{EXCLUSIVE} Interview With ‘Massacre On Aisle 12’s Chad Ridgely On New Project, ‘Self-Isolated’

In the indie horror world, Chad Ridgely (Massacre On Aisle 12 2016 – read our review here) is a man I admire. Not only does this multi-talented actor/director/producer/writer involve himself in one of my favorite subgenres—horror comedies—he also comes up with his own unique ideas and doesn’t rest until he gets them to a viewing audience. His filmmaking talent is second only to his humble yet uplifting personality. I was honored with the chance to talk with him recently about his upcoming project, Self Isolated, and even sent along some never-before-seen stills from the film!

PopHorror: Hello again, Chad! Thanks so much for speaking with us.

Chad Ridgely: Thank you! I love PopHorror, so it’s wonderful to be here.

PopHorror: Thank you! We’re pretty big fans of you, too. We’re excited to hear about Self Isolated. Can you tell us what it’s about?

Chad Ridgely: Of course! Self Isolated is a horror/thriller that takes place under the backdrop of a global pandemic and follows the story of a woman who awakens from a coma to find her caretaker husband has gone missing. She’s got no recollection of past events, so she embarks on a search for clues that ends up leading her to a neighbor who may have something to hide. In fact, he does have something to hide. There’s some twists, of course, and a lot of tension and scares. And, although the story happens during the pandemic, it’s not about the pandemic. Instead, it focuses more on how the characters cope with being totally isolated from everything and everyone, and how that isolation can eat away at some people and really bring out the evil inside. It’s quite a thrill ride.

Self Isolated
Still from Self Isolated

PopHorror: I can’t wait to see it! What inspired you to write the script for Self Isolated?

Chad Ridgely: Being stuck inside during quarantine was the real inspiration for me. I decided that, instead of eating everything in my fridge, I’d satiate my hunger to be creative instead, and I did that by writing a script that reflected all the uncertainty of being isolated in a city under lockdown. I wanted to create a story that captured all the tension that everyone is feeling right now, and the apprehension of not knowing what’s coming next.

And I thought, “Wow, imagine if you were waking up to this pandemic as your reality without even knowing what caused it.” I mean, you and I are waking up to it every day, but at least we have some idea of how we got here. But for someone else waking up alone from a coma, with the world in a crisis and entire cities quarantined, how unnerving would that be? So, with that as the foundation of the story, and then to layer a horror thriller on top of that, to me, was the perfect basis for Self Isolated.

Self Isolated, Maggie Mayfield, Chad Ridgely
Still from Self Isolated with Chad Ridgely and Maggi Mayfield

PopHorror: You wrote and directed the film. Who else is involved in this project?

Chad Ridgely: I’m co-starring in the film alongside Maggi Mayfield [Vegas Is Calling 2019], who is also co-producing the film with me. She and I have worked together on a number of other projects, and I thought she’d be perfect to play Susan, our main character. Maggi brings a certain calmness to the role, which is a nice contrast to the chaos that is unfolding around her. At the same time, she has this inner strength that, when circumstances demand it, manifests into a very powerful force to be reckoned with. She reminds me a lot of Sigourney Weaver in Alien [1979]: Smart, beautiful, compassionate, and stronger than you realize.

Doug Burch is in the film as our antagonist. I worked with him on Massacre on Aisle 12, and he did such an outstanding job as our villain, Mr. Kipper, that when I wrote Self Isolated, I actually wrote the part of Walter for him. I knew he would bring that certain mystique that will keep audiences second guessing his intentions. Like, is he just really odd or just really creepy? Should I be concerned? Is he hiding something? And the answer is yes, to all of it, and then some! Doug is an amazing actor, and I can’t wait for everyone to see his performance. He really brings it! He’s such a true professional. He had so many stunts, and he nailed it every take. He’s fantastic.

Self Isolated, Doug Burch
Doug Burch in Self Isolated

We’ve got Rachel Alig [The Cleaning Lady 2019 – read the PopHorror review here], another veteran horror actress who is outstanding and so in touch with her emotions. Her ability to tap into what’s required for a scene is superb. We’ve also got Joan Reagan, Yvonne Miranda [The Bold and the Beautiful TV series], Marc Sylwestrzak [Fix 2018], and Shaun Fury [Apples To Affleck 2019], who are all super talented actors in their own right. And our cinematographer, Justin Aguirre [Los Angeles 2020], has captured some truly beautiful images for our film.

PopHorror: If these stills are his handiwork, then I can totally agree that he’s captured some gorgeous stuff. How did filming go?

Chad Ridgely: It went great! We wrapped principal photography just recently and are super excited about the way the picture looks. We’re into the edit now and hope to have post-production complete in the next few months. Brooke deRosa is composing the original score for the film. She’s created the music in all of my previous films, including Massacre on Aisle 12 and 6:66 PM [read the PopHorror review here], so I’m thrilled to be collaborating with her again on Self Isolated.

“Being able to make movies is a gift, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to do so on any scale. And with the right people, it’s truly magical.”

PopHorror: How was filming this project different from any others?

Chad Ridgely: Shooting Self Isolated was unique in that we filmed it right in the window of time when LA was just re-opening, and before the city began to close down again. We utilized a very small crew, obtained Safe Sets certifications, practiced social distancing, took daily temperature checks, wore masks, used lots of sanitizer, and adhered to Covid-19 set safety guidelines. There were lots of additional steps for safety, and a lot of long, intense shooting days, but we had an exceptional team that came together to face the challenges of making a film in this new environment. And, we finished strong.

I am incredibly proud of our filmmaking family. I think that, coming from a world of independent filmmaking, we were already accustomed to a small cast and crew, so using an even smaller team wasn’t as big of an adjustment for us as it might be for folks used to working on large studio productions.

Self Isolated, Maggi Mayfield
Still from Self Isolated with Maggi Mayfield

PopHorror: Massacre on Aisle 12 is one of my favorite horror comedies ever. Do you have any fun behind-the-scenes stories?

Chad Ridgely: It’s one of my favorites, too! And it seems to be turning into a bit of a Christmas horror comedy classic, which we are just thrilled about. It really was an amazingly fun time making that movie. We had so many laughs on set. We even have a hilarious outtake reel on the DVDs special features that’s 12 minutes long—a minute of bloopers for every aisle!—which fans of the film will definitely enjoy.

There is a funny story I can share with you. The hardware store we were filming in was this great big, one hundred-year-old building in Savannah, Georgia. The building was 4 stories tall and basically took up the whole block. Over the last century as other stores on the block went out of business, they just got absorbed by this hardware store, so it was lots of different places all connected by winding hallways and hidden access points. It was very dark and creepy, especially at night … and we were filming during the nighttime. The owners only let us use half the power in the building, so pretty much everywhere that wasn’t lit for filming was completely dark.

It was just us in there, too, so every time we’d hear a noise, we’d think there was something lurking around in the darkness. Then people started saying they thought they saw someone in the shadows. They’d catch a glimpse of a figure out of the corner of their eye, then when they’d turn to look, it would dart off. We got scared and went to look around but we never found anyone. We were convinced there was a ghost in there, and nobody wanted to walk alone anywhere in the building.

Finally, on the last day of filming, we found out there was a foreign exchange student living in the building. The owners never told us about him, and they also didn’t tell him we were shooting a horror movie in there. He just kept hearing chainsaws and people screaming and assumed the worst. Apparently, he eventually called the owner to report a murder because of all the killing we were doing, and he was terrified to leave his room. Poor kid. We were at least relieved to know it wasn’t a ghost.

Massacre on Aisle 12
Things are certainly shocking on the set of Massacre On Aisle 12

PopHorror: (laughs) That story sounds like its own horror movie! Tell me about Full Auto Films.

