Fright Exclusive Interview With STAGE FRIGHT Director Jerome Sable!!




*Editor’s note: Our always great BJ Colangelo interviewed STAGE FRIGHT director Jerome Sable recently, and then had to suddenly go to the hospital, so I’m posting this one for her. Good stuff, and get better BJ!-Jerry


BJ: I wanted to start off the interview by thanking you from the bottom of my musical theatre since childhood performing heart, who also writes about horror because there aren’t many of us. So it was nice for a change to have a movie that felt like it was cracked out of my brain, and given to me on a silver platter.

Jerome: (laughs) It was intended for you, and you alone. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Oh, and I did. So I’ve been following your work for a while, and with LEGEND OF BEAVER DAMN and with STAGE FRIGHT, both are set in settings that sort of have an acceptability for people bursting into songs, whether it’s a camp fire, or musical theater camp. Did you do that intentionally? Or are you interested in also creating films where it may not be the appropriate location for people to sing?

I mean, it was intentional. It’s modernized, musicals are an endangered species. It is better if you can subtlety, or otherwise prepare for or make it feel organic. The more you can do to have precursor or justification for music and singing to occur, the easier it will go down. So it’s almost like we are shoe horning in a foot that is too big for the shoe of modern musicals. (laughs) You asked me about these environments, and they are both sort of remote and isolated environments that led us up to the horror as well. A lot of horror films have taken place at camps to be specific, and the idea of a horror story around the campfire, and the idea of being isolated and remote in the woods. So I think of where we are right now, and it’s like holy shit…so I think in general it served purposes that were both musical and theatrical, but at the same time, horror purposes. It’s usually because a camp spec filly is known where slashers are shot, but at the same time it is also where you would have adolescents of this age, in particular a musical theatre camp, it would take place at a camp. So in the thin diagram of life, you meet in the middle.

Do you think that movie musicals will ever, especially horror movie musicals…do you think that would become something that could possibly resurface as more of a mainstream idea? Or do you think it will always be playing to more of a niche market?

No. I mean Yes. (laughs) When you say resurface, are you implying that it was at some point mainstream?

I want to say back in the golden age, it was a little bit more acceptable of everyone to like musicals. Everyone likes The Wizard of Oz, well not everybody but a majority of people could go on record and say “Yeah. I like the Wizard of Oz.” But not a lot of people are willing to say “I am ride or die for MY FAIR LADY.” Or “I am all about WEST SIDE STORY.” Unless you are a musical theater type of person. So I was wondering if you ever think that will come back.

Yeah. It’s tough. You know, I’m thinking of other endangered species and in the case of the panda bear, we just have a few left. It’s easier to imagine Pandas reaching up back to the wild, and getting back to their usual numbers. (laughs)  So it’s hard to imagine that. It would be great if that happened, but I think what has happened with film in general, the sort of musical consequences are just a symptom of it, is that when movies started, they weren’t quite the naturalistic, or the threshold for what is naturalistic was low. The bar was very low. Just filming a person, or photographing a human being, and just doing something seemed immediately real.  To be real. So there was a higher tolerance that they would not consider over acting. But then what happened, is the evolution of naturalism in film such that you could get this really immersive, kind of experience with close-ups, intimacy, camera techniques, and acting subtlety, you really write up with people and their most realistic performances. And that sort of contributes to this immersive and escapist experience. Such that overacting, or old timey acting fell out of fashion in favor of the more immersive, wanting to believe for two hours, or 90 minutes that this is actually happening. I think that was correct, that was in evolution. Films have become specialized objects because you have to have a reason why you are not going naturalistic, in terms of films. There’s a lot of things the audience is just used to, and luckily enjoys the full on escapist experience if that makes any sense.

Oh yeah, that makes perfect sense.

