‘Killer Movie’ Director Brings Reality TV to Film27 Jan, 2009 By: Billy Gil
Director Jeff Fisher’s work has included such reality-TV shows as “The Simple Life” with Paris Hilton and MTV’s “Fraternity Life: SUNY Buffalo.” Fisher brought that experience to Killer Movie (see review), a horror film that lampoons the reality-TV industry in which a reality-TV crew working in a remote town is picked off by a murderer who tapes the killings.
Killer Movie comes to DVD Feb. 3, from Peace Arch Entertainment, at $29.99. We spoke with Fisher about his experience making the film.
HM: How did the concept for the movie develop?
Fisher: I’ve been directing reality-TV for a few years, and people would ask me, “How real is reality-TV?” Or, “How do you direct reality?” We decided it would be more fun to actually show it.
I had been shooting in a super-remote location up in Michigan. Where they were housing me was pretty desolate and had no Internet access, no phone. All those horror movies I saw as a kid like Halloween started flashing through my head in the night. I started thinking of the worst-case scenarios, like what if members of the crew started not showing up to work?
I came home after that job and kind of took a parade of all the fictitious things I’d seen and archetypes of people I’d worked with and plugged them into the script.
HM: Was the character of Blanca at all inspired by your work with Paris Hilton?
Fisher: I had a lot of fun working on that show, and I could honestly watch Paris walk around a parking lot and stay entertained. One of the reasons that show worked is those girls knew funny and played to it. I think the Blanca character is certainly an amalgam of Lindsay Lohan, Paris, Nicole [Richie] and those starlets. But I wrote Blanca with a lot of affection. I like that character a lot.
HM: What about the other characters, such as the producers and agents? Were those modeled after real people you may have worked with?
Fisher: I worked as an assistant at a talent agency and got lucky, I had a really great boss. I worked for an agent who was a very nice man, but I certainly saw a lot of agents around me who were much more Ari Gold from “Entourage.” … I’ve definitely worked with a few producers I’d be happy not to work with again.
HM: What about getting Leighton Meester involved? Was that at all a nod to her work on “Gossip Girl” and how that show has sort of this reality show, “everyone’s watching what everyone’s doing” quality about it?
Fisher: We just cast Leighton because her reel at the time was terrific. We wanted somebody in that role that … would be like Drew Barrymore in Scream or Janet Leigh in Psycho. You think you’re going to be watching them the whole time, so it’s a shock when you lose them sooner than expected. The “Gossip Girl” thing was a bonus.
HM: Did you have experience as a PA that helped inform your filmmaking here?
Fisher: My first job out of film school was fourth assistant in craft services. I had to work my way up to PA. I was an assistant to a studio exec, and to a talent agent. I definitely worked my way up the rungs. I have a lot of empathy [for those people].
HM: The making-of special feature had kind of a reality-show quality where star Paul Wesley is swatting at bugs during the interview, was that kind of an intentional thing to tie into the reality-TV theme?
Fisher: I wish I could take credit for that. I didn’t see it until they sent it off to Peace Arch. Everyone was kissing my butt, it was embarrassing.
There were four high schools shot at to make up the high school in the film, and that one [we were filming at that day] was near a busy street, so I think Paul’s interview was like 12 feet from an intersection and you could hear cars passing by. That kid is so great to work with, he never complained about anything, so it cracks me up that in his press interview, he has to deal with that. It was a coincidence. I hope that people think that it was meant to be.