April 29, 2013

Rycke Foreman & Maria Olsen Talk SLASH, a New Horror Film in Pre-Production

Free Kittens Movie Guide recently had the unique opportunity to interview two of the creative talents behind the upcoming film, Slash, writer/director Rycke Foreman and actor/producer Maria Olsen. The film is currently in pre-production and scheduled for release in 2014.
Rycke Foreman wears a lot of hats. In addition to co-founding one of the better free e-zines out there, 69 Flavors of Paranoia (with his wife, Miranda), he's written and directed several short films, including the award-winning "Auto Care." Maria Olsen has amassed a list of acting credits as long as your arm in a relatively short period of time, appearing in over 100 features and shorts since 2005.
Both were kind enough to share a few minutes to discuss their experiences in getting Slash off the ground...


Slash sounds like an interesting psychological horror film. For our readers, could you briefly describe the concept of the movie?

Rycke:  In the simplest terms, it's a coming of age story about a young man struggling to pull away from his older step-brother's hedonistic and violent-minded lifestyle.

Where did the initial idea come from, Rycke? I know you've written and published a lot of short fiction over the years. Was Slash a story first or was it always conceived as a feature film?

Rycke: Slash always struck me as a screenplay/film, since many of its components are better suited to a visual medium. Plus, many of the seeds that grew into Slash stemmed from a couple of incidents that happened during a community theatre production of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap -- including chatting with a minor serial killer who'd come to watch the performance (and who was arrested just a very short time after that run-in).

What other films or novels in the genre would you compare it to?

Rycke: That's kind of hard to answer. I don't think there is any one film (or book) I could point to and say, "It's a lot like that one." Everybody thought I was kidding the last time I said it's somewhere between Scream, Natural Born Killers and The Breakfast Club, but that really is the best way to describe it.

I imagine it takes a lot of hard work and patience to get a project like this off the ground. Could you talk about some of the obstacles you've had to overcome to get to this point?

Rycke: Ugh! What obstacle haven't we encountered? We've been greenlit and then had the funding yanked, had more than one shady producer talk their way into our circles, shot our mouths off before we should have, had inaccurate media reports, been pressured into contracts, and, worst of all, people's true colors begin to emerge... It's like living every horrible, cliché-ridden film about the seedy side of Hollywood. In 3D. And Technicolor Smell-O-Vision. You have to develop thick skin quickly, and keep your focus on the goal ahead of you.

According to iMDB, the film is currently in pre-production, and it looks like you have an impressive cast & crew lined-up. If all goes well, when and where do you hope to start shooting? Is there anything else standing in the way?

Rycke: Until the film is in the can, there's a neverending uphill obstacle course seeded with landmines and every manor of sinkhole. They say it's a miracle that any picture gets produced, and I truly believe it now. Currently, we're set to start shooting in the last week of June.

You are using a unique method to acquire additional funding for Slash, which gives those who donate to the production an opportunity to receive Slash-related goodies, or even a walk-on part in the film. Whose idea was that and how has it worked out so far?

Rycke: That was just all of us tossing crazy ideas out and seeing what stuck. We considered what resources we had to exploit. We gleaned--sounds better than stole, right?--ideas from other crowdfunding and marketing campaigns, sought advice from notable specialists, etc. It's boring, but it's helped us cover some pre-production expenses, so we're really grateful to all our supporters!

How did you and Maria hook up to work on this project?

Rycke: We met through LinkedIn, started chatting, and things moved quickly from there. It'll be great to meet her once we're actually on set!

Rycke Foreman & friend.*
You've directed some well-received shorts prior to this. Aside from length and budget, how is working on a feature-length film been different? Are there any concerns you have, considering you're working with a bigger budget and much larger cast & crew?

Rycke: Thanks, Dave. A feature is just more, more, more--more characters, more crew, more equipment, more time to finesse the story, more time to develop character, more character arcs, more complicated character arcs, more FX--yay!--but of course that means more money, which means more pressure...

