On April 6th, the western side of central Florida will be host to “Crazy Lake”, a new horror movie directed by Chris Leto and Jason Henne. This production will be one of the biggest budgeted Independent features to ever be filmed in the tropical region. Executive Producer Victor Young and Executive Producer/Unit Production Manager Todd Yonteck both want to bring the magic of California’s Hollywood to Florida. This team is not out to make a simple, low-budget looking film by any means, they want “Crazy Lake” to represent the potential that Florida film makers have to offer.
iHorror writer Waylon Jordan had the opportunity to interview co-directors Jason Henne and Chris Leto as well as producer Michael E. Bowen this week. We present it to you here:
Waylon @ iHorror: First of all, I want to thank you guys for this interview. This movie looks like a winner already to me. I know you guys have worked together on projects in the past. How did Crazy Lake begin? Where did the idea come from?
Chris Leto: Jason Henne and myself were at a party discussing the opportunity for a collaboration on a new project. I had ideas about shooting a film at a lakeside cabin location.
Jason Henne: After stepping back, we realized that shooting the majority of a film at one location would let us do a really high quality film on a tight budget. Chris had always wanted to do a cabin in the woods type movie and we both love 80’s slasher films so the ideas started flowing for a slasher film that takes place at a cabin on a lake and we collaborated on the story for Crazy Lake.
Waylon @ iHorror: One of the great aspects about this film is that the crew and filmmakers are 100% from the Tampa, FL area, really showcasing the talent there. I love the grass roots feel of that. Was this a decision you made in the very beginning or did it develop as you worked on the idea and the script?
Jason: I work in production in Tampa so I see and work with a lot of the people who are at the top of their game in their respective fields. Somehow we were able to get the best of the best to be involved with Crazy Lake and it’s taking it to a level that Chris and I didn’t imagine when we first started talking about the project. The other nice thing about the local crew is that a lot of us are friends and have worked together on other projects and since we are living at the cabin while we shoot it’s nice to be around people you are comfortable with and you know are on your side when things get stressful.
Waylon @ iHorror: When people see the quality of the movie you guys create, it will be a real boon for Tampa area film making. As collaborators on this film, what can you tell me about the local film industry and why it should be spotlighted on the American film making scene?
Jason: The southeast has a lot of talent constantly being showcased with Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi’s generous film tax incentives driving a lot of Hollywood production towards us. Unfortunately the road doesn’t often lead to Florida where we have no tax incentives and that has led those of us who love living here to want to make Hollywood quality films that don’t have Hollywood budgets. When people outside of Tampa see Crazy Lake they would be crazy not to consider our team or some of the other talent in the area for producing a high quality film that maximizes the budget on any scale of project.
Chris: There are a lot of talented filmmakers in this area and if we can somehow get some nice film incentives going for us we can become what Atlanta is today.
Waylon @ iHorror: Michael, I spent some time on Digital Caviar’s website. I was impressed with the “Twisted” music video and some of the advertising videos. Is this the first time you’ve ventured into feature length filmmaking?
Michael E. Bowen: I’m proud to say Crazy Lake will officially be my first feature film. For the past three years I’ve worked extremely hard to build a reputation as Producer/Director on the commercial side of the industry. During that time I’ve gained some extremely valuable knowledge and experience that I feel translates very well into feature films. So when I was offered the position as the Producer for Crazy Lake, it felt good knowing that my work and experience was being recognized. Crazy Lake will affirm Tampa and St. Petersburg’s position and competitiveness in the feature film market by delivering a final product that is hand crafted by some of the best talent, both in front of and behind the camera, that I’ve had the opportunity to work with. For fans out there who love the Horror/Slasher Genre, Crazy Lake will be 110 of the most disturbingly fun minutes you’ve experienced from a movie this year.
Waylon @ iHorror: Jason and Chris, you both come from very different backgrounds in filmmaking. Jason, as an actor, writer and sound designer, and Chris, as director/writer/producer, how does your collaboration work as co-directors on the film?
