‘The Barn’: Interview With Writer/Director Justin M. Seaman & Blu-ray Review
Tuesday, December 19th, 2017 at 4:00 pm |
Back at the New York City Horror Film Festival in the fall of 2016, I saw a super cool poster for an original horror film The Barn. I missed it when it premiered there and it took my nearly a year to finally see a screening at this year’s New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival. At that con, I met and spoke with writer/editor/director Justin M. Seaman. Based on a story he wrote in his childhood, Seaman put his heart and soul into this film, and it was worth it. You can read my review of the film and the screening Q&A here.
With a week to go before Christmas, horror fans looking for the perfect gift can stop searching. The Barn is now on Blu-ray and would make any horror fan happy, particularly fans who grew immersed in the video store culture of the 1980s. Right before Halloween, I got to speak with the creator of The Barn about his inspirations, the challenges of independent filmmaking, and more. See what he had to say along with some thoughts on the Blu-ray release below.
Geeks of Doom: The Blu-ray is out now. What can you tell us about it?
Justin M. Seaman: Yeah we just put the Blu-ray out, it’s on Amazon. We have a deal on our site, where you can get it for a discounted rate, $19.99. It has a ton of special features. A lot are the same from our double disc DVD set, but now we added additional scenes, an alternate ending, and all the commercials. There’s all new commentary from me, Mitchell Musolino, and Zane Hershberger, the DP. We also have an hour-long documentary called “The Making of a Nightmare” that goes into the making of the film, how it came about, all the struggles. It’s really jam-packed. We almost had to start cutting features since we couldn’t fit it on the Blu-ray.
GOD: Speaking to the background, we met at the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival and you discussed the challenges of making the movie in your Q&A. Can you reiterate for Geeks of Doom, what the biggest challenges were?
JMS: The entire film was a struggle but there were certain scenes that were really hard. The hootenanny massacre took us forever to shoot because of the amount of special effects that went into it. Anyone who’s ever made a film whether they have lots of money or no money there is never anything easy. Things come up, you’re always depending on other people, there are a lot of working parts to making a movie and if one person slips up, it’s like a domino effect. Just to finish the movie was an accomplishment because making it was a struggle.
GOD: You bring up the low-budget nature of The Barn. Some of horror’s most beloved films were low to no budget movies. Halloweenhad a notoriously low budget. So what does it mean for you that you were able to make this modern slasher on the low budget?
JMS: I’m happy since I fitted the bill for the whole thing, but I’m very glad considering how low our budget was, a micro-budget, people have appreciated it and found the value of what we were going for so that’s very thankful. You never want to make something and have people hate it. We do get some hate from people who don’t understand the film and think it’s low budget so it’s crap. They don’t get the whole VHS era or the films I grew up watching and was trying to emulate. But to be able to do what we did with the funding we had, I’m very happy with how everything turned out.
GOD: About your inspirations; I also grew up in the ’80s and I fell in love with horror movies at the video store. What movies did you gain inspiration from for The Barn?
JMS: Sure, you know like you said video stores were huge for me as well. That was one of my favorite things was to go to the video store on the weekends and just look at the artwork on each case and chose films just based on what the covers looked like. So when we did the cover for The Barn, one of my favorite movies as a kid was The Monster Squad, I loved the imagery of the monsters up above the kids, so I knew I wanted to do that. But I also loved Night of the Demons, so I wanted to have that demonic flare to it, more scary looking than what The Monster Squad did. I just wanted it to be eye catching but I didn’t want it to lie about what was in the actual movie. A lot of movies back then they had great covers, and then you’d go home and that wasn’t even in the movie. We wanted the monsters exactly like they look in the movie, a barn, the kids, no lies. It was the passion of something that I would gravitate towards in a movie store while looking for a horror film.
GOD: First movie that popped into my head when you said that was Evil Dead 2 because I snuck it home one day and was upset there wasn’t a skull headed monster like the cover art suggested.
JMS: Haha yeah, that was going to be my reference.
GOD: Funny it was the poster that first drew me to this film almost a year ago at the New York City Horror Film Festival and I looked online and you guys have won several awards from different festivals. What is it like making the rounds on the festival circuit?
