Interview: Ricky Glore Talks Open House
Ricky Glore is the writer and director of Open House, a horror, drama, musical described as Texas Chainsaw Massacre Meets Rocky Horror Picture Show. SYNOPSIS: A young mother, along with her teenage daughter, live a vagabond life, bouncing from town to town, squatting in homes that they have tricked realtors into showing them during the day, and then breaking into them later at night, so they have somewhere to sleep. This grift seems to be working well until the two […] The post Interview: Ricky Glore Talks Open House appeared first on The Action Elite.
Ricky Glore is the writer and director of Open House, a horror, drama, musical described as Texas Chainsaw Massacre Meets Rocky Horror Picture Show.
SYNOPSIS: A young mother, along with her teenage daughter, live a vagabond life, bouncing from town to town, squatting in homes that they have tricked realtors into showing them during the day, and then breaking into them later at night, so they have somewhere to sleep. This grift seems to be
working well until the two come across an overzealous realty couple, who show the duo a house, but refuse to let them leave.
Ricky stopped by to chat about it as well as talking about our favourite JCVD films and why Stallone is an underrated filmmaker.
We’re going to be talking about your new project Open House; I love how you’ve actually come up with a story that’s genuinely original which is rare these days. How did the idea of a horror, comedy, musical all come together?
My first film All Your Friends are Dead was semi-autobiographical. It’s hard because even with Open House and All Your Friends are Dead, they’re technically indie movies. All Your Friends are Dead we made for $5,959. This movie Open House, we’re shooting for the goal on Kickstarter for $15,000. It’s hard in my mind to think “indie movie” is that much when technically an indie movie is anything from $20 million or below. I think there needs to be another category for micro budget or basically no budget. But how we came up with the idea is similar to All Your Friends are Dead. It’s semi autobiographical, where All Your Friends are Dead was a hypothetical what if in high school, when I, Ricky actually hurt my knee playing sports, I then pivoted to theater? What if that hadn’t happened? What if I had hurt myself, playing college sports, and then falling into depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, and then becoming incredibly resentful, and then eventually, slaughtering all my friends when they come to help me from committing suicide? But that film, we wanted to make sure it didn’t make fun of depression, suicide, or addiction so the humor came out of relatable, real-life experiences.
One of the best things about viewing All Your Friends are Dead with an audience was the first time the audience laughed at a lot more places than we anticipated and luckily, they were laughing with the movie not at us. It wasn’t like The Room situation and we were like, “Okay, well, maybe that’s that audience. Maybe they liked that and they’re not gonna laugh at all that stuff all the time”. Then the next screening a roomful of people that none of us knew laughed at the exact same things. We loved this feeling of this blend of horror and comedy. Because if you just make a comedy movie, you’re scrutinized over how good your comedy is, like, oh, this better be funny. Or if it’s horror, it better be scary. So, with a horror comedy, especially then if you add musical, you can be a little scary and then something takes the piss out of something, then makes the audience laugh. Maybe that laugh is a little bigger because the audience wasn’t expecting it and then vice versa. Maybe the gore or the scares and the suspense is a little bit more heightened, because the audience wasn’t expecting it. That’s really what I’ve decided that I like doing, and that all ties to how I came up with Open House.
I was producing and writing and directing original storefront musical theater in Chicago, like black box, small theatres, and I met my now wife. She kind of became a muse for me, where everything I would write, I would put her in and not just nepotism, but because I thought she was really talented and really good for all these different kinds of roles that she wasn’t necessarily being offered. Some of my best stuff came out of thinking “what would she be good playing?” and one of the shows was Fleetwood Macbeth… her favorite band of all time is Fleetwood Mac. So, I wrote this musical that takes place in the 70s at a radio station, set to the music of Fleetwood Mac and she got to play a version of Lady Macbeth because I thought she would be awesome at that.
