Podcast

Independent Filmmaker's Guide

Episode #16

September 29, 2020

Title:

Creating a Horror Slasher: The Ranger


Genre films are a great way to build a fanbase and community. Horror in particular is one of the most successful and loved genres that, much like its villains, never seems to die. It’s also where many indie features can thrive and reach an audience without a major studio attached. Today we have the team behind the punk/slasher film, The Ranger, who have done just that.

Watch the video version of this episode:

Full Interview

Giaco Furino: The Ranger started many, many years ago. Jenn and I both went to school for screenwriting, writing for film and television at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. And senior year we have to … the senior thesis for this program is a feature-length script. And that was The Ranger for me, The Ranger in a very ancient form was my senior thesis. A lot of the core components were there, but the heart wasn’t there. But coming up with that idea, to speak a little bit for a moment just about sort of the initial conception, right, of punks versus a park ranger, I was at the time of course super, super, super into punk, listening to punk all the time, really getting into the … I don’t know, everything, right?

 

Steven Pierce: I was really, really, really hoping you were going to say national parks.

“The Ranger” Poster Courtesy of Glass Eye Pix

Giaco Furino: Yeah, really into national parks, exactly, and I was really nerding out about national parks. But I was also watching films that of course I love and that are sort of seminal punk movies, Return of the Living Dead specifically, and so I wanted to write a punk movie. And at the time, the idea of sort of punks versus an authority figure was sort of where this was going to go and I knew I wanted it to be a slasher, but something about punks versus cops at the time didn’t feel interesting enough or strange enough. And I thought about, well, what else is an authority figure that’s a little bit off-center? And the idea of this Ranger Rick-style park ranger, this man who … or woman, but in this case a man, who follows rules, who protects the parks, I thought that would be a really fun juxtaposition against these punks that sort of represent in my mind the city, the asphalt, the loud music, unnatural things, versus this sort of warden of the natural world. So that-

 

Steven Pierce: That makes total sense.

 

Giaco Furino: Yeah.

 

Steven Pierce: I don’t think the park ranger and I don’t think the ranger in your story necessarily is a real stickler for the rules in a normal way, he’s kind of a more “stick-you” for the rules kind of guy.

 

Giaco Furino: Heyo, there we go!

 

Jeremy Holm: We can edit that out, right?

 

Steven Pierce: Jenn, how did you get involved? Because you’ve had a background in horror as a producer, right?

 

Jenn Wexler: Yeah. So, well, I was Giaco’s classmate and I read the script, we had to do little workshops and I read the script when we were in school and I was like, “Oh my God, dude, this is awesome, I hope you get an A on this project.” And I just loved the idea of punks versus park ranger because it felt so eighties and it felt like a movie I should have already seen. But when we graduated we didn’t really know what to do, we had to go get jobs and find ways to pay our rent and stuff, so it took a couple of years. Eventually I started working for a production company and I started producing movies and I really learned how to make movies. And then my dream has always been to direct, so when the time came finally, I was like, “Yo, I want to …”, I called Giaco, I was like, “Yo, I want to direct a feature and I want it to be The Ranger.” And Giaco was down, I was like, “Yo, can you find that script that you wrote years ago and can we work on it together?” Giaco, what was your … what was your … I don’t know if I’ve ever asked you what you went through that day?

 

Giaco Furino: Oh, it was amazing. I mean, to say I was down, of course, right? That’s a call that doesn’t happen, right, even among friends, in the industry, that’s a call that doesn’t happen. “Remember that thing you did a long time ago? Let’s make it.”

 

Jenn Wexler: In college.

 

Giaco Furino: Right? So, that day I was of course super excited. And then the terror set in, because I would say that this was maybe, what, seven years after or something like that, a fair amount of time, and I thought, where is this script? Where … what old, busted up laptop is this script …? I hate to admit it, but this was before the Cloud, right, this was before Google Docs. And so it was a frantic digging through old … hacking old email addresses to pull pieces.

 

Steven Pierce: In the end you only have one PDF and you’re like, well, I’m going to get to re-type all of this.

