ARTICLES

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS


Interview with Jenn Wexler, director, producer, editor, and co-writer of The Ranger.
By James Whittington, Thursday 23rd August 2018
The Ranger poster

Finally FrightFest 2018 is here and its starting with a real bang with the UK premiere of Jenn Wexler's outstanding shocker, The Ranger.

We chatted to Jenn about this incredible piece of cinema and how she managed to have Larry Fessenden star in it.

HC: Where did the idea for The Ranger come from?

JW: I studied screenwriting at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and The Ranger was my classmate Giaco Furino's senior screenplay. I always thought punks versus a park ranger was such a cool concept. It brought to mind this heightened world, these EC Comics-esque visuals, and, right there in the concept, there was drama built in between youthful rebellion and traditional authority. When we graduated we were really focused on finding jobs that would allow us to pay our rent, but the concept stuck with me. Years later, after I started producing for Glass Eye Pix, I was thinking about what I wanted to direct as my first feature, and I remembered Giaco's script. I called him and asked if he could find it and if we could work on it together.

HC: How long did it take to write, and did the script change much over time?

JW: I believe that phone call was early fall 2014, and we worked on the script on-and-off while doing other projects until about March 2016 when we felt the script was ready to share. Then we embarked on creating all of the materials to support it, including a lookbook and preliminary budget. Giaco's original script from when we were in school together was a little more of a straight body count slasher movie, but when we re-connected to work on it in 2014 we decided we really wanted to focus on developing the characters, especially Chelsea, her backstory, and her relationship to both the punks and the ranger.

HC: Was it written with a cast in mind as Chloe Levine is perfect as the main character, Chelsea who has more than just her own demons to contend with?

JW: We wrote it with Jeremy Holm in mind to play The Ranger. At some point during the writing process, Giaco suggested him to me; Giaco and Jeremy were friends, and I was a fan, having seen him in House Of Cards and Mr. Robot. We were delighted when we finally shared the script with him, and he was excited to do the role. In terms of Chelsea, we worked with casting director Lois Drabkin, who suggested I check out Chloe in The Transfiguration when I was at SXSW in 2017. I was totally mesmerized by her in that film. She read The Ranger, we had a meeting while we were both at the festival, and we totally bonded over the character of Chelsea. I knew she would bring so many nuances to the role.

HC: Which sequence (without giving too much away) was the hardest to shoot?

JW: There's a sequence with a fire tower, and the fire tower of my dreams is located on top of this huge mountain. It's too steep for roads, so to get there you need to hike pretty vertically for about two hours. We shot at this location on one of our final days of the shoot. The crew had to carry the equipment up the mountain, and the actors had to do the climb. And I was slightly scared we would run into a bear. But everyone had a great time (and no bears showed up!). It felt like summer camp.

HC: This is your first feature as a director what did you learn from the experience?

JW: When we were first raising financing for the film, we were selected to pitch at the Frontieres Co-Production Market, an awesome program where filmmakers pitch their genre projects to industry and financiers. During the market, they set you up with meeting after meeting, so you get used to constantly talking about your project. And this was just the beginning. I knew this in theory from producing, but learned it on a much more intimate level from directing: you're going to talk about your project all the time, so you better get used to doing it. You're going to talk about your vision with financiers, all members of your crew, your cast, every collaborator you work with over the course of the process. And you need to have a clear perspective on the vision-all angles of it, while still keeping an open mind to opportunities-so you can make sure that new ideas suggested by your teammates are aligned with the overall mission.

HC: The soundtrack is outstanding, will there be a release of this?

JW: Yes! We're working on the details of that right now!

HC: How did the legend that is Larry Fessenden get involved?

JW: I produce on behalf of Larry's company, Glass Eye Pix, and we've worked very closely together on several films over the past few years. I approached him with the concept and a draft of The Ranger, and he was so supportive. When the project was selected for Frontieres, we went up to Canada and pitched the film together. Glass Eye ended up teaming up with Andrew van den Houten's Hood River Entertainment, which is how the producing team came together. In terms of Larry's role as Uncle Pete in The Ranger, I felt from producing for Glass Eye and seeing Larry act in so many horror films (he's killed in so many movies that he has a death reel he releases every year on his birthday) that it was a rite of passage to have Larry die in my first film. He was the first person I mentally cast while we were writing; my little eureka moment... and Larry will play the uncle!

HC: How nervous do you get when your work is shown on the big screen?

JW: It's not so much nervousness as it is excitement. It's so cool to be in a dark room with audiences and hear them engage emotionally with your work. Making a film is a long journey, so when you're finally in the part of it where people are watching the film, it feels a little surreal.

