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Matthew Leutwyler

Matthew: "I needed a way to creatively
express myself".

Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
February 9th, 2004

This week I managed to chat to the Director of one of 2004's most anticipated horror movies 'Dead & Breakfast'. The film wrapped post production last week and stars Jeremy Sisto (May, Wrong Turn) Gina Philips (Jeepers Creepers) Bianca Lawson (Buffy, Bones) Portia de Rossi (Scream 2, Cursed) and David Carradine (Kill Bill). Read on for all the details on this years hottest horror movie!!

Why did you want to make films?
I Couldn't draw, paint or sculpt and I needed a way to creatively express myself. I studied acting for about 6 or 7 years. Wasn't real good at that but enjoyed the process of production so storytelling and filmmaking seemed like the right place to direct my energy.

How did you get started in the industry?
I studied film at The San Francisco Art Institute where I honed my skills to a level that made me feel confident enough to make the move to "Hollywood." I got my first paying gig shooting film for MTV's Rock and Jock Basketball Game, shot a few low budget music videos, and then made a short film that played in a bunch of festivals. That film helped me raise the money for my first feature Road Kill. And then it's just sort of moved along from there.

So, 'Dead and Breakfast', how did the project come about?
I had always wanted to do an Evil Dead type of horror film. Heavy on the comedy and blood. I met with EJ Heiser and Joe Madden of Goal Line Productions, our co-producers on D&B, about another film and they showed me pictures of this property that they had recently purchased. My partner Jun Tan and I looked at each other and thought "Wow, this looks just like the house out of Psycho." They told us that it was going to be renovated in a couple of months but if we wanted to shoot something there before that, it was ours. Over the next 8 weeks we came up with a simple story line, wrote the script, cast the movie, built a couple of sets and started shooting. 18 days later we were in post production.

What was the original idea and has it changed radically?
The idea never really changed that much but the execution did. It was a very ambitious shoot. 23 speaking parts, 70% night exteriors in the middle of winter, endless make-up FX, gallons of blood... all in 3 six-day weeks. It was a nightmare.

Brooke Alison leads the line dance from hell.

What was it about the project that attracted you to it?
As I said, I always wanted to shoot something this crazy and off beat. A film where no one asks why there is a musical dance number in the middle of a bloody battle on the steps of an old Victorian.

What kind of input did you have?
Making any film requires a shit load of people but there has to be one person steering the ship. I had input in every phase of production. From working with the FX crew to finding the actors, designing the look of the sets, to overseeing the music, and literally everything in between.

The film has an excellent cast for a low budget feature, why did the actors agree to do the project?
They were all psyched to be in a film where they were going to either blow someone's head off OR get their own head blown off. Some I am friends with, others I have worked with before and still others like Diedrich Bader and Bianca Lawson just responded to the whole idea of what we were trying to pull off.

How did the shoot go? Where did you shoot, how long for, and any fond memories?
I'm not sure if more things could have gone wrong. Rain, cold, power outages, FX malfunctions... You name it; we had it happen to us. If it wasn't for the cast and crew's determination to get this film in the can we would have been dead in the water on day three.

Over 34 gallons of "blood" were used during the course of the 18 day shoot.

On day three, the generator that provided all of the power for our lights blew up. The electrical crew had us back up in a couple of hours after patching into the Victorian's fuse box. An hour later, during the most complicated scene in the movie, the lights were out again. Unfortunately, this time we blew up a couple of transformers and knocked out electricity to the entire area, including the next-door neighbors - Wente Vineyards. It was a difficult end to one of the most ambitious days of the schedule that included a pyrotechnics crew, two weapons wranglers, 25 extras in zombie make-up, and six stuntmen.

From the trailer alone I picked up on references to Psycho, (great job with Oz Perkins in front of the B&B) From Dusk Til Dawn, Night of the Living Dead, and strangely Thriller, which also reminded me of the low budget movie infested starring Amy Jo Johnson. Did you decide to reference things rather than spoof them Scary Movie style?
Absolutely. This is not a "spoof movie." It's blood, guts, music and humor.

Ever Carradine & Erik Palladino
take a break on set.

What can we expect from the film? Is it a horror comedy or a gore flick with humour?
A gory comedy/musical.

Who will distribute?
Right now we have no distribution. We just completed the film last week and will be premiering it at the South By Southwest Film Festival (www.sxsw.com) in March. From there we go to Weekend of Fear in Germany, Another Hole in the Head in San Francisco, Dead by Dawn in Scotland and so on... We have a sales rep for the film and will probably screen for distributors in L.A. shortly. The cast has gotten a lot of them very excited about seeing the finished product, so we'll see.

Any chance of a sequel?
That's what all of the actors are asking - but with the way the movie ends I think it would probably have to be a prequel.

What are you working on next?
I'm working on a bigger budgeted, straight horror film in the vein of Carpenter's The Thing. Ambush Entertainment is teaming up with Tyruben Elingson and DJ Marini of Combustion Studios (www.combustionstudios.com) on that one so it should be fantastic. Shooting for a summer 2004 production date. But my company also has its fingers in non-genre stuff as well. A college comedy, a scientific thriller that's absolutely brilliant and some smaller art house films.

"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview Matthew,
and we wish you the best of luck with the release of Dead & Breakfast."

You can visit the official Dead & Breakfast website here: www.dandbfilm.com

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