You know what happens when you and a bunch of friends, on the way to a wedding, wind up at a dark, mystrerious farm, right? Yeah, the s**t hits the fan. Welcome to a night of terror as Ti West brings you “The Roost”…
We spoke to Ti West right before his big premiere at SXSW.
When did you begin filmmaking?
I didn’t really start “filmmaking” until my senior year in high school. I needed something to show for myself when applying to colleges. My grades wouldn’t do the trick on their own, so I made an eight minute short about a kid who gets a nose bleed in class and can’t make it stop…Eventually he bleeds to death in the bathroom.
Most of my filmmaking experience stems from my time spent growing up in the video store. I wasn’t the kid with the video camera and a neighborhood full of kids, making mini-epics…But I did rent and tape everything I could get my hands on. Never thinking about making movies myself, it was just something I really liked to do.
How was it that you came to make “The Roost” for Glass Eye Pix?
My first year at The School of Visual Arts I had a teacher (Kelly Reichardt) who was friends with Larry Fessenden. I had seen “Habit” and was the only “Horror-Kid” in the class, so she gave me his number and told me to go meet him. We really hit it off and stayed friends over the years (me working for him from time to time) and then when I was graduating, he said he was starting to make Roger Corman style B-movies as part of Glass Eye Pix’s “SCAREFLIX.” He really liked my short films and asked if I had any feature ideas. I went home and started writing “The Roost” that night, and three weeks later we were in pre-production. I am very fortunate…
What were some of your influences in the making of “The Roost”?
Nothing too specific…Mostly the late ’70s early ’80s horror movies I grew up watching at sleepovers. It’s a thematic and tone driven movie…Meant to be sort of a “throwback” to the good stuff…Without the camp or sarcasm. “The Roost” has a Pulp-Horror/Drive-In vibe that is lighter in tone than some of the classic exploitation, but it’s still scary, and retains the look and feel of those run-and-gun type ultra low budget movies (hopefully).
How did you secure your farm location?
A friend of a friend introduced me to the owner. It’s a really beautiful place that we make look really ugly. He was a great guy and was very enthusiastic about being a part of everything…AKA…We cut him the best check we could.
Why is it that secluded farms seem to always have some sort of evil lurking within?
I suppose some of them just have tractors and hay…Lucky for me I found the one I did (elbow to the ribs).
How did you get Tom Noonan to be a part of your cast? What role does he play?
He plays the Horror Host in the film. Introducing, concluding, and partially controlling the film. E.C. Comics style…
Tom lives near Larry and they had a casual “Say hello when they walk by each other” relationship. One day Larry stopped him and handed him my script, and two days later he said “YES.” I am a huge fan of his, so it was the most exciting day of my filmmaking life to get to direct him! He is a great actor.
What were some of the bigger problems that arose in the making of “The Roost”? Any lessons learned?
Thankfully things went pretty smooth. We went over budget which is disappointing and certain aspects were very rushed at times…but that’s the kind of movie it was/is. It’s a rough-around-the-edges low budget b-movie…But that’s the point. I definitely learned a lot about the kind of people I can and can’t work with, and I made some really great relationships with people far more talented than myself. It will be exciting to hopefully get to work with them again someday.
Is making horror films a phase for you, or is horror your one and only passion?
…Definitely not a phase, nor my only passion. It is however, my first and foremost FAVORITE genre (by far). I don’t want to ONLY make horror movies, but I would like to make MOSTLY horror movies.
What’s up next for you?
I have a ton of treatments and a couple of finished drafts ready to go…I just need to find someone with cash, who likes what I do. “The Roost” was designed to launch my career…I am fairly confident that it shows I have some skill at writing/directing…But nobody has seen it yet, so I guess I will find out soon enough…
For more info, visit “The Roost” official website.