In spite of that, I feel remarkably confident moving forward. We've got a wonderful crew that's a half-Hollywood, half-indie dream team. If unexpected problems arise--and I don't think I've been on a set where they haven't--I've got some of the best minds in the biz ready to throw their brains into finding a solution. On the other hand, we've got a number of seasoned indie vets that know how to feed a crew on $1.68 and fix an 18-foot crane with bubblegum and shoestring (I lead that pack). Factor that in with top-notch actors that won't need two dozen takes to "get it right" and a budget to realize some of these crazy ideas. I'm excited. In many ways, I feel like Orson Wells*, being handed the keys to Citizen Kane. I'm definitely living my version of the American Dream.

What other films or directors that have influenced or inspired your own work?

Rycke: Spielberg's Jaws is definitely my biggest influence. I was 5 or 6 when it first came out, and it was the greatest thing I'd ever seen. My first attempts at creative writing, around age 8, were all about sharks eating boats. I've followed James Cameron and Peter Jackson from their first films, and I absolutely worship Sam Raimi's brilliant camerawork in Evil Dead 2. Argento's Susperia has some direct influence on Slash. Cronenberg. Craven. Carpenter. Coscarelli. The Four C's, haha. I draw inspiration and have great admiration for obscure filmmaker William Girdler (FKMG loves Girdler, too...well, at least Grizzly - Ed). I also have a strange affinity for weird, low-budget experimental stuff--Cory McAbee's American Astronaut, Richard Elfman's Forbidden Zone and Rinse Dream's ridiculously unique Dr. Caligari (1989; a half-assed sequel to the original Cabinet of Dr. Caligari).

Maria, you've got a pretty impressive acting resume (including roles in American Horror Story, Percy Jackson & the Olympians and Paranormal Activity 3). You've done television, mainstream & independent films and several shorts. In addition to producing, you have a major role in Slash. As someone who's been around, what are some of interesting differences between working on a major studio film and, say, an indie or short subject?

Maria:  I always say that the difference between studio and indie is whether there’s salmon on the crafty table. Seriously, studio filmmaking can be compared to the workings of a huge corporation: there’s a place for everything and everything in its place.  Everything will get done just how it has to get done, but, as with all corporations, the process is rather impersonal.  Indie filmmaking can, instead, be compared to a mom-and-pop store: cast and crew become family because there’s usually only a small group of people involved and everyone becomes very comfortable with everyone else within a very small amount of time.  Sure, the end product may not be as glam as with a huge corporate product, but it is way more personal and has its own very special charm!

Maria Olsen
Is there a particular piece of work you are the most proud of?

Maria:  I think I’m going to go with my roles in Dan Donley’s extreme horror feature, Shellter, and in Tim Curley’s fantasy adventure feature, The Mudman. Neither of these roles – and both were large supporting – had any dialog, and so I had to portray what the characters were feeling entirely through expression and body language.  I absolutely LOVE doing this – I find dialog to be a crutch that sometimes hinders instead of helps – and I love the on-screen results.

You've also done some producing. What originally prompted you to get on the other side of the camera?

Maria:  I was getting a little tired of being at the unempowered end of the producer-actor relationship so I decided to take things into my own hands and start making films – take control of my career – instead of waiting for someone to possibly make a film that I would perhaps be called in to audition for and could, maybe, book…and the rest is history!

You're doing double-duty as actor/producer for Slash. Could you describe your character in the film?

Maria:  I play Mary Kelly – and that name has MUCH significance for me as I’m also a student of the original Jack the Ripper murders – and she is the Artistic Director of the theater where some of the dastardly deeds go down.  I see her as trying to keep control as everything spirals into chaos around her…and I’m also simply in love with her action scenes at the end of the movie! Her character is also closer to mine than I had initially anticipated, which is just an added bonus…and, yes, lol, I’m being intentionally cryptic!

Please forgive me while I indulge in a bit of hero worship, but you worked on Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem. I've always admired the guy's creativity and audacity. What was that like working on his film?

