Read our exclusive interview with director and writer Keith Hodder, who along with Peter Strauss and Jerrad Pulham, won the ‘Bobo With A Shotgun’ trailer contest for their fake trailer ‘Van Gore.’ The trailer, which is currently playing on youtube.com, follows the title character, an artist, as he kills people and uses them as part of his artwork. Hodder discusses with us, among other things, how he felt when he found out he won the contest and where he got the inspiration for the trailer. ‘Hobo With A Shotgun’ is currently available via Magnolia On-Demand, and hits select theaters May 6, 2011.
Shockya (SY): You won the ‘Hobo With A Shotgun’ fake trailer contest with ‘Van Gore.’ Why did you feel compelled to enter it?
Keith Hodder (KH): When I was growing up, I think it was when I was 17, was Jason Eisener released the original trailer for ‘Hobo With A Shotgun’ through the South by Southwest contest. When I saw that as a teen, I just really wanted to do the same kind of thing. I thought he did a fantastic job with it. It still holds up, even four years later. So when the chance came up, I told myself, no matter what, if something like this comes up, I gotta do it. When we heard about the contest, me and Peter Strauss and Jerrad Pulham, my co-writers, Peter’s my co-director, just hopped on it right away.
SY: Did you think you had any chance of winning the contest?
KH: We were confident in our skills as filmmakers. We were confident in the end what we were going to bring to the table. But we were certainly nervous once we submitted it and once we saw some of the entries. There were a lot of fantastic entries and a lot of talented filmmakers. We were confident in our piece, we were just nervous on how the votes were going to go and what the judges were going to think.
SY: How did you react when you found out you won?
KH: I didn’t know what to think. I was rather speechless. I was with one of my friends, and we were just finishing up a university class. I just didn’t know what to think. Jason called me later when I was at work, and what he told me, he said “You won, you son-of-a-bitch.” That took me right off-guard as a funny thing to say. I called Peter and Jerrad right away, and we were all very ecstatic. The funny thing was we learned on Friday that we won, but we had to keep it under wraps until it was announced on Monday.
SY: Jason directed the ‘Hobo With a Shotgun’ movie. How did it feel knowing that he had a part in picking your trailer?
KH: It was incredibly touching. It seems unreal, especially since him and (‘Hobo With A Shotgun’s) writer John Davies and producer Rob Cotterill (were judges). Then you had guest judges, Joe Dante, who (directed) ‘Piranha (1978)’ and ‘Gremlins’ and all that sort of stuff. They had a hand in it as well. It’s very touching. Sometimes I’m still pretty speechless about it. It’s great.
SY: Where did you get the inspiration for the trailer?
KH: It’s weird. Usually when I sit down and I have to think of film ideas, usually it will come to me that day or the next day. ‘Van Gore’ just literally popped into my head. We had a few elementary ideas, like when originally he was going to wear a mask, and he would have painted the expressions on the mask each time he killed someone. But we decided to leave that behind, because we had Garfield act, Garfield Andrews, who was a really talented actor who I’ve worked with a few times. But we wanted to make sure we saw his emotions. So it’s a fairly original idea that came up out of nowhere.
SY: Have you seen the ‘Hobo With A Shotgun’ movie and trailer?
KH: Oh yes, of course. I’ve watched them both. I’m absolutely in love with them.
SY: What it is about the grindhouse genre that you find so appealing?
KH: It’s weird, because I grew up with James Bond films, I grew up with spy films, and action-adventure, thriller films. But it’s really Jason’s ‘Hobo’ trailer and the original ‘Grindhouse’ film by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino that opened up this new world for me. I think what I really liked about it was that it’s so liberating, because when you’re doing a thriller, when you’re writing a drama, usually it’s somewhat somber or you’re really trying to get into a character. But with this, and ‘Grindhouse,’ an exploitation film, you can really have fun and go over the top and create these ideas that wouldn’t fly in any other genre.
SY: ‘Hobo With a Shotgun’ and ‘Machete’ were fake trailers that were included in ‘Grindhouse.’ If you were given the same opportunity to turn ‘Van Gore’ into a full-length movie, would you be interested in doing so?
KH: Absolutely. We’ve been entertaining some ideas about expanding the story and what not. When we created the trailer, we made sure we had a decent plot-line so that we could make the trailer flow well and make it coherent and what not. So yeah, we’d be incredibly excited to do something like that.
