Hatchet II Interview Week Entry 4: Adam Green Part 2
When we last spoke, Adam Green (the writer/director of the Hatchet series and Frozen, co-director of Spiral, and producer of Grace) talked a little bit about his past, his love of films, and some of the challenges he faced as an indie filmmaker.
In this entry Dread Central gets Green’s thoughts on casting his new film, Hatchet II (now available on DVD & Blu Ray from Dark Sky Films), upcoming projects, and his opinion on the current and future state of our beloved horror genre. As always, Green proves himself to be a knowledgeable and erudite spokesman!
DC: So, we left off talking about Hatchet II’s release, and you mentioned writing the initial script with cast members in mind. Can you talk about why you chose the people you did?
AG: With the first one, we actually did casting, but the second one we obviously knew that Tony already had that part and Kane had his and Parry Shen was going to be playing his own brother, but the rest of the cast were all people I’d either worked with before in some capacity or they were friends I wanted to work with or had done something else that I’d really admired. When we started to make the sequel, FROZEN hadn’t even premiered at Sundance yet and nobody was really going to be expecting that I was making something else. The idea was to keep it totally under the radar and do it without any outside opinions or expectations and all of a sudden one day say, “Here’s the trailer” and people would be like, “Oh, my god! When did this happen?” That quickly got foiled because when we were recasting a main actress, we put something - for one day only – in Breakdown Services (which is the industry thing that casting agents use) just saying that we were possibly going to be replacing the actress who played the role in the first movie.
One of the websites had someone who had login info for that so they could try to get scoops off of it, and as a result people found out we were doing it and there was no hiding it. It’s not that I’m against that business or any of that stuff, but we just didn’t really have time for anybody to come and visit the set. There was some very complicated stuff going on. I mean, there are seventeen deaths which means that, basically every single day, there was some sort of stunt or gore gag going off which is usually a closed set for safety. So, we were trying to keep it under the radar, but it got out much faster than we thought it was going to.
DC: You pulled a couple of “wild cards” in your choice of actors such as Tom Holland, and John Buechler had a bigger part in this one.
AG: Bringing John back was cool. With Tom Holland… FRIGHT NIGHT was one of my biggest inspirations behind writing the first HATCHET and he’s always been somebody I admired. He’s become a good friend through the whole Masters of Horror circle that I was invited into years ago. I knew he had acted like twenty-seven years ago in an episode of THE INCREDIBLE HULK. I asked if he ever thought about acting anymore. He has such a great look. I liked the idea that everybody was expecting to see some horror cameos, but to take somebody that nobody would have expected… So, he said yes and I was really excited, but it was also a little nerve-wracking on set for the first couple of days because every time I had to give one my favorite directors direction, I would always be wondering, ‘Does he think that was a good idea? Does he agree with me?’ [laughs] But he was very happy to just be an actor and was very, very nervous his first few days because it had been so long. Quickly enough, he picked it up.
DC: When you were shooting, did you film stuff that you knew wasn’t going to make it into the release but might make additional footage for the DVD release?
AG: No, when you’re on such a tight schedule and budget, you can only shoot what you’re going to use. There’s really no room to experiment or take any more time. If you want to shoot these ten things to complete the scene, chances are good you’re really only going to get to shoot six of them anyway. So, there’s really never anything you get to do at this budget level where you can just try something and see what happens with it later. It’s all pretty straightforward. All of the gore stuff that we wanted to use is in the actual unrated disc. There’s nothing cut out.
DC: Are there plans to ever make a Hatchet III?
AG: There’s always a way to keep going and there’s already a pretty solid storyline that we know we would use if we were going to go with HATCHET III. We kind of wanted to know that before we shot HATCHET II. With all of these things, it really depends on the fans. I mean, if there’s a big desire for a third one, if this one sells like the first one did, then I’m sure the distributor, Dark Sky, is going to want another one. I’m definitely all for that. Right now I don’t see myself directing another one, but I said that after the first one, so… It all really depends. If I can go do other things for a while and then be really, genuinely excited to be coming back and doing it out of passion, then that’s one thing, but if they decided in a few months to do a third one… I just wouldn’t really be the right guy. I also think that I’ve done what I set out to do and I would love to see a new person take the torch and go with it. I would still definitely be involved. I would produce it. I would be there every day. I would be helping them do it because I don’t want to see it stumble and fall that quickly. If they’re going to make many off these, I’d like for them to keep raising the bar instead of going the other way. So we’ll see. But I am genuinely excited about somebody new taking over my chair and me getting to sit there and sip coffee like the other producers. [laughs]
DC: Since you brought up new things, I’m interested in Chillerama.
