Brett DeJager is a solid filmmaking machine. His newest film Bonejangles, from Wild Eye Releasing, is dangerously close to terrorizing home video. Writing and directing segments for the forthcoming anthologies Cryptids and 10/31/16, he’s quickly becoming an indie force to be reckoned with… even if he does only have 73 followers on Facebook. I recently caught up with Brett to delve deep into his mind and find out what makes those sadistic, yet insanely creative gears turn.
PJ Starks: Bonejangles has a lot of different elements involved for a horror comedy. What inspired the idea behind the film?
Brett DeJager: As much as I’d love to take credit as the brainchild of Bonejangles, that title belongs to screenwriter, Keith Melcher. He developed the concept and script and then later brought me on to direct the movie. I just brought the idea to life.
PJ Starks: What was the most challenging aspect of directing the film and what lessons did you take away from the experience?
Brett DeJager: Besides the typical challenges that low-budget filmmakers experience on nearly every movie, the biggest challenge directing Bonejangles was that the majority of the movie took place at night. With it being summer as well, the nights were very short so we really didn’t have much time. We’d shoot all day for the day scenes but then shoot another 8 hours at night. The first week of filming the main crew and I got about 2 hours of sleep each night and were on set for over 100 hours across 5 days. Our feet and legs were so swollen that Keith couldn’t get his boots on and off. We weren’t a SAG project at the time so everybody was all in that entire week. It didn’t get much better the next 3 weeks.
As far as lessons learned, shooting Bonejangles reinforced my belief that you can never have enough hours in the day and having somebody to keep track of the time is crucial. With our crew being very small, I also handled the shooting schedule and had to keep everybody moving. It made it difficult to concentrate purely on the creative aspect of things. Make sure you get a good AD! Another lesson? Don’t write the use of fog into scenes… sure it creates a creepy atmosphere that everybody loves… but it slows down everything! In Bonejangles every scene basically required fog and even though our machines were spec’d for commercial haunted houses… it was a slow and painful process. Always needing to recharge at the worst time or the wind would pick up and poof…it’d be gone. I’d say never again but I know I’d be lying to myself.
PJ Starks: The film is on the cusp of releasing to the public. What are you most excited about with the release?
Brett DeJager: I’m just excited for the world to see Bonejangles and to move onto the next project. It feels like Bonejangles has been in purgatory for so long, and it deserves to be seen. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I hope that Bonejangles is well received by horror fans, and that I could use the momentum of the release to secure funding for future projects. I think that’s every filmmaker’s dream.
PJ Starks: Is this film a one off creation or is there a larger mythos at work where potential fans can expect sequels?
Brett DeJager: If Bonejangles is well received… potential fans should definitely expect at least 2 more movies. Scripts for Bonejangles 2 and 3 are already complete and ready to film! We may even be working on a Bonejangles short film…
PJ Starks: You’re currently directing sequences for two anthologies, Cryptids and 10/31, can you talk about your involvement in those?
Brett DeJager: I’m beyond excited to be a part of Cryptids and 10/31. Working with Zane Hershberger and Rocky Gray has been a really great experience and the fact that both of them wanted me to direct a segment for their anthologies is a big honor. There are a lot of great filmmakers attached to those projects. It definitely adds a whole other level of accountability to make a great horror flick. Having said that, both of my segments are already filmed and in post-production, so I’m mainly working on getting those wrapped up right now.
PJ Starks: Do you have your next feature film planned and can you talk about it?
Brett DeJager: I have several projects that I’d love to move onto next. It really depends on how the release of Bonejangles goes. I’d love to film my horror/comedy flick, Tis’ the Season of the Witch, next but it could be Bonejangles 2…. both have scripts ready to go.
PJ Starks: Being as Bonejangles is an amalgamation of various sub-genres, what were your biggest influences when creating this character and what aspect of the slasher genre would you like to see revived?
Brett DeJager: Even though I didn’t create the title character, Bonejangles, my vision for the movie in terms of directing was greatly influenced by Carpenter, Steven Miner, and Ethan Wiley. I knew the script was over the top so I wanted to embrace it but still wanted to balance straight horror with quirkiness. I wanted him to have a comedic element to him but also be terrifying in his own right. I feel like we’ve accomplished what we set out to do.
I’ve been hearing the last few years from indie filmmakers that they want to bring back practical effects and rely less on CGI. I share that desire, but I’d also like to see filmmakers embrace CGI with moderation in mind. Blending practical effects with CGI can really churn out some killer effects!