Last week, I had the chance to talk with Travis Cluff & Chris Lofing, the writers and directors of The Gallows. Here’s the full interview:
Q- Infamous Horror: May you describe to us the process of making the film “The Gallows”.
A- Chris & Travis: The first finished cut of “The Gallows” was finished in July 2012. It was a difficult but cool process. We learned a lot. We chose to make it in the “found footage” style. It was definitely an interesting process.
When we finished the movie, we made a trailer and put it online and it went viral. A lot of buzz was generated and a lot of industry people reached out to us, one of them was a company called Management 360. They were developing a relationship with Jason Blum at Blumhouse and believed this film could be a good fit for “Blumhouse.” Turns out they were right. After a strong preliminary test-screening Blumhouse and Management 360 joined us at Tremendum Pictures as Producers. They had some thoughts on how to make the film even stronger with some re-shoots.
Doing the re-shoots turned out to be the most difficult thing we had to deal with. We were three weeks away from reshoots to change/add maybe 40% of the movie, but when we regrouped with the actors we learned that an actress from the original cut had lost like 40 pounds – which is an incredible amount of weight – and she didn’t look anything like the character in the movie anymore.
We were going to keep her scenes but once she changed her appearance enough, she no longer fit the role. We ended up casting Cassidy Gifford in her place and Cassidy did a great job in the movie that actually went to theaters. So there are two completely different versions of “The Gallows.” Interestingly both movies are on blu-ray: the original and the theatrical version.
Q- Infamous Horror : How was it to work with Jason Blum?
A- Chris & Travis: He’s cool. He’s a funny guy. He knows how to put talented people together on projects, and he’s a guy that loves to give a lot of control to the filmmakers. He really wants to give filmmakers the best shot, and he gives them the freedom to make the movie they intend to make.
That was a really cool process. To work on our movie and getting some reshoots. He & top Blumhouse Exec Couper Samuelson were champions for “The Gallows.” It was really unbelievable. You know, everything we do is with a micro budget, so it was cool to work with the king of low budget filmmaking.
Q- Infamous Horror: Do you have a favorite found footage movie?
A- Chris & Travis: We are both fans of “Paranormal Activity,” and “The Blair Witch Project.” Also thought “VHS” was ground breaking. Funny story about VHS…We had no money to make the first Gallows. We had the pitch trailer and we put it out in hopes of getting financing from someone in Hollywood. One of the people we sent the trailer to worked at The Collective – producers of VHS.
They were in the process of making the first VHS and they offered to buy our concept and our trailer to have featured as one of the segments in their anthology film, but we politely told them “no.”
They wanted “The Gallows” to be a short film in the first VHS. We said no because we wanted “The Gallows” to be a feature. You know, the first VHS was released before “The Gallows.” We saw it and we said, “Ah man people love it” and for a moment we thought we had made a mistake and should’ve been a part of it, but we ended up moving forward with our plan and making the feature length version “The Gallows.” Turns out turning down that offer was a really a good decision
Q- Infamous Horror: Why did you choose to make “The Gallows” as a found footage movie?
A- Chris & Travis: Well we realized that we didn’t have much of a budget. We didn’t have access to recognizable actors, so we thought, “Well we could kind of get away with this horror genre.” With the actors being unknown, we could put together this type of movie. We cast four unknowns. We made the movie. We put blood, sweat, and tears into making something that we felt could get a worldwide theatrical release. The movie turned out great but the found footage genre really tested us – it’s not easy to make a good found footage film.
Q- Infamous Horror: But was Blumhouse ok with that casting you chose?
A- Chris & Travis: Yeah. Everyone was fine with the people that were originally cast and felt the performances were very good.
Q- Infamous Horror: When you were filming “The Gallows,” did you rent the school? Or did you just ask to film in the school and they said yes.
A- Chris & Travis: The first “Gallows” was actually NOT shot at a school. We shot it at a local museum here where we live. It was a museum that looked like a high school. It had a theater in it so we used the theater mainly, and then we used the main hall.
Q- Infamous Horror: With Tremendum Pictures, do you have any upcoming features in the works? Do you have any scripts in the works?
A- Chris & Travis: Yeah, we’re working on several things. We want to direct and will continue to do so. We have a project that we are writing/directing that we plan to film early 2019. But we want to produce a lot more and have several projects we will bring to the market soon. We also want to take advantage of a lot of amazing places here in Fresno/Clovis CA and the Central Valley.
Q- Infamous Horror: Are these horror films or other genre?
A- Chris & Travis: We’re fans of all movies. We have a lot of ideas for every genre of film. Some of them are horror films. The one that we are going to direct is a horror/thriller, but we have in development action, comedy, drama, inspirational…
Q- Infamous Horror: With what star would you like to work with in a Tremendum Pictures movie?
A- Chris & Travis: This answer will change with each project but right now we would really like to work with Andre Braugher, because he is a tremendous talent. He’s always impressed us and we have a role that we’d love for him to play in our next movie. We also love Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman, and Denzel Washington. Actresses we really admire are Toni Collette, Michelle Pfeiffer, Gal Gadot & Bryce Dallas Howard. They all seem like they would be a blast to work with and extremely talented.
Q- Infamous Horror: Would you like to do more found footage, or are you done with the genre?
A- Chris & Travis: hmmm…. No. It’s too taxing. We prefer traditional cinematography.
You can follow Chris & Travis HERE: https://www.facebook.com/chrisandtravis/
Tremendum Pictures on Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/tremendumpics/
Tremendum pictures on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TremendumPictures/
Tremendum Pictures: http://tremendum.com
THE GALLOWS ACT II is officially confirmed and is being released by Lionsgate.
Article written by Samuel Brault-Gauvin