When it comes to crafting a story centered around Halloween, there are so many directions you can go. Some of the segments in TALES OF HALLOWEEN aim for laughs. Others for good old fashioned scares. Some just for fun. One of the more unsettling entries in the anthology comes from director Adam Gierasch, who delivers the dark and twisted “TRICK,” a story in which the kids in costumes aren’t as adorable or as friendly as your average trick or treaters. We talked about the making of his TALES contribution and the overall comradery between a group of filmmaker friends that made this little Halloween anthology a reality!
Blumhouse.com: Let’s talk about the origins of the project. As I heard it, it’s something Axelle talked about for a while with the gang, but it wasn’t until both Monsterpalooza last year and then she brought up the idea at a party, and the enthusiasm between you and Andrew Kasch really lit the fire. Do you remember that?
Adam Gierasch: Absolutely. It seemed like a good idea and it seemed possible and feasible! So many times you hear ideas and think well I don’t know if that can be done. But this was more like, “cool! If we can get everyone together, we can make this thing happen!” It was very exciting. It was at our friend Erin’s birthday party. Myself, Andrew Kasch and Axelle talked about it. She talked to Mendez about it and Mike then brought it to Epic and the rest is history.
BH: It seemed once they asked all of you guys and went to Epic Pictures, it all came together rather quickly. I’m fascinated with the process of getting your stories together. Because you all had completely different ideas about Halloween and that’s what makes this anthology a lot of fun. How’d the story to your segment TRICK come about?
AG: It came about in the collaboration process. I liked the idea of killer children. (Laughs) It was originally a lot darker than it is. It’s not exactly light and fluffy now, but it was originally a lot darker. But we weren’t allowed to do our dark version because it probably would’ve broken federal laws. But I just love the idea of a kid knocks on your door. You go to give them candy and then…. What if the kids are knocking on your door for a reason? And it’s not a good one? I thought that’d be really cool. It scared me, because it did involve working with children.
BH: Had you worked with children on any of your previous films?
AG: I had worked with one kid for an extended period of time on HOUSE BY THE LAKE. She was very much an actress. These kids were my friend’s children. (Laughs) They’re all smart kids and know what they’re doing. My favorite part of this whole process was sitting at the monitor with Tiffany Shepis (who is in TRICK) and her husband Sean (Tretta) and she’s watching her daughter Mia dressed up as the witch doing her first real scene in a movie and Tiffany was just “oh my God! Oh my God!” She was just so thrilled. I thought it was so sweet. The kids were great and really got into it. If you watch the behind-the-scenes, Tiffany got them to threaten me on camera. I thought that was a bit much!
AG: Yes, of course. Just so people know, it was Tiffany’s kid. Felissa Rose’s daughter Bianca. Sean Killer’s kid, Clayton. Bekah McKendry’s daughter Marnie is in it. I think I trained her to say “trick or treat” and she was just so adorable.
BH: You shot your segment at your own place and it was right after Halloween so you didn’t have to take the decorations down!
AG: Not that we ever take them down anyways!
BH: Right, right. You were also the first segment to shoot. The other filmmakers equated it to just attending 10 more Halloween parties in November. Any pressure being the first filmmaker out?
AG: I don’t think there was any pressure in terms of being the first one out. It’s making a movie, so there’s always pressure in that, in terms of making your days. And then working with kids and only being able to use them for a certain number of hours per day. It didn’t feel like we were having a party! It felt like we were making a movie. The producer Shaked (Berenson) saw me freaking out thinking I wasn’t going to make my day, and he put his arm around me and walked me over to the lunch table and said “you need to eat some food! Take it easy. It’ll be fine.” The good thing about going first, certainly getting it over with and not having to wait! I knew what I wanted to do and because we were shooting at our own place, I was able to figure out that long fancy director’s shot. Yes, I was influenced by TRUE DETECTIVE! (Laughs)
Jace Anderson: The advantage to going first, the directors of course are all friends, but there was also a friendly competition. So while we were visiting each others sets, I think the later your segment shot, there was definitely that friendly desire to try to top the last one.
BH: It felt like everyone had at least one thing they wanted to incorporate into their segments to put their stamp on it. For you, it’s the long tracking shot through the house and out the back and into the parking lot. It’s really impressive!
AG: It took us a bunch of tries to get that right. But it’s a long oner. I was influenced by TRUE DETECTIVE! I think it was really neat to do something like that and I’m so proud that it blends into the story so well. We did a couple of cool things. We had these lights called hydro-fluxes. So we used the pool as source light for the entire backyard. No matter where you were around the pool area, you were lit by the lights from the pool. In some ways, although it was low budget filmmaking, we were using some non-low budget techniques to pull some cool stuff off.
BH: Of the other filmmakers, through the process, who were you most curious to see pull off their segment?
AG: I was curious about Neil’s because I like the idea of a killer pumpkin. I went to visit some people’s sets. Visiting Bousman’s set was a trip because that was pretty wild! I’m probably not the most social of people so I tried to visit all the sets but didn’t get to. I missed seeing Paul Solet’s shoot, but his short is really great. I didn’t do a cameo, although my voice is a cameo in Neil’s. You might see the back of my bald head in Neil’s. (Laughs) In the police station with all the other directors. What was cool about the whole thing was seeing people you genuinely like making movies. And really feeling like a part of a community that we’d felt a part of for a long time. This was neat and magical and a special feeling. Except when it rained. I didn’t go to Mike’s set because it was raining. (Laughs) Mike and Neil both ended up doing pick up shots in my garage.
Jace Anderson: There was one shot in Mike’s short where the chainsaw is going through a body. It was in our garage, Axelle and I lying down on the floor out of camera holding the mannequin and Neil was wielding the chainsaw, and Axelle’s DP shooting. That was the spirit of the whole thing.
BH: Exactly like making little films as a kid with all your friends!
AG: For mine, I hired a bunch of good friends and good actors to be in it. Like Tiffany Shepis and Trent Haaga. I just got a real special feeling being a part of this and just making it. I’m genuinely proud of it.
TALES OF HALLOWEEN is now open in select theaters and available on VOD!