Sam Farmer, Director of Cry For the Bad Man (starring Camille Keaton) Talks with Stephen Dare about producing an Indie Horror Film

Cry for the Bad Man is the new Sam Farmer film cum Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave) vehicle.  Before you delve into the interview between Sam and editor Stephen Dare about the mechanics of making and distributing an indie horror film, check out the latest trailer clip!

 

Stephen Dare: Hey, this is Stephen Dare, and I am with Sam Farmer who is the producer, director, and writer of the new Camille Keaton vehicle: Cry For The Bad Man. 

Stephen Dare: Hey Sam, thanks for joining us. 

Sam Farmer:   Hey Stephen, thanks so much. 

Stephen Dare: It was so great to see your movie finished, produced and ready to go. 

Can you tell me where you're at in the process of getting it into theatres? 

Sam Farmer:   Right now, we are putting together a series of film festival and mostly horror movie convention dates. We've got some submissions out there and a lot of that stuff will be finalized until September/October. That's gonna be peak season for us.---That's when those festivals tend to get up and get going. We've done a few initially just out of the gate here to kind of gauge the audience and get some initial feedback and that's been beneficial. 

 We're gonna make some slight tweaks to the film based off of what I've seen in the theater but it's been a positive experience so far. 

Stephen Dare: And what festivals have you done already?

Sam Farmer:   We did Dead by Con which was up in Edmonton, Canada. Camille was actually at that screening. We did a sleeping giant fest here in Jacksonville, and we did a smaller convention but with a very attentive audience out in Live Oak called Infinity convention more geared towards comic books and cosplay. So we were sort of the red headed stepchild of that one but it was a good experience. It was a really engaged, small group of people. 

Stephen Dare: So, of the festivals that you've already done, what was the most helpful to you as a filmmaker?

Sam Farmer:   I would say Sleeping GiantFest was. It had been a while since I'd seen the film and there was a mix of people that we knew and could sort of give us their unfiltered opinion about it.

And then some other filmmakers in the area who had heard about it but hadn't seen it yet. So they get to come out and we figured they would be much much harsher critics about it. So it was nice to chat with them afterwards and get just get some general feedback. I mean most of it was was good, and I could never tell how much of that is political home and how much of that is "really we like the movie"

But it was it was good to be, you know for myself and Corina. It was good to actually just step back. Having not seen it in a while and really look at it objectively and figure out if there were any improvements that needed to be made, to clarify certain things or punch up certain moments. 

Stephen Dare: And Corina is your co-producer as well, as I believe you two are married to each other. 

Sam Farmer:   That's correct. She produced and was assistant director. She directed some of the scenes with Camille--some of the ones involving a little bit more emotional intensity I think, and-- as well as you know --everybody on the small film like this, everyone wears about a dozen hats, and perhaps no one more than Corina. She did a lot on this particular film. 

Stephen Dare: So, one of the things that has come to me about the process of getting horror films out--- especially indie horror films-- is the importance of regional festivals and showings. Can you tell me your experience with that. This is not your first film, is it? 

Sam Farmer:   It's not-- but this is the first one that we seriously pursued.  Prior to this, it's been a lot of short films...and a lot of just demonstrating that you can handle a film with a budget and a schedule.

But you know, I would say everything else was just a stepping stone to get here. The festivals --- it's an easy way to get immediate feedback from that audience. Like, you know exactly what you're getting out of those crowds. They love Camille Keaton, and they know her work. And they're excited to see what she's doing now because (I'd say) up until our film and the new I Spit On Your Grave. Camille has done legacy roles where she comes in and she films for the day and does a cameo in the film.

This is a return to leading a film and doing all of the ass kicking and not just being another in a long line of Scream Queens to make appearances in Rob Zombie films and things like that.

So it's an audience that to them, it's their Meryl Streep. We have this horror convention, but at that moment, they're meeting someone that they think of as being on that level. 

Stephen Dare: But still there's a circuit of horror films, and going through that circuit is what prepares you for mass distribution? Or is that separate? And is there the possibility of being picked up for streaming in the networking that goes on at the events?. 

Sam Farmer:   Yes, absolutely. We don't want to jinx anything in advance, but a few of the festivals that we have spoken to are either directly affiliated with distributors; some domestic, some across the pond. And you know it's all very preliminary, but they've expressed interest in acquiring it and a lot of that really kind of, you know, we can we can make or break on the show, and you could have a great showing and make the audience's engagement and enthusiasm about it. And then that could be the only opportunity you need to make sure that it's on those streaming platforms, whether it's Amazon, Netflix, or a more genre specific streaming platform like Shudder, where they're going to do the legwork, and they have the reach that we don't have. Right now we have to do that grassroots thing and just take it to the audience, whereas they have a platform and they've got all those connections already established, and all they have to do is put it up there and announce to their base that there's a new to me coming in from. 

cry for the bad man

Stephen Dare: It seems to me that the Indie circuit---- if you're like say you've done the shorts--- you've directed somebody else's film --and you're ready to do a feature length film on your own. It's not as easy as just "oh we made it home. Now here comes you know distribution from Sony. It's going to be in every theater next week."