 

Giaco Furino: Exactly. But I think that that was actually maybe a really healthy way for it to go, because all that was left were bits and pieces and the most important moments that I remember. And then from there, Jenn and I were able to completely, I would say almost a page one re-write of that original concept into a new script together and it totally folded in everything I love, everything Jenn loves and it became … we weren’t just dusting off a 21 year old script, we were writing a real movie that the concept was old, but felt very fresh in the moment.

 

Steven Pierce: Yeah, absolutely. So, now you guys are teamed up, you know the script you’re going to make from film school, you’ve rewritten it, how did you go about getting it started? So, how did you go about getting the wheels turning, the financing going and getting the film actually turned in from an idea to a thing?

 

Jenn Wexler: We started putting together all of our materials, I put together a lookbook and we made a teaser and we submitted the project to this program called The Frontiers Co-Production Market in the … it’s part of the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal. And we got into it, they choose 20 projects every year, and when you get into it you go to the festival and you do your pitch in front of a room full of finance people and industry people. So, we did that and it was a really great event for us, because out of that we found a producer that we were going to team up with and we got our financing out of it.

 

Steven Pierce: Oh wow, so you were able to find it basically in one fell swoop?

 

Jenn Wexler: Yeah. And looking in hindsight it feels lovely that … in the moment we didn’t know it was one fell swoop, but it still took months. I mean, that was in the Summer of 2016, it was July 2016 that we did that pitch and then we were still talking to the producer and it was still a process and then we ended up shooting the following Spring. So, in the moment, I didn’t realize how quickly it was moving, in hindsight I was like, oh that actually was pretty lovely and that ran really smoothly.

 

Steven Pierce: So, from the time you ended up getting your financing through the Fantasia Festival and the meetings you took there, till the film was completed, just how long was that process?

 

Jenn Wexler: So, Fantasia was 2016 in the Summer and the movie was finished in 2018 in the Winter. So, it was under two years total.

 

Steven Pierce: Wow, that’s really quick. Obviously you’re making a genre film, even a sub-genre film, right, a slasher within a horror film. So, how did you approach your initial production budgeting, how much were you allocating to locations, how much were you like, oh, we can shoot this in a single location, more or less, in the woods. How did that all break out for you guys?

 

Jenn Wexler: From my time producing, I started learning this process really well and learning how to do it on a small budget. So, actually, part of what was appealing about The Ranger and part of why I thought of it and thought to go to Giaco was because of the location, right, most of it’s in the woods. You have a little bit in a punk bar in the beginning and then most of it’s in the woods, most of it is in these cabins. And we shot in an area that I was familiar with, which was Woodstock, New York, where I shot some other films. And I liked that it went from this colorful kind of environment into this more wooded environment and all of that you can do in a low-budget way, again, keeping it really interesting to the eye. So, we started putting all this … yeah, while we were writing it, we were putting that together and creating a production plan and, yeah, then we started moving forward and we started chatting with Jeremy.

Jeremy Holm, The Ranger

 

Steven Pierce: Yeah, so how did … yeah, how did you get your cast together? What pieces fell in when?

 

Jenn Wexler: Jeremy was the first cast, Giaco and I were writing it with Jeremy in mind. Do you guys want to talk a little bit about your background together?

 

Jeremy Holm: Listen, I’ll tell you this. If you don’t fucking clean the espresso machine at Del Frisco’s Steakhouse in New York City the way it’s supposed to be cleaned, you’re going to hear from me, okay?

 

Giaco Furino: Make it nice or make it twice.

 

Jeremy Holm: Make it nice. Make it nice!

 

Steven Pierce: So, you guys knew each other from work?

 

Giaco Furino: So what Jeremy’s alluding to there is that he and I were fellow waiters at this very sort of high-end steakhouse in midtown Manhattan. I only lasted a year before I was burnt out, but Jeremy, yeah, Jeremy-

 

Jeremy Holm: 14 years.

 

Giaco Furino: 14 years! That’s incredible. And from the moment I met him we hit it off, of course. He’s a fantastic, completely magnetic guy. But I just knew as we were rewriting the … and he’d done plenty of amazing acting before this, of course, which I’d seen some of, and as I’m writing this I’m just thinking, Jeremy, Jeremy, he just kept coming into the character. And the more I thought about it, the more it was just like, this can only be Jeremy, from presence, to talent, to look, it was just … it just felt right.

