As much as I love big, over-the-top horror flicks, the true art lies within the low-budget indie movies. The writers, actors, and directors aren’t smothered by the pressure of meeting Hollywood’s executive standards. They’re free to make the film they envision without boundaries. It is this reason that I enjoy director Chip Gubera’s film Slasher.com. The story is wild and crazy and the actors are having fun with it. You can tell that the film is a labor of love for everyone involved. I am beyond stoked that I was given the opportunity to have my first interview ever with Mr. Gubera.
PopHorror.com: Thanks for taking the time for this interview, Chip.
Chip Gubera: Hey man how are you doing? Thanks for doing the press.
PopHorror.com: No problem. I enjoyed the movie. I like the concept of [the twist]. Even though this isn’t based off a true story officially, did anything inspire the plot?
Chip Gubera: No, it actually started as a joke. The lead actor and I are best friends and we were working on a different movie that we had really spent a lot of time on. We had a great script but we couldn’t raise the funds needed since it was a sci-fi thing. But we did have some funds raised, so we were ready to go with something. So we started talking about movie ideas and we started talking about online dating. And we went to the extreme, like if this can happen or if that can happen. We started joking around with all these twists and stuff. So after we had talked and joked about it, I went home and started an outline. As I started on it I thought to myself: “This could work [chuckles], you know, with the budget we had raised so far.” So I got with Chelsea Andes, who is the official writer for the movie. We got together and started hammering out the script and she added her magic touches. It all happened really fast and kind of wrote itself.
PopHorror.com: Yeah, the storytelling seemed kind of organic.
Chip Gubera: Yeah and Chelsea added her feminine touch to it. We have nudity and gore in it, but it also kind of changes up the typical slasher film in that we have a guy running around the woods instead of a girl. And once [twist is revealed]. We also have this matriarch in the film…[more about the twist]. There is a female gaze throughout the film.
PopHorror.com: Speaking of which, Jewel Shepard, who plays Momma, was in Return of the Living Dead(1985). That film is set in my hometown of Louisville, KY, so I was excited to see her in this film. Did you have her in mind when you were writing that role?
Chip Gubera : Yeah, we had her in mind. She really helped develop her character. We spent hours on the phone discussing where we could go with Momma. The spoon [you’ll know when you see it] was actually her idea. We wanted to give something to her character. And Ben (Kaplan), the lead actor, they had done some jobs in L.A. so we figured “Why not? Let’s get her.” She really took it to the next level with that spoon.
PopHorror.com: Yeah the spoon really made my jaw drop! I was thinking, “Man, she’s out there.”
Chip Gubera : Yeah, it made it really creepy!
*We went into a discussion about the spoon, which is spoiler filled. We had a few good laughs about it.*
PopHorror.com: So what is it about horror films that draws you into the genre? What makes you want to make horror films?
Chip Gubera : I don’t know how much you’ve read about me, but I’ve directed about 5 or 6 features.
PopHorror.com: I think I read 5 on IMDb. And I know you’ve done dozens of shorts.
Chip Gubera : Yeah and they’re all horror based. And the documentary about my hometown in Joplin, MO [Joplin Missouri: A Tornado Story], which was about the tornadoes. I was actually nominated for an Emmy for that one, which was awesome!
PopHorror.com: Yeah that is awesome!
Chip Gubera: Yeah, man! The highlight of my career for sure. It was actually narrated by George Noory, who does Coast to Coast. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, but he’s a little out there.
PopHorror.com: That name sounds familiar.
Chip Gubera: He’s a radio show host, he talks about chupacabras and stuff like that. He’s a bit of a conspiracy theorist.
PopHorror.com: Well, I might have to check him out then because I am a little bit of a conspiracy theorist myself.
Chip Gubera: Yeah, check him out! With the documentary, I added some horror elements to it. To answer your question, I just love the feeling you get with horror films. I’ve loved them since I was a kid. They make you feel something. I have a visceral reaction with horror films. It scares you and makes you not want to sleep at night. When I was a high school I saw Evil Dead (1981) for the first time, and that is what made me want to be a filmmaker. Just the way they told the story physically. I read about it. They were using dollies they built out of 2 x 4’s and oil to slide the cameras around. It was just inspiring. It took the [horror] genre and made it a star. It was such unique storytelling and they did it with so little money, too. To me, I thought, “I think I can do this.” Because the horror genre is the star, people will want to see it because they love to be scared. It will make them jump or be scared to go to sleep at night. It evokes a lot of emotion. And that’s what I love about horror.
PopHorror.com: Yeah, that’s very well said. I’m sitting here thinking, “That’s me! That’s me for sure.”
Chip Gubera: Yeah, man, and forgive me if I’m rambling or not making sense. I’m a little hung over and haven’t had much sleep [laughs].
PopHorror.com: Well, you don’t sound hungover. If I’m hung over, you can tell.
