Awhile back, I reviewed the phenomenal indie horror slasher/comedy Take Back the Knife. Besides some minor technical issues, it was a hell of a debut for writer/director Matt Storc. Recently, I got the chance to sit and talk to Matt about his film, his influences, how to make an independent horror film with no money and who he would work with if he got the chance. Check out the trailer for Take Back The Knife below then read on for the interview!
PopHorror: First off, I just want to say congratulations on making and finding distribution for your first feature. That is not an easy task these days.
Matt Storc: Thank you very much. It was scary for sure. I’ve always feared getting the movie out there more than I feared actually making it. Turns out, both were more difficult than I could have anticipated. Ultimately, I’m happy and excited that the movie is finally out. I just want people to see it, particularly genre fans. I made it for them because I am one, too.
PopHorror: Thank you so much for making it! I’m a huge fan of the film and I hope it finds the audience it deserves. What made you want to be a filmmaker and what films and directors inspired you?
Matt Storc: Thank you! That’s so nice to hear. It means the world to me. My origin story is a lot like other filmmakers’. I kind of always knew I wanted to work on movies as soon as my parents told me that people actually make these things for a living. I think I originally thought I wanted to be an actor. Once I started paying attention to the names on my favorite movies, I subconsciously began to formulate the idea of authorship in film. Then, I realized my place was behind the scenes actually making a movie and putting my stamp on it.
Directors who I looked up to were the masters: Carpenter, Craven, Romero, and I think, in particular, Sam Raimi because of the kinetic style of his films and the effortless blending of comedy and horror. Besides them, I was majorly influenced by two low budget mavericks from the ’90s: Charles Band and JR Bookwalter. Their companies, Full Moon and Tempe Video, were totally my gateway drug to the genre. I rented the Puppet Master and Subspecies movies until they were worn out. JR’s movies like Ozone and The Sandman taught me that you could make a great movie with a great story on an extremely limited budget.
PopHorror: Those are some amazing influences. I could definitely feel the early Raimi vibe when I watched your film. How did you come up with the idea for Take Back the Knife and what was your writing process like?
Matt Storc: The idea for the film started out as a short film. I was friends in college with the three girls who star in the film. They were all roommates, and that’s why I think they have such great chemistry in the film. One day, the four of us were hanging out and they flat out said, “Write us a movie where we can run around in the woods,” meaning a 2-3 minute long short film. I thought about it for a while and thought of how cool it would be if we could make a movie with all the great horror movie final girls coming together to fight an evil villain. I kind of got stuck on this idea and finally decided that I didn’t need established final girls, I can make my own.
The three girls loved the idea. I tend to write off of an outline, sort of stream of conscious, nothing too disciplined. I started writing and once I realized I was on page 15 and I was still writing the opening scene, I had my first feature on my hands. something I had been aching to do for about a year at that point. What started out as this little fun short film idea turned into the thing I wanted and needed to do most. I did about three drafts of the script and we still ended up changing quite a bit once we got to set.
PopHorror: That’s cool to hear that they were all friends before making the movie. While watching, it definitely feels like they are real friends and not just actors playing a role. What was it like to shoot on such a low budget?
Matt Storc: It was difficult, but we actually rolled with it nicely. Our core team was very quick to problem solve and make work what we had. We had a solid plan going in, and I wrote with our limited budget in mind. We also took several months in pre-production planning stages. That helped immensely. As far as our regular shoot, not counting re-shoots and pickups, we stayed on schedule and were able to make happen most of what we wanted. I think not having much of a budget really played into the post-production, however. It took us literally years to finish the movie after we shot. And we weren’t putting it off or putting anything on the back burner. We just couldn’t afford professionals to help us. So we had to teach ourselves everything we could about sound mixing, music, and color correcting.
After our second editor bailed on us, we found an amazing third editor who I am so happy got to be part of the film. He really helped us out a lot. Ashley Nickell, who plays Vixen in the film, was another saving grace who took the time to make sure everything post-production related was perfect and did a great job making sure the movie got finished. We also had to raise money through an Indiegogo campaign in order to be able to afford to submit to festivals. Those add up and it gets quite expensive. Luckily, we were able to raise the money needed allowing us to be able to send the movie out there.
PopHorror: That sounds pretty rough but I’m glad you were all able to push through and finish the film. I, as well as a bunch of my friends, are aspiring filmmakers. What advice would you give to those who want to make a low budget feature?
Matt Storc: I’d say just go out and do it. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but really we’re in a great time with multiple mediums to get things made. Whether you are making a short or a feature film, even if you only have the camera on your phone, just make something you would enjoy watching. You can put it up on YouTube or submit to festivals or sell copies of the movie yourself online. There are so many ways to get content out there. Movies are being made on cell phone cameras or cameras you can buy at Walmart, without traditional studio equipment. It’s kind of the Wild West right now for film making and it’s truly exciting.
PopHorror: Excellent advice. If you could work with any actors or filmmakers in the horror scene, who would they be and why?
Matt Storc: I think it would be a dream come true to work with Lisa Wilcox. She’s my favorite final girl ever as Alice in Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and 5. That character was one I studied before writing the Take Back screenplay. I’d also love to work with Trent Haaga. I love his screenplays and I think he was great as Killjoy in Full Moon’s Killjoy films. Director Heidi Moore, who made Dolly Deadly last year, was someone who really blew me away as a force to be reckoned with. I’d love to work with her someday on something. She’s a genius. Finally, I’d love to work on a Charles Band set someday, just to see how the man works. I grew up on his films, so pulling back the curtain on that would be fascinating to me.
PopHorror: I would absolutely lose my shit if you and Heidi worked together. Dolly Deadly is an amazing film and Heidi is one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of talking to in the indie horror scene. I reviewed her film for my blog before I started writing for PopHorror and she sent me an autographed poster and a Christmas card thanking me for all the support. She is the real deal. Alright, last question: any upcoming projects you are working on?
Matt Storc: Absolutely 100% about Heidi. Amazing filmmaker, and an amazing person. As far as upcoming projects, I’m in the midst of writing several scripts with the hopes of making them all in the next couple years. Take Back took so long. Now I’ve got the itch to make something as soon as possible and to make as many films as I can dig my claws into. The script I’m moving forward with first is a cross between Friday the 13th and The Hangover. It’s definitely heavier on the comedy than the last film, but it’ll still be a wild horrorfest. My hope is that we can start on pre-production with much of the same crew as the last film within the next two or three months. Very excited to get started on that.
PopHorror: That sounds awesome! I wish you the best of luck with that and I look forward to seeing it when its finished and well as all your future projects. On behalf of Pophorror.com, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.
Matt Storc: Thank you for your support and for taking the time to talk to me. Love PopHorror! You guys rock!
If you want to pick up a copy of Take Back the Knife, you can do so here.