Your upcoming movie Gory Graduation - in a few words, what's
it going to be about?
A group of seniors on the cusp of their high school graduation are
stalked by a menacing figure in a ceremonial cap and gown.
And faculty, too!
What were your inspirations for
dreaming up Gory Graduation?
Joseph: Back in the late `90s/early 2K era, someone had listed
on the IMDb with a few cult stars attached. So, being a slasher movie
completist at the time and social media still in its infancy, I went on
the hunt for it but couldn't find anything. It was later proven to be
fake. I always loved the evocative title and the hunt in which I was
consumed. So, "this movie should exist," we always thought. And
now it will.
There’s not much more I can add to this. I loved the title and thought
it was such a missed opportunity that nobody had utilized it yet. So I
decided, "why shouldn’t we use it?"
With Gory Graduation
being a slasher movie, is that a genre you're at all fond of, and some of
your genre favourites? And what do you think will make your movie stand
out of the crowd?
Joseph: Slashers are absolutely my favorite. With a simplistic plot structure,
you can bypass a lot of exposition that can easily bog down your
narrative and focus instead on other important factors: blood/gore,
likeable characters, suspense, etc. Plus, slashers carry the whole
could really happen" aesthetic which, to me at least, is much scarier
than a ghost or zombie. As far as favorites, Black Christmas from 1974
is, to me, the perfect slasher film: permeated with atmosphere, likeable
(flawed, not mean) characters and it's scary down to the core. Going
from that, I also adore Stage
Fright, The Texas Chainsaw
Prom Night, My Bloody Valentine, etc. As far as "standing
from the crowd," we're not trying to reinvent the wheel à la something
like Scream - we're embracing what makes these movies "popcorn"
can say that a lot of recent slasher films rely way too much on
characters who yell and scream and curse at one another to a sickening
degree; that is something we want to sidestep.
Like Joseph, slashers are my favorite. I have loved them for as long as
I can remember. My absolute favorite film is the original The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre. Some of my other favorites are Killer Party, Pieces,
Don’t Go in the Woods, Sleepaway
Camp, Splatter University, To All a Goodnight, Criminally Insane… I could really go on for days talking
about my favorites.
Do talk about your movie's approach to
horror for a bit (as in suspense vs sudden shocks, atmosphere vs all-out
gore and the like)!
Joseph: If I had to describe the tone, I'd say we're trying to mimic the silly,
"anything goes" bodycount of something like Friday The 13th V: A
Beginning or I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, with Stage
Fright-esque suspense sequences with just a dash or two of John Waters
dark humor in the dialogue. Oh, and lots of gore, because you can't have
a title like Gory Graduation without showing buckets of the red stuff.
With our last film we tried to make it very serious for the most part. I
felt that for this film I would want to make it very cheesy and fun.
Definitely not something that should be taken too seriously. That’s not
to say we are trying to make this a goofy comedy. It is very much horror
but slightly tongue-in-cheek I’d say.
What can you tell us about the
film's intended overall look and feel?
Joseph: We obviously love `80s horror but feel trying to recapture that era is
fraught with problems, not the least of which is spending too much of
your budget on wardrobe and not in other areas that would benefit your
film. A lot of indie filmmakers try their hand at teasing hair,
purchasing spandex and splashing the right color here and there and end
up neglecting the story, characters, suspense, etc, and all for naught -
most of the time, their attempts at recapturing an era that is long gone
is never perfect, defeating the purpose. Of the attempts, I'd say maybe
only one or two got it right (I won't name drop), and that may even have
been by accident. We're just going for a clean, polished "film"
The feel of the film will hopefully just be fun. Not to be taken too
seriously. Just a fun and hopefully suspenseful film.
Anything you can
tell us about your projected cast yet, and why exactly these people?
I'd say their auditions told us everything we needed to know about them.
Personally, I'd rather work with hungry up-and-comers rather than, say,
has-beens or divas, and these particular actors gave wonderful readings
and are waiting anxiously to tackle the material. I've often toyed with
the idea of snagging a "name" to get recognition but for as much
blessing that can be, it can equally be a curse.
I think the actors we have cast will do a fantastic job. I’d love to
work with some of the horror stars from my favorite films but that does
take up quite a bit of budget and there’s a lot of red tape to go
through regarding SAG. Some day it would be fun to work with some of the
wonderful 80s horror stars, though.
far as I know, your film's still in pre-production as we speak - so what's
the schedule, and any idea, however tentative, when and where the movie
might be released onto the general public yet?
Filming begins in the summer of 2015. We're putting the final touches on
the script/story right now and funding begins at the end of January.
That's all we know right now. We're going to try to find some sort of
distribution but if all else fails, we'll self-distribute.
