Q: This movie is very different than your previous one, BOOK OF LORE. Why did you decide to do a horror comedy?
"President's Day" started out as a weird idea for a triple feature dvd. I pitched to my co-producer, Jimmy George, the idea of doing three 40-45 minute slasher flicks all based on holiday titles or gimmicky villains. When he heard my idea for a killer in Abe Lincoln mask, Jimmy thought we could expand it for a feature and came up with the idea of plotting it around a student council election.
Since our killer is a someone in an Abraham Lincoln costume, we knew we couldn't play it completely straight. By adding the high school environment, we could make fun of the classic teen movie stereotypes and social cliques and give the film a more lively mythology than most micro-budget horror flicks have these days.
Q: I particularly liked the casting. Was it difficult getting actors who looked the parts? And how did you get George Stover?
Our casting director, Ryan Thomas (who is Officer Kennedy in the film as well) really came through. We held auditions and assembled an absolutely amazing cast. Each actor was hysterical in their own way and just being on set was a blast because of it.
Some actors we knew from our past films and other horror filmmakers.. In particular, we met Ruby LaRocca through my friend, Henrique Couto, and she did a great job. Also, Shawn C. Phillips (who hosts DVD UPDATE and the Don & Murph show on youtube), lives about 15 minutes from my apartment and once he heard about my last flick, he contacted me to get involved in the next one. Shawn's ad-libbing and out-takes, which will be on the official "President's Day" release, are so funny!
George Stover's involvement was similar. He saw "Book of Lore" and loved it. We hung out a bunch and he actually has a role in the film we made between "Book of Lore" and "President's Day", a campy anthology called "Grave Mistakes".
What people don't know about George is that he is a fan first. He collects 16mm and 35mm film prints and has a memorabilia collection that is simply unbelievable. Talking movies with him is always a lot of fun.
Q: Was it difficult getting the locations, especially the school?
The school. Well.. We found the school through a friend of the family.. It was summer when we shot so it worked out well. We paid them. I'll leave that it that since I don't want them to be attached to a gory horror flick.
I will explain how scary it was at first. Originally, we were going to shoot at my old high school. The principal was all about it since I was a quasi-well known alumni. When the county school board heard about it, they refused. It was a horrible time for us. It was about three weeks before shooting and at that point, I though the film wasn't going to happen.
We talked to the Baltimore film office and found out to use a city school for 2 weeks straight would have eaten up our entire budget (and then some). So, we talked to a few private schools until we found the perfect one. We were lucky. We were very lucky.
Q: You didn't wimp out on the gore effects and killings. Which two were your favorites?
Hmmm. I think my two favorites would be 1. the paper cutter decapitation and 2. the opening scene. I say the opening scene because it was an idea I'd had for a while and I finally got to put it into something. I don't spoil it so readers will have to see the movie!
Q: Why the shrine of E.I. posters in the Barry character's room?
Michael Raso, head of Pop Cinema (formerly EI), is the distributer for "Book of Lore" and "Grave Mistakes", which will be coming out as a double feature disc this May. (the DVD is amazing, by the way... it's got a TON of stuff!)
Since we knew we needed set dressing for Barry's room, I asked Mike for some movie posters and he came through with a ton of great stuff. Also, Officer Kennedy is reading an old issue of Alternative Cinema and Barry rocks a Misty Mundae shirt in a few scenes.
Q: What was the most difficult aspect of the production?
Shooting! We shot with a camera set-up that lost 2 and 1/2 f-stops because of the lenses. All of the interiors required a lot of light and that took a bit of time to set-up.. However, Nice Guy Productions (Joe Davidson and Dan Tayag) did a hell of a job making the film look great and it worked out wonderful at the end of the day.
Another horrible scenario was when we were shooting the gym scene and a middle school basket ball team showed up, explaining they were there for their weekly practice. We made an agreement with the coach and they would play for 15 minutes and then we would shoot for 15 minutes. It was ridiculous, but we got it done.
Q: How long did it take to shoot and edit?
Shooting was scattered over a month and a half. We shoot for a week and a half straight in the school. Then, the rest of the film was nights/weekends over the course of August/September 2009.
Logging the clips took a few weeks (since we shot to P2 cards, all the file names were just data codes and I had to go in a re-label them all). The actual editing took about a month and a half. The rough cut was done before Thanksgiving 09.
Q: What's happening with the movie now?
Well, any Baltimore-based readers should come to the Charles Theatre on Monday February 15th (the actual President's Day holiday) at 7:30 PM and see the world premiere! For more info, look us up on facebook.
Besides that, we're gathering reviews right now. Then, we are simultaneously submitting to film festivals and looking for distribution. In the fall, we are planning to tour the film as some sort of general election "campaign". It should be a blast!