August-November 1888. Beginning in August of 1888, a series of five, possibly six, murders took place in the East End of London. Confined to the Whitechapel district, mostly young prostitutes were targeted. The fiendishness of the murders was what made the crimes so indelibly etched in the minds of all who heard about the crimes. And it didn’t help that the frenzied mutilations seemed to escalate in direct correlation to the panic that gripped the city. Although the killer was never found, Mary Ann Nicholls, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Strike, Catherine Eddoweson, and Mary Jane Kelly will forever be remembered as the victims of this legendary serial killer dubbed “Jack the Ripper”.
Fast forward to 2013. A new horror film named Slash is being made. Promising to tie these original murders to a new crop of mindless, senseless bloodbaths happening in Whitechapel, New Mexico, the script offers plenty of what horror fans love best—entertainment!
One peek at the trailer for this new offering and I was hooked like a fish on a line. Therefore, I decided to track down the people responsible … and I did! I am privileged that both Rycke Forman, director/producer/writer, and Maria Olsen, producer/actress, agreed to tell us more about the project. Giving tantalizing clues as to what awaits us in the near future, prepare to be SLASH-ed!
Slash: When His Fantasy
Becomes Your Reality
For those not familiar with your work, can you please give a brief description of your background.
Rycke: Are you kidding? I’m so obscure I have a hard time tracking down info about myself. I’m probably best known as editor/publisher of 69 Flavors of Paranoia, though I’ve written short horror fiction for 20 years. I’ve worked in indie film, TV and theatre for about 15 years, but if it was a big enough project to hear about, I was probably a little fish in that pond.
Maria: I came from deepest, darkest Africa in 2005, and, once I had landed in good old Los Angeles and had oriented myself towards Hollywood, I decided to do what I had wanted to do since I was a wee lass: act in, write, produce and direct movies. I was extremely lucky to land my awesome agents within months of taking the decision to work full time in showbiz, and I quickly booked my role in Fox’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief…and haven’t looked back since!
At what point did you start getting into the production end of movie making?
Rycke: Pretty much from the get-go. Because I couldn’t afford film school, I started making shorts, which meant I was the producer, writer, director, star, additional camera op, SFX, editor, casting, stuntman … should I go on? I got distracted into television production for about 10 years, but when the last station I worked for burned to the ground—and no, I didn’t do it, to answer your inevitable question— decided to refocus on my real passion, which is filmmaking and storytelling.
Maria: In October 2011, I was approached by Brandon Scullion of Iodine Sky Films to partner up on his film Live-In Fear which will shortly be out of post-production. I did so, had a wonderful time, and decided that one way to keep myself out of trouble was to get into producing in a big way—which I proceeded to do!
What attracts you to a project?
Rycke: Though I do work a little in sci-fi, comedy and action/adventure, horror’s what really gets the ol’ blood pumping. Particularly creature features.
Maria: Something new. Something envelope pushing. Something never done before. And, very importantly, an emotional through line to a story that I can follow and be affected by …
What attracted you to your current project, SLASH? I see that it’s based on the famous serial killer, Jack the Ripper.
Rycke: Mmmm…not so much based on Jack the Ripper…though in some ways it is, but don’t expect some period piece with a shadowy stalker taking out prostitutes in the foggy London streets. Slash is contemporary. It’s about a young actor in the small town of White Chapel, New Mexico, but there are other little connections to the Ripper case.
Maria: I LOVED the Ripper connection; picking up on the clues scattered through the story was like discovering Easter eggs for me … and I can visualize how simply stunning it’s going to look when it’s up there on the big screen—like nothing ever seen before!
Since this blog is devoted to legends, what is it about Jack the Ripper that makes those murders legendary? After all, it’s been over 100 years since he roamed the earth, and we’re still talking about him.
Rycke: Face it, he was a sick puppy. In many ways he was and still is the ultimate “faceless” killer, known only for his terrible deeds. If he would have been caught at the time, I think we’d still talk about him to some degree, but I don’t think he’d be the legend we know. Without a face to put to the name, without a true explanation for his motives, this guy could be your next door neighbor. Or your husband. Or son.
Maria: To me his victims are also endlessly fascinating, as is the fact that it’s speculated that there were—possibly many—more than the apocryphal victims. It’s also speculated he moved operations to the USA, that he was of royalty, that he was connected to the Masons … the permutations of the legend are just SO incredibly intriguing …
What are some of the advantages and disadvantages in taking on a legend and giving it a new spin? This does seem to have a nice twist!
Rycke: Fortunately, Slash is largely its own story, so there were only a few parts that I really had to match up carefully.
Maria: I play the role of Mary Kelly, and, believe me, the original lady will never be far from my thoughts as long as I’m involved in this project!
The director for Slash is Rycke Foreman. What skill set does he bring to this party?
Rycke: I can make popsicles without burning them. Otherwise, I usually tell a pretty decent story.
Maria: … and he’s awesome … don’t forget that…
In terms of horror, what will this film be? A strictly slasher film? A psychological thriller? A mystery wrapped in a conundrum wrapped in a bloody knife? What do you hope to bring to life that will make the audience cringe and cry, “Momma”?
