined with repeated viewings of
The Howling (only during the
day though, my young mind couldn’t watch at night) made me the
werewolf lover that I am today.
B- Werewolves have always been criminally under-used as a genre. As a
child I was terrified of them. They’re intrinsically scary. Werewolves
evoke an ancient fear of the wild and what could be lurking in the night.
There’s an untamed-ness to them at I think all little kids can relate
to. I would echo Joe (J. Spencer) with his pick, The Howling
being my first
real exposure to the genre. I watched it at my buddy’s place when I
was 8 and ended up staying up all night scared out of my mind while
everyone else in the house slept.
what can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at
J- The term we threw around in pre-production when referring to the
directorial approach was “Grindhouse Coen Brothers”. Haha! I worked with the actors on bringing out the more colorful side of their
characters, making the performances as big as the audience would allow
without going too far into hammy. The goal was to make sure everyone left an impression right away. This
is a short after all and we don’t have much time to introduce them
before the slashing and tearing begins.
Do talk about the special effects in your movie
for a bit, and how were they achieved?
B- The special effects in End
of the Road were a combination of
practical and digital. Joe and I grew up with movies that utilized
miniatures, bigatures, matte paintings, real creature suits and make up.
While we knew there was going to be a need for compositing and
rotoscoping, we stayed very committed to the idea of having physical
effects there on set. Practical effects stand the test of time so much
better than 3D modeling that, within 5-10 years, already feel dated.
J- Agreed 100%. There’s too much of an uncanny valley between real
blood on monster flesh and digital blood on monster flesh. Compositing
practically-made monster puppets into the shot of Betsy (Tatum Langton)
backing up against a counter looks more real because it is real.
You also have to
talk about your main location, the diner, and how did you find it, and
what was it like filming there?
J- The diner is actually not real! What I mean to say is that we
utilized a fantastic stage space (Remmet Studios in Canoga Park, CA) to
shoot out the interior of the diner. And the exterior shots of the diner
were actually matte paintings by our fantastic poster artist, Blake
Armstrong. The decision to create our own diner was based on how much time we had
to shoot (only 2 days!) and space. With a stage space, we had the
ability to literally remove walls in order to free up space for camera
movements, staging, etc. Not to mention the amount of (fake) blood and gore we were throwing
around this place. Even with a stage space, we were still shooting down to the wire on this
one. As we were filming the final sequence, the remaining crew were
working just off camera taking down set dressing, furniture, walls and
even floor tiles that had absorbed too much fake blood.
B- He’s not joking. *Blaine laughs
Blaine, what were the
challenges of making End
of the Road from a producer's point of view?
B- From a producing stand point End
of the Road was an amazing
challenge. There’s something to be said for a project with a limited
budget and limited time (although they can all feel like that). After the Kickstarter money came in we went through 2 and half months of
pre-production, really mapping out everything we were going to need
before we stepped foot on set. We had to be very smart and creative with our funds on this film and, to
be honest, I feel the constraint only enhanced what ended up on screen.
It forced us to really trouble-shoot and come up with new concepts and
ways of creatively getting the most out of the content we had in front
of us. The production gauntlet, in terms of time, was very intense. We ended up
shooting 30+ set-ups a day on the sound stage at Remmet Studios for 2
days and then 1 brutally cold, snowy 6 hour day up in Big Bear. There really wasn’t too much room for error when it came to making our
days and the cast and crew were a dream to work with. Joe and I thrive
off the collaboration that comes with filmmaking and every single
person on the crew has an impact on the final product. This film was only possible through the professionalism and passion of
the 100+ beautiful souls who worked on this project. Everyone knew what
had to be done and kept the lines of communication open in the trenches.
It was magical.
was the collaboration between the two of you like during the shoot - and
how did you first meet even?
J- Blaine, myself and several other crew members (Taylor Nida - 1st A.D./
editor, Eliot Murray - co-üroducer, Matt Nemeth- still photographer) have
been making movies together since high school in the Pacific Northwest. Years later, we all found ourselves here in lala-land (Hollywood, CA)
and started getting together annually to catch up.
B- After about the third or fourth catch-up meeting we looked at each
other and asked “why aren’t we making things together anymore?!”
And then started down this path. Those years and years of young
filmmaking together have really given us a short hand with each other
that’s unique. While Joe is a true artist at his craft and I dabble more in the
business / logistics side of things we really do have a pure sense on
collaboration when it comes to the final product. He and I bounce back
and forth between the two sides quite seamlessly and wear each other’s
hats when need be.
