The journey of making an independent film is usually riddled with disappoints, lengthy delays, and countless hiccups. Not so for filmmaker Kristian Hanson, who managed to put together his dream horror project in two and a half months. We spoke to the filmmaker about his latest project, Sledge.
How long had you been trying to get the movie made?
Sledge is something that I thought of in June and we filmed at the end of August of the same year. So it was only a two and a half month span between writing the script (I wrote it in a day and a half when I had the flu) and making the film in upstate New York.
What kind of troubles or issues along the way did you experience? Just the usual, or did something in particular hinder the journey?
To be honest, we did not have any trouble-making Sledge. The only real issue was not having any money for the film. And looking at it now, that was not even really a problem because it made us all become more creative on how to do the death scenes and to make them enjoyable if they could not look 100% realistic.
Why did you choose to make a horror movie? Is it your favorite genre?
I grew up a horror nerd since the age of five. My mom was the one that introduced me to my first horror film and that film was called Child’s play with Chucky. I still remember the nightmare I had that night where I woke up and saw Good Guy dolls all around me. When I was six I got to see A Nightmare on Elm Street and later that year I went to get my tonsils removed and I chose the talking Freddy Krueger doll as my ‘gift’. My dad was not pleased that I had seen that movie and was even shocked that I wanted a talking doll of a serial killer with a burned face and razor claw hand. So to answer your question, I am a die-hard horror fan boy.
Horror movies can also be made fairly cheap, I imagine?
Yes, horror films can be made for cheap, but so can comedies. Look at Kevin Smith’s Clerks film. That was made for $25,000 and love. The aspect that makes that film work so well besides having the set be an actual video and Quik Stop was the acting Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson and Marilyn Ghighliotti. They were unknown actors at the time but they were believable and hilarious in their roles. Movies can be made extremely cheap now with the creation of HD cameras and not having to use film. I say if you have a dream write it down and pick up a camera and make something fun. That is what I did, and it worked out in the end. Even if Sledge didn’t get picked up for distribution, at least I got to have fun making a movie that I wrote and something I would want to watch as a horror fan.
The effects in the film look like they were done practically. How did you manage that?
The effects are all practical and I am a fan of practical effects as a whole. The reason An American Werewolf in London holds up today the way it does is because Rick Baker and his team used practical effects. Now, please don’t think I am comparing Sledge to something as great as AWIL (my all time favorite film) but the use of CGI in horror films needs to take a step back to 1980. I believe CGI is a great tool to be used but it should not be the only tool in your tool box. Mix practical effects with CGI when you have to. If CGI doesn’t need to be used, go all practical because it looks more believable. We ended up making our own blood on Russ Matoes stove and we used a secret when creating the brains. The secret was my mom chewing up hot dog and spitting it into a cup of our home made blood. Little things like that can enhance a movie.
You wear a few hats in the film – which one did you prefer wearing the most?
I have been asked this a few times and I honestly loved both of them. I loved being able to play Adam Lynch and have the freedom to say things that popped into my head. I love improv acting and allowing my actors to enjoy their role. But I absolutely loved working with the actors and being the director of the film. I loved sitting down before each scene and talking to everyone and telling them what I was thinking when I wrote it and how I envisioned filming the scene. That is also where my co-director and cameraman extraordinaire John Sovie II came into play. We would discuss each page and he would give input on how he wanted to film a scene and why, and we would go from there. Directing is so much fun, so I would have to say Directing was my favorite hat to wear, mostly because that mask is heavy and hurts my neck after a while.
Where is the film being released and when?
The film will be released on VOD September 2nd and on DVD October 7th on DVD. It will be amazing to see something I thought of be distributed around the globe, and I hope when it is available those that watch the film reach out to me and tell me if they enjoy the film or not. Thank you for your time and for this interview, I thoroughly enjoyed it and thank you.
Sledge is released on VOD September 2nd and on DVD October 7th on DVD