HC: You're a director, producer, editor, writer to name just four things, which one are you happiest at doing?

JW: I love all of these roles but I'm definitely happiest directing. I've found no greater pleasure than working with a script, discovering its aesthetic world and working with collaborators to bring it to life.

HC: What's your favourite slasher movie?

JW: Nightmare on Elm Street! Nancy's a great final girl, and I just love the magic inherent to the concept of a killer who hunts kids in their dreams. Some of the kills in the series still freak me out (ugh, the puppet walk in part 3) and as you might tell from The Ranger, I'm really into villains with snappy one-liners.

HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?

JW: I'm a producer on Larry's new film, Depraved, which we're in post-production on, and I-m writing a few new projects.

HC: Jenn Wexler, thank you very much.

JW: Thank you!


Related show tags: FRIGHTFEST, THE RANGER
MORE FRIGHTFEST
Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula to open Arrow Video FrightFest October 2020
Posted on Thursday 10th September 2020
FrightFest - October 2020 event - banner

Four years after Train to Busan was voted the most popular FrightFest Closing Night film ever, comes the hotly anticipated stand-alone sequel, Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula, which will open this year's Arrow Video FrightFest October event, courtesy of Studiocanal. The film will play on Thursday October 22, 6pm, across three screens at the Cineworld, Leicester Square.

FrightFest co-director Alan Jones commented: "Ask any die-hard FrightFester what their favourite ever Closing Night film was and they will say the fabulous Train to Busan. The continuous standing ovations, cheers and applause engendered by our sell-out screenings of that ins...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with the legendary actress Lin Shaye about being part of The Horror Crowd
Posted on Wednesday 9th September 2020
Lin Shaye and Ruben PlaLin Shaye is an actress that need no introduction. Her screen work over the last few decades has seen her appear in countless movies such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Critters or more recently the Insidious series of movies. Here she chats about her career and her why she appeared in Ruben Pla's superb doc, The Horror Crowd.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be an actress?

LS: No, I never had the dream. Ever. I had the need to tell stories and from a very young age and my dad, when he tucked me in a night we would tell what we would call "Candyland Stories" and they were stories about a little girl named Linda, and they would start when she was just falling to sleep...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Steve Villeneuve, director of Hail to the Deadites
Posted on Thursday 3rd September 2020
HailToTheDeadites-1FrightFest 2020 delivered some incredibly entertaining and informative documentaries. Hail to the Deadites from Steve Villeneuve is a celebration of the the Evil Dead series of movies and truly gets under the skin of what the franchise means to those who created it and those who are mega fans! Here Steve talks about this amazing doc.

HC: Can you recall the first time you saw an Evil Dead movie and what it was that grabbed your attention?

SV: I guess I was 13. I actually saw Army of Darkness first on television. Years later, spot the cover of Evil Dead 2 in a video store. Then, rent Evil Dead one without knowing it was the first film because here in Quebec, The Evil Dead is ca...
SHARE: READ MORE
Then, in the blink of an eye, it was all over
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020
FF 2020online-1_NEW

Arrow Video FrightFest 2020 Digital Edition has closed its doors. Over the last few days, the team have delivered on their promise, to make the event just as good apart as it would have been together.

The event contained the usual mix of horror genres that we've come to expect and exposed us to some seriously talented creatives. Features such as Blinders, Dark Stories and 12 Hour Shift delivered some of the most memorable moments which would have been amazing on a big screen.

If it was blood and gore you wanted, then Skull: The Mask and was the movie for you. Brutal and bloody this shows that there's some major talent movie making in Brazil. If you wanted laughs with...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Guillaume Lubrano, director of Dark Stories
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020
Guillaume Lubrano image 1

There's been a number of anthology movies at FrightFest 2020 but one of the strongest is Dark Stories from director Guillaume Lubrano. Here he chats about this fun piece.

HC: Have you always been a fan of horror movies?

GL: I'd say I've always been a fan of genre titles, being it horror, science fiction, fantasy, every subgenre that plays with the ability to push our imagination forward always fascinated me. And this was born mostly with the 80s I think and the birth of modern era special effects... those comforted writers and directors in the fact that they could try to tell stuff about anything... and well that's what they did: anything... and among all this...
SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Michael Lee Joplin, star of Blinders
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020
Blinders3

We've already heard from the director of Blinders, Tyler Savage and one of its stars, Vincent Van Horn so we thought it would be cool to chat with its other star, Michael Lee Joplin.

HC: Was there one person who inspired you to become an actor?

