AICN HORROR: Ambush Bug jams with Slash and director Anthony Leonardi III about Slasher Films’ NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR!
Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. This time around I got to meet one of my idols, the legendary guitarist Slash! If you were to tell my red-mulletted 18 year old self back in the day that I’d be talking with Slash, I would have never believed you in a million years. Slash has put together a production company called Slasher Films and their first release NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR is out now in select theaters and available on DVD and Video On Demand this week! Here’s what Slash and NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR’s director Anthony Leonardi III had to say about the film!
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Hi, guys--how are you doing today?
ANTHONY LEONARDI III (AL): Hey, how’s it going?
BUG: Great! So I’m talking with Slash and Anthony Leonardi III. So I wanted to talk about the film, and also, Slash, I’m a huge fan. Actually, the day after I graduated high school back in ‘91 you played Buckeye Lake in Ohio, and I got to see that concert. It was one of the best concerts I have ever seen, so it’s really an honor to talk with you today.
SLASH: Cool. That’s awesome. I actually know that venue. I think that’s probably the only time that we played there, so I remember that gig.
BUG: Yeah, it was a great show. So let’s talk about this film. This is a new thing for you, Slash. What made you want to get into the business of making movies?
SLASH: Well, I’ve been a horror fan for as long as I can remember, and it evolved with a conversation with another producer about horror a few years ago. He gave me the opportunity to actually produce, and at that point we started looking at scripts before focusing on this particular script and then it just started from there.
BUG: How far down the line did Anthony come in to play here with this film in particular?
SLASH: Well, Anthony was probably the first real decision that we made. I think really the milestone from my becoming a producer was announcing Slasher Films to the public at Sundance a few years back, taking a lot of interviews and meetings about that. The next thing was picking out the story of…and we wanted more interviews with horror directors and were really inspired by Anthony, who created a professional reel. As a director who made that model, we took it from there.
BUG: Fantastic. So Anthony, what’s your approach to filmmaking? What’s your background?
AL: Man, I have a bizarre background. I grew up in the film industry. I’m actually fourth generation as my grandparents were painters for the studio back on, like, WIZARD OF OZ and all the MGM movies. My dad’s a standby painter, so I kind of grew up on set. That was my film school, and so growing up on set I found a lot of work on different movies and as I was getting my first film off the ground, that’s when the writer’s strike hit, and I was lucky enough that Gore Verbinski has been a mentor. He took me in and I started storyboarding for him while I was trying to get my next feature off the ground. So in that time I’ve storyboarded a ton of movies for him and have done a bunch of different kinds of work just honing my craft. This is the first feature that we finally got off the ground.
BUG: Great. So for those who haven’t heard about the film yet, how would you describe it? What’s your elevator pitch for the film?
SLASH: An elevator pitch? Like a one liner?
BUG: Yeah, just a one liner.
AL: I don’t have a practiced one, but I have one that when I came in to meet him for the movie, because we had a script by then…for a horror movie, I think the simpler the better, and for me it was more about a family that moves to a town, then finds out they shouldn’t have moved there. I mean, that’s the simplest version of what this movie could be.
BUG: Okay, and unfortunately I haven’t been able to see it yet, but I hope to see it very soon. So from what I see, there’s a lot of supernatural elements that go into this one?
SLASH: Yeah, there’s a bit. What we tried to do is we tried to go left when we were supposed to go right with it and the horror genre. This was kind of based out of our love for more of the era of the Seventies. We didn’t try and intentionally make a movie from that era, but just more that storytelling and trying to make more of a movie that turns into a horror movie, something like Shirley Jackson’s THE LOTTERY, like short stories like that, old TWILIGHT ZONE stuff where it was much more along those lines than just a slasher movie.
BUG: So for both of you guys, what made this the first movie you guys wanted to debut for Slasher Films?
SLASH: Well, I mean, I looked at a lot of different scripts when this all first started and as a producer, the thing that turned me on to become a producer was to try to bring back a sense of storytelling and character development and so on to horror movies. That was really my goal. If I’m going to be a producer, I’m going to try and recreate what I thought was interesting about horror movies from when I was a kid, to me what movies are all about. So when I was looking at all of these scripts, they were all exactly like what I didn’t want to do, and then there was a small handful of scripts that I thought were actually pretty good, and narrowed it down to NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR, because it was free and clear, because it’s very visual, it involves a family and this small rural American setting and then the gateway to hell and the pastor being sort of the gatekeeper. It just seemed like a unique story.
BUG: I see, Slash, that you recorded a song for this movie. What’s the song like? Is it available for download yet?
SLASH: It’s not available for download yet. You can actually buy it, I think, on Pledge if you wanted to. And Miles and I are actually going to perform it on Conan tomorrow.
