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
Interview with Adrian Langley, director of Butchers.
Posted on Tuesday 27th October 2020
FrightFest-Halloween-2020

Butchers is a superb piece of horror cinema from Adrian Langley. Here he chats about this grim and gruesome piece and his plans for the future.

HC: Where did the idea for Butchers come from?

AL: Butchers came from two of Daniel Weissenberger's old screenplays - he writes a lot - and I remixed them with some ideas that had been kicking around in my head after having read those scripts a long time ago.

HC: Did it take long to write?

AL: Not at all. Because Dan's scripts were so full already, the initial working draft only took about two weeks to put together and then I did a lot of rewriting during the prep process to streamline it to what...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Andrew Thomas Hunt, director of Spare Parts.
Posted on Tuesday 27th October 2020
Spare Parts

FrightFest is all about the diversity of movies, none more so than Spare Parts from director Andrew Thomas Hunt. This superb mash-up of gladiator-style fighting and a scorching soundtrack is desitined to become a cult classic so we chatted to Andrew about this movie.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?

AH: I did - from the age of 16. I was a huge fan of David Cronenberg's films, and when I discovered that he was not only from Toronto, but made his films here, it made me realize you didn't have to be from Hollywood to make movies.

HC: How did you become attached to this wild project?

AH: It was pitched to me at TIFF (Toronto Int'l ...

SHARE: READ MORE
And the winner is... Benny Loves You!
Posted on Monday 26th October 2020

The winner of the FrightFest Horror Channel First Blood Award 2020 is... Benny Loves You!

Here, Channel Manager Stewart Bridle chats to its very talented director, Karl Holt.

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Liam O'Donnell director of SKYLIN3S
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
skylin3s-poster

FrightFest Digital Edition 2 concludes tonight with an out-of-this-world premiere, SKYLIN3S. Here its writer and director Liam O'Donnell talks about this and the other entries in this sci-fi series.

HC: You've been involved with the Skyline series of movies from the start, where did the initial idea come from?

LD: Initially the idea just came from, we were sort of do it ourselves film makers and I had been living in the building we ended up shooting in. We had already been illegally shooting on the rooftop helipad for a pitch that we were developing and when Greg's (Greg Strause, director of Skyline) unit on the top floor and he walked in and saw this big, expansive view of LA...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Paul Tanter director and co-writer of The Nights Before Christmas
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
The Nights Before Christmas-poster

Prolific creative Paul Tanter has delivered a real treat for FrightFest pass holders today, the blood-splattered shocker, The Nights Before Christmas. Here he chats about this cracker of a movie.

HC: Have you always been a fan of the horror genre?

PT: Absolutely. One of my first cinema memories is my dad taking me to see Fright Night in 1985 and there being a promotional pack of vampire teeth on every seat. I was five at the time so I'm not sure how he snuck me in there, considering it's rated 18. I grew up watching The Omen films, in parts enthralled and terrified by them. I still can't pass that church in Fulham without keeping an eye on ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Simon Phillips, star and co-writer of The Nights Before Christmas
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
The Nights Before Christmas-poster

Seasonal slashers are once again coming into vogue but none as brutal as The Nights Before Christmas. Here, its star and co-writer Simon Phillips tells all about this movie.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?

SP: I don't know if I ever was sure I was going to be in the film industry but as a child I sure liked talking a lot and my teacher once shouted at me "They'd better pay you to talk when you grow up, because you sure like the sound of your own voice"... So perhaps it was always on the cards!

HC: Are you a fan of horror movies?

SP: To be honest they terrify me... not the o...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Elza Kephart, director and co-writer of Slaxx
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
SLAXX_Elza_(C)photoB-Calmeau_0125FrightFest is all about originality and new talent and 2020 has been a belter of a year for such things. Slaxx from Elza Kephart is a prime example of the new and exciting creative talent that's out there at the moment. We chatted to Elza about this superb shocker.

HC: Are you a big horror movie fan?

