2005 saw the release of the epic hardcover book Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday The 13th. And while many other writers had previously tackled the subject of the Friday The 13th series in book format, this particular book was a landmark in that it was the first of its kind; an exhaustive look at every single film in the Friday The 13th franchise with hundreds of interviews and stories from its alumni. The tome was meticulously researched and put together with the absolute care of a true die hard fan and for the true die hard fans. Its success proved that there was an audience that wanted to know every intimate detail behind the making of their favorite iconic horror classics and all their sequels. It spawned a whole new sub-genre of horror retrospective documentary films, each of which focused on one specific franchise.
Halloween: 25 Years Of Terror. His Name Was Jason. Never Sleep Again. The Psycho Legacy. Even the first Return of the Living Dead got a retrospective with the doc More Brains. So it comes as no surprise that filmmaker Dan Farrands, the mastermind behind the Never Sleep Again and Scream documentaries decided to come full circle and make the movie version of Crystal Lake Memories, currently in production. I dropped by the editing room of the doc to get the exclusive first word from Farrands himself on why he felt now was the right time to return to Crystal Lake.
You worked on the book version of this Crystal Lake Memories. You did the documentary His Name Was Jason. And since then, you’ve done Never Sleep Again, which is considered the definitive franchise documentary, as well as the Scream documentary. So why another Friday The 13th documentary? And why come full circle now?
It’s a very good question! Here’s the thing. When we did the first documentary His Name Was Jason on Friday The 13th, it was done very quickly. We were trying to stay within the time frame of the release of the remake. So there was a mad dash just to get it done. It felt to me like we never really completed it. It never felt like it really told the full story, much like we did in Crystal Lake Memories the book, which was very complete. We took such a gamble with Never Sleep Again with the running time. We weren’t sure if anyone would want to watch a show that was 4 hours, plus with another 4 hours of bonus features. It was our running joke. Originally it was going to be 2 hours, but we thought ‘why not 3’? And then we thought, ‘well if it’s going to be 3, then why not 4’? (Laughs) We realized we had so much material and we didn’t want to short change it and we wanted it to be a complete story, so we took the gamble with it and it paid off. Fans seem to really love it. The reviews were really terrific across the board as well. With that said, there’s this renewed awareness where we can do a show like this and we can extend it and tell a full story and follow that story sequentially and go from film to film to film without cutting corners. That is the impetus for this. Doing something that feels more sequential and takes us from movie and movie, and involves as many alumni from these movies as we can get. So in a way it makes sense to go back to Peter Bracke who put together the book and edited it – I give him full credit for the start of the whole horror retrospective idea which started with his book. Because of my association with the book and with Friday The 13th, it just made sense to go back and do this right.
As you’re putting it together now, all the retrospective docs have had different approaches in terms of how they lay out the story of the making of each film. Some go chronologically, some by topics. Is this going to follow the format of Never Sleep Again and go movie by movie?
That’s exactly right. All you have to do is look at the book and you’ll know how the documentary is going to work. It’s pretty much following the book. We didn’t get every single interview that’s in the book and you couldn’t do the book on screen, because it would last 96 hours! But each segment is a chapter on screen. It’s really following the template of the book.
I think for a lot of fans, it’s always exciting when you find someone new that hasn’t yet talked about their experiences on their respective film. For example, if you’re a frequent convention goer, it’s fun to meet someone that’s never done a convention before. Can you talk a bit about some of the new people you found to take part in the doc?
It’s been so cool because with the advent of Facebook since we did the book or even His Name Was Jason, there was no Facebook when we did the book version! It was tough to get people in those days. There was a lot of jumping through hoops and going through SAG and trying to make connections where ever you could. When we got to His Name Was Jason, it was a little easier because we had the benefit of a long list of names. This time was even better, because so many people have surfaced even since that time which was 2008. So what’s exciting is that we’ve gotten some names in this that haven’t been seen before. We got Sharlene Martin from Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. We found Sharlene when we did the deluxe editions for Paramount and she was gracious enough to come back and do this for us all over again. And also John Robert Dixon, who played Eddie and had one of the most memorable kills in Friday The 13th Part V: The New Beginning. He’s the one that gets killed up against the tree with the leather strap across his face. John surfaced and was fantastic and gave us such a great interview. We got some of the Canadian actors from Jason X; Melyssa Ade and Phillip Williams. Jennifer Cooke was a big one for us, because she’s literally never spoken about her experiences on Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. Even for the book, all of her quotes were pulled from old sources and vintage articles that she did at the time of the movie’s release. Sadly enough, no one could ever convince Jennifer to step up and talk about Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. She’s had a pretty successful life outside of acting. She and her husband many years ago invented this brand called the Celestial Seasonings Tea. She finally agreed and invited us to interview her recently. It’s not as in depth as some of the other interviews we’ve done, but it’s really just great to hear her talk about the movie at long last and she said a lot of positive things.
