Today we have a special treat, an interview with Travis Legge, writer and director of upcoming horror film Raymond Did It. You can also watch some of his very funny Couch series of short films on the Aegis Studios website.
Shiv: I'm gonna jump straight in with what's really quite an obvious question to ask: How did you get into film-making?
TG: When I was a kid I watched a ton of horror films. I grew up in a rural town that had nothing to do, but there was this mom and pop video store that stocked the greatest b-movie collection known to man. So due to boredom, and an older brother who loved horror, I got into horror films.
However, I didn't start approaching filmmaking until I started college. I've always written comics and roleplaying games, but when I saw we had a video production program at my school, I thought "man, it would be awesome to make movies," so I started.
Were there any films that inspired you or affected you in particular?
I think as far as inspiration in general, I would have to say Creepshow, which melded my love of comics and horror film in an amazing way. Also the Nightmare on Elm Street films and Evil Dead. For Raymond Did It in particular I was heavily influenced by Halloween and Prom Night, so I guess this film (and frankly many slasher films) owes a great debt to Jamie Lee Curtis.
As far as horror-movie watching stories, my older brother was kind of a sadist. We watched Poltergeist when I was really little, like 4 or 5, I guess, and my mom had a doll collection. Among them was a virtual replica of the clown in Poltergeist, so naturally, my brother tortured me with that clown for months, leaving it in my bed, sneaking into my room at night and setting it next to me. It was messed up. Scared me silly. Also, my first crush was on Heather O'Rourke in Poltergeist, so I guess that film had a pretty severe impact on me.
But now i'm making horror films, so i suppose im in his debt.
How do you feel the horror-film genre is doing these days compared to the VHS slashers of the 80's?
I think it is doing quite well in terms of quality and numbers, I like most of the remakes going on, and the new ideas being brough to the table are astonishing! I mean, look at Adam Green! That dude knows how to work the genre. Hatchet was fresh and new, but stayed true to the ideas of the slasher film. I am going for the same thing with Raymond Did It, in spirit at least. Its inspiring to me. The technology is also there now for people to make horror movies less expensively than ever before, which will no doubt lend itself to some...less than wonderful films being made, but it will also help boost those creative filmmakers who might not have gotten their story told otherwise. It's an exciting time for horror!
The first two parts of your Couch trilogy were excellent examples of storytelling within a limited budget and a single or few locations, reminiscent of the likes of Cube and in particular Clerks for the humour also. How will your approach to Raymond Did It change with the increased budget, and will you be bringing some humour to the horror or approaching from a more classical horror style?
Well, first off, thanks! I appreciate that! The increased budget and timeframe will enable us to draw from a larger casting pool. I pretty much shot the Couch Trilogy with my friends, most of whom had never acted before. I think they all did a great job, considering, and a few couch trilogy alumni will be popping up in Raymond Did It, but with the money we can get wonderful, experienced actors like Lindsay Felton and Elissa Dowling into the mix.
We also will be able to handle things we didn't really need to sweat in the Couch Trilogy, like special effects and gore. Raymond Did It will be bringing the blood though, and the blood costs a bit of money.
As far as humor added to the horror, I think if you go back, you will see the occasional quip or joke in almost any slasher film. They help with the pacing. I will certainly have a joke or two in Raymond Did It, but we aim to stay as true as possible to the spirit of the slasher genre. Coming back to new technologies giving filmmakers new opportunities, I saw you had a conversation with the gorgous and talented Milla Jovovich over twitter during which she suggested you send your script to her agent. Raymond Did It has also had some promotion on a number of independent blogs and websites so far. How has the Web helped yourself, and others like you, putting a film together and raising awareness/funding/hype?
The web has made it possible. I just read If Chins Could Kill by Bruce Campbell and he talks about cold calling dentists and going to people's offices to get funding for Evil Dead. Today, we can post a video or two, send some tweets, and get the word out. I've been god awful lucky to get the resources I have gotten, and the technology has made that possible. Indiegogo.com, facebook, myspace, and twitter (@TravisLegge). I cannot say enough good about twitter. We have also been lucky enough to get the support of and advice from some people in the biz like Joke and Biagio http://www.jokeandbiagio.com/ and King and Keckhttp://kingisafink.com/, which has been invaluable to us. We made connections with them via twitter.
How do you start writing a film, what creative process do you go through?
Typically an idea hits me, I sit down and just bang out the first draft as soon as possible. I have to just get it out of my head and onto the screen. Then I go through numerous revisions and tweaks, which I typically do right up until filming.
What scares you, in real life, and have those fears influenced your writing at all?
Heights and water. I've tried for years to overcome those fears. I finally learned to swim about 4 years ago, because my kids love swimming, and I installed satellite dishes on people's roofs for a while, so I can fight through it, but I am terrible with heights and water.
In the case of Raymond Did It, there is a scene where he has to deal with one of my fears. Don't wanna spoil it too much, but I think the fans will like it. It's kind of a powerful moment for Raymond. Makes him all the more frightening.
Any messages for horror movie fans and aspiring movie makers?
For fans, watch Raymond Did It. We won't let you down! For filmmakers: go make your film. There is no excuse not to. Just get a camera, write a script, and do it. Don't settle. Make it happen. Never be afraid to ask anyone for anything. Worst they can say is "no".
Any other little nuggets about Raymond Did It you can give us?
Absolutely. I've been pretty tight-lipped about the kills so far, but I will say this: there is one sequence in particular that fans of Peter Jackson's Dead Alive (a.k.a. Brain Damaged) will positively adore.
Wrapping up, who is the greatest horror movie killer of all time, and why?
I would have to probably say the greatest horror movie killer of all time would have to be Jason Voorhees. He is probably the most developed film slasher in terms of a backstory that people can kind of relate to. He has an ultimately human motivation for his inhuman actions. Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers were monsters before they ever became true slasher movie killers. Michael was apparently psychotic from the womb and Freddy was a child molester. Jason was just a slow, innocent boy who didn't swim very well. Terrible things happened to him to make him into a monster, which makes him more human than most other killers. That is one of the qualities I hope to capture with Raymond Did It. A monster not born, but created by cruel or uncaring people and vicious circumstance.