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Interview: Michael Kehoe – Director (The Hatred)

 

Michael Kehoe (“Hush,” “Second Dance”) has written and directed “The Hatred.” This film is produced by Malek Akkad (“Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers,” “Halloween: Resurrection.”) The film stars: Sarah Davenport, Andrew Divoff, Darby Walker, Gabrielle Bourne, Bayley Corman, Alisha Wainwright, David Naughton, Amanda Wyss, and Shae Smolik. The trailer alone is enough to scare you into never turning the lights off again. Michael took time to speak with Horrornews.net about “The Hatred.”

“The Hatred” is coming to Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital HD, September 12th.

Hi Michael, How are you? Okay, so I will never be looking under my bed again! I love the trailer so much. I am so excited for this film. Tell me about “The Hatred?”

Michael- I will give you a little bit of background on what happened. I wrote the script a while ago. I have twin sons. My twin sons when they were about four or five years old they used to say, Daddy check the closet, check under the bed, and check here, check there. I would have to go through this whole process to make sure everything was okay and then they would go to bed. Then years ago when I was a kid I went to Ireland with my mom and we stayed at Marshal Montgomery’s house in Ireland. He bought the house for his mother. He was like the General, he was the opposite of General Patton for the British. He purchased the house for his mother in Ireland and we stayed there. It was like a little motel. We would hear people in the middle of the night going up the stairs. It was a spiral staircase. Then my mother went out and said you have people coming in late at night and the woman said, no we don’t. She kind of brushed it off. It continued and my mother said, who is coming in this late at night. The woman said, there is nobody here but you.

Oh, that is creepy!

Michael- Then she told us the story that Marshal Montgomery’s mother before when he went away after he got the house they got in an argument and she had died without them making up and she walks the stairs at night, that is the story. I had actually heard these noises and so that was the only time I’ve even been part of a paranormal experience. I did hear things from other people so I just tucked this away. I started my first film that I did years ago, it was called “Second Dance” and it won at Sun Dance. It was about suicide. So I wanted to make thrillers and it was kind of like a “Twilight Zone.” I made a couple of features after that and some other short films but I never did horror. What I did was, I had put the ideas that I had away and I decided to write a script about that. I wrote this, “The Hatred.” I took a scene from that and created a short film which is called “Hush” and that ended up being a short film that won thirty-four awards. We actually won the Wes Craven Award at the Catalina Film Festival. We started shopping it and the first producer it came to was Malek Akkad who was the producer of “Halloween,” and he loved it. He and I dove into the script and really developed it and worked it out. It ended up getting picked up and we are now going to be released.

I have to tell you the scene in the trailer with the little girl is insanely creepy. I have been watching horror movies since I was a kid. That scene is great! I almost fell off my bed.

Michael- Thank you.

Now what was it like shooting the film?

Michael- First off, that scene right there I get attacked by so many people. People attack me and say, I ripped off my own little short film. This is a rip-off of the short film “Hush.” They say I am not being creative and they are calling me Hollywood saying Hollywood is not coming up with original ideas. But when you have things happen to you in your life. Let’s just say you are in high school and you start dating someone and you break up and your hearts broken. Well, if I do a film about that I am not ripping everybody’s heartbreaking moments off. These are things that happened to people in life. I look at Hollywood as, Hollywood is Stephen Spielberg, Christopher Nolan. That is Hollywood but then there is independent Hollywood and that would be films from myself and other people that are striving for years to make a film and get it out there to the audience only to entertain. We tried to achieve entertainment for the audience. In going that route and doing that I am really not ripping off anything. I am just taking some life experiences. Everybody makes their bed right, so if you made a movie about making the bed you are not stealing it from someone. In the process of making this, it was a great journey. It was a difficult journey. I come from Upstate, New York. I didn’t know anybody in Hollywood. I struggled for many years writing and it was before computers obviously so when your handwriting things out or typing and you make a mistake you’ve got to type everything out all over again. So, it’s been a difficult road. I have four sisters and they all said to me if I made a movie about stupid women, blood and guts, and sex don’t come back to New York. So, I wrote a script that had all the elements of avoiding the clichés of the sex goddess, the blonde getting killed, and T&A, getting drunk and all that stuff.

“The Hatred” is something the horror world needs right now. It is different.

Michael- Yeah

You have such a legendary cast including Andrew Divoff, Amanda Wyss, Bayley Corman, David Naughton and more. What was it like working with all of them?

Michael- with Andrew Divoff,, that started off with Malek Akkad who is the producer, he had a relationship with him and we were talking about other actors and Malek really trust Andrew. I’m so happy that he did because Andrew was amazing in the role. His preparation for role and his service to the picture itself was just an amazing process that I experienced with him. As far as David Naughton and Amanda Wyss, David played the lead in “An American Werewolf in London” and of course you know Amanda Wyss from “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” They are friends of mine. I had always wanted to work with Amanda but I didn’t have a role in this for her. There was a small, small role. I mean it’s very small, she is in two scenes in the movie and it’s very small. When I sat with her at Starbuck’s, we were talking and she said look, Mike I want to work with you and I want to keep this going, I am there for you. I was so humbled by that. I gave her a call and I said I’d love for you be in this moment here and she read the script and said, I’m there. David Naughton did the same as well.

