Your new movie Secret
Santa - in a few words, what is it about?
Santa is a B-movie, horror/comedy about a group of friends
trying to make it through the hectic exam period at school. They plan a
Secret Santa party only to find that their gifts have been replaced with
the weapons that will create their demise.
were your inspirations when writing Secret
Santa? And is any of this based on any real life disastrous
Christmas parties you have attended?
The inspiration for Secret
Santa came out of pure frustration. I was working two jobs in
retail over the Christmas rush and after weeks and weeks of Christmas
music, promos, and cranky people, I had it. When I finally had a few days
off after Christmas, I pounded out the screenplay for Secret
wrote certain roles for actors that I have worked with before, Annette
Wozniak, Geoff Almond, and Keegan Chambers, and that made the character
development a blast to write because I pictured them in the roles.
Santa being a slasher movie of sorts, is that a genre at all dear
to you, and some of your genre favourites?
I love the
slasher genre! It's my favourite. Ever since I was 8 years old I was
watching films like Sleepaway
Camp, Friday the
13th, and Halloween
though I wasn't supposed to) and I think that element of the forbidden is
still alive inside of me a little bit when I watch horror films to this
day. Some of my genre favourites are the classic like Halloween,
Nightmare on Elm Street, and I also love Prom Night, Sleepaway
Camp, The Burning, Black
Christmas and Slumber Party Massacre.
For all the
gorehounds among my readers, you of course have to talk about the killings
in your movie for a bit, and how were they achieved?
giving too much away about the deaths, I will say that Carlos Henriques
from The Butcher Shop did an amazing job on the special effects. He pulled
off amazing gags with next to no budget. For a couple of the deaths, he
created a fake torso and filled it with blood bags so we could feel free
to stab away at it with whatever we wanted to. It made for a great effect.
What was really cool was that Carlos had a bunch of different stuff at his
shop that he modified for us on set. That way we ended up staying on
budget and creating some magical gore!
do talk about the brand of humour of Secret
I wanted to try and make Secret
original as possible and put my own stamp on it so I added the element of
comedy to it. I think that horror movies should have at least some comedic
moments to ease the tension of the viewer, and then scare them again when
their guard's down. With the element of comedy in the movie, you get to
know and like the characters more and then you actually feel bad when they
bite the dust in horrific ways. Plus it's a B-movie, and I wanted to
cheese it up a bit. It's a beer and popcorn kind of movie.
A few words about your directorial
approach to your story at hand?
My directorial approach to Secret
Santa was to simply get it in the can! We had 15 days to shoot
(barely) and we were shooting on one camera with a budget of six thousand
Dollars. We had no time to spare so I had to be as prepared as possible.
We made sure to follow our call sheets and I storyboarded every single
shot of the movie before we rolled picture. It was time-consuming but it
paid off in the end. That being said, there were times that I prolonged
shooting scenes so I could get that "must have" shot. I try to
keep the set light and fun, make sure the cast and crew have a good time
while doing what they love to do. There were a lot of laughs while
shooting the film, and I'm sure you can guess why.
What can you tell us
about your cast, and why exactly these people?
My cast is
amazing. I have worked with Annette Wozniak, Geoff Almond, and Keegan
Chambers before, so I was
able to write characters with them in mind. Annette is a very diverse
actor, but she's never been "naughty" before, and I wanted to
take her out of her comfort zone a little bit and she rocked it. I knew
Keegan would love playing the role of Carissa because she get's to play
the villain in a sense, besides the actual killers, and if you know
Keegan, she's the sweetest person so I wanted to give her a different role
as well. I like to torture Geoff as much as possible and because I have a
camera pointed at him, he puts up with it. Haha. Me and Geoff have been
friends for years and he has a very unique delivery to his acting and he's
a great comedian so writing the role of Dwayne for him was so much fun
because I knew he would bring it to life, fantastically. Brent Baird,
and Tony Nashed came out to auditions we held and brought their own unique style
to the role. Brent gave us a sense of mystery and when you watch the
movie, you can't 100% trust Brian. Nicole killed it in her audition,
bringing both the elements of the OCD and sultry that we needed in the
character of Olivia. Tony had the look we were going for, but also brought
a sense of fun and comedy to the role that we didn't expect.
about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
was fun. We had a great atmosphere on set. When you're making an indie
movie, there's a special feeling in the air where everyone wants to help
and create the best movie they can. We're all living our dream and being
able to create something and that gives everyone the push they need to
endure the late nights, and sticky blood. Plus, when you're shooting some
of the scenes we had to shoot in this movie, you can't help but laugh your
ass off. There were a lot of laughs.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Secret
Santa so far?
The audience reception to Secret
Santa has been phenomenal. We had our world premiere at Blood in the Snow
Film Festival and sold out both of our screenings. There were a lot of
laughs, cheers, and one death scene that left everyone in the audience
cringing. People took it for what it was, a fun B-movie.
Any future projects you'd like to
My next project is in very early stages, in other
words, I haven't written it yet. My next idea is a ghost story combined
with HGTV shows. It will be another horror/comedy and I plan to start
writing the script in the new year.
What got you into filmmaking to begin with, and
did you receive any formal training on the subject?
been interested in filmmaking since I can remember. I made my first film
when I was six, it was a Dracula film. I went to
University for Film Studies, but it was all theory, so by year 4, I was
itching to make a film. An opportunity came up at school where we could
make short films for the annual Fringe Festival. I made a short film
called The Everwood Massacre - and ever since then I have been making
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Secret
Some of my prior work includes a documentary
short on the reported hauntings at the Canadian National Exhibition
entitled Ghosts of the CNE. I did a short film entitled Beneath which
stars Annette Wozniak and is told almost entirely from the point of view
of under a bed. My most successful short has been Demon Bitch, which has
screened at the Toronto Independent Film Festival among multiple others
festivals and stars Keegan Chambers and Geoff Almond.
How would you describe yourself as a
That's tough. I would like to think that I am an
energetic director. I try as much as possible to spread my energy and
passion to everyone else on the cast and crew. I think I am a laid back
director, not screaming or getting pissed because we're behind on our call
sheet. I am open to suggestions and really try to keep the set as fun as
possible. That's why we're all doing it! For fun!
Filmmakers who inspire you?
I watched Scream when I was 8 years old and it really did change my life.
I knew from then on that I wanted to be in the movie business and
especially make horror films. I'm a huge fan of his other films too.
Carpenter is another classic director that I consider an inspiration with
films like Halloween
and The Fog, and I really love the trio of Bruce
Campbell, Robert Tapert, and Sam Raimi.
My favourite Horror films are Scream,
Elm Street, Jaws, Black
Christmas, and When a
Stranger Calls. They all have a huge sense of nostalgia from my childhood
and teen years.
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
In terms of movies I deplore, I can't really think
of any. I know a huge amount of work goes into making a film so it's hard
for me to say a film that I really hate. Maybe Michael Bay's films... stop
with the horror remakes!
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Here's the link to our official Reel Phobia Productions Facebook page:
My official Twitter:
Thanks for the interview!