Four friends. Two estranged sisters. One bachelorette party. One remote cabin. One violent night. Things get messy in Elliot Feld's sophomore feature 'Killer Kate!' which pits family against family, dealing a heavy dose of past drama and an equal amount of blood. Things aren't all as they seem though. With the film hitting theaters and VOD on October 26th, Elliot pulls back the curtain to give us some insight into the thriller he crafted with members of his own family.
What attracts you most to the horror genre, and how did you implement that into this film?
I love calculated horror. Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and John Carpenter had a knack for controlling the exposition of their films. When you think about it, movies like “Psycho” and “The Shining” are so original in their structure and pacing. “The Shining” especially takes time to unfold, letting the audience adjust to the environment, and understand the characters before it brings on the gore. I tried to implement some of this character and plot development into “Killer Kate!.” Daniel and I wanted to let the audience get comfortable for the first half of the movie, so we could knock them off balance for the second half. It starts as a character study, almost a drama, and evolves into a grindhouse horror/comedy.
What to you is the most important aspect of directing - Killer Kate! and in general?
Directing the actor is always number one for me. I majored in theater performance in college, and my wife actually plays Kate in the film, so I understand the stress that comes with being in front of an audience. Actors need feedback. They crave it. Killer Kate! has a diverse ensemble of characters and it was important to me that they all have their own specific personality. I took it scene by scene with each actor, and we worked together to make sure their characters came to life. It was always a collaborative process.
What kind of experience do you hope audiences will have with this film and what do you want them to take away?
The theme of Killer Kate! is family. Not only does the storyline follow two separate families feuding over the course of a night, but the majority of our crew are literally family. My parents and siblings have always been central to my life. I want the audience to have fun with this film, and I want them to be entertained, but I also want them to walk away relating to the characters in the film. All horror films are grounded in the real world in one way or another. Ours is an allegory for the struggle that is the by-product of a broken family. Angie and Kate are real, and their problems are real, and I hope this reality comes to light amidst all the chaos and violence.
What lesson(s) would you pass on to aspiring filmmakers that you learned during this production?
I actually teach a college film course every Saturday, and I constantly use my practical experience to educate the students. I’m a primarily a commercial producer and director, and I’ve worked on some of the biggest advertising sets you could imagine. My biggest piece of advice is this – be cool. Remember, we’re not saving lives, we’re making movies. Take it step by step, and don’t make things bigger than they need to be. There is an entire crew looking to the director for leadership, and the best leaders are calm, cool, and collected.
How was it directing your wife and having other family so involved with this film?
It was a blast directing Alex. She’s such a natural, and her ability to get through the first few layers of the character quickly allowed us to work on the more important subtext of the script. She and I have great chemistry, so I can direct her with ease. My brother was the Production Manager. He and I have worked together for what seems like our entire life, and with his experience, he was able to make our little indie film feel like a commercial set. I trust him so much, and I won’t make another movie without him. My Dad was our EP and accountant, so I knew our money was in safe hands, and my in-laws handled art department. Honestly, it was a dream come true for our first movie.
If you had infinite resources and budget, what is a fantasy project you would like to tackle?
Wow! This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? I love to read, and I’m usually reading two books at once, so I’m going to give my top three book adaptations for this answer. First, I would take on a limited series of “The Dark Tower” in the vein of “Game of Thrones”. They went for the feature, but it was ultimately a disappointment, and doing it with HBO or Netflix could be really fun. Second, “The Lions of Lucerne” is a Brad Thor novel that would make a really great action flick. I met Brad Thor once, and I’d love to work with him on an adaptation of his Scot Harvath series. Last but not least, I would love to write and direct an adaptation of “Moonraker.” I’ve actually read half the Bond books, and they’re all really great. I think they would translate much better now with our production capabilities.
What is next for you?
Daniel Moya and I have a few scripts laying around, but “The Woods” and “Long Range” are at the top of our list. “The Woods” is a horror/thriller in the vein of “The Road” with vampires. “Long Range” is more of a modern western. I don’t have representation yet, so I’m also working on finding either a manager or an agent. I’ve been able to fly solo so far, but I think it’s time to build the team!