Director Jerome Sable and composer Eli Batalion‘s musical horror comedy Stage Fright is currently on iTunes and On Demand – you can watch it right now – and will get a theatrical release on May 9.
Described as Scream meets “Glee,” “Starry-eyed teenager Camilla Swanson wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a Broadway diva, but she’s stuck working in the kitchen of a snobby performing arts camp. Determined to change her destiny, she sneaks in to audition for the summer showcase and lands a lead role in the play, but just as rehearsals begin, blood starts to spill, and Camilla soon finds herself terrified by the horror of musical theatre.” It’s the feature film debut of writer-director Jerome Sable, director of the absolutely hilarious, award-winning short, “The Legend of Beaver Dam.” Allie MacDonald and Douglas Smith star with Minnie Driver and Meat Loaf.
When I first saw the railer for this it reminded me of Camp, which my sister and I used to watch a lot. In addition to Friday The 13th. Were those influences on you guys? Sable replies “Yeah. Tonally that was all in the mix. We had done a short film called ‘The Legend At Beaver Dam’ which was our first attempt at combining horror with a musical. So we had a good experience doing that and wanted to explore more of that creative playground. That was sort of the impetus.”
Do you guys confer about music during the scripting process? Or do pre-existing songs determine the narrative? Battalion thinks, “it’s interesting, because it’s kind of an iterative process. But I would say that it begins entirely with the story and the music serves to support the story. However, because we were in a unique position with this film in terms of writing songs in advance, we were writing and making changes all throughout the production period. There were many ways in which music and text intertwined themselves. There’s a lot of back and forth until you get it right between the music and the narrative.”
How is it coming up with the gore gags? “Fun,” Sable laughs. “We like to do as much as we can practically and in the spirit of of the early 70’s and 80’s slashers. In many ways we are riffing on our favorite slashers and musicals. The gore is in camera and so is the singing, which is done live on set. It’s more exciting and it’s more present. All of the actors and even the crew respond more when it happens in a more theatrical and live way. So we do as much as we can that way. It’s very complicated. It involves a lot of planning and you can’t rely on fixing it later or in post. For us it’s the way to go. The emotions are are more correct from everyone on the day when they are reacting to stuff in front of them.”
What are your favorite slashers and musicals? “We do riff on ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ in the movie which is both a musical and a slasher. I’m definitely a fan of the first ‘Black Christmas.’ Obviously ‘Halloween’ and ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street.’ That’s part of the inspiration of what we’re trying to do here which is to musicalize a Freddy Kreuger-like villain. A boogie man who has a personality. Our killer has a verbal, vocal and musical personality. ‘Candyman’ is also definitely awesome. In terms of musicals ‘Cabaret’ is definitely #1. We also love ‘Fiddler On The Roof’ and the Carol Reed version of ‘Oliver.’ Also the stage version of ‘Sweeney Todd.’”