You know the lifeblood of this industry is these independent distributors and the streaming platforms and there it seems to me-- and tell me if I'm right or I'm wrong on this: That sometimes the only possibility for exposure to a distribution network is through a festival? 

Sam Farmer:   Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean you can always pick up a sales agent, but sometimes it gets watered down, going to the sales agent. The other producer on this film, John Shepherd, has had some not so pleasant experiences going through agents to try and get these films distributed, whereas you realize that they didn't represent your best interests and now you're signed to a contract where you're never ever going to make any of your money back on it. And so we've learned from some previous experiences to just make sure that you're at the center of that and just cut out the middleman. You know what you want. And the festivals can be that way. It can be that way of circumventing the agent who's got the direct connections that you're relying on to go out and sell the movie, and explain to them why this is going to be good for their streaming platform for their audiences. We'll just be the one to make the argument directly to them and just be involved in every step of the negotiation process just to make sure that you're not getting 10 percent of 10 percent. 

Stephen Dare: And are you still having are you still being able to have the "auteur" conversation with the distribution when it comes to streaming and other people, are they you know like by the numbers? These are the artists that if they're in your film we we will definitely distribute them. And it's this long and it has these plot elements but if it doesn't, you are SOL. In the horror circuit it seems like you're still able to have the tour argument like this is a good film and it needs to be distributed. 

Sam Farmer:   I guess I guess I'm a little I'm a little cynical on that, I don't know. You know it's "we know we made it" with a certain layer of subtext to it, but I also get that really, if you've just got a couple of exploding heads in the film and you've got a script for you and I know that there is a market for it, and you really have to think of it as let me just boil it down to its most basic elements. This is marketable, this hits your base. You know I if I give a long winded speech about about the auteur side of it as you put it,that I don't know if it's really going to move the ball further down the field. But when you talk to people at the conventions or at the meet and greets, they tend to be more interested in that stuff. So in the broader horror community--the blogs and podcasts--- they want to talk about that stuff obviously. 

Sam Farmer:   And this one definitely falls under the umbrella of horror, but it's a suspense film. It's kind of funny and it's a bit like a western, but I think because of Camille's presence in it, and the degree of violence, and cat and mouse, and all of that, it plays well to a horror audience. So it made the most sense to just go with that and say look it's a broad but that's a broad umbrella horror. So I don't think of it as a traditional horror movie, it's not a slasher, I even really think of as an exploitation film. It's just sort of hard boiled in moments, and other moments it's very vulnerable, and sometimes it's very funny, and it's got a degree of humor that comes out of hurt. If that makes any sense. I think when you when you watch movies like that it's so heavy handed on trying to make you know the target character----like Camille plays in this movie make her seem so vulnerable ---and she is--- I mean she did not hide her age in this film. And some of the physical limitations that that places on it. You know ...knees, back. She's obviously in pain in the film doing all this stuff. So there's an element of suspense like she's not superwoman. She's vulnerable. 

 But at the same time this is a very resourceful woman that knows she has the higher ground. And there's this comedy in the film if it's not punchline driven comedy, but this comedy that comes out of these guys that are let's say a little overconfident in their abilities and it's sort of an unearned confidence and they learn throughout the film through a lot of mistakes that I would say they aren't quite as bad as they think they are. And I was kind of glad that was one of the things that I didn't know if it was going to play or not. And when we went into the film and we get people laughing at certain moments we're like 'yes thank you. They figured it out'. Because at the end of the day I don't like films that are like you get so down into the grime and the dirt of the situation that you're not enjoying it anymore, you just feel gross grossed out by the entire situation. There's hopefully an entertainment element of it that it's it's actually fun to watch. Sure it's a little tense in moment,s and it's definitely violent in moments, but it should feel fine like you would want to watch it again, not like well I just went through something there but I'm going to need to go get out in the sun and try and take a bath or whatever recover from that. 

Stephen Dare: I read somewhere that fear manifests itself as laughter and that when you laugh you're showing all the same physical signs as fear except you're doing in a context where you can trivialize the source of your fear. There is always like you know that would suck having happened to me here. Laughter is always fear based I think

Sam Farmer:   Because it's you know I've heard it told that you know that the journey to telling a joke and the journey to a scare are basically the same thing it's all about misdirection and at the last moment you take a twist where you going to make someone laugh or make someone jump. Hopefully there's a little bit of both in this. 

