Tales from Hell: Q&A with producer Kelly Michael Stewart
Producer Kelly Michael Stewart checks in with The Horror Hothouse’s Emma Knock to talk about the upcoming horror anthology Tales from Hell.
Starring Robert Nolan (Familiar) the teaser takes us through just a few of Nolan’s many faces of horror. In the tradition of the likes of television shows such as Tales of Terror and Tales from the Crypt, Tales from Hell tells four stories. Read the interview below to get an exclusive look at each of the tales and to find out more about the mastermind behind this exciting new anthology.
Hi Kelly, thanks for chatting with us! First up, can you give us a little background on Tales from Hell?
Tales from Hell is a new horror anthology starring Canadian horror star Robert Nolan. Each of the four stories is directed by a different up and coming Canadian filmmaker: Ryan M. Andrews, Gabriel Carrer, Navin Ramaswaran and Chad Archibald. I’d been a film journalist for Fangoria and hosted my own horror film night in Toronto Canada for a few years, which led me to getting these filmmakers and talent on my radar.
What was the inspiration behind making Tales from Hell an as opposed to a regular feature-length film?
Well personally I’ve always loved anthology films. In general the Amicus films of the late 60’s/early 70’s did it best. But I am a child of the 80s as well so I loved anthology programs like Tales from the Darkside and Creepshow of course. Anthology films are hard to get right but if given the proper care it can be a brilliant way to tell short stories.
What can horror fans expect from Tales from Hell?
I think the diversity of the stories. We carefully story edited so that there is an ebb and flow to the entire piece. Even though they are four completely separate stories the film is designed to be watch as one full feature.
Have you taken much inspiration from programs like Night Gallery or is it simply just the format they inspired?
Well at first glace it my look like Night Gallery with a man hosting from a dark room, but our format is quite different. In our anthology the host is actually the participant in each of the stories. So it adds a different dimension to the idea of just him being the “host”.
There are a lot of people involved in the creation of Tales from Hell, has this created a lot of ‘artistic tension’ or is everyone sharing the same kind of vision?
Oh just the opposite. Right from our first meeting with the directors and myself couldn’t have gone better. This team was hand picked by myself so I wasn’t going to hire drama queens or guys with egos out of control. Between the four of them they have made nine features and that isn’t including shorts, music videos and producing other work so you don’t get that kind of respect if you are going to difficult to work with. Everyone respects each other’s talent and have been very supportive of everyone’s other projects as well.
One thing that was helpful though was that I picked the four guys from “two camps”. Ryan and Navin had worked together on a feature previously and Gabriel and Chad had been working on projects together for years. So really it was only like getting two groups together, not four, which made it less complicated. Also they had all admired each other’s work for a while so they quite excited to be on the same team for this.
Robert Nolan acts as a character in each different tale, how did he become attached to the feature?
Well we actually wrote the project with him in mind, which is totally unheard of for someone that the general public doesn’t know about yet. I had seen Robert in three short films back to back early last year (Worm, Familiar and The Devil Walk Among You). I was struck by the diversity of the roles he played and his performance. Right now it’s hard not to walk on an indie set in Canada without seeing Robert there. So after we wrote the scripts we approached him about it and he was really excited to come on board right from the start.
Can you share more about what each tale focuses on?
“Muse” – Written and directed by Ryan M. Andrews.
A writer struggles to fine inspiration for his next novel. His agent puts pressure on him to deliver a successful manuscript; he turns to his “muse” Wendy for desperate inspiration with deadly results.
“Triple Threat” – Directed by Gabriel Carrer. Written by Kelly Michael Stewart.
A down and out entertainer is reduced down to playing a clown at kid’s parties. Upon arriving at the suburban house she is told by host of the party that they have replaced him with his rival “Patty the Clown”.
“The One That Got Away” – Directed by Navin Ramaswaran. Written by Navin Ramaswaran and Neil Schneider.
Chloe is just trying to get over her ex and turns to the world of online dating. She meets the geeky but interesting Roger online and they begin to date. Soon it becomes a race to see who is more insane.
“A Calm Sunny Day” – Written and directed by Chad Archibald.
Sunny and his wife Julia are on a much needed vacation to deal with Sunny’s history of rage problems. While at a secluded cabin on a lake, Sunny comes across five young people vacating nearby. After a brief altercation, an accidental death happens and things are no longer calm for Sunny.
What is your favourite storyline?
It is hard to say. I think if people argue about which one is better then I know I’ve done my job as a producer. Each one of them has their strengths, so it’s going to be fun seeing which ones connect the most with audiences.
As producer, what has been the most challenging process of the creation of Tales from Hell so far?
The usual challenge of finding financial backing is always [the] tricky part. We have plenty of distribution options but there really isn’t the structure out there (especially in Canada) to find financiers easily. So its not an issue of having doors slammed on you, it’s more of a question of finding which doors to knock on. But it is all coming together now.
You also worked on the screenplay – did you enjoy that or producing more?
Yes I wrote the wraparound segments of our host introducing the films and Gabriel Carrier’s segment called Triple Threat. I think producers fall into two categories: the business ones and the creative ones and I tend to fall in the creative category. So the writing and producing seem to blend together for me. I am very organized and I do have very clear vision of what I want for the project so I certainly identify with being a producer overall more.
When can we expect to see the finished product?
If everything comes together the way it is so far, it should be on screens by 2014.
What are your aspirations for Tales from Hell?
Well I would love to see this to be the film that is the breakout role that makes Robert Nolan a star and I really hope the anthology is a great showcase of the amazing filmmaking talent that is coming out of Canada right now. Ideally I would like a second edition made after this one focusing on another four directors.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
I am producing a short film called One More for the Road that is going to camera soon. It will be directed by one of our Tales from Hell director Navin Ramaswaran. It is a mini road movie about a couple traveling to work on their marriage but with bloody results.
If you could work with anyone, who would it be?
I would say either Eli Roth or Guillermo del Toro. I’ve been lucky enough to meet them both a couple of times and talking to them one on one, I love the fact that they are real hardcore film fans that are driven by passion. So I think they would be great to team up with either of them on project.
Finally…what’s your favourite scary movie?
If I had to pick one it would be Kubrick’s The Shining. The film is the perfect bridge between an old style haunted house film and a modern horror film.
Check out the trailer here.
For more information be sure to follow Tales from Hell on Twitter at @tales_hell_film and on Facebook here.