We had the pleasure of speaking with Stage Fright writer/director Jerome Sable and co-writer Eli Batalion about their genre bending horror musical.
LEGLESS CORPSE: Stage Fright is a wonderful blend of the musical and horror genres, how did you come up with the concept?
JEROME SABLE: Eli (Eli Batalion co-writer) and I had been doing theatre for a long time in our own weird way, making plays in black box theaters that always did involve some musical comedy whether they were full blown musicals, or half blown (laughs). We’ve been honing our bizarre brand of musical comedy for years and when I was in film school I was getting more into the horror stuff and the filmmaking suspense genre so when we decided to make a film together we said why don’t we try to combined all of our loves and that was sort of a natural thing for us to try a horror, musical, comedy. The first thing we did was a short film called The Legend Of Beaver Dam, it was a fusion of all these things and you know, it was a good experience, we had some good response to it. So Stage Fright came out of that and it was really just a chance to do all the things that we like.
LC: Was if hard to find financing for such a unique project?
JS: Yes (laughs) no, differently it’s one of those things, you know, you first pitch it, you get a good response, it’s like hey how about a musical theatre camp with a killer who hates musical theatre it’s like oh great, but then when it comes down to brass tax you know, actually getting the financing it’s like, umm I don’t know, it’s to unconventional, it’s a very risky film and what if it alienates both demographics. So it was difficult you know, and we did try and make the movie in the Hollywood system, but ultimately no one wanted to really make it there because it was just something that didn’t really fit into the categories of what you’d see at the multiplex on a Friday night, understandably. So we went outside the Hollywood system and raised the financing in an independent way and basically just found and identified the people who would support something so left of center, and ultimately it was a very cool process to be able to make it as an indie, so that we could just be as weird as we wanted to be. (Laughs)
LC: You got an amazing performance from Meat Loaf. Was it hard to get him attached to the project since he tends to want to keep his acting and singing careers separate?
JS: Yes, although it was fun because when we first met Meat Loaf, there was a piano in the room, we were intimidated this was going to be a musical icon, Grammy award winner, you know, what’s going to happen musically, how are we going to explain the songs and this and that. But all he wanted to talk about was the character Roger McCall that he plays in the film. He really approached it as far as a character and story standpoint. So that was refreshing, you know, that for him it was all about, look if it makes sense for Roger to sing, and in this case he’s singing perfomatively to compensate for him being a failed Producer and kind of a wannabe showing off for his campers, then he’s going to sing. That was the way Meat Loaf approached the material, which was very unexpected but refreshing and great. It was a pleasure working with someone so serious about his craft and for all the right reasons.
LC: You also have the very talented Minnie Driver in the opening scene, did you always have her in mind for the role, or is that just something that fell into place?
JS: Well there weren’t to many people who could have played that. We wanted to do our homage to Janet Leigh (referring to Psycho) or Drew Barrymore (referring to Scream) but it had to be someone as classy as Janet Leigh but also someone who could sing. So that really narrows down the talent pool, considerably. Minnie was perfect because she had been in Phantom Of The Opera, the film version. So it was just a natural fit there, with a British actress of such classy movies that could also sing. She had enough Britishness in her to have enough sense of humor in doing a brutal horror scene (laughs).
LC: What do you hope the audience takes away from the film?
ELI BATALION: I hope they would see it as a unique experience. For some people it might restore their faith in musicals and musical film as an art form and that a musical film doesn’t just have to be about show tunes. It doesn’t have to be about re-hacking the same old like, Singing In The Rain, which in itself is a good film, but it doesn’t have to be stuck in that era. That the idea of musical film can also involve the kind of music you would actually listen to perhaps on the radio or your Ipod without having to be a musical theatre fanboy or fangirl to appreciate it. The hope is that whoever is watching it, hopefully they are entertained and they see something in it that they haven’t seen or heard before.
LC: What other projects do you have lined up?
JS: Well in the short-term, Magnolia’s also releasing The ABC’S Of Death 2, and I do direct the letter V for that. That is the most upcoming project that’s going to come out soon. Then we’re working on more bizarre stuff of TV and film. We are basically in development now on a couple of projects and getting ready to present the next installment of weirdness, I guess.
Stage Fright is available now at the link below.
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