Throughout his decade-long career, Dan Fogler has done many things. Like winning a Tony Award for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and making short shorts, ping pong and pandas cool with Balls of Fury. And though he’s directed plays in the past, he’s never stepped behind the camera to direct a feature film. Until now.
Hysterical Psycho is a campy take on the “group of people stuck in a cabin” genre that has become a staple of the horror genre. Produced by and starring the ensemble from Stage 13, the film and theater company Fogler founded, the film will make its premiere this weekend as part of the Tribeca Film Festival’s Midnight section. Just days before the writer-director made his debut, he took a few minutes to chat with MovieMaker about what happens when you mix equal parts horror, comedy, theater and Hollywood.
Jennifer Wood (MM): What were some of the films that inspired you in creating Hysterical Psycho? You seem to have pulled from a number of genres?
Dan Fogler (DF): I never directed a feature before so I stole from… excuse me, paid homage to my favorite films: Psycho, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Shining, Evil Dead, Jaws, Goodfellas and Young Frankenstein to name a few—and even classic “Looney Tunes.”
MM: Having spent years in front of the camera—and on stage—how difficult was the transition to director? People automatically assume that being an actor makes being a director easier. Would you agree?
DF: Absolutely my experience around the camera and on stage were helpful. It also didn’t hurt to cast talented friends and family, an ensemble who all trusted each other and me. But I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that even the closest folks were skeptical at first. I had to prove myself every moment and it wasn’t until dailies were in that I gained the real respect… then it was fun as hell. And all the stuff we said we’d get in post was got.
MM: The film shot for 10 days in NYC and 10 days in Maine. Why Maine?
DF: Perfect location for a horror film, Maine. Ask Stephen King. Also, my producing partner owned the place. It was a trek, but it was worth it. It was chillingly beautiful.
MM: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to another first-time film director looking to shoot a film in less than three weeks?
DF: Wear a watch. Never compromise your vision, but always be malleable. Have fun, but not too much fun. Take crazy risks. And get a good AD. The AD should also be crazy… but not too crazy.
MM: Choosing which festival to premiere your film at is a tough decision, as there are so many factors that come into play–location, audience, distribution opportunities, etc. What made you decide to premiere the film at Tribeca? Where do you hope the film will go next?
DF: I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Tribeca. Booklyn-born, I’m a New York guy. It just made sense. Plus, they dug it. I’ll maybe hit some horror and comedy fests after. It’d be cool to play an arthouse or three… But if I really had my wish it would be… nah, I’m saving that dream for me, kids. That dream’s for me.
For more information, visit http://www.hystericalpsycho.com.