Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Producing Graphic Depictions Of Grisly Death: My Interview With "Lake Runs Red" Producer Jeff Fuller

On Friday, October 31st-Halloween, Indie horror “Lake Runs Red” will launch the film’s official website. The home-invasion horror is a blend of contemporary crime-noir and extreme shock horror focusing on two coeds, who seek seclusion at a family cabin in the woods to study for finals, visited upon by a stranger who is there for something more sinister. “Lake Runs Red” will finish filming in the early weeks of November with an October 2015 release date set.

In my continuing coverage of the film’s production, I caught up with one of “Lake Runs Red” producers, Jeff Fuller, who also handles the film’s creative marketing and web design. Fuller is an award-winning senior level marketer, creative director, media specialist, and digital content expert with a diverse, fifteen years of experience. Other producers on “Lake Runs Red” are J. Dan Moores, Mike Ascher, Stephanie Riesgraf, and Tiffany Shaw. Here is what Fuller had to say about “Lake Runs Red” and the creative team behind the project.

A Southern Life: You're co-producing Jason Riesgraf's indie horror "Lake Runs Red", tell me how you became involved with the film, did you know Jason before hand?
Jeff Fuller: Jason and I have been close friends for over twelve years. I have actually known his wife, our other EP Stephanie Riesgraf, since the third grade. I got involved with “Lake Runs Red” somewhat by accident. In my day job, I’m professionally employed as a director of marketing and communications. Initially, I only provided informal consultations to Jason, in regard to marketing strategy and social media. As things progressed, our casual consultations morphed into an active and formal production role with the film.

To Jason’s credit, he’s surrounded himself with a really talented production team. I’m executing the marketing, key art, social media and publicity. His wife Stephanie is handling the film’s budget, events planning, and legal affairs. J. Dan Moores is helping him with casting, performance direction, production management, and sales representation. And rounding out the team is Mike Ascher,who is running cinematography, production design, props, and locations. Jason is at the center of it all, providing the creative vision, narrative, and production framework to make this all possible. There’s no doubt about it: we have something special here. The chemistry between the production team, cast, and crew is electric.

A Southern Life: "Lake Runs Red" is a home invasion horror film, what can fans expect from the movie, any classic influences that helped to shape the story?
Jeff Fuller: The audience can expect an engaging and universal story told through the format of a crime thriller, and the lens of a horror film. Even people who are not fans of horror, can enjoy the film from an existential and character perspective. And of course, horror fans will be satiated with practical special effects, over-the-top violence, and a new brand of hardcore horror eye candy.

In terms of influences, Jason is an ideal and passionate steward for the horror genre. Growing up, he was personally influenced by classic horror films like “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” (1984) and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974). “Lake Runs Red” however, takes the majority of its influences from the newer formats of extreme horror, torture porn, and ultra violent spectacles. There’s definitely an influence of Rob Zombie, James Wan, and Eli Roth in the overall arc of the film’s set pieces.

A Southern Life: Zombie, Wan, and Roth are some pretty bitchin’ influences to have setting the scene, so we can expect some pretty graphic, intense sets with “Lake Runs Red”?
Jeff Fuller: Yes, definitely. The scenes are intense. The team has focused on creating grisly deaths that are hopefully done in a way you haven't seen before, but most certainly they are graphic depictions. That being said, while the violence is extreme; it is purposeful to story. It was important for Jason and the special effects team to show as much on camera as possible, through the use of practical effects. From the footage so far, we're pretty excited how things turned out. So far, so good. But obviously, we won't know for sure if we nailed it or not, until the editing is completed. The burden is really on Jason (the director and editor) to put the film together in a meaningful and inventive way to really "sell" those scenes. I have faith in him. Jason comes from a successful post-production background, so that's where he's really going to shine. It's a gargantuan task, but one I think he's up for.

BTS Lake Runs RedA Southern Life: Tell me why you are choosing to utilize crowd funding over traditional methods, and when can we expect the campaign to launch? What are some of the rewards that supporters can expect from the campaign?
Jeff Fuller: Crowd funding is a terrific tool for independent filmmakers if used properly. It was important to the team that we retain creative and financial control over the project. Collectively, this is our baby and we want to make sure it grows up right, so to speak. Financing through traditional methods, doesn’t necessarily afford us the control we desired. Back in February, the team launched an initial crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo to get the process started. As we trudge into the inherent challenges of bringing the film to market, Jason and I are considering a second round of crowd funding to raise funds for post-production expenses to finish the film with an extra spit of polish.

Horror films live and die by their score, sound effects, and visual effects, and those line items no doubt get expensive. We haven’t made any final decisions yet, but the team is carefully weighing its options at this time. So in terms of rewards, we aren’t at liberty to discuss just yet. But rest assured, we’ll be announcing some big news over the coming winter months, that fans and investors will be pleased with.

A Southern Life: How has the buzz been thus far from the horror community both online and in Minnesota?
Jeff Fuller: The marketing and awareness for “Lake Runs Red” has been remarkable so far. The positive and immediate response has surprised even me. Since this is Jason’s first feature film, we’re building the film’s brand from scratch. There are a lot of challenging factors that accompany a lack of brand awareness, but so far we’re conquering them one by one. The horror community has embraced us online and we’re committed to not letting them down. Twitter has been our most effective tool for reaching out to horror fans and independent film enthusiasts. Sparking that ongoing conversation with horror fans has been a really rewarding experience. We’re actually launching our official website, www.LakeRunsRed.com, on October 31st, Halloween. The production team expects to see a very positive response when we launch and we hope that the website will help build that initial buzz even further.

As for the buzz in Minnesota, independent film is alive and well here in the Twin Cities. October is actually the month when the majority of local film festivals are held. We’ve been networking like crazy this past month. Even though our film doesn’t release for another year, we’re building word of mouth and momentum for Lake Runs Red today. As we get out and speak with people, we’re finding that there’s already an outside awareness for the film locally, which is really flattering. It’s encouraging to learn that our publicity and marketing efforts are working. We look forward to the day when we can show everyone our hard work.

lakerunsrunA Southern Life: How has your experience been so far with the project?
Jeff Fuller: The experience has been a blast! We’ve actually almost completed principal photography. I’m looking forward to jump-starting phase 2 of our marketing strategy, as we head into the long Minnesota winter. We’ll begin to carefully reveal some of the cool things we’ve been working on as we foray into post-production. Of course, the hub for all of this activity will be our official website, www.LakeRunsRed.com, launching on October 31st. Also I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity, on behalf of our entire production team (J. Dan, Steph, Mike, Jason, and myself), to extend a warm thank you and acknowledgment to the entire cast and crew. We couldn’t have done it without them. Everyone’s contributions have been so crucial to making a terrific film.

Check back with A Southern Life In Scandalous Times tomorrow for my interview with “Lake Runs Red” director, Jason Riesgraf.

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