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Doug Bollinger Interview (Writer/Director, Rock, Paper, Scissors)



The Horror Revolution: First off, what’s your favorite horror movie, and what movie scared you the most?


Doug Bollinger: My favorite horror movie is a tough one to narrow down but if I had to pick one, I'll go with the original Evil Dead. It affected me in so many ways. It provided the scares and gore, of course, but also did everything with such a creative DIY spirit, I kept watching it over and over! I also loved the second Evil Dead, which seemed more like a remake (with a little more budget) than a true sequel. The movie that scared me the most was the original When A Stranger Calls. "Have you checked the children?" stills send chills down my spine! 


THR: Rock, Paper, Scissors was an excellent revenge thriller. What inspired you to make the film?


DB: I've always been interested in the concept of revenge and with so many cinematic examples to draw from, it seemed like a challenge to put an original spin on it. I showed my co-writer, Josh Lee, an outline of a revenge plot that involved a couple and he really added more depth to the story. My initial idea was more along the lines of I Spit On Your Grave or Last House on the Left but he definitely infused more of the psychology into the script. We're happy with the finished product!


THR: One of the things I appreciated the most about the film was its blend of different genres, teasing a little bit of home invasion horror at the beginning for diving fully into a psychological/revenge flick. Do you have a favorite genre within horror, and if it’s not one of those, do you intend to explore it in your future filmmaking? 


DB: I love the idea of horror taking place in what is a comfortable place. I adore a good "remote location" horror/thriller but when the bad stuff is happening in your own home, I feel like I'm drawn to that even more. Movies like Hush or Funny Games are great examples of that subgenre. I'd love to explore a story with some more gore but that stuff is expensive!


THR: I thought all of the cast did a great job, but I was super impressed with Timothy Laurel Harrison. How much of her performance was dictated by the script and how much was her personal addition to the role? How much of the filmmaking process is determined on-set as opposed to directly through what’s written in the script? 


DB: Honestly, the cast took our words and elevated them way beyond our expectations. Timothy and Jeff led the way. Once we shot a few days of scenes, we knew that we had something better than we thought. In fact, we totally adjusted our approach to shooting in order to take more time since we were seeing work that was better than what we wrote! Timothy had auditioned for me a few years prior and I didn't cast her but I loved her talent and work ethic. She was the first lead we cast. She was the foundation and frankly, most of what you see came from her. I often stayed out of the way and let the actors work. I was thrilled with the entire cast. 


THR: One of the things that I would’ve liked to see in the film was a bit more time dedicated to fleshing out the initial home invasion. Was there a reason that that part of the plot was more glossed over compared to Missy’s and Sam’s revenge?


DB: Great question and yes, it was intentional. We shot more of the attack and each time we tried to insert it into the story, it felt clumsy. We kept concluding that the combination of the fractured memories of the invasion combined with the imagination of the audience allowed us to barely show any of it and hopefully still have an impact. The story became more about their reaction than the actual event. If I had to do it over again, we might spend more time on the initial violence but as we screened it in festivals, the reactions were solid so we kept those sequences to a minimum. 


THR: I love that the film is available to check out on Tubi, and I’m a big fan of the platform as a whole. What are the challenges as an indie filmmaker getting your movies in front of an audience in today’s streaming-first world, especially when you have to compete with so many other films for people’s attention? 


DB: I love the opportunities for indie filmmakers today. The arena for small projects to find an audience is WAY better suited than it was when I started. The bottom line is this: if your film is good enough, you can find eyeballs to check it out. The biggest challenge is navigating the world of promotion. Becoming adept in the social media space is an essential part of the equation. I'm more encouraged now than I've ever been with the possibilities of making a profit on solid, low-budget flicks!


THR: Your first feature film, Waltzing Anna, had a few big-name stars attached, most notably for horror fans the legendary Betsy Palmer. What was it like working with someone who is so important to genre fans right off the bat?


