Next Week is the much anticipated release of The Thompsons, which is the sequel to The Hamiltons. I am always down to talk to Mitchell and Phil aka The Butcher Brothers. Enjoy
1. What was your first movie memory or experience that made you guys want to pursuit directing?
BUTCHER BROS: We grew up in a time where filmmakers we taking risks and studios allowing it. That was an amazing time when the film mavericks were changing cinema as we know it. From Stars Wars to The Shinning, Jaws, Rocky and Rosemary’s Baby. Not sure if there was one film but this certain time in cinema history really influenced us to be the filmmakers we are.
2. Before we get to the new film the sequel, letâ€™s talk about the original The Hamiltons. How was it being part of the After Dark first wave of films?
BB: It was really a great experience. We had already sold the film to Lionsgate so they did all the arrangements with After Dark, but we were really pleased with the campaign and The Hamiltons was very popular for that series. We truly enjoyed being part of the first 8 Films To Die For.
3. What made you guys want to do a sequel 7 years later to The Hamiltons?
BB: The idea to do a sequel to The Hamiltons came a lot sooner than that but we had a couple films we were working on after The Hamiltons and we weren’t sure if we actually wanted to do a sequel. A couple scripts were drafted but we were not happy with where the story was going. We even weren’t sure if we wanted to be part of it at all until Imagination Worldwide and Lionsgate UK introduced the idea to shoot in England. That was the missing link we needed story-wise and production-wise to make a sequel that we wanted to be part of.
4. Letâ€™s be honest, you guys know April Foolâ€™s Day was not umm the most well received remake. Do you think the film is misunderstood? Or do you agree with the critiques?
BB: No, we agree with the critiques. It was one of those Hollywood studio horror stories you hear about. We wanted to make something very different, they wanted what they wanted. At the end it was their property so they brought in another writer which we could not communicate with and they handed us a new script 4 days before we started shooting. We were just service men at that point.
They were happy with the final product and it’s what they wanted. We don’t consider it “a film by the Butcher Brothers” a credit we put on all our films except that one.
5. What would be your advice to anyone who is aspiring to be a writer? What about aspiring to be a director?
BB: For an aspiring writer the advice would be — write. It’s free. People are also looking for good material. Hell, we always looking. The only thing holding you back from writing is yourself. Read other scripts daily. And for directors — shoot. These days you can shoot for nothing. I know someone who shot a movie for $250 dollars. That’s amazing. Growing up we use to procrastinate using the excuse that it was too much money to shoot, edit, etcâ€¦ No more. You have great platforms on the web; there is just no reason why you can’t be making films now a day. It’s a great time for filmmakers.
6. In your opinion, do you think the MPAA is fair to indie films?
BB: It’s hit or miss. We do believe in more of the European views on films where they show more skin than violence but hey, violence is our job so we’ll just leave it at that.
7. Most indie films are direct to dvd, which most of these do not have to go thru an MPAA viewing or as they call it a committee vote. Are companies more to turn a blind eye to give your film a proper release then to say punish their own marketing campaign with a film that is handed a NC17 or NR?
BB: It’s no secret that the higher the rating goes, the less $$ you see. As the famous Poltergeist “PG” rating when it should of been an “R”. A bit tough for us because, if not mistaken, think all of our films have been rated by the MPAA with the exception on Lurking in Suburbia, a comedy we did awhile back. It would be tough to really push a NC17 though we do believe the filmmakers and companies so have a responsibility to properly label films so people do know what theyâ€™re getting. We each had a horror film “F” us up in the head because our parents didn’t know better from the rating.
8. If no one has ever heard of The Butcher Brothers before, how would you describe your style of film making and what you have done so far?
BB: Well, a great thing that we have heard from multiple sources is that we have a distinctive unique style, which we are very proud of. When our film â€œThe Violent Kindâ€ had its world premiere at Sundance, it was introduced by the senior programmer as a film that he has never seen anything like before. Now those are strong words from someone who watches thousands and thousands of films per year.
As we mentioned in our first answer, we were influenced heavily by the 70’s mavericks. Also, we don’t hide the fact that we love David Lynch and consider him our Godfather. Our biggest things are characters and story. Our rule has always been “can you take out the horror in our film and still have a story”? The horror films of the 70’s always had strong stories, and the human side of those films was always what made them more frightening. When it’s just blood and guts, torture, etcâ€¦ it gets boring real quick. Story is what we love.
9. Do you think critics and fans are fair to your films?
BB: In a short word â€“ yes. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion; no one should be able to take that away. Now saying that, a lot of people are passionate about praising or trashing a film and sometimes go to extremes. Weâ€™ve experienced that kind of critiquing in every film weâ€™ve made â€“ especially since weâ€™re making somewhat non-traditional horror. Youâ€™ll always have lovers and haters no matter what â€“ thatâ€™s the beauty. You get to see what people really think, but itâ€™s rare itâ€™s ever one sided.
