She’s not afraid of the big bad wolves.
PopCultHQ speaks with the creators of “Little Dead Rotting Hood”
Little Dead Rotting Hood: A film about the residents of a small town who discover that something far more sinister than just killer wolves is also lurking in the backwoods: first the wolves start turning up dead…then so do the people.
Based on the character created by: Gabriel Campisi, Buz Hasson and Ken Haeser – comes the film about the twisted story of that ‘once upon a time’ fairyland tale. Now re-created in a new more horrific light…..or should I say darkness. PopCultHQ is very excited to bring you a special spotlight and exclusive interview with the creators of the story the upcoming independent film is based on; that is sure to please horror fans. Come join us as we talk with writer/producer Gabriel Campisi and members of The Living Corpse Crew – Buz Hasson and Ken Haeser as we breakdown everything Little Dead Rotting Hood.
“Little Dead Rotting Hood” – Film
Director: Jared Cohn
Writer: Gabriel Campisi
Release: January 5th, 2016
Producer/Screenwriter Gabriel Campisi
Little Dead Rotting Hood co-creators Buz Hasson & Ken Haeser
PopCultHQ: Alright Living Corpse crew, this is an all new venture since your original zombie concept (Adventures of The Living Corpse) got picked up as an independent movie as well, correct?
Buz Hasson: “Manny, first off thanks for having us on the site and helping get the word out on Little Dead Rotting Hood!”
“Yea, LDRH is our second creator-owned idea to see film production and we couldn’t be more excited to get it happening over at The Asylum with our good friend and creative partner Gabriel Campisi.”
Ken Haeser: “Yea! Our second time around the movie making machine. First at live action!”
PopCultHQ: The drawing is the original concept from you two Ken and Buz. How did the idea for the drawing manifest?
Ken Haeser: “LDRH (Little Dead Rotting Hood) came about a while ago when Buz and I were doing Living Corpse (comics) through Zenescope. We’ve (Buz) been hanging out for 10 years, drawing Living Corpse and throwing ideas around for stuff while we draw. We originally envisioned her as another in a long line of zombie gatekeepers like The Living Corpse, but she came into her own as her own thing. We pitched her as a comic series to Zenescope but it didn’t happen. But we never forgot about her and brought her out to play every once in a while.”
Buz Hasson: “It was sort of a play on words to start with the obvious title “little red riding hood” and us being zombie comic guys. From there I just mixed the title up a bit and the concept immediately grew and began writing itself between the two of us. We work best in pictures, so sketches and concept designs started happening and so we went to work.”
PopCultHQ: This is just a movie for now. How soon after will we get a comic book?
Ken: “You won’t have to wait too long, because we did a six page prequel comic that will be on the DVD with the movie. It was written by Gabe, drawn by me and Buz, and colored by Blair Smith. As for a full comic? Time will tell…”
Buz: “Yeah, the comic is a short prologue to the film, to be released and featured on the DVD as well which is awesome. We have a long list of plans with ideas to work with Gabe and company for more stories with more comic materials. The concept went right from being a comic in development, straight to a film in fast production. So naturally we went into storyboarding with director Jared Cohn and the screen writer (Gabriel). We developed the comic prologue to have that extra element in there as well. We did it just as quickly as things were being fast tracked by The Asylum and Cinedigm on the film project.”
PopCultHQ: How much do you guys want to keep this story specifically different from what you’re mostly known for on The Living Corpse?
Ken: “The tone of Little Dead Riding Hood (LDRH) is a lot different from Living Corpse. LDRH is a much more serious take on the horror hero, where we try to keep Living Corpse more light-hearted and funnier.”
Buz: “It’s different because it is the feminine aspect of things for us….and reshaping over-top an old classic fable with the trends right now. We’ve always been drawn to horror, any chance we have to develop original material for the zombie genre, we will.”
PopCultHQ: The finished drawing of LDRH, I assume catches the eye of many, including writer and movie producer Gabriel. Was he already a close collaborator of yours? If not, how did that relationship happen?
