FilmQuest Fest Interview: Writer/Director Brian K. Rosenthal for FEVER
Courtesy of Brian K. Rosenthal

Getting sick is the fricking worst, especially once hallucinations start getting involved. However, what if in your sick-like, feverish state those hallucinations were somehow much more real than you had ever imagined? That’s what Brian K. Rosenthal’s latest project, FEVER, hopes to explore in shadow man-tastic fashion.

I had the opportunity to interview writer and director Brian K. Rosenthal at FilmQuest Festival 2019, where we discussed everything from his childhood history of fevers to the nostalgia-inspired project he is working on right now.

I’m curious to know what the background is on this film. What was the inspiration behind creating this film?

Brian K Rosenthal: As a kid, I used to catch a lot of fevers, step throat, ear infections, etc. The worst part was always bedtime when my imagination, boiling fever and the shadows in the room all came together in this perfect trifecta of waking nightmare fuel. I thought that’d be a unique element to bring to the table. I also went into it actively wanting to create a fun, fresh hook. I love ‘rules’ based horror flicks like Nightmare on Elm Street and The Ring (don’t fall asleep, don’t watch the tape, etc), so I decided on playing in that arena.

Like all films, there are always difficulties. What difficulties did you have in getting this film off the ground?

Brian K Rosenthal: By far the most difficult element was casting. Amy Hoerler, who plays the mother in the short, was easy enough to cast– she’s hands down the most talented actress I know in Florida. Casting the little girl, Emmy- that was where things got tricky. We spent a lot of time looking at young actresses and just weren’t finding what we were looking for. I knew if that performance didn’t work, I’d have a total dud on my hands, so we just kept taking in auditions until finally, Lani Lum sent hers in, and it was pretty much an instant ‘THAT’S HER!’ from me. Ironically the most difficult element of pre-production ended up being the easiest element of the actual shoot… these two actresses were phenomenal and made my life incredibly easy on the day!

Casting is always difficult, so I’m glad that worked out for you. What was your favorite moment or part of working on this film?

Brian K. Rosenthal : There’s a gag/scare in the short I won’t ruin here. But it was just as fun executing it as it was cooking it up, and it came out more or less exactly as envisioned. Those are always the most fun and rewarding parts of a shoot, when things work the way they should, which doesn’t happen very often (as most filmmakers know) so you gotta treasure those little victories.

This was such an amazing film that really made many of us unnerved in the audience. What did you want the audience to take away from this film?

Brian K Rosenthal: A newly minted fear of catching a cold.

Well, I certainly got that. Last but not least, are there any projects you are working on that we should be keeping our eyes out for?

Brian K Rosenthal: I’m trying to develop a feature film project called ‘The Last Blockbuster’, which is a horror-comedy about a couple of movie geeks that have to barricade themselves inside the world’s last video rental store and attempt to survive a supernatural apocalypse. Think ‘The Monster Squad’ meets ‘Clerks’, with a John Carpenter meets John Hughes tone. The pitch teaser/short is actually available online to view here It can also be seen on the big screen coming up on September 14th at Atlanta Horror Film Festival.

Sarah Musnicky
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