10. I mean it is part of the business, thick skin is required. That being said, do you guys read all your press and reviews, and if so does the bad stuff get to you?
BB: We read whatever is out there whenever we can, from the professional write-ups to the oddball Youtube fans. And yeah, any filmmaker is going to be sensitive when people respond to their work, good or bad. Youâ€™re constantly standing naked in a public place and asking people to tell them they think. How big is it? Or isnâ€™t itâ€¦
11. In your hearts, most fans think when you make a film and itâ€™s a major release, which yours did with The Hamiltons that your career is set and it is easy sailing. Is this a misconception? If so, want to tell people the reality that happens after your first film gets done?
BB: We had made two films before The Hamiltons. One was a drama named â€œLongCutâ€ and the next a comedy called â€œLurking in Suburbiaâ€. Both of those films were made for nothing. The Hamiltons was a no budget film as well but because it struck the right chords at the right time â€“ it did well and allowed us to try and get more work. More doors opened up, but that doesnâ€™t mean we struck it rich. Unless you make a film that becomes a household name you are pretty much still hustling. We like the hustle, it keeps us hungry. Even Spielberg has to pitch his 200 Million dollar ideas to studios/investors for their approval. Of course the better track record you have the easier it is to rustle up help, but honestly you are only as good as the last film you made.
12. Of all the films you guys have done so far, letâ€™s rank them what do you think is your very best to date film..and then what do you think is your worst film you have done? And why is it?
BB: Thatâ€™s a tough call because they are all different little odd siblings that are part of the Butcher Brothers family. We love them all for different reasons except for maybe that adopted kid â€œApril Fools Dayâ€. The Violent Kind was our ode to B-film horror. The Hamiltons/The Thompsons is our coming of age series that questions morality and family ties. Each film has its own reason for being made. The truth is your kids never turn out the way you think they will but instead become something you couldnâ€™t imagine.
13. Where did the name â€œButcher Brothersâ€ come from? Also, do you feel responsible for now another group of film guys calling themselves the â€œVicious Brothersâ€?
BB: Since we had made a couple of non-horror genre films before â€œThe Hamiltonsâ€ we wanted to give ourselves an alias to channel our darker material. Weâ€™ve both known each other since high school and have been working together creatively, so after a good night of drinking and maybe even a bar scrap we came up with the Butcher Brothers moniker that just seemed right. Vicious Brothers — Yeah, maybe we started something? Weâ€™re certainly not the first filmmaking â€œbrothersâ€.
14. It is the end of the year, what was the best horror film of 2012 to you guys? (And it cannot be anything you have done)
BB: There were some good ones out there â€“ donâ€™t know if these were all 2012 but we saw them in 2012. Cabin in The Woods, Prometheus, The Loved Ones, The Innkeepers, John Dies At The Endâ€¦ to name a few.
15. So, with 3 other films on your slate for this upcoming year do you see a time when you abandon horror and maybe try a different genre?
BB: The Butcher Brothers will probably never abandon straight horror completely but would definitely like to branch out into different territory â€“ like Fincher or Cronenberg has done. Holy Ghost People is a film we just finished that begins that side step.
16. I have to say I am really stoked about Black Sunset, anything you guys can share so far? What about Raised by Wolves and Holy Ghost People?
BB: â€œBlack Sunsetâ€ is still in the works but itâ€™s about a psychedelic surf trip that takes place in the early 70â€™s â€“ itâ€™s a long strange journey and one of our favorite stories. â€œRaised By Wolvesâ€ we just finished wrapping and will see light of day summer of 2013. Itâ€™s about a group of Native American skater teens who go out to a isolated house where a group of Manson type murders happened years back. Of course good things do not happen. â€œHoly Ghost Peopleâ€ will be hitting festivals in 2013 and is a dramatic thriller about a young woman who is searching for her sister rumored to be up at an Appalachian snake handling church. Itâ€™s much different territory than some of our other films – Keep a look out.
17. What is easier for you guys? Directing or writing?
BB: Neither really, itâ€™s all a part of taming the beast. Writing is where you get to live without boundaries, directing is where you map out the hunt to bring your material home.
18. The Thompsons is coming to home video in the next few weeks, want to tell the fans a little about it?
BB: Sure thing. We find our family The Hamiltons six years later; under the alias The Thompsons as they are now on the run from a grizzly killing spree that took place after one of their own family was threatened. The Thompsons have travelled to England looking for help from potentially their own kind.
19. I want to thank to you guys thank you so much, it was awesome, In closing any new yearâ€™s resolutions you want to share with the fans?
BB: Thank you, great questions! Our main resolution is to try and keep our former resolutions of no resolutions resolute.