Through the mirror of madness, into the dungeon of disparity; follow me as I Horror Q&A the man behind the scenes of the fan made Horror film NEVER HIKE ALONE:
Mr. Vincente DiSanti.
- Thomas Otterman
THOMAS OTTERMAN: What is Womp Stomp films? How did it become to be what it is today?
VINCENTE DISANTI: Womp Stomp Films is a small company created by my wife Sarah and myself as an avenue to produce small budget genre shorts and other web content. Once we knew the Never Hike Alone project was going to become a complex production, we made the steps to form an LLC that would help us handle the business aspects of film production.
TO: How did you come up with the idea to do a Friday The 13th Fan made Indie Film?
VD: I have been a big fan of the horror genre since I was a very young, especially the Friday the 13th franchise. In fact, many of the ‘behind the scenes’ featurettes were a direct influence on my pursuit of becoming a filmmaker.
The idea for Never Hike Alone began when Sarah and I came across an old set of cabins during a 2013 photography hike in Big Bear, California. There was something about the place that made me feel like we had just stumbled into Camp Crystal Lake and the idea sort of grew from that. That premise stuck in my head for almost a year and it was around the same time that I started building my own Jason Voorhees cosplay. When the costume came together, we started taking photos and making short clips to see how it looked on camera. That process eventually lead to us forming a team with the goal of making our own short fan film.
TO: And how easy was it to come up with a script?
VD: For me, writing a good script is always an endurance challenge that requires a lot of deep thought and repetition. The script for Never Hike Alone was an organic process because we often wrote scenes based on locations we discovered along the way.
For example, our original shooting location before finding the abandoned camp did not allow us to shoot any interior scene and thus the time between Kyle discovering the camp and getting attacked by Jason was almost immediate. However, after discovering the abandoned camp and getting access to interior sets, we found ourselves with an opportunity to create additional scenes and expand the film. It was during that process that we came up with the concept of Kyle finding old crime scenes and other familiar sets from the original film.
TO: Did you have any fears about copyright infringement or The studio maybe deciding to shut the project down? And why or why not?
VD: At first we were very weary of making a fan film and the possible consequences. After doing a healthy amount of research we soon discovered a plethora of other fan films that had seemed to get along without any interference and that fear quickly subsided.
Along the way we made sure to keep most of our intentions very public to allow rights holders an opportunity to see what we are up to and step in at any time if they found fault with whatever we were doing. To this day, we have not received any sort of correspondence from the rights holders or studios asking to stop what we are doing.
TO: Did you ever think that Never Hike Alone would be such a hit? What has the response been by the folks that have seen it? What has the response been on Twitter?
VD: From the start, we knew that if we could deliver a solid Friday the 13th Fan Film that it could be popular amongst fellow Friday the 13th and horror nerds out there on the Internet. With that said, we never foresaw the film gaining as much notoriety as it has. That was probably because going into the process I had a lot of people telling me I shouldn't even bother with a fan film and to make my own original piece.
I understood where they were coming from, but at the same time my passion for telling this specific story was coming from a place I really can't explain. All I can say is that the film was a reflection of how I felt about the franchise and Jason and I think the audiences can sense that. The best compliment we receive from fans is that for them, this is the first film in 30 years that has felt like a true Friday the 13th film.
TO: Who in your opinion is the best Jason Voorhees? and which of the original sequels is your favorite and why?
VD: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is my all time favorite Friday and CJ Graham is my favorite Jason. Much of that has to do with the way Jason is designed and portrayed in the film as it is the first time he has ever seemed truly unstoppable.
Being a fan made film, how hard was it to film Never Hike Alone? What techniques did you use? What advice would you like to share with first time film makers? What location did you choose, and how did you decide upon it?
Filming Never Hike Alone was a great challenge. Although solid funding gave us the opportunity to work with some pretty cool gear, we were severely under equipped in comparison to the actual films in the franchise.
The key to making the film successful was not to rush. We spent a lot of time in preproduction figuring out as much of the logistics as we could. Once we had a good idea of what we could and could not accomplish with our budget, we focused our efforts on delivering specific moments for each sequence of events that would make the film feel bigger in scope than one would expect. Whether it was adding drone photography to show off a vast landscape, a high fall stunt to ramp up the action, or a high quality make up effect, we made sure to construct the film in a way that lead up to those moments in the form of an unexpected, but organic surprise.
TO:Did you have any dilemmas while filming? what was it? How were you able to solve it?
VD: We had LOTS of dilemmas. Almost every day brought some new challenge for us to face, but anyone in the business of making films knows that is a pretty common occurrence. Everything leading up to a day of filming is usually based on a series of guesswork that doesn't fully get figured out until everything is on set. Even if 99% of the guesswork is right, the last 1% can drive filmmakers nuts.
