Michael Dougherty Interview on New AtmosFX Trick R Treat Movie-Themed Halloween Decorations
We love Halloween! Yeah… surprise, surprise. But some folks don’t just love it, they live it. Getting the coolest, most rad and totally unique decorations is very serious business for some, basically putting Clark Griswold to shame when it comes to transforming the old homestead. Just check out “This Means War” in last year’s hit anthology Tale of Halloween for the perfect example – we know people like that!
Director Michael Dougherty is someone who loves Halloween, too. His 2007 directorial debut, Trick R Treat, was centered on the holiday and it has since become a classic. Now he’s found a way to not only join his famed film and his décor-passion together, he’s found a way to share it with all of us.
Enter Seattle-based AtmosFX Digital Decorations, with their AtmosFEARfx Halloween line of decorations that are digitally projected. All that’s needed is a projector or television set, and anyone at all can turn a home, office, or basically any environment into a one-of-a-kind atmospheric spooky, high-tech haunted house with all the bells and whistles.
We got the chance to sit down with Michael – and AtmosFX co-founders Pete Reichert and Pete Williams – to find out more about how we can get our hands on these babies and scare the bejezus our neighbors with Trick R Treat themed decorations this Halloween.
Dread Central: We kind of get what a digital decoration is from the name of it, but… what’s a digital decoration? [laughter]
Pete Williams: A digital decoration for us is kind of a way for us to provide consumers in general with a really cool and kind of innovative way to decorate. So instead of having your standard/typical decorations you’re used to using, like hanging a skeleton up or putting out some pumpkins, it gives the consumer the opportunity to use their own creativity by taking this digital animation and digital effects that we create and kind of give them a tool on how to use them and let them explore their own creativity and create these really fabulous effects in their home, whether it’s projecting images on your front window, making trick or treaters on the sidewalk stop and gawk and watch for five or ten minutes. So that was the goal, to kind of create something at that level, that really entertained people.
Michael Dougherty: You know the ballroom ghosts in the haunted mansion? Imagine that in your house, that’s what these things do.
DC: OK, so for the technophobes out there used to just hanging a cardboard skeleton on the front door and calling it a day… How complicated is this?
Pete Reichert: That was one of our goals when we set up this company, making it very easy for people to do this, making it a more plug and play kind of experience instead of something that was going to be daunting and require a lot of technical know-how. Fortunately, technology had really caught up in the last few years and become more affordable so we’re now able to offer a lot of these products like projectors and the projection material, and so it is sort of a one stop shopping to be able to make these things a reality. Basically, if you can connect a projector to your laptop or DVD player you can do this.
DC: What’s the cost?
PW: Well for decorations the price can range from as low as $9.99 to try and get us a set of scenes, maybe a little higher to get a complete title of decorations. We feel it’s a pretty broad range that people can dive in and check out, if they only want to spend ten dollars and try one of our ghost effects and if they fall in love with it they can spend as much as they like.
PR: The bigger investment is the projector but thankfully there are so many different projectors now, they’ve advanced so much over the last decade or so. I mean, there’s projectors I’ve seen that are as little as fifty bucks.
PW: Then once you make that investment into a projector the bulk of what you’re spending, and then every year you can update your library of decorations with the latest product we’re coming out with, like the trick or treat decoration.
DC: Michael, we’re just excited about the “Sam” tie-in… please tell us how he factors into the Trick R Treat line.
MD: Yeah, he shows up in pretty much everything. The fun thing about it is each one of these little scenes, they kind of play out like mini movies. So there’s a character, a beginning, middle and end and they tend to revolve around characters who are disrespecting the holiday in one way or another who obviously run into him and meet an untimely demise. And they’re fun, it’s almost like the Far Side, it’s hard to describe, they’re just like short films, they feel like little clips that we’re taken right out of the movie.
DC: OK, but the movie was Rated-R. When you are projecting the images to the world, anyone could be walking by…
MD: There’s so much blood, there’s limbs, there’s death. But I think it’s a good mix for people who don’t want to completely traumatize their kids.
PR: It’s tasteful.
MD: Yes, but then you have your full bore gore.
PW: We felt that if you’re going to keep to the spirit of the movie we’re not going to make this a rated G decoration. If there’s any decoration that we’re just going to throw it all out there it would be for this.
MD: Thankfully there’s no MPAA for this, telling us what we can or can’t do, still it’s all very much in the spirit of the film. It’s fun and tongue in cheek and then there’s a moment where there’s a shocking amount of gore.
DC: How did you guys all connect?
MD: Well it’s funny because I discovered the products a few years ago because I’m an avid Halloween decorator and I really wanted to take it up a notch by adding holographic ghosts and when I searched on line I came across their website and bought some stuff and then only after I was really diving into it that I discovered that it was the same people, including Pete Reichert, that I had worked with at Aki Animation well over a decade ago. It was just one of those things that felt like it was just meant to be, serendipity like that, true kindred spirits that I worked with when I was a youngster were now off making Halloween decorations full time so it just seemed like a no brainer to team up.
PR: Yeah, I guess I’m reiterating what Mike said but essentially, when Mike reached out to us and said hey, are you the guy that I used to work with and we said yeah and that led to the idea of kind of wanting to collaborate together. We were honored that Mike was really digging what we were doing at Digital Decorations and we were a big fan of his movies and so we kind of started talking about how that could work and it seemed like a very natural fit to use the character of Sam in one of our unusual decorations and again, Mike kind of championed us and brought us over to Legendary and we presented to Legendary and they seemed very excited about the project too and a great opportunity for us to present Sam back into the community.
DC: When can folks buy this?
PR: It’s going to be available only on our website as an additional download. We’ll have a projector on our site but obviously projectors are around all over, so any type can be used.
DC: We know you have several holiday lines, not just Halloween. So… will we see Krampus for Christmas?
PW: Well the funny thing is, we talked about trying to do something for Krampus this year, the problem on our end was our production schedule was so crazy that there was no way to fit it in and do it the justice it deserved and so we thought it was definitely something we wanted to do and can do if Mike and Legendary wants us to then we want the time to commit to it and do it as best that we can.