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Feature: Masters of Horror 2
The Horror, the Horror…
Exclusive On Set!
These days, most people take their work home with them. Director Rob Schmidt is no exception. He’s done this at least once while filming the Masters of Horror episode Right to Die, albeit unintentionally. “Being that this is a Horror story, it’s quite graphic,” explains the director in between takes on the show’s Vancouver set. “For example, people get skinned in it as well as horribly burnt. I’m always concerned about prosthetics as they’re one of the most challenging elements of creating a believable creature for a feature film or TV series. And I’m very quick when I’m watching a show to think, ‘Hmm, those prosthetics don’t look quite right’.
“There was an image we shot yesterday for this Masters episode of a creature called Abbey crawling down the stairs. Well, last night when I got back to my hotel room, I went to sleep and had a nightmare that included this terrible thing I just spoke of. I suddenly woke up and felt a huge wave of relief because I was like, ‘Hey, they [the prosthetics] work. The Abbey thing works.’ At first my dream was terrifying, but at the same time that’s what’s neat about making Horror films. You get to have nightmares and feel good about them,” chuckles Schmidt.
A fan of the silver screen since childhood and a graduate of the American Film Institute, Schmidt started his apprenticeship in the movie business as a grip and lamp operator. “I later advanced to the position of key grip and a gaffer on a couple of projects,” he recalls. “That was followed by a stint as a DOP [director of photography] and director of music videos for some Southern California punk rock bands. Then I began making feature films. I should mention, too, that during this time I was also making short films. I did that all throughout college, and even after graduating from AFI I took what monies I earned as a technician and used it to make films. I think that’s the best thing for you to do if you’re serious about your craft.”
Saturn (aka Speed of Life), Crime and Punishment in Suburbia and Wrong Turn are among Schmidt’s movie credits. It was the last film that helped pave the way for him eventually booking his directing gig on Masters. “Wrong Turn was produced by Stan Winston and the movie had a little bit of a cult buzz attached to it,” says Schmidt. “Then during an interview, Stephen King said out of the blue that it was his favourite film of 2003. That type of support kind of put me in a better position to become a solid Horror movie director. I think that may also have been the biggest force behind me being hired for this Masters of Horror episode. Obviously I’m not in the same category as individuals like Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter or Joe Dante. I’m more in the ‘lucky-to-be-here-we’ll see what happens-with him’ category,” jokes the director.
by Steven Eramo
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