Chris: Jason and I seem to be able to mesh our different styles and work together as a unit. Jason strengthens my weakness and I his (even though he thinks he doesn’t have any weakness) and it seems to run like a well-oiled machine.
Jason: The thing we share is a love for film making as well as a love for the horror genre. The collaboration directing works where he does a lot of the production elements while I work with the actors. We can find ourselves playing good cop/bad cop because I have a reputation for being blunt and I can sometimes push actors to their limits and Chris is available as another director for actors to talk to if my methods for pulling a performance aren’t working.
Waylon @ iHorror: You guys have assembled a hell of a cast for the movie. I loved the cast announcement videos on the Facebook page! They presented a sexy cast of young men and women who seem really excited about the film. What was the casting process like?
Jason: The casting process was a wild adventure. I’m really hoping we get to do a special feature about casting on the Blu-Ray/DVD because I’ve got so many stories about how we found actors and things that almost happened in putting together the cast. I will say that every time we hit a road block in casting we ended up extremely fortunate to fill those roles with amazing talent. It’s cheesy, but problems have really turned into opportunities on this project so rather than getting stressed if something doesn’t happen the way it was planned it has become easier to accept those situations and use them as a chance to find or do something better.
Waylon @ iHorror: Tom Latimer aka Bram from TNA wrestling seems like a real coup for your villain. He’s got that feral Jason Momoa vibe. Without giving too much away, what can you tell me about the character?
Chris: He is scary as hell!
Jason: First, let me say that Tom is a great guy. Chris and I met him over a year ago on a small indie film and he really is so much more than a professional wrestler. A lot of our young male cast members are in really good shape so we needed someone intimidating, and if you’ve ever seen Tom do his thing on TNA wrestling, he can definitely be intimidating. I don’t want to say that Tom plays the only villain in our story, but I will say that since we love horror movies and slasher films we understood that we could be creating someone iconic like Jason or Michael Myers so we put a lot of thought into creating a cool killer that fans will be scared of and love at the same time.
Waylon @ iHorror: I think it was John Carpenter who said, “No one wants to laugh more than a horror audience.” He was referring to the need to break up the tension of some scenes with much needed comic relief. From everything I’ve read, you guys seem determined to bring the funny along with the thrills and scares, and I love that. I’ve seen some great horror comedies over the last decade especially, but it seems difficult to pull off a film that is witty, but genuinely scary, as well. Most tend to fall more on one or the other. How hard is it to walk that line and bring both into the same film in a balanced way?
Jason: It’s hard for me not to include comedy in my writing because I love making people laugh and ultimately I wanted to write a fun movie. I took inspiration from movies like Scream that had really witty dialogue as well as really great scares and, in my opinion, reinvented the slasher genre by showing that you could still have the fun of the Friday the 13th movies from the 80s with fresh and clever writing. With Crazy Lake the first half of the film has more comedy and as things get more dangerous the jokes aren’t as frequent. So even if the balance isn’t perfect, hopefully people find something to like with this film and have a good time watching it.
Waylon @ iHorror: Everyone here at iHorror is very excited about our association with the film, and we are all pulling for its success. I guess my final question would be, if you could make one statement about Crazy Lake to the fans out there to raise awareness and excitement for the movie, what would it be?
Jason: Crazy Lake is a love letter to horror fans. Suspense, laughs, a great looking cast, and a killer that doesn’t mess around. If any of that sounds like what you love about horror you’re going to want to get excited about Crazy Lake.
Chris: We aren’t re-inventing the wheel with Crazy Lake, we are just making it better than everyone else’s. Be prepared to have fun at the movies again!
With what promises to be a film that horror movie fans are going to remember for a long time to come, Caviar Films, iHorror and Victor Young Productions LLC., are pulling out all the stops to make “Crazy Lake” one of the most satisfying horror films to come to modern cinema.
Anthony Pernicka, founder of iHorror.com and head of marketing for “Crazy Lake” was immediately drawn to the script and put his iHorror stamp of approval on it, “It’s witty, it’s scary, and it’s sexy. It’s everything you could possibly want from a horror film.”
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Article by iHorror writers: Timothy Rawles & Waylon Jordan