From the Nightshift: Interview Kris Hulbert (Director) ‘The Perfect House’

Where did the idea of “The Perfect House” come from?

The idea came from a short I wrote entitled “Dinner Guest that was very violent and packed a punch but just couldn’t be translated into a feature without watering it down. I held onto it for a while until I saw a craigslist posting for horror features and shorts. I submitted it and quickly got a response from Randy Kent explaining how much he loved the story.

He wanted to make it a feature as badly as I did. Even together we couldn’t figure out a way to keep the nonstop violence intact without diluting it. Randy suggested that we do an anthology and that the house itself had more stories to tell.

We ran with that idea and “Dinner Guest” was used as the third and final story in the film. The first story was written quickly after we came up with the concept of an anthology, it was the second story that we just couldn’t find a great fit. Originally we experimented with another writer but both the writer and the story just didn’t work with what we wanted to do. After stalling for as
long as possible, I realized I had no choice but to write another story. The
only thing I could come up with was “If I went crazy how would I do it?” From
that question the second and ultimately the heart and soul of the film was
finally created.

Why did you decide to make “The Perfect House” your first feature film?

With no experienced proven resume to rely on we knew that we would need to do our first real film completely on our own. With that in mind, it had to be an extremely cost effective and as simple to shoot as possible. The easiest solution was designing a high concept story around what we had: a single free location, friends, family and almost no money. What we came up with was a horror anthology completely set in one location and the time period would change from story to story while telling the overall life of our ‘Perfect House’.

Why film it in the Western New York area?

We originally planned on shooting in Los Angeles, we spent months looking at options and locations for Los Angeles. One of our key necessities was a basement with a storm door. A basement became the white whale of locations in LA, we just couldn’t find one and when we did the rate was $1500 a day and up. The shoot was scheduled to take at least 10-15 days. For the 15,000 minimum we would have to
spend, to have a marginal location at best, we could spend 3-4,000 on travel and shoot undisturbed at my grandfather’s house. There we would have the additional support of friends and family in the area, and a lower cost of living gave us better rates on almost everything. The hidden value in all of this was the fact that my grandfather’s house and basement was the exact house I had in mind when I wrote the story. It was his basement I was terrified of while growing up. We just had to figure out what to do with Grandpa.

I have heard that different parts of the movie have different styles?

Yes, one of the ways we came up with to add a bit more creativity and uniqueness to a film that takes place in one single location was to play with the time periods. We decided to make the film an homage to horror. Thankfully we had an amazing DP (Tal Lazar) that was willing to take on this unique set of challenges. We set each of the three stories in a specific time period of horror. The first story takes place in the 60-70’s and mirrors the horror styles used during that time. Off camera violence, black and white, suspense, sound effect driven, shooting styles and so on. The second story is my favorite, the classic 80’s slasher with some dark humor mixed in, you also have your
gratuitous boob shot and crazed unstoppable killer on the loose. The third and final story is your modern day massacre with graphic violence, a very disturbing, icy cold feel, and a brutal unrelenting conclusion.

You seem to have a good mix of well known actors/actresses and fresh faces. What was the process of casting the film?

Like everything about this film it was very unorthodox. We originally met Felissa Rose when she volunteered to help shoot a spec trailer for the film to use in raising funds. After we got our first experience with the flakiness of Hollywood and lost our lead actor, Felissa suggested an old friend of hers, Jonathan Tiersten. We brought Jonathan in at the last minute but it didn’t matter because it was meant to be, from the moment I talked to Jonathan I knew we had the right man for John Doesy. We truly got lucky there. Many of the other castings were held in both Los Angeles and Buffalo. We used Facebook, craigslist, hey you and everything else we could to find actors. We even held
auditions in a BBQ restaurant during operating hours. We ended up with an equal mix of recognizable faces with fresh faces, a great mix of Hollywood talent and local talent from Western New York.

Any funny or interesting stories from the filming?

There are a million excellent antidotes that came from this project from beginning to end but the one that has been retold the most so far has been “bathroom day”.

After 7 straight days of shooting in the tight quarters of a basement we got to learn what tight quarters really were (and the value of sound stages). The first day of “Dinner Guest” was also the first day our star actress Felissa Rose was due on set. The entire day consisted of shooting in an upstairs bathroom of the house, the scenes entailed everything dialogue, action, stunts, special effects,
water stunts, handcuffs, knives, an inexperienced crew all in a literally 8′ x4′ “set”.

