Wednesday, March 8, 2017


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Hi fellows, followers and anyone who read these words, Like always, I got the pleasure, because to talk to someone who can teach you something is always gratificante and pleasant, and this occasion isn't the exception, I got the opportunity to have a little talk with JASON HULL, director of films like CHASING DARKNESS, THE FOUR, KRAMPUS: THE CHRISTMAS DEVIL and KRAMPUS: THE DEVIL RETURNS, He told me why he became a filmmaker, troubles he faced in his films and more, so I hope you like it.
EFF: There many question I’ve got for you, but let us starting asking you, when and how you realized you wanted to be into film industry?

JH: I have always had a love for the arts.  I was involved in music (bands, writing, etc) pretty much since I was 12 years of age.  Around 2004, my band dissolved, and I found myself sort of 'lost' without that avenue to express.  In 2006, I worked on an indie film, and watched and learned the process that he did with a limited budget and limited cast.  At this point, I had never written anything, or really even picked up a camera, but I knew that I wanted to give this different avenue of expression a try. 

I sat and learned basic script writing, read the "greats," and began to write our first film "Chasing Darkness."  I LOVED that process.  Next up was filming this, which turned into a much tougher task than I could have ever imagined.  We got through it, and I took a few years off to learn more about the craft, and learn what we need to do to not only improve, but to make the process more fluid and easy on myself and my crew. 

To this day, things have gotten easier to some degree, but I think that it's that mayhem that fuels me.  I'm not sure i'd have it any other way.  I truly enjoy the creative process that is synonymous with indie filmmaking. 

EFF: The first film you directed was “Chasing Darkness". Why you decided direct it and how was all that entrance into the film industry as a director?

JH: I wrote Chasing Darkness, so directing it only seemed logical, especially since my screenwriting at this time was basic, at best.  I knew what vision I had, regardless of what the paper may have stated.  I found myself a very talented and experienced director of photography (who became my editor), Paul Gorman, to help me with the film, and off to the races we went.

After the film was out, and after we were "out there," I learned that you have to have thick skin (I call it "rhino skin") in this industry, and that you have to turn your head on reviews and critics, and keep doing what you love.  If you let them get to you, you'll be one film and done.  I take the "serious" critics, that offer constructive criticism to heart, but they are few and far between, leaving us with basement internet warriors, at best. 

I feel as time has progressed, and our films have progressed, our fans have a feeling of what to expect when they watch our movies.  It's weird to think that I have a "style" now, but watching what we have done, even back to "Chasing Darkness," you see a pattern and an obvious style.  Personally, i'm just glad we have an audience like yours that enjoys what we do, so thank you all so very much. 

EFF: Obviously your big hit has been "Krampus: The Christmas devil", this film received many awards and good reviews, I want to know, how the idea came to you and how was the the process to give it life. What problems you faced it? 

JH: Well, when we were working on my second film "The Four" a friend of mine came to me with an article about the German folklore monster, Krampus. 
I was immediately in love with this demon goat-like, womanizing, child killing monster of Christmas.  Ha ha.   I knew that was going to be our "next thing," but I was surprised to find that there really wasn't a feature film specifically about him.  We finished "The Four," and immediately went to work on "Krampus."  This is probably why "The Four" never really got it's fair shake.  That movie really needed a re-edit, but we were knee deep in Krampus at that point.

Krampus 1 was a bigger film than we had done. We had actors in from all over the country, and got to work with one of our favorites, Bill Oberst Jr. at this point. We were also introduced to Rich Goteri and Mike Mili, who have been friends and cheerleaders of our productions ever since. However, adding actors and crew from all over the country comes with it's own set of complications. We have to be done with their scenes while they're in town-before their plane is set to leave. We never had that issue before. This film carried a much bigger budget than we had before, so monetarily keeping up with that was an issue. Working in frigid temperatures and the unpredictability of snow and snowfall; well, we'll just leave that at that. ha ha. Regardless of all of that, we still managed to make a pretty good indie Krampus film, I think.

EFF:  So great and well received was the film that you decided to make a sequel, "Krampus: The Devil Returns". Now, the fact that the prequel it had good reviews and awards, it made you things easier in order to shooting the sequel?

JH: It did.  In fact, that the first one was so well received around the world was really the reason we decided to do another.  At this point, we at least knew how to deal with some of the issues that complicated the first film, so we were at least ahead of the game in regards to that.

EFF:  What do you consider was the principal point into the plot that made the first krampus film so well received?

JH: I think that it's not "too much" of a horror film, allows for it to be enjoyed by people that are not a fan of the genre (horror). 
In fact, we tend to call that movie more of an action-thriller.  Not an over abundance of blood and gore allows for a broader fan base.  Plus, I think it's fun film that everyone can enjoy.  We throw in a sort of mobster, crime drama aspect to it as well, so that allows for a broadening of the story.  

