Roberts had a chance to ask Brad Mills, the writer/director/producer/actor of
the new 80's cheese horror film, The Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger, a few
questions about the upcoming release.
more than happy to appease the request even if our questions were a bit outside
the norm.Below are his responses which
will just further whet your appetite for the release which hopefully will hit
the festival circuit this year.
Plot Synopsis: After taking a wrong turn down an abandoned road, the
Jock, the Joker, the Blond Bimbo & the Paranoid Brunette run out of gas and
find themselves stranded in the middle of the woods. What a total drag. What
was that noise? Why is everyone vanishing? Is it all one of Bradley's dumb
practical jokes, or could The Legend be true?
has already credited you with the coolest one-sheet of the year, but how the
hell did you pick such an eye catching title as The Legend of the Psychotic
BM: That was awesome to read
that!So glad the film is getting such a
good response from the people who I made it for! The whole process of making this film was about being authentic and
putting myself in the shoes of a delusional 80s writer/director. The title was about picking
something long, awkward and sensational. You hear
it and it just makes you start thinking "what the hell..." I had a
suggestion from a well known producer recently to change the title to just
"Ranger" as it's more mysterious and memorable - I gave it some
serious thought, but I gotta stick to the cheese fest
- the title is just as authentic as the rest of it.
KR: A synopsis of the film details
that it plays like a B-horror movie straight out of the 80's?Why was it important to you to try and
recapture the glory days of the decade of decadence?
BM: I saw a film called "The
Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" which I really
connected with. If you haven't seen it, it's
writer/director Larry Blamire's throwback to 60s
alien/monster movies. It wasn't an in your face comedy, but it had me in fits
of laughter where I could barely breathe with the authenticity of the bad dialogue
and awkward acting. After I
saw that, I read a book called "From Reel to Deal", which I highly
recommend any aspiring filmmakers pick up. In there Dov
talks about the formula for making your first low budget film. He says take a
bunch of teenagers to a cabin in the woods and chop them up.
such a fan of old b horror films from the 80s - I knew that I should do a
"Lost Skeleton" for my favorite genre =)
KR: Who did the art work for your
BM: That poster is epic for us, Tom Hodge from The Dude Designs captured he spirit of
the entire film perfectly with that poster. I would highly recommend him,
working with him was seriously educational, he knows his stuff, and he's a
great guy to work with. Just
don't look him in the eyes...you'll regret it, it sends him into a fit of
rage...other than the stitches, it was a great experience.
KR: You are credited as Director,
Writer, Producer and Actor - why were you unable to stretch yourself to be Key
Grip as well?Ok.Seriously, is it more of a challenge to wear
that many hats or are you less stressed knowing that it is your vision and it's
you you have to answer to if a day or shooting
doesn't go well?
BM: Hah! Maybe it runs in the
family. My sister Jacquelyn actually held multiple hats as well,
she was co-Producer, Camera Operator and Editor. She shot and co-edited the
film. I love
acting, so I knew I had to have a cameo in the film. My wife and I play the
classic characters that get killed at the beginning, 10 years in the past, that
have no bearing on the rest of the film.
back to multiple hats though, I think it's almost necessary on your first
project to write it and direct it, its like some sort
of cruel indie filmmaker hazing ritual. I would love to direct a film that I
didn't write or produce, it's a lot of work doing all
KR: I haven't been scared of a
Ranger since the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie
in 1993.What made you focus on a Ranger
as your primary villain?And what makes
BM: I was a huge fan of b horror
growing up, and the ultimate cheese nugget for us was Psycho Cop. A friend of
mine Chris Townsend introduced my brother Dave and I
to that film and we were hooked instantly. We started holding screenings for
all of our friends, and I made my high school watch it for a movie night in
grade 12 - yeah I was THAT guy. I knew
the film had to be set in the forest, so I figured the Ranger would be a
perfect character to do some gags with - you'd probably stain your pants if you
saw Jason or Victor Crowley in the woods carrying an axe, but you'd trust a
myself in the basement and wrote the screenplay over 10 days in 2005 during
Christmas Vacation with that in mind.
KR: What makes him psychotic?
BM: Um, he has no eyebrows, he eats
people and his axe has 666 on it, isn't that enough? One of he best things
about writing an 80s horror film is that the rules of
logic take a backseat to the rules of wtf. The
legend says that he was burned alive in a forest fire set by teenagers partying
in the woods, so obviously you can infer from that a satanic resurrection...
my favorite lines is "Anyone who's that crazy
about nature, deserves to die in a forest fire if you ask me."
KR: Ridley Scott's Alien had the
fantastic tagline "In Space No One Can Hear You Scream".What would be your tagline for Psychotic
Ranger?How about, "If you're in
danger, you've met the Ranger" or "In these woods, your compass
points to Death"?
BM: Those are awesome suggestions,
but they have a couple critical flaws - they make sense and they are clever! Again,
trying to put myself in the shoes of a D list writer/director on a tight
deadline - I wanted the tagline to be "Your Compass Won't Save You in His
Woods." - which really doesn't really scream
creativity and raises more eyebrows than answers. We ran a
voting contest on the Facebookfanpage,
and the majority voted for a tagline that my wife came up with, "He Just
Wants To Axe You A Few Questions." I still wasn't
sold on it until I saw the poster with that massive Axe. Then I had to scrap my
tagline and go with my wife's suggestion. Sorry dude, that and she owns my
KR: When you are casting an
independent film such as yours, what is your source for casting?Do you pick friends and family or is there a
more formal casting process?