DB: I was so lucky to get that opportunity. I owe a lot to the producers of that film (and two others). I was able to learn form wonderful actors and crew that had careers that I envied. Working with pros like Pat Hingle and Betsy Palmer was a dream. They had such different approaches to acting but often got to the same wonderful result. Being a horror fan, Betsy Palmer was royalty. When I met her in her NYC apartment to discuss doing our little film, she was so welcoming and gracious. On set, I knew I had to up my game because Betsy, Pat, and other veteran actors like Stephen Henderson, Casey Siemaszko, and Paige Turco were so prepared and experienced. With Betsy, I had to stop myself from being a fanboy around her! 


THR: Ok, you teased me so now I have to ask. Tell me about surviving a Russian film shoot! 


DB: I co-wrote the film, Mail Order Bride, which shot for a month in Russia. I was also the first AD and spent four cold weeks in Moscow shooting with a primarily Russian crew. It was a challenge but it's a month I'll never forget. We worked directly with a production company (Mosfilm) and they were amazing. They gave us access to incredible equipment and secured locations that added so much production value to the film. We shot in front of the Bolshoi Theatre, in Red Square, and exploded a car on train tracks. We followed a car chase (also coordinated by the Russian stunt team) through the streets of Moscow and I was mesmerized. The last of these was completely organized by a Mosfilm stunt team and it was breathtaking. The film boasts a pretty cool cast with legendary Actor Danny Aiello, Ivana Milicevic, and comedian Artie Lange.


THR: What are the challenges in directing indie films with a small budget that you feel would be different from producing a more mainstream (and studio-funded) film? 


DB: The biggest difference is time. A really smart crew member I worked with on one of my first jobs behind the camera put it this way: As an indie filmmaker, you want your film to be three things. You want it done FAST, CHEAP, and GOOD. The issue for a low budget is you are often faced with the difficulty of choosing TWO of the three. In addition to the obvious financial limitations, if you want really talented people around you have to pay them (at least you want to pay them). The limitations do hopefully serve as a catalyst for creative storytelling!


THR: If you could work with anyone in the industry, alive or dead, who would it be and why? 


DB: I would want to act with Jodie Foster because she has been my favorite since I knew what acting was! I would want to write for Mark Ruffalo because I feel like he makes words sound so natural and my screenwriting legacy will be amplified by his talents. I would want to direct Emmanuelle Chriqui because I've learned so much since I first worked with her and she's one of the reasons I enjoy directing as much as I do!


THR: This is one of the questions I like to ask people because it’s such a divisive topic in the horror community. What are your general opinions on remakes in horror, and if you were given the ability to remake any horror film from the past, what do you think you’d be most suited to take on? 


DB: I have no problem with remakes and reboots. My approach is to this is very "free market". If the creators of Blair Witch, Friday the 13th, or Paranormal Activity (to name a few) want to keep making money, so be it. If the sequels, remakes, and reboots aren't any good, then audiences will decide. If I could remake something, I think it would be The Sentinel. I love that movie and have always been interested in the occult. I would also love to remake something that doesn't have the huge following that many of the other classics do. 


THR: Are there any exciting upcoming projects that you can talk about? What’s next for you after this one? 


DB: We are into production on our next feature. Scrawl tells the story of a fast-talking writer that just can't find success. He is presented with an opportunity to expand his audience but at quite a cost. We originally started this project as a short form web series but the success of Rock Paper Scissors has convinced us to go the feature route again. A few familiar faces will be a part of Scrawl. Keith Collins is the lead and co-producer. Gervase Peterson (Miguel in RPS) takes on the role of a journalist. I'm a hyphenate on this one as well (writer-director-actor). And we have a couple of exciting newcomers, Sarah Osman (HBO's Love Life) and Sophia Lucia Parola (Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire).


THR: Finally, why is Donkey Kong named Donkey Kong if he’s actually a monkey? 


DB: My guess is that they wanted Kong (of the regal variety) to be part of the name and Donkey sounded great paired with it. And they were right!

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