 

Steven Pierce: Jeremy, what was it like getting the call?

 

Jeremy Holm: I can feel it, I can see it, I was standing in my driveway in our old house in New Jersey. I was walking around our green Jeep Liberty, the family wanted to go get burgers and they were all waiting for me and I was getting this call from Giaco and I was like, the burgers can wait, this is important. And he asked me if I would read the script, I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” Because he told me, he said, “I keep seeing your face.” So, I read the script and I’ll be honest, I did not expect it to be this good. It was perfect. Usually when you read a script, you’re like, ah, that scene, there’s too much, there’s not enough, I don’t understand it. This script was tight, very tight, from beginning to end, and I understood it. And I was like, “I’m in.” And I knew that my team would give me trouble about it being a low-budget film, but I just said, “No, we’re doing it. Make it happen, figure it out, we’re doing it.” And we did it.And to this day, it’s my favorite thing that I’ve ever done, I hope to play him again, I love the character, I love the genre, I love the humor, I love how spooky it is, I love everything about it. And the thing I love the most is the team we had together to do it.

Chloë Levine as Chelsea

Steven Pierce: Let’s talk about the team you got together. So, how much other cast did you have and how did you acquire them, specifically, I think, Chloe, how did you get her involved?

 

Jenn Wexler: So, Jeremy was the only one that we knew we were writing it with him in mind and we were dreaming of him playing the role. The role of Chelsea, I didn’t know who that would be, but as soon as I met Chloe I was like, oh, this is it, Chloe is Chelsea, and I met her at South by Southwest. So, in 2017 I was there with a couple of movies that I had produced and we were casting for The Ranger and my casting director said, “Hey, check out Chloe Levine, she’s in this movie The Transfiguration, which is playing at South by.” So, I saw it and meanwhile they sent her the script and she read it. So, we ended up meeting at South by and just totally looking and bonding over the script. And we actually … so South-By was in March of that year and we were shooting in April, so it was very quick and it was a pretty quick turnaround between meeting her and casting her. And then over those next few weeks, I met the rest of the cast, as well, through auditions and meetings and stuff.

 

Steven Pierce: How did you find your casting director?

 

Jenn Wexler: Oh, Lois Drabkin, she’s amazing, she’s a New York-based casting director and our company Glass Eye Pix has worked with her on a bunch of films. So, there was already that relationship.

 

Steven Pierce: Got you. So, now let’s talk about getting into production itself. Did you have rehearsals, much rehearsals, what was your shooting schedule like?

 

Jenn Wexler: Our shooting schedules … our shooting schedule was about 18 days and in terms of rehearsal, I did a read-through with all the punks and then I did a read-through of the scenes that Chelsea and the ranger are in with Chloe and Jeremy. And Jeremy was pretty much kept separate from the punks until he arrived to set. And we tried to shoot everything without Jeremy first, so that we could really create this bonding experience between the punks and then there would be this new force that showed up, but because Chloe and Jeremy had had a read-through earlier on, they had a little bit of a bond, so Jeremy was a new force to everybody except for Chloe.

Jeremy Holm, The Ranger

Steven Pierce: And that seems like that mirrors the plot of the film pretty well, where there’s a connection between these two other characters that no one else is in on.

 

Steven Pierce: So, the location, you said you were familiar with it, but is that … you were able to kind of, I assume, secure some kind of location that allowed you to basically load in once and be very agile and move around and be very loose, right?

 

Jenn Wexler: Not quite. It’s really nice when you can do that, but we kind of shot all over the Hudson Valley area. So, we stayed at the same hotel and every day we would kind of drive out to a different area.