Self-distribution can be quite a nightmare sometimes. It’s a lot of work
to take on. I think finding a distributor would be a great idea. I have
heard horror stories about distributors regarding money and the
filmmakers not seeing any money… But the fact is we never saw any money
from The Night Before Easter and we distributed it ourselves.
future projects beyond Gory Graduation?
There was another semi-infamous fake title that we liked - we'll
probably make that a reality, too. Other than that, a couple of short
films are still on our plate (one is being shot right now) and I have an
idea for an "old dark house" slasher with a twist and a
slasher as well, but we'll see how Gory Graduation goes first.
There’s so many great ideas we are throwing around now.
you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
education on the subject?
I think every kid who loves movies as much as we do (horror, in
particular) at one point in their life says to themselves, "we're
to make a movie." It only took us ten years of our continuing
to actually pick up a camera and make it a reality but I'm glad we took
that leap because now I'm addicted to the process. Whether or not I
become famous or make any profit, I'm going to keep making them because
I love doing so. No formal training outside of utilizing the internet to
learn what to do and what not to do and just getting down into the
I love filmmaking and it will always be a hobby of mine. I don’t know if
I’ll ever be able to make a living in filmmaking but I’m fine with
Like Joseph, no formal training at all for me outside of talking with
other filmmakers and getting some tips.
What can you tell us about
your filmwork prior to Gory Graduation?
Like anyone with a video camera, I made a few home movies and stop
motion things as a kid, but our first "real" movie was a slasher
in 2013 called The Night Before Easter. It was shot on a micro-budget,
and I'm going to go ahead and be honest: 80% of the time, I didn't know
what the heck I was doing; it was all trial and error. I'm my own worst
critic so watching The Night Before Easter now is rather difficult
because of all the "first time filmmaker" problems associated
However, it was an extremely rewarding experience not just because it
was a lot of fun to shoot but because it taught me so many lessons that
I needed to learn, the most important being "never stop
it wrapped, I've pretty much done nothing but study cinematography
techniques, editing, lighting, staging, etc. Maybe one day I'll actually
have a proper budget to utilize everything I've learned - haha.
I made a lot of “slasher” short films with my family when I was a
teenager. They are actually quite hysterical to see now. The Night
Before Easter was the first actual horror film for me. It was a great
experience. It had a lot of highs and a few lows but overall it was a
very good learning experience.
you describe yourself as directors?
Joseph: Friendly but very reserved. What I mean is, I rely
more on logic and
orchestral thinking when directing than, say, getting chummy with the
actors and crew. That's not to say I'm a complete dick or anything; I
haven't a mean bone in my body, but when it comes to directing, I tend
to get a tad mechanical in order to get the best out of the situation.
I'm actually trying to be more "approachable," I guess you'd
call it -
especially considering Gory Graduation is going to be so much bigger in
scope than the confined aesthetic of The Night Before Easter.
I’m more of the guy that gets chummy with the actors and crew while on
set. I like to set up a great rapport during filming. We had fun
although we were extremely tired most nights. Overall I know what I want
to see and Joseph and I will discuss it and we can always work out a
compromise to get what we both want out of the film.
Joseph: I love old Sam Raimi (pre-Spider-Man), old Romero, Argento and I'd love
to work with someone like Shane Carruth (Primer, Upstream Color).
Argento, Fulci [Lucio Fulci bio
- click here], Tobe Hooper… There’s so many really.
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Joseph: Black Christmas
Fright, to me, are two slashers I'd take with
me to a deserted island. Outside of the genre, I'd say Primer, Radio
Inside, Planes, Trains & Automobiles. I could probably list hundreds
be here all day, but I'll just leave it at that.
The original Texas Chainsaw
Massacre will always be my favorite film of
all time. Outside of the horror genre I love a huge variety of movies:
Harold and Maude, Ordinary People, Mannequin, Summer
School, Bridesmaids, Pitch Perfect, We’re the
Millers, Horrible Bosses… I’m
over the place with my love for film.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Joseph: I try to see the good in just about everything because I know what kind
of work goes into making a movie, but I just can't get into the Rob
Zombie Halloween films or comic book/superhero movies.
That’s a tough one since I am known as the guy who likes everything.
Like Joseph, I’m not a huge fan of Rob Zombie’s Halloween films. I
he is a very talented director but the writing just doesn’t work for me.
And I know a lot of people will want to stone me for this but I’m not a
fan of Star Wars or
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Joseph: Look us up on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Gory.Graduation
trying to build the biggest audience possible right now and we'd
appreciate your "like."
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
We hope you guys enjoy Gory Graduation; it's going to be a fast-paced,
bloody good time! And if you hate it, that's okay, as long as you tell
us WHY - we strive for constructive criticism.
This is true. We are not opposed to constructive criticism. That’s a
great way to learn what to work on for our next project.
for the interview!