Interview With ‘Rideshare’ Director Tremain Hayhoe: From Grassroots To Indie Greatness

Falling in love with storytelling at a young age, Filmmaker Tremain Hayhoe began developing his craft throughout his childhood and young adult life by turning every opportunity into a filmmaking project. After gaining experience on both sides of the camera, Tremain began working in production studios and doing freelance projects, offering his cinematic services to musicians and artists. After experiencing unexpected misfortune at no fault of his own, the ambitious filmmaker created a production company called Hayhoe Studios and has released his first full-feature titled Rideshare (read our review here). I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Tremain about his filmmaking endeavors, his unique grassroots approach and upcoming projects.

Tremain Hayhoe

PopHorror: Hi, Tremain! Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. What sparked your interest in filmmaking? When did you decide to pursue this for a career?

Tremain Hayhoe: It all started when I was 7 years old and I saw The Lion King for the first time. I remember crying at one particular scene in the movie, which I won’t spoil (laughs)… even though it’s been out for such a long time. After the film, I’m asking myself why I just cried at a cartoon. Why did I feel all those emotions for these animated characters? So the whole idea of storytelling became really fascinating to me! Trying to get emotions from an audience through the roller coaster of storytelling excited me.

I also had a VHS boxset of Alfred Hitchcock movies, and I really got into classic thrillers like The 39 Steps and Strangers on a Train. As film and storytelling hooked my attention, I began acting and participating in every school play from Kindergarten to 8th grade. Our play director was a sweet lady, but auditions were still nerve wracking, and I hated that process. So eventually, I got the idea to grab my parents video camera, film a movie and put myself in it. Soon after that, I was shown how to edit films by a friend whose hobby was cliff jumping. (laughs) I didn’t participate in the cliff jumping because I was too much of a pansy when it came to heights.

Tremain Hayhoe

As much as I liked acting, I found enjoyment in telling stories as a whole. So I would use any excuse to make a video. Any school project, with or without permission from the teacher, would become a video. If it was without permission, it would either go over really well and they would be impressed that I made a video rather write a paper for the assignment (laughs)… or I would get the opposite reaction because that wasn’t the assignment.

PopHorror: (laughs) I’m glad you were pursuing your passion, though! I’m aware that you have some experience on both sides of the camera. What is your favorite part of the filmmaking process and why?

Tremain Hayhoe: My favorite part is definitely directing on set. Getting the performances out of the actors to tell the story is what I have fun with. I like all aspects of the filmmaking process from pre-production to production to post-production. But there’s nothing like being on set. For me, it’s the greatest thing in the world! I love it.

PopHorror: Are you, personally, a horror fan?

Tremain Hayhoe: Oh yeah, definitely! I prefer more psychological horror rather than blood and guts. My favorite of all time is The Shining.

PopHorror: That’s a great one that just hit its 40th anniversary not too long ago! [read the PopHorror retro review here]

Tremain Hayhoe: Oh, I saw that! It wasn’t well received by everyone when it was first released, but I love it. Other horror films that I love include Psycho and Rear Window. Suspenseful horror and psychological thrillers are the types of horror genre films I really get into.

Poster artwork for Rideshare

PopHorror: You released your first full-feature, Rideshare, in 2018. This was a well done indie flick, and I really enjoyed that it seemed to have something to say about our society. What inspired this debut?

Tremain Hayhoe: My company, at the time, was partnered with Thunder Studios, the largest independent movie studio on the west coast. And that was a really cool experience! I was also doing freelance projects working with artists and making music videos. Eventually, I felt like it was time to move on and make something of my own. As a side gig, I was driving for Uber on the weekends, and I couldn’t help but think of this as the perfect setup for a horror movie! And, to be honest, it was scarier to be the driver. It’s 3AM on the weekend and you go to a back alleyway to pick up a stranger. I’m not sure how it is today, but on the driver side of the app service back then, you didn’t get any picture or information about the customer. You have no idea who they are or what they look like. So that was unnerving.

I also kept getting asked the same damn questions almost every night (laughs), and other people would get in the car, stay on their phone and not say a single word to you the whole ride. We just live in this weird time where some people don’t feel a need to acknowledge another human being. And now we have dating apps that allow you to swipe left or right based on a picture. It sort of takes the romanticism out of being human. We also now have Airbnb. We no longer have to go to a hotel. We just willfully walk into a stranger’s house for our vacations (laughs). It’s just the perfect setting for a horror film. So, I decided to put this project in motion, and I put quite a bit of those things in the script.

I also wanted to take the Alfred Hitchcock approach with limited locations, limited characters and have the storyline drive the film. If you look at films like Rope, Rear Window and Lifeboat, the locations are kept to a minimum. But you maximize on the story while keeping things simple.

PopHorror: That’s true! The more we get connected through technology, the more we seem to become disconnected from one another. What was the biggest challenge of filming Rideshare?

Tremain Hayhoe: When you’re just a kid with a camera filming at random locations, there aren’t many consequences for not getting permission. Nowadays, if I were to show up with a crew of 20 to 30 people without going through certain channels, there can be some serious repercussions. I discovered that when we were filming for Rideshare in a parking lot. It was a big open space, but we had an RV, several cars, actors and the crew. Suddenly, a tiny beat up car rolled up, and this guy gets out telling us that we need to leave. We shrugged it off and kept filming. That’s about the time when one police car showed up. And then another one. Before we knew it, it felt like half the city’s police department was surrounding us (laughs)! They were cool about the whole thing though, and told us that we shouldn’t be filming on this property. So, we packed it up and went on our way. But we were lucky! It could have been bad.

