Scott Glosserman is the man who created the horror film “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon” and its iconic character Leslie Vernon. Scott is taking a unique approach in order to get “Before the Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon” made, which is being a sequel, prequel and remake all rolled up in one or a “Spree-make” as he calls it. Instead of going through the studio, he is reaching out to the fans via Facebook to help raise money. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Scott about this process and his plans for the new film.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your plans for “Before the Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon?”
Scott Glosserman: We’re calling it a “Spree-make” because it’s basically a sequel, prequel and remake all rolled up in one. That’s why the title is “Before the Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon.” It’s trying to deconstruct the architecture of the horror prequels, sequels and remakes. We’ve seen so much derivative horror come out in the past ten, twenty years and now we’re seeing almost a renaissance of remakes…whether we’re re-visioning “Halloween” or “Friday the 13th.” “Texas Chainsaw”…”Nightmare on Elm Street.” All of these guys are coming back. And one of the jokes in the movie is that Leslie Vernon came along and did something so avant-garde…so interesting…that he really became kind of a muse for all of these guys that were just phoning it in. He really reenergized a lot of these guys. Since “Behind the Mask” and what he had done in Glen Echo, a lot of these guys…Mike, Freddy, J…they’ve all said, “wow…I’m not done. I’m going to go reapply myself.” And they went out and re-imagined themselves. And you see these franchises get a rebirth. There’s a bit of a story line in the movie that talks about that.
MG: Have you ever considered using sites like Kickstarter to help fund the film?
SG: We haven’t used it for a couple of reasons. First, Kickstarter takes 8%. We’re not trying to raise thirteen thousand dollars we’re trying to raise a million dollars. We’re doing different investment partners. We’re doing domestic television and video on demand pre-sales. But we want to raise a significant portion through Craft Funding, whether it’s a quarter million dollars up to half a million. And again, the “Shocker” documentary that just raised a quarter million tells me that niche genre audiences can harness and create a groundswell and get up to the six figure numbers. But, the eight percent that Kickstarter takes when you get up that high becomes a significant amount of money. So we wanted to cut down on the commission. Even at 4%, that’s $20,000.00 on a half million dollar movie. That’s the difference between a Bruce Campbell cameo (though he’s probably much more expensive) and somebody else. The point is, if we can do it all ourselves we can keep 100% of the proceeds and put them towards making the movie instead of paying a broker to do what we basically can do ourselves. Yes, Kickstarter and similar places are doing a great job of creating a community of people who are interested in micro-financing. But not all of those people might be film fans. And if they’re film fans, they might especially not be horror fans. We thought we had a better shot by going directly to our audience through Facebook because of the key words and because of the social networking aspect. They’re all on Facebook and if somehow we could aggregate them we’d get to them quicker. That may or may not be, in retrospect, correct. It seems like Kickstarter does very, very well very, very quickly for people. Right now we’ve only found three thousand people who like “Behind the Mask” in three weeks. Who knows how long it’s going to take to build to twenty or twenty-five thousand people. Or if we ever will. So this is all speculative. And lastly, I think what we’re doing on Facebook, as opposed to Kickstarter, is press worthy. So when we do come out with a press release about what we’re doing we’ll try to hit the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times or The Hollywood Reporter and try to do this in a slightly bigger way. I think if we had done it on Kickstarter it wouldn’t have been as newsworthy while the fact that we are the first to do it on Facebook will really help us.
MG: How did you create the character Leslie Vernon? And did you think the character would be so popular?
SG: There are two different answers. First of all, the original script was written by David Stieve, a kind of “down on his luck” writer who is really, really talented but had never gotten his break. He was watching a bunch of horror movies and he thought, “what if there was a slasher out there who hadn’t yet gotten his break?” He’s just like everyone else. He’s trying to go about his business just like I’m trying to go about mine and write a screenplay. Dave thought he was just a normal guy, one he could be hanging out and playing poker with. So the whole seed of the project came from…I wouldn’t say desperation but earnestness. And that came out in the character. By the time I got a hang of the script and started working with Dave, we really went from something that was a clever…something that was more of a lark…stream of consciousness idea to WOW! There’s really something here. You really have a framework and you can put a voice to the character. I can bring in all of the true academic deconstruction architects of the horror genre. And if we really layer in the true architections and conventions of horror on to what you’ve got here, not only can we create this really cute, clever type of way in to a horror film, we can also do it in a very sophisticated way. We can say something about the horror genre. And then to answer your second question, did we think it was going to be a hit…frankly it wasn’t a hit! (laughs)
MG: I guess what I’m referring to is the popularity of the character today in the horror genre.
