It may have been 10 years since his full-feature debut release of Blood Night: The Legend Of Mary Hatchet, but Director Frank Sabatella has not lost his passion for horror. Drawing from influences such as Tom Holland’s Fright Night (1985), Near Dark (1987) and the angst-filled horror of Deadgirl (2008), Frank puts an edgy spin on a classic monster in his soon-to-be released vampire flick, The Shed. We recently caught up with the filmmaker to discuss the genre, his latest production and more!
PopHorror: Hi, Frank! Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.
Frank Sabatella: My pleasure!
PopHorror: So, to start, are you now and have you always been a horror fan?
Frank Sabatella: Yes, I am! Totally. I grew up on horror from early childhood.
PopHorror: When did you decide to pursue a career in film?
Frank Sabatella: I was in my late teens after high school when I started to think that it was something I could really do. Then I went to college, but not initially for film. I think it was towards the end of my second year of college when I decided to go to film school and start doing it for real. I wanted to work in a creative field. I was already doing photography and design for a couple of different companies, and I reached a moment to where I just wanted to do what I wanted to do.
PopHorror: I’m glad you decided to follow your passion! Your most recent film, The Shed, is a vampire flick. Are there any classic vampire horror features that directly influenced the film?
Frank Sabatella: As far as vampire films, I think what most directly influenced it was The Lost Boys, Fright Night and Near Dark. Those are classic ’80s vampire films that really influenced the vampire aspect of The Shed.
PopHorror: I can definitely see that for sure! Were there any other influences that went into making The Shed?
Frank Sabatella: Oh, definitely! A film called River’s Edge (1986), which isn’t a horror film, had some influence. It’s a film that revolves around the misfit, neglected and disaffected youth of that time period. That type of a person is always something I’m fascinated with and that had a heavy influence on the types of characters and how their decisions were made in The Shed.
PopHorror: I’m not exactly sure why, but for some reason, the film Deadgirl came to mind when I saw The Shed the other night. Was that another influence for the film?
Frank Sabatella: Oh, totally! I love that film, and I would definitely site that as an influence. And I’ll even take that as a compliment!
PopHorror: What was the biggest challenge in making The Shed?
Frank Sabatella: The biggest challenge we had was the short, limited shooting schedule. We had so much coverage in the film. There’s a lot of stunts, effects and some pretty intense, dramatic moments between the characters. And we didn’t have much time for rehearsal. So, their performances had to be sharp with very little rehearsal. Quite a bit of it was doing a script run-through the same day of shooting. We were also working with animals, which takes up quite a bit of time as well. Everything you can possibly do to take up quite a bit of time on set, we were doing … (both laugh) despite the short amount of time we had for production. Shooting all of that while still maintaining the integrity of the picture was definitely a challenge.
PopHorror: How long was the shoot?
Frank Sabatella: We had 17 days that were spread over the span of about a month. I think we shot six days on, two days off, five days on, two days off and then six days on. And we snuck in some B-roll stuff on the weekends. Just me and my cinematographer running around with a camera to pick up whatever little extra things we could without the crew.
PopHorror: What did you like most about filming this production?
Frank Sabatella: I think what I liked most was the energy of everyone involved in the project and everyone’s willingness to work so hard on such a tight schedule. Every day was intense, and we were constantly against the clock. Tensions can very easily run high on set, which they did. But as soon as we wrapped and went back to the hotel, everyone was best friends again. We’d all have dinner together and some drinks at night. It was just a really good feeling around the work that we were doing.
And, for me, that was the best part. We were all strangers! None of us had ever worked together. But everyone was really cool and really into the project, and within the first couple of days of shooting, we all became really tight really fast.
PopHorror: That sounds like a great experience! Are there any funny stories or memories from production?
Frank Sabatella: I think one of my favorite funny moments is when we were shooting the scene where Jay Jay Warren’s character, Stan, runs into the kitchen, and he’s about to dial the sheriff. Now, it was an old rotary phone. Jay Jay, being 17 years-old at the time, didn’t know how to work a rotary phone, and we didn’t know that until started filming. (both laugh) So, he ran into the kitchen, picked up the phone and started pressing the circles as if there were buttons. We were wondering what he was doing! (laughs) And then we realized that he didn’t know how to dial a rotary phone. We all had a really great laugh about that and pretty much made fun of him for it during the rest of the shoot. (both laugh) It was the sign of the times and it made me feel kind of old!
PopHorror: That’s hilarious! (laughs) And with everyone relying so much on cell phones nowadays, it makes sense. You now have experience on many sides of the filmmaking process, from writing to producing and directing. What would you say is your favorite part?
Frank Sabatella: Directing is definitely my favorite part. It allows me to be more creative and have the most control while really drawing upon the talent that’s around me to create something bigger than all of us.
PopHorror: When and where will people be able to check out The Shed?
Frank Sabatella: Next Friday on November 15th, the film is doing a limited theatrical run in various cities. The same night, it will be available on VOD and Digital HD.
Available on November 15, 2019!
PopHorror: Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to talk about?
Frank Sabatella: I am in very early development writing a story about two girls who experiment in witchcraft and conjure an evil entity for revenge, which turns on them in horrific ways. It’s very early in the process, though.
PopHorror: It sounds like an interesting idea! I look forward to hearing more about it as it progresses towards production. As for The Shed, I know I enjoyed it and I expect other people will as well! Thank you, again, for your time.
Frank Sabatella: Absolutely! Thank you.
Returning to indie horror with such a great throwback to classic ’80s vampire features, we’re excited to see where Frank goes next with his story of witchcraft. For now, be sure to catch The Shed, which begins streaming on all major VOD platforms on Friday, November 15th.