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Kevin Kangas

Kevin: "..my teachers probably thought
I was a little weird".

Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
May 13th, 2004

Part 1...>
Read Part 2 >  Read Part 3 >
Read Part 4 >

A lot of people may think that my job is easy, but let me tell you when you get the task of watching IT or The Clown at Midnight and you are scared of clowns (like I am) it's actually very difficult. Imagine how easy researching my next task was.....this week I bring you an Interview with Director Kevin Kangas about his new horror movie Fear of Clowns and let me tell you, just watching the trailer and looking at pictures of the titular character had me on edge for days!! Facing my fear head on to get you the scoop proved worthwhile as this promises to be scary!!

Did you always want to be a director?
Tricky question. I probably did, but I didn't know it for a long time. I started as a writer very early. I was reading stuff like "Lord of the Rings" and "Sword of Shannara", and Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury books, all this stuff in elementary school, and my teachers probably thought I was a little weird. I was pulling all these sci-fi and fantasy books out of my dad's box and reading them.

So then I wrote some short stories when I was twelve, started a book when I was about thirteen. I wrote during my classes, rather than pay attention. I turned to screenplays when I was about eighteen, kind of a natural progression as my love of movies collided with my love of writing.

So while I was taking classes in college I took a film course as an elective, and from there it all clicked. It was like, THIS is how you get your screenplays made into a movie; do it yourself. Not as easy as it sounded at that point. It took about six years to actually make a movie. Two false starts before "Hunting Humans".

You and partner Rick Ganz set up Marauder Productions and you first film 'Hunting Humans' was nominated for and won several awards. Your next film is the forthcoming 'Fear of Clowns', which has been described by yourselves as a "psychological horror" movie. What was your initial idea for the story?
Honestly, it started out psychological horror, but it ended up being horror. What happened after "Hunting Humans" was all of a sudden I had a little money. Not much, mind you, but more than I had for "Hunting Humans". I also had a couple of people approach me about investing in my next pic. So I jammed some numbers and tried to figure out what the budget was.

Next you take that budget and compare it to the twenty some scripts I've written. No way can I shoot any of them. So then I started jamming ideas, trying to figure out my hook. With "Hunting Humans" the hook was a high concept idea (serial killer being stalked by another serial killer).

So somehow or another I remembered a friend of mine had a fear of clowns and I did a little research. Looked like a lot of people had it. The question for me was, what do I do with it that's interesting? What's the story angle? Clearly, the hook is going to be the cool-ass looking clown with a big axe (I don't know why, but I always knew he'd have a giant axe).

I decided the main character Lynn would be an artist with coulrophobia (she doesn't know why), but she's starting to make a name for herself with her scary clown paintings. That's all she paints, terrifying clown images, and one in particular pops up often in her pics. When a clown resembling the one she paints shows up and starts killing off people around her, she's forced to confront her fear incarnated or literally be killed by it.

My brother, an art major, came up with some sketches of clowns. I only told him that the clown would have eyes like a shark, black (also a reference to Michael Myers eyes as Dr. Loomis says in "Halloween"). Two in particular struck my fancy, and we settled on the one you see in the pics with the crooked smile.

I bought a vintage clown costume on eBay not only because it fit the story(Lynn paints this clown image that she remembers from her childhood, which would have been like 20 years ago, so a new clown costume wouldn't have fit the story). Also, I didn't want that same clown costume that you see all over the place.

We shot some promo footage and promo pics with a buddy of mine as the clown, and that brought the investors fully on board. Once we discovered Mark, we decided he'd be much more frightening if we cut the costume so you could see his physique. I mean, I'm not afraid of clowns, but if I saw a clown with Mark's arms coming at me, I'd run.

Mark Lassise terrifies as 'The Clown'.

How long did it take to write?
About four months, but I couldn't finish the ending. Took me another two to do the ending. I wish I'd had more time to rewrite and edit, but we had to start shooting fast or wait until the next Spring to do it.

When did pre-production take place?
Preproduction was June 2003 - Sept 2003, we started shooting on Sept 26th.

How did you get your cast?
Ads on the Maryland Film hotline, and in Backstage magazine. We received about 1800 headshots, auditioned about 400 people. In the end we had people from New York, Delaware, Maryland.

Where did you shoot?
Baltimore, Glen Burnie, Annapolis(all in Maryland)

The production was relatively a short one 9/26/03 until 10/15/03. Was that enough time to do everything that you intended to shoot?
HAHAHAHAHAHA. But seriously, no. As my DP(director of photography) Dave Mun said to me as I dropped him off at the airport: "That was a very ambitious schedule".

It was nuts. Simply crazy. The hardest thing I've ever done. I'd love to take more time, but when you're working on the lower-budget spectrum most of the actors you're working with are not professional actors; they have other jobs. For any of them to take off work for more than three weeks is unthinkable.

So there are scenes that aren't as tight as I'd like them. There just comes a point where it's either you get the shot like it is, or you don't get the shot. So you do the takes and move on, hope it's workable.

Did the shoot run smoothly?
Some days. The first day was great; I scheduled it easy. But it was amazingly boring. A lot of scenes of the main character painting. I was so bored I was really ready to kill someone (on-screen).

The second day went bad fast. We started setting up at 11am, and everything went bad. The neighborhood we were shooting in was a sound nightmare. Every time we tried to shoot, someone would start a power weed-whacker, or a lawn mower; there was construction going on about five doors up so there's banging hammers and buzz saws.

One scene ran over, then the next. Soon the sun went down, and your problem is, how do I light this so it looks like its day out? You need a lot of lights for that. We didn't finish until about 4:30 am, so that was a fifteen hour shooting day. We were supposed to shoot early in the morning, but I had to push those back. So here we are on day two and we've already got pickups (scenes that are pushed back for later).

Other days had other problems. One day when Mark walks out with balloons, it got very windy. The balloons were blowing all over the place, getting tangled up in the axe. Wind also plays havoc with the sound. We had a couple of shoots postponed because of a storm that hit.

What can we expect to see from the film? Is it very scary or gory and is there any humour? I guess I'm asking what the overall tone of the film is.
Think Carpenter's Halloween. There are funny parts (most are courtesy of Frank Lama as Detective Peters, the sarcastic and apathetically- challenged detective who's trying to figure out what's going on), there are scary parts, and there are gory parts (you've probably seen the pics online at www.fearofclowns.net).

It's funny, when I started writing the script I knew it would be something of an homage to Halloween, but it still had the kind of mystery I often put in. The script has you asking "Why is the clown doing this, and who's really pulling his strings?"

When I finished the first cut of the movie though, it clocked in at over three hours. I realized that a big subplot had to go, so now the actual movie is a much closer homage to Halloween than the script ended up being. The final film is about 2 hours and 5 minutes.

"Hey kids, it's party time!".

Just please tell me the clown won't be making goofy wisecracks?
No, the clown has about 5 lines in the entire movie. He's a psychopath, pure and simple. Since the movie is basically an homage to "Halloween", he's very similar to the Michael Myers killer.

Any idea what certificate you will get or can you tell us what you are aiming for?
It will be rated R for sure, for nudity and violence.

What are the release plans? I read that it would hit video on 9/18/04, can you enlighten us?
That was an arbitrary date I put on the imdb form. (It's my birthday) I'll have a finished copy in July which will go out to some of the medium sized film fests and the larger horror fests. We'll see if we can win some prizes, get some good word of mouth. From there my producer's rep will shop it around to distributors. Odds are you won't find it in video stores until next year, but keep an eye on our web site for a limited edition DVD that will be available in August.

Have you had any time to think about your next project? A sequel perhaps?
No, but we did have some laughs about it on set. We kept talking about how the next movie would be "Hunting Clowns" where it's Aric Blue vs Shivers The Clown (the clown from Fear of Clowns). Then we joked about what's scarier than a clown? How about a vampire clown? We'd call it Attack of the Vampire Clowns.

But seriously, I'm not sure about the next one. It all depends on the budget. If we can raise about $300,000 for the next one then I've got some pretty good ideas (and we could get some recognizable actors in it, which is a big selling point to distributors)

"Thank you for taking part in this interview Kevin.
We all wish you the very best of luck in the future."

You can visit the 'Fear of Clowns' official web site right here: www.fearofclowns.net

Read Part 2:
Jacky Reres Interview
right here >>
Read Part 3:
Mark Lassise Interview
right here >>
Read Part 4:
Rick Ganz Interview
right here >>

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