Today, I had the pleasure of speaking with choreographer turned horror director Glenn Packard Douglas, a man with a love for the arts and a passion for horror. After many years of success serving as choreographer for musicians like Pink, Usher, and Michael Jackson, Douglas recently made his directorial debut with the slasher ‘Pitchfork‘. He was kind enough to talk with me about his career and ‘Pitchfork’. I would like to share that with you now.
Horror Fuel: “I have to ask, what is like to receive an Emmy nomination?”
GP: “I was at the peak of my career and it had led me to Michael Jackson. To work with Michael Jackson, it is like the one person you want to work with as choreographer. It shows determination. I was literally at a Barnes and Nobles hanging out when I got a phone call. ‘Is this Glenn Douglas Packard?’ and I’m like ‘Yes.” and then they said ‘You’ve been nominated for an Emmy Award.’ I didn’t even know I could get nominated. I was in shock. I hung the phone and called my agent. It was such an honor. It was really the only time in my career that I felt butterflies. I’ve never felt butterflies before. I never understood that when people talked about it until then. When I performed on stage I would just get a rush, like a high. Sitting in that seat with Paula Abdul going ‘And the nominees for the best choreographer in Outstanding Choreography in a TV special’. When she said that I was like, ‘what is this feeling coming over me?’ It was really a great moment and one I’m extremely proud of. Who won should of won. It was the Olympics, Kenny Ortega, who did Footloose and Dirty Dancing. I look up to him so much. It was an honor to be up with him. It was the year of September 11th and having the Olympics win was such an important thing.”
Horror Fuel: “What inspired ‘Pitchfork’?”
GP: “Actually, I had watched a rerun show of Oprah Winfrey like eight years ago and it was an episode with a young man who had written a book about child abuse. He had been abused as a child and treated as a dog by his parents. He went on to write this best seller and turned his life around. One day I was thinking about it on the farm, where I lived and I was like, ‘What if this guy had gone in a different direction? What if he had gone mad?’. So, that’s where Pitchfork started in my head. Then, he’s just evolved throughout the eight years, becoming more animalistic, more feral. Eventually, I was thinking about what kind of farm instrument I could put in his hand, I was like ‘You know what, lets put a pitchfork in his hand and make him like Freddy or Wolverine.’ You just wait, one day there will be Pitchfork vs Ash vs Evil Dead, I’m dreaming big.”
Horror Fuel: “Pitchforks freak me out. Whenever I’m at my barn I avoid them. I have this fear that I’ll fall on it.”
GP: “I know right.”
Daniel Wilkinson and Glenn Packard
Horror Fuel: “What made you want to make the jump from being a choreographer to a director?”
GP: “Most of my career as a choreographer I have been in a position of directing. When I am putting on stage shows for artists, I tend to get into that role of directing. A lot of my colleagues and people I have worked with, dancers, and really good friends would always say ‘Glenn, you have that director gene, you need to be a director one day.’ I think all of those people giving me the courage that I could do it, helped me get to that decision. I always was a huge fan of film making and a ginormous fan of the horror genre. I thought why not make my first film in the horror genre and why not do the subgenre I love the most, slashers.”
Horror Fuel: “I don’t know if you read our review, but I really, really, appreciate the lighting. I can’t express that enough. A movie being too dark to see the action is one of my biggest pet peeves. So, thank you.”
GP: “That’s a compliment for my DP. He is a really talented young man, Rey Gutierrez. We have done a lot of music videos together, so what you’re seeing. I really wanted to make sure that the night scenes could be seen. That was always really important to me. He was a genius at lighting them. It wasn’t very many lights. It was just two huge lights, like the lights you see when you’re driving down the express lane and you see road construction. And four other lights and he was able to make that work.”
Horror Fuel: “The barn scene was impressive.”
