Talking With the Dead: 13 Questions with Matt Farnsworth
Creator Matt Farnsworth is an award winning American filmmaker, painter, video artist, and performance artist. Raised in various places in the United States, Farnsworth has directed 3 films to date. His first feature film, IOWA, was an instant cult classic and made major headlines at the Tribeca Film Festival gaining Farnsworth a solid fan base as a director and actor in the indie film world. IOWA went on to be released in theaters. Matt has also produced and directed a documentary style film that takes an in depth look into the meth pandemic that has swept over the Midwestern United States called Dying For Meth. The 43 minute film has been awarded alongside major networks such as CBS and NBC at the Beverly Hills based Prism Awards. Dying for Meth has also been featured on Current TV. In 2008, Farnsworth was deputized along with Shaquille O’Neal by the Police Athletics League for his work in Meth Prevention and Awareness.
Farnsworth has an unorthodox approach to filmmaking bringing about an organic feeling to his work unrivaled by many his age. The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, NY Post, and other major publications often compare his work to that of David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino. As an actor, Farnsworth has been in indie films and on national TV shows. Fans that have seen TOK now refer to Matt as “The King of Gore” or “Bloody Matt”. Farnsworth brings great value to his projects with his ability to perform multiple jobs extremely well. He is the camera operator, gaffer, editor, photographer, digital artist, foley artist, and marketing executive on most of his projects. Farnsworth was taught the editing craft by Robert Brown who edited The Amityville Horror, The Lost Boys, Lethal Weapon, Ghost in the Darkness, Police Academy, Omen 2 and many other great films.
1. “Glorification of Violence.” As if the awesome metal soundtrack, a new iconic serial murderer, hot actresses and all the blood and gore one could pour into a dumpster wasn’t enough to get people to watch The Orphan Killer, Germany has given your film a very impressive distinction that it shares with films like Evil Dead, Hostel 2, Last House on the Left, Dawn of the Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. They BANNED your film. What do the three words “Glorification of Violence” mean to you, are you surprised or shocked that it has not happened anywhere else yet and what do you think it says about your artistic vision?
Thanks my brother. 14 Gallons of blood, one cow brain, and a goat body later TOK was made. It’s an honor to be BANNED in Germany. The movies you named above are all respected classics. A title like “glorification of violence” is just a form of censorship. When does the world not show violence onscreen? The news scares me far more than any horror movie. I know a movie is imagined. Even if it’s based on real events. The filmmaker is supposed to take you there. Make it real for you. It’s something that is lacking almost entirely from cinema today. Making people feel visceral impact is now considered “glorification of violence”. I am talking deals now with many different, very interested territories. I want to release the pain in brutal waves. This May a special edition Blu-ray will be put out in Germany by an undisclosed company. I cannot say the name because the distributor could be arrested. It will be in Austria, Germany, and German speaking Switzerland. The movie is now available on iTunes uncensored because it is just awesome. That’s a worldwide release in 1080p HD. Everywhere but Germany on the iTunes store.
2. I found the story of “The Orphan Killer” to be precise and gripping, utilizing atmosphere, music and an almost smothering sense of dread. What can you tell us about how you came up with the concept of the film and the character of Marcus and are you surprised by how well the horror community has accepted him as the next iconic horror killer?
Thanks again. I went and lived in the location I wanted to shoot TOK in with my family in NJ. I wrote the overall scenarios in about 3 weeks. When we shot the film it still was not “The Orphan Killer”. It wasn’t until we did a second round of shooting that I discovered the Marcus Millers’ voice. I wrote the dialogue in post after the film was shot. I also cut the film. When I was editing I saw brutal explosions before my eyes. There was a real excitement about it. I felt good about it. As you can imagine, I am not only pleased but appreciative that the reception has been icon status.
3. As with any genre film, there are always going to be comparisons to other films and characters. “The Orphan Killer” certainly can draw comparisons to films such as Friday the 13th, Halloween and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, not only due to the graphic quality of the murders, but also because of the mask. Marcus’ character also has a lot of the physical attributes of the killers from those films, but that all changes when Marcus speaks. Were any of those films inspiration for “The Orphan Killer” and the character of Marcus, what did you try and do to separate it from other genre films, and would you say Marcus is the new standard bearer for today’s modern slasher?
