Next Projection got a chance to sit down and discuss with Jeremy Kasten his take on directing the framing segments for the horror Anthology The Theatre Bizarre. Here’s what he had to say…
Craig Stewart: How did you become involved in the project?
Jeremy Kasten: David Gregory knew me through mutual friends. Lorry O’Toole (now Lorry Stone) was the production designers on both our films. She told me David might ask me about doing the wraparounds. He contacted me and once I knew about the film and the talent involved I was excited to say, “yes” emphatically.
At that point David gave me the scripts and showed me the rough cuts of the films that had been shot. I think most of the films except his. He and the other producers knew they wanted to set the wraparounds in an old theatre - but beyond that the concept was up to me. I told David I want to do something with automatons. And he liked that idea. I took all of those thoughts to Zach Chassler, my creative partner, and he really fleshed out the beginnings of the plot.
CS: Similar to your film Wizard of Gore, there’s a sense of theatrical horror achieved by a mixture of stage and film techniques, almost in Grand Guignol style. What draws you to this and specifically for this project?
JK: I grew up doing theatre and because I spent a portion of my childhood in them, I’ve always found empty theaters to be creepy spaces. Creepy spaces I adore - but creepy nonetheless. In the last several years I’ve been asked to direct private magic and variety shows for the inner sanctum of the magic community, spook shows, variety shows, amazing stuff. It has been an amazing world to be asked into, and I’ve learned a lot about strange things that have become new obsessions for me. In particular automatons, which is that element I think
CS: Did you draw any inspiration from the framing stories of other classic horror anthologies?
JK: I wish I could say I did, but the truth is that I looked at several and mostly thought about how to make my wraparounds a world the audience was never annoyed about returning to. At the same time I wanted the wraparounds to never feel as though it was trying to outshine the stories that comprise the actual anthology.
CS: In reference to the end of the film, how do you feel about its message regarding storytelling? Do you see storytelling as a malicious act?
JK: No but I do see a lack of participation in everything as potentially destructive. That is the message, really, that the observer is being vampyrically taken advantage of by the storyteller. I find it so strange that people get fat and amorphous watching other people play sports. The culture of the viewer is a dangerous one. The storyteller isn’t to blame for the atrophy of the audience. The audience is.
The Theatre Bizarre is in limited release Jan 27, 2012. Here is our review.