Buz: “We met Gabe through our producer on the Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse (LC) animated film, Morris Ruskin (Shoreline Entertainment). Gabe had interviewed us for LC over at Fangoria and had set up the interview for LC over at Horror Hound as well. After that when the film premiered at SDCC in 2012 we met Gabe in person and knew right away we all had a lot of respect for each others passion for the material the genre and work we had all done. We became friends right away. So our first project with Gabe was developing the comic JailBait, for director Jared Cohn and The Asylum, at which time we were in communication quite a bit. So we pitched him Little Dead Rotting Hood, he loved it! We then went to work right away on taking it to Gabe’s contacts in Hollywood.”
PopCultHQ: I would like to know from you, Gabriel. As a screen writer/producer, how much work does it really take to do your job and how scary it can be at the same time? We always hear about the glory of when a film makes it big, but what about that struggle behind the scenes?
Gabriel Campisi: “Bringing a project to life at any level is always an exciting thing to do. And Little Dead Rotting Hood is no exception. The idea for the title character was created by Buz, Ken and myself. This whole thing started out with a bunch of amazing conceptual artwork they drew (with colors by Blair Smith) that showed this young girl in red we’ve all heard about and grown up with, only now turned into a zombie-demon. From there I came up with a storyline set in the present. The challenge was to make it exciting and scary at the same time. I think the best horror-fantasy films are those that have a lot of heart in them not just a bunch of blood, guts and screams without having any true substance to justify the mayhem. So I made sure to focus on this as much as possible. I also tried to add humor (the most difficult thing to write) to help balance out the darker elements. I wrote the initial draft of the screenplay and took it to The Asylum, whose partners I’ve known for many years. They loved it and included it in their slate with Cinedigm. Once a script is accepted at any level, though, doesn’t mean a screenwriter’s job is over. In fact, it was just beginning. It took over a year before the project moved into production. By the time that rolled around, I had to rewrite several drafts of the script to accommodate multiple factors. Everything from budget restrictions, to visual effects limitations, to actor availability or changes AND everything in-between. There are so many elements and so many artisans and technicians that come together to make a motion picture. Everything must be considered before cameras can roll. One major challenge we had was all the wolves I wrote into the screenplay. We discussed CGI, puppets and even dogs that look like wolves, but in the end the finished product came out looking truly amazing. To wrap up, it’s a very long road bringing a project from concept to full creation, especially when it’s as detailed and rich as Little Dead Rotting Hood. There were a lot of welcome challenges along the way, but I think audiences will agree it was all well worth it.”
PopCultHQ: What do you guys think of production so far? cast and crew?
Ken Haeser: “It’s been a lot of fun. Gabe, Jared and the rest of The Asylum kept us on the production by doing designs and storyboards for the movie. So that was cool to be a part of and see it made from start to finish. What I’ve seen from the behind the scenes stuff, the cast for the movie is perfect. And its got Marina Sirtis in it! As a lifelong Star Trek: TNG fan, I can’t believe I have anything to do with something that had Counselor Troi in it! So that’s pretty cool. Looking forward to meeting the cast at the premier!”
Buz Hasson: “I’m personally blown away by the cast and crew. It’s a dream come true. Working on the LC (Living Corpse) film was a dream, but now we are in live action mode! It’s so cool. We’re very excited for the premiere and the geeks in us are incredibly honored to have veteran actress Marina Sirtis in a guest role. Bianca Santos looks amazing as LDRH, Eric Balfour is another genre vet who is great as ‘Sheriff Adam’….I could just go on and on…”
Gabriel Campisi: “When you write a screenplay like this, with wolves and creatures of the night that don’t necessarily exist, set in a world of action and horror, it is crucial to get a solid cast in order to pull the whole thing off. Scotty Mullen, our casting director, did an amazing job of bringing on some of the most talented veteran actors I have ever worked with! Eric Balfour, Bianca Santos, Romeo Miller, Patrick Muldoon, Heather Tom and Marina Sirtis, as well as the rest of the incredible cast, absolutely brought this movie to life with their performances. I wanted to make sure the script was not just creepy, but also a whole lot of fun. And I think in the end the entire team behind the movie pulled off something pretty special.”
Gabriel: “I should add we used REAL WOLVES on this movie.”
PopCultHQ: Holy shit!! That must have been fun on set?!
Gabriel: “Yes, it was crazy fun! Lot of pressure to get it right. But I feel confident we pulled off something really special. We do have some CGI in it, but it’s at the end. That’s the big thing the VFX team is working on now. It’s been a lot of hard work in that department, too, to get things to look right.”
