Timothy Friend is the writer/director of a great little Indie feature called "Bonnie and Clyde Vs Dracula". After getting an early look at the film, I decided to track him down and see how exactly he came up with this wacky concept. The results are as follows.
The concept of the film is pretty out there, where did you first get the
The whole thing started with the title. I'm a big fan of comic books and was in middle of a stack of House of Mystery issues and beginning to read a stack of old crime comics like War Against Crime. At some point in there the title came to me. When I started the script it was originally just going to be a writing exercise. The challenge of getting Dracula together with Bonnie and Clyde seemed like fun. But I started to care about the characters as I wrote and before long making the movie became a full blown obsession.
I was really impressed by the shot composition and cinematography. I was wondering what the film was shot on, and how much pre-pro time was spent on the look?
I wanted the movie to have two distinct looks. I wanted the Bonnie and Clyde stuff to be hand-held, and more naturalistic. And I wanted the horror stuff to have a rich, colorful look reminiscent of Mario Bava or Roger Corman's Poe films. So I showed the script to Todd Norris, the director of photography. We've been friends for years, and he was the DP on Cadaverella so once he greed to work on the project I felt confident that we could pull it off.
As for the pre-production time, we spent about three months specifically discussing the overall look of the film and planning the shots. I would spend the week working on storyboards and then, since I can't draw at all, I would spend the weekend translating my illegible cave-man illustrations to Todd. Then he would add some cool ideas of his own to the mix. So by the time we showed up on the set we had a well thought out shot list.
We made a deal with a production company called Outpost Worldwide which gave us access to all of their equipment, including a couple of HD Varicams, which is what we shot the movie on. They also provided us with a second camera operator named Jason Cantu who was just incredible. Having his experience and shooting skills added a lot to the movie. He was also a crane and steadicam operator, so once I found that out it just opened up a world of possibilities for more elaborate shots.
Also noticed all of the gunplay was done with CGI. Was that your original intention? Or just done out of necessity? Is it actually cheaper that way than to do it with squibs?
We always knew we were going to have to go the CGI route for the gunfights. When your making an independent film, time is money. Using blanks and/or squibs would have required hiring someone who was licensed to work with them. Or at least those things are required if you're concerned about safety. Then there is the unpredictable nature of squibs. If the thing goes off at the wrong time, or the actor's reaction time is wrong, you can't just tell them to go back to their mark and try again. First you need a costume change, then you need to rig up a new squib. You could eat up a whole day just filming one gunfight. With only eleven days for principal photography we couldn't risk losing the time.
Trent and Tiffany are pretty fantastic as Bonnie and Clyde, but still seemed like sort of unorthodox choices to me. How did they end up being cast, and why?
I first saw Tiffany a couple of years ago in The Hazing and I thought she was great. After that I kept spotting her in movies where she only had one scene. Things like Ted Bundy. And she really stood out, even with such limited screentime she was just dynamite. So when I wrote BCvD I pictured Tiffany as Bonnie not really expecting that we would be able to get her. But Jennifer got the script to her and she really seemed to like it and signed on right away.
We made contact with Trent through his good friend Jeffrey Sisson who happened to be our effects supervisor. I had only seen Trent in Suburban Nightmare at that point. So I didn't have the goofier Troma stuff in my head when I watched him. I think seeing him as a dramatic actor first made the casting of he and Tiffany seem less unorthodox to me than it does to others.
I figured it was probably budgetary, but I definitely wanted more of actual "versus" stuff in the movie. Was there more planned that there wasn't time and/or money for?
I knew the budgetary limitations the production would be facing so I wrote the script with that in mind. I tried not to pare down the "versus" elements so much that the audience would go away unsatisfied but you walk a fine line. I just wanted to make sure we could accomplish what we set out to do with finesse. In my opinion nothing ruins a movie of this type more than an awkwardly executed action scene. Better to leave them wanting more than wishing they had seen less. I think the movie announces itself early on as being character driven so hopefully no one is really expecting a 30 Days of Night style vampire rampage.
There weren't any big scenes that had to be scrapped. The only major change of that sort involved a blood gag where Dracula is swollen like a tick. That was going to involve geysers of blood and since we were shooting in this beautiful historic mansion that bit had to go. It was never crucial to the story so it was easy enough to get rid of.
How has the reaction been so far from those who have seen it?
So far the reaction to the movie has been fantastic. People really seem to enjoy the chemistry between Trent and Tiffany. What has pleasantly surprised me at the festivals is the reaction to Jennifer's character Annabel. She seems to have struck a chord with a wide spectrum of folks.
People I would never have expected have warmed to the character. Pierced and tattooed guys in Buio Omega t-shirts come up and say how much they like Annabel and want their picture taken with her. That's been nice to see.
If you had the chance to do it over, is there anything you would change?
In all honesty, no. A project of this scope takes a long time to complete and by the time you're done you've learned a lot. It's always a case of wishing you knew then what you know now. But I feel fortunate that I was able to tell such a quirky story just the way I wanted to. So I wouldn't change anything.
Have you ever had any ideas for a sequel?
I have started a sequel script although that may be a bit premature since the first one hasn't even been released yet. I'm also working on the script for a comic that would use characters from the movie. That's something that I would really like to pursue. You aren't restricted by budget in a comic.
How is the hunt for distribution going?
We are talking with several distributors right now but haven't signed with anyone yet. In the meantime the movie keeps doing well at festivals and seems to be getting positive word of mouth. I'm confident we will have more news on that front soon.
What's next for you?
As for new projects I have completed a horror/western script called "Fierce" that I would like to get off the ground. It's more violent than anything I've done before so it will be a fun challenge. In the meantime we just found out the movie will be playing in the New York Horror Film Festival so that means more travel and promotion in the near future.
Any advice for people looking to make indy horror films?
I would advise spending as much time as possible in pre-production. Polish your script, make sure you have plans, back-up plans, and alternative back-up plans. These things don't cost a dime and they will save you a fortune once you're on the set.