Monday, January 31, 2022


A salute to everyone reading this interview. The principal aim of this blog is provide valuable information at those newbies filmmakers out there, you know, filmmakers that haven't shot any movie yet because they feel trapped in doubts about concepts or practical tricks about something or they feel mentally blocked crafting their movie story. So, what they need are the testimonies from other more experienced filmmakers, who started out like them, from zero, or maybe some didn't commence from zero but have suffered they same doubts they are suffering now, all this with practical question regarding the moviemaking backgrounds, how to do certain things, advice about specific matters, no abstract issues but real matters.

Having said that, I've had the fortune to have talked with many indie filmmakers, there are  some who have been more open to share their thought than others but in overall all have been really helpful giving out advice and sharing their experiences, the setbacks faced and the most important how they solved them out. I've exposed the previous speech because I had the tremendous pleasure to talk with the talented and bright director CASEY TEBO. I have to say that he has been one of the most expressful directors I've ever talked before and knowing the level he usually moves around I am more than honoured. We talked about his latest work, the comedy - horror BLACK FRIDAY. The film was starred by Bruce Campbell, Devon sawa, Ivana Baquero, Ryan Lee, Stephen Peck and Michael Jai White. You can imagine the level the movie has, I mean, a dazzling cast. The movie was released on VOD and limited theaters in 2021 and had its DVD and Bluray release in January 2022, you can check here.

Casey is from Massachusetts and as he said himself, the curiousity for filmmaking was born thanks to a scene from Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, from that particula scene a world begun for him. Casey explained to us in a clear way how he approaches the creation of a movie, gave us really worthy advice and tips when shooting a scene and plenty more things. So, please, eager newbie filmmaker, scroll down and read this great interview with massive advice for you.

EFF: Casey, first things first, thanks a lot for letting me chat with you. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from? How you knew you wanted to go into the film industry?

CT: Well, my name is Casey Tebo. I'm from Massachusetts and other than a director, I'm also a dad of three kids. I think when I was probably seven or eight, I don't remember, I saw Temple of Doom in the theater and just remember the specifically the scene where he like, took a pole and like vaulted over that chasm, and well, that's a weird thing to do. That's a weird, like someone had to teach him to do someone had to like, teach him to pole vault. So, there's work into this. So people are actually making this this is not just fantasy. That's really my first time I was like, most people are making this and I think that's what I want to do

EFF: So, from that scene your filmmaking motivation grew up, great. Casey, according to your filmo you've had experience making music videos nothing less than with Aerosmith and your first feature was a comedy - Thriller, so tell us why you decided you make a horror-comedy movie  like BLACK FRIDAY? What prompted you to make it?

CT: It it's really not about wanting to make a horror comedy. It's about trying to find material that I think is going to make a fun and interesting movie that I haven't seen before. I was lucky enough that my first movie was produced by Sean McKittrick, who went on to make GET OUT and BLACKKKLANSMAN, and a bunch of other stuff. I was sent Shawn projects and he would say, well, have I seen this before? And if you haven't seen it before, that's a good place to start and I think Andy did a good job of giving us a movie that we hadn't seen before. 
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EFF: How did you get involved in the movie? When you were called upon, the movie had green light or were you part of the beginning of the project?

CT: No, Andy had just sent me the script and I thought it was really fun. I figured we should try to like, you know, get the financing for this or figure out how we can get it financed. That was a whole process, you know, on its own.

EFF: Let’s talk about the shooting stage. The movie was written by Andy Greskoviak but I would like to ask you how did you approach this movie as yours, making it personal despite it was created by another person?

CT: Okay, well, Andy's original script was much, much darker, and much more a sort of B movie. You know, driving B movie over the top, funny, super silly, super crazy, and I wanted to bring it home a little bit more. I asked Andy to write the opening scenes because I feel like we were missing getting to know these two leads and I wanted to kind of have a combination of like, the THING meats HOME ALONE if that makes any sense. 

EFF: Sure, it does make sense. Casey, Horror comedies movies are at least to me more difficult to make than other kind of movies, because you have to balance between two opposing feelings and not fall too much into one of them, I mean, scream but laugh immediately, I don't know. Tell us how did you try to balance that aspect? I read you called Chris Columbus for advice about that.

CT: Yeah, I don't know if I texted Chris, I speak to Chris a lot. Because of a TV thing we're doing and I don't know if I texted him or what but I maybe I have read the he had said, you know, it's it's if you tell somebody you're making a comedy there, the actors are going to all try it out funny each other, and I do appreciate this question. Because the thing is, it is hard to make a horror comedy and the audience is particularly, now that the reviews are coming out. It's like, you know, I think are rotten tomatoes was like 63%, which for a horror comedy is actually really good. Because some of these audiences are brutal, you know, somebody was like, oh, it's not a horror movie. There's not enough horror. So you will say, well, it's not a comedy that I don't like to joke. You make an action movie and It's like, pretty much its action, you know? So, making horror comedies is a very difficult balance.

EFF: What was the hardest scene to shoot and why?

