Q: WITCH'S BREW, like your previous movie, PRESIDENT'S DAY, is a horror comedy. Have you always found witches funny? The movie reminded me a bit of that movie THE WITCHES, with Angelica Huston...
Generally, I think witches (and witchcraft as a whole) are under-utilized in the current market of horror flicks. To me, witches and the idea of "curses" could be leveraged in a really scary, "death/disease are eventual"-type of way and nothing is scarier than knowing you are going to be in big trouble.
That being said, "Witch's Brew" is a horror comedy because I didn't want to go that dark, despite the fact that in the movie, we kill kids, animals, and even handicapped vets.... I knew we'd need humor so an audience could deal with such morbid candor.
Funny you mention "WITCHES", the Angelica Houston flick... because that was one of the first movies I saw in an actual theatre. My Mom took me to see if as a "reward" for going to the dentist. The final transformations in "Witch's Brew' (not to ruin them too much) were definitely inspired by the ideas in the Roald Dahl story.
Q: I had heard you got the budget from Kickstarter...
We needed a budget badly, and we were very broke.
"President's Day" was still waiting on a release and to wait for revenue on that would have been pointless. We'd gotten one investor for "President's Day", but we knew we'd need a MUCH larger budget for "Witch's Brew". ("PD" was shot for $5k and that was exhausting)
So, we'd heard about Kickstarter through my co-producer, Ryan Thomas, and decided to give it a shot. The whole campaign was nuts! We pimped that project hard, and at times, we felt obnoxious, but we had to be. So many projects fail because artists don't make it their everything.
Most of our incentives/rewards were funny,weird, and exciting for participants. We re-posted the link on social networking sites constantly. We sent personalized emails to anyone who seemed remotely interested.
At the end of the day, we raised $13K on Kickstarter, got one private investor, and put in a little bit of our own money. The total budget was $16K and every bit ended up on the screen. None of that money went to a 'salary' or anything silly like that. From script to screen, "Witch's Brew" was a labor of love... or as I always say, "Blood, Sweat, & Beers"...
Q: There are a lot of special effects--and some really nasty scenes, like a guy crapping out his intestines. And you kill a kid! How difficult was it dealing with all the fx? What was the most difficult scene to shoot?
There are over forty practical make-up effects in "Witch's Brew". Dismemberment! Mutations! Unspeakable monsters! So many different types of carnage grace the screen that we weren't sure we could pull it off with our budget... until we assembled the delta force of Jason Koch, Kaleigh Brown, and John Laveck.
Kaleigh had done all the fx on "President's Day" for an embarrassingly low number... so I made sure she and the rest of the gang got a much larger budget for the hefty FX list they needed to achive with "Witch's Brew". It still wasn't much, but they made it work flawlessly. I'm so proud of what my FX team pulled off.
The most difficult scene to shoot from an FX standpoint was probably the werewolf transformation scene because it was done in layers and sequentially. The air bladders were a first for me, but I loved the look and while it was time-intensive, I was very happy with the final results.
Hitting the cat with a car was a lot of fun. We did that right outside of a church in a rural part of Maryland. They came outside after we splattered blood all over the blacktop, offering us watermelon and pamphlets on converting to Christianity.
Q: I thought the actors were "right on" for the witches and the two friends. And George Stover returns. Did you go your usual route for the casting. Will there be a continuing ensemble in future Chris LaMartina movies?
Traditionally, we hold open casting calls and set-up appointments, but there are moments when I write characters/roles for specific actors. I enjoy that "troupe" of actors motif that many directors use. There are certain folks who feel like family to me... cast members that I would never leave out of the fray. Those are the actors/actresses I write roles for because I want to work with them again. I mean, I literally refer to George Stover as my "third Grandpa"... he doesn't like this, but screw it... I mean it in the sweetest way possible. Love ya, George!
Q: How can people see the film?
We just sent out press kits/screener dvds out to potential distributers in early January. We've gotten three offers thus far and it's only been a week! Hopefully, we will decide on a company in the next month or so. Anyone interested in keeping up-to-date on Midnight Crew Studios or "Witch's Brew", can find us on Facebook. Feel free to friend me, too... you can 'like' all my angsty status updates. (Facebook.com/witchsbrewmovie)
Chris is also featured in the new book, MAKING INDIE MOVIES BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE, which will be published by McFarland Book Publishers in Fall of 2012.