GP:” Are you talking about the barn dance? Isn’t it really funny that now that the film has come out and reviewed and talking about it? They talk about that I did stereotypical characters and then they complain about the barn dance. That’s something new and different to put in a horror movie. These kids come from a school of arts and when we get together, think about the backstory people hear about when they review this, they come from a arts school in New York City. What do a bunch of arts students do when they get together? They dance, they sing. That’s what that is. Of course those kinds of people are going to want to have a barn dance. I’m an Emmy nominated choreographer, so of course I’m going to do a Footloose style barn dance.”
Horror Fuel: “I enjoyed the barn dance. Was it hard to choreograph and direct that scene with so many people in such a small space?”
GP: “No, it was the easiest part of filming [laughter]. That’s what I’m used to. That’s what I have been doing for the past 25 years. That was like riding a bike.”
Horror Fuel: “I’m sure some viewers have never been to a barn dance, that’s probably why they’re lost on it. ”
GP: “Some of my favorite movies growing up were Footloose and Dirty Dancing, Flashdance. Then I had Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, Evil Dead. Then I had great comedies like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club. Those were big influences in this film. I had a little bit John Hughes, a little bit of Sam Raimi, then some Kenny Ortega. Those are directors with great comedy, great horror, and great musicals. That’s what Pitchfork is, a blend of those films. A confident and proud film of that mixture, not just strictly horror.”
Horror Fuel: “If everyone had been to a barn dance there wouldn’t be any of those complaints.”
GP: “I know, exactly. I remember someone complained that I don’t show boobs in my horror movie, but then I get complaints that the barn dance looked like something out of Playboy and the girls all look like hookers and I’m like, “What?”.
I love it when people get the movie. When they think back to those 80’s movies when they first came out and we had never seen Jason or had never seen Michael Myers. That’s what Pitchfork is, a character that nobody knows who he is. You see these silhouettes of him as the movie is going along and you’re wondering, ‘Who is this monster?’ We all know who Freddy or Jason is. What’s cool about Pitchfork is that nobody knows who he is. We were creating this thing from scratch. It was so inspiring to do that. I wouldn’t let the actors go into the makeup room, which is a barn we converted into this makeup compound. When they were in a scene and turned around, that was the first time ever seeing Pitchfork, like when the mom looks up the stairs and he’s standing there. They were in shock when they first saw him. You can’t do that in horror movies all the time It wasn’t like ‘Oh, this is a horror movie’, [scream], it wasn’t like that. It was a cool thing to experience live on set. Imagine being on set and seeing Jason Voorhees for first time.”
Horror Fuel: “Oh, cool. I did not know that. Yeah, that’s awesome.”
Horror Fuel: ‘The young actress, Addison Wallace, was really good. Did you direct her differently than the other cast members?”
GP: “Jenny, Addison Wallace, she’s been one of my dancers since I can remember. I’ve known her since she was like nine years old, it’s been a long time. About four years ago, she was this little tiny thing still, I was like, ‘I’m doing this horror movie one day and you’re going to be my little girl in it.’ and for four years I’ve been saying, ‘Don’t grow up. Don’t get taller. It’s coming soon.’ It’s interesting, she was just fifteen when we filmed it, so she’s sixteen now actually. She’s pretty short for her age so I thought she could still play a little girl. I didn’t treat her much different than the other actors and actresses. She knew how to work with me because she had worked with me as a choreographer.
What was cool to see was Jenny being around method actors and Pitchfork, Daniel Wilkinson, who by the way I call ‘Pitch’ is a method actor and Jenny really watched him perform and Lenox and other actors really commit to a role. You know the blood shack scene when she’s in that cage, we started filming that when the sun was going down and we would all take a break, her and the father, played by Derek Reynolds, they both would stay in there all night long to keep the feeling. That little fifteen year old girl stayed in that cabin, in that beat up maple shack for the whole entire night to commit to the role.”
Horror Fuel: “I thought she was younger than that.”
GP: “Yeah, she looks a lot younger doesn’t she?”
Horror Fuel: “She was good. I was impressed.”
Horror Fuel: “What’s next, a sequel maybe?”
GP: “Yes ma’ma. You bet your ass I am. Yeah, there’s going to a Pitchfork II and I can say it will be taking place five years later.”
