Your new movie Words
Like Knives - in a few words, what is it about?
Like Knives is about bullying, rumors, and the effect they can
have on the mind of the victim. Emma, played by Kelsey Zukowski [Kelsey
Zukowski interview - click here], is
introduced as an average teenager with an average life. As the film
progresses, the bullying she endures at the hands of classmates forces a
deterioration in her mind, and the lines between reality and fantasy begin
did the project come together, and how did you get involved?
wrote a pretty amazing script and brought the idea up to me. I would be
hard pressed to tell you a timeline on that, because it was during a
period where Kelsey and I had like four projects going that we were
mutually involved in. I was intrigued by Words
Like Knives, because I love
emotionally charged material, I love dealing with altered reality and
altered perception (which I first explored visually in my film Asunder)
and I'm a fan of challenging material that talks about taboo subjects. I
was also drawn to the script because it addressed a fairly hot-button
issue in the form of bullying, but rather than treat it like an
after-school special with clearly drawn lines of right and wrong and a
monologue-moral at the end, Words
Like Knives delves into some pretty dark
content and leaves the audience to make its own judgements.
Zukowski did not only star in Words
Like Knives, she also wrote the script [Kelsey
Zukowski interview - click here] - so what was your collaboration
like, and how did you two first hook up to begin with?
collaboration was great. Kelsey and I worked hand in hand to ensure that
the story was handled with sensitivity and care. The material is very
emotional and personal, so we both took great care in presenting and
considering our own ideas and each other's. Fortunately, Kelsey is a great
writer and a sweet woman, so it all went incredibly smoothly. We learned
to trust each other to do what was best for the project and I'd say it
As far as how we first hooked up? I don't even remember to tell you the
truth. I know we worked together on Monster Mash and on What They
I can't remember which one was first. I think we met at the Raymond Did It
premiere in Rockford and talked about working together down the road and
everything grew from there. One of the great things about the northern
Illinois film scene is that everyone is connected fairly tightly, so we
all sort of know each other, at least peripherally. The downside is that
it makes questions like "when did you first work together" a
little challenging to answer. I'm okay with that trade off.
of course also have to talk about the rest of your key cast and crew?
could do so all day! Words
Like Knives was filmed by Tim Stotz, who was
really able to plug in to what I wanted to accomplish with the shifts in
reality and the emotional tone of the film. He and I have worked together
enough on horror projects that we can dial into each other's wavelength
pretty easily. Sean Tyler was our general purpose extra set of hands,
acting as a grip and as a make-up tech, which was his first FX makeup
experience (and which he and Katrina Roland did a fantastic job on). We
also had Colleen Brown and Steve Heiden as grip/pa's and they made the set
run very smoothly. It was a fast, grueling shoot with a ton of set ups and
incredibly difficult material. We could not have done it without such an
Michael Wexler, Kelsey Zukowski
In terms of cast, we were also blessed. I have worked with Melissa Revels
on a number of occasions. She is a brilliant comedic actress and normally
plays tough, strong, but hysterical characters. Playing a bullying bitch
was a bit outside of Mel's normal range and it was good to see her stretch
her boundaries a bit. It paid off.
Michael Wexler was incredible as well. He essentially plays two wildly
different characters in the film, which is a challenge in itself. We
really ran him through the wringer and he took it like a champ.
Valerie Meachum, I cannot possible say enough wonderful about. I've worked
with her on three occasions and every time she has really shined through
as a strong presence and a scene-stealer. She's a great talent. I'm
looking forward to seeing her performance in the upcoming Witchfinder by
Colin Clarke (www.facebook.com/witchfindermovie).
It looks INCREDIBLE.
if it was not written by you, could you at all relate to the topics
touched in Words Like
I think everyone can relate to the pain of
social ostracism, bullying and having lies spread about you. I think that
is sadly a very common experience. I can definitely relate to the concept
of outside forces and stresses screwing with your head. I think everyone
can find something to relate to in this film and I hope they can find
something positive to take away from that. The material is very dark, very
upsetting, but I think that there is ultimately a positive message. I
think any time you point out the flaws in humanity, there can be a
positive take-away from that. Hopefully someone sees this film and it
moves them to think about how they treat other people and the impact their
words can have on them. I also hope that this film can inspire those who
have been victims to speak up and speak out. Part of the darkness in this
movie stems from the fact that Emma bottles up and internalizes her pain.
She feels like she has no one to turn to (another thing I'm sure everyone
has felt at some point) and so she internalizes everything. The human mind
can't take that kind of pressure. It's important to speak out against
feeling victimized, and I think this film illustrates that, albeit in a
worst-case scenario fashion.
How would you describe your directorial
approach to your story at hand?
