Interview: Drew Daywalt Talks Up ‘Leprechaun’s Revenge’
Interview conducted by Marc Patterson
We’ve been long time supporters of Drew Daywalt at BrutalAsHell.com. He’s one of the most innovative filmmakers working in the medium today. His short films are sharply written, expertly directed, and often contain more depth of story than some feature films. (For a good look at some of his work to date you can cruise through our Horror In Short feature to your right on our sidebar). We’ve been clamouring for someone to give Drew a shot as director of a feature-length project and we’re happy to announce that this Saturday evening the wait will be over. Drew, in a moment I wouldn’t have foreseen, teamed up with SyFy to direct a fun creature feature sure to invoke some fearful fun into the most drunken of all holidays. We got a few minutes with Drew to talk about this momentus occasion. Here’s how that conversation went down:
BaH: Hey Drew – This is awesome. First off – congrats on your first feature. I think I feel pretty confident in saying that we’ve been waiting for this (and cheering this possibility on) for a long time. So let’s kick it off.
First question cuts straight to the chase. I have to admit, for a first feature film I didn’t see this coming and found the announcement to be oddly perplexing. Your shorts have these trademark slow burns that lead to unexpected twists and focus on fantastic story-telling, even if they’re only two-minutes long. Talk about an unexpected twist! I wouldn’t have guessed that for your first feature you’d direct a B-flick for SyFy about a leprechaun. But seriously – I’m stoked all the same. How did this come together for you?
Drew Daywalt: It came about like a lightning strike. I was developing a really dark and horrific script with After Dark when they told me that SyFy had approved me to direct this other thing they had that was going right away. It was about a town caught up in it’s own dark history with a mythological creature, in this case a leprechaun. I read the script, it made me laugh and I thought, what the hell. I’ll try a creature feature. And we were off to the races.
One of the things I wanted to do right from the start was make this look like a feature film and not a shitty TV movie. Getting the cinematography and production design was a big deal for me because so many made for TV movies look like dogshit. And if I can make a YT short film look good, I’m hoping I can do the same with a TV budget. I’ll let you guys decide!
BaH: So here’s how Saturday night is going down: I’ve got a fridge full of Guinness. I’ve just gorged myself on corned beef and cabbage, and my Irish ass plants itself firmly in seat for a fun creature-feature. Without spoiling anything, what can I expect?
Drew: Smart characters, an offbeat tone. I had one person who saw the film tell me, “Drew you didn’t just make a SyFy film, you made a parody of a SyFy film.” The thing here is that I wanted to pay very close attention to tone. I didn’t want it to take itself seriously. I wanted a mischievous sense of fun and quirkiness. And Billy Zane, Courtney Halverson and William Devane jumped on that wagon with me right away and we made a really strange, intelligent film. I didn’t want to make something that would be derided or laughed at. I’m not a fan of shit films. I wanted to make something where we were all in on the gag. I mean, come on, it’s a killer leprechaun! I also wanted to steer clear of the Warwick Davis franchise which was full on camp. I wanted something smarter, a little less literal and silly. I don’t tell my audiences when to laugh or scream. I just tell the story and let you guys find the moments. But yeah, this will be a fun movie to sit back and drink green beer to all night. That I can guarantee.
BaH: Whose concept was the Leprechaun? And are you doing anything especially devilish with this fabled creature?
Drew: The concept initially came from SyFy and the mind of screenwriter Anthony C. Ferrante. My goal as I came on board, was to create a demonic woodland goblin character that was wholly new and different way of looking at the Celtic creatures. I wanted to show what one of these things really looked like to the Druids who fought them. In our film, this thing is a leftover from the mythical, dark ages of Ireland.
BaH: Let’s talk about the fear factor. SyFy films aren’t necessarily known for being scary. They’re fun films and I love to waste away an entire rainy Saturday with them but they are what they are. You, on the other hand excel at the art of the scare. Can you talk to us about striking a balance of good B-movie fun and creating some genuinely creep-out moments?
Drew: Well you hit the nail on the head. Frankly speaking this is not my scariest movie, but it is high on the fun factor and it’s just quirky and smart enough to appeal to fans. Even though we’re not going to win any awards for scaring anyone, we will very much entertain for two hours, and that was the goal. This is kind of Big Trouble in Little China in tone. Subtle, silly and smart with some crazy physical FX.
BaH: Luck of the Irish – your first made for TV feature film and you’ve got none other than Billy Zane and William Devane to work with. How was it working with these guys, who have such breadth and depth of experience both with super large budget productions, as well as small?
Drew: Those guys are both so awesome, seriously. What great guys. First time I met Bill Devane I said, “Knot’s Landing Schmott’s Landing, let’s talk ROLLING THUNDER, the best grindhouse film of all time.” He laughed and rolled his eyes and said I was as big a fanboy movie nerd as Tarrantino. I smiled and took that as a compliment. As a wrap gift, he left me “half” a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey. I looked at him and said, “Half? What the fuck?” and he said, “Yeah. Well, I drank the other half.” I laughed so hard I hurt. Then I drank the whiskey.
I strive to be as cool as Billy Zane. It’ll never happen, but I can try. He’s one cool cat. And a great sense of humor. He made the sheriff in this film hysterical, man. Here’s a small town sheriff cleaning up murder scenes where there’s gold coins that have been half eaten, disemboweled red necks… and there’s green blood spilled everywhere that looked like Nyquil. He had a lot of fun with the role and so did I.
BaH: Okay – so now that this one is a wrap, what’s on the horizon? I’m naturally assuming you’re working on some killer projects we don’t even know about?
Drew: Yeah, I have a very dark feature that’s more in my wheelhouse. A pretty horrific ghost story that I hope to be filming by the end of the year. There’s another thing that goes very soon, but it’s super secret and I can’t talk about it quite yet. It too is really creepy and dark. Enough fun monsters for a while, now back to feed my dark heart for a while.
BaH: Drew – thanks so much for taking the time out for this interview. As always it’s great to get the chance to chat with you and I’m totally excited to see this happen for you. Here’s hoping for much more to come!
Drew: Thank you too! Always fun talking to you and I’ll see you on the next one!