I wrote a show called Maul Santa about Mr. & Mrs. Claus going around to different malls during Christmas because most of the Santas aren’t real except for every now and then the real Mr. And Mrs. Claus do come. But because they’ve been married for about 1000 years, they have some marital issues. It just so happens to be on Christmas Eve and in this one mall a zombie outbreak happens and it kind of turns into Die Hard. Santa has to go save Mrs. Claus but it turns out Mrs. Claus is quite capable on her own. Anyway, all that is a real long way off me writing the shows of her being my muse in Chicago.
I wondered, what if there was a realty couple that was the biggest realty couple in this small town but the woman had burned all of her bridges doing community theater, because she was terrible to work with. She was a diva. She wasn’t happy being in any ensemble, but her husband loves her so much that he decides to write and direct and compose an original musical for her. But the only way they can get an audience is if they kidnap them, and tie them up to chairs in the basement. They torture them while they workshop this new musical and if they become unruly audience members, they start eating them and that is Open House.
What stage is Open House at? Have you filmed a lot so far? When’s the Kickstarter coming in?
Kickstarter is out when this is out. June 1 was its drop. Our goal is $15,000. One of my favorite things about Kickstarter is it’s not like GoFundMe or Indiegogo; we have to hit our goal to get the money. But the perks that we want to have, it’s not foot to mouth, you’re not just donating, you’re contributing to the movie to give us our budget, and you in essence, become a producer by doing that. There are perks that you can get where you’re just not giving money; you’re buying stock into the movie. If you’re getting a Blu-ray, it’s exclusive to the Kickstarter, where you’ll get a special one that even if this movie gets distribution, it will never be this version; they’ll have things that no other versions will. What we’d like to do is we’d like to start working on things, bits and pieces, which you’ll see on the Kickstarter page. The teaser video we have some behind the scenes. We’ve already got the movie cast, we’ve already got some things filmed as much as we can, until we really need to dip into a much bigger budget. So, primary shooting starts July 18 and we go July 18 to the end of July and that’ll wrap primary filming but we’ve already done some little second unit stuff.
Here is the link to the Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rickyglore/open-house-a-horror-musical-darkcomedy
Can you tell us a little bit about the cast of Open House?
Yeah, the cast so far is my wife again, because as much as it seems like nepotism, she appeared in All Your Friends are Dead in a scene that I really love and The Brewery. I was just like, “oh my god, this role is for you. It’s based off of you. I mean, it’s of course a heightened, demented, delusional version of you but I just think you’ll knock it out of the park”. Fantastic singing voice and a really good actress. Then the guy playing her husband, the other realtor is Timmy Baron, who was in a bunch of our shows in Chicago. Since we’ve moved from Chicago back to Northern Kentucky, where I grew up he has gone on to be in a bunch of different indie films, with credits like Chicago Fire and legit credits that if you look up his IMDb, you’re like, “Oh, I’ve heard of that show” or “I’ve heard of that movie”, not just a bunch of indie stuff.
Rounding out the cast is Lisa Walton who again, you look at her IMDb she’s got fantastic credits, because the movie is two different couples. It’s the realty couple Mark and Missy. Mark loves his wife Missy so much. He’ll do whatever he can to make her happy. So, that means kidnapping people and forcing them to watch this musical they’re working on. The other side of the movie is Liz and Farah, mother and daughter who are homeless, who have this grift going where they get shown houses and while they’re in there seeing the house, one of them sneaks off and unlocks a couple of windows or doors so they can come back in later that night and break in and have a roof over their head for the night. Both of those couples’ paths cross and that leads us to the crux of the movie. But Liz is the same as Mark, she will do whatever she has to do to provide for her daughter, Farah. For me, it’s interesting to see at what lengths will you go to provide the one that you love the life that you want them to have?
What’s your process like for writing the script?
I have noticed that I usually come up with a title weirdly and then a little synopsis, and I have probably over 1000 note cards or post-its and a three-sentence story idea. I have realized that the ones that I write more than 10 pages on it, if I sit down and I take one of those posts, and I go okay, today, let’s start writing a little bit more of this. I get on average about 10 pages, and then it kind of fizzles out.