 

Jenn Wexler: But you know what’s cool is, I’ve seen some woods movies, where, again, going back to the eye, the eye gets bored looking at the same kinds of trees, and in the ranger, pretty actively I tried to choose areas with different kinds of landscape, so you really felt like you were moving up a mountain and encountering the different woods, the different kinds of trees and stuff you find when you’re actually climbing a mountain. And then for the climax of the movie, so I … the climax takes place at a fire tower and I was just … I went … there’s all these different fire powers in the Hudson Valley and I started visiting a bunch of them, you could even do a challenge, the Fire Tower Challenge, where you hike up to all the different fire towers. So, this one I fell in love with on one of the hikes and it’s on Hunter Mountain and I was just like, oh my God, we have to shoot at this fire tower, it’s perfect, it’s a dream, and we shot the teaser at that fire tower. The thing about the fire tower is that roads don’t go there, you have to climb. And we shot this at the end of the shoot and the big thing that we were all kind of dreading, because we had done it when we did the teaser, was going back up this mountain where it’s like a hike, two-hour hike and it’s pretty vertical and I had to have my SAG actors climb up it, but they were so cool, Jeremy ran up it ahead of everybody else.

 

Jeremy Holm: It was fun, man, it was fantastic. And Jenn left out that it’s the tallest fire tower in the state of New York. So, not only was it our last shot, but it’s the tallest, it’s the most epic, it has the best view. It was fantastic.

 

Steven Pierce: Well, Giaco could have told us that as a park enthusiast.

 

Jenn Wexler: The ranger’s cabin that we ended up using, though, was a … that was a total dream, that was just me talking to the film office, my producers and I chatting with the film office and getting different references and then we found this one that really was out of my brain, it was like, this is exactly what I’ve always dreamed of when I think of the ranger’s cabin.

The Ranger

Steven Pierce: That’s amazing. So, let’s talk a little bit about your special effects and your visual effects. Most of it seemed like it was practical special effects on site. So, is that where you kind of … you went specifically into making sure that you could spend your money in that area and have the props you want to really be the gruesome kind of foot coming off the trap and stuff like that, right?

 

Jenn Wexler: Yeah, for sure. So, we worked with Brian Spears and Pete Gerner and Ashley Thomas, who are amazing special effects people and they do stuff for Marvel TV shows and they roll up in their van full of body parts and everyone gets so excited and …

 

Jeremy Holm: Hey, Jenn, wait. I got to interrupt Jenn. Tell them about driving that van full of body parts and getting pulled over.

 

Jenn Wexler: Oh my gosh. So, yeah, we had Larry Fessenden who plays the uncle, we had his dead body in the back of the car and we also had a gun and stuff, it was after we filmed the young Chelsea who looks over the side of the cliff and sees the dead body on the cliff. So, it was that night and we were riding in the punk van that has all the graffiti on it.

 

Jeremy Holm: “Fuck the pigs!”

 

Jenn Wexler: Broken tail lights and stuff, it’s like an … it doesn’t even work anymore, I think we got rid of it. But we got pulled over in that van and we had this body part, I mean, this dead Larry body in the back of the van and we didn’t tell the cop. I mean, I feel … I remember sitting there being like, don’t look in the trunk, don’t look in the trunk! Because I-

 

Steven Pierce: It’s as if you think you’ve murdered somebody …!

 

Jenn Wexler: I know! I didn’t … It’s just so weird, is the first thing you say to an officer, “Officer, just so you know, there’s a fake dead body and a fake gun in the trunk.” That’s crazy!

 

Jeremy Holm: Yes! That’s what you say! That’s what you should have said!

 

Jenn Wexler: Yeah! I mean, especially with all the crazy shit going on right now, I’m rethinking my own experience with cops, as everybody is, and I’m just like, wow, that was a insane moment and a really fucked up thing. But, anyway, she left us with a warning to get our car fixed and that was it.

 

Steven Pierce:  So, what was your safety like on set? Because you have SAG actors, you’re doing … there’s lots of little fights and push and pulls, there’s guns. Yeah, what was the safety like?

 

Jenn Wexler:  So, we had a stunt coordinator to work with us and approach all of those different fights and things in a safe way. We didn’t have … all the guns were totally fake and we added some flashes in post. What else? What other craziness did we do?

 

Steven Pierce:  I think those were mostly the ones, I just wanted to know is that … how did you schedule that? How much time did you leave, because obviously you don’t have … 18 days, that’s super fast, that’s super hard to pull off, so how were you approaching a fight sequence?

