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Exclusive Interview: Producer Richard Tanne on Travis Baker’s Mischief Night.

Richard Tanne in web-series “Cinema Cool”

*It’s been three years since I last interviewed Richard Tanne, but since he’s making waves in the horror genre once again I figured now would be the perfect time to chat. When we last interacted, Mr. Tanne was promoting his lead role in SyFy’s Swamp Shark where he and Kristy Swanson battled a big shark in the bayou. Currently, Richard is busy promoting his new movie Travis Baker’s Mischief Night, a film in which he served as one of the lead producers. You can read my interview with him below where we discuss his present projects, his role in creating Travis Baker’s Mischief Night, and general other business questions.

H: Last time we spoke was in June of 2011 when Swamp Shark was airing on Syfy and you were filming a guest spot on “The Nine Lives of Chloe King.” How have things been going for you career-wise in the last three years?
R: It’s hard to believe it’s been almost three years. Good to be chatting with you again and thank you for your coverage of the film. Things have been progressing steadily and I’ve been fortunate enough to stay busy. Since we last spoke, Travis Baker (writer/director of Mischief Night) and I co-wrote a script that Mark Wahlberg has signed on to produce. It’s a sword-and-sandal epic about an adventurous episode in Julius Caesar’s young adulthood. We also wrote a screenplay for Paramount Pictures that has Zoe Saldana attached to star in what could potentially become a new superhero franchise, if it ends up getting made. And if I’m lucky, I’ll soon be directing my first movie from a script I wrote.

H: Wow! Congratulations on all the new achievements! While you’re still acting, I see that recently you’re focusing more on production, behind-the-scenes kind of work. Why is this change of pace happening now?
R: In actuality, my intention has always been to write and direct. What brought me out to Los Angeles 9 years ago was a screenwriting job, so procuring work as a writer has been my primary goal, always with the intention of parlaying that into a directing career. Acting started just a few years ago because it seemed like a fun thing to do. It is a great deal of fun, but being behind the camera remains my lifelong passion.

I should point out that while acting did take a backseat when things started picking up with writing and producing, I do have a movie coming out at the end of this year called Worst Friends, which I star in alongside Kristen Conolloy (House of Cards, Cabin In The Woods) and Cody Horn (Magic Mike, End of Watch). I don’t know the exact release date yet, but the film just got picked up for distribution. I’ll always be happy to act, but filmmaking definitely takes precedence.

Richard Tanne in Worst Friends

H: And how’s “Cinema Cool?” Is that still in production?
R: Production on “Cinema Cool” wound down in 2011, but we are in the process of creating a new single-shot episode about the history of the slasher film that will also serve to introduce viewers to our very own slasher film, Mischief Night. We figure fans of the show will be intrigued by Mischief Night since it was written and directed, edited, and produced by the three co-creators of “Cinema Cool,” respectively.

H: Now on to our big topic! On May 20, Lionsgate and After Dark Films are releasing Mischief Night on DVD, VOD, and itunes! How did you get involved with this movie?
R: Travis Baker and I have been friends and frequent collaborators for over a decade, and we’ve always talked about making an independent film together. After reading his script I knew Mischief Night would be that film. I told him there had never been a horror movie like it. I also told him that I felt it was too left-of-center for a major studio to finance, so if we didn’t go out and make it ourselves, there would probably never be a horror movie like it. It was off to the races from there.

H: Often times the role of producer is often misunderstood or underappreciated. Can you be so kind as to elaborate on just what was required of you while filming Mischief Night?
R: In addition to helping personally finance the movie, I hired and assembled the crew, cast the movie with Travis, budgeted the picture, helped schedule the shoot, liaised with the Screen Actors Guild, mediated between all the departments (wardrobe, production design, camera, sound, etc.) to make sure everyone was always on the same page, managed the set, supervised post-production, negotiated our distribution deal with After Dark Films and Lionsgate, made sure that any problems cast and crew had were heard and addressed, and last, but certainly not least, that everyone had hot cocoa during cold nighttime shoots. Overall, I was there to support Travis in making and selling his first movie. This ended up being a 3 1/2 year commitment from beginning to end and it has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life.

Travis Baker and Richard Tanne on set of Mischief Night

H: You’ve worked with Kristy Swanson, Robert Davi, D.B. Sweeney, Eli Roth, and now Malcolm McDowell, Brooke Anne Smith, and Nikki Limo. Do you ever have moments where you get a little star struck?
R: Yes. They’re all fascinating and charismatic people and they are who they are for a reason. They’re great at what they do. It’s always humbling to take a moment out of a hectic shoot to regard and admire the people you work with.

H: Having spoken with Mischief Night’s writer/director Travis Baker, I know it’s important that we clarify the differences between your Mischief Night and the 2013 title by the same name. Please take a moment to clear up any confusion here.
R: As Travis mentioned in your interview with him, some months after our trailer had been released on the web, we read that another slasher film entitled MISCHIEF NIGHT was going into production. Due to our limited resources, it took us some time to finish post-production and close our distribution deal, and during that time, this other film was shot and released.

Having another horror movie released with the exact same title nary a year apart is not an ideal situation, so I only hope that people take the time to differentiate between the two films. Travis’s Mischief Night is a refreshingly unique meditation on the slasher sub-genre, and the horror genre at large, and I wouldn’t want any intrepid cineastes out there to somehow overlook it.

H: What was your favorite moment from filming?
R: My favorite moments were viewing the dallies after we wrapped for the day. Seeing how well the footage was coming together really put me at ease and gave me a renewed boost for the next day of work.

Richard Tanne and Travis Baker on Mischief Night set

H: What was your most stressful moment from filming?
R: We shot a feature film in 11 days, which is highly inadvisable unless you’re Roger Corman. Every moment was stressful. But who cares? We were making a movie!

H: Please provide one more reason why horror fans should definitely pick Mischief Night in two weeks.
R: How about this one? Whether or not you end up loving it or hating it, I can guarantee that you’ve never seen a horror movie quite like Mischief Night.

*Thank you, Richard Tanne, for taking a moment to chat with me. If anything, seeing your devotion to Travis Baker’s Mischief Night is making me even more excited to see the final production. Remember, everyone, the movie will be released nationwide on most home media outlets beginning May 20! You can pre-order your copy on here, and for any new updates on Richard Tanne, you can visit his official website here.

Swamp Shark: Kristy Swanson, D.B. Sweeny, and Tanne
Swamp Shark: Kristy Swanson, D.B. Sweeny, and Tanne

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)