Travis with Kelsey Zukowski
I tend to be an
"actor's director", placing a ton of focus on ensuring that the
actor understands the head space that the character is supposed to be in
and that the actor's expression, tone and body language convey that. It's
a very collaborative process as far as I'm concerned and we were able to
put together some very cool performances by working together to find those
moments that drive the story. Visually, Tim and I worked very hard to
create a sense of a shattered reality that represented the emotional
trauma Emma was experiencing. There are several little details, that you
may not even notice upon the first viewing, that contribute to the visual
establishment of Emma's madness. I'm very proud of how that turned out.
What can you tell us
about the shoot as such and the on-set atmosphere?
probably one of the most jovial and laid back sets I've ever been on. I
think it had to be, because the material was so incredibly serious and we
were all handling it so somberly, that between takes we just had to crack
jokes and play around with each other to keep our sanity. Having said
that, we all gave Kelsey a pretty wide berth between scenes so she could
maintain her headspace. We tried to isolate her from the distractions and
words about critical and audience reception of your movie so far?
glad people have enjoyed it. I hope they continue to do so. I want to hear
more! Feedback at the Facebook fan page
and on the IMDB page
are welcome and encouraged.
move on to your other new movie, Dry
Spell - even if we've talked about that one in quite some detail a
few months ago [click here],
do bring us up to speed again, what is it about?
Spell is a romantic comedy about a couple on the eve of their divorce. Sasha
(Suzi Lorraine) wants to get back into dating, but when she hooks up with
a hot guy (Steven Lee Edwards) she finds herself unable to perform
sexually. She's dried up. Blaming her impotence on guilt for moving on
before her ex-husband (Kyle Hoskins), she sets out on a quest to get him
laid, so that she can move on with her life guilt-free. It's about
divorce, dating, love and letting go of the past.
last talked about Dry Spell,
the actual shoot was still a month or two in the future - so how did the
shoot go, what were the expected and unexpected challenges, and what was
the overall atmosphere like?
The shoot went incredibly
well. New York City is such a wonderful place to shoot a film, especially
a low-budget indie film. It's an incredibly accommodating town. We had a
few issues with equipment rental and scheduling as well as some last
minute scrambling to find locations, but in the end everything worked out
phenomenally. Sean Tyler, my second unit director and general Swiss army
crew member and I talk about it very extensively on the director's
commentary that is exclusively available on the Dry
Spell Indiegogo page:
As far as the atmosphere, it was hands down the most fun I've ever had on
a film set. Normally filming comedy can be very challenging. Comedy is
technically demanding and requires very hard work and sometimes that means
that everyone on set is so busy prepping and workshopping that they don't
get to enjoy the experience. On Dry
Spell everything just clicked in such
a way that despite our rushed shooting schedule (we only had eleven
shooting days over the span of two weeks to make the film) we still had
plenty of fun. I attribute that to casting such excellent actors who also
happen to be very funny people.
Rachael Robbins, Kyle Hoskins
From what I know, most of
the key cast remained unchanged since we last talked - so how did this
people actually work together, did you get the performances you wanted,
and were there any surprises, performance-wise (of both a good and a bad
Most of the cast remains unchanged. Our two
replacements were Rachael Robbins, who replaced Debbie Rochon [Debbie
Rochon interview - click here] in the role
of Mary, and Kris Eivers, who replaced Bob Bozek in the role of Dylan.
Both the original cast members suffered injuries the week of the shoot
(thankfully minor ones) and had to be replaced last minute. We were very
fortunate with our replacement casts. Kris Eivers came in on no sleep and
was jumping around and shouting to psych himself up and keep himself
awake, but when the cameras rolled he gave us gold. Rachael Robbins is
both beautiful and hilarious. She really brought a strong core and
chemistry to Mary that worked out for the best for the film.
Suzi Lorraine, Kyle Hoskins
Kyle Hoskins [Kyle Hoskins
interview - click here] and Suzi Lorraine [Suzi
Lorraine interview - click here] both gave incredible performances. They
exceeded my already high expectations and their on-screen chemistry is
more potent than I could have expected. We filmed all of the emotionally
challenging material first, then filmed the comedic scenes afterward,
which gave Kyle and Suzi a chance to draw from the bitterness of their
conflict and let that inform the friendlier material. As friendly as a
divorcing couple may be, they are still getting a divorce, still in an
antagonistic relationship, and I think that plays well in the film. Kyle
has been through a divorce in his early twenties, so he was also able to
bring all sorts of personal experience into the role that really fleshed
out the character.