AG: CHILLERAMA is an anthology movie based around a drive-in. It’s basically the last drive-in in America and it’s about to close its doors. So, for their last night, the owner is going to show these four extremely rare movies that nobody’s ever seen before. There’s a main storyline at the drive-in, and then there are these four short movies that intertwine with everything. Adam Rifkin and Tim Sullivan had brought the idea to Joe Lynch and me about two years ago and it was just one of those things where you never thought it was really going to happen. It was like, “Yeah, man, that sounds like fun. We should do that!” and you kind of leave it. A few months later we talk about it again and again and then next thing you know, people are joking around and writing their scripts. My company, ArieScope, was like, “I think we can put this together” and the next thing you know… we’re shooting. So, I shot HATCHET II, went to Sundance with FROZEN, did the press tour for FROZEN, came back and finished HATCHET II, and then was shooting “Diary of Anne Frankenstein” five weeks later.
DC: What a great title!
AG: Thank you. That was the title that Rifkin and Sullivan came up with when they had the project. They were like, “There’s going to be one called ‘The Diary of Anne Frankenstein’ and Green, you should do that one!” I asked what the story was and they said, “We don’t know, but it’s a cool title, so you figure it out.” What sucks though is if you do a search for things that have that title on them now (nothing that anybody has ever seen or heard anything of, they’re not even movies), there’s a play and a few other things. Thankfully, my storyline is nothing like theirs, so I’m clear.
DC: Shades of Samuel Z. Arkoff.
DC: You were talking about being a producer. You produced Grace and now you’re doing Chillerama. Is that something you want to do more of?
AG: In some regard, I’ve been a producer on all of my stuff whether I take the screen credit for it or not. Like with HATCHET, I was a producer, but it was my first movie and I wanted people to be focused on me as a writer and as a director and not really as a producer. So I produced all of my own stuff, but then in terms of producing outside stuff… GRACE was sort of an anomaly. It’s not like me or even my company is actively trying to look for other things because we have our own stuff that we’re trying to do, but GRACE just happened at the right time where Paul Solet had made this short film that was doing festivals and conventions when I was promoting HATCHET. I kept running into him and got to know him a little bit. Then HATCHET became a big success and Anchor Bay said, “What other movies do you guys have?” We had just finished SPIRAL, but we were like, “There’s this kid who’s really great and he has this short film that has won all these awards and he’s ready to go. He has a storyboard done and show lists.” He’d done all of the expensive work and the timing just worked out. If it had happened two weeks earlier or two weeks later, it might have never happened. It’s a great story and it was really fun to be able to pay it forward and give somebody else their start. I’m really excited, at some point in his career, to see Paul Solet return the favor and do the same thing for somebody else.
DC: According to your IMDB page, they list something that you’re writing called Killer Pizza. What is that?
AG: Yeah, that’s my next big thing that’s really taking up all of my focus this year. KILLER PIZZA is a really big GHOSTBUSTERS-style movie and I’m working with Chris Columbus (HARRY POTTER 1 & 2, PERCY JACKSON) on it. I’m very glad that I held out and waited for the right thing because a lot of studio assignments and studio level jobs that I’ve been approached for were never anything I ever wanted to see, let alone spend years of my life working on. Older agents that I’ve had would be like, “You’re screwing up. Don’t you want to get out of this indie world?” And I said, “Not really…” I just want to tell the stories that I want to tell. So, when 1492 Pictures sent me the book for KILLER PIZZA, I instantly like it, but the book is very, very thin. There’s not all that much to it because it’s really written for eight-year-olds, but I came up with this bigger idea that they really responded to and they hired me to write it. It remains to be seen whether or not I’ll be directing it. It’s definitely been talked about, but this is like a $70 million movie, so I’ll wait until I’m on-set before I believe it. Regardless, to be working with Chris, who is one of my idols, and working on something that’s so fun, it’s kind of surreal.
DC: On that you’re solely the screenwriter; is there anything you’re looking at directing?
AG: CHILLERAMA. I directed a segment which will be out in the fall, but KILLER PIZZA is the big focus right now. I mean, there are three other things I could do, but I’m really trying to make KILLER PIZZA my focus and not be spread too thin. There’s nothing I can really announce yet, but there is a TV thing in the works and then there’s a new web series we made at the end of last year that nobody knows about that’s going to be launching through Comedy Central’s Atom.com in a matter of weeks.