No stranger to the horror genre, Chad Ferrin found his footing in the film industry as a production assistant on such films as Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and Hellraiser: Bloodline. He soon moved on to directing himself, working on episodes of the television series Troma’s Edge TV, produced by Troma Entertainment. After participating in the production of feature-length films, Chad wrote and directed a number of low-budget horrors such as Unspeakable, The Ghoul, and Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! to name a few—with many achieving cult status with fans.
After watching his latest production Pig Killer, the gritty retelling of infamous serial killer Willy Pickton, we reached out to Chad to ask some questions we were dying to know.
Please tell us a bit about how you first got interested in film, what were some of your earliest influences?
Growing up on a farm in Minnesota, I always felt I didn’t quite fit in, so I’d escape through cinema. Seeing The Thing, Quest for Fire, Popeye, Nine to Five, and The Empire Strikes Back on the big screen really lit a fuse inside my young mind. And when my dad brought home a Betamax with Taxi Driver, The Exorcist, and Saturn 3, my cinematic world exploded. I’d watch 3-5 movies a day, being transported to all the different worlds that flashed across that small TV screen sealed my fate.
Dream became reality when producer Mike Leahy (his wife Lori was my babysitter as a kid) offered me a job as a production assistant on The Prophecy. In a flash, I packed my car and drove two days straight to Los Angeles for the greatest opportunity of my young life. Working with them was the best film school; I learned everything from loading a camera to negative cutting and loved every moment of it.
Working as a writer, director, and producer, which aspect of the process do you enjoy the most? Which do you find most challenging and why?
I find directing the most rewarding, coming up with stuff on set that improves what’s on the page, shaping a scene with the actors and crew is tops… Also finding the money.
What was it like working with indie powerhouse Troma Entertainment?
It was a magical time that I probably appreciate more now than I did then. I sent a VHS screener of Unspeakable to every distributor in town, from Artisan to Warner Bros. I ended up doing the deal with Troma because they were going to make 35mm prints and do a theatrical run. Pretty fuckin’ exciting at the time, I tell you what. Unfortunately, the film print fell through, but they did fly me to the Cannes film festival where they screened it at the market. I had the time of my life with a beautiful French girl all while my film was being sold to the world. Ah, those were the days. When I returned to Los Angeles, Lloyd asked me to help direct some pick-up scenes for Tales from the Crapper, and then some odds and ends for his UK show, Troma’s Edge TV. I made some friends, learned a thing or two, and had some adventures, not too shabby. And it’s that independent Troma spirit that inspires me most on my own productions today.
How did you first hear of Willy Pickton and what made you want to adapt this real crime story into film?
My friend Jeff Olan introduced Kate Patel to me, she pitched the idea of doing it. Growing up on a farm, I could relate to the guy, so his story instantly drew me in. I read up on him, watched a couple of documentaries, and cranked out a script. Jeff and Kate dug it, raised the money and we were off and running.
What sort of research, if any, did Jake Busey undergo to prepare for his role as Willy?
I recommended some documentaries on Pickton as well as films like 10 Rillington Place, Deranged, Motel Hell, Pigs, Henry, and Eaten Alive to get him in the mood. Whatever else he did, I’m not sure but, it was spot on.
Did you experience any difficulties during Pig Killer’s production?
No, it was surprisingly smooth for a 12-day shoot. The cast and crew gave a hundred percent and that just made every moment a true pleasure.
What have you been watching as of late? What other filmmakers have you excited right now?
Shintarô Katsu’s Zatoichi series blew me away…it’s like cinematic cocaine. I watched them all in about two days, smiling ear to ear the whole time. Scott Derrickson comes to mind, I just saw The Black Phone which pleasantly surprised me.
As a fan of horror, what scares you the most?
That Orwell’s 1984 is coming true.
What is the best way for people to keep up with what you are working on?
Twitter @SKATD and facebook.com/chad.ferrin/
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Dick Dale is an Australian writer/director/producer with a strong focus on video nasties and splatter films. Dick is most notable for directing the short dark comedy Creamy Love (2001) and…
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Hey there, I’m Jim and I’m located in London, UK. I am a Writer and Managing Director here at Grimoire of Horror. A lifelong love of horror and writing has led me down this rabbit hole, allowing me to meet many amazing people and experience some truly original artwork. I specialise in world cinema, manga/graphic novels, and video games but will sometime traverse into the unknown in search of adventure.