Rycke: I can’t imagine it will labeled anything other than a slasher, though there’s certainly some elements of a psychological thriller. If I had to name names, it’ll be somewhere between Scream, Natural Born Killers and The Breakfast Club.
Maria: I think I’ll go with the concept “fever dream slasher”… there, that’s something new, isn’t it? J
How did this script wind up in your hands? For writers out there, what is the key to getting their project in someone like your hands? Also, how key is it for you to scout out new interesting material? It would seem to be crucial for you to have your fingers in that creative pie?
Rycke: I’ll leave most of this to Maria, but I’m rarely happy with slasher flicks. Most are either dumb story and good FX, or decent story with skimpy FX (or, of course, bad FX with no story). I like an equal balance of story and blood. It’s also loosely inspired by my time as Christopher Wren in a production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, and the fact that I knew a minor serial killer shortly before he became active. I bumped into him shortly before his arrest a few years later—during the production of The Mousetrap.
Maria: Strangely enough I was also in a production of The Mousetrap many moons ago… not the same production though! As for the question at hand, I’m not one to wait around until work magically deposits itself on my plate … I go out and look for it behind every bush. The bush Slash was behind was lurking on Linked In, and all it took for me to start to ball rolling was one message. I was sent the script, the business plan, the comic book – yes, there’s a comic book – and, as I loved all of it, it wasn’t long before I was invited to come on board. Also, I look everywhere for new projects, and I’m VERY open to writers contacting me out of the blue on the social media of their choice and asking me to read their script. Because of this approach, however, I have been inundated with scripts, and, even though I try to read one new script every day, at the moment there’s a two month gap between my getting a new script and my reading it … on occasion, though, I may be able to be bribed with chocolate to fast-track a script! J
What was it about the script that made it a winner?
Rycke: I wrote it. C’mon. Now excuse me while I fluff my hair.
Maria: It’s structured differently from other films of this genre; and THAT’S something that’s only going to be completely understood once you see it on screen …
You’re fundraising on Indiegogo. Is this the way to go for independent films?
Rycke: Yes. Indie’s need to embrace ANY help they can get. Even though we’re getting most of our funding from other sources, Slash is very ambitious, and we need every penny we can get! We love and appreciate EVERY supporter!!!
Maria: I have consistently achieved great results with the Indiegogo campaigns that I’ve run, and I really like how the site is structured to be extremely user-friendly. I also prefer it to other sites because it offers the Paypal payment method, which I find is VERY helpful.
Is there one piece of advice you’d like to give to a neophyte producers/directors that might make the road to success a little easier?
Rycke: I’m still waiting for someone to tell me. ‘Til someone does, it’s long hours, talking to everyone I meet and when I’m feeling down, remembering that I’ve gotta stay in the race if I ever hope to cross the finish line.
Maria: NEVER. GIVE. UP.
In terms of the casting, do you network to find actors/actresses? Or do you go the open call route? In other words, if someone wants to find work in these types of projects, what’s the best way for them to go?
Rycke: Both, for casting. But if you really want to work on these kinds of projects, you’ll go out and start doing. Besides, you’ll need the practice for when you get to the real thing.
Maria: As a Casting Director—yes, I’ve done that too! – I also do both: handpick people from those I know AND hold open calls. In order to get ahead, any actor must both network with industry professionals AND submit themselves for all roles that are right for them. Don’t however, just blindly send me your headshot, resume or reel as I won’t know what to do with it. Rather friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter or sign up for my newsletter, wait until I’m casting something and THEN submit to me if you’re right for a role I’m casting. It also helps to submit exactly as a Casting Director has asked; we ask for things to be done in a certain way for a reason, and it’s also just good business sense – yes, acting is a business – to do what a potential employer asks…
Once the funds are raised, what is the timetable? When can we expect to see Slash? I, for one, can’t wait! That trailer got to me!
Rycke – Thanks! We’re aiming to shoot this summer. I’d love to see a Halloween release date, but I think we’ll have too much post to make that, so probably in the spring of 2014.
Maria – what he said J
To return to Jack the Ripper again, do you think we’ll ever definitely know his identity?
Rycke: Unlikely at this point, but who knows what new evidence or forensic technique will come to light in the future.
Maria: I have it on good authority that the Ripper’s knife is in safe-keeping somewhere … so maybe what Rycke says will indeed come to pass …
Is there anything else about this project that you’d like to tell us?
Rycke: Guess we haven’t really talked bout the 3D elements. While we’ll undoubtedly poke a few blades in the audiences’ faces, we’ve got some new mind-bending innovations that we’re excited to bring to life! I really think we’ll wow the crowds with this stuff.
Maria: I’m excited to be shooting in New Mexico; I’ve shot in Los Angeles and Utah, worked Off-Broadway in New York and shot in Vancouver, but I’ve never been close to New Mexico! I also think that, although the production will be challenging—what indie film isn’t??—it’s going to be the most awesome fun EVER!
For those who want to be part of the fun, please go to Indiegogo and learn how you can be make this project happen!