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
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 INTERVIEWS Interview with Airell Hayles writer and co-director of They're Outside
Posted on Saturday 1st August 2020
FrightFest is once again on the horizon but this time, due to global events the event has become a virtual experience with all films being accessed online. Horror is once again sponsoring the First Blood strand of the event. Here we chat to Airell Hayles whose movie They're Outside mixes found footage and pagan horror genres to great effect.
HC: Where did the idea for They're Outside come from?
AH: This idea for They're Outside came from a couple of things. I remember as a kid hearing that my uncle suffered mild agoraphobia, and when I learned what it was, I was fascinated by this idea of some people being kind of scared to leave their homes. Of course, the recent Covid-19 events h...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Fionn and Toby Watts, directors of Playhouse
Posted on Saturday 1st August 2020
FrightFest is once again on the horizon but this time, due to global events the event has become a virtual experience with all films being accessed online. Horror is once again sponsoring the First Blood strand of the event. Here we chat to talented brothers Fionn and Toby Watts who have delivered a gothic, creepy piece named Playhouse.
HC: Was there one film or person who influenced or inspired you to become film makers?
FW: As a young boy I remember being absolutely blown away by the image of The Terminator's exo-skeleton rising from the flames. Around the same time I saw Candyman at a sleepover (rented by my friend's 'older' brother...) and it was such an i...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Tony and Ryan Smith co-writers of Volition.
Posted on Tuesday 7th July 2020
FrightFest 2019 delivered some amazing movies and one of the best was Volition from the talented brothers Tony and Ryan Smith. Now that the movie has been unleashed onto Apple TV, Prime Video and other Digital Platforms we chatted to them about this acclaimed movie and their plans for the future.
HC: You both hail from South Africa, what's the movie industry like in that country at the moment?
TDS: I believe the South African film industry is very healthy and it's a place Ryan and I would love to revisit and make a movie about. I have a number of filmmaker friends who film there and absolutely love the people, the scenery and the incredible crews.
HC: Did you know from an...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Adam Green, director of Victor Crowley
Posted on Wednesday 13th May 2020
Ahead of Horror Channel's UK TV premiere of Adam Green's Victor Crowley, the great director shares his personal tragedies, George Romero's inspirational words, the importance of genre comedy and hints that the Bayou Butcher may rise again...
HC: Adam, you're back on Horror Channel with your latest Hatchet instalment, Victor Crowley. Excited?
AG: I'm always thrilled to hear that another one of my films will be playing on the UK's Horror Channel! It's crazy to think that the US hasn't had a horror specific television channel in 6 years now, only horror themed subscription platforms like Shudder. Then again - look at the real life horror we're dealing with here as far as our current President goes...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Lukas Feigelfeld, director of Hagazussa
Posted on Friday 17th April 2020
The themes of witchcraft and the occult are making a bit of a come back at the moment. Movies such as The Witch and Midsommer have brought the genre back into focus and now Hagazussa from writer/director Lukas Feigelfeld takes the genre to another, even darker level. Here he chats about this incredibly atmospheric movie which is being released on May 11th thanks to Arrow Video.
HC: Where did the idea for Hagazussa come from and how long did it take to write?
LF: I had been living with the idea of doing something witch and folklore related for many years. Part of my family originates from this particular area in the Austrian Alps, and from a young age on I was greatly fascin...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with actor Nicholas Vince star of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II
Posted on Monday 30th March 2020
Fridays in April on Horror will deliver to you three of the most viscous and acclaimed horror movies ever made, Hellraiser, Hellraiser II: Hellbound and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. One of the stars of the first two movies was Nicholas Vince who brought so much to the character of "Chatterer".
Here he, err, chats to Horror about how he become involved in such memorable movies and his plans for the future.
(Photo credit Dawson James Photography)
HC: When did you first meet Clive Barker?
NV: I met him at a party in May 1984. We got on well and he invited me to model for him; for his painted covers of the first UK hardback editions of his Books of Blood.