 

Jeremy Holm:  She approaches it by shooting it right at the end of an afternoon when the sun’s going down, so you only get one take. That’s how she approached it.

 

Jeremy Holm:  I’m kidding, it’s not that bad. It’s almost that bad.

 

Jenn Wexler:  Jeremy loved it. All of it.

 

Jeremy Holm:  I did love it, but I was like, “Okay, the sun … we’ve got five minutes.

 

Jenn Wexler:  But you know what else?

 

Jeremy Holm:  Let’s get this done.”

 

Jenn Wexler:  The sun did go down and we have an awesome G and E team of … a one-in-one, two people, one grip, one gaffer, who made the room into the late-afternoon sun so we could keep on going. So it was all good. In terms of-

 

Jeremy Holm:  It was miraculous, I thought, miraculous.

Chloë Levine as Chelsea

Jenn Wexler:  But also the most important thing is you have actors who are down and having fun and everybody has a great attitude and Jeremy and Chloe were all in it, they were all in.

 

Jeremy Holm:  We were … it was a blast. That’s the most fun I’ve ever had on set, that … the final scene, the binocular-smashing scene is the most fun I’ve ever had on set, so fun.

 

Jenn Wexler:  Jeremy was covered in blood.

 

Steven Pierce:  Yeah, it felt like … and it’s a good sequence, it keeps building from the same angle so, I mean, did you just shoot it sequentially so you could just keep adding more blood and keep adding more blood and keep adding more blood, or what was your approach to the continuity?

 

Jenn Wexler:  Yeah, pretty much, that’s exactly what we did. It’s pretty much just two angles, it’s a low angle and a high angle on each of them. What was that like for you? Talk more about it, Jeremy, that fight scene?

 

Jeremy Holm:  I didn’t know how we were going to do it, because it’s described as this epic battle and I just followed your lead and you … it was the only scene in the whole movie I had any trepidation about, because if it’s not good it ruins the movie. But once we started, I was like, okay, Jenn has got this under control. And then we’d do a few takes and then we’d go back and Brian Spears, right there, five feet from the fire tower, which was another fire tower that we did the stunt scene in and the real fire tower, which looked exactly the same when you’re watching the movie, and he’d add a little more blood. And we’d go back and Jenn would say, “A little more, a little more, a little more,” and then we’d go back and put more blood on. And she pushed Chloe so hard, she just kept saying, “No. More, deeper. More, deeper.” And Chloe and I were trusting each other big time. And it was exhilarating, it was so fun.

 

Jeremy Holm:  I want to die again.

 

Jenn Wexler:  I wanted Chloe to get to this really primal place, which she totally got to, but it’s a part of the process of getting exhausted. You really-

 

Jeremy Holm:  It’s physiological.

 

Jenn Wexler:  Yeah, you really feel as she’s exhausted and it’s primal and everything, because she’s … was totally exhausted. We did that so many times, especially her punching you.

 

Jeremy Holm:  Do you know what I remember about that scene? We shot that scene in, I don’t know, it took probably two hours, maybe three, to shoot that scene, we did it really fast. And it was work, we kept working, we kept working, we kept working. Then I remember, Jenn was like, “Your shower is ready.” And she had the shower inside the house where we were shooting was all ready, there was a nice, hot towel, there was a robe, and she even had a beer waiting for me after the shower, which is my favorite thing at the end of a long shoot day. And she just had it all … she had thought ahead and it was all arranged. I was like, I want to work with this woman every day!

 

Jenn Wexler:  First of all, thank you and I love that you’re giving me the credit for that when that was definitely the producers.

 

Jeremy Holm:  Well, whoever did that, it was awesome. Ashley? Was it Ashley that did that?

 

Jenn Wexler:  It was one of them. I was way too focused on Chloe’s primal scream, but I’m happy to take the credit for it. Another important thing that Jeremy mentioned early on, in terms of stunts and all this stuff, is that the fire tower where this fight happened, we built that separately. So, none of that actually took place on the real fire tower. The real fire tower, we did shoot the exteriors on, but that would have been impossible to actually shoot any kind of fight scene or anything in.

