Q: I like how MY STEPDAD IS A FREAKIN' VAMPIRE is sort of like MONSTER SQUAD and FRIGHT NIGHT combined. How did the idea/title come about?
The idea for "Stepdad" came about when I was a junior in high school, but I didn't start developing it until my junior year in college. My goal was to make a movie that I would have loved when I was 10 years old. So naturally it needed to be adventurous, funny and it had to have MONSTERS! A huge influence while making this movie was Gremlins. I love that movie. Other influences were The Goonies, Monster Squad and Ghostbusters.
Q: What impressed me is the professionalism of the production. It doesn't seem like a "student film" (and I've seen hundreds of those). Why tackle such a huge project?
It was a huge project, especially for a small crew of two or three friends who were all students. We didn't have the experience to be making a movie at this scale. The only other movies I made before "Stepdad" were small student films with budgets under $1000.
When I first decided to make "Stepdad" I had no idea it was going to be so time consuming. I knew that it was going to be hard, and I knew there were a lot of effects. I just underestimated how long each task would take. In my head, I was thinking the movie would take a year. It ended up taking a little under two years. I wasn't thinking I was tackling a huge project until I was already in production.
Q: How long was the production?
Production was somewhere around 40 days. After 20 days we all stopped counting. We just figured time would go by faster if we didn't think about it.
Q: How did you go about casting your actors? The guy who portrays the Stepdad vampire is great!
When we held auditions I was lucky enough to find John Redmond (Gert) and Larry Peterson (stepdad). Then John Redmond introduced me to Lahcen Anajjar (Rusty), Casey Myers (Chuck) and Jeff Staab (Stan). They all went to the same acting studio in Kansas City called The Commercial Actors Studio ran by Brian Cutler. I called them in for an audition soon after. They were all fantastic and I hired them on the spot. There is actually a great special feature on You Tube that a friend put together for me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UZC378bduY
Q: What did you find was the most difficult aspect of the production and why?
One of the biggest problems we had was getting the monsters ready to go before we were supposed to start filming. We didn't have a make-up person on set most of the time, so I would have to put all the make-up on the vampire monsters while everyone else was setting up. I would put some of the make-up on, then go check on the set and move some things around, then go back to applying the make-up.
Another difficult task was staying on schedule. Some days we would film from 6pm-4am and put all the equipment back in the van, then film at another location at 9am. There were some nights when we didn't think we could go on filming like that. But we made it through, with minimal casualties. One night the screenwriter, who was also co-producer and crewmember, was being really lazy and I was getting irritated with him. He fell asleep on the floor of a location. The next day he didn't show up to film. Turned out he had pneumonia. Things like that seemed to happen every now and then.
Q: The special effects and green screen shots are also impressive and I see in the credits you all did all of this. How long did that add to the post-production?
Post-production took about a 15 months and most of it was visual effects work. I never worked with a green screen before so a good few months was spent just learning the software, After Effects. Some shots took me a week to complete just because of how complex they were.
The vampire costumes took me a whole summer to create. I had never worked with foam latex or costumes, so I bought a bunch of tutorials on DVD. Everything was trial and error. I had to sculpt 6 vampire masks, gloves, full body costumes and a 14-foot set of wings. It seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong. But that is really the way I like to work. I love diving in headfirst.
Q: The film has already shown at some film festivals?
The film has been doing really well at festivals, I'm happy to say. "Stepdad" recently took home Best Feature Film at the Killington Film Festival and the Little Apple Film Festival. We also took home Best horror Feature at the Bare Bones Film Festival, and Honorable Mention for Best Feature at the Black Swamp International Film Festival. I will also be attending other festivals this summer and fall. The next screening will be June 4-6 at the Light House International Film Festival in Long Beach Island, New Jersey.
Q: How can people see the movie? (website info, et cetera)
As of right now we are still seeking out distribution options. People can see the trailer to the film at mystepdadvampire.com or they can go to youtube and see the trailer plus behind the scenes featurettes. If someone would like to see the film soon, they can attend a film festival where it will be screening, or they can request a screening in their hometown by contacting me from the movie website. For all the film updates (screenings, festivals, etc.) people can view my blog, davidmathenyfilm.blogspot.com or join the movie page on Facebook.
Q; Are you at work on a new project?
As of right now, I'm just trying to finish up school. I have a few ideas that have been floating around in my head, but I probably won't get to work on them until after the summer. I also have a great idea for a remake/sequel to My Stepdad's A Freakin' Vampire!