Interview with Russo Schelling, Co-Director and Co-Writer of ALTER’s New Horror Short ‘Stucco’

The SXSW 2020-nominated short film, Stucco (read our review – here). was released in theaters nationwide on March 6. It is now available on Gunpowder & Sky’s horror brand ALTER and I can’t recommend it enough. I was lucky enough to chat with one of the directors and writers of the short, Russo Schelling. Learn the inspiration behind the story, how the cast came about, see exclusive behind the scenes stills, and more.


PopHorror – Hey Russo, it’s great to talk with you. How did you get involved in the filmmaking business?

Russo Schelling – It’s all thanks to a break up really. I was living in Madison, WI, making commercials for local businesses. It’s as boring as it sounds. I got broken up with, but it was the thing I needed to move to New York City and start being a production assistant.

PopHorror – Maybe it was a blessing in disguise. Is the new ALTER horror short Stucco your first film?

Russo Schelling – Yep, I like saying it’s my first professional movie. I’ve made little things here and there, but this is the culmination of all the experience.

PopHorror – You co-directed and co-wrote, Stucco. What inspired this story?

Russo Schelling – This is more autobiographical to Janina and me than most people will know, but if you boil it down, it’s about mental illness.

PopHorror – Can you tell the readers a bit about the film?


Russo Schelling – Yeah! An agoraphobic woman tries to hang up a painting, knocks a hole in her wall, discovers a room on the other side, and then the unraveling begins! If you’re a fan of apartment horror like Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby, you’ll be right at home.

PopHorror – I definitely agree! This short has such a great cast. How did the casting come about?

Russo Schelling – That’s all Janina. She has such an incredible career and some of the coolest people in her rolodex. Seriously, everybody shows up for her and that’s why she’s so much more than just a creator. She’s a mountain mover in the producing space as well. We were super excited about Debra Messing. Janina and I worked with Debra on “Mysteries of Laura,” where our partnership was forged, so she’s seen us grow as writers and directors. It was a no-brainer to ask her to be a part of it, and we were so happy she said yes.

PopHorror – Love them both! There are some insanely awesome special effects in this short. Were you impressed by how it all turned out?

Russo Schelling – I’ll say this – Since we worked with Thingergy on the special effects, I was never worried. Thingergy is a premier special FX costume, prop, and makeup shop in Burbank California. That whole team lead by Frank Ippilito is a special group of collaborators. On paper, this is the thing you’re freaking out about the most. This is another example of why Janina is such a Swiss Army knife. We got Thingergy on board to help with the film, all because of her. She’s got cool friends!


PopHorror – I can tell! What do you hope viewers take away from this film?

Russo Schelling – Feel anything. As a director, all I ask is for you to watch, the rest is up to you! If you have someone in your life that is suffering from depression, ask how they’re doing. They may not reply to the text, or they may not answer their phone, but let them know you care. That’s the big thing that people don’t realize about depression—you self-isolate, and there’s this misconception that people rally around you and lift you up. In reality, it’s on you to pick up the pieces, get the help you need, and breakthrough.

PopHorror – As someone who has depression and severe anxiety, I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for making this short and sharing it with the world!

About Tori Danielle

Tori has had a passion for Horror and music ever since she was a little girl. She got bit by the writing bug in high school where she was involved in both the school newspaper and the yearbook. While getting her Bachelors degree, she took Journalism and Creative Writing classes where her passion grew even stronger. Now, in between work and family, she spends all of her spare time indulging in music, Horror movies, and nerdy fandoms, all while running/assisting one of the biggest Horror groups on Facebook and writing for various websites.

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