The Orphan Killer revolution started out as a small group of ravenous fans. That revolution has now turned into it’s own cruel, slasher world. I never really considered any of the other slasher films. More than anything I was working to create something unique. Everything you see was created from an organic place. We never said we like this scene in this movie and then tried to re-create something like it. We were out for blood. Marcus Miller speaks and that also separates him from the others.
4. Marcus and his sister Audrey are quite obviously the main focus of the film, having experienced the trauma they did as children and the resulting gory aftermath. In the film, Diane Foster plays the role of Audrey and David Backus plays the role of Marcus. What can you tell us about how you met your two lead actors, what lead you to bringing them into the film for the roles that they played and were your expectation exceeded when you saw their performances?
Diane and David were in my first film, IOWA. The film was at Tribeca Film Festival in 2005 and went on to be released in theaters. Both are very talented actors. Diane is also a producer. Diane and I met before we shot IOWA. She produced that film with me as well. David and I met when he auditioned for IOWA and initially was not cast. I later changed my mind and thought of David. Same holds true on “The Orphan Killer”. David was not the original Orphan Killer. I cast somebody else that did not work and then when I was searching for an orphan killer he popped into my mind. He’s rugged and a bit of a psycho so it worked. I think that the hard work they put in paid off and they helped to create something that has people screaming bloody murder for more. It was the right place at the right time. We were living it. Cops were called in a few times during shooting from bystanders. Blood all over the hotel rooms. Maids sent screaming out in the morning. Real Priests getting punched in the stomach by our actor Priest. It was crazy. Loveable Madness.
5. You certainly did not shy away from the blood and gore in your film! Some of the more impressive FX in the film include a machete through the face, ax and baseball bat strikes to the head and bound-by-barb wire escapes. Your make-up and FX crew consisted of Paul Molnar, David Presto, Arielle Toelke and Josh Turi. How did you go about gathering your make-up and FX crew, were you always planning to make the film as gorily explicit as it is and what was there anything gore-wise that didn’t make it in the film?
Paul and Arielle worked on the first round of shooting we did. Josh and David were both New Jersey based and handled 99 percent of the effects. We shot the film in Jersey and NY. They both had an interest, but could only do half of the kills each. So they split up duties and I must say they both are just awesome. I truly appreciate the time and energy they both put in. Even if there was a little competition between them, it only helped. David Presto is an artist with the gore. I think he is better than anyone working today. Josh is just plain cool. He’s funny and brings a real positive energy to his work. Nothing is impossible with Josh around. We were always planning to do maximum damage. Nothing less would have been accepted. We wanted to see bodies mangled and shredded. Make no mistake we meant to make it graphic.
6. Being a huge fan of metal, when I first started hearing the music that was in “The Orphan Killer”, it made the film that much better. First Blood, Affiance, Asking Alexandria, Deception of a Ghost and one of my favorites, Born of Osiris are just a few of the metal bands involved with the soundtrack. What led you to using an all metal soundtrack for the film, how did you go about acquiring all the rights for the songs, and is the soundtrack available for purchase?
It was through a connection in NY. We did a screening in Soho for some people in showbiz and music. At the time the score was just temp. An executive from Primary Wave Music suggested I go harder with it. He connected me with Josh Grabelle at Bulletooth Records and assisted in finding the right songs for me. I really enjoyed his labels music and still do. You can get the Soundtrack with the DVD in the TOK store.
7. Two of the elements of the film are things that would shake just about anyone are how you showed young Marcus’ abuse in the foster home and the use of religion as his motivation for killing and torture. When you first started writing the script, were the religious overtones lighter or heavier, why did you choose religion as part of his catalyst and were you ever concerned that the dunking scene would cause outrage amongst the public and critics?
