Your new movie Fun
with Hackley: Axe Murderer - in a few words, what is it about?
Lifelong masked serial killer Hackley is going through a rough patch rethinking
his life and job. Hackley works in an office of serial killers
(called Revelation Killing Solutions) and the weight of the corporate
bureaucracy is crushing his love of killing.
I'd add that Hackley's rough patch is something of a mid-life crisis.
how did the project fall together in the first place, and how did the
three of you come on board?
I first met Trey in Houston Texas way back close to the turn of the
century when I was working on a featurette called Bitters and
other Natural Remedies. Trey auditioned for the lead and we cast
him. From there he and I worked together off and on for years. Then he
moved to Austin, and I eventually did the same. While in Austin, Trey
and I wanted to work on something again so we got together for one of
those 48 hour film fests. This is where Garrett came in (or, it could
be that Garrett and Trey wanted to do that, and this is where
"I" came in - memory is suspect). I think he and Trey have
known each other since high school or something like that. Anyway,
Trey's specializing in comedic acting, and my primary field of study
being directing, left one specialization missing to make it whole
(again, could be that I was the one filling a hole). Garrett really
rounded out the team with his fantastic gift for ideas and writing,
not to mention his encyclopedic knowledge of the horror genre. We did
a couple of shorts in the Hackley universe before deciding it was too
big for shorts and moved on to making a feature film.
Yup. Trey and I played football together in high school. I
spent the night at his house one weekend and his dog ate my shoe.
We were destined to make movies together.
with Hackley: Axe Murderer being very obviously inspired by old
school slasher movies, is that at all a genre you all are fond of?
I think I may speak for all of us when I say that growing up in the
80s gave us a huge appreciation and an almost nostalgia for slasher
films. For me personally, I probably can't count on one hand how many
times I went as Jason Voorhees or
Freddy Krueger for Halloween.
I love it to my core. Every year I attend a horror convention in
Dallas called Texas Frightmare Weekend and often dress up because
I’m a dork. I can still remember the first horror movies I saw
really affecting me. I saw an edited for TV version of Friday
the 13th 5: A New Beginning on some cable channel way before I should
have and seeing Shocker
in theaters with my Dad when I was 8 and running out of the theater
for a part I later found out wasn’t even scary. In my work
office, I have autographed posters from Friday the
13th, Halloween and
Nightmare on Elm Street all staring back at me.
These guys have me beat when it comes to slasher genre knowledge
levels. I love pretty much ALL movies and like to genre-hop, and like
to subgenre-hop in the case of horror, and can easily jump between
The Shining and Evil Dead back-to-back. I'm sure my spaztasticness is
related to one of my earliest memories; my first drive-in movie, with
my mom. It was Romero's Night of the Living
Dead. I was only about 5,
or maybe even less. That night at the drive in changed me in deep,
fundamental ways that are still manifesting, lemme tell ya.
you at all talk about Fun
with Hackley: Axe Murderer's specific brand of humour?
would compare the brand of humour in our film to be dry, sarcastic,
fun and something that both people who love films in the genre and out
can get a kick out of. I also think having humour in the situations
and the issues that the characters deal with that the audience can
really relate to is vitally important for laughs.
For sure. Office
were both inspirations and that type of deadpan humor was what we were
really going for.
I'm a big British humor fan, so of course there's going to be those
fingerprints on it. I keep Monty Python on in the background, like
most people listen to music. Absurdly grounded. Shaun of the
what were your sources of inspiration when writing Fun
with Hackley: Axe Murderer?
Garrett: It's a really weird set of inspirations. Just putting that out
there up front. The main inspiration came from a lot of
frustrations in my own job in the software industry. And then it
was a lot of fun tying that into the Friday the
that I love so much. Then, totally out of left field, Pixar’s
Monsters, Inc. was a great source of inspiration. There was also
an incredible horror-comedy called Behind the Mask: the Rise of
Leslie Vernon that I just loved which also inspired me to pen this
film. I think that film did an incredible job of balancing the
horror and comedy and created something really unique and wonderful.