Another huge challenge is that we filmed this in a Prius. So we had to have actors, camera, sound and me as the director all crammed into a tiny car. We had quite a bit of people and equipment in a very little space. Our amazing cinematographer, Jesse Aragon, was basically doing yoga while he was filming. Everyone did really well, though! Everyone nailed their lines, everything was super efficient, and we filmed it in 16 days. Every single day we wrapped on time or early! We had days that we needed to switch around, but we never went over time.

PopHorror: What was your favorite part about filming this feature?

Tremain Hayhoe: We had an RV which served as production hub, and it was really cool! We were filming all over L.A., and we didn’t really have a centralized location. Because of the various locations and pulling 12 hour days, commuting just wasn’t feasible (laughs). So I would sleep in the RV, wake up and start production for the day. It was a fun experience!

The following year, we filmed The Bachelor Party, and that was crazy. We had a pretty low budget, less than I had for producing Rideshare, but we got it done. We filmed everything in four days! We recently filmed The Bachelor Party Episode 2, which was done in about 12 days. The Bachelor Party movies that I worked on are parodies that’s a cross between The Bachelor TV series, Mission Impossible and Star Wars. We’ll be releasing The Bachelor Party Episode 2 on Amazon Prime, and the first one is currently available on YouTube.

PopHorror: It isn’t too often that someone releases their full feature free on YouTube. Why did you choose to go this route?

Tremain Hayhoe: Advice I was given was to release it digitally for sale on a platform like iTunes or Vimeo and have people rent or buy it. After some time has passed, what’s typically done is putting it up on a platform like Amazon Prime. So, I released Rideshare on Vimeo because I heard so many horror stories about going through distribution companies. These stories involved getting into shady contracts with fine print holding you liable for various costs. Literally the next day, after putting it up on Vimeo, it had been put onto a pirating website ranking number two right under Jumanji. It had also been uploaded to YouTube with Arabic subtitles, Chinese subtitles, and someone even dubbed it in Russian (laughs)… which was actually impressive.

Poster artwork for The Bachelor Party Episode 2

The trailer I put up on YouTube was also at a couple thousand views when I first released it. Within a short amount of time, it was over 20,000 views. As it turns out, these pirating websites upload the stolen movie and link the YouTube trailer. So I at least did get credit for the views on the YouTube trailer. But that sucks! I had a real expensive school of hard knock learning lesson. I ended up releasing it on Prime, and after some time had passed, I decided to revamp my YouTube channel by releasing the film for free. By taking the Amazon Prime to YouTube approach, though, things are working out! We get royalties from this approach and I think the platform is an excellent way to get your work out there to build an audience and following for future projects. So, it’s a win-win for everyone. This grassroots approach might take a little longer, but it might be a better option than rolling the dice on a shady contract. Don’t get me wrong. If I were offered a deal from Netflix, I would take it.

***SPOILER ALERT FOR RIDESHARE***

PopHorror: And I wouldn’t blame you! Rideshare has a conclusive ending along with a surprising twist revealing a twin brother of the killer rideshare driver. Despite his innocence, the twin brother takes the fall. Was there anything in particular that inspired this ending?

Tremain Hayhoe: The inspiration actually came from my father’s best friend, Brian, whom I consider to be an uncle. He has an identical twin, and the two brothers grew up in England. Brian was more mischievous while his brother was a little more straight edge. Brian told me about a time when he was in a bar fight and punched someone. He was thrown out of the establishment by the bouncers, and about 5 minutes later, the guy who was hit saw Brian’s identical twin brother, and there was a case of mistaken identity (laughs)… for obvious reasons. There were several other similar incidences. Also, Hitchcock had several films that feature a similar twist of the wrong man taking the fall while the perpetrator gets away. I’m sure there are plenty of other films out there with similar twists as well. But all of that got me thinking, and that’s how I developed the ending for Rideshare.

***END OF SPOILER ALERT***

PopHorror: (laughs) That’s hilarious! So, Rideshare has a conclusive ending, but it’s still open enough to have a followup. Will there be a sequel?

Tremain Hayhoe: The film is set up to have a sequel, but it isn’t in the works right now. I have at least three films planned for what I hope will be a Rideshare franchise. Maybe I’ll direct the first three, and maybe I’ll let other people direct some of them. The beauty of these rideshare apps is that they are worldwide, so these films could take place in any city around the world. If there are any investors out there who like the first film and would like to help fund the next one, just let me know!

PopHorror: With all these apps from Airbnb, Uber and Tinder, there are quite a few directions you could take this! I’m aware that you also have your own film company that’s in development called Hayhoe Studios. Could you tell me a little about this?

Tremain Hayhoe: Sure! I started my company after being laid-off from a production studio due to budget cuts. So, I decided to make my own. I don’t have any employees yet. Every project has been done through independent contracting. I hire people on a per project basis. With every project, we’re getting a little bigger, better, and I’m slowly building it up so that I can have employees and start churning out more feature films.

PopHorror: Are there any upcoming projects that you would like to talk about once the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Tremain Hayhoe: I do, actually! I’m about 20 pages into my next script. It’s a suspense thriller that is based on a true story. It isn’t about coronavirus, but there might be some references to it as the current state of things right now. Because this film is so early into development, that’s all I’m really able to say at this time.

PopHorror: That’s enough information to have me intrigued (laughs)! I’m a sucker for true stories. Congratulations on Rideshare and I look forward to seeing more of your work! Thank you, Tremain, for taking the time to speak with me.

Tremain Hayhoe: Of course! Thank you for the opportunity.

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