Writer/Director Matt Farnsworth Talks The Orphan Killer Past, Present and Future
The Orphan Killer is the brainchild of writer/director Matt Farnsworth. The film is unique in that it's generated an international buzz of interest without ever having had an official release.
Currently marketing the film himself online, Farnsworth has huge plans for The Orphan Killer (review here) and its superstar slasher, Marcus Miller.
"The Orphan Killer is a psychotic horror movie," Farnsworth said. "It's hard to pinpoint exactly what you're going to create when you begin making a film. You've got an idea going in but it never turns out like the exact initial concept. The inspiration for TOK was partly my first film, Iowa…I really liked the practical F/X on Iowa. There was a throat slash, finger cut off, and other practical F/X used. I thought it was amazing when I saw it on film and the blood reminded me of the slashers I saw as a kid in the 80's. The Halloweens, Friday the 13th and those kinds of flicks."
Farnsworth talks about exactly where The Orphan Killer idea came from. "I was in negotiations with the owners of Magnolia Pictures, the Cuban brothers, to buy IOWA and they said 'You should make a horror film.' I said 'You know what, I'm going to write one.' It seemed to me that looking back, all the films I did, acting or otherwise, were all horror," Farnsworth said. "Then just after a screening of Iowa, a fan comes up to me and says 'Here, take this.' I opened his package and it was a silver face, a metal silver, flat face nailed to a black board. It was pretty industrial looking and thick. I named it Silver Face. It took a year percolating in my mind when a lightning bolt struck. I was on a trip to New Jersey at my mother-in-law's house and I must have written for a week straight. And a lot of ideas just came flowing out for the movie."
Upon watching The Orphan Killer, viewers will notice the aggressive way Farnsworth deals with the Catholic Church. "That’s not really the first thing that sticks out when you watch it," Farnsworth said. "Most people reference the fact that as an indie film it’s extremely well made. The religious aspects are actually one of the last things most bring up. Religion is a mental disease people suffer from, no doubt, but I wasn't like I'm going to attack the church," Farnsworth said. "It's about the characters and I find the religion in it to be merely a backdrop a lot of people can relate to. Marcus himself talks about Jesus and believing in Jesus. I knew sawing the priest's arm off and eating it, and the dialogue about no more touching boys, would generate buzz. And if I'm not putting some kind of message out there, then what would be the point of making a movie? So there's a statement of my own and that takes it to another level in terms of slasher and where that genre has ventured before. It's evoked a lot of reactions from around the world, but most love it for the gore and sexy Diane Foster."
And one of the more remarkable reactions The Orphan Killer has evoked from around the world is the fact that the film has been banned in Germany. "Germany said the glorification of violence was the reason for the ban," Farnsworth said. "I've only released the film to Facebook fans in a test situation. It wasn't even really intended to be a release. It was a test to see if anyone gives a shit about this movie. The Facebook fans showed a real strong interest. When I did that limited test release, it became so viral the German film board sent a letter to my door saying 'Hey, you are not allowed to sell your movie here.' It was like a five-page thing. So ridiculous, it's amazing. But obviously, the film had a huge impact and that’s impressive considering its limited marketing and release."
However, fans in Germany can breathe easy; Farnsworth has no intention of keeping Marcus Miller from you. "I know horror fans are notorious for fighting for freedom of expression," Farnsworth said. "They care deeply about the genre they follow and care deeply about the people within the genre. It's a tight community and that's the way we roll and we were just like 'Fuck it, they banned it.' We're still gonna sell it there, so fuck you. We send it there discreetly all the time and Germany just loves TOK."
With The Orphan Killer being a slasher film, the true power of the movie is drawn from the killer, and Marcus Miller is a familiar character while being something totally new. "I think he's similar so that makes him recognizable to the viewer," Farnsworth said. "Similar only in what he’d like to do to people. Yes, it’s a throwback slasher but nothing more than that. He’s got his own story to tell and many more movies to do it. Fans have said it's their all-time favorite film. It has become commonplace to hear it. I appreciate it every time. Marcus is a sympathetic character regardless of his heinous acts."
It is that sympathy the audience feels for Marcus which Farnsworth credits with making the killer an intriguing character. "You get to feel for Marcus being abused in the orphanage," Farnsworth said. "I've had women at the end of the movie say 'I feel so bad for Marcus.' They're on Team Marcus. Then you have Team Audrey for fans who are all for Diane Foster’s character, Audrey."
And Farnsworth sees Marcus Miller as more than just a new, evolved killer and more than a sympathetic character. "Marcus is kind of a funny character in moments. There are moments in the film when you just laugh at his brutality," Farnsworth said. "The scene when he hits Audrey in the head with a wrench to wake her up…that's hysterical. He literally just lug-wrenches her in the temple to wake her up and for some reason that makes me laugh. I think people who watch the film more than once get that those brutal F/X are meant to be a little bit humorous."