BUG: Oh, really? Very cool. I love it when you make an appearance on that show. You have a great rapport with Conan. So Slash, as far as the filmmaking is concerned, you would think that you wouldn’t have a lot of experience with that, but then again you’ve been in some pretty big music videos in the past. Was there anything from those videos that you were in that you were able to take into Slasher Films?
SLASH: Absolutely nothing.
SLASH: Honestly, I really always hated making videos, and when it came down to it I would just write my part, the rest I would just stay away from as far as possible and I didn’t get involved. So there was really nothing there I can think of.
BUG: So what is it about the horror genre that attracted you to horror films? Have you been a fan of horror for long?
SLASH: Yeah, I’ve been a fan forever. I mean, in all honesty, I think it’s something that just spoke to my innate personality, like as far back as I can remember I was always into monsters, anything dark and creepy. Halloween, scary movies, all that kind of stuff just sort of came with the territory.
BUG: How about you, Anthony? Are you a fan of horror films?
AL: Yeah. I’m just a fan of film in general, but horror especially and especially Seventies horror and older horror from the Sixties that had an effect on me when I was young. I grew up in Burbank, in the suburbs. I think horror is an escape for any kid, and it’s just something that when I was starting to find my first feature, I had been reading a lot of projects and this one I thought was very affective.
BUG: Slash, as far as the soundtrack or just the scoring of this film is concerned, were you involved in any of that other than the song you recorded for the film?
SLASH: I co-wrote the score with Nicholas O’Toole, who was the main scoring composer and sound designer for the film. I say that he did all of the work, because it’s all very orchestral. There’s a lot of depth to the score and he really is responsible for all of that. But I wrote stuff which he did an orchestral interpretation of, and so it’s throughout the movie like that.
AL: Slash was involved with the score from our first meeting, when he met me to become the director. Early on I would send him, once I was brought on this project I started doing paintings and different conceptual art and storyboards to send him while he was travelling, and he would start coming up with themes for the movie. So over the whole process from pre-production and production, the themes were being built rather than having the composer come in at the very end.
BUG: That’s something that doesn’t really get talked about in horror films, but you think about HALLOWEEN and you think about NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. and FRIDAY THE 13TH and all of those films, they all have that…you know what type of movie it is just by the music that goes into that. What tone were you going for with the music for this film?
SLASH: I don’t know if there’s a good description I have for it. It was really on a musical level where we were inspired by the script and his storyboards and factoring that vibe and just going along with it. So there’s not like a conscious “Okay, we are going to have this kind of…” One thing we did know is it was going to have more rock and roll or guitar treatments in the score. We knew that we wanted it to be orchestral. We wanted to have something that really spoke to the story and spoke to the characters and just sort of go for that. It’s not really a focused thing. The score was more of an organic process where it felt right.
BUG: Very cool. So as far as NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR, when can people see the film? When is it coming out?
SLASH: It will be out in select theaters October 4th here in the States and then it comes out on DVD on the 6th and VOD on the 8th.
BUG: Awesome. What’s next for you guys? What’s next for Slasher, and also personal projects that you are doing?
SLASH: Well, really we are talking about just trying to find a really great original story that speaks to us on all different levels and trying to pursue it. That’s my idea…that’s where we find the hardest part. There’s so much stuff out there that’s not what we are looking for.
BUG: Anthony, how about you?
AL: You know, I have a couple of projects I’m looking at at the moment that are kind of top secret, and then we’re looking for stuff. It’s been such a whirlwind, now I’m just starting to find a new project and find the right story that attracts me.
BUG: Slash, how about music-wise? What’s coming up for you?
SLASH: It’s been a little heinous with all of this stuff that we are talking about. I’m just about to go into pre-production next month right after the film release for the next Slash record.
BUG: Awesome. Very cool, and I can’t wait to check out this film. It seems like it’s a really cool one, so best of luck with it and thanks a lot for talking with me today.
AL: Thank you.
SLASH: Thanks for talking to us.
BUG: Thanks, guys.
Like they said, NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR is in select theaters now and available on DVD and Video on Demand today too! I hope to be reviewing it soon on AICN HORROR. Find out more about the film on it’s Facebook page here and you can order the soundtrack to the film here!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 4. Mark’s written comics such as THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, DEATHSPORT GAMES, NANNY & HANK (soon to be a feature film from Uptown 6 Films), Zenescope’sGRIMM FAIRY TALES Vol.13 & UNLEASHED: WEREWOLVES – THE HUNGER and a chapter in Black Mask Studios’OCCUPY COMICS. FAMOUS MONSTERS’ LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (co-written with Martin Fisher) will be available soon in trade. Mark also wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK and its follow up THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
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