CHAD FERRIN INTERVIEW
AFTER CREATING CULT HORROR FAVES 'SOMEONE'S KNOCKING AT THE DOOR' AND 'EASTER BUNNY KILL! KILL!', DIRECTOR CHAD FARRIN LOOKS TO HAVE RESUMED WHERE HE LEFT OFF, WITH HIS LATEST FEATURE 'PARASITES' OFFERING AN IMPRESSIVE THROWBACK TO 70'80' EXPLOITATION. WE CHECKED IN WITH CHAD TO TALK ABOUT THE MOVIE...
You started off working on the crews of 'Halloween' and 'Hellraiser' sequels. What sort of insight did that give you into genre films and the film-making process?
Well, I was wide eyed farm boy having the time of my life being on set with Doug Bradley or running a script to Michael Rooker's house. Many a great moment from those days flashes through my head every time I set foot on a set. I learned to always work hard and treat everyone from the bottom to the top with respect. The optimistic nature of my youth may have tarnished a bit, but I still work hard and try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
You have almost exclusively worked within the horror during the course of your career. We're guessing it's not a coincidence! What is it about the genre that appeals to you so much?
I like the freedom that the genre allows. For example, I could have a scene where a fat man fucks a dog in one scene that plays for laughs. The next scene, plays horror, as that dog stalks and kills a family watching TV at home. Finally a splash of Sci-Fi, as the dog gives birth to human/dog hybrid pups that try and conquer the world.
Two of your previous features ('Someone's Knocking at the Door' and 'Easter Bunny Kill! Kill') in particular are regarded as bona-fide cult films. Did you ever imagine that they would achieve such a status?
Not in a million years, but I don't think anything in my career has gone as I would have imagined.
You generally direct films that you have written yourself. However the movie you have most recently finished 'The Chair' involved you directing a script written not written by yourself. How are the two experiences different, from your own personal perspective?
THE CHAIR was less than ideal for many reasons. I had to give up final cut on it to get paid, and then the executive producer butchered the cut, turning it into an unwatchable turd. So, I prefer to write my own scripts and retain complete control.
Right, onto 'Parasites'...the film has received lots of critical praise from places such as Fangoria, Bloody Disgusting – as well as ourselves obviously! You must be very satisfied at the feedback thus far?
Yes, it has received some great reviews from fine critics such as yourself. But on the flip side, since its VOD release, it has popped up on numerous torrent sites where some scum-fuck, movie stealing creeps have critically blasted it. Look, I'm fine with people who have bought it and want to voice their disdain, but to steal it and then shit upon it is just WRONG.
You have said previously that you generally tend to write screenplays on-spec and then try and get them financed. How easy/tough was that process for 'Parasites'?
Finding money is always a pain. Robert Miano and I met with a few investors, but it boiled down to numerous compromises that I was unable to make. So, I took my fee from THE CHAIR, Miano threw in a few bucks as did Christian Janss, Robert Rhine, Suzanne Sumner Ferry and off we went.
Much of the film is set in the empty, desolate streets of downtown LA. How did you scout those locations and how difficult was it to ensure they remained free of distractions, vehicles and people?
I had first discovered the 6th street viaduct as a PA while shooting NO WAY BACK with Russell Crow and simply fell in love with it. Christian, John Santos and I went out scouting all over downtown including skid row, fashion district and Boyle Heights to find the best spots. Then we got word that the 6th bridge was going to be demolished, so we had to move up our start date and lock our permits. And of course, a week before shooting, the city says, “You can’t film in the viaduct. The Army Corps of Engineers has crews going in and out of there, and they need complete access.” This was devastating, because our key location was suddenly was a no go. We rushed down there to see what they were talking about first hand, and to our shock, there were numerous street racers coming and going through the tunnel to access the river bed. We call up the city, “Why are you allowing street races and other illicit activities to go in and out of there, but we can't?”. They played dumb, and said, “No, that's not happening down there. Sorry, you can't film in the viaduct.” It was a wag the dog moment, so we just went and shot there anyway. Not once did we see the Army Corps of Engineers or anyone from the city.
The ending is highly-charged and there's a lot of emotion and appropriate social commentary behind it. How important was the political aspect of the story when you wrote the script?
It was recent news coverage that sparked a re-write to the script. Those elements fit so well, it was like finding a missing piece of the puzzle.
Recent media focus on M. Night Shyamalan's 'Split' and it's 'portrayal' of mental illness might have some film-makers concerned about how their work may be perceived. Did the way you portrayed 'homeless people' ever weigh on your mind when writing 'Parasites'? Obviously 'Parasites' is a work of fiction but do you (or did you) ever have any worries about that kind of thing?
No, I didn't worry about that. Society going downhill fast, you never know if some nut job on the street is going to flip out on you for looking at 'em sideways. Just take it day by day, and hope for the best.
How did the excellent character actors Robert Miano and Joe Pilato get involved? Did you always have them in mind for those roles?
I met Robert through his wife Silvia Spross, who I had worked with on SOMEONE'S KNOCKING AT THE DOOR. With Joe, I was directing an episode of Troma's Edge TV and found his headshot at the bottom of a desk drawer. A month later, I called him up for a role in THE GHOULS and we've been working together ever since. Yes, the roles were written with them in mind.
Sean Samuels is also brilliant as Colter. How did he end up on your radar?
Sean beat out over a 100 actors that submitted to our casting call. He brought a certain vulnerability to it. Hell, he's not only a great actor, but he was willing to do anything from running naked through the LA river to getting shot up with paint balls, all with a big smile across his face.
You've said that "Parasites" was inspired by the 1965 thriller "The Naked Prey" and the legends of Mountain Man John Colter. Apparently "Quest for Fire" made a big impact on you as well. Are you just drawn to naturally raw stories?
Yeah, the shoe fits. Perhaps growing up on a farm had a hand in it as well.
One of the things audiences love about the film is the retro vibe. From the set-design to the synth music and everything in between. Comparisons with works by Argento and Carpenter have been mentioned in more than a couple of reviews. Have you drawn inspiration from either of those film-makers in particular?
Yes, I've drawn endless inspiration from both of them.
Your next two projects - 'Horse' and 'Dances with Werewolves' - are both firmly grounded in the Western genre – albeit with some horror still in there by the looks of it! Where are you at with both those projects and what in particular attracted you to the idea of heading into Western territory?
From what I hear, Werewolves is close to getting up this year. Unfortunately, I won't be directing it. I'm trying to sell my soul to get HORSE made...I love this project beyond words. The Western has always had a special place in my heart. Maybe I was a gunslinger in a past life.
Finally, you are a man who once sold his beloved Mustang to finance the progression of your film-making career. What advice do you have for aspiring writers and directors who want to keep their film-making dreams alive? Besides telling them to sell their car...
Passion and a willingness to sacrifice EVERYTHING for your art.
Three college guys are cruising the streets looking for a short-cut to drop one of their number off. Unfortunately although they’re within view of the big city lights, their unfamiliarity with the area means that they get lost in the archetypical Skid Row. Surrounded by the homeless and townships made of cheap tents, they initially make light of their predicament. But it becomes less amusing when a booby trap incapacitates their vehicle and leaves them stranded in the most desolate part of the area. No sooner do they get out of the car, then they’re surrounded by a belligerent and well-organised crowd of vagrants. Led by the aggressive and angry Wilco, the young men are subjected to mockery and taunted by the group. But it all turns a bit deadly and it eventually leads to Colter literally running for his life in a modern “No Man’s Land”, with no help or hope in sight until the city comes to life again…
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"I like the freedom that the genre allows"