We got lucky, it was an 85 degree day in the muggy Northeast summer. On the second floor, with no open windows or air conditioning, temperatures were around 110, and with lights the bathroom was at least 120. After 7 prior days together in a basement, tempers were already flaring. For 14 hours we shot in those conditions, and while it wasn’t the most graceful set a lead actress ever walked
onto, it was trial by fire for everyone. Every single one of the 20 people stuck on this second floor snapped at some point or another. Lunch was the quietest most spread out lunch of production, all of us were in a perpetual state of anger, sweat, and discomfort. At the end of the day, when the last person exited this blood splattered, water splashed, disheveled little bathroom, not a single person carried a grudge with them. In fact, we celebrated like we just wrapped on Avatar, that’s when I knew I had a special collection of people, all just as irritable and loyal as me.

Plus we always had the excitement of my grandfather popping in from time to time to blame us for anything that happened to the house in the last 25 years that he suddenly noticed.

The movie appears to have a lot of makeup effects that will keep horror fans happy, could you tell me about the effects people you used?

We actually ended up going with both make up and effects people from the Buffalo area. The team was a bit raw but they were everything you want from your effects department: very passionate about the subject material, respectful and knowledgeable about the history of the horror genre, and just weird enough that you always wondered if they were safe on their own in public.

What are your plans to market the film? And where will DVDs be available?

Ahhhh our plans to market the film….. This has been an area of great discussion for us. I truly believe that this film from the very start has gone its own way, and that’s a big reason for the success of it so far. With that in mind, we are going our own road with our marketing plan. We have scheduled a screening and Q&A tour starting in April to promote the release of our film. We are going to do a scheduled release of the film on VOD only, initially. The film will be released on VOD October 1st. Our goal is to prove you don’t need a theatrical deal to reach the world like Paranormal Activity did. If you promote it heavily and produce a great product, we want to prove that a VOD release can
compete with a similar theatrical release. Our film won’t be confined to the limits of 3500 theaters, we will be available to the world.

Our tour will go until October 1st capping off with a live web party from a secret location. We will be adding tour dates based solely on the “Demand it Now” response. Any city with more than 200 demands can get a screening. Our goals are to reach a million fans on Facebook between now and October 1st and to show the world a major VOD release can be done successfully. We will be filming the tour and doing some unique multi media surprises along the way to create a full documentary and dvd extras to chronicle the tour. After the VOD release, we plan to work with distributors to release an extras-filled dvd.

‘The Return to The Perfect House Tour’ sponsored by Gem Design Jewelers is dedicated to becoming the most “user friendly” tour ever. Our goal is to take advantage of every technological convenience possible while making every aspect of our tour as interactive and “user friendly” to follow as possible. All of our websites will be updated and commented on daily by our cast and crew not some generic web designer, giving fans direct interaction with us at every turn. We will even take ideas and suggestions directly from our fans to increase the
interactive features of the tour.

A few Examples of how our tour will be “user friendly” are the integration of self printing tickets that can be scanned at the door using a cell phone app, using QR barcodes on t-shirts and publications to make adding The Perfect House on facebook as simple, fun and easy for fans as possible.

Our tour page features will be constantly evolving. Podcasts, web series, exclusive clips from the shows, reviews good or bad, message boards, a daily word from a random fan, giveaways, contests and an interactive multi media map of where we’ve been and where we’re going.

At the shows we will have reality booths set up for fans to give their immediate reactions and be eligible for the daily word from a random fan, convienent state of the art ticket check ins and a cell phone required interactive Q&A unlike any other.

Every step of our tour will involve taking feed back from the fans on how we can evolve the tour as we go to bring an even deeper user experience.

The goal is to give the fans the opportunity to feel like they are a part of the tour well before we reach their city and give them the outlet to stay involved and be a part of the success of not just a film but a franchise long after we leave.

Information on the tour is available at
www.theperfecthousemovie.net

What are your future plans? Is there a sequel in the works?

My future plans are to continue making each project a little bit bigger than the one before it. With that in mind, we do have sequels in the works. I have already written both the sequel and a spinoff that we hope to shoot in the spring of ’12. When finished, the franchise will be a trilogy that can be watched in any order and tells the linear life and death of a single house from very different perspectives. The spinoff will be an origins story based on John Doesy (the second short story in The Perfect House) that will eventually divulge even more secrets of The Perfect House.

‘Thank you Kris for taking time from your busy schedule to give us the latest on the Perfect House

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One Response to From the Nightshift: Interview Kris Hulbert (Director) ‘The Perfect House’

  1. John D. says:

    This guy sounds just crazy enough to make it happen….

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