EFF: What was the hardest thing to joins into the sequel story for made it interesting?

JH: The hardest thing with the sequel was to make the story "it's own," but still to tie it into the first movie. 
I wanted to make a movie that if you saw the first one, great.  You'll have a slightly better understanding as to what is happening, but at the same time, I wanted to make a story that you didn't have to see the first one to enjoy the sequel.  That was the hardest thing to get across in both writing, and as we were filming.  You almost always had to have your brain on full to make sure you were getting the points across that needed emphasized. 

EFF: One of the most important things on low budget films are actors, how do you handle this task? How is your casting process?

JH: We are lucky where we live, as there is a plethora of great indie actors within driving distance to our location.   This helps us out to no end in the casting process.  With that being said, I do most of the writing, so as i'm typing away at a story, I have an image in my head of who this particular character is, and how I want them to look… Until recently, I used to actually write roles in for people.  I stopped doing that on the last film (and our upcoming film) as I feel it takes away from the writing process, and focuses on that person's qualities. 

For the "bigger names" we like to cast, I have a great relationship with a manager in L.A., Matt Chassin, and have used many of his actors that he represents.  Everyone that I've come in contact with that he represents has been completely professional, honest, and great to have around.   After I've cast locally and regionally of those who I think will fit the roles for the characters I've developed in my head, I usually give Matt a call with what I have going on, and he will refer to me a list of people that fit what i'm after.  We take it from there, look over reels, and make our decisions.   Because our budgets are so low, we have to use as many local actors as we can.  We have been doing this for over 10 years now, and are pretty close with most of the other local filmmakers, so we are always conversing amongst ourselves in regards to who is "good" and "not so good" in regards to the local/regional community.

EFF: "Krampus: The Devil Returns" what was the biggest challenge to create it?

JH: Time.  We didn't have enough.  We had a cast of all out of town actors and had to have all of their scenes completed by the time they were driving or flying back to whatever state or country they came in from.  We eventually had to rearrange some flights and travel plans for almost every actor we had, which cost a little more dough, but I have to give it to my cast-they were hands down the most accommodating and professional group. My crew, also.  We had some long days and nights, and these guys always greeted us with smiles in the morning, even if it was only 3 hours of sleep the night before.  What a group we had.  So, dealing with time, or the lack thereof was our biggest challenge.  But, when you had the group we had on Krampus 2, it was possible.

EFF: What was the budget and what was the hardest the stage to gear on?

JH: Our initial budget was about $20,000, but that's with a lot of people working for nothing, or working for well below their normal pay scale, and we have a film school here in Erie that rents out equipment at crazy low prices, which lets us film with the best of the best, but without the added cost of ownership.  We are lucky that actors want to work with us, and we are super appreciative of them and their contributions to our visions.  When you have a budget that low, it's hard to stage any of it, but we manage.

EFF: Do you like acting or just do it for necessity and for participate? Because in all your films you have acting.

JH: I enjoy it, but I think as the films have improved, my acting has lessened (on our films).  I think I wanted to do that more in the beginning, but there are a whole host of challenges that come with being in front of the camera, and not behind.  In "Chasing Darkness," it was probably a necessity, as we were likely out of available participants for the movie.  ha ha.
 For the last two films, "Krampus 1 and 2," I have very minor bit parts.  Just a few seconds on the screen.  It's fun to be on screen, but my characters are easily replaced.  I think for me, too much time on the screen will take away what we are trying to accomplish behind the camera, which is my primary focus on our films, and partially why I think our films have improved over time.

EFF: The title "Krampus" printed on filmsis very common these days, why you decided use that mytholigical creature and on what point you tried to differenciate from others?

JH: As I stated above, I loved the creature, and we wanted to go with it, especially since there wasn't any feature films specifically made with him at that point.  We began writing the first one in 2011, and began filming in 2012.  It was debuted in 2013, two years before the Universal/Michael Daugherty film "Krampus."  With that being said, we didn't have anything that we needed to do to differentiate ourselves from them, but they had to do to differentiate themselves from us.  With "Krampus 2," I purposely didn't watch any of the other films, in hopes to not influence my writing in any way.  Actually, to this day, I still haven't watched any of the other Krampus films.

EFF: Have you used funding webs before? What do you think about this? What could you tell me what is the best way to reach funding for first-times films?

JH: We tried unsuccessfully with Krampus 2 to use the same crowdfunding site that Rob Zombie used for "31."  I found it to be a complete headache, as we had little to no support from the owners of the company.  I felt like we were too small of a production for them to care about, even though we spent decent money with them.  Our merchandise was late, shipments missed, etc.  I may try this again (with a different company) for our next movie, but i'm not sure.

