Hollywood Gothique

Director Richard Brandes on Penny Dreadful

[NOTE: This excerpt of my interview with PENNY DREADFUL director Richard Brandess was originally posted on November 18, before the complete interview went online at E-Splatter.Com. Rather than creating a new post in order to link to the E-Splatter version, I’m updating this one and moving it to the top.]

I’m supposed to have an article about PENNY DREADFUL showing up at E-Splatter.Com sometime soon, but while we’re waiting – and since the film is playing today as part of the After Dark Horror Fest – I thought I’d drop a couple of choice quotes here from Richard Brandes, who co-wrote and directed the film.

Like all the films screenings as part of After Dark’s “8 Films to Die For,” PENNY DREADFUL was shot independently and then went looking for a distributor – a tough task in today’s tight market, where most low-budget horror heads straight to video, regardless of quality.

After Dark is presenting its slate of films this weekend. Audiences will vote on favorites, which will get additional screenings next weekend. After that, the #1 fave is supposed to get its own theatrical release in January ’07.

HOLLYWOOD GOTHIQUE: How did PENNY DREADFUL end up as part of the After Dark Horror Fest? With only a few days in theatres, you can’t make much money, but how does the theatrical exposure help you and/or your film? Does this open more doors for you, or increase the film’s prospects when it comes out on video?

RICHARD BRANDES: We were in the process of exploring several options for a theatrical release when Courtney Solomon saw the film and asked us to be a part of Horrorfest. Being a fan of the genre myself I loved the idea of a nationwide, theatrical, weekend event for horror films and knew the huge fan base for these types of films would love it, too. Even though the film would possibly only be in theaters for one weekend, I appreciated Courtney’s vision and the idea of spreading the risks of the costs of a theatrical release among 8 films. A wide theatrical release these days needs to be supported by a P&A budget of at least a minimum of around $20M, which can be cost prohibitive for smaller indie films. It can also mean that even though your film is shown in theaters, the studio that puts up that kind of money needs to get “right side up” before you ever see any potential revenues. Once you do the math it quickly becomes apparent that a theatrical release can bring with it considerable risks. A theatrical release will usually help drive sales higher on DVD and in the other markets, though, and that’s where an event like Horrorfest can make a difference. Because of the publicity and the high profile Horrorfest has given these 8 films, the DVD sales should be considerably higher than for straight-to-DVD titles, and it should even make a difference on television later, as well as in sales overseas.

H.G.: What do you think your chances are of winning the “audience favorite” voting?

R.B.: I think Penny Dreadful has a great shot at winning the “audience favorite.” Judging by the audience reactions who’ve seen it so far, it’s a real crowd pleaser and delivers what’s expected from the best of this genre. It has an original, very frightening hook, with lots of what I call those moments of heart-stopping suspense and terror, the acting is superb, and the overall look and production value is very big.