Stephen Dare: So what was it like as an as an indie guy---what was it like working with Camille? Just in the day to day as well as, you know, you're working with Camille Keaton? 

Sam Farmer:   There was a lot of that moment where you realize you're making a film with Camille Keaton. I remember when I was 18 seeing "I Spit On Your Grave". And if I'm being perfectly honest, I wasn't a huge fan of it.  Like it was kind of over and I thought to myself 'well that's it?' And since then I've gotten to know her. She sort of left show business to raise a family. And it wasn't her family but kids from a previous marriage and raised them like her own and just wanted to be there and just step away from acting for a while. 

 And I always wondered at the time what happened to her, and one day wouldn't it be great if I could make a film where she has a little bit more of a more proactive I think in and when this situation starts to unfold because it's been a everything just sort of happens to her. I just remember having a thought and then filing it away in my brain like one of a million thoughts----Yeah, wouldn't be cool to do something with her one day and never thinking that that would actually come along. 

And then when she was introduced to me, and we pitched her this idea, and she agreed to do it, and then we were just looking for money--- then it clicked. Then that memory came flooding back and 'Im like: Oh wow! We're here, we're about to do it. That thing is happening. 

So there was definitely-- from the fan side of things, a lot of excitement, and a lot of "Well, I gotta take whatever criticism I had of that film, and I can't make any mistakes on this." Because I know THAT film, that's cult status; people love it or hate it. 

 On the aspect of working with her, Camille was early on very, very, very involved. We went through a few different versions of the script. She was always asking questions and she would call me pretty much weekly with different questions. 

 You wouldn't think this but Camille comes from this old school of acting where she was a model in Italy for a while when she started doing films. They have a very specific way of filmmaking where the director will kind of place you where you're supposed to be, and you almost line read to you what they want. Sometimes you'll be working with an international cast because they know it's going to be dubbed in German, and it's going to be dubbed in English, French, Italian, so you might have four or five territories in the same scene who've been cast from those different areas speaking their lines at each other in their native tongue. Nobody knows what anybody saying; it doesn't matter, they're not recording sound, they're going to dub everything later. 

And so as an actor I guess there's a part of that that's very unfulfilling. It felt like you're doing a deep character dive you're almost just showing up: Stand here, hit your mark, deliver your line. We're gonna cut everything together later, you're gonna performance similar, somebody else is gonna dub it in three other languages. 

 So when she gets on this movie she says to me "This is the most dialogue I've ever had in a film". 

Stephen Dare: Wow. 

Sam Farmer:   Which is funny, because I think she had to leave. We tried to make her that stoic Clint Eastwood character. Since we were patterning and after a Western, the main character has to say the least. 

Like it has to seem like they're working it out in their mind a little bit more, and you're trying to figure out what they're thinking. We wanted everyone else to do the talking around her. 

 But still this was her most dialogue and she really got into improvisation on set. And it's nothing major. It would just be stuff like "Can I try this on this take?". 

 You know sometimes it would help her. Believe it or not, we'd have a line where she'd say "Sit down, get over there." You know, something very assertive. And then she would be like, "Can I say 'Get the fuck over there. I mean sit your ass down.'" It's like you just help her really get into the dirt of it. And you know, that was fun. It was a lot of fun working with her on set, and she had fun with everybody else there. When she was done she didn't realize how physical it had been.  She called me probably about a week after it finished :  "I'm SORE!" I didn't realize how much we were crawling around in the dark for eight of the eleven days. So it was a lot of crawling around in the dark and you know being hunched over all these things. At 70 years old, it takes a toll. 

Stephen Dare: As you know I got to spend a couple of hours on the set with you guys while you're in the filming process. And one of the things that leaped out to me was that Camille seems to be a person who needs to have trust established for her to function. And you really seem to have her trust, both you and Corina. 

Sam Farmer:  Yes. 

Stephen Dare:  How did that happen? 

Sam Farmer:   I think it had a little bit to do with with how we were introduced. You know Jerry Rosenberg: Jerry's sister had known Camille for a very long time and they have a more familial bond: as close as you could be without being blood related. And so I think it gave me a little bit more like "I trust this guy. He can he can do this. He's going to put together a great story for you. He's got your best interests in mind". So Camille looked to myself and Corina as people who were looking out for her---you know we weren't going to put her in a film that was going to make her look silly. 

 I think that was probably the experience you had with her where she's had these experiences with interviewers before when she was told "We're going to cut this down. You know when you do an interview with somebody you usually say "If you mess up, take a breath, start over and yada yada yada". 

 And she's had that experience before where someone said that and then it was just the uncut version made it out there, and she felt embarrassed by it, by how scattered she was. 

I don't want to name names that I've heard stories from her about working on smaller films where the director asked her to come in and she has no context for what she's doing. They hand her pages and she's playing something she has no experience with in her life and they say: "Go!" And give her no direction,  like "OK go and arrest this guy." She told me on this one she was supposed to arrest someone and they just said: "Action." 

