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Q&A: Producer Richard Turner talks “GNAW”!

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As both horror fans and filmmakers can tell you, Colorado has a genre film culture unlike anywhere else as of late. Home to the Stanley Film Festival, the Mile High Horror Film Festival, the Telluride Horror Show and recently, the shooting location for Quentin Tarantino’s bloody western thriller THE HATEFUL EIGHT, Colorado truly has fright fare running through its veins, and it’ll continue that tradition into GNAW, the new film from Unreal Media and Wrecking Ball Pictures. With AN AMERICAN TERROR’s Haylar Garcia at the helm, the film offers up a solid cast that includes Sally Kirkland (TWO EVIL EYES), Kyle Gass (TENACIOUS D), Chris Johnson (CURSED) and Penelope Mitchell (HEMLOCK GROVE). With the film now in production, FANGORIA caught up with Unreal Media’s Richard Turner to talk any and everything GNAW…

FANGORIA: How did GNAW come together?

RICHARD TURNER: Mike Haskins and I met each other for the first time at SXSW Film Festival. We found out that we were both from Denver and that we both wanted to make movies, so I told him that Unreal Media was looking for low budget horror films to produce. He approached Haylar Garcia, who would direct, and Haylar, Kathryn Gould and Jim Brennan wrote a great synopsis of Gnaw. Unreal and Wrecking Ball Pictures (Mike’s company) optioned the synopsis, and Haylar, Kathryn and Jim then wrote an amazing script.  

Virtually no changes were made from the first version we received to the one that is now being shot. On the strength of that script, Unreal was able to raise the financing for the film, and the script also enticed our amazing cast to come on board.

FANGORIA: Colorado has become an interesting genre hub as of late for filmmakers and horror fans alike; what informed the decision to film in there?

TURNER: Both Unreal and Wrecking Ball are based in Denver and a goal of both companies is to bring more film production to Colorado. It is a great place to live and work and we have incredible film crews here, that could use more local work. Many of the crew on GNAW work on major motion pictures across the US.

A key reason is that Haylar Garcia is based here. As the writer and director, he too wants to make films in Colorado, and this is true even as he works on writing projects for some big Hollywood names. Haylar owns a place called The Lot, which is sort of an artist compound. It has recording studios and stages for filming; it hosts acting classes and writers workshops. It is a great place to hang out and really helps create a fantastic, creative vibe.

FANGORIA: GNAW seems to be equal parts drama, thriller and body horror; what should horror fans expect from GNAW?

TURNER: Although we have taken the time to meticulously implant a human story into this ride, horror fans should first and foremost expect to be scared. We have always known that classic horror hinges on a perfect balance, meaning not just being scared in the seats, but being scared for the character as well. GNAW’s prime directive is to strike that balance.  

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FANGORIA: How did the cast come together for GNAW?

TURNER: We did our own casting. Haylar had a vision for each character, and all the producers met regularly to discuss options. We started by looking for our lead actress, and we wanted someone with great acting chops; someone that had a following in the horror genre and some name recognition. We looked and found Penelope, who has been expanding outside the horror genre, read it and loved it. In fact, she told Haylar that the character and story were so compelling that she could not resist doing the project.  

With Penelope in place, we turned to the other characters. This is really Penelope’s movie; she is in nearly every scene. So the supporting cast had to be outstanding: able to convey emotion and bring out the character quickly, to move Penelope’s story forward. And, of course, some name recognition was a positive.  

Again, Haylar had a vision in mind. After discussion with the producers, we sought out and were able to get Chris and Kyle. Both have already filmed some scenes and they have exceeded even our high expectations.  

Sally’s role was the last to be cast. We did not think we had a shot, but Haylar knew someone who knew her and we were able to get her the script. She loved it, and the other cast members, and she surprised us by coming on board. Although her scenes are yet to film, we have no doubt this this Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning actress will bring add stature to the movie.    

FANGORIA: With a title like GNAW, one might expect some gorier or more nasty horror bits. Will GNAW be taking advantage of practical FX? Will the film be more towards the gory side of things or will it be largely psychological in execution?

TURNER: As mentioned earlier, all great horror depends on balance, and although GNAW employs lots of theater of the mind, which is common in the thriller, it does have high points of blood and other nasty bits, fleeting though they are. In the end, sometimes what you don’t see is scarier than what you do see. That being said, our practical and CG effect hybrid approach should leave fans with a visual appetite wanting for nothing.

FANGORIA: What will separate GNAW from other contemporary indie horror offerings? Is GNAW a contained story or might there be more GNAW in the future, should the film prove to be a success?

TURNER: What separates GNAW will be a combination of storytelling, great acting, effects and delivery.  Whereas many modern indie horror movies hit on one or two of these, we seek tenaciously to achieve all four. In the script, one of the characters in GNAW is described as a terrifying, unstoppable beast. We believe the franchise will be too.

Stay tuned for more on GNAW here at FANGORIA.com!

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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