Kelly: Speaking of getting involved, with the “behind the mask” scenes, Fran, was that all you? Did you have someone else coming in and doing those bits?
Fran: We’d talked about it early on. Isaiah LaBorde who’s a producer on the film – he actually did like 20 different things. I don’t know how – [to Brett] how is he credited?
Brett: He’s credited as a producer.
Fran: And a stunt man?
Brett: And a stunt man.
Fran: Ok, ok. That’s it?
Brett: He plays The Shape of the… I think the killer was referred to as The Wood Carver in the credits? This was not approved by me, so if you like it, I know it, but if you don’t, I did not know it. [all laugh]
Fran: That’s funny he’s called The Wood Carver.
Brett: He doubled in. But it was funny because – so there are a lot of factors going in to the shoot where I knew as a director that Fran was going to be taxed.
We had a very short schedule – we had the shortest schedule I’ve ever had as a director, which was a little daunting. Which meant we were going to need to shoot a lot, or shoot a lot per day.
But also, I just was really concerned about the volume of emotion and stuff that Fran was going to have to be dealing with. So we were trying to figure out what the best way was to pull off this killer in such a way that Fran was still alive and breathing at the end of our shoot.
One of the things that really worked out magically for us was that Isaiah – who is a stunt man – he was on board as our stunt coordinator. We had no idea, but he’s actually of a very similar build and stature to Fran.
So we kind of created this rule book of, if the killer’s going to be very physically active, we’re just going to have the stunt coordinator do the stunts because he looks like a possessed postured version of Sam. It’s like a Jekyll and Hyde thing where the posture is ever so slightly – he doesn’t feel himself, but he also still appears like himself. So it was really subtle. But then the other thing was if the killer was still going to be emoting in any way, then that was going to be Fran.
Fran: Yeah, we did little transitions, so if it goes Isaiah to Fran, then back to Isaiah or whatever, we could just play with it, and they obviously found it in editing.
But it’s true, I mean I hate to admit it, but I don’t know if I could have done this movie if I did every sequence with the mask on. Because yeah, it was a lot of 90-100 degree days in Louisiana summer humidity, and covered in blood.
I remember our first day was – like [Brett] said- the movie begins at an 11. It’s the third act, he’s covered in blood, screaming and running for his life, and we came in and were shooting some of those scenes on the first day so we just came in hot, and I realized very quickly that oh, god, this is going to be really hard. I think I went home and had, like, Pedialyte and couldn’t move the next day, you know what I mean?
So I was like, I don’t know how I’m going to do this, I was concerned. So there was a little bit of that, I think it was just practical. But I think it’s really an amazing thing. Isaiah has a more intimidating, athletic posture, which was a really cool trick we have. And I don’t think it’s necessarily noticeable. I’ve watched it with people and it doesn’t occur to them that it’s two different actors.
Brett: I think there’s a subtle, but you maybe feel a little bit of a difference even though you don’t necessarily acknowledge it. And all of our gore was practical, so there’s a lot of very specific, technical, precise actions that we needed to do, and I was also concerned about putting that on Fran on top of memorizing all of his dialogue and running and everything else he was going to do. The head chop, for example…
Kelly: Yes! Yeah.
Brett: That was one of those things where – like an idiot – I told him I wanted him to start a few feet away and then charge in and attack, not thinking about how much harder I was making the job of chopping a really precise point, because he basically had to chop the head within like half an inch of the mark or the gag wasn’t going to work. Like, it had to just hit this one point.
And so I was just like, this is going to be impossible, and Isaiah’s great, he did it on the first take! He just practiced and practiced like a martial artist [mimes lining up a hit], and did it! And it was awesome.
But that’s the type of thing that I don’t know how I could ask [Fran]. He was able to rehearse that for hours, whereas with Fran it would have been like, “ok man, so throw that mask on and dive in!” [all laugh]
Kelly: And I like that, because again, it had not occurred at all – which is why I asked – that it would not be you for the whole thing, but it makes sense. And it kind of feels like that different personality. Like when it takes over, it takes over.
Fran: Yeah! And it’s funny, I remember when I saw it in Austin and I said to someone before the film, “yeah, I’m basically covered in blood for the whole movie”, and I was surprised by how many times I’m not! I spent a lot of time in the flashback where I’m like, oh, ok!