The book Crystal Lake Memories and then the documentary Halloween: 25 Years Of Terror were both about 10 years ago and to me, those projects paved the way for several other retrospective docs that focused on specific franchises. Back in those days, people were more skeptical regarding projects like this, but as time has proven, they have a huge fanbase and can be successful. What differences have you personally noticed between tackling a project such as this now as opposed to back then?
Well, certainly HD makes a difference. We’re now shooting on camera’s that shoot beautifully and less expensively. The work flow is a little easier. You can transfer footage much quicker; the speed up on post-production is much more economical these days. And it allows us to put focus on other areas such as finding more never before seen photos or seeking out those rare things fans have always been curious about. One of the things we do when we ask people in for an interview, is we ask them to bring their scrap books or any memento’s from the film. It’s just amazing how many people have come through the door with those things. We’re getting stuff from people’s personal collections as opposed to studio scans that we’ve all seen a million times before. We’re approaching these now with a much more of an insiders look, which I think is more interesting for fans, as it is for me.
I know you’ve been hard at work on shooting a ton of new interviews specifically for this, but is it true you’re incorporating some of the footage shot on His Name Was Jason too?
What happened was we had a wealth of footage from His Name Was Jason which we didn’t use. It never was seen or didn’t make it into the final film because the limitations to that format. But in this case, I have access to a lot of footage that has never really made its way out before and I think that’s exciting for fans to get more of the complete picture. But we’ve gone back and gotten a lot of the people we weren’t able to incorporate into the last show. As you imagine, its 12 movies and over 30 years, it’s tough to track down everyone but we certainly put the word out to every single person and we’ve ended up getting a lot of them. The combination with many, many clips from His Name Was Jason that you’ve never seen combined with all this new stuff we’ve been shooting over the last couple of months will make up the documentary.
How far along are you in the editing room? Are you guys on any kind of time table, or because this is an independent project, are you taking your time with it?
We’d love to get it done and released before the end of the year but I’m not sure if that’s entirely realistic at this point because there’s always more interviews to shoot. So that being said, that’s the difficulty of setting a time table. We’re doing our usual mad-dash to try to get it out as quickly as possible, but we also don’t want to rush it out. We want it to be solid. So I can say it will definitely be out within the year.
For myself as a fan, the interesting thing about a lot of these franchises is a lot of the other mediums they’ve branched out into. Sometimes in comic books or collectibles or toys or board games or video games. I know it’s been difficult to incorporate that into the narrative of previous documentaries such as this. Any plans to try to talk about the other things that have come out of the Friday The 13th series for Crystal Lake Memories?
I can’t even answer that 100 percent yet because the movie is still evolving and we’re still trying to figure out what the stories are and which stories people want to hear, and because there’s just so many people involved, there’s some that you have to cover such as the Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash comic book series. I feel that was a big part of the conclusion of that part of the franchise. You want to touch on that a little bit, but I don’t know if we’re going to delve into every alternate universe of Friday The 13th and acknowledge that they all exist. I also don’t think we’re going to do too many bonus features, because it feels to us that His Name Was Jason had so many bonus features, there was so much material on that 2nd disc and to me that was the best part of that show. It’s been covered. So what we really want to focus on is telling the story of the 12 movies and the TV show in depth and really make it about that.
Ah, so the TV show will be covered though!
Oh yeah, definitely. We have to cover the TV series. Not to the depth that we’re covering each individual movie of the franchise, because it was an evolution of the series and something Frank Mancuso Jr. was very proud of. I have to mention, Frank Mancuso Jr was a mentor to me. I wrote letters to him when I was a kid and he was kind enough to write me back and he really was one of the first people to encourage me in this business. So he’s been a great mentor and friend and he was gracious enough to give us his very first on camera interview, as the producer of the first Friday The 13th film. The TV show was his creation which lasted for 3 years and had an astounding number of episodes for a show called Friday The 13th! So, again – Frank is someone I have to give a shout out to because for years, he was a big part of my life and it was great to just sit down and get to talk to him and hear from him directly first hand what it was like to make those first few iconic films that brought the Jason we know and love into the world. Certainly that debate with the hockey mask rages on! (Laughs) Every one wants to take credit for that mask’s success.
Visit the official Facebook page for the Crystal Lake Memories documentary right here! And also read our previous FEARnet interview with author Peter Bracke on the digital eBook release of Crystal Lake Memories.