LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Sean Nichols Lynch writer and director of Red Snow
By James Whittington, Sunday 5th September 2021
Final film of Arrow Films FrightFest Online Edition 2021 is a fangtastic (sorry) twist on the vampire movie, Sean Nichols Lynch's Red Snow. We had a quick chat about this blood-splattered shocker which has a deep vein of humour running through it.
HC: Where did the idea for Red Snow come from?
SL: I was trying to get a different horror feature financed and was struggling to get it off the ground. It was a frustrating period for me, and I honestly felt like I'd never get to make another film. I happened to run into Dennice, who I knew from my film school days at San Francisco State. We got to talking and I started to think about how great it would be to just drop everything and make a movie with her and all my old film school friends. It was a chance encounter that got me excited about making movies all over again. I put the other project aside and started brainstorming. Two of my favourite subgenres are vampire movies and Christmas horror, so blending them together felt really fun to me and something I hadn't really seen. I had access to a family cabin in Lake Tahoe, so that would be the setting. Naturally, Dennice's character ended up being a frustrated writer, because that's exactly where I was at that time in my life!
HC: Did it take long to write?
SL: After that initial spark, I spent a while jotting down notes and brainstorming. By the time I was ready to sit down and actually write the screenplay for Red Snow, it kind of poured out of me. I actually find the faster I write something, the better it turns out. It's the stuff I start and stop over the course of years that ends up in the drawer.
HC: Was it hard to balance the comedy and horror elements?
SL: A well-told joke has similar mechanics to a well-crafted scare. I think the key is to take the horror element seriously and for the humour to mostly come from the characters. For me, the comedy adds to the horror in Red Snow. You care about Olivia because she's so funny and endearing. You want to see her make it out alive.
HC: Dennice Cisneros is superb as Olivia, did she audition for the role?
SL: The role of Olivia was written specifically for Dennice, so she didn't have to audition. It was similar with Nico, who plays Luke. He didn't audition either. They're two extremely talented actors that I kind of reverse-engineered characters for, because I wanted to work with them.
HC: This is only your second feature; what skills did you learn from your first movie did you bring to this one?
SL: I think the big issue with my first feature Prep School was that it was originally supposed to be a bigger budgeted film that I ended up having to squeeze down into a microbudget shell. That production was stuffed to the gills with all the rugby sequences and speaking parts and locations and extras. The cast and crew did a great job under the circumstances, but we never had the time or resources we needed. Red Snow was specifically tailored to be made on a shoestring budget, so it's able to shine in ways Prep School never could.
HC: Did the snowy setting cause issues during the shoot?
SL: Definitely. There were days where we needed to reschedule exterior shots because there wasn't enough snow on the ground. There is more than one scene where we had to shovel snow into the shot to fill out the frame! Other days we got more snow than we wanted. The hardest days were the exteriors for the big vampire attack set pieces. One of those days ended up being our biggest snow day by far, which looks like gangbusters in the finished film, but also was pretty taxing on the cast and crew.
HC: Were all the effects practical?
SL: Yes, it's all practical. Melanie Leandro was our makeup effects artist for the film and handled all of the vampire effects and gore gags. Melanie and I decided to take a fairly minimalist approach to the way the look of the vampires, while going in the opposite direction with the gore gags and playing those really big. There's a decapitation in the film that Melanie spent a lot of hours engineering and it looks terrific in the film.
HC: Will you be nervous when the movie screens at FrightFest Digital Edition?
SL: We've had a couple digital screenings in the US that have been well received. Of course, every filmmaker wants their work to be seen on the big screen, but the reality is a lot of horror fans will be seeing Red Snow from the comfort of home and that's fine. It's a cozy cabin-set horror film, so it plays pretty well that way.
HC: Who is the greatest big screen vampire?
SL: That's tough! Do I have to pick just one? There's a lot of Nosferatu in Red Snow, so Count Orlok jumps to mind. David from The Lost Boys is certainly up there. Chris Sarandon as Jerry in Fright Night. I'm a Christopher Lee guy when it comes to Dracula. Dean Cameron's Rockula is a guilty pleasure.
HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?
SL: I'm writing a new horror screenplay. I'd describe it as a supernatural slasher film. Some of the comedic elements from Red Snow are in there, but it's a darker film.
HC: Sean Nichols Lynch, thank you very much.
SL: Thanks, Horror Channel!
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