Brett: [jokingly] I don’t remember that!
Fran: Yeah, my memory of it is a little different, but yeah, it was a super fun shoot, but challenging that way. So it was physical.
Brett: It was hard!
Fran: Yeah, super physical.
Kelly: You Might Be the Killer is such a love letter to the genre, there’s a ton of little hidden homage moments, lines that are dropped – mentioning Maniac Cop, things like that. How much of that was written in to the script, and how much of that came in when you were designing the production?
Brett: That’s a good question. Most of Chuck’s stuff was – anything she says was written. I’d like to tell you that we had an incredible budget and I could design whatever I wanted, but I couldn’t. So a lot of it was just coming in with an intention of, what can we get a hold of that emulates this?
I tried desperately – I was on the phone with Paramount trying to get the rights to the Friday the 13th poster, because I wanted that to be one of the posters that Chuck referenced, but I could not get it.
But the Monkey Shines toy was there, and the quote on the mug… but there’s a lot of little winks and nods. I think my favorite is actually not even a horror movie nod.
In the comics shop there’s a poster of Stephen Furst as Flounder from Animal House, and that was a spiritual cameo for Stephen because his son, Griff, is the producer on the movie.
Kelly: Oh that’s fantastic!
Brett: So Curmudgeon Films is Griff’s company which he essentially inherited from his dad, who is no longer with us. So when we needed to decorate this comic shop with pulpy pop culture stuff, I just, for Griff, was like, let’s put a poster of Flounder in the background. He didn’t know I was going to do it. But that’s one that has nothing to do with horror, but it was sentimental.
Kelly: It sets the tone really well, too.
Brett: Yeah, it’s a family affair.
Kelly: Yeah! And there’s one pool scene and – I don’t know if this was intentional – but I thought, oh this is like The Mutilator in a big way.
Brett: Yeah! One hundred percent, yeah. And another one I thought was going to be a blatant homage that not everybody’s picked up on is the shed scene.
I have a very guilty pleasure love for Halloween H20, and when Michael is stabbing at Laurie through the gate, I just always loved that. So we were at the shed and, like, “we need some kind of action here”, and I thought, let’s do this H20 thing I remember. So that was kind of an homage to that.
Kelly: Yes! Agh I think I’m out of time…
Brett: No, you’ve got one more question!
Kelly: I do have one more question. So, Fran, you’ve got a lot of history with the genre between Bloodsucking Bastards and The Cabin in the Woods, and now You Might Be the Killer, obviously. Were you a fan of horror when you were younger, or did that come later?
Fran: Yeah! I’ve always loved horror films. I think they scared me – they truly scared me as a kid. I think I saw them as something of a challenge, you know? Maybe it bothered me a little bit, and maybe I was embarrassed by it, but there was something fascinating about this kind of power they had.
So I’ve always been really interested in the genre, and I think it was later – maybe highschool or college – that I was able to appreciate the comedy of it. We would go through marathons of the Friday the 13th movies… one thing when you’re a kid, they’re scary, later in life they’re absurd, and you’re like, wow these are the funniest movies I’ve ever seen! [all laugh]
So I’m not sure if the comedy aspect of horror was as purposeful when I first got it, but certainly I remember when Scream came out, and obviously Cabin in the Woods, I thought, this is genius, this kind of satire of it.
So yeah, basically to answer your question, yes! I’ve always been a real fan of it. I think there’s something compelling about dealing with your fears or embracing what you fear and sort of expressing it artistically. I think it’s just a way we exercise it, so to speak, and understand it, you know? I think it’s a way to kind of conquer your fears.
I guess the same is said for comedy, I think that’s also how we deal with things. They’re both kind of survival mechanisms and they work so well together because of that. When they’re working together and they’re at their best, there’s nothing like it.
Kelly: Yeah, they’re kind of two sides to the same coin – that light and dark, it’s building the tension and releasing it.
Fran: Yeah, I totally agree.
Brett: I’ve always felt like comedy and horror are the same as far as setup, delivery, punchline, but the difference is that the punchline is either a scream or a laugh. But they function similarly, you know? The design is really the same.
Be sure to stay tuned to iHorror for my upcoming full review of the film! For more iHorror interviews, click here to read our conversation with Christine McConnell about her new Netflix series, The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell