Interview

Interview

Exclusive: 'Forget Me Not' Writer/Director Interview

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A childhood prank gone wrong and vengeful spirits are at the forefront of Tyler Oliver and Jamieson Stern's original new horror flick, Forget Me Not.

Forget Me Not had its world premiere last Thursday night in Los Angeles at Mann's as part of the Screamfest film festival. Tyler co-wrote and directed Forget Me Not with Jamieson (who also has a small role in the film) catch our full interview with Tyler and Jamieson below.

Can you tell us how the idea of Forget Me Not originated?

Tyler Oliver  - Jamie and I met on a previous film, Jamie played the lead, we knew each other as acquaintances before that, but we really got to know each other on that production. We started tossing around some ideas about the films that we wanted to make, the original idea came from a game that Jamie used to play as a kid.

Jamieson Stern - Yeah, when we first sat down and were trying to figure out what to write, we didn't necessarily know that we were going to write a horror film. But I had played this game Ghost in the Graveyard at a friend’s house in New England when I was a kid, it's a regional game so everyone may not have heard of it, it's a variation of a hide and seek type game but it's played in the graveyard. It's really scary as a child. It always stuck with me when I got into the entertainment business that it could possibly have the makings of a really scary film. We started with that as a jumping off point and let adult twisted imaginations run wild with it.

Jamison, how did you make the transition from actor to writer?

Jamieson Stern - Acting is a tough deal, you're always waiting around for people to give you opportunities to get jobs and that wasn't happening for me as frequently as I'd like so I started writing so I'd have some ownership of something I was doing, something creative. I had been writing on my own trying to create a vehicle for myself as an actor and wound up really preferring the process of being a writer and being involved, taking a project from conception to the end. It was a natural segue and happened for me at the right time. I do have a small part acting in Forget Me Not so I haven't forgotten about it forever, I think it was because of Tyler’s insistence (laughs) this is the first thing I wrote that I didn’t have any intention to act in, I was just writing for story and I think it shows, it's a better story for it.

How do the two of you work collaboratively? What’s your process like?

Jamieson Stern - Well, Tyler has a whip

Tyler Oliver - (laughs) Well, I've tried to collaborate with people in the past and it hasn't really worked out. Either your sensibilities are too similar and you just wind up going down the rabbit hole and there's no back and forth, but I think with Jamie it was a great experience for me and I think what it was, neither of us had a lot of ego attached to our writing. Neither of us felt like this is my idea, it has to be in, we seemed to be good at honing in on what worked and what didn't regardless of who generated it. Taking the best ideas and moving forward, while discarding the rest.

Jamieson Stern - I know some writing teams work differently, but we divvy up the writing, and then get together and rewrite one another, to find a unified voice, as we move forward.

How do you balance that relationship on set?

Tyler Oliver - Ship has to have one captain, so I think we both agreed that would be the case when we got into production. Production is something I've been more experienced with as well, personally. That said, the one thing I wanted to make sure of is that Jamie was involved the entire time. Typically, the writer delivers the script and then he's gone. But in our film, it's really Jamie and my baby from the get go. Jamie was always on set, and being a producer as well, he was intimately involved in decisions that affected the creative side as well as the business.

Would you consider yourselves fans of the genre?

Tyler Oliver - I've always been a fan of psychological thrillers, supernatural not as much a fan of slasher films; I came from more of the mindfuck sensibility. The best thing to me is to have a film that takes you on a rollercoaster ride but also makes you think at the same time and I think this genre, one of the things that attracted me is that you can do that. You can punch 'em in the gut, but there's also something going on mentally.

Jamieson Stern - I've had a long courtship with horror films. When I was young I had a love hate relationship with films like Jaws and Alien I was enthralled and terrified as a kid at the same time. I avoided horror films for a period of time until I started watching everything that came out about 5 or 6 years ago when we started exploring this genre as writers. I'm a convert. I've learned to like the experience of being scared. I've actually written several horror scripts since.

Tyler Oliver - That reminds me, one of the first R Rated films I saw was, I remember we were on vacation and the place had HBO which was really special back then, and I remember The Legacy was on. I remember my parents saw me turn this on and they were like, no, you're not watching this, so I snuck upstairs to a second TV and watched the film, and this thing just fucked me up for life (laughs), nightmares for weeks on end. It's funny to look back because now I'm creating the nightmare so it's repeating the cycle for the next generation of kids.

How is distribution shaping up for Forget Me Not?

Tyler Oliver - Luckily we wound up with a solid film and the interest has been good so far, it's a tough market out there economically, the feedback that we have so far is very positive. I probably shouldn't say anything specific because I don't want to piss any buyers off but we've had some good interest from some pretty good outlets.

Are either of you planning on returning to the genre?

Tyler Oliver - Definitely.

Jamieson Stern - I actually have another script that's starting to get a little traction of its own and it's a departure from this in that it's more of a slasher film, I have some pretty cool people that are interested so fingers crossed.

Tyler Oliver  - As a director its gotta be one of the most fun genres to work in because it's so demanding, visually, the story has to be tight, editing, pacing, everything. I like that challenge. Shooting a drama, within reason, you can really put the camera anywhere in the room, shoot people interacting and the story will play out. In a horror film it won't at all, it's so dependent on that type of thing.

What’s your biggest fear?

Tyler Oliver - Flying huge stinging insects. Someone forwarded me a Wikipedia article the other day on the Tarantula Hawk. I think the sting is one step away from paralysis. It's a huge wasp that hunts tarantulas.

Jamieson Stern - I grew up in Florida surrounded my aquatic and amphibious wildlife, so for me anything you can't read into the eyes. Anything where you can't look into the eye and have an understanding if it's going to attack or ignore you, and that would include for me sharks, snakes and alligators.

Check out our exclusive interview with Carly Schroeder who plays Sandy Channing and Micah Alberti who plays Jake Mitchell in Forget Me Not.

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