Chip Gubera: [laughs]
PopHorror.com: And I’ll probably be hung over tomorrow so I’m happy to get this out of the way now [we both laugh]. I know it may be a difficult question for some, but what is your hands-down favorite horror film? I’ve always wanted to ask a filmmaker that.
Chip Gubera: Well, actually that’s an easy one. For me, hands down it’s Evil Dead (1981). It’s inspiring to me. You know, it’s a brilliantly made film and it launched the careers of Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi. Other films have tried to recreate that magic. With that said, I love a lot of films. Zombie films. I actually directed a zombie musical called Song of the Dead in 2004, my first feature actually. So yeah, I love zombie films. Ah man, the George Romero films. Fantastic! Day of the Dead (1985), Dawn of the Dead (1978)… they’re all great.
PopHorror.com: Absolutely. Night of the Living Dead, I really appreciate that film because it not only set the bar for future zombie flicks, but it set other precedents as well, as far as racial tensions taking place at that time. Having a black male lead back then was a huge deal.
Chip Gubera: Yeah, and that film was the first one to really bring the idea of zombies out. We had zombies before, but more of a mind control type of deal going on. Bringing this whole thing of zombies are the public; they are us. It’s a political metaphor. And my Song of the Dead also sets a political statement, a post-9/11 thing with it. With all of my films, I try to set a cultural or political statement. With Slasher.com, it’s a social commentary about online dating and the dangers of it. How scary it is just meeting people anonymously and how they could be completely different than how they were online.
PopHorror.com: Totally, that’s well put. And I think that’s important with all films, not just horror, to have a deeper message within. Not just,”Here’s the gore and the nudity, have fun.” Something the audience can connect with. Is there anyone you’d like to work with in the future?
Chip Gubera: Well, yeah there are a lot of people I’d like to work with. R.A. [Mihailoff], who is in the film, became a good friend of mine. He introduced me to Kane Hodder. We actually wanted him for Slasher.com, but with our budget, we couldn’t afford him. But he was a really nice guy when I met Kane. Great guy.
PopHorror.com: Yeah, I’ve met him as well. He was at a local convention of mine and took a picture with me. Awesome dude.
Chip Gubera: Definitely. I’d also like to work with Sam Raimi or Bruce Campbell. They would be a blast. Someone else I really like is Chris Pratt.
PopHorror.com: I want to have a beer with Chris Pratt. He just seems like the coolest guy ever.
Chip Gubera: I know, right?? He doesn’t take himself too seriously and he can use that to really take command of a role. There’s a lot of great actors out there right now. The way I like to work with actors is much how I described working with Jewel. We have the script, we talk about the characters. I like them to work on the actor and let them do their job and I just get out of the way. And I’d like to work with R.A. again, that man is just awesome.
PopHorror.com: I really liked him in Slasher.com. Crazy and a really great character.
Chip Gubera: Yeah, he’s like the long lost brother I never had. He’s just great.
PopHorror.com: I think that’s awesome when the cast and crew all get along, I feel it makes the film better. I’m an aspiring writer myself and hope to make a film soon, I just hope that I’m lucky enough to have fun with the people I work with.
Chip Gubera: Well, yeah, it’s low budget horror, which is what I troll in, and it’s like war. You’re in the trenches working hard to get this film made and everyone involved becomes like a close-knit community. So you’re just in the trenches, rolling around, hot summer heat [laughs] rolling around on the ground trying to get the right take.
*We talked for a brief moment about my small bit of experience in filmmaking.*
PopHorror.com: Having said that, what advice would you give to an aspiring filmmaker such as myself?
Chip Gubera: Yeah, absolutely man! The biggest difference between someone saying they’re a filmmaker and actually being a filmmaker is making a film, right? And anyone can do it nowadays. Gosh, when I started doing this, we had to use film, which was expensive and hard. Then we went to video, which was still hard and we had all this machinery. Now you buy a computer and you can download any type of filmmaking software. There are some relatively cheap ones to download. Your damn cellphone shoots in HD! It’s so accessible. Have the story, the script, and just make a film and get your experience. You don’t have to go to a fancy film school; you can and it’s great for networking and resume building. But my advice to any aspiring filmmaker is to just make a film.
PopHorror.com: Pretty straight forward, I like it! It has been a real joy talking with you, man.
Chip Gubera: Thanks for talking, man, appreciate the early press. I know it’s tough trying to get access to stuff before it hits the public.
PopHorror.com: Actually this was my first time pre-screening anything. A lot of firsts for me so I really appreciate the opportunity.
Chip Gubera: Well, you did a great job, and good luck to you and your writing, man.
PopHorror.com: Thank you, and I hope you feel better with your hang over! [we both laugh]
Chip Gubera is truly an awesome guy. I had a blast talking with him and I definitely look forward to more of his work. I plan on checking out Song of the Dead very soon as well. Chip hopes to get his new film out to as many conventions as he can, and we at PopHorror plan on helping with that endeavor. Slasher.com will be coming out to the public later this year.