SY: How big was the budget for the trailer?
KH: For me, it was my first budgeted piece. When me, Peter and Jerrad first started working, we put in $200 each. It grew from there, after buying props. It’s probably closer to the $900-1,000 range.
SY: Did you know Garfield when you cast him?
KH: Yes, he was an actor that I’ve worked with a good four or five times now. When Peter and Jerrad saw some of my earlier work, they thought Garfield was perfect for it. He actually was, he did a fantastic job.
SY: If you were able to make a ‘Van Gore’ film, would you like to recast Garfield in the movie?
KH: It’s hard to say. With ‘Hobo,’ they had Rutger (Hauer), and they cast David Brunt as one of the dirty cops. It all depends on where it leads us and if someone is interested enough in the idea. We’d certainly love to have Garfield in the movie, no matter what. Yeah, either it being Van Gore or another character in the film, for sure.
SY: Are you interested in directing horror films in the future?
KH: Horror would be fun, for sure. It’s a genre that I’m still somewhat new to. I’m still watching a lot of the films and exploring them. For sure, it would be a lot of fun to direct a horror film and once again step into something I haven’t really done before.
SY: Who are some of your directorial icons? Do you look up to Quentin Tarantino?
KH: Absolutely. Tarantino and Rodriguez are amazingly talented filmmakers. George A. Romero, who did ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ ‘Dawn of the Dead,’ that trilogy. More than that trilogy. Christopher Nolan is up there, he’s a brilliant writer and director. Of course we have Jason Eisener. John Favreau, who directed the ‘Iron Man’ films, because I’m a big comic book nerd. It’s actually a lot of the mainstream guys who have been kicking around for awhile.
SY: Is horror your favorite genre? You said you also like comic books. Do you like all genres?
KH: Most of my favorite movies are dramatic thrillers or spy films. Like I said previously, I’m a huge James Bond fan.
SY: You filmed the trailer in Canada. Did you experience any difficulties because of the weather, or have any limitations on what you could film?
KH: No, not at all. We had great weather up here in Toronto. We were treated very nicely by the weather, and Mother Nature was good to us. Though it did snow on the second day. So I guess that adds to your stereotype of Canada. But luckily, it was all interior shoots on the second.
SY: Toronto is known as the Hollywood of Canada. What are some of the benefits of filming there?
KH: I think it’s the wealth of people who are ready to work on films and the wealth of actors who are very talented. They’re very passionate about what they do. The actors here are fantastic.
SY: Are you still attending Ryerson University?
KH: I’m still in school. I’m just finishing up my third year. I have my fourth year next year.
SY: You won the trailer contest while you were still a student. Were you honored knowing that you were honored while you were still a student?
KH: Absolutely, that was very exciting. I learned a lot of great things in school. It wasn’t necessarily a thought process that “Oh, I won the contest, so I don’t need school anymore.” There wasn’t anything like that. It was just knowing that me and my group were very, very lucky to be young filmmakers and have this chance was unreal.
SY: So you would suggest to other aspiring filmmakers to go to college and learn more about the directorial process?
KH: Everyone has their own way of learning. Some people are just good with picking up a camera and going out and shooting, and that’s their way of learning. I’m a little bit of both. I’ve learned a lot at Ryerson. I’ve had a lot of great teachers. Scott Brown was actually a professor who was on set with us the first day. I learned a lot from him just that day. Mostly when I direct or make a film, I try to push my creative boundaries in each film. Say, for example, if I’ve never done a fight scene, I’d write a film that has a fight scene in it so that I’d learn how to shoot and edit the fight scene. I take my knowledge from school, but I’m also learning something on the spot on set as well.
SY: Did any other of your professors offer to help on set?
KH: Well, Scott Brown was on the set. Other than that, a lot of the professors offered a lot of supportive words and helped get the news out that once we won the contest.
SY: Do you have any other projects in the works right now, or are you just concentrating on finishing up your degree?
KH: Oh no, I can never stop thinking about projects. I have these idea books that I continually write in. At the moment, we’re entertaining the idea of getting a transcript going for a ‘Van Gore’ feature. We’re hoping to shoot a new exploitation short this summer. The working title’s ‘White Trash,’ and it’s going to be an over-the-top film that’s probably the first time I’ve ever had a female lead. Hopefully in 2012, we’ll be directing a web series inspired by the ‘Twilight Zone.’
Written by: Karen Benardello