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Interview with Glenn Payne director and actor from Killer Concept
By James Whittington, Sunday 5th September 2021
KillerConcept-poster

If you managed to catch Driven the other year at FrightFest then you'll need to catch Killer Concept today. Director Glenn Payne is back alongside writer Casey Dillard but this time serial killers are the target. We chatted to him about this movie.

HC: It's been a couple of years since you brought the superb movie Driven to FrightFest, how was that movie received across the world?

GP: Thank you for the kind words! We've felt very blessed by how warm the reception's been for Driven. We knew the story was different, given the entire thing takes place inside one vehicle, but the characters really seemed to resonate with people. I think that's a huge testament to the performances of Casey Dillard and Richard Speight, Jr. Both are incredibly talented.

HC: How did Killer Concept come about?

GP: Covid was in full swing and we had a lot of time on our hands. Casey and I wracked our brains for a story we could tell, while accepting the limitations we had. We wanted everyone to be safe, so we kept primary cast and crew to just five people, including the two of us. We were already in our little social "pods" as people were calling them. So we finally landed on the Killer Concept story and utilized property we already owned or had access to. In many ways, the film wouldn't exist without those restrictions.

HC: There's a real energy between the three of you, was this easy to replicate on screen?

GP: I think so. Coley, Casey, and I are all very good friends. We've also been working together on films for a very long time. That goes a long way when you're working together, not just because it's more enjoyable but also because you know you really have each other's backs. That's especially important given how we filmed this movie. You really needed to trust your scene partners.

HC: Were any of the scenes improvised as it comes across very naturally?

GP: Actually, they were all improvised. We knew if we took the time to fine tune a script we'd lose our strangely rare window to make the film. Casey and I have been improvising for over a decade so we were extremely comfortable working that way. We work together in two improv groups in our hometown of Tupelo, MS (birthplace of Elvis). Coley had only done a small amount here and there. We did a test run and he did extremely well so we decided to take the chance and dive in. It's not a method I would recommend to others, but I've been toying around with the idea for a long time so it was nice to actually go for it.

HC: What is it like directing yourself?

GP: It's both strange and not at the same time. I always have an idea of how each actor will or maybe should act in certain situations or scenes. I just apply those same concepts. The exciting thing about directing is when actors surprise you with a delivery you weren't expecting. That part becomes lost when you yourself are the actor, at least most of the time. It's also vital to have people around you on set that can help steer you a little as well if you go too far one way or another. You definitely have to trust your instincts because there's too much to do in front of and behind the camera to constantly second guess yourself. The hardest part is literally going from setting up the shot with your DP to running to the other side of the scene and sitting in your spot. The brain, mine anyway, doesn't like that aggressive gear shift.

HC: There is a thin line of humour running through it, was it hard to balance this against the more horror filled moments?

GP: It doesn't feel especially tough, as I think about it now. It is difficult though, to decide if something is going to come across as funny or not when it wasn't scripted prior. When you have a crowd it's easy to know when an improvised joke lands, it's another thing when it's on camera and you're doing it for several angles.

HC: Is it true it was shot for under $1000?

GP: It is! We made the film for $900. It basically all went to food and gas money. That's a testament to the wonderful team we had in place. Casey, Coley, Caleb, Puckett and our guest stars were all very generous with their time and talents. I wouldn't want to make films like that all of the time but it does feel more freeing in some ways.

HC: Do you have a favourite serial killer movie?

GP: Hmm.. Good question. If I stick with the "serial" part I'll say Scream or Halloween. Their strengths are very different but I love them both.

HC: How much has the pandemic affected your work?

GP: It's been a strange ride for sure. I know that's the same for artists everywhere. I don't do well with isolation and I got tons of it during the pandemic. Killer Concept actually help me in a lot of ways because it gave me a project to focus on. Making a movie is a massive undertaking but all those little steps helped give me direction when the world seemed very off track. I'm thankful God gives me this outlet and I hope I'll be able to do it for years to come.

HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?

GP: I just finished writing a new horror comedy called Drone Detectives. It deals with a father and son who have to deal with a supernatural best in their small town. It's really close to my heart and I'm super proud of the characters and their journey. I'm currently working on developing the film further.

HC: Glenn Payne, thank you very much.

GP: Thank you and enjoy FrightFest, everyone!


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