CT: the hardest thing to shoot was the roof when Bruce Campbell is making his farewell speech, because it was a really high roof we took lifts to get up there. And even though we were surrounded by safety, you still knew if you walked 15 feet one wrong way you could fall off the edge of the roof even though there was like caution tape and it was also freezing, like 10 degrees out. You know, so that was easily the hardest part to shoot.
Black Friday

EFF: Regarding the visual aspect, what kind of style did you want to print over the movie? Maybe you took reference from other movies?

CT: Yeah, I did. I wanted it to look sort of big and cinematic. You know, that’s why I sent David Kruta a couple movies for reference, like SUPER EIGHT, which oddly enough, Ryan Lee was in. Just sort of that big kind of JJ Abrams big movie screen type of field. I didn't want it to look cheesy and over lit. So, I think Super Eight was kind of where we landed, because, you know, there's elements of horror, but there's also like a touching, you know, family movie.

EFF: Tell us a little bit about the cast, wow, terrific names you had in the movie. How was it to direct these talented actors? Could you give us some advice in that aspect based on this experience?

CT: The cast was amazing. They were all incredible to work with. And they were all really, really different. Ryan was very solid and consistent, he knew what he was doing; he knew what his delivery was going to be and he never really skewed outside of that. So, didn't have to give him much direction in that aspect, and obviously, Bruce is a consummate Pro. Ivana had this weird thing where she could get her takes every time on the first take. As you know, Ryan would say, Can I do another one? Can I do another one? Ivana always kind of nailed it. Devon is probably the most serious actor out of all of them. He, I don't want to use the word thespian, it seems like such a such a Bougie word. But Devon is probably the most of the dramatic actors. He's very serious, that's why I wanted him in the movie to play Ken, not someone who's known for their comedy. Michael was very thorough. He wanted to talk to everything and figure out why this was leading to this and what was happening next. 

To give somebody advice based on that experience, you know, you have to be prepared to work with actors who have different needs and different methods. Bruce like to rehearse. You know, Devon didn't like to rehearse. We did a cast read through on Zoom and it was, you know, Devon didn't really like to participate, because he doesn't feel the energy, and I totally dig that I sort of agree with them. I would rather save the energy for onstage. The advice I can give is, make sure you're prepared, especially with blocking when you go into a scene, make sure you know where your characters are going to be in relation to the camera. You know, what is the character's relationship at the beginning of the scene? Are they standing apart from each other? Are they confrontational? What's their relationship at the end of the scene? Have they resolved anything? Are they closer? Are they intimate? Are they further apart? Is one character higher than the other? Therefore, that's probably the most important thing. 
Casey Tebo

EFF: Wow, interesting to see how diverse are the methods every actor use in a movie and how director has to know how to manage them in pro of the movie succeed. Great advice you gave us. Any funny anecdotes from the shooting stage?

CT: Well, I don't know if it was funny, but we shot during peak COVID and David Kruta, who is our cinematographer, who is like the safest germaphobe person in the world, his COVID test didn't come back or came back non conclusive, so we had to shut down for a day. So that sucked. But I'm going to make fun of David for that for the rest of my life

EFF: What camera did you use and why?

CT: We used the Arri Alexa, with these really gorgeous anamorphic lenses. That's why you see a lot of lens flares. But that's more David's department.

EFF: How long took you to shoot the film and what dates?

CT: We shot for three weeks and I think four days. So 19, we did lose a day. And we actually ended up having like a half day because of the weather. 

EFF: How has been the audience's response so far? Watching the result, is it what you had in your mind in the first place? I am asking you this because many times what we have in mind is not the final outcome.

CT: I mean, yeah, the audience response. I mean, from what I've seen, it's been pretty great. There's obviously a lot of people that didn't like the movie. But, what I will say is this is I think my first major project that I really don't care, really doesn't bother me what people seem to think if they like it or they don't like it. The first review we had out of fantastic festivals was not great, not bummed me out a little bit but you know what, there have been so many people like the New York Times, John squires, bloody disgusting, and a lot of great other horror websites. You're not gonna please everybody. I mean, you look at the new Bond was like half and half rated, positive and negative and frigging Zack Snyder's Justice League is. It's like you can't please anybody. I feel like in this day and age in the audience, you're dealing with a lot of anger. People have been cooped up at home with the pandemic and there's just a lot of misplaced anger. 

But am I happy? Yeah, of course, there's some things I would do differently. But I've heard a stat that was like most directors are like 60% happy with their movie and I'm probably 75 to 80% happy with the movie. I'm very happy with it. I'm very happy, everybody's happy and I've been doing podcasts with Bruce and Ivana and talking to Devon and they all seem to love it. You know, it's a weird time for Devon for sure. Because he's on Chucky, which is like, the greatest show on TV right now, and it's like 100% Rotten Tomatoes, so, I can understand why, you know, a guy like him would lean into that and not so much on Black Friday. But I've been enjoying seeing the cast and especially Stephen Peck
Casey Tebo - BTS

EFF: What kind of director do you consider yourself? I mean, regarding your daily set up, what things you consider more important, your working relationship with actors and crew, D.O, etc.

