We recently sat down with Jeffrey A. Brown to discuss his newest horror film getting ready to stream on Shudder. It’s a throwback to the old 50’s style horror films. We rather dug The Beach House. I’ll post my review for it tomorrow. Enjoy the interview.
AJ: All right, Jeff, so how did The Beach House first come about?
Jeff: There’s kind of many different strains of it kind of came together. It started around, maybe even as early as 2011, where myself and one of the producers, Sophia Lin, just had a discussion about trying to make our own kind of small movie. I had the basic idea of four characters in one house, which is kind of an indie film trope.
Jeff: The whole going away
AJ: Cabin in the Woods kind of thing?
Jeff: Exactly, exactly. I actually had another friend and we had been … I don’t know, I think we were on the Jersey Shore or somewhere with beach houses and we both had just said how awesome old beach houses were and they’re really big, and they would make a really good location for a movie. Then I wrote a couple drafts of the script in between, I want to say 2011 and 2013, and we tried to pitch to some independent financiers. Advice for young filmmakers, trying to get a movie made based on script alone is super, super hard.
Jeff: So then I made a short that I shot in my apartment in one day and that short, which is called Sulfuric, which has some things kind of in common with Beach House. It was more of to just capture a mood in less than 10 minutes. Yeah, and then
AJ: [inaudible 00:02:20] kind of have a sales pitch for the idea kind of?
Jeff: Yeah, it was more just to show that I could make something from nothing. We did it and it got into 20, 25 film festivals and it played at Fantastic Fest, which is really kind of the start of The Beach House eventually coming together. Then Sophia and I went to the Independent Features Project, ISP, with Beach House. I think we did that in 2014 or 2015. 2016, another producer got involved named Andrew Corkin, who’d made a couple other horror films and a lot of low budget films. He connected us with another set of producers, Low Spark with Tyler Davidson and Drew Sykes.
Jeff: Then they got involved in 2016, and then by the fall of 2016, they were like, “We want to do this and let’s shoot for shooting it off season in May of 2017.” Now I’m realizing it’s 2020 now. So we shot it, and then what’s the old saying? It’s like, you can have things either good, fast or cheap, and you get two of the three.
Jeff: So we chose good and cheap, or low budget as we would say. The post process, it’s a pretty complicated movie in some respects in the post. My experience is not with post, so it just took a very long time. But we finally finished it around the fall of 2019 and that’s when we started getting it into film festivals, and then Shudder bought it in October of 2019. Then that’s where we are today.
AJ: So how was your reaction when Shudder picked up the film rights to stream The Beach House?
Jeff: Dynamite. I was thrilled. I subscribed to Shudder before that, and I loved the movie Mandy, which was my favorite film for that year. I loved it. That was when Shudder kind of came on my radar, because I was like, “Well, this is the only way to see Mandy.” I think I actually saw Alamo Drafthouse or I’d seen it in the theater, but then when it came to streaming, so then I kind of took note of Shudder. I like the movies they put on there, it was just a great fit for me, and I was thrilled.
Jeff: Some of our producers, I think they’re not horror … there’s the indie horror world, and then there’s the indie indie world, they’re not really the same. I consider a movie like Hereditary to be a pretty big horror movie. I know it’s not
Jeff: It’s not a major studio but it’s still a lot bigger than ours.
AJ: It’s still produced by A24 who is a micro budget distributor, but it’s still on a bigger scale than indie indie horror films are.
Jeff: Yeah, I’m like, “Wow, that movie cost 20 times our movie.” Hereditary’s a great horror movie and a great movie, and nothing against bigger budgets movies, but my expectations for Beach House, I never thought it was going to be released in 2,000 theaters or anything like that.
Jeff: So Shudder to me, it was just very fortuitous, that that’s kind of where our roads led. The distribution of films has changed drastically in my lifetime, so even this to me, the more people that can see the movie, the better, and Shudder is a great way for that to happen.
AJ: Yeah, I was thinking, you said you didn’t expect it to get to 2,000+ theaters, but on a streaming service like Shudder, it kinda trumps that idea of 2,000 theaters, because a lot more people can see it now.
Jeff: Yeah, 100%. I haven’t quite grasped that or think, “Wow, lots of people could see it.” But, I mean, that’s ultimately the goal, even though if you make something small, you don’t want to … filmmaking is so expensive, and when I say small, it’s a lot of money to make even a movie that costs $20,000. That’s still $20,000, and that would be a no budget movie. So the fact that we’re getting it out there, it’s just amazing.