EK: Yes, huge! I started my horror adventure when I was a pre-teen, reading Agatha Christie, R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, Anne Rice. If there wasn't a death I wasn't interested. From that, I migrated to horror films; when I was about ten, I watched Aliens, the Fearless Vampire Hunters, Exorcist 2. I might have been a little too young, I remember being re...

SHARE: READ MORE
Hair scares, killer jeans, Santa slays and an invasion from above. Day 5 of FrightFest Digital Edition 2
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
slaxx-poster

We reach the final day of FrightFest but what awaits us will ensure that the event ends not with a bang but with an alien invasion!

It's always exciting when new creatives release work and The Stylist from Jill Gervargizian is no exception. Everyone dreams of being someone else... but for Claire that dream goes from an obsession to a living nightmare. Her job as a hairstylist allows her to move through other people's worlds, but when the right target sits in her chair, she does more than observe the client's life - she ends it, and keeps a permanent souvenir. Her lonely life, meticulous method and shocking secrets are suddenly thrown into turmoil when her regular client, Olivia, asks her to s...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Adam Leader and Richard Oakes, co-directors of Hosts
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
hosts-poster

Hosts is a dark, brooding and sinister movie from two very talented creatives, Adam Leader and Richard Oakes. Here they chat about this outstanding movie.

HC: Have you always been fans of this genre?

AL: Yes, the first film I ever watched was the original Nightmare on Elm Street when I was eight years old. That turned me on to the horror genre, and since then I became absolutely horror obsessed. Every weekend, my dad would take me to the video store, and I'd choose the most messed up movie I could find for him to rent for me.

RO: Yes, coming from a family with a sister 7 years older than me, I was always fascinated by the films her and her friends used to watch. I walked in...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Barry Keating, writer of Embryo
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
Barry Keating at NIGHTWORLD on 25/08/2017Barry Keating is a scriptwriter who has had quite a number of movies at FrightFest over the years. He's back with another shocker for 2020, this time the truth might be out there in Embryo. We chatted to him about this sci-fi chiller.

HC: We show another of your movies on Horror, Nightworld, what's it like writing a script, which has horror legend Robert Englund in it?

BK: When I found out they'd cast Robert in the role that was a very surreal day. At first I didn't quite believe it, but when the producer forwarded a message from Robert to me saying that he really dug the script I completely geeked out. I'm a hug...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Patricio Valladares, director of Embryo
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
Embryo image 1

Chilean director Patricio Valladares is back at FrightFest and this time he's taking us into the science fiction zone with Embryo. Here he chats about working with Robert Englund on Nightworld and this sci-fi shocker.

HC: Have you always been a fan of horror and sci-fi movies?

PV: Yes, from my childhood, my old brother watched Jason Voorhees and A Nightmare on Elm Street film series at home with a couple friends in the 80s. So, I always went from the bathroom to the living room at night to watch from behind the sofa with them. I Loved it! I liked the ultraviolence and gore from Robocop. When I was 14 or 15 I was a metalhead, so I had lots of tapes of death metal and a lot of low ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer, directors of Alien on Stage
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
alien-on-stage-poster

FrightFest always has a fine selection of documentaries showing, but none have touched hearts like Alien on Stage. This warm and loving look at an amateur stage production of the classic movie Alien has been placed in the running for the Horror Channel sponsored First Blood award so we chatted to directors Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer about this wonderful project.

HC: How long have you worked together and are you fans of the film, Alien?

We met working on a no budget British indie film in 2006 (I think) both working for free. Danielle was a camera trainee, I was the costume stylist. It was like going through a war together, it cemented our friendship and Danille...

SHARE: READ MORE
Frightfest Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
PICK OF THE WEEK
Skinwalkers
SKINWALKERS
Friday 14th May
9.00 PM
It Follows
IT FOLLOWS
Saturday 22nd May
9.00 PM
The Devil's Candy
THE DEVIL'S CANDY
Thursday 20th May
9.00 PM