Tim: Monsters, Inc. for sure. Great movie. Even though that movie is
animated and shows creatures that can't exist, it's done in such a way
that you believe them. They're emotionally authentic.
Tim, what can you
tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?
I strive for something authentic, even when things are absurd, there-by
enhancing the absurdities of the situations. In the case of Fun
with Hackley: Axe Murderer, we
have a world that just cannot exist, and someone else might have gone a
completely different way with the direction (make it campy on purpose for
example). I wanted it to feel like real people with real issues, they just
happen to wear masks and kill people for a living. This was no small task
being a low budget film, but when I watch it now, I believe what they're
saying, so I feel satisfied that I achieved that end. The other personal
goal -- whatever I'm doing -- is I'd like for it to have SOMETHING to say,
weighty or not. Fun
with Hackley: Axe Murderer is about constriction. It's about a world where
people feel compelled to corral one another like cattle through the
over-use of rules and regulations. Are we really a free society? Nah, not
really. This probably sounds like an insanely pretentious idea stuck in an
absurd comedy, and, well, yeah, it is. But that's the theme as presented
by the director.
what can you tell us about your character in Fun
with Hackley: Axe Murderer, and what did you draw upon to bring
him to life? And what kind of a challenge was it to act wearing a mask the
Matador has quite a simple complexity really. He's typical middle
management and is likely only in his position of management from a
combination of nepotism and dumb luck. While he manages a team of the best
slashers of all time, he's never actually been much of a slasher himself,
which I feel like makes him really want to prove something and try way too
hard as a manager. It was really a lot of fun playing this role. Being a
comedy really allowed for me to experiment a lot with the character to
find an accent that would be odd and funny to match how annoying of a boss
El Matador is. The Mask work was a lot of fun too because it allowed for
me to really try to express more with my eyes. And the fact that while in
production, we knew that having masks on throughout would make audio in
post be a little bit easier or that we could fix flubs in post, really
took some pressure off and allowed us to have a lot of fun while shooting.
What was the collaboration between the
three of you like, and when did you all first meet up even?
We like to spitball, but not before arm wrestling. A lot of things
come from that, even on set. For my part, as a director, collaboration
is really about letting everyone get in there, let the brainstorm
happen, and then just be the filter that protects the spine of the
piece. Naturally, I'll also throw in ideas, but I'm more of a
"vision" gate-keeper that knows if
something will work in the grand scheme of things (do we have time to
do that? Will it set up a plot hole later? Fit the tone? Acting
consistent? Why? etc). As for the meetup, you can see that in the
"on board" question. The when? I've known Trey for years,
and Garrett, just a few years when we first started playing with the
Hackley world. Might have been 5 or so years ago now.
I think we all got on the same page early on, so that made everything
easy after that. And we had a pretty relaxed schedule for a no
budget feature, so I think that gave us an opportunity to try stuff on
set and try out everyone’s ideas and then see what worked when the
edit came together.
can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people
... and how much say did each of you have in the casting even?
Garrett: I really just closed my eyes and picked random names out of a hat for
casting. No, it was a great collaborative process and I am so
thrilled with how the casting came about starting with Allen, our
star. When I originally started working on this story, it was
two short films with a serial killer named Hyde. Then I knew
Allen from working with him in the software industry and eventually
cast him in my previous feature film, Cherry Bomb.
Since then, I changed the character from Hyde to Hackley (Allen’s
real last name is Hackley and I thought that name just worked) and I
changed the character from a typical dopey character to match
Allen’s witty personality.
Then, we knew Trey was going to play the boss and wrote up a character
based on his strengths. (I’ll let Trey discuss his character
in his question.) Then from there, it was a really wonderful,
collaborative process that I can’t remember us really arguing about.
Rancid was originally supposed to be played by one of our actor
friends, but he had some other things come up and we started looking
around. Trey kept bringing up his actor friend, Garrett Graham
for the role. So I went and checked out his film, Zero
and was blown away. Dude is amazing and that film is a must-see.
There’s a reason he’s being cast on major network TV shows and
film franchises. He came in and worked up the accent and helped
us create the character’s look.
