Mike Tack has made some of our favorite short horror flicks including One Careful Owner, The Allotment and M is for Makeover. His movies are brutal, shocking, funny and a big ol’ field-goal kick right in the dangling fear bag. His latest effort Red Wolf Pines should probably win the Blood from a Stone Award for actually being shot on 2 separate continents, having an international cast, extensive use of ADR and gruesome practical effects that do a very nice job of trying to yank the lunch out of you all on a micro-budget. Watch the trailer then read the interview for the goods on Red Wolf Pines.
When and how did the idea for Red Wolf Pines come to you?
I was on holiday with the wife in Colorado to stay at a dude ranch – she rides horses western style in the UK so it was a dream holiday thing. Anyways we had to drive down overnight to ride the Cumbres Toltec historic steam railroad. It was then that I shot some footage on my iphone5 as more of a Director than a Tourist.
Once we got to the Rainbow Trout Ranch the scenery, horses, woods got my mind thinking. So I asked the owner Doug VanBerkum if he would let me shoot some footage of him and of Colton Gaiser our ranch hand to be in the script I had hastily written. After the initial strange “you want us to do what?” conversations they became enthused and helped out brilliantly.
What are some of hurdles of creating a realistic looking period horror film?
Money – the budget for this film ended up about 800 dollars which includes props, costumes, food, locations, makeup etc. So to achieve this bought some cheap fancy dress western costumes off amazon, some plastic toy guns and the amazing looking Pacifistor pocket watch & Kane’s wolf bootlace tie. Lucky for me I have access to some horses and a great exterior barn where my wife’s horse is kept. Also 5 mins from where I live there are some woods that look remarkably similar to those in the USA. The biggest challenge was to get the sun to shine in the UK in April as brilliantly as it did when I shot the scenes in Colorado. On the day of the shoot it was dull with heavy rain at 9am – the shoot on location was at 3pm – low and behold we had the hottest, brightest day ever seen in the UK that afternoon and were able to get the shots!
The film is shot on two different locations, in separate countries, on separate continents about 5,000 miles apart. What are you nuts!? And what were the logistical obstacles of such a long distance endeavor?
Crazy? Maybe but when I wrote the script I was already working out how it would look and how the 2 locations would be melded together both in the dialogue scenes and the overall look of the film. Plus I already had reviewed the footage shot on my phone which further shaped and fuelled the idea then the script. These days skype and facebook messenger and email of course are great at making the world smaller. Also weTransfer enables the free transfer of sound files, pdf’s you name it across the pond so the key is to involve people who are passionate about the project. Its been great to have people who say they will do something actually do it.
How did you choose the cast and crew?
I retain a familiar group of actors and friends who like to act in my movies. Keith Eyles is a great actor who can literally be anybody – watch him in 2 Careful Owners and you will see. I had to replace one of the cowboys literally on the day of the shoot – Jordan Miller was to be sound/clapper and was press ganged into playing JESSE. He did really well. A good thing was that I decided early on the ADR the English actors with authentic American voices which meant I could direct the actors during the shot – we did not use any live sound – everything was added later. This also meant they only had to say the lines and look mean, as I was relying on the American recordings to convey the emotion.
As for the sfx/gore my partner in crime Tim Richards worked himself silly to provide some really great kills which is part of the fun when I do a horror.
There’s fairly extensive use of ADR in Red Wolf Pines. What made you decide to use voice actors and what were some of the headaches that caused in the production?
Going back to your original question, I had decided early on that the film would be really comical if I had relatively untrained actors from the UK trying to sound like John Wayne! Lucky for me I met Groovey and Deno who have the most amazing voices and who have access to recording equipment and after a brief pitch they were totally on-board and keen to be part of the project, which is awesome as they with Ben have done an amazing job. I suppose the biggest problem was for Kyle Parke who produced the soundtrack which included time stretching the US ADR to match the lip movements of the UK actors. We did have to get some ADR re-done but really it went pretty smoothly.
Well what usually happens is I say to Tim Richards, “OK I want this bloke to die like this, this bloke is going to have this….etc etc” and Tim starts working. we then chat and make sure we got all the elements covered and then Tim brings up his makeup bags and stays at my house for the weekend. The real problems are when you are in a forest in the dark at 11pm on a sunday night with only a few battery powered lights and you have to set up the deaths and make sure it all looks good because we really only have 1 shot at each effect. This not only includes gore but creature effects as well! So it works out great in the film but it was a nightmare with blood not going where it was supposed to and me and Tim getting annoyed with each other which always happens, lol.
There are several homages in Red Wolf Pines to classic films. What should people be keeping an eye out for?
Some obvious Sergio Leone close-ups, a slo-mo Sam Peckinpah moment and some nice vistas like Ford. The rest is Mike Tack mayhem!
What was your favorite behind the scenes moment?
I think the scene with Kane on the train with a super closeup is my favourite. It really looks like he is on that train when in reality he is sat on a wooden bench inside a “The Boot” pub in central St Albans!
When, where, how can people get their viewage on with Red Wolf Pines?
Hopefully we can get some Colorago screenings in October at some film festivals. Once it has done the festival run I will make it available online via my website www.apocalypticconservatory.com
What are you working on next?
Keith Eyles will be writing the screenplay from my original story which will form the basis of my next project – my debut feature length film – SINS OF THE FATHER shooting late 2015