Writer/Director Jason Buterin’s (The Devil’s Tramping Ground.) new film Kill Giggles will be out soon. Kill Giggles stars Vernon Wells, Felissa Rose, Ellie Church and Judith O’Dea. Jaysen took time to talk with Horrornews.net about filmmaking, directing the legends Vernon Wells and Judith O’Dea and so much more.
Hi Jaysen, how are you?
Jaysen- Good, how are you?
I am good. Thanks. Kill Giggles looks good. You wrote and directed Kill Giggles. Tell us how this idea manifested for you and tell us a little bit about Kill Giggles?
Jaysen- I’ve been terrified of clowns most of my life. It all started with the marionette scene in Poltergeist. I was okay with clowns up until that point and I saw that scene and it just sort of unhinged me. So, I’ve been terrified of them for most of my life, I don’t even like to look at them. But just lately, over the last four or five years I sort of just got tired of always seeing the clowns as the serial killers, the monsters, the psychos, the aliens, the spreaders of mayhem. Nobody had ever done a movie where the clowns are the victims so adding a serial killer of clowns. I did a lot of research and I had never come across anything like it before so it just seemed like an original idea in a world of remakes, reboots and refranchises which I wanted to be able to run with. I spent a lot of time working on the script and I have about three or four composition books full of clown stuff which should come in handy for my committal hearings, (Laughter) whenever those are scheduled so it quickly became a feature.
I am not a fan of clowns. They don’t scare me or bother me but I always think about (serial killer) John Wayne Gacy would dress up like a clown and going to these parties. It is creepy. I imagine there are some okay clowns but yes there are the creepy clowns out there.
Jaysen- It’s a frightening architype. One of the cast members/ crew members we had onset, he was one of the last people to graduate from the Ringling Brothers Barnum Baily Clown college. We had him onset as a consultant. He was telling me all about the history and he is a clown scholar if ever there was one. There is something terrifying about this figure that’s design to elicit laughter from children and then sort of embodying and personifying some of the worst and most basic things that make us human. So, when you have someone like John Wayne Gacy it crystalizes the fear.
You have a legendary cast including Vernon Wells, Judith O’Dea, Felissa Rose, and Ellie Church. What was it like working with them and directing this cast?
Jaysen- It was a dream come true and my worst nightmare at the same time. With Vernon, Felissa and Judith, I grew up in the backwoods and back roads of Missouri in the early eighties. My two best friends were the library and the video store. So, I grew up every weekend watching Sleepaway Camp which I think still has one of the best original endings in a horror movie. Its just fucking jaw-dropping. Night of the Living Dead is one of the first horror movies I’ve ever saw. Commando, Weird Science, Mad Max. So, to have grown up watching these people and to be able to work with them and have them saying the words that came out of my head. It was completely surreal and mind-blowing. They had an amazing ability to put everyone at ease onset. Just to be able to sit and chat with Vernon Wells about a character that I wrote was fucking mind-blowing. I was excited to go pick him up from the airport in my mom’s mini-van. It was a nineteen-day shoot and as crazy as things were, everything went really fantastic. I am happy and proud of it.
How did you manage to get everything done in nineteen days and make an amazing film like this?
Jaysen- Well, we didn’t get everything done but I’ve been able to assemble an amazing team here. I’ve always obsessed about preproduction to a microscopic degree. I always believe that the more time you put into preproduction that makes production go a lot smoother. There were a couple of scenes that we didn’t get and some things that we shortened. We had like thirty-six different locations and with an insane amount of planning and just meticulous administrative. It was a lot of preproduction work but that’s how we made a feature film in nineteen days.
Without giving away spoilers do you have a favorite scene from Kill Giggles?
Jaysen- Well, they are all my babies. Each one is my baby. I think the scene with Michael Ray Williams, Vernon Wells and Ellie Church, there’s a scene where we have dinner. Vernon Wells plays Malcom Fossor. The scene with Vernon, Michael, and Ellie all sitting down to dinner, between the camera work and the lighting, we call it The ClownFather because its sort of got that Godfather look and feel. By the time Ron Wasserman gets done doing the score it’s going to be outstanding. I can’t wait to see it. That was really something to see Vernon, Ellie and Michael together. Ellie Church is one of the most amazing actresses I think I will ever get to work with.
How did you prepare with the special effects team?
Jaysen- We had multiple meetings and I had sketches, story boards and I kind of talked them through how I saw it from the script to translating it onto the screen. Jon Harp is the special effects director and Jesse Knight is the D.P., he would be shooting. Without all the planning we had done, we wouldn’t have been able to get the shoot. We had a behind the scenes documentary crew shooting the entire time we we’re onset.
Did you always know that this is what you would be doing?
Jaysen- I knew I was going to be a writer. I had no idea the filmmaking thing was going to happen. I started writing as soon as I started reading. Stories, poems, I’ve written like three novels and I was a syndicated columnist and music journalist. I did all that for years. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with words. I knew I would always be writing but filmmaking I didn’t see coming. All that started around 2006, the first thing I ever wrote. I owe it all to my wife. It became its own beast and I am having the time of my life doing it. Its an amazing artistic outlet to be a filmmaker.
What do you want to say to the fans and the audiences that will be watching Kill Giggles? What would you like them to know from your perspective?
Jaysen- Oh, I’m going to have to think about that one for a second. With Kill Giggles, I wanted to turn the table and tell the tale of a serial killer of clowns. No matter how many times you’ve heard a story there’s always a new way to look at it, a new approach, a new angle. Movies are cinematic catharsis so to be able to tell a tale of something that frightens me and to make it was a dream come true. Everyone has a story to tell and don’t ever be afraid to tell it. Tell the story, make the movie. If you’ve got a dream or your scared of a monster, don’t be afraid to follow it.
That makes sense to me. I find horror movies to be an escape too. An escape from the real terrifying things that have happened in life. I have had a lot of horrible things happen and horror movies help me. You made an amazing film that so many people cannot wait to see.
Jaysen- It is. The real world is frightening and terrifying enough. This is a legacy for my son. He is my masterpiece; I am doing this for him more so than myself. I want him to be proud of me.
I wanted to tell you I think it is incredible that you brough Vernon Wells and Judith O’Dea in Kill Giggles. I find it respectful. They are legends with so much to offer. It gets a bit sad when people see certain actors or people and say oh, they should retire or quit. I heard it about a few actors recently but no one should have to retire or not work due to age. It is just a number and they have knowledge and they have been a part of such incredible films. I am sure it was so cool to just talk to them and hear what ideas they have.
Jaysen- Judith was absolutely amazing. She is a treasure for sure.
What’s next for you? Will there be a sequel?
Jaysen- People have asked us about the sequel. There are definitely ideas brewing there. I’m writing four short screenplays and getting to start two features within the next couple of months. We’ve got a lot of writing underway. There’s never a dull moment in filmmaking, at least there shouldn’t be anyway.
The Kill Giggles poster with the outline reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock.
Jaysen- I wanted Kill Giggles to be as much of a thriller as it a horror movie. Psycho was just as much of an influence on me for this film as American Psycho was. I wanted to balance the thriller with the horror. When we put that poster together, that’s exactly what I wanted.
Its brilliant! I want to thank you so much for taking the time to talk with Horrornews.net – You are so talented and I look forward to seeing Kill Giggles. I can’t wait to see more the work you do. Keep up the great work and the positive outlook. Thank you.
Jaysen- Thank you so much Janel.