 

Jeremy Holm:  It was trippy up there, it was a little scary up at the top, you wouldn’t want to do anything, because it shook, it moved three or four inches at the top, it was …

 

Steven Pierce:  Definitely an old, functional fire tower.

 

Jenn Wexler:  Well, we had this killer art team that built this thing and it really looked like it.

 

Steven Pierce:  What kind of art crew and production team did you guys have to pull that off?

 

Jenn Wexler:  We had a production designer and an art director, so we just had a two-person art team. But then we had our executive producer wanted to be a part of the production and he came from Nevada and brought all of these dudes he works with in Nevada. And so our two-person art team turned into a five or six-person art team and they … I mean, they worked miracles. We call them the dream team.

 

Jeremy Holm:  The dream … Darryl Gariglio and his dream team, they … he put a new transmission in the ranger jeep that we used, the guy could do anything. It was amazing what this team did, it was crazy.

 

Steven Pierce:  So, what about the ending shot with the wolf?

 

Jenn Wexler:  Yeah. So, we went … our producer Heather Buckley found a wolf reserve and we drove up to it and it’s right near the border of Canada and we covered Chloe in blood and Chloe and the wolf hung out. And the wolf trainers and everybody were there. And he’s on a leash, the wolf’s on a leash, so we took it out in BFX. But what’s cool is that, what I learned that day is if you howl at a wolf, it howls at you. So, we got the wolf to howl in the shot and it was very easy, you just howl at it. And the wolf … we all pet the wolf and the wolf was fine so, I don’t know, I have a new view of wolves after this.

 

Steven Pierce:  What was your post-production timeline, what was it like? Did you edit it, I believe, right, Jenn, you and someone else?

 

Jenn Wexler:  No, I did a cut of it and then I brought on a co-editor who’s also our key grip, she does everything, as it turns out, Abbey. And she came in and kind of killed some of my darlings and she did the montages and made some things feel razor quick and cool and … But that whole process, we wrapped in May and we had our movie finished in January. So, I had time. I mean, I was just sitting with my movie, I was one with my movie and really feeling it and putting it together. And it was the first feature that I ever edited. I had cut short stuff, but it was my first feature.

 

Steven Pierce:  Hey, Giaco, were you involved in the production process in post?

 

Giaco Furino:  No, not at all, it was great!

 

Steven Pierce:  So, you just handed the script and said, “Go, be, have, bring me back something.”

 

Giaco Furino:  Yeah. As the co-writer of a script, there’s not a ton to do, I couldn’t be very helpful. I came for a few days on set, the … I believe they were the first days that Jeremy was shooting, just to sort of hang out and be, see the production a little bit and sort of talk to the actors and answer any questions they had and just sort of hang around. But at that point, by the time I got there, everyone knew what they were doing and didn’t need me, so I got to just sort of hang out and watch a movie get made, it was great.

 

Jenn Wexler:  We needed your cheerleading, though.

 

Giaco Furino:  Yeah, definitely.

 

Steven Pierce:  So, in the edit, once you finished the edit, did you have it externally mixed and color-corrected? And if so, by whom?

 

Jenn Wexler:  I work with a sound designer and mixer, his name is Shawn Duffy, and he’s amazing. He has done the sound for a bunch of my movies, including Darling and Like Me and Psychopaths. And he’s kind of a one-man band and he’s great. So, I did a temp … I did temp sound design and then he came from LA to New York to the Glass Eye office and we kind of did a version of the mix there and then at the end I went to LA and we finessed it. And then in terms of color, I went to Dallas, because our producer is tight with a colorist in Dallas and that was cool, I’d never been to Dallas, and I got to work with this color team that usually does commercials, they don’t do that many features, so it was fun, special.

“The Ranger” Poster Courtesy of Glass Eye Pix

Steven Pierce:  So, one of the things that I think is most notable and is definitely … I believe your soundtrack won for best original soundtrack at one of the festivals I saw. So, how did you work out and how did you get your soundtrack on an indie budget?

