- Lili's Lair: I understand that upon returning to Minnesota from LA you decided that you wanted to write a script so simple it could be shot for under $100K, at one location, with only a limited number of actors in it. Was that the driving force in the creation of 13 Hours in a Warehouse or did the idea for the story come first?
Dav Kaufman: When I set out to create a new script, I come up with a simple plot, and then build from there. However, the idea for 13 Hours was a little different. I started writing with only a few simple ideas; a warehouse, five criminals, and a few pissed-off ghosts. The story unfolded as I wrote. Admittedly it was a non-conventional way to write, but I think the outcome worked pretty well.
Lili's Lair: Speaking of the story, all stories have a story behind them. What was the inspiration for your screenplay 13 Hours in a Warehouse?
Dav Kaufman: Years ago, we used to party in an old abandoned warehouse in Northeast Minneapolis. It was so creepy, and to venture out of site from the group meant that whatever was hiding in the various shadows would certainly single you out and start gnawing on your bones. So, of course, we often did wander alone just for that rush of adrenaline dusted fear. It was that feeling that I orchestrated into the story and the overall feel of the film.
Lili's Lair: 13 Hours in a Warehouse was shot in only 18 days. With such a short amount of time, what kind of schedules had to be kept by the cast and crew?
Dav Kaufman: I owe that all to our Assistant Director, Brandon Terrell. He really kept the show moving along. We also had a very dedicated, professional crew. The shoot was such a well functioning machine that on some days, we would get all the shots for the day finished before lunch, and then move onto the next day’s schedule after a brief rehearsal. For the majority of the shoot, we were actually ahead of schedule.
Lili's Lair: How far in advance did you begin writing the script and planning out the making of the movie, and how long did it take in total from concept to distribution?
Dav Kaufman: I began writing in early October of 2006. We were fully funded by April 2007, and we began shooting in July. The world premiere was held in Minneapolis at the famed Riverview Theater on February 7th, 2008, and our first film festival, the Nevermore Horror Film Festival in Durham, NC was held two weeks later. In April, just before we won the Gold Remi Award at Worldfest Houston, I took off the “artist hat” and put on the “business hat” as I sat on the phone from 9 to 5 daily reaching out to a group of distributors I had researched as possible candidates for this film. I had two companies that were in a bidding war, but I felt that Maverick Entertainment was the best fit, and in May 2008, we agreed on, and signed a global distribution deal with them. The film was released in the US on October 28th, 2008. The film grossed over three times its budget on it’s opening day making it the only Minnesota made film to payback something to its investors in under 15 months of production, as well as being the first to get into Blockbuster, Netflix, and Redbox at the same time.
Lili's Lair: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during the making of the movie?
Dav Kaufman: Simple. Working with such a low budget. Although the final film exceeded my expectations, there was a lot that I wanted to do but couldn’t because of budgetary constraints.
Lili's Lair: Not only were you the filmmaker, but you also wrote the screenplay, directed, and produced. What was the hardest of these and why?
Dav Kaufman: Writing is always the hardest for me. That’s when you create the skeleton of the story, and therefore have nothing but your imagination to base ideas off of. Everything else, translating the script to image during the direction process, producing the shoot, and everything else comes rather easy once you have the outline to use as a tool of what you’re about to accomplish.
Lili's Lair: I have read reviews by people who have seen the movie. A lot of them have said it was a horror version of Reservoir Dogs. What are your thoughts on that?
Dav Kaufman: I think it’s interesting, but inaccurate. That was actually said before the film was released, although I’m not sure where it originated. I find it interesting that people either absolutely loved this film, or absolutely hated it. Filmarcade.net called it “The most original supernatural horror film I’ve seen in a while from both the independent and major studio systems” while a reviewer for Redbox hated it so much that he actually made juvenile and personal attacks against me. Better yet, Moviecynics.com ripped the film to pieces, yet created a kick-ass drinking game based on the movie, which some of the cast and crew and I got together and played. I got a little paranoid when I thought the closing credits were out of focus, but then realized it was just that good of game. Like or hate it, I take a lot of pride in the fact that somewhere, people who I’ll never get to meet are discussing in depth something that I created. I not only wear that as a huge badge of honor, but I take that as a sign of a successful film project.
Lili's Lair: Your film has garnered several awards, including: Winner - Gold Remi Award, Worldfest Houston Winner - Best traditional Horror Film, Crypticon Seattle & Winner - Best Horror Film, Indie Spirit Film Festival. With these awards under your belt, what kind of creepy creation can we expect to see next from Dav Kaufman:?
Dav Kaufman: As far as horror films are concerned, I am in the early stages of development on a film I hope will find a dedicated following: Hugo Kreigler. Without giving anything away, the film will introduce a new movie monster to the world. It is slated for a summer 2010 shoot. In the meantime, I have just released a documentary titled Herpers; the first feature documentary on the great reptile culture. “Herpers” is the nickname given to Herpetoculturists—people who study and/or keep reptiles and amphibians (of which I proudly am). The film features people who breed snakes for a living, people who enjoy finding new species in the wild, and celebrity herpers including Chad Brown of the NE Patriots, and Slash. We filmed in eight states over the course of nine months last year. The DVD was released on May 16th, 2009 and can be purchased at www.herpersmovie.com.
See you all tomorrow!