Jeff Wadlow interview (Director of Cry Wolf)

Winner of the 2002 Chrylser Million Dollar Film Competition for his short 'Living the Lie', Jeff Wadlow now looks set for the big time with upcoming flick, Cry Wolf. Interview by John Gray.

POH: The Pit is very excited about Cry_Wolf which opens this Friday, September 16th. I first saw the trailer in front of the crapfest called Exorcist Dominion, or a prequel to the Exorcist...
Yea, the teaser trailer with the instant messages.

POH: That's it. I have to tell you that was the best part of the film!

POH: Since then I have been looking for a release date and it seems they were a bit shifty at first.
Yea, well they really wanted to find the right weekend for it. Itís coming out through Rogue Pictures which is a division of Focus. They did a really good job of marketing the film and finding the core audience. They have really been really smart about it. Thatís why we went to Comicon and why it also has such a strong online presence. They eventually worked it all out and Iím really excited about the 16th.

POH: Talk a little about the story of Cry_Wolf...
It is a modern day retelling of ĎThe Boy Who Cried Wolfí. A bunch of kids play a game of lies for fun and get a little bored with it and decide to take it campus wide by basically spreading a hoax email that says a recent local murder was perpetrated by this psychotic serial killer called ĎThe Wolfí. He wears a orange ski mask and a camo jacket... its a laugh and they send it out campus wide. And you know how some people get freaked out by hoax emails, people start believing it, it circulates and they think they are very clever and very smart. Then, certain details from the email start coming true. Of course, their natural assumption is ďsomeone is playing a trick on us nowĒ. But, the thing that our main character realizes is someone actually killed a girl, there was a real murder and the person who read this email could have read this email. So basically, they've invited this evil presence into their world and its up to them to figure out whatís really happening.

Scene from Cry Wolf: Oh's the Wolf

POH: Nice. I have loved that concept since I read about it. I also like the look of the killer, ĎThe Wolfí. Pretty sweet he landed the cover of Fango this issue.
I was so excited to hear that because it really legitimizes the film as a true horror film because we were always trying to do something that both was an homage to the to iconic, killer, slasher film sub-genre of horror but at the same time we were also trying to riff on it a little bit and reinvent it. So to get the cover of Fangoria cemented it as a true horror film and that was really important to me.

POH: We have gotten nothing but good feedback so far, which is rare for our site. Typically, our PIT fiends pick films apart!
Thatís great, Iím so excited to hear that.

POH: Its also low budget so thatís another plus with the horror fans. I understand there is really good story behind that budget and how the film came about...
Super low budget and that is super exciting for horror fans and myself as a fan. You know, the difference between me the filmmaker and a horror fan that goes to see the film is nothing compared to a Ridley Scott or me and Ridley Scott, you know what Iím saying... itís much more of a meeting of the masses if that makes any sense at all. Iím definitely aware of the audience and made a film for the audience. As far as the story of how I got funding for the film ... I went to school at USC and got my masters degree. I made some short films with my producing partner Beau Bauman and we entered our thesis film ĎTower of Babbleí which Kevin Spacey narrated. The contest was called the ĎChrysler Million Dollar Film Festivalí, an internet contest which Chrysler and Universal did together and the way it works is, you submit your film and if it made the top twenty five, they put it online. Well, it made the top twenty five, then the top ten. They gave us a mini DV and a laptop, and gave us 10 days to shoot and edit a brand new short film featuring a Chrysler car. Based on that, we made the top five, the top five lived together in a house for two months... basically like a filmmakers boot camp. So we shot a short with Estella Warren and Topher Grace (which Cry_Wolf is based on) and with that, we won the million dollar budget. After that, it took us about a year to get the script right and then we shot in my hometown. Everyone was so supportive and we got some great locations. It just turned out to be so much better than a million dollar budget warranted.