Real critics loved The Orphan Killer. In the horror genre it’s the fans that make it grow though. Fans and writers. Fans and other celebrities sharing your work. It’s being recognized. Rob Zombie played The Orphan Killer movie at his concert in Jersey when he was onstage. It was a nice gesture. If the public would become outraged over TOK, I’d move to a different public. I live in Los Angles and don’t concern myself with religion much. Why would I anyway? The book is old. I mean really old. I know better. I think it’s cool that there is something in the film that religious people can relate to. Marcus and Audrey are both Catholic. Religion is a backdrop of the story because it’s old and gothic. I really have not had any backlash. I do have haters. That’s because TOK is famous. Things are changing. Liberation is still underway. People are still fighting for their rights to be with who they want to be with, do what they want, and be creative in the ways they want. The backlash is against those who turn their back on that.
8. One of the more interesting aspects to “The Orphan Killer” is that with the one exception of Audrey’s shower scene, there is an amazing lack of nudity and sex in the film. One of the staples of the horror genre has always been the sexual exploitation of women. Was it always a conscious decision to not use that element in the film and what are your thoughts on how this cliche has been used in the industry?
I am happy to have her in the film and promoting the franchise not only as an actor, but as a producer. I wanted this film to have a level of class that exceeded the other typical slasher films. I knew that there had to be some sweet nudity. The Orphan Killer is a powerhouse because Diane can bring it in the acting department and she is very hot. You don’t have to see Diane in a sex scene because seeing her body satisfies that need to it’s fullest. Nothing wrong with that. It’s an attractive human body. It’s not any different than Kate Moss nude in Glamour Magazine. Only, Kate Moss is not acting and then it’s considered mainstream. I bring it for real. I am not out to tease people. It’s a step above. There is also a sensitivity when you see Diane alone in a giant locker room showering. Nobody is around to help. She’s vulnerable and if you bring another person into that mix it’s less intimate. A woman alone in a shower has always worked. Psycho is a great film. Janet Leigh was amazing. If Psycho were being made today would she show nudity? Would it be viewed more? Fuck yes it would. We didn’t need any other exotic nude scenes because Diane took care of that in one shot.
9. Most people in the genre wear one, maybe two hats at a time on a project. You however, wore SIX hats on this production: actor, director, producer, writer, cinematographer and editor! Was it always in your mind that you would be doing all of these things during production, which one of these did you find to be the most challenging aspect of the film and looking back at it now, would you have passed any of these responsibilities on to someone else?
They are all very different jobs yet very similar. The end goal is to make a great movie. You have a vision in mind. Let me ask you a question. If you are an artist and you are painting a painting do you have 10 other people to help you paint it? I recognize that some studios try to make murals with multiple artists, but very few ever get that one clear vision. Maybe Kubrick who had the studio funneling him money to do as he wished in UK. Far, far away from them.
I was taught to edit by a master. Robert Brown. He cut Lost Boys, Lethal Weapon, Amityville Horror (original), Police Academy, and other great films. Editing is the place that story gets told. I enjoy the part when the footage first comes across the editing monitors. It’s like being a kid in a candy store. You know you shot a lot of gold but now you get to see how the pieces of the puzzle all fit. We had elaborate story boards to design the kills. Since everything was done using prosthetics and no CGI it had to be organized very well. Producer skills come in very handy on set. I can hang lights. In fact, I lit the boiler room. I enjoy and can do all of the aspects of filmmaking. I have done a lot of acting also. I would not pass on any of the responsibilities to anyone else that could not handle it.
10. One of the things that has changed so much about the film making industry over the last 10 years is social media and the internet. You have utilized Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other aspects of the internet to get the word out about “The Orphan Killer”. How much do you feel social media has helped you with the promotion of the film and what has the response from the fans been like?
