Bryan Schuessler had a chance to ask Director Ryan Cavalline a few questions about his past movies, upcoming movies, and how he sees his take on his films and other horror films.
Ryan Cavalline is the director of such films as Aspiring Psychopath (2008), Dead Bodyman Chronicles(2008), Demon Slaughter(2008), Day of the Ax (2007), House of Carnage(2006), Dead Body Man (2004), Evil Tales 3: The Final Chapter (2003), Serial Killer (2002) and the upcoming Stockholm Syndrome (2009)
Thanks for being my next interview victim.
–Thank you for having me…
I have only seen Stockholm Syndrome from 4th Floor Pictures, which I have reviewed on SHU-IZMZ and Horror Society. I see that you have made quite a few films.
– A few…
Serial Killer (2002) was your first film. You direct, produce, and write almost all of your films. I read that this film had a budget of $3,000. How did you make that money stretch?
– It really didn’t stretch… Basically we were buying the basics that we needed to get buy which was food, water, and tapes. It is unreal how money doesn’t last while shooting a flick.
What were some of the challenges you came upon during the production of your first film, aside from financial woes?
– Keeping a schedule and keeping the actors together to finish the project. Most of the actors were very green and had a life outside of the film. Most of them had jobs during the week and getting everyone together to shoot was the most difficult. Plus when your not paying much other then cheese sandwiches, no one really wants to work.
What were some things you learned after making this film?
– Each film, I learned something new. With the first film I realized that I needed a lot more help and that I couldn’t do it all on my own. So, with the next film, I got a special effects artist to help and a CGI effect guy. I tried to find actors with experiences but, that was difficult since I didn’t have the cash to really pay them. So, with each film, I learned something new. Its sad it took me 9 films to kinda get it right.
Evil Tales 3: The Final Chapter (2003)….Your next film.
– It was a quick film thrown together to try to make a dollar. Not a lot of effort was put into it and it really didn’t get the justice it deserved. Basically it was a quick way to make a dollar on a film with some nudity and blood.
I read that this film is compiled of 4 short films and hosted by Pamela Sutch, who also was in your prior film Serial Killer (2002) and the more current film Day of the Ax (2007).. In checking her filmography, Sutch has been in quite a few horror films.
How did it come about for her to star in a few of your films?
– I was a fan of Pamela when she was doing films for WAVE studios. She had done about a dozen of WAVE films. So, I basically contacted her and told her about the projects and she was cool about being in them. Pamela is also a director so, it was easy to describe what I was going for with both of the films. Plus Pam has that girl next door look and it worked perfectly for the films.
Dead Body Man (2004). Starring Eddie Benevich and Peter Blessel, two recurring actors that appear in a few more films, Benevich in your most recent release Stockholm Syndrome (2008). How do you like working with the same actors? Kinda like Rob Zombie does…
– Once you find an actor that gets what you’re doing and understands your scripts, then it’s easy to work with them again. Eddie and I just click very well together. Plus I can trust Eddie with a role. He really dives into a character and comes up with something even better then what I had written down. Plus working with actors you know really well, it just makes things run even better.
Dead Body Man 2 (2006): Why did you decide to make a sequel to this film? What are your thoughts on films that have numerous sequels, like the Saw franchise, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.
– I decided to make a sequel because I wasn’t done with the story. There was still much to be told and plus it was a good reason to do another horror/comedy type of film. Doing the Dead Body Man movies is, such a good time that it’s hard not wanting to do another one. If you’re going to make a sequel there better be a tight story. If the story isn’t there then why do it. It’s best to just let it go. But, I can see why Hollywood pumps them out. It’s a cash cow to them… Personally if there isn’t a good story then don’t bother doing it and don’t try to make shitty story work. Just let it go and move onto something else.
Would you rather watch an original sequel to a horror film or a remake or a re-envisioned film of an original?
– Personally I don’t mind some of these remakes/re-envisioned films. I still love the original films but, the remakes, kinda brings it back to life for a new audience, which is great in my eyes because now you have a new group of horror fans and then maybe they’ll check out the originals. Now some the remakes have been great and others have been horrorible. Most of the time I’ll just grab the original film, because that’s what I grew up on.
Day of the Ax (2007) The movie synopsis sounds like your typical slasher fare.
What is different or unique about your film?
– I’ll be honest… Nothing… I’m a huge fan of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and this was my chance to do something like that. So, I wrote a script that combined the elements of the TCM and Halloween. I didn’t try to re-invent the wheel… I just wanted to make a slasher flick. The only unique thing about my film is that it’s about a crazy man by the name of J.R. Sorg and he is trying to bring demon babies into the world by picking up people from the side of the road. So, the demon baby side would be the only unique thing.
I read that House of Carnage is the sequel to Day of the Ax. What made you decide to continue where Day of the Ax left off and go further?
– The only reason I did House of Carnage was because we had a great location. I didn’t have a lot of time because they were going to be ripping the location down so, I hurried up and wrote half a script and we filmed. It was a mess of a film because it was rushed and it came out poorly. I really shouldn’t have even made this film but, it happened and it’s done. My thoughts are to one day go back to the Day of the Ax films and do a third one the right way…
In a recent interview, you stated that Stockholm Syndrome was based off of real life events. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
– Stockholm was based on articles I read about human trafficking. Most of the girls that were kidnapped had this condition called Stockholm Syndrome. They would do anything to survive. So, the film really came from these articles. The one article was about these girls in Ohio that had been kidnapped and pushed into sex trade for years. It was some of the toughest material I ever read.
