A couple of weeks ago, as part of my WTF Sunday regular feature, I saw a film called Trailer Park Of Terror. I thought it was a blast, and those of you who haven’t yet followed my example definitely should. When the review went up, the first comment was from the film’s director Steven Goldmann, who has also kindly agreed to answer a few questions for you unruly mob. And here they are.
Ryan: You were directing music videos for quite a few years before your first feature. Was that always where you saw yourself headed, or was it more of a natural progression? Had you just been waiting for the right project to come along?
Steven Goldmann: When I was in film school music videos were, I think going through their golden period. I was infatuated with them. I’m a music junky and a film junky – it was like they had combined my favorite things. When I had a chance to direct my first music video I leapt at it. Around that time David Fincher was starting to make waves and budgets were going up. It seemed like a good avenue to follow, but making movies was all I ever dreamed about. Directing was what I wanted to do. Whether I was in NYC or Nashville I was always trying to get a movie off the ground. I just did not succeed until I was given the script that eventually was entitled BROKEN BRIDGES.
R: You seem to have worked almost exclusively with country artists as a video director, and both of your features have shared that musical aspect to a greater or lesser degree. After the blood and guts of Trailer Park, do you see yourself maybe doing a death metal clip?
SG: Well the truth is I started doing metal videos in the final years of the 80s hair bands!! My very favorite being for FATES WARNING – Through Different Eyes. The whole Country Music thing was kind of a trick of fate and circumstance. Right as Nirvana broke, I was asked to direct a video for a Canadian country artist that had been signed to an American recording contract. But because he was Canadian he could get an extra 25K to make his music video if he hired a Canadian director. The producer knew me. I did this video in Nashville. While there I was asked to direct two more. Suddenly I had three country videos to my name and a lot of “hair” bands. MTV took Headbangers Ball off the air, Metal as we knew it was over because of Nirvana and without realising it – I became a COUNTRY MUSIC director. I didn’t even listen to it. I didn’t know who Garth Brooks was! Country was where the work came from…I accepted it. I think I can do anything.
R: How involved were you with the development of Trailer Park Of Terror? Had it been your baby from the start or did you come to project later on?
SG: I was involved from the start. Jonathan Bogner – the producer- handed me all the comics and asked me to come back and pitch my take. He said NO ANTHOLOGY. – that was it. Two days later I pitched my ideas. He loved my vision, but he had some specific requests. He wanted the whole “kids lost in a storm get knocked off one by one” storyline. I said OK as long as I could name check Hershel Gordon Lewis. He never really understood that one, I also really wanted to play with a whole “psychobilly” vibe which was inspired by the old EC comic book feel of the actual Trailer Park Of Terror comics. My idea in the simplest terms was this: Tales From The Crypt has the Crypt Keeper, and Trailer Park of Terror – an homage to TFTC – has Norma and her friends. I though, how did the Crypt Keeper become THE CRYPT KEEPER? So it became kind of an old fashioned origin story in the tradition of the Universal monster movies…at least to me.
R: As I said in my review of Trailer Park, I really enjoyed the movie overall but the highlight for me was definitely Nichole Hiltz. How hard was it for you to find the perfect Norma?
SG: Norma was very tough to cast. The role seemed to scare a lot of actors, though we had some very cool actresses that really took it very seriously. We got close with Virginia Madsen, Christina Applegate and Erica Durance. In fact while at Sundance with TPOT I actually got to speak with Virginia Madsen. She told me how much she enjoyed the script – but it was all timing for her. It would have been a very different film with her. The other two… well we’ll never know for sure… Now, no actor likes to hear about the other actors that were thought of, and I have to say that from the moment I was introduced to Nichole – I had no doubt that she was Norma – she simply was not a “name” actor – but she is a great actor. She is fearless!!! I am so proud of her in this role. I just wish it could have been the role that helped her get to that next level.
R: I haven’t had the chance to read Imperium’s original Trailer Park comic series yet, but how faithful were you to that source material, both from a story point of view and visually? Did you have much of a free rein? Did the guys at Imperium have any input into the adaptation process themselves?
SG: When I pitched my take to the producer I had to pitch it them as well. They were on board with my take from the start and my biggest supporters, mainly because I made it very clear that I was going to honor the tone of the comics. The comics are an anthology with three stories per issue all separated by scenes with Norma and the Trailer Park miscreants. So I tried to give the movie and comic book spirit, the monster make-up was inspired by the EC comics as they are in TPOT…and I have Norma tell stories… but the story of how Norma became Norma – is all mine. But trust me – all of it is inspired by the art of the comics. But there was no Stank, China Girl, or Larlene in the comics, we came up with those characters while we were fleshing out the origin story and I relayed some of my worst nightmares as we imagined ways to kill the kids!
R: Other than the music connection, your two films to date couldn’t really be more different – estranged family drama to hillbilly horror is quite a leap. Which would you say is closer to where your tastes lie, as a moviegoer?
SG: There is no doubt the more personal film is Trailer Park Of Terror. Even my late father would tell you that!! I’m a horror geek at heart. But you get opportunities in life and you take them. I had connections to Toby Keith – I got the script [for Broken Bridges] to him and five months later we were making the movie. Paramount wanted to be in business with him and CMT wanted its first feature film. I got lucky that a producer had a script and they thought Faith Hill would be perfect for the role eventually played Kelly Preston. I told them that Toby would be better and they listened.
R: What can you tell us about the next flick you have coming down the line, The Human Fly?
SG: Well it is probably my personal film and definitely my dream project. Inspired by true events, it is the story of Joe Ramacieri and his buddies, the guys behind the quasi-legendary and mysterious 1970’s figure they christened THE HUMAN FLY.
Joe’s only wish was to do something big, become famous and never have to work in the family business, a sausage factory. His life was changed forever when he met this self-proclaimed HOLLYWOOD STUNTMAN whose only wish in life was to be “the greatest daredevil who ever lived.”
Yes, THE HUMAN FLY rode on the back of jet planes, and attempted to beat Evel Knievel’s record by jumping over 27 school buses at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, became the star of his own Marvel Comics series, and a man celebrated on television and in print who rubbed shoulders with the great and not-so-great. Ultimately, the man beneath the mask was more nuts than sane, more con man than stuntman…an accident waiting to happen. Unfortunately for Joe, it was all on his dime.
The Human Fly is a colorful and boisterously comic look at group of guys who just wanted to be famous for something and how they set out to do it.
As Joe liked to say: “A lot of people shoot off their mouths and say their gonna do something… Well I did it.”
Check out a little film about the story behind the story here: www.thehumanflymovie.com and please “like” us on Facebook…pass it on!!
Thanks very much for that, Steven.
To “like” The Human Fly on the Facesbook thingy, just click on this link here. I imagine there’ll be plenty of updates posted on both sites as the production progresses.