Jeffrey Reddick(Final Destination creator) interview for Don’t Look Back

AJ Friar got the opportunity to chat with the great Jeffrey Reddick for his directorial debut Don’t Look Back which is an excellent supernatural horror film. Hope you all enjoy the interview as much as I did.



AJ
All right. Well thank you for joining us at infamous horrors Jeff. Oh, congratulations on Don’t Look Back, I’ve really dug Don’t Look Back. So how did this all come about?

Jeff:
Well, first of all, thank you. I appreciate it. And I’m glad to talk to you. The theme for the story about basically, the film is about some people who witness somebody being assaulted and don’t help, and the person dies and then something, or somebody comes back after them. And what really started the kernel of this idea of was the Kitty Genovese story, which I think was in the seventies or eighties. And it was a woman in New York who was assaulted and it became national news because, they said 50 people watched and heard and nobody called for help. And that always kind of struck with, that story stuck with me.



Jeff:
And then just as I’ve gotten older, and you see people watching people will get attacked and they recorded on their cell phones and they put it online and there it’s all a big joke to people. I was like, yeah, I just want to write something that speaks to that phenomenon. And I love genre films. I mean, but instead of going straight up horror with this one, I kind of want to make it more of a mystery thriller with horror elements to it.

Jeff:
So you’re not sure if it’s a person or if it’s Caitlin, if she’s being driven insane by guilt or if it’s something supernatural after them. So I wanted to kind of keep that mystery going throughout the film until the end, and hopefully tie it up in a way that makes everybody happy, hopefully.

AJ:
Right. And the whole cast was fantastic in this. I got to give a shout out to one of my buddies who’s in this Jeremy Holm, which is fantastic, as the detective in this. So how was it like going through the casting process for Don’t Look Back?

Jeff:
It’s a great process. It’s nerve-wracking, I do believe that you always kind of end up with who you’re supposed to have. So, obviously sometimes you go after a certain talent and you don’t get them and you’re frustrated, but I was really happy with the cast that we got on this because we were an indie film and not a Studio film. We weren’t kind of hassled to have like huge names in the cast. So I got to go for people that I wanted more so than who’s going to bring in Box Office.



Jeff:
So, somebody like Jeremy, I’ve always admired his work and he’s just super professional, like genuine, humble person. And he’s just amazing to work with. So we had some, some great pros like him and Bryan Batt and Jaqueline Fleming, some of our casts had done a lot of work, but a lot of our people were very fresh. Like our lead Kourtney Bell who I adore, this was her first starring role. And just to be honest because she’s a black actress, she doesn’t get offered a lot of starring roles in films and that’s been something that’s been important to me is finding the best talent, but also having some diversity in my films as well. And Kourtney, I actually found her because I was Googling movies online. And I saw that she had a small part in It Follows, and I found her website that had clips of her work on it. And I’m like, she’s Caitlin. So I called the casting agent. I’m like, I want to have her rate for this. So stories like that make me really happy. When I find somebody and then, the same thing with Will Stout, I think he plays Lucas, the brother, this was his first audition in LA.

Jeff:
And this minute I saw I like that’s Lucas. And then everybody was like, well you still have to see other people. And I’m like, no, that’s Lucas. Okay. I’ll see other people, but that’s Lucas. So it is great when you find talent that you really believe in and you get to cast it in something that, if it was a studio film, people would be like, Oh, they’re not a big enough name right now. Like, it was really nice to not have to worry about that stuff.



AJ:
Right. And like you said, you mentioned from working with studios and especially you made one, you created, excuse me, one of the most famous, martyred horror movies ever with Final Destination. And how was it like scaling the production, that team where it did give you a little bit more freedom to do what you wanted? The budget may not have been as big as Final Destination obviously, but it kind of gave you more freedom, like you said, with the casting. And then this also give you more like freedom overall as it project to kind of do it, how you wanted to do it.

Jeff:
You know, it’s a good question. It’s always nice to have a better budget or bigger budget, I mean, but Final Destination was I mean, the first movie was $20 million back in 19-9 or 2000. And Blumhouse movies are like five to nine. So, Final Destination had a crazy, I don’t know why that budget was so big, but it’s also my first film, this one. So even though I’ve been on set a lot, there’s a lot that you’ve learned that you can’t learn until you actually direct, but, I did have creative freedom, which was great, but then also there were certain limitations that once we started shooting, it was like okay, these certain things, aren’t going to be exactly how I imagined, because A we don’t have the resources and we don’t have the time to shoot it.

Jeff:
Like I’d planned to shoot it. So it definitely is a, shooting in the indie world, you definitely have to adjust things. So there is compromises that are going to happen, but it is cool to have the creative freedom to make choices. And with this movie in particular, like I definitely have a couple of straight up really fun, bloody, splattery horror films that I could have directed.

