Hi Sean, I watched Red Snow for Panic Fest and oh my gosh, it was awesome. It was like Misery meets The Lost Boys.
Sean- Oh thank you so much.
How did this idea manifest for you?
Sean- I wanted to do a vampire film for a long time. I grew up watching Bela Lugosi as Dracula when I was probably four or five years old. Then later on, I saw The Lost Boys, Fright Night, and the Hammer Horror films. I guess vampires are such a rich sub-genre for stories and what I love about them is there is a lot of room to play with the mythology and iconography of them. When I was trying to think of a small and intimate story that I could tell on budget, it seemed like vampires fit well. It’s funny that mentioned Misery because I think that was also an inspiration, whether I was conscious of it or not? The idea of a writer in a cabin, it’s a notion that I think is right for the story.
Will there be a sequel?
Sean- It’s funny because, I love these characters and I could keep going with them. If I had a good idea of where I wanted to go with the story, I would consider doing a sequel.
How did you feel when you found out that you would be part of Panic Fest 2021?
Sean- Yes, absolutely. It’s funny because we shot the movie right before lockdown, we barely got it in. I’ve been in post for the last year. One of the things I was thinking about was, what is the premiere of this movie going to look like? I think the way that Panic Fest did it and the way that Tim and Adam came up with the idea of having a Hybrid event. I think it’s kind of perfect. It is a bit odd to not attend the in-person screening. I still haven’t seen my own film in a theater to see how an audience reacts to it, which is a little surreal. I think this is great because it allowed everybody that has been following the film to tune in and watch it. I was really excited when it was selected for Panic Fest. I think it was the perfect place for it to debut.
I think so. I loved Dennice in Red Snow. She was funny, brave, smart and kicking ass. She was great as Olivia.
Sean- Dennice is fantastic in the movie and something that she understood was that its Olivia’s dream come true that vampires are real, and she’s obsessed with vampires. It’s kind of fantasy that curdles into a nightmare. The thing that she’s always wanted is not at all what she had hoped it would be. They do have this bloodlust and they are dangerous. It was great watching Dennice take on this role. She brought this character to life.
What was it like for you working with everyone? How did you get everyone prepared?
Sean- It was interesting how the cast came together. I went to film school with some of the people in the film and I wrote the roles for specific people. In the case of Dennice, we met in college. We were in a class in San Francisco state, she was in the theatre department, and I was in the cinema department. It was this hybrid acting and screenwriting class. I wrote the part around Dennice and it was similar with Nico Bellamy (Nico plays Luke), he had auditioned for my previous movie. I cast his brother in that movie. The other vampires, I had casted them locally in the Bay Area. Then, with Vernon Wells who plays Julius King, who is kind of the vampire hunter. That was the happiest accident because I always intended that role to be portrayed by a veteran actor. I happen to have an acquittance, Brian Martin, who is a local filmmaker, and good friends with Vernon. I kind of just asked him if he would be willing to come in for a few days, and to my delight he said, yes. It was crazy because it was like Vernon just appeared like a puff of smoke. He was just instantly that character. It was such a surreal moment.
Vernon did such a great job; he really made the character great.
Did you actually get to film in Lake Tahoe?
Sean- Yes, my family has had a cabin out in South, Lake Tahoe for generations. When I was about six years old, I would film movies out there with my family and friends. This was my chance to go back to my old stomping ground and make something there. It was a fun camp vibe because the crew was about ten people. We just stayed at a cabin and rented one other cabin so we weren’t all crammed in. We got lucky with the snow, it just dumped snow when we needed to do all the exteriors, like the big action sequence that’s out in the snow.
How do you prepare yourself for a film?
Sean- The biggest thing is preparation. We shot this in twelve days, plus one pick-up day shot in Berkley, otherwise everything was shot in Lake Tahoe. It was a mad dash to get the movie done. I would have loved to have more days, and that’s why I think preparation is key. You get to make a lot of the big choices while you have the time. I worked closely with my cinematographer Gavin V. Murray who I also went to film school with. It was similar with our costume designer Sara Alix; we had a lot of conversations about all the sweaters and the Mom’s clothes that Luke wears. I think that’s the key thing to making a movie like this. The more that you can prepare, the better the movie will turn out.
Thank you so much Sean. It was great to talk to you.
Sean- Thank you so much Janel.