JMS: We’re surprised we ever got into anything considering the struggles we had. So when we got into our first one, we were shocked. I think we played over 70 festivals by the time we were done, and it’s still playing in Europe right now. It just played in Britain last weekend. But going to the festivals, it depends where it is and who’s running it. Sometimes it’s a lot of fun, sometimes it’s a tense situation because it’s a room full of filmmakers and it gets weird because of the competition vibe. There has only been a few that felt awkward but most of the time once people see the movie, there’s a gathering of the public and they want to ask you questions and they ask about different shots and references to different movies. We’ve got to meet other filmmakers who were not in the competition vibe and many of them are now my friends who I’m working with on other projects, just from going to conventions and film festivals.
GOD: I noticed that. I don’t think I coined this term, I won’t give myself credit, but I referred to The Barn in my review as “retro-horror” because it was trying to evoke the feel of the ’80s and I noticed that a lot with many other films on these convention circuits. I follow a lot of the filmmakers I meet on social media and you guys all seem pretty close. It feels cool as a fan, like this new generation of horror filmmakers coming up together.
JMS: Definitely. When we started the movie we caught a lot of slack from people who said, ‘Who cares about ’80s horror? ’80s horror is dead.’ But the more festivals we went to we started to see films that maybe weren’t necessarily taking place in the ’80s but they tried to honor those tropes and storylines. It was very easy to meet new filmmakers that were into the same stuff I was into when I made The Barn. It’s really cool, I’m really glad we got to meet all these people.
GOD: I’ve read some things about 10/31, and I looked it up and it says you’re a part of that, can you talk about that?
JMS: I’m an associate producer now just helping out Rocky Gray, who did the score for The Barn. When we were working on The Barn he said he wanted to try directing his own film, he wanted to do a horror anthology so he brought me on board, he got The Barn’s DP Zane Hershberger on board, and a few other filmmakers. It’s been a very close knit thing for the horror community. But I haven’t seen the whole thing, I’ve only seen my segment and helped Zane with his. I’m not even sure how the whole movie is going to go since each filmmaker is shooting separately. But it’s all Halloween related, the story I did is called “The Old Hag.” It takes place in a bed and breakfast and it’s about some student filmmakers looking to shoot a quick promo video for some extra cash and they go to a bed and breakfast on Halloween night and some stuff happens. I don’t want to give too much away. I know a little about Zane’s; his is called “Trespassers,” and that has to do with a scarecrow on this property. What I saw when I worked with him on set was really cool and I’m really excited for that. But as far as the other stories I have no idea. We’ve all tried to keep our segments secret from each other so when we do see it we can be surprised.
GOD: Obviously The Barn is out on Blu-ray now, is it available to stream yet?
JMS: No. We are sticking to physical media right now because for one, we’ve had so many talks with distributions and every company wants the rights to digital. So we’ve been keeping that in our back pocket which is why we took so long to get to Blu-ray. We’re talking to two different distribution companies, they made us really good offers and this is the closest one we’ve come to accepting and they were okay with us putting out our own Blu-ray. If we sign with them it will probably get to digital within the next 6-months or so. Otherwise we may just do it ourselves, but the real money is in physical. A lot of people don’t realize that, they think it’s a dying form but it’s really not and it’s really the only way for people to get reimbursed for doing a production or pay for another production.
GOD: So then I guess my last question would be, what is your next production?
JMS: The people who helped me do The Barn, Zane Hershberger before The Barn was trying to do a horror anthology called Cryptids, which was basically an anthology about different cryptic creatures and it’s really cool. We shot a good portion of it and then paused for The Barn and then I said to him, let’s pick up your project. We’ve been working on that for about a year. We’re hoping by next summer, maybe fall, it’ll be out. We are working a lot of really cool directors, a lot of them people we met during the festival circuit.
GOD: Thanks so much for taking the time and good luck in the future!
Justin M. Seaman was incredibly gracious and his passion for ’80s horror paid off with an awesome movie that will easily slide in alongside Trick ‘r Treat as a modern Halloween classic. He even got ’80s horror icons Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead) and Ari Lehman (Friday the 13th) to guest star in his film!
The Blu-ray is stuffed with special features. There are the usual assortment of fun stuff like gag reels, deleted scenes, and trailers, but there’s extra special stuff to showcase the director’s attachment to this project. You can read the original story from Seaman’s 8-year old notebooks and watch his original short film, “All Hallow’s Eve,” from 2002 featuring an appearance from The Boogeyman. The “Making of a Nightmare” documentary is awesome coverage the entire making of process from pre-production and through casting and beyond.