Posted October 12, 2012 by Alex Moss Editor in Features
 
 

Directors The Butcher Brothers


It’s been six years since the Butcher Brothers burst onto the horror scene with award winning indie film, The Hamiltons. Chris Suffield caught up with directors Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores to chat about the evolution of their alter egos, the Butcher Brothers, and just what we can expect from their long-awaited sequel, The Thompsons. Yes, the family that put the Dys in Dysfunctional is back. And trust us, you really don’t want them moving in next door …

It’s
been six years since the Butcher Brothers burst onto the horror scene with
award winning indie film, The Hamiltons. Chris Suffield caught up with
directors Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores to chat about the evolution of their
alter egos, the Butcher Brothers, and just what we can expect from their
long-awaited sequel, The Thompsons. Yes, the family that put the Dys in
Dysfunctional is back. And trust us, you really don’t want them moving in next
door …

What
is the concept behind The Butcher Brothers?

It was a name that invented itself when we made
our first horror film – The Hamiltons. We had shot a couple of more traditional
films but wanted to use an alias to channel some of the darker material we were
creating. Something that would be easy to recognise and remember. It was a good
night of drinking with a bit of a bloody hangover when the Butcher Brothers
were born.

Can
you discuss the process of directing and creating the story as a team opposed
to working solo? Who takes what
roles?

When creating a story, one of us tends to just
talk about what’s been roaming around in their mind, story wise. We then start
riffing, going back and forth on ideas until something breaks. After we create
the story, we’ll pass drafts back and forth until we’re happy with its shape,
knowing it will evolve along the shoot. On the set, we’ve got a language down
that allows us to work pretty fluidly so that the film stays on track. It’s not
a perfect science, just a shorthand of quick words or gang signs that’s been
built on 20 years plus of friendship turned into a career.

The
Thompsons catches up with vampire family The Hamiltons. Given how well received
the first movie was, how did you approach making the sequel?

The Hamiltons wasn’t created to have a sequel,
but we’d always talked about a second film because we loved the characters so
much. The brilliant Cory Knauf
(who plays Francis Thompson) came on board as a writer and we went through
several drafts of what could possibly unfold. It was actually a hard
earned process to elevate the story, while still bringing fresh themes to
our family. But ultimately [it was filming in England] that inspired the final
draft. The idea that our family could grow up out of the themes from the
Hamiltons, but still have their main theme of killing innocents as a lingering
question, allowed us to take the family overseas to find a resolution that just
made sense.

Your
work often looks at dysfunctional family relationships, are the Hamiltons the
ultimate dysfunctional family?

Drinking blood, chaining up people in cages,
keeping children in boxes, incest, murder. Yeah, most of us don’t have to deal
with that level of dysfunction. But sibling rivalries, pecking orders, first
loves, denial, loss … these are all dysfunctions everyone can relate to. We
built a story around those dysfunctions and the extremes it can be taken
to. The vampire story seemed a perfect model for it.

Was
it important that The Thompsons worked as a stand-alone movie as much as a
sequel?

Absolutely. We didn’t want to bring in new
viewers who were left in the dust. So we decided to show a different side of
The Hamiltons, one that reflected the new story and the evolution in the
characters themselves.

Cory
Knauf, Samuel Child, Joseph McKelheer, and Mackenzie Firgens all return to
reprise their roles. How do their characters differ from the original?

It’s a different kind of story being told this
time. The Hamiltons was a coming of age horror film. The Thompsons is more traditional
storytelling and filmmaking. All the actors were very involved … and brought
their own growth to our story. We loved working with them, and especially being
able to reprise these characters.

It’s
been ten years since your debut short feature, Long Cut. How have your
collective directing styles changed in that time?

It’s refined itself. Working on Long Cut was
really eye opening as we realised that we wouldn’t be able to pull everything
off we had conceived. It was a hard lesson to young and idealistic filmmakers
but, ultimately, a good one. There’s never a film that’s easy to make but, with
each one, you learn a little bit more about the rights and wrongs.

Would
you consider a third part, and where would you like to take the story?

We’d love to finish the series up as a trilogy
and have some ideas already in mind. Overall it would be great to explore the
questions that are set up in the first two films and then flip them on their
head, allowing for some real surprises … Stay tuned.

You
both certainly know how to make a small budget go along way! What advice can
you give to young filmmakers?

You could write volumes on what not to do but,
one of the more valuable things to always look at, is who you want your
audience to be. It’s usually the last thing filmmakers think about, who is
going to watch this film? It’s important because, if your film doesn’t get
distributed, no one will see it. Other than that, just do it. Make
something, you’ll never know what can happen, but you have to put it out there
first.

Do
you feel that Twilight has diluted the Vampire mythology?

The contemporary vampire has been humanised and
now represents those blatant desires we used to hide. It’s been tamed to a
certain degree, but what comes after might be the better question. What’s the
next evolution? That’s really what’s more exciting. The vampire audience has
widened, maybe for better or worse, but there will always be stories left to
tell within the genre.

Which
directors have influenced you?

Spielberg, Hooper, Cronenburg, Lynch, Polanski
to name a few …

What’s
next for the Butcher Brothers?

We’re finishing up a film called Holy Ghost People, about a young woman
who’s goes looking for her missing sister rumoured to be living amongst a snake
handling religious cult. Holy Ghost People should be festival ready by Jan
2013. And we’re just about to shoot a new project called Raised By Wolves. The film is about a
group of teenage Native American skateboarders who are mostly hood rats on
their reservation, but they hear about an empty pool to skate on at an
abandoned ranch where some Manson type murders happened several years back. Of
course things will not end well. Keep a look out … Thanks!

The
Thompsons is available to download or own on DVD from 15th October.


Alex Moss Editor

 
Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com