The Arrow interviews Matthew Leutwyler
If you haven't heard of writer/director Matthew Leutwyler's fun cheese, gore extravaganza "Dead and Breakfast", then it's time for you to listen up, because you're missing out. Starring Eva Carradine, Jeremy Sisto, Gina Phillips, Oz Perkings (yes, Anthony's son) and more, this wild ride gave me a shovel full of yuk-yuks and Ketchup. I had the chance to yap with Matthew about his film and here's what he dished out! BON APPETIT!
ARROW: What’s your favorite horror movie?
MATT: Tough call. Favorite straight horror is probably The Hills Have Eyes. SciFi Horror - Alien and comedy horror - Evil Dead II.
ARROW: "Dead and Breakfast" was pretty “out there” with ample gore, clever scene transitions and even a musical number in tow. Can you give us some insight as to how the writing process for the film went down?
MATT: I had spoken with the core cast (Palladino, Carradine, Sito, Morgan, Philips) about doing a comedy/splatter movie and they were all interested from the get go. Sisto was doing Six Feet Under and his schedule was tight so he had to be the first to get his head chopped off. The rest of the cast was available for the entire 3 week shoot, although It was the middle of pilot season so they were all coming and going which made for a scheduling nightmare. Anyway, we had this great location that was owned by Goalline Productions (our co-producers on D&B). It looked a lot like the house from Psycho so I wrote a script that revolved around the property and we built the two other main locations, downtown Lovelock, and the graveyard on the same site so we had our own little backlot. I always wanted to do something fun and bloody and then decided to add my own little twist with the musical numbers and dance routine. I figured, why not, I mean if not in a film like this then when?
ARROW: Your first film "Road Kill" was a mix of drama and comedy. "Dead and Breakfast" is a horror/comedy. As a director, do you find it challenging to find the right balance in terms of injecting just the right comedic elements within a genre bending film?
MATT: It can be difficult, yeah. But I think that casting is the key ingredient to making it work. If you can get actors that first of all “get” what you’re doing and are willing to really put themselves out there and not be afraid of looking like an idiot then you’ve won half the battle.
ARROW: How many days did it take you to Pre-Prod the film and how long did the shoot go for?
MATT: FX guys got about 3 1/2 weeks of pre-production and the rest of the crew got two weeks. The shoot was three weeks.
ARROW: What would you say was the biggest obstacle in terms of bringing the picture home?
MATT: Everything. We shot almost exclusively at night and a lot of exteriors in the middle of winter. All of the practical FX that had to be squeezed into such a tight budget and schedule. Actors having to leave for auditions and giving us 10 hours notice. Generators blowing up. Cameras fucking up two days worth of negative. Basically, you name it – it happened to us. Everyone joked that the film was cursed because the old Victorian we were shooting in was haunted.
ARROW: They say that limited funds make a good director more creative on set? Would you agree with that statement?
MATT: Who’s the asshole who said that? I guess I’m a shitty director. Seriously though, I suppose there is some truth in that but I’ll take more funds any time. And that is not so much so I can have bigger trailers or better catering but really just because it’s such an advantage to have more time. Time to let the actors ACT. Time to let the FX guys do their job properly. Time to give the gaffer to light. TIME, TIME. TIME.
ARROW: Actor Jeremy Sisto has starred in two of your films. What is it about the man that makes him a joy to work with?
MATT: He gives so much without saying a word. He has these wonderfully expressive eyes. Erik Palladino should be mentioned as well as I have worked with him 3 times and he’s just so damned reliable. And hilarious. I loved writing his role for him in D&B and visualizing what he was going to do with it. Then we got on the set and he still surprised me.
Where is "Dead and Breakfast" right now in terms of
locking worldwide distribution? Is it looking good?
Anchor Bay has acquired all North American rights to the film. We are just now figuring out the strategy for the limited theatrical release. The DVD should be out next summer. We will also continue on our world wide festival circuit for the next four or five months, so keep an eye out in Boston, Florida, Ohio, Ghent, Calgary, Oldenberg, Rhode Island, London, etc.
ARROW: What’s next for you, screenwriting / directing wise?
MATT: I just finished a script for a more serious horror film in the vein of "Aliens". Takes place in the middle of New Mexico. Tyruben Ellingson (Hellboy, Mimic) has designed the creature and he and his partner DJ Marini (Combustion Studios) will be co-producing the film with my company Ambush Entertainment. It’s a bigger budget and it should be a lot of fun.
ARROW: If there was a demand, would you ever consider doing a Dead and Breakfast 2?
MATT: Maybe. Not sure who’d be in it since most of them don’t get out of Lovelock in one piece. We have been contacted from a foreign company about the remake rights, so I guess anything is possible.
I'd like to thank Matthew for checking into the site and for the sweet meal that was "Dead and Breakfast". Congrats on locking distribution, dude! NOW ALL OF YOU RENT/SEE IT WHEN IT COMES OUT!