Suzi Lorraine, Amanda-Elizabeth Sawyer
Amanda-Elizabeth Sawyer [Amanda-Elizabeth
Sawyer interview - click here] and Kyle are very close in real life, close enough
that they frequently use similar expressions and facial expressions, which
helps sell their relationship as siblings in the film. Amanda and Suzi hit
it off immediately, which added truth and honesty to their characters'
Steven Lee Edwards, who I worked with previously on Raymond Did
hilarious in this movie, exceeding my greatest expectation. The last time
we worked together, he had to spend most of the film in an agitated state
of fear or anger, or he was covered in blood and gore. This time we got to
explore character and do some physical comedy, which Steven is incredible
This could go on for weeks. The supporting cast is incredible and creates
a strong foundation for the film to rest on. There is not a sagging
performance in the film and I'm incredibly proud of everyone involved.
Travis with Kyle Hoskins
You also play a key role in Dry
Spell - so do talk about your performance for a bit!
character, Trey, is the wise fool. He's Falstaff. Kyle's single best
friend, Trey is a textbook pothead slacker who tries to distract Kyle from
his pain with strip clubs and debauchery. Underneath all of that, though,
Trey is just trying to help his best friend get through a rough time.
It was a challenge to play the character, not just because of the partial
nudity (yeah, awkward), mainly because while juggling the thirty other
aspects of production, I'd neglected to learn my lines properly. I knew
all the performance notes I wanted to hit, but my scenes took forever
because I just didn't have my lines down. If any other actor showed up
that unprepared, I'd have fired them, and If I could have fired me, I
would have. But, in the final cut, I'm pretty happy with my performance,
so I suppose it all worked out in the end.
the film still a few days away from being released - how has Dry
Spell been received by the critics so far?
we have had incredibly positive reception from the few critics that have
reviewed it (we are on the lookout for more) and we were able to put
digital copies out ahead of schedule (I know, who does that? Awesome thing
about indie film: we get to make our own rules) so, we've gotten very
positive response from fans. Hopefully that continues. I know the movie is
not going to be everybody's cup of tea, but so far people really seem to
future projects you'd like to share?
Always! I am wrapping
up postproduction on my first documentary feature film, called Kryptonite:
Behind the Bar, which chronicles the first ten years of business of
Kryptonite Bar in Rockford, Illinois. Focusing on the struggles that
owner/operator Chris Wachowiak has faced both professionally and
personally, I think it's going to be an interesting watch for anybody who
has interest in owning their own business or chasing a dream. Information
and updates will be made available on my Facebook page as well as the
bar's website http://www.kryptonitebar.com/.
I'm getting ready to release new episodes of my superhero webseries,
Legacy of the Masque, hopefully before the end of the month. Keep an eye
I'm also in preproduction on my next feature film, Bloom, which will be a
return to horror for me, though of a very different sort than Raymond Did
It. The brief synopsis: "Lily (Aley Kreinz) wakes up in a seedy motel
bathroom. The walls are covered in blood, her clothing is in tatters and
the words “Forgive Me” are scrawled on the mirror. Horrified, Lily
runs from the motel to her home where she begins trying to piece together
the events of the previous night. Soon she begins experiencing changes in
her body, her appetites and her attitudes. She stops going to work and
begins to shut out friends and family as her humanity fades and she faces
the possibility that she may be becoming something altogether
We are currently putting together financing for Bloom and putting the
final draft of the script together. Casting will begin next week for all
supporting roles. We are putting the entire thing together on a very
modest budget (targeting about $4,000) and aiming at an exclusively
digital release, possibly augmented with DVDs for supporters if we turn to
crowdfunding. Any parties interested in hearing more about the investment
opportunity can reach out to me via Facebook or Twitter for more info.
Lastly, I've been doing a ton of tabletop role-playing game development
lately. I've released a new cosmic horror/mystical game called Glimpse the
Beyond, which is available in print and .pdf at http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/109234/Glimpse-the-Beyond
I'm also working on a second edition of my modern horror/urban fantasy
game Contagion, which the current edition can be found at http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/index.php?cPath=559_4012.
websites, Facebooks, whatever elses?
Words Like Knives
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/RumorsCanKill
Words Like Knives Twitter: https://twitter.com/RumorsCanKill
To get YOUR copy of Dry Spell: http://www.indiegogo.com/watchdryspell
Dry Spell Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/DrySpellMovie
My Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TravisLegge
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/TravisLegge
My official website: http://www.aegisstudios.com
Anything else you
are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
that it is Women in Horror month, so I'd like to give a big shout out to
all the hard-working ladies in horror, especially the ones I've drafted
Spell. I'd also like to encourage everyone to check out the
Twisted Twins' annual massive blood drive http://www.twistedtwinsproductions.net/massiveblooddrive.htm
and go donate blood. Donate once for me too, because I can't.
for the interview!
Thank YOU, sir! It's always a pleasure!