Interview Of Randy Ser, Director OF ‘Cruiser’ And ‘Darkman’ Production Designer

Randy Ser has a new horror flick out called Cruiser, starring Matt Bauman, Brandon Carroll, Michael H. Cole, which is now available on all VOD sites, including Amazon. In addition to Cruiser, Ser has been production designer for projects like My Name Is Earl, The Mighty Ducks, The Middle, and Sam Raimi’s Darkman (read our retro review here). There’s a pretty good chance that you’ve seen his work, so we figured, why not ask him a few things about it?

PopHorror: What can you tell audiences about Cruiser that might not have seen it yet?

Randy Ser: Cruiser is going to challenge their assumptions, about what he is and what motivates him. Their deeply held beliefs may be called into question as they experience the inescapable terror that Cruiser unleashes on a small town where nothing bad ever happens.

Cruiser
Randy Ser’s ‘Cruiser’ looks pretty fierce!

PopHorror: It seems like directing might be harder, but are their aspects of production design that are equally challenging?

Randy Ser: Both practices are predicated on telling a story visually. As a production designer, I take into account the director’s vision and interpret that through my mind’s eye so as to develop a world in which the script can come to life. Directing and design have some similar production requirements that must be factored into the decisions needed to come to terms with a realistic end goal that can be achieved.

Though there are always a number of different elements to take into account, time and/or money will most likely enter into the equation. The two jobs require a lot of juggling in varied capacities to find creatively satisfying solutions to keep the scales of Show Business balanced.

The Majesty of Darkman

PopHorror: Darkman was sort of an early dark superhero movie. Do you think it had an impact on future superhero films? I know I had at least one Darkman comic when I was a kid.

Randy Ser: I believe that Darkman brought to the cinema its first horror superhero. It also set a unique tone in that superhero movies that would come after it didn’t necessarily need to wrap up the protagonist or the story in a tidy bow happy ever after ending.

As a side note, I hope you still have that Darkman comic book. I have my copy of Fangoria #96 from September 1990, which featured Darkman on the cover. August 24, 2020, was the 30th anniversary of the release of Darkman. As fate would have it, Cruiser had its streaming release one day later.

Darkman
Sam Raimi’s ‘Darkman,’ where Randy Ser worked on production design.

PopHorror:  What are your favorite horror movies?

Randy Ser: I have quite a few, but the two that I most often return to are The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby.

PopHorror: Are you working on any new projects?

Randy Ser: Most recently I art directed a remake of The Fugitive starring Kiefer Sutherland, which is now streaming on Quibi. Also, I second unit directed the motocross race sequences for Bennett’s War. The film is currently available for viewing on Netflix. Sam Hensley, Jr., the writer of Cruiser and my producing partner, and I have several new projects we are developing.

Trends and Hobbies

PopHorror: What are the best trends in movies/TV right now?

Randy Ser: I believe that with the advent and growth of streaming and VOD many movies that otherwise would never have an opportunity to be seen by an audience may now have an avenue by which to be made widely available. This is an exciting advent for filmmakers as well as for lovers of the art of the cinema. I am delighted that TV has evolved as a realm for the appreciation of the written word and artistry in storytelling.

PopHorror: What are the worst trends in movies/TV right now?

Randy Ser: As far as movies are concerned, I would like to see fewer remakes being greenlit. I feel strongly that more effort should be used to give life to the many great stories yet to be told. Considering the almost unlimited viewing options for television today, I would like shows to be given a bit more of an opportunity to have an audience find them prior to being canceled.

PopHorror: What are the trickiest scenes to get right? Action scenes, emotional ones, scary ones, etc.

Randy Ser: In my opinion, it is the emotional scenes. These sequences rely on staying with the truth in the moment. One can’t use editing as freely to do sleight of hand manipulation to bring verisimilitude to a scene. It takes strong performances and nuanced direction.

PopHorror: Do you have any advice for first-time directors?

Randy Ser: First and foremost, find a story that you know must be told. Secondly, be faithful to the vision you have in your mind’s eye.

PopHorror: What are some other things you’re interested in? Music, gardening, philosophy, etc.

Randy Ser: I have been a drummer since I was twelve years old, so music is a passion for me. I spend a good deal of time in the garden as it affords a peaceful environment in which to create beauty in concert with our planet. Also, for the past six years or so I have been an avid Spartan racer. These are obstacle course races that vary in length from 3.5 miles to 13 miles encompassing 20 to 30 or more obstacles throughout the course.

PopHorror would like to thank Randy Ser for taking the time to answer our questions!

About wadewainio

Wade is a wannabe artist and musician (operating under the moniker Grandpa Helicopter), and an occasional radio DJ for WMTU 91.9 FM Houghton. He is an occasional writer for Undead Walking, and also makes up various blogs of his own. He even has a few books in the works. Then again, doesn't everyone?

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