Four Letter Nerd

Tails of Horror: An Interview with filmmaker Cameron McCasland

Last year, around Halloween, we hosted an indie horror movie screening at one of our local comic shops and the very first film on the docket was Tailypo, which was written, produced & directed by Cameron McCasland. I recently had the chance to sit down and chat with Cameron about the film, how he got his start, and what projects he has on the horizon.

4LN – When did you first know that you wanted to make movies? Was there any specific “lightbulb” moment, or did you just always want to?

Cameron McCasland – Well, I was making videos even as a kid. Somewhere on the planet is a video of me dressed as Michael Jackson fighting two cockroaches. I moved from East Texas to Nashville with aspirations to get into the music business and play in a band. But after a while, that just wasn’t what I wanted anymore. I started lending hands on a few indie films, and did a bit of acting. I was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma for a brief period and was just flat broke when I picked up Robert Rodriguez book “Rebel Without A Crew” and was just inspired. I headed back over to Nashville, and in pretty quick succession I directed a music video for the Austin based rock band Quiet Company. Taylor Muse had been my room mate when he lived in Nashville, and I used to manage his old band. They needed a video, I needed a director credit. So we made Fashionabel and it went up on MTV’s website and we’ve both been chasing our dream since.

 

4LN – Do you set out to make a specific type of film, or do you just follow inspiration where it leads you?

CM – I kind of take it as it comes. With The Lashman it was more of a building a script around things i had available. But also really digging deep into the genre and trying to stay true to that. On the other hand, Matt Riddlehoover brought me Paternity Leave (which I produced) and it really spoke to me at that point in time because I was a single father raising two little girls. I always look for specific things that I’m trying to accomplish in each project.

 

4LN – Your most recent film, “Tailypo”, is about on old urban legend of sorts. Can you tell us little about what lead you to make this film?

CM – For Tailypo, that was nearly just exorcising some old childhood fears. I’ve been carrying that story since I was small child. I heard it from a school teacher and it just stuck with me. The idea of adapting it really kind of came through the process of making The Lashman. I met David Chattam who auditioned and played a small role in that movie. I loved working with him, but our time was brief as he was only on set one day. But what he brought to that role was a totally different take than what I had pictured, and it got me thinking about the Hermit in the Tailypo. We also shot Lashman at the Copper Canyon Ranch in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and it was such a wonderful experience it just made sense to go back there for Tailypo. So I wrote the script without Davids knowledge and told him I had 15 pages of him talking to a dog. Happily he didn’t laugh me off the telephone.

 

4LN – What was the actual filming process like? The entire thing takes place in the woods and partially at night. Was it difficult to shoot?

CM – It took a little doing honestly. We filmed the first part in the summer at Copper Canyon Ranch. We did the majority of the interiors, a few exteriors, and shot a bit of the monster. We shot 2 days and 2 nights over a weekend before sending David back to Nashville. That same week I produced a music video for Florida Georgia Line at the ranch, which was convenient, as I had all my gear in place. We then came back to Nashville and started on the edit. I wasn’t really happy with the exteriors. It was just too green and lush. So we waited a few months for winter to set in, and went back to do the opening of the film, and we picked up a few of the interior shots as well as having a better idea of how the monster was going to work. I made one last stop at Copper Canyon on my way back home from the MayDay Film Festival to shoot the shots of the cabin in the film, as I had in the mean time come across this killer old Mole Richardson fog machine, and just thought it would help build the atmosphere.

From there, the only thing I had to do was cast the voice of the Tailypo. Joseph Drake played the body of the creature, but I had always planned on doing something different with the voice. I called up Danielle Gelehrter who I had collaborated with a few years back on The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special and talked to her about the part. She had never heard the legend, but did some weekend reading before calling me back. I told her my ideas, and she did some reading for me on the phone. I asked her to record a few things on her phone just so we could temp them in, as she was about to leave on a vacation. We were going to have her record them up near Boston, but the recordings she did on the phone had this great surreal quality to them, and we ended up using them in the final version. So by the time she got home from her trip I had the movie finished, which I think surprised her. She brought this creepy, vicious monster to life with that voice. Can’t imagine anyone else doing it.