And she's not law enforcement, she has no idea how any of that works out. So I think because we were working with her in advance. We were trying to make sure that she didn't have any questions at all. There was this idea that we need you. We're going to make you look good. We want you to be as excited about this because it's your name. Nobody knows who we are. The movie is going to live or die based off of your reputation, so if you like it and you look good in it, we know that she's going to go out and she's going to promote it. And I think there was that it was mutually beneficial for us and she understood that. 

Stephen Dare: Do you feel like this is a good template for you and filmmaking, and how you approach these things in the future?

Sam Farmer:   Absolutely. I mean we we shot for 11 days straight--they were breakneck days. We ran through 72 pages. From years of doing productions together, we had a crew that we knew we could count on, that we all spoke the same language,  we could just show up and we could work that fast. 

 Our approach to everything was: there's no dictator. If you need to ask me a question, that's fine. Just to give you a direction. But I'm not micro-managing everyone on set. I assume everyone there knows what we're doing. We're all good at what we do. The best idea wins basically. It makes people excited to come to set. 

 It also helps that we were paying everybody. You know, I've been working around here in Jacksonville for a number of year,s and there's not always the luxury of a budget, but when you can capture some attention and say "Your time is worth something and your input is valuable", then they are a lot more excited to show up and do their best work. 

I would want to go higher on the next one. I would want to provide a better working environment ---a little bit more time to experiment. 

This was a shoot all about efficiency:  What do we need coverage wise just to get through the script. 

So I'm looking forward to hopefully next time having that room to really create in the moment; the good stuff when you're writing and when you're planning and storyboarding, and then just trying to get through coverage that you just don't have time for or you can't anticipate. 

Stephen Dare: So you guys have finished final production, and you're tweaking the film based on your experiences at a handful of festivals. Now you're going to go through the festival circuit, and you expect to be in full swing by fall or winter of this year. 

Sam Farmer:   That's that's the goal. Yes sir. 

Stephen Dare: That's exciting. 

Sam Farmer:   We're commissioning some new artwork from an artist a local guy named Shane Dubberly. 

Stephen Dare: Local from Jacksonville Florida? 

Sam Farmer:  Yes. Some people would probably recognize his work. He's doing all of the illustrations for Shriekfest---Shriekfest is bi-coastal there is one in South Florida and there's one in Pasadena. I'm hoping early summer we will start making some of the bigger announcements. 

Cry for the bad man poster

Stephen Dare: Well, Sam, this is really cool. Thank you for making the time for us. And I hope you'll keep in touch with us and let us follow your film as it goes through the process. 

The film again is "Cry For The Bad Man' and this is the director, producer, and writer Sam Farmer, and it stars Camille Keaton, and it will be hitting the festival circuit in the fall of this year and then hopefully begin streaming and in some theaters shortly afterwards.

Sam Farmer  One thing I would say is to to look us up on social media and follow us. It's the only way we have to know who's interested in it and what their thoughts are on it. 

 We only exist with an audience at this point and we don't have those large connections so we're just slowly trying to build it one person at a time. 

 So check us out, we're out there. 

 We have a soundtrack out also that's available right now. 

Stephen Dare: What is the webpage?

Sam Farmer  www.Cryforthebadmanmovie.com will get you to everything, but we're on Instagram. Everything is cryforthebadmanmovie. Facebook cryforthebadmanmovie. 

Stephen Dare: The soundtrack. Is that on Soundcloud? 

Sam Farmer  It's up on Apple, you can get it in the iTunes store. It's available right now for everybody who is interested in the old throwback synthesizer-heavy soundtracks of the late 70s early 80s. That was Franco Corino. He's the keyboardist slash turntables for limp bizkit right now, but I swear it is not a rap metal soundtrack. He's a classically trained pianist and he did a really really great job with the score. We're very very happy with it, and it's one of those things that I think one day it has collectable potential and you know the vinyl release if there's interest in that. 

Stephen Dare: And then they would if they wanted to check out the soundtrack, they would go to iTunes and look up Cry For The Bad Man soundtrack? 

Sam Farmer:   That's absolutely right--- and we do have links to it on our on social media. 

Stephen Dare: Again, I appreciate the time. And please keep us up to date is what's going on with the film. 

Sam Farmer:   Will do.

'Crawl' - Eat your heart out, Syfy Channel

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Stephen Dare

Editor in Chief

Traveller, writer, chef, entrepreneur and natural born gossip. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, but has lived in the five corners of the US. (Florida, San Francisco, Seattle, NYC and Muncie, Indiana). Big fan of Dorothy Parker, Thorne Smith, Ogden Nash, Quentin Crisp and Graydon Carter. Although not necessarily in that order.

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