The response has been a landslide of comments. If this were actual fan mail it would fill up a room. I have been told that watching my films is like watching a Carpenter or Argento film for the first time. Shit, you won’t hear that from the studios. I told them NO. For good fucking reason. Beware the evil that is Hollywood. People are getting the messages at a slower rate and coming to understand the new horror icon is here because of social media. Otherwise, the studio system holds the cards to promote your film. It won’t ever get out because they have to pay to promote your film on billboards and in print media. Introduce social media and now guys like me have a platform open to them that is not owned by a studio and squeezed to death. A platform to launch a marketing campaign to let people know about the new horror icon, “The Orphan Killer”. Let them know about it because the film is that. The character is that. You can try to make a horror icon in social media but you must have a movie that can stand behind that. Germany banning the film and hundreds of thousands of fans screaming for more tells you that TOK was perfect. I was able to reach people because of social media and I am grateful for it. When Martin Scorsese first started making films the studios owned the damn camera. He couldn’t even make a movie without a studio. Now lots of people can make movies. They do it all the time and then they just hand them over to a studio for nothing because they have blind faith that it will be good for them. If Scorsese was just staring to become a popular filmmaker would he give his indie film to a studio on blind faith today? Would they really release Mean Streets the way he envisioned it today? I think the studios have gotten so mainstream that they would have toned down parts of Mean Streets and even Taxi Driver. Would somebody as brilliant as Scorsese have faith in his movie that it could do well if he was able to reach his market because he made the next big thing? These are real questions. The real filmmakers today do not just give their movies over to studios. The Orphan Killer is an entirely different beast. What we have done is build an entire brand around this movie. It’s just awesome- the power of social media. The people I have met are all over the world and I have had more meetings over Skype than I can tell you. Radio shows are all over the web. Good shows. Indie is alive. I have been able to achieve a lot through social media and a technologically evolving world. I am fortunate to have said “no” originally to traditional distribution methods via studios like Lionsgate and Anchor Bay. Now I can create a sequel on my time schedule. You have to make a good fucking movie. If you don’t do that, your screwed, even if you get people to like a few posts on your fan page. Focus on making a good movie. Then promote that movie. Thats what we had to work with and thats what we did. Thanks to Facebook, twitter, youtube, tumblr, flickr, google, iTunes, apple, vimeo, dropbox, and other great companies, that put me in charge of my product, we are having success.
11. Whenever a popular film or character is created and unleashed upon the horror community, the inevitable question starts to be about sequels. Are there any plans for a sequel to “The Orphan Killer” where would you like to see the characters go in terms of their development and if there is no sequel, what would your dream project be and why?
I have already created a dream project. I do not know any other filmmakers that owns their horror icon they created. To make the sequel properly it will have to live up to the first films standards to satisfy my bloody art. That’s a tall order so I am working on making it properly. The characters will all return. Audrey is after all the sister of Marcus Miller The Orphan Killer and she will return a changed woman. Torn and unsure if she herself has killer in the bloodline.
12.Marketing and merchandise are always a huge part of any film. Horror fans in particular are known for buying poster, figures and the like. Are you guys looking to merchandise the film in this way, what kind of items would you look to be putting out and where and when will they be available for purchase?
We have the official mask that is coming to stores this summer from Trick or Treat Studios, a pillow from Horror Decor, a TOK comic book, and TOK action figures in the works. The TOK mask is hitting stores like Hot Topic, Halloweentown, Spirit, and Morris Costume Shops. I suggest pre-ordering so it is not sold out. Reserve yours. Horror fans do love to collect. It’s a good thing. Helps preserve the genre. I was at Son of Monsterpalooza talking with Kirk Hammett from Metallica. We met years ago at one of Nicolas Cages Halloween parties. He is BIG into collecting. I remember he and Nick talking about an original 35mm print of a monster movie Nick had and wanted to play for him. It was cool to sit in the theatre in his house. Nick was married to Patricia Arquette one of the times I attended and then Lisa Marie Presley the second. Crazy watching her dance. She danced exactly like Elvis. Anyway, back to TOK land. Kirk is a big fan of horror and so it was cool to introduce him to TOK.
13. Thank you for your time with the interview and for such and epically awesome film. What else would you like to tell everyone about you and your work, and what would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
I love you. No, really I do. The fans are the reason I do this and the reason I am able to continue to. Thank you. I appreciate you from the very bottom of my black heart. Enjoy the psychotic madness.
