Indie Horror Month Interview: Jason Horton Talks Monsters in the Woods and More
In writer/director Jason Horton's latest genre flick Monsters in the Woods, we follow a low-budget film crew that treks deep into the wilderness in order to shoot some cliché horror scenes for their unsellable indie-drama.
However, they soon find themselves in the midst of their own horror show as they are hunted by real monsters who chase down and devour the cast and crew one by one.
Since the film was recently released by Osiris Entertainment on DVD, Dread Central caught up with Horton to hear more on how his own real-life frustrations as a director inspired Monsters in the Woods, managing a huge ensemble story on a smaller budget and what's next for the up-and-coming independent filmmaker.
Check out our interview with Horton below, and make sure to check back here every day this March for more of Dread Central's Indie Horror Month coverage.
Dread Central: Tell us a bit about how you got started in filmmaking and life before Monsters in the Woods.
Jason Horton: I have always loved movies; I can remember being like nine years old and I would sit and watch old VHS tapes all the time and I think that made me fall in love with filmmaking. I got my first video camera at age 12 and would just make all kinds of silly movies with friends and stuff.
I then went to college at University of New Orleans and while they didn’t have a huge film program, it was very hands on and after school I went on to work at a video production house, and eventually I decided that it was time to make my first project, which was Rise of the Undead.
DC: So where did you get the idea to make Monsters in the Woods?
Jason Horton: The story for Monsters in the Woods came out of a place of frustration. I had worked on a movie a year before that was a noir thriller that we shot for $4,000; I pretty much did everything on it and it’s a movie I’m still incredibly proud of. But I was sending it out and everyone kept turning me down.
I kept hearing there wasn’t enough violence, there wasn’t enough sex, we needed some graphic nudity and one guy actually told me I could go and shoot some random monster scenes and then just cut them into the movie and I’d have a ‘winner.’
That was a real eye-opener, and eventually I just realized I didn’t want to do that on that movie so I took that experience and made it into the story for Monsters in the Woods.
DC: Well, I found it rather ambitious that for a low-budget affair, you have practical effects and a large cast as well.
Jason Horton: You know, I worked a lot in college theater so writing plays with ensembles has always been my thing; there’s just something I really like when you can pull an ensemble together and let them play. I knew we had a micro-budget for Monsters in the Woods that maybe shouldn’t have been able to afford us such a great ensemble but everything really worked out great and we were incredibly lucky to get people on board like Glenn Plummer.
DC: I have always loved him; ever since he was the "Take the Phone!" Guy from Speed.
Jason Horton: That's my favorite as well! I had actually met Glenn while he was working on these Christian movies a few years back and we had always kept in contact; he was really cool and accessible and was totally on board when I approached him to do Monsters in the Woods.
I was pretty lucky that our cast all worked so well together because one of the concessions you make as an indie filmmaker is rehearsal time- when you don’t have the kind of budget that allows for rehearsal time ahead of shooting, you have to put your faith in your actors; thankfully, everyone in this was incredibly professional and did a great job once we were shooting.
DC: Well, let's talk more about the effects, too; I always love big rubber monsters and you guys have quite a few of them in this movie.
Jason Horton: I knew from the very beginning that this would always be a practical effects creature feature because you just don’t see that in movies these days; not just in indie horror but even in mainstream horror movies too. No one wants to take the time anymore which is sad so it was important to me that even though we didn’t have a huge budget on Monsters in the Woods, we HAD to have practical creatures chasing our cast around these woods. I was incredibly lucky to have gotten Tom Devlin involved who did an amazing job on all of our creatures.
We actually only had a couple of suits so we had to cheat a few shots but overall, I love the way they came out and I think we were able to pull off a really fun low-budget creature feature pretty successfully.
DC: So what's up next for you then?
Jason Horton: Right now, I’m in the midst of working on a movie called Exit; it starts off as a siege thriller and then all of a sudden, it takes a left turn into werewolf territory, which should be pretty fun. I’ve always wanted to do something with werewolves, and I think fans will really enjoy this story.
But this will be my fifth movie with a budget under $30,000, and after Exit I think I’m ready to move on to the next level of filmmaking. I really love what I’ve done and what I do now but I’m ready to tackle bigger stories and bigger budgets, for sure.
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