You may know him as the BFF of Brooke Hogan featured on Brooke Knows Best but he is also a filmmaker and I talked to Glenn Douglas Packard about his directorial debut. His cinematographer, Rey Gutierrez also talked about some of the cool shots and the look of the overall film.
Tell us a little bit about Pitchfork.
Glenn: Pitchfork is the story of two separate young men trying to get expectancy from their parents. One is a common one happening in families across the world today, the other a much more darker and twisted unique story.
One of the things that makes this interesting and stand out a bit is the main story of our hero having ‘come out’ to his conservative parents. A lot of times in a horror movie this might be reduced to a caricature or stereotype but you don’t do that here at all, which is refreshing. What made you introduce this aspect as a major part of the storyline?
Glenn: I’m a gay man myself, and seeing this was my 1st film I really wanted to do something special with the gay character Hunter Killian. Actually during filming is when I decided it was best for the story to have a final gay, see Hunter was suppose to have a early death in the film and before that death scene had come up in our filming schedule, I was battling do I kill him or let him move forward. The choice I made I stick by 110% and am excited to see a gay hero in horror cinema.
Right from the opening shot, it looks like a whole lot of work went into this thing. Not to discount anything else in the film but that first shot is amazing.
Glenn: Nice! Thank you. I had a talented DP, Rey Gutierrez. We have done music videos together and it’s a lot easier to get those epic shots in nowadays with a smaller budget then you could lets say 10 years ago when Rey & I 1st started collaborating.
Rey: I’m glad you enjoyed that shot. That’s one of the first nods I get when a conversation is sparked about the camera work on Pitchfork. The opening shot to any movie is so critical, it needs to immediately sell the viewer on the experience. On just the right afternoon, I trekked out on my own with a DJI Phantom 3 to one of the many cornfields on the Packard farm, and flew it backwards several times and was able to achieve the optical illusion of capturing the perfect drone shot from several thousand feet and have it perfectly stop on the establishing shot of the barn. This was actually accidental, the original vision was the closing shot after the opening scene — but that shot was an entirely different monster. I actually crashed the drone (again) and the effect worked so well that it served as the perfect bookends to such a great opening monstrous scene. No planning, just fun accidents.
How were you able to get that flashlight POV for instance?
Rey: Regrettably, with a GoPro Black. We were having so much fun with the scene, and everything was playing out so well, that we began to experiment. Looking at those two shots now, I almost feels like it pulls the viewer out of the creepy basement and into a video game (sorta like the awful reshoots in Rogue One and Force Awakens, you know that one.). I’m glad you enjoy the shot though, which means it worked. I’m curious to learn, do you play video games, and enjoy first person shooters? That shot was sorta a nod to the great POV Doom scene from the somewhat awful movie adaptation starring The Rock. I’m an avid gamer, and one of my many inspirations is video games — shit that works great in gaming almost all the time looks terrible in a movie, unless you’re Mortal Kombat — then that’s great.
What were some, if any, of your inspirations for the film in regards to style?
Glenn: I wanted something that had a lot of beautiful visuals, like the opening credits scene is suppose to be homage to all those horror films that have a group of attractive young people heading to a destination and later on being chased by a mad psycho. So I wanted this slo-mo aerial shot with shots of the sexy cast, added some eerie music, then you have this beautiful classic shot, that in film school if they are talking about a stereotypical scene in a horror film, they would go to this film with its epic opening credits scene. Also scenes like Pitchfork on top of Ma at the bottom of the steps or Rocky and Janelle falling onto the night grass, those were all visual shots I wanted, they wouldn’t have exactly happen that way, but I wanted the art of horror to come across during some of these moments in the film.
Rey: Glenn and I leave fun clues throughout the movie of what’s really driving the inspiration behind Pitchfork. Again back to gaming, if you’re a fan of Bethesda and Fallout – you may have caught that Country’s dog collar actually reads “Dog Meat.” Which is also served as a nice foreshadowing. Another fun moment, is the internationally shot “Michael Bay Cop Scene,” where Officer Hughes and Officer Bay arrive on The Killian’s farm (Ha, another great foreshadowing) – which is a nod to our favorite directors, John Hughes and Michael Bay. I F—ING LOVE MICHAEL BAY. If you take a step back and watch Pitchfork for what it really is — you’ll see that Pitchfork vibes like a Michael Bay micro-budget film, but has the heart of a John Hughes classic, wrapped around warm bloody bacon.
Was or is your intention ever to make more Pitchfork movies with this character?
Glenn: Oh, yeah for sure. When I started creating Pitchfork I saw the 1st three films in my head. The first being a light hearted horror of becoming Pitchfork, the second being the disturbing bloodiest Pitchfork of him knowing the monster he is, and the third being a prequel, we go back to his childhood that lead up to make him the monster Pitchfork has become.
What were your time and budget constraints like on the film? Did you have a lot of time for casting and such or was it a pretty tight-knit group of people you or your crew were familiar with already?
Glenn: When we went into filming we were lucky enough to film at my family farm so that helped so much being able to film the movie chronologically. Not to mention the town that executive producer/writer Darryl F. Gariglio & I grew up in helped us out a lot to keep the budget down with less expensive hotel rooms, some local actors, location cost, catering etc. Casting was mostly made up of people I had worked with in the passed, they knew how I work and I knew they were the kind of talent that could handle a film schedule like we had to get this done in the short 21 days we had. I think the one day we had off, we traveled to a new location to our family cabins for the Holister scenes. So it was a lot of work but very worth it. When it came to crew it was the interview process that helped with that, I can pick out a person that it’s just another job, to a person who is passionate about their job and their craft. That’s the kind of people we had on our crew, talented people who loved what they did.
Do you have any future projects in the works right now?
Glenn: Right now I’m still just really focused on making Pitchfork a success, I know soon I will have to walk away from it, but right now, a year and a half later its still all I sleep, eat and breathe, I feel sorry for my family and close friends that I haven’t been really present because of my determination to making Pitchfork the success that everyone involve deserves. I have gotten some scripts sent but haven’t given them the 100% they deserve right now, but will shortly, I also want to open a institute in Michigan to mentor young talent aspiring to go after their dreams.