Maria:  I ADORED working on The Lords of Salem, and I can honestly say that this, so far, has been the ONLY set where I actually felt totally creeped out when I saw some of the actors in makeup… The scenes I were in were shot at one of the historical theaters in downtown Los Angeles – a stunning interior filled with guilt and gold encased in a drab grey building – and, to me, the atmosphere was electric.  It was also simply wonderful to be on set with Rob, who was NOTHING like what I expected him to be (he’s extremely low key on set) as well as one of my idols, Patricia Quinn, who I grew up watching as Magenta in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

We here at FKMG aren't too happy with the current state of modern horror movies. The Cabin in the Woods notwithstanding, much of what is released today is either an unnecessary remake or a retread of something that's been done better before. Do you agree or disagree, and what do you think Slash brings to the table which will intrigue seasoned and curious horror fans?

Maria:  I totally agree with y’all there at FKMG as I, too, think that the only place horror is growing and thriving is in Indiewood. Slash will bring to the silver screen a combination of great story and ground-breaking 3D effects, and it’s also a re-working of the Jack the Ripper scenario that’s never been seen before.

Rycke: Studio fare has certainly been disappointing for a while, now, though there's a few noteworthy indie gems from the last decade--Andrew Traucki's The Reef & Black Water were good, Feed by Brett Leonard and quasi-anthology film The Signal were both strong, and Jake West's Doghouse was a lot of fun, if flawed. Surprisingly, horror seems to be doing much better on TV these days--quality horror like The Walking Dead, Dexter, American Horror Story and a slew of others.

Slash approaches slasher films from a whole new angle, embracing certain genre conventions while completely ignoring others. A nice side effect of concentrating on dramatic development is that it forced me to integrate the violent moments into the storyline and character development, so there's very little "violence for the sake of violence" in this film. In fact, though subtle, Slash weaves a number of anti-violent statements into the narrative.

Don't worry, though, gorehounds--Slash has a body count on par with franchise sequels, not first-in-series films. We start out in your face and then push the pedal to the metal. We don't like to flinch, either. The most important thing in my mind was to deliver an entertaining slasher flick that had a little extra depth for audiences who are more demanding. My problem with most slashers is that the good one's often skimp on the SFX, fair one's have great gore but no story, and the other 80% just suck. I plan to fix that.

And wow...I haven't even touched on our groundbreaking 3D innovations, or the odd little built-in "Easter Eggs" for Jack the Ripper and Dean Koontz fans, or the incredible cast we're lining up, or our uber-cool killer's weapon, the Thorn Ax, that co-writer Jeremy Orr came up with. (I'm really jealous that I didn't think of this thing. It's awesome!) There's a lot of reasons to check us out!

Where can people go to learn more about the ongoing production of Slash and how they can get involved?

Rycke: Just go to http://slashflick.com and look on the bottom of the home screen. That links out to all our other web and social media sites, plus our online product store, where you can pick up all kinds of merch--T-shirts, bumper stickers, key chains. I won't guarantee a full line of butcher knives soon, but you never know.

Maria: Here's what we have for you so far as far as links are concerned:
(a) link to our Indiegogo page: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/slash-when-his-fantasy-becomes-your-reality/x/4186?c=home
(b) link to our website: http://slashflick.com/
(c) link to our IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2762752/
(d) link to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SLASHflick
(e) link to our Zazzle store: http://www.zazzle.com/slashflick
(f) link to our Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/SlashFlick
People can get involved by investing in the film, becoming product placement partners, buying branded Slash swag to become a part of the Slash family and crewing (we’re going to be looking for a LOT of crew out of New Mexico in particular).  Anyone interested in doing anything like that can contact me at mariaolsen@ymail.com (yes Ymail) and I can pass them on to the producer in charge of whatever particular aspect it is that they want to get involved in.

Free Kittens Movie Guide thanks both of you for taking the time to share your exciting project with our readers. We wish you great success look forward to seeing Slash next year!

*NOTE ON RYCKE'S PICTURE
No, I haven't won an Oscar, but it's very special anyway. This is me with Orson Wells' Oscar. I was lucky enough to have it for a full weekend. The sad thing is, I was so paranoid that someone would find out I had it and try to steal it, it stayed hidden in my closet for most of the weekend. But my closet glowed with the aura of legendary brilliance for nearly 72 hours, and I was indeed INSPIRED!!!

No comments: