There are so many upcoming horror films that I’m excited to see this year. One of them is Close Calls directed by Richard Stringham. It’s a fun horror thriller that everyone is gonna love. Recently, PopHorror got the chance to talk with Richard about he got involved in the film industry, his company S & Drive Cinema, how he got the idea for Close Calls, and more!
PopHorror – Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Richard! What inspired you to work in the film industry?
Richard Stringham – I’ve always wanted to be in the film industry ever since I was a warped little kid. Even before I knew what the hell a director was, I told my parents I wanted to be one. I suppose the biggest inspiration for this was obsessively watching movies over and over again. After a bit of a nervous breakdown recently, I just told myself I had to make a film, and that if I didn’t do it soon, I was going to go crazy.
PopHorror – What was the first project you ever worked on?
Richard Stringham – Close Calls is actually the first project I’ve ever worked on as a producer, writer and director. I’d have to say my background is mainly in screenwriting. I’ve written a couple of award-winning scripts, but Close Calls was my first official dive into the filmmaking world. The short films I used to make with my buddies on a VHS camcorder, I don’t really count those. Although I will say we did a pretty gnarly slasher flick about a killer in a Bill Clinton mask called A President on Beaconsfield.
PopHorror – That’s hilarious, I need to see it. Where did you get the idea for your production company S & Drive Pictures?
Richard Stringham – The term “S & Drive” comes from the heating and air industry. It’s basically technical lingo used to describe sheet metal ductwork connectors. My father for years owned and operated a commercial heating and air company, which I took over for him after he died in 2009. The name of my production company is basically a tip of the hat to my dad. If it weren’t for him and the heating and air business, I probably wouldn’t be able to do what I do now.
PopHorror – I love that, thanks for sharing. Where did you get the idea for Close Calls?
Richard Stringham – After years of listening to an ICP song called “The Loons,” the idea for Close Calls had been floating around in my head since 2008. It started out as a little story that paid homage to thrillers like Black Christmas and When a Stranger Calls, but as the years progressed, it kept evolving into something that dipped into Lynch, Kubrick and Bergman territory. I’d be lying if I said that the use of psychedelics didn’t play a big part in how that story fleshed itself out. In 2014, I had a really profound experience on mushrooms that, for whatever reason, allowed me to formulate every convoluted idea I had for Close Calls into a clear, cohesive narrative. I was able to write the script in three months with no creative hindrance, and that normally never happens.
PopHorror – I love your honesty. I’m glad that experience got your creative juices flowing. How’d you go about casting for the movie?
Richard Stringham – We went about casting the old fashioned way and spread a bunch of flyers around town about the film. Most of the attention from the local film community wasn’t really there at first, though, at least until we built more of an online presence. Social media helped out in a big way. It seemed like my two main stars, Jordan Phipps and Greg Fallon, came to me like Godsends. Not only did their looks perfectly match the physical description of the characters, but their acting chops were so awesome during both their auditions that they were able to become those characters right in front of my eyes. I was pretty amazed about discovering a lot of the talent I found in Arkansas.
PopHorror – That’s awesome and I love the way the characters look. Is there a reason for the ’80s horror and Italian classics influence that can definitely be seen in the trailer?
Richard Stringham – There’s really no other reason for the retro and Giallo feel in Close Calls other than the fact that those are the films I grew up on and loved as a kid. The spirit of Bava, Argento, and Fulci is definitely present throughout the film. I love horror flicks from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. While I was shooting Close Calls, I kept reminding myself that I wanted the film to feel like the ’80s, but look like the ’70s and I feel like we accomplished that. Also, our synth-driven soundtrack by Rocky Gray (composer for The Barn) really added something nice to that retro feel we were aiming for.
PopHorror – I absolutely love Rocky Gray and The Barn, and the retro vibe is phenomenal. When can we expect Close Calls to be released?
Richard Stringham – I’m shooting for a summer release. It could be as early as April or May, though. But timing is everything, and I want as many horror fans as possible to see this film. After post-production is complete in about three weeks, we’re going to consider going through the festival circuit and try to seek out the best possible deal for distribution.
PopHorror – I’m crossing my fingers! Do you have any other upcoming projects?
Richard Stringham – I plan to start shooting another horror feature this fall. It is a script I’ve been polishing since 2012 and it’s a highly personal project. I’ve always described this next movie as being something like if Terrence Malick or Richard Linklater were to make a horror film. It’s definitely my baby and my dream project.
PopHorror – Oooh, that’s exciting. I can’t wait to hear more. When did your love for horror begin and what movie start it all?
Richard Stringham – My love for horror started as a kid, like most filmmakers. But I’ll never forget how much of an impact certain films had on me when I was young. I’d have to say the ones that left most of a mark on me as a tyke were A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Evil Dead, The Shining, Carrie, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, Halloween, Phantasm, and Suspiria. These were the ones that made me want to to be a horror director. There were a slew of others. though, of course.
PopHorror – I love all of those movies, they all of something different to offer. If you could work with anyone in the industry, who would it be?
Richard Stringham – If I could work with anyone in the industry, I would love to collaborate with guys like Kevin Smith or Quentin Tarantino. They just seem like passionate, down-to-earth dudes when it comes to genre filmmaking. As far as performers go, I would love to work with actresses like Dee Wallace or Linnea Quigley. These women are legendary to me.