The easiest way to get in touch with everyone involved on The Orphan Killer movie is through social media or the official website.
Orphan Killer movie on iTunes in 1080p
Orphan Killer Facebook Page
Orphan Killer Twitter
iPhone Decapitation App
Orphan Killer Official Mask
Orphan Killer on Youtube
Orphan Killer on Flickr
Orphan Killer on Instagram
Orphan Killer on Tumblr
Matt Farnsworth on Facebook
Matt Farnsworth on Twitter
Matt Farnsworth Instagram
Matt Farnsworth of Tumblr
Diane Foster on Facebook
Diane Foster on Twitter
THE ORPHAN KILLER AWARDS AND FESTIVALS
Honored at Sitges Film Festival
Best Picture Award Winner at Terror Molins De Rei (Spain)
Official Selection San Sebastian Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival (Spain)
Official Selection Morbido (Mexico)
Official Selection Bram Stoker (UK)
Official Selection Shriekfest LA
Official Selection South Africa Horrorfest
Official Selection Eerie Horror Film Festival
Antonio Margheriti Award Tohorror (Italy)
Official Selection Montreal Comicon and Horrorfest
Hayes Hudson House of Horrors
TOK will be seen along the likes of Jason, Freddy, and Leatherface when it comes to discussion about the greatest horror movie killers.
ROBERT RHINE OF GIRLS AND CORPSES MAGAZINE
“I saw your blood drenched movie The Orphan Killer. It is old school, knife in the belly, eviscerating horror – the kind of movie H.G Lewis would applaud. Your movie created an endorphin rush of horror along with a puddle of pee under my seat. Congrats on doing what so few movies can do…..FREAK ME OUT! ”
MIKE BOHATCH OF HORRORNEWS.NET SAID
“I’m gonna have to call this one outstanding and a return to classic horror with a lethal bang! An impressive visceral contribution that will be talked about for quite some time.”
SHOCK HORROR MAGAZINE’S DEAN BOOR ASKED CREATOR MATT FARNSWORTH….
“How does it feel to know you’ve accomplished what you set out to do – to create a new legacy in horror?”
THE CULTUREGEDDON SAID
“The Orphan Killer is a totally formulaic movie but again all the odds director and star Matt Farnsworth (best known for Iowa 2005) has turned out a real franchise baby that manages to look great wearing the same old clothes. With all the cliche ingredients to be Halloween on Elm Street part 7 this movie risks falling very flat but ends up a real solid slasher that delivers on all expectations of gore and action.”
HORRORHOUND MAGAZINE – JASON HIGNITE
“The effects are so well executed and scenes so well acted it becomes impossible to look away.”
HAPPY HORROR HOUR – TONY SULLIVAN
Keep an eye out for The Orphan Killer and grab it with both hands as soon as you possibly can. It really is above and beyond and lives and breathes in a league of its own. Gorehounds and slasher fans take note… a future classic is born.
DR. GASH OF DREAD CENTRAL
“I’ve never seen anyone swing an axe as hard or with such bad intentions, as this new serial Killer.
Goddamn, he simply pulverizes his victims. He speaks, and It’s the fact that he verbalizes his
intentions and sufferings that makes the character that much more chilling. Matt Farnsworth had an
agenda with this film. To create a character he could build a franchise around. I think
he did it.”
DELAMORTE’S DUNGEON OF DEADLY DELIGHTS
“Matt Farnsworth is the future of horror”
THOMAS GLEBA AT NERDREMIX
“Matt Farnsworth has lightning in a fucking bottle here”
“Farnsworth definitely knows how to stage a death sequence and Backus certainly has a flair for ferocity that verges on troubling. Have no doubt that when I say that The Orphan Killer is a very bloody film, I mean it. The deaths are crushingly violent and are, for the most part, excellently executed using practical effects. Gore-hounds will not be disappointed as heads splat, hands are removed and the stabbings? Oh the stabbings… There are also sawings, gougings and choppings and it’s all there, splattered in gor-ious technicolour, for all to see.”