Nobody was slashed during the making of this interview

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Nobody was slashed during the making of this interview

Post by firsty » December 15th, 2006, 12:30 pm


A month ago, horror film fanatics were treated to a festival. You might say it was a festival of fear. But not for the filmmakers. For them, it was a rare chance to get maximum exposure for their movies. In an industry which doesnt like surprises, trying to market and distribute unique films, particularly genre films, can be difficult.

Among the films in "8 Films to Die For" was a feature called "Dark Ride," written by Robert Dean Klein. Klein has been in the movie business for more than 10 years, collaborating with his partners on an eclectic mix of films. For Klein, "8 Films" was a breakthrough opportunity. Working with experienced actors like Jamie-Lynn Sigler wasnt completely new to him, as his previous work has included actors like Michael Rapaport and Tommy Flanagan, but having his film shown nationally, with a great deal of internet and television advertising to go along with it, made this festival unique.

I got the chance to talk with Klein recently about this film, his writing, and what it's like to be a scriptwriter these days.

Firsty: Tell me a story about your first exposure to writing for movies.

Robert Dean Klein: My parents were divorced when I was very young. I used to see my dad every weekend. He always took me to the movie matinees on Saturdays and Sundays — this is when i was 8 or 9 years old. Afterwards we would always go back to his apartment and he would place me in front of his typewriter and tell me to continue the story where it left off from the film we just watched. I would type for pages and pages. He always knew I would write movies someday so he kept on me about it. I named the main character in the first script i wrote after him."

F: "Dark Ride" has some attachments to the Jersey Shore, as does one of your earlier productions, "Dead Dogs Lie." You're from New Jersey, as is the director of both of those films, Craig Singer. Obviously, some of those settings were convenient during filming, and obviously you and Craig are more inclined to look locally for settings, but what of NJ goes into your work? What is your NJ experience, as it relates to your films?

RDK: I would say there is a level of 'write what you know'. And Dead Dogs Lie was a tiny production. We were able to make great deals with the state of NJ since we were local boys, so that helped. Dark Ride was actually shot in LA, but takes place in Asbury Park, NJ. I interned at the NJ Film Commission years ago as well, so I know the state fairly well in terms of shooting options, and Craig is just a NJ friend. It's like shooting somewhere safe.

F: What is the film festival experience like?

RDK: The Hollywood Film Festival was the best festival expereince so far, it had a great theater to screen in, and the closing awards ceremony was a personal highlight — being in the same room, at an adjacent table, from some of my film heroes (like DeNiro and Eastwood) was an experience i will never forget.

F: Do you find that the inspirations for your stories come from the plot or from the characters?

RDK: Hm...I'm still trying to master plot. I'm better with character so i would say much of the inspirations come from that. I'd like to find a better balance between the two.

F: Is there anything unique about your role, as the writer who is Rob Klein, when it comes to filming or production?

RDK: Well, I have been fortunate enough to make four films with my team (producing partner Chris Williams and directing partner Craig Singer), so that has put me in a better place to be able to influence the production, give advice on set, be involved in casting and editing, etc. Most writers don't get the opportunity to even walk on the lot, so this has meant a lot to me.

F: What is your favorite film of all time?

RDK: Streetcar Named Desire

F: Who, not in the film industry, are your inspirations?

RDK: Tenessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill, my family, my close friends.

F: What is unique about this — your — movie-making generation?

RDK: Well i think we're past the Generation X thing where we are all slackers and don't want to work hard for what we achieve. I think it's the opposite. I think my generation has turned into a group of tenacious bastards with something to prove. We grew up in the 80s in which there was a distinct lack of quality filmmaking, and matured with movie-making in the 90s where the independent film became a hot commodity — it raised the stakes, made us want to be better. And we are.

F: Tell me about "Dark Ride", and how you approached the genre.

RDK: "Dark Ride" is a true throwback to the late 70s/early 80s slasher flicks (and i do mean "flicks", not "films"). It's done lovingly and traditionally, not tongue in cheek, like "Scream", so that was the approach — take the slasher film model of that time, but not update it. We just tried to honor it.

F: What other projects do you have in the works?

RDK: I have been hired to write another horror/mystery script and have several scripts in development (which is a fancy word for "trying to get it made"). Any film attempting to get produced is a challenge, from the bigger budget blockbuster to the smallest indie. So next time you watch a movie you hate, give the people behind it credit for being tenacious enough to make it happen.

F: Do you have an advice for aspiring screenwriters?

RDK: My advice would be to surround yourself with as many determined people as you can. It's harder to do alone, and write, write, write. As a writer (as opposed to say, an actor), you don't have to be hired to do what you do.
and knowing i'm so eager to fight cant make letting me in any easier.

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