 

Jenn Wexler:  Well, we have amazing producers. Our producers, Heather Buckley, Andrew van den Houten, Ashleigh Snead and Larry Fessenden are just the best producers in the world. So, Heather Buckley is super connected first of all to the punk scene and second of all she’s friends with this music promoter whose name is Middagh Goodwin and he used to be a band promoter in the eighties and was tight with all these different bands. So, he came on as our music supervisor and he asked a bunch of bands he was friends with if they wanted to be involved. Then they came to me with a list, “Here’s all the albums you can choose from, all these bands are excited and they want to be a part of it.” And then that was the most fun thing is sitting with your movie and testing out different songs and figuring out what works best thematically and tone-wise and casing-wise and everything, so that was super cool. I also worked with Wade MacNeil and Andrew Macpherson and they created our score. And Wade is in a bunch of different bands, including Alexisonfire, so they’re amazing.

 

Jenn Wexler:  So, ultimately, what came to be our soundtrack was … it starts off with a punk music, punk soundtrack atmosphere, which then turns into a lot of waves music score and then turns into, when the ranger’s in control and empowered, turns into a country music aesthetic, which we have the great … whose name is escaping me, hold on, wait, Charlie Rich.

 

Jeremy Holm:  Charlie Rich!

 

Steven Pierce:  You had a special relationship with the music, didn’t you, Jeremy?

 

Jeremy Holm:  Yeah. In 1976. My mom would take me inner tubing down the South Platte River in the mountains of Colorado and we would drive our green Ford truck to a place called Deckers, where this river ran through the rapids, it was very dangerous, lots of people died every Summer, but for some reason my mom took me there anyway. And oftentimes on the radio, on her AM radio, she would play this song, (singing). And as I was reading the script, every time this song popped into my head. So, I started listening to it while I was reading the script. And so I showed up to set and I said, “Hey, Jenn, do you have this to take? I want to throw something at you.” And she’s game for anything, so she said, “Yeah, go ahead.” So, I kind of sang this song to myself as I was walking off, exiting a scene. And I did it a couple different times, they didn’t use all of them, but then Jenn can take over the story from there.

 

Jenn Wexler:  So then we’re cutting the movie and one of the editors, Kyle, who was doing our assembly edit, dropped in the song, dropped in Jeremy singing it in certain points, when he’s walking away after he takes Abe’s foot, and a couple of other moments he used that. And then we dropped in the actual song at the end and in the beginning. And we were just like, oh my God, this is amazing, love this. And we showed the producers and the producers felt the exact same way, so we all were like, we need to get this song.

 

Steven Pierce:  And so you went out, did you … were you able to license it? Obviously it’s in the movie.

 

Jenn Wexler: Yeah. Yep. So, we licensed it and we got it even on our soundtrack and stuff, too, on our- Vinyl and our CDs and stuff that we have released.

 

Steven Pierce: That’s a great segue into one of my other questions. So, what transmedia did you do in addition to your other distribution? You just mentioned your vinyl, I noticed there’s a novelization about it. So, what are you trying to do to help motivate and recoup and increase profitability?

 

Jenn Wexler:  Yeah, well … so we world-premiered at South by Southwest and after that we sold to Shudder, AMC’s horror-streaming service, and then we really wanted to do this in punk rock fashion and create as much stuff around it as we could. So, we have the vinyl and CDs and I don’t think we ever actually did cassettes, we were talking about cassettes, I don’t think we ever moved forward on that.

 

Jenn Wexler: So, the novelization was written by Ed Kurtz and he is a novelist and he saw the movie and he was like, “Can I make a young-adult novel out of this?” And we were like, “Hell yeah, you can.” So, he created that, which is the coolest thing as a Christopher Pike fan and Fear Street and everything like that. And our Canadian distributor, Black Fawn, created this whole package, a Ranger Blacklist package, where it comes with sunglasses, you can wear the ranger’s sunglasses, and it comes with lobby cards and all sorts of stuff. And we had T-shirts made, there’s a lot of stuff.

 

Jeremy Holm: Black Fawn sent me a little care package.

 

Jenn Wexler: There you go!

 

Steven Pierce:  They sent you your own sunglasses for posterity.