Horror Fuel: “Can I assume the same actor will be playing Pitchfork?”
GP: “I couldn’t imagine another actor playing him that’s for sure. If I have a say in it he will be, forever.”
Horror Fuel: “Any idea when it might start filming?”
GP: “No, I’m kind of waiting to see what this does. That plays a part in all the different aspects of part 2.”
Horror Fuel: “That’s awesome. Will it take place in the same area?”
GP: “[laughter] I can’t really answer that right now. I’m dreaming big. I’m a horror fan who made a horror movie. I’ll sleep when I’m dead. I’m not going to sleep while I’m dreaming big. Anything I can do to make it a success I will do. I’m a big believer in hard work and that hard work pays off. Our DVD is going to have a ton of special features. And that comes out in April.
You have to check our website. He’s sitting there rocking in a chair, listening to his favorite song [singing] ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands..'”
Horror Fuel: “Okay that’s creepy.”
Horror Fuel: “Oops, hold on I dropped my notebook on my dogs’s head and now I’m getting an evil look.”
GP: “What’s your dog’s name?”
Horror Fuel: “Her name is Rosie, but I have five total, three house dogs and two outside.”
GP: “Oh, wow. We had two dogs as mascots while filming, my dog Brooklyn and my parent’s dog Bleu. They are in a lot of the behind the scenes footage.”
GP:”What’s your favorite horror movie?”
Horror Fuel: “Jaws. What’s your favorite?”
GP: “My favorite horror movie is Frontiers. It didn’t get all the marketing dollars of a mainstream horror movie. When ever I see, what I call sleepers’, I love sleeper horror films. I’m rooting for those underdogs. Frontiers happens to be one of those. It’s a great horror film and it has a really badass final girl. I looove final girls.”
GP: “It’s funny, right now networks are looking for new horror. Horror is so popular on television. It’s a great time to be in horror and musicals.”
Horror Fuel: “What’s your favorite musical?”
GP: “Rent, I was in New York City when it came out. I was one of those people who waited in line forever for one of those cheap seats. I sat right in the front row.”
Horror Fuel: “That’s a great one. I have it on DVD.”
Horror Fuel: “You’re a farm boy, right?”
GP: “[Laughter] Yes, I am. I grew up on a dairy farm.”
Horror Fuel: “Did you milk a lot of Cows?”
GP: “[Laughter] Yes I did. About 1400. My dad took a small farm and turned it into an enterprise. I plan on doing the same thing with Pitchfork. That’s the farm in the movie, the family farm. I guess you should know our little indie film was a passion project. One camera, 21 days, my family farm, grabbing a bunch of friends, a skeleton crew, and a bloody dream.
The whole beginning of the story, it was great to film it on the family farm. To relive a full circle moment. To go back to the place where I used to dream as a boy of being in the entertainment business and making horror movies. I was so lucky to have the farm, writing the script with Darryl Gariglio, the executive producer, I could imagine it. I know every inch of that farm. We didn’t have a budget to build sets. That shack was out there in those woods. All of those locations were actually there.
The beginning is based off of my life, a true story basically, about me coming out to my family. I just decided to put a little horror twist on it. The whole ‘never forget where you come from thing’, that’s a big part of the Pitchfork experience. People need to know it’s not just a slasher film. Just like Jason in Friday the 13th had a lot to do with the sexual revolution, sex between teenagers was a big part of the back story. The underneath in Pitchfork is really about the relationship between Hunter and his parents and Pitchfork and his parents, relationships between kids and their parents.”
‘Pitchfork’ is now available On Demand and will arrive on Blu-ray and DVD, with a bunch of special features, this April. Be sure to follow ‘Pitchfork’ on Twitter and Facebook, and visit the official website. To stay up to date on all of his projects, follow Glenn Douglas Packard on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Click here to explore the featurette ‘Making the Monster’, a behind the scenes look at ‘Pitchfork’. You can watch ‘Pitchfork’ now on iTunes.