I think also in the past in the golden era, if you had a musical, the music in it is was probably more of a populous music that people from that era would have wanted to listen to anyways. I think nowadays, when you do something that has show tunes, you have a large majority of the population that is just not into that kind of music. In this project we did it selfishly because we did the music that we like to do, but I think as a result of it we ended up making it more acceptable to people who have a more varied musical taste than just show tunes. And specifically what we do with Metal Killer, and the palate around his or her music & musical performance is we sort of brand it out the show tunes and make it into something that’s a lot more contemporary. It is not that we did it on purpose for this abstract point because that’s what we like, and I think we have always felt that with doing musical theatre it doesn’t have to be show tunes. There’s nothing inherently wrong, or there’s something inherently awesome with being able to perform musically in front of an audience whether it’s in the theater or on screen and it doesn’t have to be show tunes. And as a matter fact in our background when we started off doing theatre, we started off doing hip hop musicals, so our whole MO is we really love doing musicals, and we want to be able to perform it and bring in all the fun of performing and storytelling in and around music, but not necessarily through this golden era where a lot of the theater fan boys and fan girls seem stuck to in a regressive kind of way which is sort of what we are parodying in the film as well.

I was going to say I love how well you nailed the typical theatre kids. I watched it with my boyfriend who is not at all I am surprised he actually sat through it because the second people start singing he’s gone. But I just watched all these characters than I thought oh my god I know so many people who act like this it was so well crafted and these characters are so well written because that is exactly who they are parody or not that’s who they are.

And that’s a fun thing speaking of over acting when you’re doing theater camp it actually comes off as rehab (laughs)

So of all the different ways that you could modify when people revise a play why Kabuki of all the things you could have chosen?

Well there are a few reasons, one was the idea that we wanted to call attention to the tendencies for certain pretentious theater directors to insist on reinventing their version of reinventing the classics by setting it into another time and place, and we were like how ridiculous would it be  if t like we’re going to do… I don’t know pick it out of the hat Kabuki! That was the joke there was the real life tendencies a pretentious theatre director wants to reinvent something, and in a sort of seemingly academically, random way and with small kids at a summer camp. And it ended up being sort of inadvertently racist, or accidentally ignorant. But then beyond that there are a lot of other good sort of double edged sword to it that the Kabuki that we wanted the killer to have a new look in a kabuki mask just seems like something that hadn’t been done before for the killer and a slasher villain. And so it was like a good way for us to make this satirical joke about the pretentious director giving the killer something to hate, but also the killer is taking that and reinventing it in the killers way. And not to mention that kabuki masks are kind of inherently scary to begin with. It also gives more creative possibilities in terms of costume design and in terms of production that the Kabukiness opened up the door to do a lot of interesting stuff. So it added an interesting creative element as well.

It was absolutely beautiful I thought that it was a brilliant choice and I love the makeup design with it as well

And we had a lot of extra white paint around so we were like how are we going to incorporate that? (laughs)

There’s a lot of Easter eggs thrown in and around both for fans of horror and for fans of musical theatre and my major question is Alfonso the song rooted  somewhere in Maria from West Side Story? Or did I completely hallucinate that?

No you did not hallucinate that. But of course that in itself could be traced back to another romantic balance, pining over a particular person or a lover that’s out there. So no it was that and other things that it was probably inspired by we were just looking to really do like the best version of a love song for a mega musical possible and it’s interesting because in doing it had a functional role it was supposed to serve, but we actually ended up enjoying it as a piece of music, and as composers we appreciated it. Even though the original task was to sort of fill a place hold spot. Originally, in the first early draft of the script it would just reference on short hand, and then you would see excerpts of the show happening, or such and such happening backstage, it wasn’t really fleshed out until we had to really write the music.  And it was like okay which part of the movie is that? What is she singing about? And we had to create a play in our minds that doesn’t exist on which we could base the story on, in which we can base the music on and which we can paint the makeup. (laughs)

 Well, thank you for taking time to talk to me and thank you for creating such an awesome, awesome, film and I’m looking forward to ABC’s of death and everything else that you’ve got coming out in the future.


STAGE FRIGHT sings its way to VOD/limited theaters May 9th via Magnet Releasing.

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