MJ: I started acting in middle school really, but I had a wonderful theatre teacher in high school in Austin Texas, a Brit from Manchester, named Beryl Knifton. She instilled a love of acting and Shakespeare for me at an early age. I'm lucky to have had a lot of great teachers and mentors along the way. My acting teacher in college, the late Mr. Stephen Gerald pushed me along and more recently the Meisner teachings of Laurel Vouvray-Smith. My dad al...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Vincent Van Horn, star of Blinders
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020
Blinders4

The tense psychological movie Blinders is showing on the Horror Channel Screen at FrightFest today so we chatted to one of its stars, Vincent Van Horn about the movie and his character, Andy.

HC: Was there one person who inspired you to become an actor?

VH: I can't say there was one person in particular but more of a love for movies in general as a kid. Charlie Chaplin and Peter Sellers were definitely early influences with their physical comedy.

HC: When did you get your acting break?

VH: Hmm have I gotten it already? Ha ha. This is by far the biggest role I've had to date so maybe this is it? But as far as my first time acting in anything at all was when I was asked t...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Tyler Savage, director and co-writer of Blinders
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020

Psychological horror is always well represented at FrightFest and this year is no exception and one of the stand out pieces is Blinders from director Tyler Savage. Here he chats about this emotional and atmospheric movie.

HC: Where did the idea for the movie come from?

TS: The original idea for the movie came from an unsettling rideshare ride I took. Something about the driver made me uncomfortable, and I hated the fact that he now knew where I lived. From here, Dash and I started talking about the many ways in which technology makes us all incredibly vulnerable. There's a dark flipside to the convenience technology brings into our lives, and we wanted to highlight that idea in a way that was ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Messed minds, Moroccan monsters, and missing mutants. Day 5 of FrightFest
Posted on Monday 31st August 2020
AVTheHunt-poster

Day 5 of FrightFest is here (where did that time go?) but fear not as the FrightFest team have more movie mayhem for all to enjoy.

The Arrow Video Screen has the now annual Arrow Video Podcast with filmmaker and journalist Sam Ashurst and SFX guru Dan Martin recording their episode live from noon. Then its onto AV The Hunt which is a raw take on the "hunted becomes hunter" movie which is followed by the superb anthology movie Dark Stories where demons, the Living Dead, Evil Dolls, Djinn and other extra-terrestrial creatures will haunt your dreams.

Over on the Horror Screen you can catch Enhanced which has mutants on the run from those pesky people at the Government, Blinders...

SHARE: READ MORE
You're going to need more than armbands to survive this!
Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020
Aquaslash-poster

This afternoon had a really mixed bag of things going on at FrightFest 2020. One of the most anticipated pieces is the debut feature of Francesco Giannini. Hall contains many elements relevant to today such as a pandemic, toxicity in relationships and loss. This film deals with the isolation and helplessness some people can go through in life and takes its time to make its mark on your opinion.

In contrast, A Ghost Waits is a delicate and fun movie that uses a paranormal relationship as its focus and contains stand out performances from the cast. Jack's (MacLeod Andrews) job is to fix up the house. Spectral agent Muriel's (Natalie Walker) eternal task is to haunt it. They should be en...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020
AGhostWaits-poster

One of the big hits of Glasgow FrightFest was Adam Stovall's A Ghost Waits. This acclaimed movie is back and has been through an edit so we chatted to Adam about this paranormal piece of work.

HC: Where did the idea for A Ghost Waits come from?

AS: The two main inspirations were a video game and a web comic. "P.T." was a first-person haunted house puzzle game designed by Guillermo Del Toro and Hideo Kojima. My friends Brian and Jenn wanted me to play it because it had scared the bejesus out of them, and when I did I had them cracking up laughing. When Jenn started filming me with her phone, I thought there might be a movie in someone like me having to deal with a haunted ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Horror in lockdown. Will the industry change?
Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020
FrightFest Halloween 2020

At a time of uncertainty and "new normal" procedures, life in 2020 has seen massive changes in all our lives. The importance of people's health and safety has been at the forefront of many people's minds and kept them away from social gatherings.

FrightFest and other festivals have moved their events online but what about the future of the horror industry?

Tonight at 7pm, Rosie Fletcher, UK Editor of Den Of Geek will host a special free to view panel of guests from the industry to discuss how the horror genre has been affected by the global pandemic.

Questions to be covered include, "What does the shape of horror look like now we're all actually l...

SHARE: READ MORE
Frightfest Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
PICK OF THE WEEK
Night Of The Big Heat
NIGHT OF THE BIG HEAT
Saturday 26th September
6.35 PM
Doom
DOOM
Monday 28th September
9.00 PM
The Unspoken
THE UNSPOKEN
Thursday 24th September
9.00 PM