Sometimes some of the best stories are enriched in the folklore that we have readily available to us. These stories have lessons that serve to make the hair on the back of our neck stand up while also reminding us of the fragility of our mortality. North American folklore ends up serving this exact purpose in Parker Finn’s THE HIDEBEHIND at this year’s FilmQuest Festival. The story of the film focuses on a lone backpacker lost deep in the forest. Along the way, he discovers the unfortunate attention of a peculiar stranger that reminds of why we should be more careful of who we follow when we are lost in foreign territory.
I had the opportunity to interview director, producer, and writer Parker Finn at FilmQuest Festival 2019, where we discussed everything from the folklore origins of THE HIDEBEHIND to the difficulties in securing a location for the woods-based shoot.
While watching this film, I was trying really hard to figure out where this story was coming from. It felt so familiar to me, but why it felt that way, I wasn’t sure. Where did you find the inspiration for THE HIDEBEHIND?
Parker Finn: The film was inspired by a bizarre, little-known piece of North American folklore. Lumberjacks would occasionally get drunk and go missing in the forest, and their disappearances were blamed on something called a “Hidebehind,” a sort of bogeyman that would stalk anyone unlucky enough to get lost in its neck of the woods. Superstition claims that a Hidebehind can hide itself behind any tree in the forest, no matter the shape or size. The story is that many people have heard a Hidebehind sneaking up on them, but no one has ever seen one — at least no one who’s ever lived to tell the tale.
Got to love good ol’ North American folklore. It’s just full of little treasures like this. Now, the film is shot in the woods, which can pose a problem. What difficulties did you have in figuring out the location for this shoot?
Parker Finn: I live in Los Angeles, which of course is basically the desert. The closest forests are National Parks that are drenched with golden sunshine. They’re beautiful and majestic, but that’s not really helpful when you’re trying to tell a creepy story. Plus, we were mostly finding giant Sequoias and other huge trees that sort of miss the point of a bogeyman that can fit its body behind impossibly thin trees. It took several months of scouting before we found a perfect stretch of forest that would work for our film.
Well, it looked absolutely amazing. And, honestly, having the film play out with the sunlight enhanced the creepiness I think. Now, despite the difficulties the shoot presented, what was your favorite part about shooting THE HIDEBEHIND?
Parker Finn: I really enjoyed the challenge of attempting to create a specific cinematic vision, using only what our very small crew could carry out into the forest. I’m really happy with how everything ended up looking.
Seriously, it looks great. Besides the introduction of this new folklore to unsuspecting viewers, what do you really want the audience to take away from all of this creepiness?
Parker Finn: I hope the film delights and spooks audiences. More than anything, I hope it lingers in the back of their minds, gnawing at them the next time they find themselves out for a hike in the wilderness, or camping. If so, I’ve done my job.
Look. The next time I’m out in the woods and I start to feel like someone’s watching me, I’m going to blame you. It’ll be your fault. Now, in wrapping up this interview, I want to ask what do you have next on the docket. Do you have anything in the works right now? And are you going to be sticking within the horror realm?
Parker Finn: Yes! I’m currently in post-production on a new short horror film that I can’t wait to freak audiences out with. We’ll be announcing more soon, but definitely keep an eye out for it!