Interview With Directors Of ‘Ghosts Of The Ozarks,’ Jordan Wayne Long And Matt Glass

It’s always so much fun to interview a pair of filmmakers who are not only successful business partners, but are also best friends in the personal aspects of their lives. Director Matt Glass and director and writer Jordan Wayne Long, both of whom worked on the 2020 film, 12 Hour Shiftour review), spoke to us last week about their new film, Ghosts of the Ozarks, working together, why they love horror, and what’s up next.

PopHorror: Hey guys! I loved Ghosts of the Ozarks. The visuals are so stunning. I’m really excited to speak with you both today. 

Jordan Wayne Long: Thank you!

PopHorror: I read that this film started as a short and has evolved into this beautiful film. Jordan, what is it that inspired the story?

Jordan Wayne Long: Thanks! I grew up outside of the Ozark mountains, and there’s this group of vigilantes in the 1800s called the Bald Knobbers. I happen to grow up in a town called Bald Knob, but as a kid, I really thought that was right outside my door, so it was pretty terrifying for me. When we started looking at writing things, this really came about. Matt and I wrote the short film version, and that’s when we got Tara Perry and Thomas Hobson through the short film proof of concept. Once we brought them aboard and we shot it, we were like, “Hey, we have something here.” But it’s going to completely change because we love Tommy as James and we love Tara as Annie, so we took the story in a completely different direction. That’s how it came about.

PopHorror: And Matt, what is it that intrigued you about the story and made you want to be a part of it?

Matt Glass: For the feature film version, I think dealing with mystery and dealing with building that tension was a new thing for us, and I was really excited about toying with the audience in some way. And, of course, Jordan is my best friend, so wanting to make his story come to life as best I could as well. 

Jordan Wayne Long: We’ve worked on a lot of projects. We moved out to LA together in 2013. We’ve just been doing this on our own for a long time before we picked up Tara and the rest of the team. He’s always been so supportive of everything I’m writing, and I’m the same with what he does.

PopHorror: I love it so much that you guys are best friends. How long have you known each other?

Jordan Wayne Long: We met in graduate school in 2011, is that right?

Matt Glass: Ten.

Jordan Wayne Long: Ten, right. For photography. That’s where we started hanging out.

Matt Glass: I guess we’ve been working together for nine years this month.

PopHorror: Do you find that there are advantages with working with your best friend? What are some of the challenges of working together?

Matt Glass: I think the advantages are we just know each other enough that there are things that can happen on set such as eye contact, which can mean certain things because you know each other well enough to understand each other. 

Jordan Wayne Long: And for me, there’s nothing better than having a best friend that pushes as hard or harder than you. We have this thing where I start out as pre-production and get the train rolling. I built the town for this film. Whatever energy I put into that pre-production, Matt matches tenfold on the back-end. He handles our VFX, he’s our composer, he colors the film. We’re producers on the film, so there’s nothing better than showing the love by putting in that work, knowing that it’s going to be reciprocated and come out into the films that we make. It’s pretty awesome.

PopHorror: That’s so cool! You mentioned building the town. I read a review of the film—and I’m sorry that I didn’t catch the date that it was written—but they said that the set is still there in Arkansas?

Jordan Wayne Long: Yeah, we built it. We came in nine months before we filmed and my dad, our first AC, and assistant editor built the town with me, and it still stands. We built the production space for it as well. We were one of the first films up and running in Covid, so we had to do a lot of procedure stuff to lock things down and keep them tight. So yeah, it’s still there, ready.

PopHorror: What scene did you enjoy directing the most?

Matt Glass: You saw the film right?

PopHorror: Yes.

Matt Glass: I’m not going to do spoilers, but there’s a scene where someone gets injured and they burst into the bar, and everyone is like, “Oh no, what happened?” And they clear the bar and they’re doing procedures on the person. We had to shoot that entire scene in like an hour.

PopHorror: Oh, wow!

Matt Glass: It was intense. We just had the lighting crews set up the lights so it looked good from all angles, and then we ran around, got as many angles as we could and kept it as chaotic as possible to help with the feel of the film. Everyone was moving and felt the energy and it was definitely the most fun thing to shoot. It felt real. It felt like…

Jordan Wayne Long: Our documentary.

Matt Glass: Yeah, it felt like a documentary. Like I was really filming this procedure happening and people freaking out. It was great. It was at the end of one of the longest days we had.

PopHorror: Wow. An hour is not enough time.

Jordan Wayne Long: That’s indie filmmaking. Luck, preparation, meeting, and timing, and hopefully you’ve done enough for when things go chaotic or things go wrong. Then the trouble shoot ends up better than the original and what you’ve always hoped for. And that’s what you get. You saw the costumes on this. You saw the makeup and lighting. You saw all the jobs that everyone did. They just knocked it out of the park. You can’t beat having people like that around. It just keeps the energy up.

PopHorror: This is not your first venture into horror for either of you. What is it that draws you to the horror genre?

Jordan Wayne Long: For me, horror is a great allegory to talk about tough ideas and tough experiences, and it’s a safe place for their dangerous ideas to live. I find a lot of interest in telling stories that way.

Matt Glass: I agree with that. It’s sort of like the kid that’s afraid of needles and the doctor distracts him by pretending his hand is a monster and puts the needle in and the kid doesn’t notice he’s getting whatever the needle is.

Jordan Wayne Long: I like that. Our films are the needle.

Matt Glass: We’re stabbing people!

PopHorror: So what would be your weapon of choice in a zombie apocalypse?

Jordan Wayne Long: Wit. Your will to hash out a situation.

Matt Glass: I would be in trouble. I have nothing to offer that isn’t computer based or technology based.

PopHorror: What is up next for you both?

Jordan Wayne Long: We’re world builders, and so we’ve got a lot of ideas and things in motion right now. We’re working on a feature that Matt wrote called The Quiet Girl, which is a fantastical film about grief, and we’re in VR right now building those environments that we wanted to build in real life. So that’s what’s up.

PopHorror: I’m excited to see what you guys are working on. Just one last question for you both. What’s your favorite scary movie?

Matt Glass: I’ll do a couple. Dead Alive is probably my favorite slasher, monster-y zombie movie. But I always think, and this is a weird choice, that the first half of Close Encounters of the Third Kind is the best scary movie. The tension that’s in that movie before you know what’s coming and what’s really going on with all the weird alien abduction stuff and the kid. It’s just so weird and intense. I would like to have not seen it until I was in my 20s. And then the second half is different.

Jordan Wayne Long: I think for me, it would be a movie like The Thing, a cerebral horror, the way that it’s set up and the way it’s all about the characters and who they are. I love that. But I watch so many low-budget indie films like Trollhunter. It’s so good, and I love them because I know what it took to make it, and I know how inventive it was. Indie filmmakers using the budget they had, blasting it out of the water and coming up with interesting stuff. Anything like that always gets me.

Thank you so much, Matt and Jordan, for taking the time to speak with us. You can catch Ghosts of the Ozarks on digital and On Demand now!

About Tiffany Blem

Horror lover, dog mommy, book worm, EIC of PopHorror.

Check Also

Interview With AnnaLynne McCord, Star Of ‘Condition Of Return’

Note: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SGA-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor …