[Interview] Desiree Connell & Scott B. Hansen for BAD CANDY

[Interview] Desiree Connell & Scott B. Hansen for BAD CANDY
Courtesy DREAD Presents
BAD CANDY is the latest Halloween-themed anthology to grace horror fans with all of that special Halloween spoopy goodness. Taking place on Halloween night in New Salem, Radio DJs Chilly Billy (Corey Taylor) and Paul (Zach Galligan) tell a twisted anthology of terrifying local myths. Residents of the small-town experience horrifying paranormal encounters that lead them to a grim end.

Nightmarish Conjurings’ Dolores Quintana got to have a chat with co-writers/directors filmmakers Desiree Connell and Scott B. Hansen, where they discussed their natural collaborative process, shooting in frigid temperatures on a budget, and how budget restrictions enabled them to find new, creative ways to get the job and vision done on set.

How did you start making your film? What was the genesis of the project?

Desiree Connell: Scott and I were bouncing ideas off of each other one night. Scott wanted to make a short and the short developed into a full-length feature based off of vignette-style shooting. We wrote a bunch of ideas around it and said, no one’s ever done that, or at least the way we want to see it. We always think that there should be more Halloween content. That’s kind of how it took off.

Is that why you decided to go for the anthology format?

Desiree Connell: Yeah, we didn’t shoot it as an anthology.

Scott B. Hansen: We try to stay away from the word anthology because the movie is self-contained, and it all happens in one town. But we’re always going to get pegged as an anthology. But we tried to make it a movie where everything is connected. It all happens in the same town. Everybody crisscrosses into each of the stories, just to kind of keep things moving and keep things fresh.

That’s part of the official description, but I see what you mean. I did notice that there wasn’t the traditional host segment or clearly defined lines between each of the stories. I did notice that the center of the film is the DJ and the radio station. which is a little like The Fog. Was that an inspiration for you?

Desiree Connell and Scott B. Hansen:  No, no, no, no!

What then were your inspirations for the film?

Desiree Connell: Honestly? Us. We’ve been working together since 2014 and then we actually just sat down and did it one day.

Scott B. Hansen: Yeah, I think we’re always going to get compared to Trick ‘r Treat. Obviously, we’re stoked to be compared to Trick ‘r Treat. That’s a huge $15 million movie and we’re just a tiny indie film that is making a big roar. But I would say some of the influences, for Desiree, Mel Brooks, and for me, Sam Raimi. We love dark comedy. We think some horror movies take things too seriously and that doesn’t make it as enjoyable. So, you kind of mix in the comedy. We are just freaks of Halloween. We love Halloween way too much.

Still from BAD CANDY

I did notice the comedy. What is most important to you about the film? Did you just want to scare people and have fun?

Scott B. Hansen: I think there’s a lot of social commentary in some of the segments.

Desiree Connell: There are some things that are very realistic fears for certain people. I don’t believe that fear is something you can tell somebody to feel. Fear generates from something that you’ve experienced, no matter what the percentage is of that fear inside you. Maybe there’s been a moment where you felt a certain way, and it generated this fear within you. Then building off of that and creating this upward slant of insanity.

Scott B. Hansen: We’re working with the one scene with the pumpkin eggs. We had Derek Russo, who is actually a veteran and he’s an actor too. That scene happens to be about vigilantes who are cleaning their town. He had a lot of real PTSD to draw from his experience of serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. We thought that was a pretty interesting segment to cast him in. Some of the lines he delivers were really on point of keeping the comedy, but the crazy too. We were playing with a lot in that scene.

How did you work together as co-directors?

Scott B. Hansen: Desiree is really good at logistics and I’m more focused on the visual attack on things. We really mesh well with each other. We’re just a good team. She’s really good at keeping me in check while I’m like a kid in a candy store. I’ll take forever on the shot. She’s got the whip.

Desiree Connell: That is the nicest way of saying I can be mean when we’re running out of time.

Scott B. Hansen: You’ve got to stay on time. That’s the tough part.

Desiree Connell: That’s the schedule. It’s important, especially when you’re working within a budget, especially when that money is your own. You have to say, “Hey, hey, I literally don’t have any more money, so this is it. We’ve got to go. We’re done.”

That’s right. I also wanted to ask you about the visual side and the cinematography.

Desiree Connell: Scott’s vision is just phenomenal. He’s got a background in art. He’s got a degree in art. He really understands how these things translate from real 3D into a digital format.  I mean, if you look at all of his work, it’s all brilliant. It’s the colors. The colors are just one thing that Scott understands, so well. He set up all of these scenes, laid out all of these different locations, and really just built it up. When you see it, every part of the movie could be a screengrab. It’s visually stunning. There’s no shot in the movie that doesn’t represent the depth of his talent. I think that’s really important that he gets the credit for that, because Scott is the person that designed all of the shots.

Scott B. Hansen: What I think it’s interesting too is that we’re indie. You look at a movie like Trick or Treat that cost $15 million, where we had $90,000. That’s not even their food budget. I hate to talk about budget, but when you see BAD CANDY, people say, “Oh, did you have 5 or 10 million,” and I’m like, I wish we had a million dollars.

Desiree Connell: Five million dollars? Let me show you what I could do with five million dollars.

Scott B. Hansen: We’re really up and coming and we’re trying to keep things fresh and new. We had to really work within our means. That was a big challenge with such a huge cast. Desiree was the master behind all that. We had to break up a lot of days because people were crisscrossing the different stories and that was a tough part. I think with what we did on that budget, for people to even compare it to Hocus Pocus and Trick ‘r Treat, we’re like, “Thank you.”

Desiree Connell: It’s an honor. We made this film with nothing. We had peanuts. It was Scott and I scraping together what resources we had and what we already own. Obviously, we run Digital Thunderdome studios. We are trying to make sure that we can use what we have access to. We’ve got some incredible connections with people that we have worked with throughout the years. Some of these people are so talented and they just need an opportunity to show that talent. So this was a great venue for them as well.

Still from BAD CANDY

So, Scott took care of the visuals, Desiree worked more with logistics. Who was it that worked mostly with the actors?

Desiree Connell: Both of us. I worked with a lot of the women and the children, mostly because I can sit down with a woman and explain to her about certain things that are happening in the mindset of a character of a woman. Things that, even though Scott’s an incredible director, might not be able to wrap his head around. Because that’s just a different thing, a man is probably not going to understand what it feels like to be borderline stalked by another man. There were moments where we give and take, but we work well as a team. If one of us felt even slightly stuck, we could work with the other person, and then we were both bringing the best of both worlds to the character and the development of this scene.

Scott, was there anything that you felt was the biggest challenge for you on the film? Other than the budgetary concerns, of course.

Scott B. Hansen: Yeah, we had big problems with the weather. Trying to shoot in January when it’s like 30 degrees out here in Atlanta and we have 15 people in pumpkin heads with ball gags in their mouth, bound at the wrists. You know, just trying to keep those guys warm. This was kind of fun.  We set it up where these actors didn’t know about the creature. So, then they had to react. I do love to surprise actors and just get a reaction. When you’re freezing your ass off in the middle of a cornfield, and there’s this huge creature and there you are running your life. It was pretty amazing, especially when the Blu-ray comes out, the behind-the-scenes footage is going to be pretty hilarious. We have commentary about it and all that. There were some funny situations, but we did get annihilated by the weather. Georgia’s unpredictable and we didn’t have big soundstages, we were out there.

Desiree Connell: Yeah, our locations were organic.

Scott B. Hansen: Yeah, organic, but I think that’s what helped us too.

BAD CANDY is now available in select theaters and on Video Demand from Dread Presents, and will be available on Blu-ray by October 12th. To learn more about the film, check out our review!

Dolores Quintana
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