CT: You know, now that I've done two features, I think I'm starting to hear ramblings of like, I'm a great actor's director. This is just what people have told me. These are sort of rumors you hear well, this guy's great with action. This guy is great with CG this guy's great with whatever, this girl or this person. You know, Kathryn Bigelow is one of my favorites. She's great with drama, and she's great with like military stuff in real life. You know, Spielberg is incredible with family stories. Chris Columbus is amazing with family stories. I think that I consider myself an actor's director and someone who can get a good cast and get great performances. I certainly didn't know shit about action and I had to talk to Michael about that when we were doing the fight scenes. I tried to prepare myself I read a lot. I think about shots. I write shot lists. I do really crappy storyboards, which was much to the dismay of David Kruta. Um, but he would laugh every day and get a list together on his iPad. 

I think blocking is very important, you know where the actors are in a scene. I'd love to do some YouTube videos about some of the scenes in Black Friday to show the blocking. I try to get there early and try to leave as late as I can and talk to all the crew and get to know all the crew you know, I try to be friendly a lot of the people that worked on the movie like the caterers and you know, people like that thought I was a gaffer because I'm kind of a big guy who just like dresses normal, like, you know, like tan work pants and like a sweatshirt and they're like, Are you the gaffer? 

EFF: Hahahaha some people confused you with the gaffer, funny thing. Casey would be nice if you could make those videos and we were able to have access to them, it would be valuable for us. What advice based on your experience would you give at newbie filmmakers out there hesitating about making their first movie because of money, equipment?

CT: Ok, well, first of all, the equipment thing is no longer valid, because you can use your iPhone, it's almost as good as you can get. So, that really just requires time. So I think based on my experience, You have the iPhone, so there's your camera, try to figure out a cost effective way to capture sound because sound is also very important, whether it's like a Zoom recorder or a microphone that goes right into the Apple iPhone. Try to find some friends who are actors, you know, don't go beyond your means don't try to make I made a science fiction short film in 2011 called the capitalist did really well and got a ton of great attention and I built the sets out of things from the dump. So, that was free basically. 
Casey Tebo and Steven tyler

EFF: What are your inspiration; directors or films?

CT: My inspirations are you know, things that sort of wow me. Whether is THE MATRIX, the original THE MATRIX, or a movie like THERE WILL BE BLOOD or Jessica Chastain no matter what I watch her and how amazing she is. I'm not a huge fan have of this sort of Hollywood habit of like rebooting and redoing everything. I think it's a little exhausting and I think audiences are a little exhausted. My inspiration is trying to find something that audiences haven't seen before. I'm inspired by people that are incredible at their craft. Like Selma, who cuts all the Scorsese's movies, her editing work is just dizzyingly incredibly beautiful. I'm inspired by someone like Lady Gaga, who also sings and acts. I'm just inspired by life in general, I think. 

EFF: Are you a horror fan? What movies do you like most?

CT: I am, but not as much as maybe some of my peers. I think of like somebody like Adam green or Joe Lynch, who I'm going to do a podcast with. I like all movies, I love drama, I love crime movies, I've watched dead presidents about 300 times, I love war movies. I’ve probably seen Saving Private Ryan more than I've seen Jaws. I've probably seen for horror movies, I've probably seen the shining the most. I think I'm a big performance guy. I love a great performance. I think Samuel Jackson got robbed that he didn't win the Oscar for Pulp Fiction

EFF:  What new projects are you working on now, something you can anticipate us now?

CT: I came across this slasher graphic novel called POSER, which I think is really fun. My sons are 13 and 11 and they love slasher movies, particularly my 11 year old so I'd love to make a slasher for him because I think it would be a blast to make and not have to worry about it being too grounded and serious. I also read a script by Joe bar Nathan, I don't want to give a name away. But it's about a grandma who finds herself in a position where she's able to just whip everybody's ass and I just thought it was funny and hysterical, every time I bring it up to someone they think it's a great idea. 

EFF: If a producer gives you a chance to direct a horror film remake, what would it be and why?

CT: Oh, god, that's a tough question during the hearth. I mean, I know that. Who was it who did the Evil Dead remake completely rethought it and like did an amazing job. So I think you would have to, you know, think about how you would reframe. Maybe I would do Nightmare on Elm Street. But I would, I would hop on the train of all these wellness gurus who are getting everybody to like, do this DMT drug and get into Ayahuasca because they think that they've found some sort of God in like, maybe Freddie's there and instead of God, he's the devil or something like that. 

EFF: Pretty interesting version of. How have you lived this pandemic? Personally, Professionally... 

CT: I was lucky I made a documentary. While we were rather off about the situation with marijuana in the United States. It's quite harrowing. I just spent time with my kids, and professionally I did Black Friday through the pandemic.

EFF : Would you like to say anything else?

CT: I think all I would like to say is between a lot of the movies I've seen recently, whether it was, no time to die, or like I said Snyder's Justice League, seems to be a lot of hate out on the internet and you just can't let yourself be bothered by that stuff. Just do your thing, make art, and have a great time. So thank you guys.

EFF: Thanks a lot Casey.

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