Talking Fear Clinic with Director Robert Hall and Producers Bobbi Sue Luther and Chang Tseng
Taking on a web series may seem like a step back in a director’s career, but not for Robert Hall. He saw the opportunity to do something new and different with “Fear Clinic” and perhaps even change the game in terms of internet-based horror content.
“I know that there’s still a stigma that comes with doing a web series but I want to change that,” explained Hall. “I really feel like with “Fear Clinic” that we’re doing something special. I want this to be unique and for viewers to appreciate the work we’ve put into it just the same as if we were making a movie.”
“Fear Clinic” definitely has all the makings of a big-budget horror film. The series, which was created for FEARnet, boasts an impressive cast which includes genre icons Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Danielle Harris, and Lisa Wilcox.
The series centers around Dr. Andover (Englund), who runs a special clinic that specializes in treating phobias through the use of a ‘fear chamber.’ One by one, each of the patient’s worst fears begin to manifest themselves and become part of their reality.
“Fear Clinic” came together because of Hall’s relationship with Englund after he did effects for the original Freddy on his flick Killer Pad.
Hall said, “Producer Mark Johnson was developing this script with Aaron Drane called "Heebie Jeebies" that was supposed to be a feature film but it didn’t work out. So, Aaron retooled it as a web series and I think the idea of doing something different like this really appealed to Robert (Englund).”
“Robert is really a forward-thinker,” said producer Bobbi Sue Luther. “He loved the script and loved that it’s a web series especially. He wanted to do something that is new and not just another movie. Robert connected with his character of Dr. Andover and really latched onto the idea of creating something that was outside out of the box.”
With Englund initially on board, Hall decided “Fear Clinic” needed to be something more than just a bunch of five minute videos on a website starring his hero. He knew he had to bring more to the table, especially for horror fans.
“Originally, our two orderlies were Hispanic but I had this idea that we should involve Kane Hodder. Having Kane actually get to act in a scene with Robert (Englund) was going to be something special, something that’s never been done. And he immediately was on board,” explained Hall.
“Once we were set with Robert and Kane, then we approached Danielle (Harris) and she was thrilled to be on board. It was Robert’s idea to involve Lisa Wilcox and since I am such a huge fan of Nightmare 4, I was psyched she wanted to do it too,” Hall added.
“Having a person from each of the biggest horror franchises is something you don’t see every day,” said producer Chang Tseng. “This is really a historic moment for fans.”
It would be easy to expect that shooting a web series might be easier than shooting a full-length feature. Hall felt that the six day shoot for “Fear Clinic” had its share of both positive and negative aspects.
Hall explained, “It was easier in a way shooting “Fear Clinic” as opposed to Laid to Rest because we had all of our resources here in LA and with Laid we shot in Maryland. The hustle for “Fear Clinic” was just a lot harder since we basically shot an episode a day. I think one day alone we had to get 55 shots done.”
“I’ve never directed anything on TV but television has been so important to my career so I know how fast you have to be,” Hall added. “I think those experiences helped me with “Fear Clinic.” Scott (Winig, Cinematographer) and I would look at each other at certain times and just say to each other, ‘I have never worked this hard.’ But at the end of the day, I enjoyed the hustle.”
What also sets “Fear Clinic” apart from Hall’s earlier work is the amount of special effects that were used for the series.
Tseng said, “Rob designed both CG and practical effects on “Fear Clinic” which I think really just adds to the whole feeling of synchronicity we’ve had from the start on this project. It’s definitely ingenuous to do it all in one place.”
“Aaron’s script was really cool and had some great creepy stuff so I knew that wanted to amp things up,” explained Hall. “I will only do something if I think it’s going to be special and we knew that our vision for this series was going to be a lot of work and even difficult at times. Some days we even had 6 people on set doing practical make-up, that’s how much we had going on. But it was all so that we could give the fans something really cool to watch.”
Luther added, “I think our production quality set this apart from a lot of things for our cast and crew. The upside to having only six days to shoot was that we were able to get some amazing people in our cast and crew. Everyone was in really good spirits because of having such a short schedule. This was one of the best production experiences I’ve ever had.”
With “Fear Clinic” is in post-production, those involved with the project are now gearing up for their panel at the San Diego ComiCon this Friday, July 24th at 6:30 pm in Room 5AB.
“There’s going to be a panel with myself along with Robert, Kane, Danielle and (executive producer) Jim Burns too,” said Hall. “We’ve cut together a 60-second trailer, feature movie style and I think we’re also going to show our opening teaser to the fans as well.”
“FEARnet asked Clive Barker to moderate our panel, which is pretty badass. I am such a huge fan of his and I am super-flabbergasted that he’s doing it. It’s going to be a really cool experience for all of us,” Hall added.
Look for “Fear Clinic” to be available on FEARnet this October.
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