With Open House and with All Your Friends are Dead and a couple other scripts that I’ve written, they’ve kind of just poured out of me where I’ll sit down and write like 40 pages, 50 pages in one sitting and then I’m like, oh, there’s something here. Using the springboard of my real life with my wife is kind of the crux of the story. But like I said, a more heightened psychotic one. This came out pretty quickly. The thing that took a little bit more time was I work with David Kornfeld, who’s a composer that I knew from Chicago. I would do some demos, usually with guitar, myself, and then I’d send them off to him for the songs that appear in the movie, because it’s diegetic music, which means if you’ve ever seen Phantom of the Paradise, the Brian De Palma movie, they perform the songs in the movie. So, it’s not like Grease; they don’t just break out into song to tell you how they’re feeling. These are actually performances of songs that they’re doing for the show that they’ve created. But doing that I would do the demos and send them off to David. And then he would arrange and compose based off of the demo, and he’d have a fully fleshed out version of the song so that took a little bit more time. But yeah, as far as writing goes, I don’t do a lot of drafts, what I do is in lieu of drafts, every time before I write some new chunk or new section, I’ll go back to the beginning and read from the beginning before I start writing anything new. During that I’ll start adding or changing stuff throughout to almost like it’s another draft every time I sit down and write for two reasons. I want to approach everything anew from the beginning and see how it flows. I also want to get the tone and the voices back in my head before I start writing and adding on to what I previously had written.
I used to write and then realized I was terrible at it but sometimes an idea could just pop into my head and I’d try to jot down notes so I would remember later; do you do that?
Post-its or my favorite thing is Apple Notes. I will write one line of dialogue; I will write one idea. One idea I had probably from about a month and a half ago, I just incorporated into the final script of Open House, it was kind of a creepy stalker-ish scene. I didn’t know what I’d use this for but I stuck it away in my Apple Notes and see if there’s ever a day that this might work. I was doing a rewrite of a specific scene and thought it was missing something; it needs something creepy. I was like, “Oh, that’s right. I have this idea that I didn’t know what it would be for”. Now, if I died and someone pulled up my phone and looked at the notes they’d think “Oh, my God, he’s a serial killer. Does he have bodies buried in his backyard?” I had to start realizing that I needed to properly title the top of the notes and say – “horror movie idea”.
I was thinking earlier how horror is the one genre that almost benefits from a low budget. With action movies you need to have some money behind it but I think horror, especially indie horror or no budget horror I think the lower the budget, gives it almost a documentary, grittier feel to it. I think of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and of course, you mentioned that Open House is Texas Chainsaw meets Rocky Horror Picture Show. Would you agree with that horror almost benefits from a lower budget?
I think as much as we want to have freedom of speech in art I think restrictions are the mother of invention. I think having free reign in a completely large budget, or having zero restrictions, zero handlers zero committee, reigning you in a little bit, sometimes isn’t always the best. Sometimes the most inventive things can come out of having the no budget or the no frills. Like you said, the original Texas Chainsaw looks like a documentary. You just feel it. You feel the heat, you feel the sweat. It’s like the idea of when Ed Wood would make a horror movie and had no budget or talent to some degree (laughs). Everyone was trying to make the best movie possible. Regardless of how you view the movie, at the end of the day, when you’re watching it, or how it’s been written about in the years since while they’re making that movie, you can tell that almost everyone’s trying their best.
Yeah, no one sets out to make a bad movie…
Exactly, and so unfortunately, with this started in the late 90s, probably after the Scream boom, and especially in the mid 2000s, especially after The Room and Birdemic there are people that have low budgets, and they’re like, “well, if it’s bad, we’ll just say we were trying to make it bad”. I think that really diminishes the enjoyability of the difference if you have $15,000 and everyone is trying to be on the same page and make the same movie. There’ll be missteps. There’ll be mistakes, that sometimes money does cover. But there’s an energy that if everyone’s trying to make an enjoyable piece of entertainment, I think it really comes across on the screen.
Now, you mentioned that the film will be using some special effects. Are you a practical effects guy or CGI guy?