Do you feel that now that “torture porn” is so popularized, almost mainstream, that as a filmmaker that wants to make an “extreme” or very gory/shocking film one has to really kick it up a notch to keep audiences interested and not bored?
– I really didn’t have any desire to make a torture porn film or to make a film that was extreme. When I wrote the script, my idea was to keep the characters real. It was suppose to be more about these people in a bad situation. As a filmmaker, I don’t think I would go out of my way to make an extreme film or feel that I need too. I’m more interested in strong stories with some rich character development. That’s very tough to do at this indie level. So, when I made Stockholm I really wasn’t interested in the gory/shocking value, I was more interested in the characters and their will to survive. Ya, some of them went through some very nasty things but, my main focus was on the characters. The film did end up very gory/shocking and I guess that was just a plus to the rest of it.
It looks like 3-D films may be the wave of the future.
Do you see yourself ever making a film in 3-D?
– If the technology catches up and its affordable for an indie filmmaker to do… Ya, I could see myself doing a 3-D film. I think it would be a ton of fun to do.
Tell me a bit about Demon Slaughter (2008). I read from a fellow horror film aficionado that you really made good use of the small budget, in terms of the effects and blood. In these financially challenging times with the economy being as bad as it is, are you finding it much harder to finance your films and find cast and crew willing to take a chance on a horror film, independent or otherwise?
– Its becoming more and more difficult to do these films. Budgets are getting smaller and that limits you on what you want to do. So, I’m trying to be more creative with the writing and writing scenes that I know we can shoot on the cheap. Writing can be your best friend and save you a lot of money when making a film. I’m kinda blessed to a have a great team of people that work with me so they are always good with filming. But, the times are becoming harder and harder. If we get one film done a year and then we are doing alright. I recall the days when we could shoot two a year. Those days have come and gone… Plus people are not buying DVD’s like they use to. The market is down and people are not spending the money like they use too. Its understandable… Let’s hope things get better.
Dead Man Chronicles (2008) Is this the first two Dead Man films in one nice dvd?
– Nope this is the third film in the serious. Dead Body Man Chronicles is more of a prequel. It tells the story of Willie and how he becomes the Dead Body Man.
Are all of your films shot on location in Pennsylvania? I noticed quite a few of them were.
– Yes… We shoot everything here in Pa. We are all over the state when shooting.
You are responsible for directing, writing, producing, acting, filming, and even editing most of your films. What is your background in film?
– I actually went to school for Film/Communication but, I learned real quick that you don’t need to go to school to learn how to make a movie. You need money to make a movie. So, I graduated with a degree in something else and continued to make films on my own. The best teacher was just doing it my self.
Personally, what part of making a film gives you the most pleasure?
– I always enjoyed the production stage of things. When your out there shooting the scenes and you start to see the story come to life. Everything is just words until you see an actor say those words and act it out… It’s a great feeling… Plus we have a great time shooting even though we usually shoot in the worse weather conditions.
What part do you enjoy the least?
– Pre-production stages… Getting everything together and in order is just a pain. So many questions need to be answered and a ton of work needs to be done before the camera starts rolling. It takes up a lot of time.
Can you tell me a little bit about Rotting Souls?
– Rotting Souls is a story about two thugs that are stuck at farmhouse and there is a winged creature in the area eating people. A good old fashion monster movie with tons of gore. This is a big budget film and this time I’m unable to film the movie.
Are there any directors that really have influenced you and your movies?
– All of them… I think every director out there has been an influence on me in some way. There are just some many to name. I would have to say Tobe Hooper was my first true influence. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the first film that made me want to direct or to make my own movies. I’m a big fan of indie films – Director Eric Stanze’s films (Ice on the Sun, Scrape book, Deadwood Park)
Is there any actors or actresses out there, big or small names, that you really would like to work with in the future?
– Ashley Laurence from the Hellraiser films is someone I would like to work with. She can act in horror and outside of horror. A very talented actress… Oh, and lets not forget Clive Barker himself. I would just like to have lunch with the guy and pick his brains.
What are some of your favorite movies?
– I like to watch just about anything… Horror films are my favorite but, I’ll watch anything that comes in my Netflix. So many films to name… The big ones – Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead (all of them), Halloween, Satan’s Little Helper, and Faust (1999 – by Jan Svankmajer).
Are there any movies or trends in horror that really make you wish they never had started?
– I really didn’t care for the horror films that were copy cats from the Scream Movie. It seems Hollywood was pumping them out right and left for awhile. The movies with the WHO DID feel was great with Scream but, then it seemed like everyone was making those types of films.
The Killing Fields.
Is this still one of future projects? Can you tell me a bit about this?
The Killing Fields is based on the crimes of several serial killers. We follow the life and crimes of Robert Kemp. It’s a very dark story… I think this film goes a bit further into the darkness then Stockholm Syndrome did. I based several stories that I found interesting on serial killers and developed the story for The Killing Fields.
Well, thank you for this interview. I appreciate you getting back to me and giving me your time.
– Thank you for the interview… You can find most of our films at Brain Damage Films www.braindamagefilms.com
Stockholm Syndrome hits stores 5/5/09.