BM: Most of the story takes place at
night in the woods, so there's only 13 characters total. That was still no walk
in the park though. Going
for authenticity - we were looking for very specific types, you know the
stereotypical teenagers - the dumb jock, the blond bimbo, the paranoid brunette
and the fit practical joker. It also wouldn't be an
80s slasher if we didn't have a 35 year old playing a
16 year old.
coast of Canada
has a vibrant theater scene, so when I wrote the
film, I had a couple of really talented people in mind that I had worked with
in theatrical productions.
in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia,
but my sister was living in Montreal and I was
living in London, Ontario. So we needed to have someone back
home take care of spreading the word for when we flew in for the Open Casting
gentleman who plays the Police Officer in the film was our casting director, and my personal fluffer
(but don't tell him that, he was sleeping).
KR: Where did you find Michael G.
MacDonald who plays the title character?
BM: Michael G MacDonald is a
university professor at CapeBretonUniversity.
We had booked a classroom at the university the day before shooting to do a
couple of rehearsals. I guess the class we booked was next to his classroom,
and we were being really loud and disrupting his classroom.
in the room and had this look of rage in his eyes like he wanted to kill
someone. He started talking about how we should never disrespect the rules of
the University, he started throwing desks around and swearing - it was really
got out of hand pretty quick, the next thing you know the guy that we
originally had playing the Ranger was dead.
didn't have any insurance, and Mr. MacDonald was on probation...so we had to
stuff the dead actor in a pop machine in the basement.
kind of a bonding experience, Michael said that as long as we didn't rat him
out to the cops, he would free up his schedule for the next 3 weeks and play
the role of the Ranger.
haven't told anyone that story though, for obvious reasons. Maybe you should
just say that he came into the casting call to audition for a role as the
Police Officer, and when we saw him we knew instantly that he was perfect for
the Ranger, and nobody died.
I wish I
had a backspace key, oh well.
KR: Steven Spielberg had his cast go
through boot camp to get the experience of war before shooting Saving Private
Ryan.For The Legend of the Psychotic
Forest Ranger did you have your cast camp in the woods, eat Smores
and do the Truffle Shuffle to pass time between takes?
BM: The shooting location was pretty
remote. We rented some cabins with questionable plumbing for the crew and an
old house next to it for shooting. It was
in the boonies. No internet, no cell phone reception,
but it was on a beautiful piece of property next to a lake with access to
kayaks and a bon fire pit. Geez sounds like "The Burning" minus the
A lot of
the actors had jobs, so they would have to sleep in the old creepy house or in
tents. I'm not sure if they did the truffle shuffle, but I think they did the
mushroom shuffle a few times.
have lots of fires though, I wanted to have a fire on every shooting location
for good luck and to keep spirits high (most of our shooting was at night, in
the creepy woods), my sister Jacquelyn got mad at me a few times because I
assigned one of the PAs to be the "fire in a can
guy."Apparently that's a
misallocation of resources.
KR: How hard is it for an
independent filmmaker from Canada
to come up with funding for an ambitious horror film?
BM: If you have an in, there's lots
of money available through government grants and other public & private
funds. It's a catch 22 though. You need to meet some hefty qualifications,
which I didn't, before you can get funding.
the money to shoot The Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger on Facebook! It was just pure application of the Law of
Attraction. If you haven't seen The Secret, check it out!
KR: Is The Psychotic Forest Ranger a
movie that you can take the family to? Ok, that's not fair.How about just your family?Will mom Mills be happy with the final cut?
BM: You know that's something that
actually was important to me. I wanted to make something that you could let
your kids watch and not feel like a bad parent.
be interesting to see what kind of a rating we get. There's gore and sexuality,
brief nudity, but no frontal nudity and no swearing.I know I
might take some slack for not putting nudity in the film, but the 2 biggest
inspirations were The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra and
Psycho Cop - and I figured if they can do it without nudity, so could I.
KR: What's your ultimate goal if the
movie is a success - a sequel or to use clout on another pet project?
BM: I've got multiple projects in
various stages of development right now, some film, some games. If Ranger does
well, that would only help the rest of the projects! Everyone
worked so hard on this film, mostly for deferral. At this point I'm not really
looking at this as a way to make myself a bunch of money, I'm really looking at
it like a way to make some money for all the talented folks that worked on the
film, and to build up a bit of a following.
project in the pipeline is an online horror game/community - something I can
travel around to festivals with, meet fans, and help other indie filmmakers
promote their films with. I've already met so many cool fans - one guys, Shawn
C Phillips, has a dvd
collection that would put any video store to shame.
done with horror movies though, a Ranger sequel would be so much fun - we
always talk about how the shoot was more like a camping trip with friends than
work, and look forward to doing it again some day.
love to make a zombie film =)
KR: Have you secured a distribution
deal yet and when can we expect to get a glimpse at the full feature?
BM: We're just starting up the
marketing engine right now - we haven't contacted any distributors yet because
the film isn't 100% finished - we have the final mix scheduled for later this month, at that point we'll be applying to a lot of film
festivals and trying to get some distribution.
MOVIES REVIEWED The Innkeepers, Monster Brawl, Attack the Block,
The Woman, Grave Encounters, Paranormal Activity 3, Red State, A Serbian
Film, More Brains Documentary, The Incredible Melting Man, War of the
Worlds (1953), Ghoulies, Troll Hunter, and more!