YouTube has come a long way over the years. Independent filmmakers use it as a means to show their work without having to go all the way to Hollywood. Fan films have really made their mark the internet. Director Trent Duncan is one of these independent filmmakers. Trent comes from Florida, runs his own film school, and has made a handful of VS. films which involve the horror icons of the 80’s and 90’s. I had the opportunity to talk with Trent Duncan Friday about his latest film Icons of Horror 2.
Trent Duncan: “Just a little back story:My buddy Cheyanne and I. He has the costumes, I have the cameras. We decided to make a fan film because people watch that stuff. That’s what they look for it on YouTube. Maybe they’ll come across my channel and watch some of my stuff, and maybe they’ll watch some of my other stuff. They were just really interested in the fan films, so we were like ‘Wow! We should just make fan films.’ We’ve done a handful now, probably 6 or 7.Our first Icons of Horror 1 is about an hour long, and that one was the really popular one that got us continuously going. That one has over 21 million views on YouTube. So that one is huge. We did a couple of short ones and I just combined them all into one long movie. That one was really popular I was like ‘Wow, we need to do a part 2’. So this new one that I just released is the part 2 to Icons of Horror. This one, I’m hoping, is going to be just as popular. Folks have been asking about it for a long time and we just kicked out this past sunday and it’s already at 50-60,000 already.”
Slickster Magazine: Why did you decide to put some comic book characters in with the horror genre?
Trent Duncan: “For one, it helped push the story along. For Harley Quinn’s character, we have a doctor that’s going inside Hannibal Lector’s head to retrieve the key to the puzzle box. So I was like ‘well if i have a psychiatrist doctor that’s trying to go in someone’s head, I could just have a character, Dr. whatever.. Or I can take somebody that’s IN a franchise and use it. Though it’s not a horror franchise, it still gives me another character and another marketing piece as well. Another reason that I used Harley Quinn, of course popularity comes into play when marketing a movie. I wanted to do an origin story in the horror franchise of how Harley Quinn became Harley Quinn. In the movie she’s not even Harley yet. She’s Dr. Harleen Quinzel. So what I show in my origin of how she becomes crazy and transforms into Harley Quinn, is that Freddy Krueger has come back and is inside of her nightmares. He’s kind of holding her hostage, and then he controls her body to do his bidding. She’s witness to all this and is traumatized. There is this guy inside of her head that’s using her body to kill people and go after stuff and she can’t do anything about it. I wanted to create kind of stockholm syndrome, and little bit of how someone watching all that can drive you crazy.”
It was very creative to give Harley Quinn an origin story in the horror realm. There are always going to have your haters that will never give different takes on origin stories a chance. That’s what is so great about Trent’s films. He takes characters that we know from childhood, and gives it a new twist. It’s like watching a comic book. In comics anything can happen. They have Batman and the Ninja Turtles in the same universe now.
Slickster Magazine: The witch character? Who was that? Tell me how that came about…
Trent Duncan:”Tamara. She is from a horror movie called Tamara. And what I wanted was a female antagonist to be kind of Albert Wesker’s right-hand woman to do his bidding. But the fact that this Tarmara girl from this horror movie, which is not a very widely popular movie. She has the power of touch. She touches someone casts a spell and thus has control over them. So I figured that’s how we’re going to control Michael Myers.”
Slickster Magazine: It’s awesome how you were able to bring so many different stories together. You have Resident Evil, Candyman, and Hellraiser, etc. Was it difficult coming up with a main story to bring all these together?
Trent Duncan: “It took almost a year. And I was just throwing ideas all over the place. Then finally it hit me at one moment. I came up with idea of Albert Wesker [Resident Evil stories] is going after their D.N.A, and throw a revenge story in their with Freddy, and Pinhead. The Pinhead costume was so tricky, I just had him come out at the end. That will be the main fight scene at the end. Albert Wesker, in the Resident Evil Series, wants to create super-soldiers. They have the Nemesis project. So my idea for part 3, is to develop all the D.N.A they’ve [Umbrella Corp.] got from all these killers, and they use that to create the Nemesis project.”