Asparagus, I wrote with Owen Egerton in mind. He’s a local
celebrity around here in Austin and a phenomenal writer who has worked
with Warner Brothers and a lot of other big names. And he was
kind enough to come be a part of our film.
From there, we were all on the same page for how the various
characters should be played and started filling them out from there.
I pulled in Michelle Ellen Jones, Kerry Beyer and Joe Grisaffi from my
circle of Houston horror friends. Trey brought in the unbelievably
funny stand up comedian JT Habersaat to play Hackley’s rival, Rival.
And then any time we needed a gorgeous female, Tim always seemed to
come through. I wish I could go through everyone in the cast and
highlight them all. They are all supremely talented.
Lauren J Reed (go check out her artwork) who played Plague has been
featured on the From Dusk Til Dawn TV show. Aaron Alexander (the
Sugar Duke) is a supremely talented martial artist who works with
Rooster Teeth a lot. And we even scored a cameo from Mary Jo
Pehl (of Mystery Science Theater 3000, my favorite show of all time)
who was living in Austin at the time.
Ha! Garrett jests. But casting really was just us all pulling in
people in our circles. Garrett is plugged into the Houston scene as is
Trey and I, so between Austin and Houston, there was no shortage of
great people to work with.
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
On-set atmosphere is usually driven by the director. In our case,
we're all comedic by nature, and as such, we cut up and have a great
time. If we're not having a good time doing it, why are we doing it?
The shoot itself was also one of the easiest I've done technically
(probably due to it being 3 of us producing, instead of mostly me as
is usually the case). There weren't any OMG days where things weren't
getting done, or something huge fell through so that we were all left
standing around holding our johnsons. At least, not that I remember.
Am I blocking out that one time we left the actor buried in his own
grave? The normal shoot expectation is plan for Armageddon, and get 3
of the 4 horsemen. Never saw any horse shit on our shoot.
Was so great. We didn’t have a traditional big block of
filming all at once and I think that reduced the stress and let us
have more fun. Instead of filming like 26 out of 32 days, we did
a weekend a month because we all still had 9-to-5 jobs that restricted
our time, so that let us treat each filming weekend as its own short
film and made the pre-production and planning for those shoots easier.
$64-question of course: When and where the film will be released onto the
soon. We are just about done locking the color correction and having
everything finalized, so it’s still in the very early stages of “being
done”. We are submitting to as many festivals as we can so people
can see it and we are exploring distribution options at the same time.
So hopefully it will be coming to a film festival near you :)
Anything you can tell us about audience
and critical reception of Fun
with Hackley: Axe Murderer yet?
far in our test and private screenings the audience response to Fun
with Hackley: Axe Murderer has been great. Everyone seems to really enjoy it and laugh in all of the
right places. In those screenings we've tried to include a variety of
folks with all different backgrounds and interests. There seems to be a
great reception not only by people who like genre films, but also others
too. We are very excited to show MORE of the world!
projects you'd like to share?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Right now, I’m emotionally all in on Fun
with Hackley: Axe Murderer and this world. I
so hope a distributor shares our vision and would like to see us
expand this world and play around in it some more. I’ve
got a sequel partially written for it and am working on idea for webseries, prequels, TV series, etc. Something we don’t touch on
in the script, but is present in the world is that this group of
slashers is just one division in this big company, RKS (Revelation
Killing Solutions). There’s also groups of specters/spirits,
I'm with these guys, until this movie is out there enough to feel like
it's a legit "movie." After which, I'm actually thinking of
doing something with virtual reality. We'll see how I feel in a few
months when this movie is thoroughly out there. We might do more
Hackley if there's a demand for that world.
Your/your movie's website,
Facebook, whatever else?
Tim’s YouTube channel:
Consortium YouTube channel:
Our zombie-comedy short film:
And I am really proud of our main website. Below the top part
which talks about the film, we designed the website to look like
Hackley’s company’s website. We go into the history of RKS,
including the great killer strike of 1994 where RKS had to turn to
creating BBQ sauce to keep the company afloat.
Anything else you're dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
time for tacos.
Trey, as always, with some sage advice.
Yeah, Trey. Fair enough.