They had played a married couple in some other movie so they knew each other and it was very comfortable for both of them on-set. Then as we went through and started casting it. Malek and I were looking at each and every role. We collaborated on all that. We started going down the line and bringing them in. When I cast Sarah Davenport, I was hit by her performance. I said right away, this is going to be our Regan, our lead you know. Then we had Bayley Corman and there was something about her eyes when she communicated with the other actors and when she communicated on scene when she was by herself but I didn’t know that she was Roger Corman’s niece. We hired her for her performance. The same goes for the young woman who plays the young woman Alice.  This is a pretty funny story, I got a phone call from a friend of mine. I play guitar because I was in a band and they said could you come over to Darby Walker’s house. She wants to record something and she wants you to play guitar. So I went over to the house and we were talking and this had nothing to do with the movie. We were talking about different songs and I didn’t like any of the songs that she was showing me and I said have you ever heard of The Beatles and there is a song called, “That Boy” which we could turn around and say “That Girl.”

I said this is something you could sing and she downloaded the lyrics without listening to the song and I played it on guitar and there is this beautiful melodic tone in her voice. I cannot even describe it. It’s engaging and then she took it and she created a little images together and it is on YouTube. If you look up “Darby Walker –The Beatles (Darby Walker Cover) “That Boy.” I went away from there and thought there is something quirky about her. I want to bring her in to read for this role. So she read for the role and I was immediately captured by her performance as everybody else and even Malek said let’s land her. Then I talked to her mother and I said I need her to come in and read with the other actors and she said what day and I said this day and she said she can’t. I said what do you mean she can’t, I said well what day is she available? She says she can’t, she sequestered. I said she’s sequestered, what she is on jury duty because she is only seventeen. I said listen you got to tell me if it is something I’ve got to know about it because I don’t want it to affect the film. She said, Michael she is one of the number one contestants on “The Voice.” She said they could not talk about it. Once we got the cast together we were on our way.

Malek and I were there every day. I’ve got to give Malek credit because he really put his heart into each day with me. We would meet three hours before at a Starbuck’s near the location. Our call time was at seven and we would be there as soon as that opened up. We were putting in eighteen, nineteen hour days every day of shooting. We didn’t have a big schedule because we didn’t have a lot of money but because of the talent of the cast and crew. I always say surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. But never in my wildest dreams, I never thought the trailer would get over ten million views. Lionsgate created a trailer and they contacted us and said we are nominated at the Golden Trailer Awards. It is kind of like the Academy Awards for trailers. I said, what! I had heard of it, I did some research and Wayne Brady who was the host of the show and they had like five trailers that they would show of that genre and ours was nominated with “The Conjuring 2,”Annabelle 2,” “Get Out,” and Stephen King’s “IT.” I was extremely happy that we were just nominated out of hundreds of films that people looked at. The great thing about it was, Stephen Kings “IT” won but the great thing about it was that Wayne Brady said, I will never look under the bed again, that film scared me. So getting those kind of kudos makes it all good.

I have to agree with Wayne Brady, that scene was scary and I am not one to scare easily.

Michael- Yes.

Okay, one thing I want to ask you about is the George Romero tribute. You have a tribute in the film to pay homage to Romero. Tell us about that and what he mean to you?

Michael- Well, what ended up happening with that was Malek while we were shooting there was a moment in the short film our actress, and we didn’t use the same actress but the actress, the young woman is watching television, or falling asleep while she is watching television and I took an old film and put a clip of that on there and ran that while we were shooting. And then when we got to making the feature, Malek decided and said let’s do a tribute to one of the greats George Romero. He said we are going to take a clip from “Night of the Living Dead” and put it up there. I didn’t know it was available, I guess it available for public domain. It is a nice moment where she is switching the channels and she is looking at that and we said let’s do that. Malek was spot on with that. It is a great little tribute to George Romero. It is the opening of the movie. As I said I’ve got to give cheers to Malek.

You wrote and directed “The Hatred.” Did you face any challenges while filming?