Chad Ridgely: I started Full Auto Films in 2003 when I lived in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Originally, I was producing local TV commercials, training videos and industrial films, with the goal of progressing into making features. Once I got to Los Angeles, the focus turned to short films, sketch comedy productions, and now features. It’s been a journey of faith and endurance filled with learning on the fly and adapting to a constantly changing film market and new technologies, but I’m really proud of the results. My first two features, Massacre on Aisle 12 and 6:66 PM, both won Best Comedy Feature at Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival in New York, and are now widely available on DVD and all the VOD platforms. They both continue to grow their audience. For Self Isolated, we’ve teamed up with MMMade It Media and are very excited to see what the future brings.

Self Isolated, Chad Ridgely
Still from Self Isolated with Chad Ridgely

PopHorror: We’ve reported on your other upcoming projects, Weedjies:Halloweed Night and Murder Van. Have there been any updates on when they will be released?

Chad Ridgely: Murder Van was all set to start filming in April, but the shutdown in California abruptly put the brakes on that for now. We have an amazing cast and crew lined up, awesome locations and a very rad van that’s been custom outfitted for the movie. I’m excited to direct such a talented group of people and work with the fantastic team we’ve assembled. We just need California to open up a bit more, as our locations require the restrictions to be lifted. We’ve also got a larger cast and crew than Self Isolated, and many of them are going to be flying in from around the country to film, so we need to ensure that they have enough time to prep and make travel arrangements. I’m very excited to get the Murder Van rolling, so to speak, as it is one hell of a horror thrill ride that combines elements of Saw and Split into one film.

Weedjies: Halloweed Night has been released and is available on the Full Moon Features channel on Amazon. It’s a hilarious horror comedy from Charles Band [The GingerDead Man 2005 – read the PopHorror retro review here] and directed by Danny Draven [Danny Draven’s Horror Vault TV series] that is an amazing throwback to the 1980s style of horror films. It’s essentially Ghoulies Go To Vegas, and was a wonderful and fun project to work on. Danny is an outstanding director and he pulled out all the stops in bringing the Weedjies to life. The soundtrack from Jojo Draven [Ghost Month 2009] rocks, too!

PopHorror: You seem to be drawn to horror movies. What is your favorite subgenre in horror?

Chad Ridgely: Comedy horror, for sure. Having made two of those already, you probably suspected that would be my answer. But as a comedian myself, I can’t help but enjoy laughing or making people laugh, and watching a good comedy horror is one of my favorite ways to unwind on the sofa with some homemade popcorn. Tucker and Dale vs Evil [2010 – read the PopHorror retro review here], Tremors [1990 – read the PopHorror retro review here], and Young Frankenstein [1974] are a few of the comedy horror films I love to watch on repeat. Although my very close runner up subgenre would have to be science fiction horror. I almost enjoy that just as much. It just depends on whether I feel like laughing or being scared.

Still from Self Isolated with Chad Ridgely

PopHorror: As you know, I LOVE horror comedies. What’s your favorite horror movie? And no, you can’t pick your own.

Chad Ridgely: (laughs) Well, my own are all inspired in some way by my favorite horror films, so it will be hard to pick just one. But, I already mentioned it—Alien [read the PopHorror retro review here]. It’s a masterpiece of a film that still keeps me on the edge of my seat. Ridley Scott did such an outstanding job with the movie, and I adore the interplay between the characters.

James Cameron’s Aliens [1986 – read the PopHorror retro review here] is a close second. That movie is so intense! I still remember watching it in the theater for the first time with my dad and just being absolutely blown away. I couldn’t wait to go see it again. Which I did, many times. Not only are both of those excellent films by two amazing directors, they truly inspired me to become a filmmaker myself. Watching those great filmmakers at work continually motivates me to keep enhancing my craft and upping my filmmaking game. Being able to make movies is a gift, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to do so on any scale. And with the right people, it’s truly magical.

Be sure to check out the Self Isolated Facebook page for up to date info on the film. As soon as we hear more, we’ll let you know!

Self Isolated, Chad Ridgely, Maggi Mayfield
Still from Self Isolated with Maggi Mayfield and Chad Ridgely

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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