AJ:
Yeah.

Jeff:
And I made a choice to direct this one as my first one, because I didn’t want to lean too heavy on the supernatural, I could’ve done a splattery blood thing where you just see some supernatural force like massacring people, or you could see a serial killer running around stabbing them. And but I wanted to do a story where, since we don’t know, I call it, what’s doing it.



AJ:
Yeah.

Jeff:
Since we don’t know what’s doing it, I just couldn’t rely on the kind of typical bag of tricks that you would use in a film like this. So I intentionally fixed something that was a harder sell in a way, you know what I’m saying?

Jeff:
It’s not the bloody horror film that people might be expecting for me, but I wanted to do that as my first one. I wanted to challenge myself.

AJ:
Right. And it’s like something in like, you felt like you could have done it, not just something anybody else could have done which wasn’t a splatterry [inaudible 00:08:00] splasher, or kind of thing that’s been done a million times. Even though they had their staple in the genre, it’s likely seen pretty much what can be done with slasher films?

Jeff:
Yeah. And they’re always fun and they’re certainly easier to do, and when I say easier, its just because, financially and, the rules are a lot cleaner, and for something like this, again, I mean when we were talking to distributors part of the selling point or the toughness of selling it, well, it’s not a hardcore horror film. So we can’t go if you don’t need cast, but your cast, they’re not big stars in your cast for a thriller. So this one’s tougher, so I knew going into it that it was going to be a different kind of bird coming out of the gate. And not probably what Final Destination fans are expecting me to direct for my first film, but I hope they’re excited about it. And, again, I definitely have some bloody scary roller coaster horror in mind as well, but for this one I wanted to, I’m a little older. I was going to say wiser, but I’m a little older, so I wanted my first feature to be something that, hopefully spark some conversations.

Jeff:
About how we treat each other as opposed to like just a fun atmosphere.

AJ:
All right, Jeff, then one final question, what kind of inspired you to become a director like any car or science fiction movies that you saw are so early on in your life that kind of was like, you know what, this is cool. I can kind of want to do this?

Jeff:
Nightmare. I it’s so funny when people ask me it’s, everything is about Nightmare on Elm Street, ,that movie, as far as being a genre fan, as far as wanting to be. I liked horror movies before Nightmare on Elm Street, but with Nightmare on Elm Street, I fell in love with horror and my love of that movie ended up connecting me with New Line Cinema, where I ended up working and they made Final Destination. So personally and professionally, that movie is so important to me, and just reading interviews with Wes Craven. And there’s a lot of great directors out there, horror directors that I admire but Wes Craven was really the one who I just read all the stuff that he did. And it made me really realize like what you could do with horror besides, you can kill people, but you can also say something with it without beating people over the head with a message.

AJ:
Right. And since you brought up A Nightmare on Elm Street. Have you watched the documentary on Mark Patton?

Jeff:
Yeah.

AJ:
Scream, Queen?

Jeff:
Scream, Queen. Yes.

Jeff:
Yeah. It’s so funny because I was living that time when that movie came out I’m a gay man. And I remember as a young gay man, when I was reading the interviews about how Freddy’s Revenge was a bomb and people were picking on the homoerotic overtones. And I remember Dave Chaskin coming out. I remember him coming out and basically saying he didn’t write anything in there. And it was just because Mark Patton was gay. So I remember him outing Mark Patton and blaming everything on him. When I’m like that you wrote gayest movie I’ve ever seen, except for gay porn, it’s such a gay movie, how can you sit there and lie and say that you didn’t do it? So of course now he admits that he did it, but he pretty much through Mark Patton under the bus for that failure and out of them and, remember his career at the time cause that was a very bad time back in the early eighties, everybody was, homophobia was still really strong, but then AIDS had started to rise. And so everybody was obviously blaming gay people for that. And…

AJ:
Like the satanic panic thing was all going down too. And around that time…

Jeff:
Oh, yes.

AJ:
So it all tied together with that

Jeff:
Yeah. It was a whole [inaudible 00:12:40] . So yeah, I watched the Scream, Queen documentary and it was nice to see kind of Mark getting the resolution he needed. It was a little frustrating to watch, some of the other people being like, well, I don’t know why he didn’t get over it. And it’s like, well, it’s not your life that got derailed, easy for you to say to get over it when it didn’t happen to you. But yeah, I was glad to see that he got a sense of closure on that whole kind of dark point of nightmare, real life history.

AJ:
Well, Jeffrey, thank you so much for joining us and It’s been really fun talking to you today.

Jeff:
No, thank you for having me and anytime my friend, anytime.

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