I would always do practical effects if we could, unfortunately, with All Your Friends are Dead we did have to say the worst thing you want to hear on a film set which is “we’ll fix it in post” (laughs). It’s a scene from All Your Friends are Dead if you’ve seen it or even if you’ve seen the pictures of the box. My character is tied to a chair and two of my friends get macheted across their chest in one fell swoop. When we shot me or when we shot the actors, the friends that get slashed they were supposed to turn around. From there squibs spray like Freddy vs. Jason in the cornfield, when he’s slicing and it looks like an artery burst everywhere. Because my character in the next shot is getting a Carries worth of pig’s blood sprayed in my direction like a fountain. It’s supposed to be like a water fountain just dumping on me with their blood spray. So, we film them and because we’re filming in the summer in the woods, something happened with the rubber tubing that are being fed up the actor’s backs, that they weirdly ballooned at the bottom and the blood got captured there so only a little bit came spurting out. When you work on micro budget or no budget movies, you get really one shot at the special effect. We had to move on because we didn’t have the money and we didn’t have the time. Then we go to my coverage sitting in the chair tied up, so originally they had asked me “do you want a mist? Or do you want Carrie level pig’s blood dumping on you?” And I wanted originally Carrie level. I wanted a fountain; I wanted to be doused in it. So, they said “we’re getting ready to film and we can’t promise that”. I was like, “Alright, make it medium since that was just little and we’ll have to fix it in post to add some more”. Then they go to my take, and I just am getting hammered with it. It’s like a hurricane just hitting me. Then in post me and Nick my co-editor and partner, we had to add CGI blood to match how I’m getting covered with blood. There are two other areas where we have sprays and so it doesn’t look weird that it only happened in one scene we had to incorporate half and half. So, half practical that was caught on film, half CGI blood which you can tell it’s CGI blood; it’s not my favorite thing to have to do. But for Open House we have Trevor Thompson, who’s again got a great pedigree on IMDB. It’s funny when we were talking with Trevor about doing the movie, my partner Nicholas Hiance looked at his website and Trevor’s worked with William Shatner, as well as a list of other bigger names and Nick was like “I don’t think we’re going to be able to afford this guy. He worked with Captain Kirk”. But Trevor liked the script and we were able to come to an agreement and the time worked out. But we’re hoping we won’t have to use one bit of CGI for Open House. The Killers tool the realtor’s tool for when they hook people up by their hands and hooks in their feet Hellraiser style. The way they cut the meat off the people before they eat them is a kebab slicer because my wife is very Greek; her last name is Dalianitis and so it’s like a Euro meat kebab slicer that really slices off people in pieces almost like you’re at a deli nice, thin, edible pieces.
I’m hungry now.
Mmm Some roast beef (laughs).
You’re working with PJ Starks and I’ve never actually met him personally, but I’ve been friends with him on Facebook for a few years. How did you guys meet initially?
This is a weird confluence of events. I was friends with him on Facebook as well and he is a filmmaker from Kentucky like myself. I’m Northern Kentucky near Cincinnati. He’s Southern Kentucky more near Louisville. It turns out, Timmy Baron who is in Open House grew up in Owensboro. Kentucky as well as did PJ but they do not know each other. That is just a random happenstance after doing All Your Friends are Dead and it being in festival circuits and in different conventions. I kept on seeing PJ’s stuff like 13 Slays Til Christmas and I saw that the current film he’s working on New Fear’s Eve, being in production and being touted as a Kentucky horror filmmaker. I shot him a message saying “Hey, I see you’re also a Kentucky horror indie filmmaker. I really love what you’re doing; if ever you need help with something or you want to run ideas past one another, I’d love to chat” and he said, “Yeah, definitely. What’s your next project?” At the time, the next project after All Your Friends are Dead was gonna be a movie called Roadkill, which was basically what if Smokey and the Bandit was a horror movie? So, we shot a proof of concept, which you can see on YouTube if you search Roadkill, and NKY films with a 77 Trans Am, and everything. But when push came to shove, after the proof of concept, we realized that budget was going to probably be around $50,000. Which again, $50,000 is not a big budget, but more money than we had access to, because we still need 15 for Open House. I showed PJ the proof of concept for Roadkill and he said “Oh, I really like this”. I was like, “Yeah, unfortunately, we’re not gonna be able to do it” and he’s like, “Well, what are you working towards now?” I told him it was a dark comedy musical, called Open House and he asked what it was about. I told him it’s Texas Chainsaw meets Rocky Horror, meets Waiting for Guffman. He said “Oh, I’m really interested in that”. So, I shot him over this script and he read it. He said he would love to come on board as an executive producer, and get some eyes and ears on this and that’s all it took. I talked to my partner Nick about it and he knew PJ from his previous work. It just made sense that in some areas of indie film, if you’re from the same area, there may be a pissing contest of who’s better and that there isn’t enough bread to share. I’m happy to say that’s not the case with PJ and I. I’m super excited to see what he’s doing with New Fear’s Eve and he’s been nothing but a champion so far for Open House.