POH: How did you get such a big cast with such a small budget?
We have an awesome casting director who did all our short films. Sheís got an incredible amount of experience... she discovered Cameron Diaz, and did some of the Friday the 13th films. Her name is Fern Champion (Friday the 13th 4, 5, & 6) and she actually got us kids to play in the film, which was really important to get actors in Hollywood who actually look like they are in high school. They all cost millions and millions of dollars so we cast our net really wide. We were basically willing to meet with anyone and we had people come in... models and singers... you know, whoever we could get in the room. We saw everyone and were tremendously picky. So, we were very luck to find actors like Lindy Booth, Jared Padlecki, and Julian Morris. We were just really lucky to find them. For the role of Dodger which Lindy plays, I think we saw every actress in Hollywood in that age range who would come and meet with us. We just couldn't find the right person, so I gave up and went to prep in Virginia and then had to fly to Toronto for a film festival and saw two actresses... one of them was Lindy Booth and she blew us away. That was a huge find and we were really excited about that... Jared and Julian we met in LA and they were both great. We fell in love with them when they walked through the door. Everyone in the cast really brought something else to it. They didnít really have a different take, that just came in and did exactly what we needed them to do. They totally offered a new wrinkle... wether itís Sandra McCoy who plays Mercedes, that brought this super adorable sweetness to the character which was written a little more like a Paris Hilton type, and thank God by the way that she did that. And Jared Padlecki who added a little goofiness to the character Tom who written more as a jock... it was those actors who really impressed us. As far as Jon Bon Jovi goes, you know we have our adult cast such as Gary Cole, famous for his work in Office Space as Lumberg.

POH: (in my best Bill Lumberg voice) Yea...
(laughs) So they pitched the script to different agencies and Jon finally ended up on the phone with me and he had read the script a couple of times heís a really smart, smart guy. He had this take on the character and I say hey, do you want to do this and he was there the next day.

POH: Did you get mobbed at all being around Bon Jovi?
Well, that was his one condition. He said if Iím going to do this, please donít tell anyone Iím doing this. For the most part it wasnít a problem, although we did have one day in Richmond Virginia (which is an awesome community and the people were very supportive of this film) where people started blasting Bon Jovi music out the windows and that kinda became like a game of trying to figure out which window it was coming from so we could ask them to stop! That was about the only major issue we had with having one of the most famous people in the world on our set.

POH: What about the PG-13 rating? Horror fans are getting tired of the PG-13 films. How do you respond to that?
Look, I read all the message boards online and Iím very interested in what the fans think. Iím not one of these filmmakers that says Iím going to make my film so it will make the most money, I made it for the love of it and thatís most important aspect to me, wether you laugh, cry, love it, or hate it. I am very aware of what people think, especially after reading these message boards. It seems to me that the fans fall into two different camps; hardcore, exploitative gore which I can certainly appreciate, but those movies should certainly be rated R. Our movie is more of a traditional horror film in that its about the fear of the unknown... what you canít see, what you donít know and I think that a lot of horror is derived from that. You know, you could make a film about a guy that stabs people and heís just a normal guy and you see it all on camera... at least for me, as more of a traditionalist I wouldnít really define that as a horror movie because there is no fear of something darker and deeper that doesn't exist in our everyday life. You know what I mean?

POH: Yea, yea I do.
Wether you want to call it the supernatural, or the unknown or whatever element that truly creates a horror film versus a crime movie.

POH: And thatís why I asked you that specific question, because a lot of people donít see it that way. If you took the original Halloween and took out the tit shots, you would have a PG-13 film. Not much gore if any, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre achieved the same effect. Where as films like The Devils Rejects should be R or NC-17. Iím still reeling that it got an R rating.
And those films should absolutely be R. The other camp... those people who have written about why this has to be PG-13, thatís because they might have been expecting something a lot harder like The Devils Rejects. Those other people that are writing about it are annoyed with all these other films that have been cut to be PG-13 then released on DVD as R. I can say without a doubt that is not our movie. We always set out to make the movie that is being released. There was nothing excised, no scenes, no sequences that were removed just to get the rating.

POH: So no unrated DVD version?
Honestly, Iím sure you will(see one), because its become more of a marketing ploy than anything, but if you rent that unrated DVD and you expect to see like lots of exploitative gore, nudity, and swearing your not going to see it because I didnít shoot it.

POH: Like I said before, lots of great buzz on the Pit of Horror as well as the hardcore folks at Guts and Gory.
Great, you know people who get the film understand that and that we used the original Halloween as a major influence for this film. One of the things we talked about before we started writing was the iconic, genre, slasher and it was so intense and horrific with Carpenters Halloween then it went to another aspect much, much later with the self awareness of Scream, and the parody of Scary Movie. So you follow these trends of the masked killer and what we really wanted to do was be a part of that process because it would be a lie to say we havenít seen all these movie and know how it relates to the world we live in... but at the same time, bring back the mystery, bring back the suspense, bring back the horror and find a way to make it scary again.

POH: Final question. Name your top five favorite horror films of all time in on particular order.
Jaws, Alien, Seven, Psycho, and Halloween.

POH: Thanks Jeff. I will be first in line to buy a ticket on Friday.
Thank you guys. You better believe The Pit of Horror is bookmarked in my favorites now. Keep up the good work.


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