new movie The Last Laugh
- in a few words, what is it about?
about a standup comedian named Myles whoís about to play the biggest
show of his life, the one that could make his career. But thereís a
killer loose in the theater and Myles is suffering from a traumatic event
that has him on medication and questioning everything he sees. These two
factors conspire to put his career-making night in jeopardy.
Is it fair to say
that The Last Laugh
is at least partly inspired by giallo movies of old, and if so, what drew
you to the genre?
very fair. Giallo is a horror subgenre I really enjoy. Theyíre
really fun and theyíre incredibly stylistic. I think the style of them
is what drew me in initially. Theyíre like these over-the-top whodunit
stories with a heavy dose of technicolor eye candy and surreal amounts of
gore. Another aspect I love is the surreality of them.
(Other) sources of inspiration when
writing The Last Laugh?
listened to a lot of Black Sabbath while I was writing. It seemed to fit
the mood. Itís funny because The Last Laugh
is more in the vein of a
Dario Argento giallo such as Deep Red (which is my favorite of his films,
by the way). But Argento isnít my favorite giallo filmmaker. That would
be Mario Bava [Mario Bava bio -
click here] and he didnít make many films in the proto slasher style
like Argento did. But he was definitely a big inspiration as well. His
films are beautiful and I never get tired of watching them. I think if we
got the opportunity to make a sequel I would definitely want to push the
stylistic qualities much further.
Last Laugh is very much focused on its protagonist Myles - so to
what extent can you identify with the character and his inner and outer
so much his outer turmoil - Iíve never been stalked by a psychopathic
murderer, unfortunately - but his inner turmoil feels very identifiable to
me. Stand-up comedians are artists, just like filmmakers. And the world of
stand-up comedians is one that functions as its own subculture, just like
filmmaking. Mostly those feelings of self-doubt and nervousness and how
incredibly daunting the journey can beÖ I could relate to those
A few words about The
Last Laugh's approach to horror?
main character being a comedian was at the forefront of my mind. I wanted
a little of that humor to infect the overall tone of the film but I was
also very aware that I didnít want the film to feel like a
horror-comedy. I thought it was important that the dialogue feel natural
and that the conversations were entertaining without sacrificing
What can you
tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
love psychological horror in films and the ones Iíve directed all have a
touch of that. I like that the events unfolding on screen can be
questioned and even doubted to an extent. I tried to suffuse the
subjectivity throughout with the quick flashbacks and the imagery thatís
clearly only in Mylesí mind. I wanted the viewers to question what it is
theyíre seeing at all times.
talk about The Last Laugh's
key cast, and why exactly these people?
love the cast and they all brought something key to these characters.
Myles was the character I was most stressed about. At first I really
wanted to cast an actual stand-up comedian in the role. My logic was that
the stand-up moments in the film, though they are few, were the most
important in selling that character. If you didnít believe that Myles
might actually have some talent then I think the whole movie falls apart.
There are no stakes if Myles isnít a good comedian. Steve Vanderzee
surprised me though because he really seemed to understand the rhythm of
the stand-up moments and he felt believable right away. He also had these
large, haunted eyes that sold the other aspect of Mylesí character that
was so important to convey.
Leppard and Meranda Long were so great as Andy and Bethany. I auditioned a
lot of roles in pairs to see how different actorsí chemistry worked
together. But these two were the most important to me as a pair and I
think their chemistry together is amazing. Theyíre both incredibly
endearing and genuine and I think anybody watching the film roots for
was another difficult character to cast. The agent whoís been there and
done that but has gotten in his own way too often and is now heading
towards rock bottomÖ itís a lot of notes to play to convey where
heís at in his life and career. And I think Eric Stone did a great job
of walking that tightrope. Nelson is a bit sleazy but he also cares about
Myles, he wants to get ahead but he also believes in his client. In a way
heís atoning for his past professional sins.
Deo as Reggie Ray was a phenomenal find. Reggie is an important character
because he headlines the show, he guarantees a massive audience, and
heís a symbol of what Myles can achieve. But heís also a warning sign.
Heís everything Myles wants to achieve and everything he despises.
Theyíre polar opposites and enemies in a highly competitive field that
can be rife with jealousy. Lowell really sold this character that you have
to believe could hold the stage and demand the attention of a huge
Dimarco is a longtime friend and incredible actor. Donna was a person you
had to suspect and feel sorry for all at the same time. Sheís a femme
fatale but to what degree? I knew Angela could bring all the nuance that
was needed to bring Donna to life and she did not disappoint.
You of course
also have to talk about the theatre The
Last Laugh was filmed at, what was it like filming there, and how
did you find the place even?
main theater we filmed in for the stage and auditorium was The Pantages in
downtown Tacoma, Washington. I had been there several times before and
loved it. It was part of the homage to giallo films that there needed to
be some incredible architecture and a feeling of old style. The Pantages
was my dream location. Honestly I didnít think weíd get it. Our budget
didnít have a lot of room for extravagant locations. But everybody was
so impressed with the look of the place that we just decided to make it
happen. A good location like that is so incredibly important for the
production design of a film and how authentic it looks and feels. We
couldnít film there for the entire time though so we alternated
locations between The Pantages and The Historic Everett Theater.
Everett Theater was much smaller and more modern but some of the spots in
it were actually better for what we needed.
A few words about the shoot
as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
was a fun shoot. There were definitely stressful moments due to how much
we were trying to capture on a schedule that was shorter than we would
have liked but the cast and crew were consummate professionals and I was
always impressed with what we were able to accomplish. We had good,
quality people in front of and behind the camera and that made for a fun
atmosphere on set between shots. I was always excited to go to the set and
see those people.
Anything you can
tell us about audience and critical reception of The
film hasn't been released officially yet. Itíll drop on DVD and
streaming on September 15th. So far the few people that have seen it have
really enjoyed it and loved the characters and the interplay between them.
Itís been very gratifying to see the reactions, whether itís the fun
people have or the anxiety and heartbreak. The ending is the thing
thatís the most divisive to viewers, intentionally so. Itís something
that encourages discussion and opinion and Iíve loved having those
conversations with people about what they think happened.
Any future projects you'd like to
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
a crime thriller I directed last year thatís currently in
post-production called Martingale. Weíve been slowed down a lot by Covid
and quarantine but weíll have it finished up at some point and released.
So keep an eye out for that.
Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever
us out at TheOctoberPeople.net to see the latest news for the film.
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
covers everything. Thank you for your time!
Thanks for the interview!