If you are a fan of the horror genre there is a couple of documentaries that are ‘must sees’: Never Sleep Again and His Name Was Jason. These movies give an in-depth look into two of the biggest franchises in horror film history and both are superbly constructed. This is all thanks to film maker Thommy Hutson. Thommy loves the genre and this is no more apparent than with his feature film debut The ID. A psychological genre flick that stars Amanda Wyss (Nightmare on Elm Street) and is currently available on DVD and VOD. Thommy took sometime to answer questions about making the film, working with a horror legend and which legendary film maker he would let die. Check it all out below!
Slack Jaw Punks: Hey Thommy! Thanks so much for talking up The Id! Tell me how this project got off the ground?
Thommy Hutson: Dan Farrands (who produced the film with me) and I had just come off a documentary project and we were trying to find something to do in the feature space. There was a kernel of an idea to do a small, limited-location film and it quickly came together once we got a script written by Sean Stewart. Reading it we really thought, “This is interesting, creepy, dramatic and thrilling. Let’s do it!”
SJP: Was the transition from to the director chair always the plan? Why The Id for your first feature film?
TH: Directing is something I have always wanted to do. As a writer and producer I am so used to seeing things in my head a certain way and I thought this project would be the perfect opportunity to make that happen as a director. Although I did not write the script, Sean was so fun and collaborative to work with in terms of me mentioning to him my ideas and the things I had wanted to see in the film. As for this being my first project, it was basically timing: the financing was falling into place, Sean took the idea and crafted such an intense, layered script and Amanda was available and said yes. I thought: this happens so rarely, all the elements coming together, how could I say no!? Having done docs on so many of the really great franchises in horror that showcased Freddy, Jason, Ghostface and zombies, and also having written and produced a creature-feature with “Animal,” I wanted to tackle something more grounded, psychological, real and adult. I also loved the relationship dynamic and how far down the rabbit hole the two characters played by Amanda Wyss and Patrick Peduto go. It’s a place that has some really tense, creepy moments.
SJP: We have a long and rich history of psychological horrors films and for the most part, these tend to be some of my favorites. Which movies inspired The Id?
TH: Even though this isn’t a true story, it something that could happen. That was part of the inspiration: how being a caregiver, and effectively giving your life up for someone else, can adversely affect not just the relationship between the two people, but them as individuals. And there were some films that provided some conceptual inspiration: I think there was always going to be a taste of the Father character being a little like Margaret White in “Carrie.” The relationship he and Meridith have certainly echoes that of the characters in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” and Meridith as a character herself has a little hint of Eleanor from the original “The Haunting.” There were a lot of little nuances we all hoped to get in there to make everything feel real and worrisome and chilling.
SJP: Amanda Wyss starred in one of the greatest horror flicks of all time. Was she always your choice to star in The Id?
TH: Amanda is such a fantastic actress, and she and I have been friends for such a long time (I give credit to Heather Langenkamp for introducing us!), I couldn’t wait to work with her on something. We had talked about that for a long while before this came up and when it did, I sent her the script and she responded immediately that she wanted to play the role. That was a great feeling, to know that the central role of the film was going to be played by someone who could bring it to life in such a profound way. I’m over the moon that I got to work with her and I cannot wait to do so again. And again!
SJP: Dealing with the topics you do (domestic abuse, feminism etc), are you concerned with hitting nerves with the audience?
TH: I’ve found that this movie does hit nerves and, as a filmmaker, I feel good about that. Again, this story could be real. I have heard more than a few viewers tell me they know that things like this, sadly, go on. Not necessarily to the heightened dree in the film, but the general concept and some of the things that play out. I think that there are so many real and raw emotions and issues going on in the film: family, patriarchy, sickness, insanity, love, hate…it’s this complicated ball of what can go wrong when two people are so intricately intertwined and rely on each other in very different ways.
SJP: Bret Easton Ellis (author of American Psycho) has stated that “movie culture is dead” having worked on some of the best horror movie documentaries, how do you feel about that statement?
TH: I think that it is easy to think that when the current climate seems to favor big, gigantic, bombastic, cgi-laden spectacle movies over what a lot of people who have been watching movies for a long time were used to: character-driven, small stories with personal meaning. I mean, I personally think it would be near impossible for a studio to jump at the chance to make something like “On Golden Pond” or “Ordinary People.” Rather than saying movie culture is dead, I’d say that movie culture is just vastly different. Because I do think that some of the films that are laden with technology have something to say, even if the actors are doing it in front of a green screen. It’s an interesting time to be a filmmaker and a viewer because there is so much content out there. I was just looking through Netflix the other day and I think I literally muttered, “There are so many movies available.” But, to me, that is part of what maybe is the “new culture” of movies: mass accessibility to both create and have the film shown. It’s another reason I think independent film is so important; I think that is where a lot of the culture of movies, in all of their forms, can come from and keep things alive.
SJP: If Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock are hanging from a cliff and you can save only one, who do you save? Why?
TH: This is such a trick question and by answering I feel like the person I am not saving is myself! Both are such amazing filmmakers who have left an indelible mark in cinema. (Talk about movie culture.) I love movies from both, as many, many people do. And it’s fairly obvious I am stalling! Okay, if I had to choose, it would be…Hitchcock. Many of his films are some of my all-time favorites. “Rope” is a film I just love, and I can always watch “The Birds,” “Psycho,” “Vertigo,” “Rear Window” and more. There was a style and flow, whether it was suspense, action or mystery, that always drew me in. And I loved how his films were often able to create a real tension with limited characters and locations. But let it be known my ideal plan would be to hold the hand of one who could hold the hand of the other and we all go out for a drink together afterward!
SJP: What’s next for you? Any projects we should know about?
TH: I just started production on a documentary about Clive Barker, his life and work, which is really exciting. Clive and his company, Seraphim Films, are involved, and it couldn’t be a more fun and interesting project. I also am in the middle of edits for my first novel, which is book one of a teen thriller trilogy. That is hopefully coming out this summer. It was such a wonderful experience to write a fiction book after working so long on the (non-fiction) making of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” book, Never Sleep Again. Those two projects made me realized I love working in the book/novel space and hope to keep doing that. In terms of features, I’m looking at a few things I have written or co-written to try and get going next. I have a Christmas film that would be a lot of fun. I love, love, love, the holidays and this has a teeny, tiny little dark bent to it that would be cool to bring to life. To find out what I have happening, what I’m thinking about or to see pics of my chickens, people can keep up and engage with me on Twitter: @HutsonRanch