Farnsworth talked about the F/X in the film. "There's beauty in the killing," Farnsworth said. "There's something beautiful in the F/X that David Presto and Josh Turi put out there. I think those F/X have a lasting impact on slasher fans because there is no CGI, they're all practically done. Fans of the slasher genre really appreciate that kind of effort. Especially when it is gore-filled like TOK".
So the big question on everyone's mind is: What is the future for The Orphan Killer?
"It’s a digital age and many studios are like dinosaurs. The Internet has allowed us to speak to slasher fans, and the ones who have been enlightened enough to pick up a copy of the film love it," Farnsworth said. "Hollywood offered to put the film out, but I prefer to keep my relationship in horror between myself and the fans at this time. I am not ruling out working with a studio in the future. It needs to be the right relationship. In fact, as a way to show my appreciation to horror fans, I have decided to take a major Murder Initiative. Over the last year TOK has become the most downloaded film in horror. We have had over 2.5 million illegal downloads. That speaks very highly to its popularity. I often ask people 'Would the film look different on iTunes if it had Lionsgate’s name on it? Does the trailer look any different with a studio logo on it?' The answer is 'Hell no!' It’s the same thing. I am trying to show that the world has evolved. I have no desire for a theatrical release. I don’t see a need in it. The world lives online and will more and more. My sites are on that marketplace. Not the museum. I recognize that TOK is not your average indie film. It’s a bigger budget than most and that does help separate it from the pack."
Farnsworth continued, " I want fans to see the film the way that myself and producer/star Diane Foster wanted them to see it. Unrated and uncut. I don't blame the people who pirated the movie for any wrong doing; as a matter of fact, I am happy they want to see my film that badly. Brutality this good should never be missed. Now I want them to see the best quality possible. The only problem with the pirated copies is they did not rip the film properly. The sound is odd. The picture is not full HD and still over 3 million people pirated the film. What we are releasing here is pure HD with exquisite sound. That is why we have chosen to release it on iTunes and Amazon first. Everyone on the planet should have access to The Orphan Killer, and we intend on making that happen with this official online release. The film has a projected iTunes HD/SD release date of late March. Then shortly after on Amazon." (In the meantime get the TOK D-Cap Mobile App here.)
Long being a creative marketer, Farnsworth explains that traditional promotional methods won't always work anymore. "Studios have stopped paying for films so you have to be creative on your own. You have to think outside the box and use what's given to you…social media, different avenues to connect with people that weren't available five or six years ago. We just come up with ways to touch base with fans and make them feel good about checking out the product and enjoying it."
Asked what he wants horror fans who haven't seen The Orphan Killer to know, Farnsworth said, "The Orphan Killer is an award-winning, critically-acclaimed slasher film that took the horror world literally by storm, especially on the Internet. There's been a lot of passion put into this project and it reads. If you're a slasher fan, you're gonna love it. We care about it and we want to continue to build this franchise."
But just because it's being marketed differently, don't think that The Orphan Killer cut the corners at all during production. "It's a million dollar film," Farnsworth said. "It's not some cheapo kinda movie and not something that was shot in your mom's garage with some ketchup. This is a real professional film. I was taught to edit by Robert Brown, who edited The Amityville Horror, Lethal Weapon, Police Academy and The Lost Boys. We went in together to do Iowa. I taught him technology and he taught me editing. So I learned from a master."
Just within the last couple weeks some cool things have been happening for The Orphan Killer. Not only was the first Marcus Miller figurine released, but Farnsworth got word that scenes from The Orphan Killer were being displayed as background imagery during the current Rob Zombie/Marilyn Manson Twins of Evil Tour.
"The future of The Orphan Killer is very brutally bright," Farnsworth said. "I have just inked a deal with the mighty Trick or Treat Studios to distribute the official Orphan Killer mask into retail stores worldwide. Chris Zephro, Justin Mabry, and I hit it off famously. Justin created the mold for the Michael Myers blood tears mask that Trick or Treat puts out. He has just sent me over some shots of the mold he is making for The Orphan Killer and it is truly amazing. Fans are going to freak out over this mask. Last but not least, I am working on a new TOK web series that will pick up where the film left off. I can’t talk much about it right now but it is going to be big. So stay tuned to our murderous news."
And the final word from Farnsworth about his project, his baby, his love, The Orphan Killer? "It's a bloody revolution," Farnsworth said. "A revolution that people join every day and enjoy being a part of it because they're watching something grow and I think that's fun. We've got 182,000 fans on Facebook and rising. Come join us and watch the movie".
For more visit The Orphan Killer official website, "like" The Orphan Killer on Facebook and follow The Orphan Killer on Twitter (@Theorphankiller). You can also learn more about the director at Matt Farnsworth's official website.
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