HC: What...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Jen and Sylvia Soska, directors of Vendetta
Posted on Thursday 19th March 2020 Vengeance Season on Horror contains the UK TV premiere of Vendetta, the superb all-male maelstrom of mayhem from Jen and Sylvia Soska. We chatted to these incredible talented creatives about this action-packed thriller and what they have planned for the future.
HC: Have you always been wrestling fans and if so, when growing up, who were your faves?
Sylvia: We got introduced to wrestling during the epic Kane brother storyline during the Undertaker and Heartbreak Kid feud that led to the first ever Hell in a Cell. I mean after that kind of an introduction; how doesn't the magic of wrestling have your heart for the rest of your life? If it isn't obvious, I'm a Shawn Michaels fan.
Jen: Und...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Julien Seri, director of Anderson Falls
Posted on Tuesday 18th February 2020
Ahead of the UK premiere of serial killer thriller Anderson Falls at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Julien Seri reflects on this, his first 'American' experience, challenging fight scenes and the importance of personal vision.
It has been five years since we premiered Night Fare at FrightFest London, what have you been up to since then?
JS: I worked on two, very singular, projects as a producer and/or director. I signed for both with Wild Bunch, but we've failed to produce them yet. So I keep fighting. And I did a lot of commercials, TV series and music videos.
When did you first hear about the Anderson Falls script and why did you think it was perfect for yo...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020
Ahead of the World premiere of A Ghost Waits at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Adam Stovall reflects on getting through depression, creating paranormal romance and the influence of Tom Waits...
You have an interesting CV - from comedy theatre and film journalism to writing for The Hollywood Reporter and second assistant directing. Was all this a game plan to becoming a fully-fledged director?
AS: I've known since I was a little kid sitting in the basement watching the network TV premiere of Back To The Future while holding my Back To The Future storybook and waiting for them to premiere the first footage from Back To The Future 2 during a commercial br...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Simeon Halligan, director of Habit
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020
Simeon Halligan is one of the busiest people working in the industry today. Writer, director, producer, director of celebrated film festival Grimmfest, in fact the list goes on.
His latest film is the neon tinged, blood-splattered masterpiece Habit which is showing on Horror February 14th so we thought we should get the story on how he brought this shocker to the big screen.
HC: When did you first become aware of the book by Stephen McGeagh to which Habit is based?
SH: I read the book a couple of years back and really liked it. A combination of gritty realism and dark fantasy; set within a very recognisable Manchester. There's a juxtaposition in the book; from a kind of soc...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Jackson Stewart, director of Beyond The Gates
Posted on Wednesday 22nd January 2020
Jack Stewart's sublime retro horror Beyond the Gates was recently shown on Horror. Jackson is one of the strongest creatives around at the moment but he took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about this contemporary classic and his future movie plans.
HC: Was there one film that you saw growing up which gave you the idea that you wanted to work in the film industry?
JS: There were definitely a number of them; I think the ones that stick out strongest in my memory were Temple Of Doom, Batman '89, Nightmare On Elm Street 4, Raising Arizona, Back To The Future, Marnie, Army Of Darkness, The Frighteners and Dirty Harry. All of them had a big emotional impact on me. Dirty Har...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with acclaimed author Shaun Hutson
Posted on Friday 20th December 2019
The British horror legend Shaun Hutson is back with Testament, a new novel featuring one of his fans most loved characters, Sean Doyle so we decided to catch up with this talented chap about his acclaimed work.
HC: Was there one author who inspired you to become a writer?
SH: My inspirations were always and still are cinematic if I'm honest. Even when I first started writing my influences and inspirations came from things like Hammer films, from TV series like The Avengers (with Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee) and from old Universal horror films. I read the Pan Books of Horror Stories when I was a kid and I think they were probably the first "literary" influences I ever had. I also read lo...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Sunday 9th August
Friday 14th August
Saturday 8th August