Director of the new DVD release, “Boo”
Journalists turning filmmakers? Wow, how novel. Thankfully, Anthony C.Ferrante’s “Boo” is, novel, that is. CLINT MORRIS talks to the man behind the unique new horror film and whether the transition from writing columns to writing films was an easy one.
How did the film come about?
I spent years trying to get it set up, until Kismet Entertainment approached me about being involved in their Graveyard Filmworks slate of low budget films. Producer David E. Allen and co-producer Brian O’Toole had talked to me about one project that wasn’t scripted yet and I reminded them about BOO. They re-read it, I took them to the hospital where I wrote the script for and David greenlit it on the spot. Three months later we were shooting. It’s one of those dream situations that makes it sound easy, but I spent six years rewriting the script on my own and trying to set it up many times. So I was told “No,” countless times. But in this business, you really just need that one “yes” and I was fortunate enough to get it – and be able to direct my script as well.
I’m interested whether you found the transition from journalist to filmmaker an easy one?
I always saw myself as a filmmaker and while I was a journalist I was either making my own shorts or working on real films supervising make-up effects or directing second unit. So I always had one foot in the filmmaking pool. As for transitioning now that BOO is out, yes, there is a bit of a transition, because you have to condition people at looking at you differently. Since being a journalist has always been a day job, it’s now making it my part-time job (because I still enjoy it from time to time) and making filmmaking my full time job. It’s actually been nice though, that when I meet producers, they’re more familiar with BOO than my work as a journalist, so that transition seems to be working pretty seamless.
Did you push for press from fellow film sites, during production? or did you decide to just let ‘the buzz’ talk for itself?
Since I’m out in Los Angeles, I know most of the genre press for the obvious sites and they were really supportive. I knew it was important to give people exclusives and their own unique stuff for their sites, because that would build awareness for the movie. We’re a low budget film, so press is key to building awareness. And I have to say, I actually thought I would have had a huge target on my head because I was a journalist turned filmmaker, and people would destroy the film just to destroy it. But I’ve been really happy and pleased with the press we’ve gotten. There’s been some criticism, but for the most part, my fellow journalists have been very generous with their support of the film and that support allowed the film to a big success on DVD in States because we certainly didn’t have the marketing and promotions budget of THE RING 2 to fall back on.
What were some of your inspirations, in writing the film?
I really wanted to make a scary movie, and I tried capture the feeling I felt when I was a young kid getting the crap scared out of me at the movie theaters. John Carpenter’s films have certainly been a big influence – HALLOWEEN, THE THING. And I think THE CHANGELING was certainly a big influence on BOO because it’s one of the last great haunted house films. I’ve had people say BOO reminds them of SESSION 9, THE RING and SILENT HILL, but the script was written years before seeing any of those. One of the things I also kept in the back of my head was the scripts of John Sayles – particularly PIRANHA and ALLIGATOR. They were horror movies, but he also mixed in social commentary as well, with PIRANHA being an allegory for the Vietnam War. So I really wanted to say something, even if it was very miniscule in BOO, and so my personal views about how screwed up the hospital system wormed its way through the fabric of the movie. You won’t catch it, unless you’re looking for it, but it’s there and I think when you try to do things like that, it ultimately gives your horror film a longer shelf life, especially if people ultimately like the movie and decide to watch it again.
Tell me about the location….the hospital. It’s an actual hospital there, right?
The script was written around the location. I was working on a film PROGENY and discovered the hospital then and thought it was a great place to write about. I never thought in a million years I would get to shoot the movie there, because for awhile, they weren’t allowing productions back into the hospital, but I really lucked out. Three-fourths of the atmosphere really came from the location itself and since we didn’t have big studio money, we certainly need to make up for that deficiency in other ways, and finding a location that already was scary without doing too much production design work on it was a plus.
How did you go about getting distribution?
The movie was made by Kismet Entertainment and producer David E. Allen. It was financed by his company, and after the film was done, they began shopping it around to distributors. It played at a few festivals and we had a few screenings in Los Angeles, and then it came out on DVD in the U.S. around Halloween last year.
Why (I know why…she’s great by the way) Dee Wallace-Stone?
I knew Dee through my journalism days, and I always wanted to work with her. I also knew we needed some kind of name to give the film some added clout, and she read the script, loved it and said “yes.” I really feel grateful she blessed my first film with her presence. It was really the only time on set that I was in awe, because I started thinking “holy crap, she’s been directed by Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, Peter Jackson – how the hell did this happen that she’s in my movie.” She’s a very sweet woman, and I think it’s wonderful her career has really skyrocketed again in the past three years and she’s now showing up in so many different movies and television shows.
What’s the latest on a “Boo 2″?
David is always telling me “start thinking about BOO 2,” and I have a great idea that keeps the spirit of the original, but doesn’t rehash what was done before. If it’s about “another group of kids go back into the hospital,” I wouldn’t be interested in it. I’ve told that story. But if we continue to build on the mythology and use the title “BOO” as our guideline – namely scaring the crap out of our audience any way possible – I think it would be pretty fun. As for when and if, that’s a David question. Kismet is busy preparing DOG SOLDIERS 2, so they have their hands full right now. I’m sure when they come up for air, the idea for BOO 2 will surface again and we’ll take it from there.
BOO is released on DVD May 4th