AR: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions regarding ‘The Gallows:Act II’. How did you guys first break-out into the buissness?
Chris: I am from Nebraska and I always knew I wanted to make movies. I made little sketches and even a couple indie features while in high school. After I graduated, I moved out to LA and attended the New York Film Academy in Burbank. When it came time to make my thesis film, my final film of the year, I wanted to do something ambitious. I wanted to make a superhero movie. But I had no money. And the school only provided the camera. But I had a classmate who was from the Fresno, California area and he said, “Go up to Fresno and you’ll get all your locations and permits for free.” And so I did. And sure enough, it was all free! I made my little comic book movie in Fresno and it turned out pretty cool for such a low cost. (Little did I know then that such a frugal model would become what would define Travis and myself in the industry) And through my thesis is how I met Travis. Travis, who was living in Fresno, auditioned for my student film as a stuntman.
Travis: That’s right, and before I met Chris, I had no training in film whatsoever. I had a band in college and am a very creative person but I was actually working in marketing and financial planning until the market tanked. I was out of a job and worse yet, I’d been screwed in a Ponzi scheme. I was in huge debt…married with a kid on the way…I was desperate. Until one day my wife and I saw a TV show on ABC called “WIPEOUT” – the obstacle course game show, with a grand prize of $50,000. And I thought…I could do that. I went down to LA and auditioned. I created a memorable character called “Super Shorts” and I was selected as an alternate! And when it came time for roll call, the first guy who was supposed to perform was a no-show, so…I was on! I ended up getting the best time and won my episode. Season 2, Episode 14 – Super Shorts Travis Cluff! From that experience I gained a huge appreciation for the production of it all – the lights, the film crew, the stunt crew, all of it – everyone was having such a blast…I thought…I gotta get into this. So when I heard about a film student coming up to film a thesis and he needed stuntmen, I said…”Well I’m a professional stuntman. I won Wipeout.”
Chris: We became friends, formed our company Tremendum Pictures, and our first movie together was THE GALLOWS, made for $100,000.
AR: What initially inspired you guys to make a movie centred around the spirit of ‘The Hangman’? Was it based upon an urban legend?
Chris: No, the Hangman actually spurred from two things: 1, we wanted to do something unique, something we hadn’t seen before and create a villain that was not only tangible like Freddy or Jason but also supernatural like Paranormal Activity. We wanted to make a NEW kind of horror icon.
Travis: And 2, our movie was about high school kids so naturally we wanted high school kids to see it. We wanted to ensure our film would get a PG-13 rating. We decided on a bad-guy who wasn’t chopping people up or slitting throats or anything gory. We thought…’a noose!’ It’s weird, scary, eerie…but no blood!
Chris: But then of course…we got the R-rating anyway. Everyone at New Line Cinema, Warner Bros, Blumhouse and ourselves most of all were completely baffled by the MPAA’s decision. To this day we still don’t know how or why either GALLOWS movies are considered ‘R’ but I guess it’s just ‘intense scariness…?’
Travis: Which is kind of a back-handed compliment.
Chris: Yeah…so…thanks, I guess? haha
AR: The first ‘Gallows’ was a found footage movie, was it always a plan to step away from that with the sequel?
Travis: Yes. Found Footage is incredibly difficult. We were very happy to go with a more traditional style on ACT II
AR: Working for the ever growing Blumhouse company, was the budget for the sequel increased at all from the first movie?
Chris: Yes but only slightly. All in all, THE GALLOWS ACT II was made VERY similarly to the first film. Very small, very outside the system. Very independently.
AR: I really enjoyed the movie, the twist at the end was unexpected. My only bit of puzzlement was ** SPOILER** the cult that was shown at the end, were they behind everything that happened or was ‘The Hangman’ actually present?
With watching Auna psychologically torture herself throughout its hard to interpret what we maybe seeing from her POV and what was actually happening …. Maybe I read too much into it and psychologically tortured myself haha.
Chris: Haha I think maybe you did! But glad you got so immersed in the story and enjoyed it. No we like to think that The Hangman was actually present for all of those moments we see him. His presence was simply invited. It’s almost as if all of these Charlie Challengers created a sort of ‘pact’ with Charlie – all of them working together to psychologically torture Auna – who is clearly vulnerable and able to be manipulated – pushing her to the edge to make that willing sacrifice.
Travis: To complete the show – complete the perfect Charlie Challenge.
AR: Out of all the jump scares in the movie, do you have a favourite?
Travis: One of my favorite moments (which isn’t really a jump scare but it’s definitely eerie) is when the sheet lands behind Lisa and wraps around the invisible Hangman. I personally did the VFX for that shot haha so I know how much work went into it and am really happy with how well it turned out.
Chris: That moment is really cool. I think my favorite jump scare is either when she pulls her phone away from the screen or when the lamp flies across the room and smashes against the wall. I think both of those are so unexpected – which are the best kind of jump scares I think.
AR: The big question is, will we get too see a third entry in the franchise?
Chris: A lot of people have been asking that! haha
Travis: No plans right now but man…every great play needs a 3rd Act right?
Chris: It would be awesome to have that opportunity. We’ll have to see how ACT II performs! We hope the fans enjoy it!
AR: If a sequel was green lit would you still carry on the cult side of the story?
Chris: Not sure, we may do something totally different, again. Maybe a prequel? Or the origins of this play…where did it come from? Where’d the Hangman originate? We don’t know, but those are questions we’d have fun answering.
AR: What does the future hold for you guys, have you any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
Travis: We have a slate of 5-6 movies that we are looking to get financed. Very excited about all of them. They are all in the horror-thriller genre. We also just shot a movie this past summer from an up and coming writer, Jill Awbrey. It was a contained thriller about a couple who become trapped in their vacation rental, currently titled HELD and it’s in post right now.
AR: What would be your top 5 go to horror films?
Chris: A Quiet Place, Halloween (original)
Travis: What Lies Beneath, Nightmare on Elm Street (original)
Chris: SPLIT (does that count as horror? haha)
AR: Thank you for your time!! I really enjoyed the movie and cannot wait to see what’s next for you guys!
Chris: Thanks! Glad you liked it and we’re excited to have more movies for you to check out soon!