TMT had the opportunity to sit down with Indie Film director Will Sanders for an exclusive interview. Will is directing the forthcoming Halloween spin off Last Supper: The Russellville Hacksaw Murders which will mark his directorial debut.
Will is producing the film through his own company JKSR Productions along with his fellow friend and contributor Ben Heckenkamp of Bear Trap Productions.
We were able to ask will about his Halloween spin off, what his thoughts are on the recent barrage of horror remakes, and what’s next for him after Last Supper.
Where do you plan to film Last Supper, and will it be on location or on set?
It is going to be on location in Fairhope, Alabama. A nice little town in the gulf where there is a lot of farm land and old Victorian style houses. We can get a nice Midwestern feel out of it.
Has casting begun, and will you be using mostly unknown actors?
We are currently casting. We have some great resumes and have held a few auditions for Charlie. Most of the cast will be unknown, but hopefully depending on the budget, we will have a cameo or two from the original Halloween. None definite yet but we are working on it.
I had the pleasure of meeting Loomis himself Malcolm McDowell a couple months ago at a comic con I was covering, very nice guy. Have you attempted to contact him for a possible cameo?
Malcolm is a really great guy. I have met him a few times, he hosted the 40th anniversary of Night of the Living Dead in Dallas, that I helped with. I love him but he is no Donald Pleasence. No, I am thinking more along the lines of the original. I had the pleasure of chatting with Charles Cyphers (Sheriff Brackett 78 and 81) at a convention not to long ago. He said that he would love to get in some indie films.
When is production set to begin, and what stage in the production are you currently at?
We start production the month of all months October 1st. We are in pre-production for now, sorting things out, casting, scouting, etc.
Aside from yourself in the director’s chair and Ben Co-Producing with you has anyone else come on board yet?
Yes, Marcus Koch (100 Tears, Walking Distance, the upcoming Sinners and Saints) will be doing prop casting and helping with additional effects. He is the master of indie FX' from Autopsy FX Group. He was also hired to do a music video for an upcoming Saw box set.
Being this is an Indie production and the cost of sets and film production is quite costly, what equipment will you be using such as film?
As much as we would love to film on 16mm or 35mm we are settling for digital. We are going to be shooting on a Panasonic HVX200. I was online and saw this, believe it or not, Friday the 13th fan film called Friday the 13th: The Storm. The film quality is amazing almost studio quality. It was done using HD Cameras similar to ours.
Will the majority of the special FX be done practically or through CGI in post production?
I am big on practical effects. Especially in a film like this, I truthfully feel CGI has no business in horror. I mean if you are shooting an action flick like Blade, yes, but just for limbs and slashing, no practical looks more real than CGI.
As for Last Supper being based on a few line of dialogue from the original Halloween, was this an idea you had for a long time or did it just dawn on you while watching the film one day?
I have been a fan of Halloween my entire film watching life, I think I have watched it more times than any other film. I write short stories and scripts in my spare time and have been toying with this story in private for some time. I finally let some friends and colleagues read it and they loved it and said you should film this. Another reason this story came about and why I am making this film is, I got a small interview from Quakezine a local magazine from Russellville, Ky. They have been working one a story, that has been a project for a while, about the real Charlie Bowles. The real Charlie Bowles was a theatre Manager in Russellville, back in the early days of horror master John Carpenter. He used to attend or (as rumour has it) used to sneak into Bowles theatre with his girlfriend. John was from Bowling Green and would travel over to Russellville, where she lived, to take her on dates.
Will you include any Halloween references in the film, if your timeline allows for it?
Yes, but only if approved by Trancas Films. I have sent them the treatment and script and they are looking over it.
Trancas own the rights to franchise don’t they?
Yes, Trancas International films was started by the great Moustapha Akkad and is now ran by his son, Malek Akkad, which was one of the producers of the last two Halloween entries.
Is this being developed with a possible sequel in mind, or is it a stand-alone film?
This will be a stand-alone film. I don't want to give to much, but there is absolutely no way for a sequel. I don't plan to do a sequel.
Can you go into details about the potential Halloween references in Last Supper?
I would rather not at this time, but I will say that one of the references will be similar to how Bowles was referenced in Halloween.
With Last Supper, are you hoping for at least a limited release or are you planning for more of a Direct to Video release?
It all depends on distribution, I would love a limited release and we are definitely going to take it on the film festival circuit. But how it does there will determine, where it goes from there. I get kind of down when I hear indie directors shooting down ideas and screenings because of how much money they will or will not make. With Last Supper, we just want the story to be seen and told.