I honestly don't know what to tell first time films the easiest or best way to get funding is.  We have pretty much self funded all of our films to this point.  I have several great producers that believe in what I do (A.J. Leslie, Darin Foltz, Steve Dorth), and they support me. But in all honesty, that is luck to have that support.  I'd say my advice to any first time filmmakers is, you don't need a big budget to aspire to your dreams.  Write a story, grab a camera, and shoot!

EFF: What directors do you like? And What horror films you like the most and why?

JH: Oh man, i'm a fan of anything 80's.  Carpenter, Raimi, Barker, Craven the usual horror, I guess.  I always loved Tim Ritter's "Truth or Dare," and I think he probably inspired me to some degree to say, "you can do it, if you want."  He was making indie movies back in the day.  I like Stan Winston's aesthetics in "Pumkinhead."   Cameron's Aliens.  You know... the usual, I guess.  I've become more aware of directing styles and pay more attention to things that I maybe didn't in the past now that we are making movies.  I like Rob Zombie in that he tries to keep horror films horror.  I think most newer Hollywood features have lost sight as to what the audience wants.  I think this, to some degree, is why horror fans still love indie.  It still has a pulse for what horror is "supposed to be."

EFF: If any producer gives you the chance to make a horror remake, what could it be and why?

JH: Wow.  Great question.  I like to think of the few remakes that I really enjoy, and think of how I could redo something, while keeping the nostalgia of the original.  I love Zombie's "Halloween," and this is coming from someone who would place Carpenter's "Halloween" as likely one of my all time favorites.  Rob's was new and refreshing, and didn't alter Carpenter's at all.  I liked the new "Evil Dead," too.  I thought it was a different take. 

So, with that being said, with an actual budget-so let's say Hollywood came knocking, i'd like to do a remake of "Phantasm."  That's a movie that I have always loved, and i'd love to put my spin on it.  However, I don't see Don Coscarelli letting me do that.  Ha ha.

EFF: What horror sub genre you thinks is best? I take the risk to think you like the creature one jaja?

JH: Ha ha.  Well, all four of my films are creature driven, so I guess we will have to go with that.  ha ha.  Yeah, probably creatures. "Creature from the black lagoon" is my favorite classic.  Vampires, Werewolves, Krampuses (ha ha).  

In all honesty, my personal favorites are anything with demonic possession or ghost hauntings.  The good ones are just few and far between.  There are 10 bad ones for every good one.  Exorcist will always be in my top 5 movies ever.  I wrote a ghost/possession movie, but I have hesitations about doing it because I don't want to be "one of those bad ones." You gotta love a good slasher film too.  Our next will be a bloody slasher movie.

EFF: Indie films are raising every day, internet has given that possibility. You are out there showing your films, what good and bad things are happening out there for indie filmmakers like you?

JH: Good: with there being so much, any indie director or writer has to be on their A-game.  You really have to learn to up your direction with each film, your writing has to improve, cinematography, etc.  The day you become lazy with this (or any) craft, is the day you'll be passed by.  If you don't want to be passed by, you need to take ownership of the art and at least make some effort to better yourself after every film.  I ALWAYS try to learn several different things to improve between our films. 

With that being said, the (friendly) competition helps to make better, more creative films, which is important in this industry to help us ALL keep moving forward and improving.

Good: Cameras, software, advances in CGI for the indie professional.  Different avenues to show your film.  Festivals are more open to indie.

Bad: Everyone is a critic. 
Bad: Everyone is a filmmaker.
Bad: torrent sites.  You're stealing our hard work to stream for free, then you complain about our low budgets.  When you're stuck with only large crappy CGI-laden Hollywood horror films, don't complain.

EFF: What is new on your career? What are you doing?

JH: Currently we are relaxing after the release of "Krampus 2."  I'm writing our next film "Ax Murder Hollow," which is a story based on some local legend to where I live.  It'll be a stray from what we usually do, as it will be bloodier and more "gore" than what people are used to.  So far, the story is great, and developing well.   We may start shooting this in 2017, or spring 2018.  Depends on the timing.  We are also talking about doing a comedy "Nickle and Dimed to Death," which was written by Rich Goteri and Mike Mili.  That also will be a 2017 or 2018 project.  To top it off, I've been cast to act in a couple of things this summer, most noteably, Doug Kaufman's "Twincarnation," where I have a small bit part, but will be amongst a killer cast and crew!

Thank you so much for the interview, and thank you so much to everyone that takes the time to enjoy our work.  Much love.

JASON HULL'S Twitter | Facebook | Imdb | Webpage


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