The key for any filmmaker is to have patience and know how to adapt to situations as they arise. I believe most, if not all, directors are perfectionists in some way so it becomes hard to imagine something being different than what you see in your head. Good directors know when to fight for a specific idea and most importantly, when to let things go for the sake of continuing on. I find that the best thing to do is get to the end of a scene even if that means killing a few darlings along the way. If the original Friday The 13th was made in today’s current world and not in 1980 do you think we would still get all the amazing sequels that it churned out in the 1980s?
I think it would depend on how it was executed. If it was remade shot for shot, line for line, I do not think it would be able to keep up with some of the more popular films you see in the theater today. It certainly would not be the game-changing icon as we know it.
As much as I love and appreciate the original film, each era of filmmaking allows for some degree of forgiveness in terms of quality because of the constraints filmmakers faced at those times.
However, if you took the same exact premise from the original Friday the 13th and injected it with storytelling and filmmaking techniques from our modern era, you could certainly create a viable film in today's horror market.
TO:Who would win Jason vs Michael Myers? And why?
VD: The never-ending debate rages on! Personally, although I believe the original Halloween to be a superior slasher film and Michael to be a definitive icon, he would have a very hard time dealing with the Jason Voorhees I’ve come to know and love. To me, Jason has a much more visceral approach when attacking his victims and I doubt Myers would be able to keep up. That being said, time has shown that both of these characters are seemingly indestructible so I’m sure a true fight between them would involve an unending back and forth until the end of time.
TO: Is there room for a sequel to Never Hike Alone? and what else can we expect to see coming from Womp Stomp in the future?
VD: There is not only room for a sequel to Never Hike Alone, but we believe the continuation of our story can also provide a new path for the entire Friday the 13th Franchise in general. Having Thom Mathews join our team during the process allowed us to sort of hi-jack the canon of the franchise in a way that I’ve always wanted to see it go. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, we’d like to see the story pick up where it left off in the 1980’s and we confidently believe that our strategy could revive the franchise in the best way possible.
TO: Did Never Hike Alone ever go to any festivals ?
VD: We were very honored to have Never Hike Alone make its World Premiere at the Telluride Horror Show on Friday the 13th, October 2017 in front of a sold out crowd of die hard Friday the 13th fans.
The funny story behind that was we actually met one of the festival programmers, Brad McHargue while playing Friday the 13th The Game during post production of the film. A few of my friends that I was playing with asked if we were looking at any festivals to debut the film and I had mentioned Telluride as the one we were aiming for. Hearing that, Brad jumped into the conversation and the rest is history.
TO: What was your experience on using a crowdfunding platform ? Would you recommend crowdfunding? What are some of pros and cons to crowdfunding?
VD: Anyone looking to crowdfund their film should know and expect it to be a full time job. It’s certainly not as fun or exciting as making the actual film, but it is a great way to know your audience and build a solid fan base.
TO: If you could make another fan made film of a different horror movie what would you choose to do? and why would it be the one chosen?
VD: I am not sure there is a specific horror icon I would want to put as much time and effort in as Jason. However, if I could some how build my own man-in-suit Godzilla costume and miniature city set, I would probably never leave my house.
TO: Do you have any phobias, and what are they?
VD: After watching Night of the Living Dead as a kid I would get paranoid sleeping in any house with too many windows on the first floor. To this day, I am still very conscious of the square footage of windows and other weak access points for zombie hoards into at any place I sleep.
TO: What film was the first film to scare you, and why? at what age were you ? Was it a particular scene that scared you ?
VD: I am a very big horror and monster movie fan and started watching them at a very young age. A woman who worked for my grandfather used to loan me Godzilla and other Kaiju films when I was very young and I couldn't get enough of them. I remember Little Shop of Horrors being apart of the mix too. When I was old enough to start renting films, I remember wandering around the horror aisle for the first time and being blown away by all of the artwork and that became my gateway into the genre.
TO: Are you a horror film fan? and at what age did you see / decide you liked Horror movies?
VD: Night of the Living Dead and An American Werewolf in London were two early horror films that really got me into the genre, but The Texas Chainsaw massacre was the first to absolutely terrify me.
TO: What is your favorite and least favorite Horror film? and what made them stand out?
VD: It is really hard for me to pin down a favorite horror film because I have a fond reverence for so many unique films. I would say that my favorite films feature strong main characters that you root for to survive. My biggest dislikes are films with purposefully annoying and underdeveloped characters who are served up as canon fodder.
TO: What are your Top 3 must see Horror films of all time that you recommend?
VD: Psycho, The Shining (1978), and Night of the Living Dead.
TO: Do you have a website or contact information that you would like to share at this time so the fans can get in touch?
VD: Fans can find us at www.wompstompfilms.com as well as @wompstompfilms on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Anyone who wants to reach out to use directly should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
I personally have been a fan of Jason Voorhees and the entire Friday The 13th franchise as I never know exactly what Jason is going to do next. I personally enjoy all the fresh kills over the years. I appreciate the honor of being able to communicate with Vincente and to have a chance to pick his brain for a bit. Well fans of Horror take note of Vincente DiSanti and NEVER HIKE ALONE, and remember to follow your dreams.