PopCultHQ: Being Independent is not an easy road to go down is it, when it comes to comics, film business? As I told Gabriel, I like to focus on the struggles of being in the business you’re in and how it’s not the “glamorous” life even with “success”. Passionate people are what makes projects find a life. Do you guys see that as true in your backgrounds?
Ken: “Absolutely. In comics as well as movies, it takes a lot of hard work and tenacity to make things happen, especially when it’s something other than the norm. I think the reason that me and Buz have been able to keep this train rolling for so long, is because we actually get together to hang out and draw. Much more fun than sitting in a room by yourself drawing. It keeps our energy up and keeps us going.”
Buz: “100% it’s a struggle. everyone has ideas, lots of good ones out there. For us it’s about developing stuff that hasn’t been done or trying to do our takes on things. Staying inventive, active and aggressive about those ideas. Being productive and patient with them. Giving them time to get out there. Really meditating on the desired intent you have behind it and sticking to it. The more you’re teamed up with others with a like mind-set, the more apt you are at achieving your goal. The passion and fandom for the material fuels it on the daily. But the road blocks, hurdles, closed doors and rejections are real! It is not the end of the road….as long as you’re committed.”
PopCultHQ: That is all very fantastic, solid, advice gentleman. Best part is, it is ALL so very true.
PopCultHQ: It has been a bit of time since the Living Corpse movie, now it is onto this new project. How much have you learned about the “Hollywood” machine behind the scenes when it comes to – creative artists ideas turned into films?
Ken: “We learned a lot from the Hollywood machine. Most the hard way! Ha! We’ve had a great time dipping into the Hollywood pool. Me and Buz are on the East Coast so we’re not neck deep in it, but enough to get to do some cool stuff.”
Buz: “I think initially the spark is like there and you’re like “this is it!” And then the edits roll in and you’re like “OK, we can do this, lets do it.” You just have to move forward, as it is an evolution of the overall subject. I’ve heard horror stories about production hell scenarios and nothings perfect. But for the most part, it’s about being flexible and willing to co-create cohesive with all parties involved. Being willing to work for free upfront as well…..you’ll get paid, but the early bird catches the worm. So while the haters are complaining, we’re grinding the midnight oil and burning the candle at both ends. believe that.”
PopCultHQ: I hear that and I have absolutely loved your guy’s passion from the first time we’ve ever spoke, almost a year ago (Buz Hasson and Blair Smith made PopCultHQ’s very logo!). I’m very happy and proud of you guys, for all that you have accomplished and actually accomplished it with real grind.
PopCultHQ: Is there any real creative struggle when it comes to your original vision and having to be so collaboratively ‘giving’ with your “baby”?
Ken: “There was a little more creative struggle with bringing the Living Corpse to the big screen, only because we had a long storyline and character development that might not match up with what the movie people want to do. It was a lot easier with Little Dead Rotting Hood. She wasn’t so fleshed out. We just had a design for her and the basics that she is an undead Red Riding Hood who comes from a long line of Riding Hoods that fight Werewolves with a mystic sword. Gabe took that concept and ran with the script and made it better than we could imagine.”
Buz: “You just have to be very flexible, creative types tend to be visionary. Be the pilot for your ideas, but when you’re involved or get invited to collaborate with other entities and there’s a masters of the domain, you have to be open-minded. If you’re not, it wont go well for you. learn to work well with others and like it. It’s supposed to be fun, and know going in that it’s A LOT of work. Long hours, edits, changes, it’s an organic process. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it slows down a bit, but everyone involved wants a great outcome. So work hard and enjoy the process.”
PopCultHQ: Buz, Ken, your expectations for the film?
Ken: “Golden Globe at least. Longshot for the Academy Award for best zombie Red Riding Hood fighting werewolves category. Fingers crossed.”
Buz: “My expectations are already met really. We’ve been hearing a lot of hype about the reaction to the film and the comic art. It’s looking like we may be seeing more from LDRH than we expected!”
PopCultHQ: I’m all about spotting trends and I’m good at it. To be very honest, Little Dead Rotting Hood looks amazing to me! It will be my pleasure to get the word out on this movie to the whole world.
Gabriel: “Awesome! My partner Jared Cohn also appreciates it.
Set photos provided by Lily Campisi
The Asylum Production Company