 

4LN – “Tailypo” has been very successful. You’ve won awards and screening it all over the country. Did you imagine that it would big such a big hit when you were filming it?

CM – I am thankful to be so fortunate. The movie has been very well received so far. At this point its played multiple dates in the U.S. as well as Canada, Russia, and the U.K. Its also the first movie I’ve ever had screen ed at a Drive-In where it played in between The Goonies and Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. That was just a trip for me. We’ve picked up a few festival awards, and I received a Emmy nomination for directing which was a first. And just this last week we received two nominations from the Indieville TV Awards and another for Best Short Film at the Horror Society Awards. So, yes Id say we have been very fortunate. Just soaking it all in. I know soon enough I’ll have to get back to work. As they say, You’re only as good as your next one.

 

4LN – Do you have anything planned yet for your next film, and if so, what can you tell us about it?

CM – Well, I am in post production now on another feature film I produced for Matt Riddlehoover called What’s The Matter With Gerald which will be out a bit later this year. I directed a short film adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft story The Beast in the Cave which is 95% complete at this point and will probably show up online in the same manner Tailypo did. I’m working on a few feature ideas at the moment. One is a car chase film, and the other a western. It really just kind of comes down to which one we can scrape the funds together for at this point. I’ve got a few other things Id like to do, just need some time at home to put it all together.

4LN – This next section is our “Lightening Round”. Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind. What was the last concert you went to?

CM – I don’t think I’ve seen anyone this year. I saw aave a lot last year. Band out of Nashville on the Villain Place label which I do a lot of music video work with. I saw them with The Dead Deads, and all girl rock band that is killer a few months back. Last year saw two stadium shows, Rolling Stones with Brad Paisley and Jack White with Raconteurs and Loretta Lynn. All good stuff.

 

4LN – What slasher movie villain would you most wanna have a beer with?

CM – That’s like begging for death right? Freddy Krueger has to be the best conversationalist. Or maybe Norman Bates. That seems like it would be pleasant at first.

 

4LN – In your opinion, what is the best show on television right now?

CM – I really like Togetherness on HBO. The Duplass brothers are doing something really cool with that. I think it speaks to me just because of the age I’m at. And Steve Zissis is just wonderful. I kind of wish I could have got him in a movie before now, because I’m certain he is about to blow up and I won’t be able to afford him. And, I’ve been eating up this new X-Files season. Id love to see that become a main stay on television again.

 

4LN – Batman vs. Superman, realistically, who wins?

CM – Batman, but it took me a long time to come to that conclusion. Batman always fights for the moral good. So if Superman is battling him then he has already lost his moral center and at that point has lost. So Superman could kill Batman, no question. But he would at the point lose. You can’t beat the Bat.

 

4LN – Finally, if you could choose any movie monster to direct a feature film of, who would choose and why?

CM – For a long time I thought I wanted to be the one to get the Ninja Turtle or Masters Of the Universe job, but the more I see Hollywood franchise films the less I want to be part of that world. I think I’d do a good job with either Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street, but I also know an equal amount of people would hate it. Just not sure if its worth it, as I doubt anyone is going to do a better job than the ones that already exist. The only movie I’d really want to remake right now is The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. I’d be all over that.

 

I want to send a big THANK YOU to Cameron for talking with me. If you want to keep up with all that he has going on then check out the website for his production company Red Headed Revolution, and there you can find links to all of his social media sites.

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Stephen Andrew

Stephen has spent most of his life reading comics, watching horror movies, listening to death metal music, and speaking in the third person. His favorite comic book character is The Punisher, and he believes that the Punisher: War Zone movie is criminally underrated. His favorite film of all-time is National Lampoon's Vacation, and his favorite album is Pantera's "The Great Southern Trendkill".

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