Are you interested in exploring other genres in the future?
Yes, so that might not be the smartest thing for us to do, Nicholas Hiance and I, but we are great hypothetical people of where we’ll be like, “alright, if we had a budget to do this, this is what we would want to do. Okay, maybe this is where we want to go”. Even with Open House, it’s a horror, dark comedy musical. I worry a little bit when it comes to marketing and branding, that having musical or even dark comedy as the tone of the movie could turn off horror fans, which I completely understand. There are certain sects of horror fans. What excites me about it is I think it’s fun as you said before, I think it’s original. and I think there is a place for it. There’s torture porn, there’s gore/horror, there’s suspense/horror, there’s thriller/horror, there’s monster. I think there are places for different types of “horror”, where it can live and have a fun audience and fun approach. Now, that being said, if we do this, which is Open House that’s in the same horror world, we have All Your Friends are Dead, which is more of a horror dark comedy as well. We probably if we get a name built for ourselves, and these do well enough, should probably stay in the horror world. As I already explained before, about thinking our next project was going to be Roadkill, which is a horror adjacent Smokey and the Bandit kind of movie. You never know really what your next project is going to be until you’re doing it, especially when you have no budget, or micro budget or indie budget. So theoretically, your JCVD hat, and your wall of action movie posters behind you, make me feel like you’re gonna like this. We want to do a 90s style action movie in this style of a 90s JCVD movie.
Well, you’ve come to the right man (laughs).
I know! I’m not saying this just because of everything that is behind you. Early 90s like Brandon Lee, or even say the early 80s like the Canon Films, Charles Bronson, or Chuck Norris.
Charles Bronson is God.
I just watched for the first time 10 to Midnight. It’s fantastic. I mean, that movie is basically a slasher movie. It’s so innovative. I was gobsmacked because I grew up on all those Canon movies and those Golan Globus films and Over the Top is one of my favorite movies; I mean it’s a guilty pleasure. I love the fact that Real Steel with Hugh Jackman is basically a remake of Over the Top.
Yeah, that is the same story.
The exact same story. It’s Rock ‘em Sock ‘Em Robots meets Over the Top. Nick and I both have a real strong affinity for the 90s JCVD movies.
Agreed. I think Hard Target is my favourite…
Bloodsport is hard to beat too. I love Timecop but I also love Double Impact. I think Double Impact is my favourite because that’s the kind of movie that someone would have made when they were a huge star, like when Schwarzenegger came out with Terminator 2 or Stallone had done three Rocky’s at the height of their career. That’s the kind of thing they could do whatever they want, like Stallone did Rhinestone, a musical with Dolly Parton. It’s the kind of bonkers idea that someone has to be so famous they can do whatever they want. JCVD did it I think back in 1991 and he has a “Story by” credit.