 

Jeremy Holm: Jenn and I have a date to meet at a specific store in Manhattan where they sell all things that are ranger-like. And when this COVID thing is over, when we all get our inoculations or whatever it is, Jenn, we have a date.

 

Jenn Wexler:  Yep. We have to go shopping there.

 

Jeremy Holm:  Yeah, got to go hang out.

 

Steven Pierce:  So, what’s your distribution like? I mean, obviously, you sold to Shudder, it’s available on TVOD, what are your plans beyond that? And, ultimately, kind of the overall question that every indie filmmaker has, is it going to come full circle, do you think?

 

Jenn Wexler:  Oh yes, already done.

 

Steven Pierce:  That’s amazing. So, that’s amazing, that’s truly an incredible journey then, that you’ve already recouped and become profitable. I mean, and you’re … for how long?

 

Jenn Wexler:  We sold the movie in the Spring of 2018.

 

Steven Pierce:  That’s amazing. Congratulations, that’s a hell of an accomplishment, that’s super … that’s the hardest thing to pull off.

 

Jenn Wexler:  Thank you. Thank you very much.

 

Steven Pierce:  So, what’s next for you? What are you guys thinking? Giaco, you got another script in the works?

 

Giaco Furino:  We’re kicking around ideas, yeah. Yeah, Jenn and I are talking a lot, yeah.

 

Steven Pierce:  That’s cool. Is that what’s the next for … what are you thinking, Jenn?

 

Jenn Wexler:  We chat … Giaco and I chat sometimes several times a week, we do these-

 

Giaco Furino:  Zoom calls where we work on some new stuff, which we can’t talk about yet, but they’re good conversations.

 

Jenn Wexler:  Yeah. And in addition to that, I’m also working on a couple of other things, which I also can’t talk too much about, but I’ll just say that my … I’m trying to make my quarantine very productive.

 

Steven Pierce:  Great, great, that’s very good, that’s very exciting news. Jeremy, what are you up to next? I mean, whenever this all ends?

 

Jeremy Holm:  I’ve got a deck to build at home, building a 20 by 12 foot deck, I built a bunch of planter boxes, I’ve put a new set of stairs and a ramp on my studio. I’m building a farmhouse table, I renovated my girls’ bathroom, I’m doing my bathroom next. But that’s not what you meant. Actors are going to be the last to know and I have a movie I’m supposed to do in Hawaii that got put on hold, I have another movie that I was supposed to do in Ohio, which has moved to Canada and we’ll see about that and for me, I’m just in a wait and see situation and …

 

Jeremy Holm:  But I’m really hopeful that … here’s what’s great about COVID. I think we’re actually moving forward as a country in ways we might not have been able to move forward with respect to Black Lives Matter and equality and achieving the dream that our founding fathers had, the dream that Martin Luther King Junior had, the work that Abraham Lincoln did, the work that so many people are doing now to make sure that those of us who are white realize all of our racial biases and that we can take that with us in every aspect of our lives. And I really think that art is going to reflect that when we do open up and I think it will have obviously been worth it. So, I’m waiting for the phone to ring, but it’s not ringing yet.

 

Steven Pierce:  Well, in the meantime, Jeremy, if people want to follow you, where can they find you?

 

Jeremy Holm:  Jeremysholm on Instagram, JeremyHolmActor on Twitter, and I live up here in Vermont, so come visit.

 

Steven Pierce:  How about you, Jenn?

 

Jenn Wexler:  I’m at bubblegumandblood on Instagram and J_Wex on Twitter.

 

Steven Pierce:  And Giaco?

 

Giaco Furino:  I am at GiacoFurino, that’s G-I-A-C-O F-U-R-I-N-O, on everything.

 

Steven Pierce:  And, again, that’s … people should go check out your film, find it on Shudder.com, right?

 

Jeremy Holm:  Watch it tonight.

 

 

 

IFG is created by Framework Productions. This episode was directed by James Allerdyce, produced by Matt Mundy, edited by Audrey Rae McHale, and hosted by Steven Pierce. The music is by Glass Boy. Find his music on freemusicarchive.org.