With the release of the upcoming horror/thriller DRIFTER hitting select theaters Friday, we spoke with co-writer and director Chris von Hoffmann about his latest film, where his inspiration came from and why he loves the horror genre so much.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Chris, thanks so much for speaking with us today. For those who may not be familiar with your latest film DRIFTER, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Chris Von Hoffmann: It's a hybrid exploitation thriller that takes place in the California desert and centers around these two outlaw brothers who are on the road to avenge their father's death. Their revenge trip takes them on a complete detour when they have to take refuge in a town to seek medical assistance after the younger brother is beaten pretty badly by three desert bandits that try and hijack their car. They enter the town and find medical assistance but also find a small family of cannibal savages who are pure evil. They hold the brothers captive and what infuse is this very deranged, blood-soaked encounter that descends into hell as the brothers try to escape captivity.
NC: How did you come up with the story for DRIFTER? Was there anything that inspired you?
CVH: Oddly enough, I had the idea over a decade ago, when I was about 16 years old. I had the title and had written the opening scene and initial structure. The only thing different is it was never more modern day as opposed to an apocalyptic feel and the town was originally run by this supernatural force opposed to the cannibal story. Then ten year later, when I made a lot of short films, I found myself confident to make a feature film. I pulled this out of the woodwork and decided to make it my first feature film. Then a lot of things changed and I made it with cannibals because I thought that was more exciting and kind of enhanced the post-apocalyptic feel as I knew that would serve a niche market. I ended up teaming up with a friend of mine, Aria Emory, who is one of the lead actors in the film, and we co-wrote the screenplay together.
NC: You've been involved in a lot of different aspects within the film industry, whether acting, producing, behind-the-scenes work, or directing. What is it that you like most about directing?
CVH: I love the physical aspect of it. I love filming because it's so chaotic and everything can go wrong and it be very intense at times, like a pressure cooker. I just love the chaos in life and the craziness of it and I love seeing something come to fruition on screen. Post-production I'm usually quite miserable and then pre-production is, at the end of the day, the most important part but it can be quite tedious and boring at times.
NC: You've worked on films that have spanned many different genres but is there something about the horror genre that really draws you in?
CVH: Horror movies were what introduced me to movies when I was like seven years old and became obsessed with slasher films. The horror genre is like the heavy metal of cinema; I love the ruthlessness of it. I love cynicism in movies and horror movies have a lot of cynicism in them but they are also so much fun. With horror you can explore any sort of subgenre and put it inside the horror umbrella. You can make a "Kramer vs Kramer" story but put a possession angle on top of it and you have a commercial aspect to it. That's why I love horror, because there are so many sub-elements that you can put inside of it and still have it be commercial. There are endless opportunities with the whole genre and it's been around since the birth of movies it seems. You go to any horror convention and the people that love horror movies are the most loyal people on the planet, so obviously the genre is doing something right.
NC: When it came to casting the roles for DRIFTER, what was the process like?
CVH: The budget for the film was so micro and I had a deadline in my head that I wanted to meet so I wanted to move on this film immediately. I'm friends, and am still friends, with so many actors that I had known from this acting school called "Playhouse West" in North Hollywood. I was aware of a lot of the actors work and had seen them in a lot of short films. I was an actor for awhile myself, for about 6 years in New York, and I'm very aware of what these people go for and what roles they wanted. I didn't audition anyone really, they were all kind of hand-picked. I took a gamble but felt confident that they would deliver and they ended up being extremely committed to their roles.
NC: Last but not least, what can fans of yours expect from you in the future?
CVH: I just started pre-production on my second movie which I'll be shooting later on in the Spring. Right now we are in the middle of casting and the whole project is much bigger on every level so it's been a surreal experience making this transition.
For more information on Chris von Hoffmann, and to follow along with his latest project, make sure to follow him on Twitter @cvhoffmann19.
DRIFTER will be released in select theaters on February 24th and VOD and iTunes on February 28th.