Hammertime with Hanson: Q&A with director of Sledge
Independent director and writer Kristian Hanson plugs in with Horror Hothouse’s Emma Knock to talk about his newest film, slasher comedy Sledge.
Sledge is about a killer who thinks he is living inside a movie or a video game. With the story set in a secluded rental camp ground (filmed in upstate New York), each time a group of people arrive our killer Adam Lynch (Kristian Hanson) must scope out whether they deserve to live or die and with each kill he collects the faces of his victims as trophies. Our group consists of funny guy Alex (Dustin Bowman), Sarah (Stephanie Tupper), who Alex is in love with, Nash (Russ Matoes) who is Sarah’s wet blanket of a boyfriend and simpleton Shawn (Travis Hanson) with his girlfriend Michelle (Desiree Holmes). In typical slasher style, their night begins with fun and frivolity, alcohol and sex, but when the sun rises the next day they are picked off one by one in a whole host of gruesome and comedic ways.
Hi Kristian, thanks for ‘sitting down’ with us. To get things started, can you please give us a little background on Sledge. How did the idea for Sledge come about?
The idea for Sledge arose because we wanted to film a movie in upstate New York where my co-director John Sovie II lives. My wife told me to sit and write a script that we could film up there and that is how Sledge and Adam Lynch was born.
How did you turn Sledge from an idea into a reality? What steps did you go through to bring it to our screens?
We had been talking about filming a movie for a while. In April, John came down to California where we filmed our first Indie film, Friends4Life, which was a comedy thriller type movie. I have always wanted to create my own slasher film but it needed to be something different. I contacted my friend Monster Matt Patterson and told him we needed a mask that was different and would be scary to people and he delivered in a big way. Honestly, we just gained the equipment by renting it and got our actors set and the rest is history.
What can fans expect from this movie?
Fans of horror films can expect something bloody and fun. Adam Lynch is not like another slasher you have seen before because he is intentionally funny with the things he says. He is a fan boy himself but he is nuts! If you want to see some awesome kills and humor, than Sledge is definitely something you want to see.
Have you paid homage to any of the classic horrors with Sledge?
When writing the script I wanted Adam Lynch to be his own character but of course he has aspects of past slashers and horror icons. One is Michael Myers and [the other is] Freddy Krueger. I say Freddy because of the humor aspect that he had later in the Nightmare On Elm Street series.
You marketed this as a horror comedy – what was the decision behind adding humor to mix and not just making Sledge a standard slasher?
I love comedy and I love to make people laugh. When I set out to write Sledge I told myself at first I was going to make it serious, but that really isn’t my style. As I began writing I kept having jokes pop into my head that Adam could say to the victims when he is killing them and it was unique and something I hadn’t seen in a slasher film before. I personally believe people will enjoy the jokes and quotes from other famous horror films that they will catch in the dialogue throughout the movie as a tip of the cap to those previous films.
When I watched the trailer I was instantly surprised by the fact that your killer actually spoke. It’s something we don’t see very often! What was the idea behind giving your killer, Adam Lynch, a voice?
Adam is nuts. I needed to show that but you can’t do that with body language so he had to talk. Adam believes he lives in a video game world or movie because after he kills his victims, like a video game, it resets and he has a new group show up to add to his collection of human faces in jars. By giving him a voice I made him a character that horror fans will enjoy and get behind.
The mask/outfit and the weapon are always important in creating a great killer – so firstly, where/how did you create the mask and secondly, why did you choose a sledgehammer?
The mask was created by Monster Matt Patterson and all I did was give him an idea of what I would want and he ran with it. I told him I wanted it to be pieces of flesh sewn together and than he came up with the idea to add the carvings inside of the skin and the flesh tangled face-mask that is really gross looking. As for the sledgehammer, I was at a store in Los Angeles before we filmed Friends4Life and I saw a sledgehammer hanging. I grabbed it and looked at my wife and buddy John and said “I am so writing a movie where the killer’s weapon of choice is a sledgehammer! John said go ahead buddy and that is where the sledgehammer came from.
The special effects in the trailer are pretty awesome – all practical or do you have CGI in the mix as well?
The special effects are all practical. I am not a fan of CGI at all, so we came together and made the blood ourselves along with everything you see on the screen. I think fans will be happy with what we created.
Did you use any unorthodox scare tactics to try and get an authentic reaction from your cast during their big moments with Adam?
I’d like to say I did as Kane Hodder did for Hatchet and hide in places and scare the crap out of people, but no I didn’t. The mood on the set was a lot of fun and once I put the costume on and everything I couldn’t help but make people laugh around me, so that wouldn’t have worked. I just told them before we started the scene to get scared and enjoy their death.
You both wrote and directed the film – what aspect did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed both honestly. When I wrote the script it was just a lot of fun to flesh the characters out where they weren’t the typical people. You get to know the people and when I was on set and got to see the characters come to life, it was just a lot of fun and surreal to see. On set, I would work with the actors and prepare them for the scene as John set up the shot with the camera. It worked out perfectly.
You also worked with John Sovie II on another project called F4L: FriendsForLife, which is a comedy thriller with hints of horror. Why is it you’re so attracted to the genre?
I grew up watching horror films. My oldest brother told me that I have been watching horror movies since the day I was brought home from the hospital. I remember seeing Child’s Play when I was five years old and then Nightmare on Elm Street when I was six. It is just a part of me and I love the genre.
As a director, are there any big names out there that you’d adore to work with?
When it comes to actors I would love to work with Kane Hodder, Tony Todd and Robert Englund. I love those guys from everything they have done with the classic horror icons, and I have had the honor of meeting Kane quite a bit, and he is just an awesomely cool guy.
What are your aspirations for Sledge going forward?
I would love Sledge to get picked up by the film festival market so I could tour with the movie and meet and talk with the fans. I would love to be able to talk about how we made a Hollywood looking movie for less than $2000 because we rented the gear instead of buying it. I would just like Sledge to hit the ground running so fans can come and see what we have created and hopefully in the end, leave the theater smiling and laughing and talking about how funny Adam Lynch is.
Any other projects in the pipeline? If things go well will you do a Sledge II?
We have scripts written but at the moment we don’t have anything planned. If Sledge did well, yes I would love to do a sequel because I love the character of Adam Lynch and I could have a lot of fun with the script and the characters I would put around him.
And finally…what’s your favourite scary movie?
My favorite scary movie is An American Werewolf in London. The combination of horror and comedy is just amazing. Also, Rick Baker and his team’s special effects have not been matched in over thirty years since its release. I said before I would love to work with those actors, but when it comes to special effects people, I’d love to work with Rick and do a werewolf film where he had creative control to do whatever he wanted with another transformation sequence.
Check out the trailer here:
Follow Kristian on Twitter: @CraptasticWritr
Fore more information check out Sledge’s Facebook page