Do talk about your cast,
and why exactly these people?
J- Let’s do a rollcall...
Tatum Langton plays Betsy (main character) and was the very last
audition we did. We knew right away she was Betsy. She had the right
look of terror and pitch-perfect scream.
Daniel Van Thomas portrays Ryder. The host of the werewolf virus. Dan is
a perfect combination of genre lover and committed actor. This made his
portrayal a deep-cut tragedy.
Travis Coles is (surprise) Travis. The terrible assistant manager at the
diner Betsy works at. His very presence puts a smile on your face,
making his character a cocktail of love-to-watch-you-live/love-to-watch-you-die.
Elester Latham plays the diner’s Cook. The man exudes emotion with
such ease we ended up giving him more to do during shooting.
Randall Wulff got the part of Eugene, the gruff trucker. Randall was
willing to wrestle a pig for us if we asked (his suggestion).
Lisa Kay Jennings is Lisa (girly girl #1 on a roadtrip) and Sheena
Sachdev is Sheena (girly girl #2 on a roadtrip). They’ve been our
friends for years and we knew they would be OK with getting mauled by a
werewolf. *Joe laughs
Sharron Shayne portrays Mrs. Taffy (older woman sucking on a milkshake)
because she came to the audition with wardrobe options and was always
pushing to be more risque.
Charles David Brettner was Mrs. Taffy’s sleazy date, Manuel. Charles
was an incredibly down to earth guy who was excited to be a part of the
process. Not to mention we killed him on his birthday! *Joe laughs
Dmitrious Bistrevsky was the unlucky soul in the Wolf suit. He was one
of our first auditions and we knew right away we had our guy. Dmitri’s
easy-going nature is heavily contrasted with his sheer size. Which is
why we knew he would be perfect in a roll that required days and days of
claustrophobic makeup testing and fittings and hours on set just being
put into the suit.
What can you tell us about
the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
J- Through the bloody, time-consuming gauntlet that was the shoot, the
cast and crew were in terrific spirits and I am 100% positive it was
because we were making a WEREWOLF movie. Everyone loves werewolves and
wants to be a part of something lycanthropic (in our humble opinion).
B- Yeah the atmosphere on set, while being very high energy, was
extremely fun and light. Everyone just seemed happy to be there. I mean this isn’t saving lives or drawing borders, this is Neverland!
It’s all make-believe. It felt like play most of the time. I can’t really describe the feeling I got when I saw that many people
really buckling down for the cause and not afraid to get dirty. My cold
calculating producer heart grew 3 sizes that day. *Blaine laughs
$64-question of course, where can your movie be seen?
of the Road is available to view and/or download (for free!) at the
Unmanned Media website. Check out the werewolf thrills and chills by
clicking on the link below!
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of End
of the Road yet?
B- So far the response has been outstanding! We had a packed, rowdy,
werewolf-loving house for the premiere at The Downtown Independent in
Los Angeles. All of the reviews we’ve received to date have been positive and
people have been doing nothing but whispering oreos (sweet nothings) in
our ears. It’s quite the experience to see and hear from so many werewolf lovers
out there. Joe and I are really enjoying this part of the process.
J- You took the words right out of my mouth, sir.
Any future projects you'd like
B- YES, of course!
J- Over the course of End
of the Road’s post-production, Eliot Murray (co-producer) and I wrote a feature-length script that is not only a
kinetic action movie, it will also be a triumph of the werewolf
B- Bad Meat is our next big venture, and universe willing, our debut
“statement” feature-length movie! We’re very excited for this film
and we’re in development mode right now.
J- the story is about an eclectic group of heroes in a ZOMBIE apocalypse
who take refuge in an abandoned meat packing plant, only to discover an
even more sinister creature exists in its bowels… A WEREWOLF.
B- It’s World War Z and Underworld
meets Mad Max: Fury Road. A
frenetic horror-action movie grounded by true emotional weight in a
well-defined and terrifying world. Infecting the creature feature with
sex, drugs & rock n’ roll.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
- Unmanned Media’s official website. Where you can check out news,
announcements, upcoming projects and be able to view all past projects.
of the Road’s official Twitter page.
of the Road’s official Facebook page.
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
J- Just that if you’re a fan of werewolf movies or horror in general,
check out End
of the Road! It’s only 11 minutes and available to
stream or download here:
Thanks for the interview!