Michael- I would say there are challenges all the time when you come across something. For instance if you are shooting something and you are not happy with it, you can cut it out. But if it is a crucial point or something, sometimes people use CGI to make corrections on things. There are challenges there for the script if you have the weather against you. But, I think overall one of the things that is important is being prepared. If you are prepared and have a roadblock in front of you, you can get around it by doing something else. We were shooting two units at the same time. I was running back and forth and Malek Akkad was running back and forth trying to make sure I could finish because we did not have enough money or time in that so. It was kind of difficult for the whole process for us during shooting but it wasn’t a challenge that you would think as far as like, did I come up against something that was going to stop the shooting completely and I was going to go there. I think every filmmaker has challenges but it is how you’re prepared. It’s how you get over those little roadblocks. I look at it almost like a military operation. Your goal is to take the hill and every day is moving a little bit further up. You want to always finish the day knowing that you’ve moved a certain of amount footage. The next day you go until you have reached the top of the hill. That is your ultimate goal. So the challenge is time, always time and money. You know there are other elements that may pop in your way whether somebody gets hurt or sick. If the weather is against you. We were fortunate enough that no one got hurt or sick. We were fortunate enough that we had one location and we were really not outside because the weather would hurt us.

Where did you shoot “The Hatred” at? Where were some of the locations?

Michael- The house is in Fillmore, California. I drove around with the DP, we would take pictures of different places. We found a number of different houses. The great thing about that was the house and the other little locations. Everything was right there, the café was right there, the house had the basement, and it had every room that we would be in. We were very lucky and blessed that we had what we had.

Why did you decide to get into film making?

Michael- When I was a kid, a very young child my mother was a director in our community in Brooklyn, New York when I was growing up. During that time, I went from there and moved to Upstate, New York and when I got into Upstate, New York I was playing Rock and Roll. I was in a band and I was playing sports and I got into a drama program so I was involved in all those little clicks you know that were in there. I knew that I wanted to get into the film industry. So, I was living in this small town and I decided that I wanted to direct a play. I directed, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and I played McMurphy in it. What I did was without knowing to produce I got the football players to play all of the characters that were the crazies. I started spreading the word and the next thing you know because everybody in that town goes to see football, we had sold-out shows for two weekends. And its unheard of, usually you play Friday night and Saturday night it kind of dies down and you’re done but we had Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We sold out every show. So I ended up going to The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and pursued everything from there. I moved to California and then I was a bartender. I met a guy who was a writer and his name is Kevin Elders. He wrote the movie, “Iron Eagle.” We were like brothers, he said I’m going to get you out of this and I got my first opportunity to work in the film industry on that picture so there you have it.

That is such an amazing, inspiring story.

Michael- Yes

Michael, what do you want to say to the audiences that will be watching “The Hatred”?

Michael- I think the goal for us from the cast and the crew is just to have the audience enjoy the movie. You know just to have a fun time. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel, we are not trying to do something that is outlandish or crazy. I just want them to go and see it and when the lights go down, get ready and enjoy the story. Enjoy the fright. Hopefully we will be able to hit them in those moments.

Did Malek Akkad offer any advice while working with him? Or did you offer him any advice while working together?

Michael- We were side by side throughout the whole time. Malek would come up with ideas. We would share them, we would collaborate and I think that was one of the great elements of this film that when it goes out you have a producer that you are working with and he or she is right there with you to try and achieve the best for the movie, you know it’s not an ego thing. The two of us worked hand in hand to bring this picture where it is. With all the challenges and all the elements that were dealt with this is it. It is because of that relationship that the film is where it is at right now with over ten million views for the trailer.

That is absolutely amazing. Do you feel there will be a sequel for “The Hatred?”

Michael- Believe it or not, I wrote a long time ago before I wrote this I wrote a prequel. It is not a prequel in the sense that it’s a little horror movie. I wrote a prequel of a big adventure film and it deals with something in “The Hatred.” If there is an opportunity that is offered to us, I have to sit down with Malek and we have to talk about the sequel. I have another movie that I’m working on right now that is going to take place in Iceland. It is called Keflavik, it’s a sci-fi movie. If something comes about with this, I’d be more than open to talk about it.

You have worn so many different hats including: writing, directing, acting etc. Is there one that you prefer more or is there one that is more difficult than the other?

Michael- I think producing is like being a parent, you are trying to provide. It is like throwing a party. You put everything together and you hire people to come into it and hopefully people talk about the party and it’s great. I love the writing aspect of it of being in the theater of the mind. In my mind I am actually creating all of this. And of course when you go and shoot I would say the most inspiring moment is while you are on-set and you are taking those moments that you write and your report them to camera. I get excited about watching the performance of the actors and the movement of the camera. It is your vision going up there. It is a difficult task and sometimes you need a really good producer that is going to handle it properly and Malek was that producer. So, I could have never of done this without him. Getting the story up on-screen, that’s probably one of the most important things for me, one of the most fun.

It was such an honor to speak with you Michael and keep scaring the crap out of people. The trailer is incredible.

Michael- (Laughter) Get everybody to see it. Thank you.

MICHAEL ON TWITTER @MikeyKehoe

MICHAEL’S SITE

THE HATRED ON FACEBOOK

MICHAEL’S INSTAGRAM  @MIKEYHOE11

 

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