Slickster Magazine: I heard them make mention of Project Alice. Are you planning on throwing her in the mix somehow?
Trent Duncan: “Yea. I teased that too. Just to bring her out in the third one. I’e been toying with the idea of Femme Fatale where there’s female horror characters in addition to Freddy and jason and Leatherface. You have to have those guys otherwise people will get upset. So if I throw Alice in there that’s cool. But if not, no big deal but at least I set it up. So that way I have it. I won’t have to introduce a whole reason why she’s there.”
Slickster Magazine: So from start to finish-From writing to final product-how long did this project take?
Trent Duncan: “From start to finish, I would say an entire year. That’s writing the script, shooting the movie, and editing as well. Writing the script took about a month or so. We only filmed only about fifteen days, but that was over the course of two months. Then there is editing. So we wrapped up around early November and the editing took a while. There was a lot of green screen stuff we did. A lot of 3-D elements where I built these rooms they were in, a lot of special effects. It took a lot longer than I thought it did, but I was very happy with how it turned out.”
Slickster Magazine: What were some of the difficulties behind the scenes?
Trent Duncan: “When you have a bunch of horror characters, one difficulty is making those characters look realistic on camera. Close enough to replicate Hollywood, but not to make it cutesy to where you can tell Freddy Krueger has a silicone mask on. The Pinhead make-up looks a little not spot on because we don’t have the 6 hours to sit in a make-up chair. So the challenge was making some of these characters look authentic but still doing it on a low budget in a reasonable amount of time. For instance Freddy’s mouth didn’t move very well because of the silicone mask. So the way I would light it kind of dark on his face so we didn’t always see his face. Then when I would edit it, I would edit around his lines. So when his lines were speaking, you would see the first part of his line then I would cut to the other person. I’ve been doing these for a while now, and it’s all about pre-production. You know getting all your ducks in a row before everyone gets there before you start filming. You’ve got to plan everything out properly and anticipating stuff that might come and the troubles you might have. There’s always going to be something minor on days of, but we’re still able to push forward and work around it.”
Slickster Magazine: The music. I remember in our last interview, you said to get around the copyright laws music has to be slightly different. Was that a problem this time around?
Trent Duncan: “Yes. So for the main action music I “royalty free” music from a guy named Kevin MacLeod. His website is incompetech.com. He’s very popular in the short-film/indie-film realm because he’s got a lot of music on there that he offers for free, or very low payment. You just have to credit him in your film. I also have another gentleman that will recreate some of these songs for me in order to make them sound similar to the original songs, but not taking them directly from the studios. Because there’s obviously copyright stuff on that. In the case of the Jeepers Creepers song, that song is “royalty free”. It was made back in like the 1930’s, so you can use that original song.”
Slickster Magazine: What do you have planned for the future?
Trent Duncan: “So I plan on doing one more installment and wrapping it up [Icons of Horror]. I usually try and read the comments from the fans and get their intake. A lot of people enjoy the cross-franchising. But there are a lot of horror fans that are like ‘why is the punisher in it?’. Sure they’re comic book characters, not horror characters. But they still have a dark side that you could easily make into a horror movie. So my idea was to make them a little darker and dabble on the horror realm. And also to get a little popularity and get some attention from some of the folks outside the horror genre. For part 3, I plan on having an all out large battle similar to Captain America: Civil War. Where all the big names come in and just have a big and just fight each other. Just have a royal rumble showdown. Really go out with a bang.”
Trent Duncan gives a shout out to his buddy Cheyenne Autumn Hess who is his co-producer. His website is alwaysinarmour.com Icons of Horror 2 can now be seen on YouTube. It’s fun and inventive. It brings many characters together, but not in way that doesn’t make sense. We can expect to see more Icons of Horror in the future. Check out his YouTube channel. Search Trent Duncan.
Icons of Horror 1-Above link
Icons of Horror 2-Below link
“In Creating Icons of Horror 2, I wanted to create a plot that encompassed several different franchises and have them twist together in a way that has never been done before.” Trent Duncan