SG: Duly noted. I was pretty confident in my knowledge and understanding and passion for the horror genre, having written my thesis in a Conventions of Horror Architecture class on “The Shining.” I studied Kubrick and studied the social and political commentary that informed horror films. I knew that if I was able to accurately infuse that horror academia into what David had written, into the voice of a character that David had created, that we would, at a minimum, be respected in the horror community because we were celebrating the horror genre. We were sort of laughing with the horror genre, not laughing at it. And I thought that at a minimum people who were as knowledgeable about the horror genre as I was wouldn’t have anything bad to say. They would understand where we were coming from and be excited about the idea that we were really trying to demonstrate to the public at large how elevated horror, in fact, could be. Among the tiny, but ardent, sub-genre horror community that is aware of this film…I think they’ve responded mostly positively to it.
MG: Do you have a complete script for “Before the Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon?”
SG: Oh yeah! We’ve got a great script. We’re really, really excited about the script. In fact, we released three pages of the script on Facebook. We may do that again with other pages. It’s hard to find pages that don’t give away a lot of what we’re doing in the movie.
MG: You co-wrote, produced and directed the first film, and will be producing and directing the next one. Out of all of your responsibilities which do you find most difficult?
SG: The toughest thing is probably…when you’re producing you have to really break the film down into development, pre-production and financing phase. One you’re producing on set, and you are both the producer and director, when the head make up guy begins bitching about the water filter not working or the generator getting turned off he’s usually bitching to the producer. But when the producer is also the director he generally takes those gripes to someone else like the line producer. Producing during the production was not that difficult even though I had to wear two hats. I would say producing before the movie begins…what we’re doing right now…is the most difficult. Once you get to set, once you’re on location, it’s like summer camp. You’re with a great bunch of people and everyone is doing what they’ve really always wanted to do, which is make a movie. It’s hard but it’s also creative and collaborative and it’s great. Same thing with post-production. You’re beginning to edit and you’re doing the special effects and sound mix and working with the composer. You’re planning the festival run and you’re doing interviews. But getting the movie financed is so hard. Trying to trump up interest. It’s gratifying to get so many nice comments on Facebook. People seem to be really supportive. But it’s also…I wouldn’t say disheartening…tough. You’re getting three or four people committing to purchase a DVD per day. At that rate it’s going to be a long time before we can get this thing going. Or we might get someone to buy the domestic television rights but it’s not what we hope for. So you keep trying to finance the movie. Financing is the hardest thing.
MG: What can fans do to help get this film made?
SG: In this new century we’re living in, with social networking and crowd sourcing, I think corporations are beginning to say they’re not going to push content on people anymore. When you go to HBO on line or HULU, you rely on people to curate content and display it for you and say “we suggest this.” And you only watch what you’re given. I think what’s going to happen is that the audience is going to be able to aggregate themselves and demand what they want. And corporations are going to have to listen and provide that. There’s going to be a paradigm shift as to who is deciding the content. Maybe Anchor Bay is right…they’re not going to finance this one…not going to just give you a couple million dollars to make a movie. I need to find out, by speaking to the horror community directly. I now have the ability, through social networking, to appeal to the horror community directly. I can ask if there are enough people in the horror community to merit my making another installment of the Leslie Vernon story? If there are, the trick is how do I get to them and find out if they are even aware? But if there are hopefully they will say so. And they’ll say I’ll show you by committing to pre-order merchandise. And if I can take that information and show it to studios and distributors then it’s as plain as day. There are no more “gut feelings.” It’s now “here’s the audience that says they want to see it.” The horror community can reach out to their friends on Facebook and ask them to visit our page and commit to help me. That will build a bigger community so we can get a groundswell of support.