When do you hope to start showing it at film festivals, and where would you like it to be screened first?
Late spring or early summer of next year if everything goes as planned. If I had my choice I’d say Screamfest LA, but in a dream world why not Cannes.
What era or time frame is Last Supper set within?
You know, that is the one thing I like about Zombie's remake, he never says. Some fans say 1978 is where it starts, but the remake part is definitely present day. It has to be with cell phones and modern vehicles. So that almost have to put it around 1992 for Judith's murder. We are doing a similar route, the date will be left up to the fans.
Based on the the time line in the original Halloween, and the story being technically a prequel as well as spin off, wouldn't the story need to be set closer to the 70's that very latest?
The film is definitely set in October and around Halloween. Have you been to the small towns of the mid-west and south? If not for modern phones and autos, even in real life you can't tell what date it is. It could be 2010 or 1963 who knows? Oh there’s a cell phone it must be 2010. That is my point, the only definite thing is that Bowles' night of carnage will coincide with Judith's murder. But as for a date, none of the Halloween films got a timeline right? They are all over the place in regards to time, but you can only do that if you have a good story.
So the film takes place all within one day or is there a back story for Charlie Bowles?
There is back story on Bowles and his family, but most of the major events take place on Halloween Evening, Night and then Nov 1st morning. The story all takes place in the month of October.
So would you say the majority of the film has to do with the murders or is there more leading up to it, with the murders as a conclusion to the story?
You will have to wait and see that when it debuts. I want to leave it vague what Charlie does not in the film until everyone sees it. But really, everyone knows though, it’s a horror movie.What else could happen?
Are Charlie’s motives explored at all or is it more like Michael Myers as in He just one day decides “F*** it your all going to die, now!”
F*** It! you are all going to Die! I couldn't put it better myself. Charlie Bowles is a testament to those who say there is always a motive, sometimes people just snap. Motives to me are just excuses. Sometimes in my opinion folks are just born for it, it's their destiny. But I am trying to make it enjoyable for even those who don't know about Halloween.
I know that Ben Heckenkamp recently formed Bear Trap Productions after a trip to Show West earlier this year. What exactly is their involvement in Last Supper?
Ben has been a great friend. Right now, he is helping produce the film, but he has a lot of the same goals as me and it may end up being more than that. I am just waiting for the say so to add them on officially. If all goes well with this project, and there is no reason it won’t, I would love to do another with Ben and his company.
When can we expect to see some promotional art work, pictures, teaser trailer etc for Last Supper?
The one-sheet teaser image will be coming soon. We expect a teaser trailer by the end of July and stills will not happen until October. We were going to try to do some shots of the garage location and the saw next week for the teaser.
How do you feel about the barrage of horror film remakes in recent years?
I have mixed feelings on them. On one hand I think that most of them are a cheap cash in on the originals and most are forgotten as soon as the credits finish. On the other hand I see first hand, kids going out to see these films that have never seen the originals and because of thse films new fans are created, so it's a double edge sword. Overall I have approved of most of them, I love the remake of Dawn of the Dead, TCM and "at least" the remake part of Zombie's Halloween, but not the back story prequel part of the film.
True, but there is an excessive amount of shortcuts used in horror today like CGI for example, do you agree?
Yes, I totally feel, it is a cheap and easy way out, but in some cases especially in slasher films it just looks plain goofy
What’s next for you after last supper? Are you hoping this opens up other opportunities or do you already have other projects in development?
Yes, I have two other scripts I am wanting to work with Hell Broke Loose, that is a Bank robbery film with a plague and then Brainwrap, which is a Hitchcockian murder mystery.
Are both of those projects original ideas, and did you write them yourself as well?
Yes, they were actually written before Last Supper as it stands now. Hell Broke Loose is a collaborated effort of my friend and editor Chris Neal and Brainwrap was written some time ago. Both scripts are all original, I'm not a one trick pony that takes lines of dialogue and turns them into scripts.
Can you tell me about the premise for either of those?
Hell Broke Loose is the tale of two older bank robbers and a reckless brother that is just along for the ride. They have planned the perfect robbery...The last score. It all goes just fine, until hell breaks loose. Brainwrap is a psychological thriller about a projectionist that seems to always have people turning up dead around him.
Hell broke loose sounds like more of a studio picture where as Brainwrap sounds more indie. Would you agree? Or are these both something you see as studio pictures?
I would agree. Hell Broke Loose is going to have to have a huge budget. It is like 28 days later meets The Inside Job.