Brandon: Background wise, it all started late one Saturday night over cheeseburgers and coffee. Two struggling filmmakers decided to combine their talent and resources for the betterment of both, and the result was "Raising Hell. " The two struggling filmmakers would be myself, Brandon Bethmann, and partner in crime, Eric Szmyr. We wrote, directed and produced the feature film--one of the first all digital features to be produced in Upstate New York. Eric has recently moved to Los Angeles, while I remain an Albany, NewYork, based filmmaker.
Q: Why did you decide to make a horror film that had a political slant to it?
Brandon: We agreed we wanted to make a horror film because most horror films lack a good story. So, we approached the project from the prospective of wanting to tell a really good story--one that would have more to it than just a maniac on the loose killing people. It's from this idea that the film got its political overtones. Besides, it's just common sense; we have a villain, what does he do? Of course, he's in politics!
Q: How long did it take to make RAISING HELL, from when you first started writing until it was edited?
Brandon: We started writing the project in June `98. From that point we went through a few drafts of the script while searching for funding, which as we all know isn't the easiest feat. After a few false starts, principle photography started in November `99. This was followed by a search for continued funding which then allowed post-production to start in June `00. We had our finished film April `01. It's worth mentioning that early in pre-production, while we were crunching numbers, it came to our attention that to tell the story we wanted on film (we were thinking 16mm) would have cost too much money. It was only then that we seriously considered the digital video technology that allowed us to go forward and make the film we had envisioned.
Q: How did you obtain your actors?
Brandon: Talent wise we exclusively tapped the vast talent pool in Upstate NewYork. The actors and actresses we cast came from mainly theatrical backgrounds. For most of them it was their first feature film, but they rose to the occasion. We also cast some parts from the local college drama departments. Before shooting began, we had intensive rehearsals for nearly two months.
Q: The effects in the movie are extremely well done, particularly the demon creature. Who was responsible for the SPFX?
Brandon: With today's audience being so keen on F/X, right from the beginning we decided effects were not something on which we were going to cut corners. Eric had initially gone to school for make up F/X; and with his knowledge of molds and foam latex, we were able to find an F/X artist that had the ability to bring our vision to life while remaining within our budget. That combined with the latest, or at least at the time latest, computer F/X filters, we were able to achieve our vision.
Q: What was the weirdest thing that happened during the production?
Brandon: The weirdest thing that happened while shooting isn't so much the weirdest but just a cool story. While making the film we didn't have one really weird story, the whole process was pretty surreal. The climax of the film was set in a hotel penthouse. We were actually able to shoot it in a penthouse. We had all intentions of keeping everything neat and under control; but when you add a few buckets full of fake blood, all your precautionary measures, such as garbage bags, don't help. Needless to say before we left the room, we cleaned it the best we could. However, when the maids came the next morning to tidy up, to their horror they found a bathroom with dried blood in the tub, towels soaked in red in the trash, blood on the carpet (it seeped right through the trash bags - that stuff is like acid). As a result they went running from the room thinking that a real murder had occurred. Not surprisingly, we were barred from any further shoots in that hotel.
Q: Are you working on any new projects?
Brandon: Both Eric and I are writing new projects; and hopefully, they will begin production in `03. Check out our website for the very latest on Raising Hell and upcoming projects-- www.raisinghellthemovie.com.