Jeff: I hope people like it. If everyone doesn’t like it, then that’s probably good too, in a weird way. If you try to make a movie that pleases everybody, I kind of feel like you please nobody.
Jeff: So if you don’t like it, that’s fine. I’d much rather you like it, but I’ll deal with that. AJ: So, what were some of your inspirations on some of your favorite horror movies growing up?
Jeff: I mean, I was a horror fan from when I was a child, which I kind of blame my father, ultimately. Although, I blame both of my parents. But my father’s view of war was very … he always tells us the scariest movie he ever saw was Psycho.
Jeff: He said he couldn’t take a shower for weeks. Then probably for me, the original Nightmare on Elm Street was one that my mother … I think I watched at a New Year’s party and I couldn’t sleep for a month, and so my mother called up the person who had the New Year’s party and was like, “My son can’t take a bath.” She got really mad at him. But also that night, now I’m thinking about it, we also watched Fright Night. It was Fright Night, Nightmare on Elm Street and I think Children of the Corn.
AJ: Oh, that’s an excellent triple feature to have.
Jeff: Yeah, especially when you’re 10 years old, my little brain was warped. But as much as Nightmare on Elm Street scared me, I loved Fright Night, that didn’t scare me at all. I’ve never been afraid of a vampire personally￼.
Jeff: But what Fright Night was, for some reason, I just thought that was the most entertaining movie. I just loved that. Even that carries over to what I consider the trilogy of great 80s vampire movies, like Fright Night, Lost Boys and Near Dark.
AJ: Absolutely, yeah.
Jeff: They weren’t scary. Nightmare on the Street truly scared me, but I just love the style of them, I love the imagination of Near Dark, the gore effects and just the creativity of horror in general. It’s to a point where I always thought everybody loved horror films. So my wife’s not a big horror fan, I’m like, “Well, what’s wrong with you?” It’s more like, “Well, what’s wrong with you?” I’m like, Ah …” Jeff: Then now with streaming, I’ve gone through phases. I think in terms of Beach House, I came of age in the VHS era.
Jeff: I grew up in Indiana, in the Northwest corner of Indiana, kind of near Chicago, about an hour outside of Chicago. When I was growing up, there were a lot of movies that I could read about, but I couldn’t see them, even the classic 50s horror films. Not the biggies like The Blob and Invasion of the Body Snatchers and War of the Worlds, you could see those movies. But Invaders from Mars or something like the Monolith Monsters, or The Quatermass Xperiment. I couldn’t see those when I was coming of age, I could just read about them and kind of imagine what they could be. Jeff: Then I moved to New York when I was 18, and that was basically giving a junkie crack. Because every movie I’d read about, I could see, because there were the video stores in New York. I think the first movie that I ever rented from King’s Video, which is long gone, which was the big video store in The Village, was Cronenberg’s Shivers. Because that was the one that I’d read about, but they didn’t have it in any of the video stores in my hometown. Then as soon as I get to in New York, first week I’m like, “Shivers it is.” Jeff: Then actually, that movie and Eraserhead, which I saw when I was 18 or 19, both of which, I wasn’t crazy about them, I was like, “Oh, it’s almost disappointing in a way.” Because I built them up in my head.
AJ: Right. You had the hype built up inside. I had the hype built up inside for Eraserhead myself, and I finally just watched it on HBO Max, and I was just like, “Huh.”
Jeff: What was the context of you watching it? How did you watch it? Did you watch it with other people or what was your
AJ: No, I watched it by myself just on HBO Max and I was just kind of not impressed by Eraserhead at all.
Jeff: Yeah. I would suggest … and I agree with that, and the first time I saw it was on the big screen, it was a repertory screening somewhere. I saw the room full of other people and I was like, “Eh, it’s not quite for me.” Then, excuse me, years later, maybe even a decade or two later, I watched it again at about 1:00 in the morning, just by myself in my living room, and that was just a completely different effect. I was like, “Oh, now I see.” I mean, I love David Lynch in general.
AJ: Yeah, I was going to say, that’s the best time to watch a David Lynch film, 1:00 AM just by yourself.
Jeff: They work better. I mean, hopefully even with The Beach House, trying to go for some sort of nocturnal sensibility. That it might not make total sense consciously, but when your defenses are down kind of later in the day, there’s something that works a bit better about it. The things that don’t totally add up, then they completely add up when it’s late at night and you’re a little tired and a little not thinking straight, then it’s a perfect time for The Beach House.
AJ: Well, Jeff, thank you so much for joining us today on Infamous Horrors. Hope you have a great 4th of July weekend.
Jeff: Thank you so much, great to be here. Same to you, be safe.