Exclusive Interview: 'Thankskilling' Writers/Director

Nothing says Thanksgiving like a foul-mouthed, hitchhiking killer turkey. So when the new horror flick Thankskilling popped on my radar, I just had to see it. After I saw it, I just had to sit down one on one with the delirious minds behind this film, writer/director Jordan Downey and writer Kevin Stewart. I had to find out what makes them tick. Find out what would compel them to make such a film. Find out why they wanted to defile such a beloved holiday and most importantly, find out what their favorite turkey day side dish is. Be sure to stick around after the interview for a huge picture gallery and a clip from Thankskilling, you'll never look at a turkey the same way again.

FEARnet - There aren't many Thanksgiving inspired horror movies, was this the inspiration behind Thankskilling?

Jordan - Like you said we were very aware that Thanksgiving was one of the few holidays untapped when it came to the horror genre. Kevin and I, we've always been fans of cheesy horror films and low budget stuff and we were still in college when we made this. At the time, we were tired of the movies we were watching having a cool poster and a cool trailer but the
movie was just boring.

So we decided during our summer break, let's go out and make a low budget horror film. Horror was really the only genre we were willing to attempt with $3500 because the low budget will work for it. We didn't want to just do a masked slasher or something that would blend in with the crowd. If we were going to market this thing we knew we needed a unique approach. It really came down to Easter and Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving just worked a lot better for a horror film, as opposed to a killer Easter Bunny.

Kevin - Which had never been done before either.

Jordan - Right, so that's where we started. It didn't take long for us to come up with the turkey and the tagline. It really just spawned from wanting to go out and make something with the money we had and wanting to do a holiday horror film.

Since you started Thankskilling when you were in college, how long of a process has this been?

Kevin - I think about 2 1/2 years. I believe it was spring semester of sophomore year. We've been working on it pretty much constantly. I think we took a break for 2-3 months when we were shooting our thesis films and then we went right back to Thankskilling.

So nearly 3 years later and $3500, that's pretty amazing.

Kevin - It was a lot of hours, both Jordan and I have probably put in thousands and thousands of hours for Thankskilling. It's funny to think that  it's such a low budget film, and it's called Thankskilling but we put so much hard work into it.

What kind of shooting schedule did you manage over that period of time?

Jordan - We shot it in the summer of 2007 and shot 95% of the movie nonstop in 11 days. We came back to Ohio and cast everything here while Kevin was in LA working on the production schedule. We had everything planned out pretty well for the most part. We knew it was one of those things, if you don't shoot it all in one burst it's gonna be hard to push through for three years of shooting, little pieces here and there. With reshoots, I think it was a total of 14 days of shooting.

How did you pull together all of the SPFX on such a tight budget?

Kevin - We put a Craigslist ad in Columbus, we had a couple people respond who had pretty impressive resumes, we found Troy Smith who was our make-up FX guy, and he had great pics on his website so we asked him to do it. He understood we had no money to pay him; we'd pay for supplies as much as we could, so he did it for free and did an amazing job with all of the blood FX. All of the FX were done by him, except for the turkey which was done by Jordan. So we really didn't spend that much money getting those onscreen.

What's next?

Jordan - Whatever it is it's not going to be along the lines of Thankskilling. It's been a difficult process for the both of us, the subject matter is very crude and funny and we both have a very unique sense of humor but it's not really representative of what we both want to do and accomplish as filmmakers. It's always something that was kind of a struggle, is this going to be something that we would be proud of in the end? And we are, but as far as the next project, it's probably not going to be along the lines of a low budget B-movie. Although, maybe we'll make a sequel at some point (laughs)

But you're staying in the genre?

Jordan - Yeah, we want to try and get away from the gore and monsters and go with something more like a psychological thriller.

How have the reactions from friends and family been?

Kevin - Really positive, a lot of people have reacted really well. Exactly how we wanted them to react. Which was for them to understand that this was a B-horror film, maybe even a D-horror film, and take it for what it's worth. We did a purposefully bad film, so bad it's kinda good, or funny I guess. And people got it. I guess that's something we were a little afraid of that people wouldn't get it and think we were being serious.

I'd say you were pretty successful in that respect.

Kevin and Jordan - Thanks.

OK guys, I have a few Thanksgiving inspired questions for each of you. White or dark meat?

Jordan - White

Kevin - Dark

Favorite Thanksgiving side?

Jordan - Mashed potatoes

Kevin - Cranberry sauce

Imagine we’re in the world of Left 4 Dead and you can pick up anything to carve a turkey with, what item would it be?

Kevin - Saw blade

Jordan – Hmmm, a rusted piece of metal

What’s your biggest fear?

Jordan - Small things, dolls or little creatures. There was an X-Files  episode with this little pink Fiji mermaid that scared the crap out of me.

Kevin - Snakes scare the fucking shit out of me!

Happy Thankskilling everybody!

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