If we make Open House and it does any kind of business, or gets any kind of recognition if someone comes to us and says, “What’s your next idea?” and they’re gonna fund it, we’ll probably make that. But if we have to make it scrappy, like we did wit All Your Friends are Dead and Open House, we’re going to probably try to get a $25,000 budget, because we’ve estimated what it could cost us to make our JCVD style movie. Not to give the idea away completely on this interview for someone else to steal. It’s not going to be a parody or a satire but it’s going to use the tropes that appear in all of those movies. I think there’ll be natural humor that comes out of it. If you play it straight. While it’ll still be also hopefully a fun kick ass movie. In our minds, it will be a pared down version of Roadhouse. I can’t tell you what it’s about. I can’t tell you what the title is because I don’t want to give it away. But if it ends up being our next one, I will happily come on and you can get the exclusive.
I think JCVD is a genre unto himself. I’m not being facetious. I think he transcends in the same way that I think Stallone doesn’t get enough credit for his writing and his directing. The Rocky movies are so well written. I think his two movies after the success of Rocky are phenomenal. They’re a little harder to find. Well, Paradise Alley’s not super hard to find but Paradise Alley is a fantastic enjoyable movie as is his Jimmy Hoffa movie FIST. I mean, God. If I got to meet Stallone, the thing I’d want to ask him is this. There’s an insensitive line in the first movie where one of Gazzo’s goons suggests Rocky take Adrian out on a date, and he gives him a bit of extra money to take her somewhere nice like the zoo. He calls her a bad word but they love the zoo and it ends up it’s where Rocky proposes to Adrian later. So did he purposely take her to the zoo to distract her and woo her and it being a place that she would really enjoy? And that’s why he proposes to her, or did still just want to have a scene with a tiger in the background?
Or a little bit of both to be honest.
Yeah, I think he’s brilliant. I always compare Rocky III to the Goldfinger of Rocky movies. I love how Clubber Lang calls him a paper champion. I want to get a t-shirt made that says “paper champion” over and over again.
What would you like audiences to take away from Open House?
I first want them to contribute to the Kickstarter to make it happen. Because of Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing. So, buy the Blu-ray, if we sell 150 copies of the Blu-ray, that’s our budget. Even if no one picks any of the other perks, you can get a perk of associate producer, you can pick getting killed in the movie and getting your name in the credits. You can pick any of those. Or you can just get the Blu-ray, which is exclusive and then you get the movie and you get to see it If we sell 150 of those. That’s our full budget that we’re trying to get on Kickstarter. What I want people to do is, with All Your Friends are Dead we found we had a good festival run weirdly. All Your Friends are Dead played the best in foreign markets than it did in the United States. I think United States has a hard time mixing horror and comedy together.
We’re thinking about not doing as many festivals for Open House, and maybe taking it around to some small indie theater houses, and watching it with audiences. That’s the best way to view the movie is with the people that you want to have see it and then we’ll talk to them afterwards and start grassroots marketing, where we’ll get to meet the people that are watching it and see what they like about it and what they don’t like, but get them excited about getting on board with us for future projects, like a JCVD movie or whatever.
I want them to have a good time because I think music or comedy are three things that we all emotionally connect to really strongly. If we can blend all three of those together I think it’ll be a really entertaining time because you’re gonna get the gore for the gorehounds. You’re going to get the weird, awkward suspense that comes with our main killer characters. Like you said, it’s the originality. I don’t think it’s going to be this thing of like, “Oh, what’s this slasher movie? What holiday is this?” Which by the way, we also have another idea in our back pockets for another possible slasher movie that is in the vein of a holiday slasher movie so I’m not done with this completely. But yeah, I just want people to really just sit back and have a good time and enjoy and celebrate this kind of renaissance we’re in right now of horror movies and indie film. Even though there’s a lot of streaming sites and a lot of content out there, I think some really cool things are coming out of the micro budget world. Because not that people are tired of the superhero movies.
Yeah, I mean, we’re on Blue Beetle now? Yeah, it’s cool. There are probably some very big Blue Beetle fans that are excited about that coming out. But clearly, we’re reaching to gimmicks to get people to go see films like The Flash by having Michael Keaton. I hope it turns into like Spider-Man: No Way Home. It’s a gimmick but then it turns out that they made a really good movie.
Yeah, fingers crossed it ends up being good. Well, thanks so much for taking the time to chat today and all the best with the film.
Thanks for having me.
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