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FEARnyc 2016 Interview: ‘Don’t F*ck In The Woods’: Shawn Burkett & Chris Gierowski
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FEARnyc premiere - Don't Fuck In The Woods banner

Last night was the first night of the FEARnyc film festival in New York City, and along with screening several classic and new horror films, it also hosted the world premiere of Shawn Burkett’s Don’t Fuck in the Woods.

The vulgarly, but appropriately titled 90-minute film is like Slumber Party Massacre meets Creature from the Black Lagoon, and is definitely an homage to the creature-feature and 80s slasher subgenres.

After the premiere at Cinema Village theater at NYC’s Greenwich Village, fans took part in a Q&A with the film’s writer-director Shawn Burkett, stars Nadia White and Brittany Blanton, and producer Chris Gierowski. Earlier in the day, I had the chance to sit down with Shawn Burkett and Chris Gierowski to talk about the film, as well as a puppet horror-comedy film called Head that Gierowski worked on that’s also playing at FEARnyc this week.

Don’t Fuck In The Woods
World Premiere: FEARnyc, Friday, October 21, 2016
Dayton, OH, 90 min

After the stress and mental anguish of finals, Alex and her girlfriend Jane trek with a few friends into the woods for a little rest and relaxation. As the group begins to unwind, something in the dark has discovered a new and intoxicating scent. This modern-day creature feature includes sex, drugs, gore, and a monster that will haunt your nightmares.

The film is now available to rent via Vimeo On Demand for $3.99 for a 72-hour streaming period.

Geeks Of Doom: So when you name a film Don’t Fuck in the Woods, are you narrowing your audience at all?

Shawn Burkett: I don’t know, the only thing I think of when I think of the name is all the people who came out the woodwork to tell me I was going to Hell. I just didn’t get that, I mean, “You’re going to Hell.” And they were sincere about it, there is a bunch of hate mail.

Geeks Of Doom: Really, because genres fans probably see the title as advice. In the 80s, if you f*cked in the woods, you were dead.

Shawn Burkett: Yeah, exactly.

Geeks Of Doom: Who or what is your film modeled after?

Shawn Burkett: I was always a big fan of John Carpenter’s Halloween, especially the cinematography in that slow German, coming in with the terrifying angles. I tried to use a little bit of that. But then it was like, man, it’s starting to look like I’m trying to recreate something that’s already been done and we just toyed with it. It took three years to make this film. [We found out later during the Q&A after the movie that they literally put the final touches earlier in October. – Ed.] One shoot got shut down because at three in the morning we disturbed a nest of yellowjackets, and a couple actors went to the hospital.

Geeks Of Doom: Where did you film?

Shawn Burkett: Ohio, outside Dayton in a little town called Louisburg. There’s literally maybe 400 people in the whole town.

Geeks Of Doom: And apparently a bunch of yellowjackets.

Shawn Burkett: And yellowjackets, yeah that was horrible. We have a section on the Blu-Ray where we talk about the yellowjackets. I hope that answered your question.

Geeks Of Doom: Yeah. Thanks so much for your time and congratulations on the film.

Producer Chris Gierowski joined me to discuss Don’t Fuck in the Woods, as well as another film he has coming out during FEARnyc, the puppet horror comedy Head.

Geeks Of Doom: As producer, what was your role in the making of DFITW?

Chris Gierowski: I helped them get some funding, equipment, and helped them get organized. I mean they [Shawn Burkett and the actors] did the majority of the work. I live out in L.A., they live in Ohio. I was originally living in Ohio, grew up in Cleveland, moved to Toledo, and then I got involved with [Shawn] after I did Head.

Geeks Of Doom: [Laughing] That’s funny.

Chris Gierowski: Yeah, Don’t Fuck in the Woods and Head, you see a theme here.

Geeks Of Doom: Head is playing FEARnyc as well right?

Chris Gierowski: Monday [October 24] at 5pm. Head premiered in Connecticut where it was shot in March, 2015. Since then we have it playing in a bunch of festivals, the Yellow Fever festival in Ireland, the Hong Kong festival; it’s played San Diego, Burbank, Ohio, etc.

Geeks Of Doom: And this is a puppet horror film? Are they marionettes or hand puppets or what?

Chris Gierowski: Hand puppets. Actually a friend of mine who I went to college with, he met a guy who has a production company where they make puppets. They make puppets and shoot movies occasionally. You know it’s a low-budget puppet horror movie.

Geeks Of Doom: Isn’t that the only kind? Are there any big-budget puppet horror movies?

Chris Gierowski: Yeah actually, Jim Henson’s son has been trying to make one for years, a big-budget rated R puppet horror movie. [Shows me an article on it with potential big-name casting choices.] You know how every time a movie hits it big, there is always a straight-to-DVD knockoff.

Geeks Of Doom: Like the Asylum movies, Transmorphers, and movies like that?

Chris Gierowski: Yeah, I am hoping someone will see this and say, “We need a low-budget puppet movie to compete with the big-budget puppet movie that just came out,” and I’ll be here saying “Look, we have this one [Head], which actually came out a few years ago!” That’s my hope.

Geeks Of Doom: Thanks for your time, nad congrats on both your films.

FEARnyc screening: Monday, October 24, 2016 at 5pm
Head
Director: Jon Bristol
New York City Premiere
Bristol, CT, 62 min

Performed by the Elmwood Puppets and presented as part of a fictional late-night B-movie public access show, this unique feature focuses on a group of twentysomethings on a weekend camping trip in remote New England who begin to uncover that the site of their getaway was host to a series of brutal mass murders, as their once fun vacation turns into a fight to survive.
Screening followed by a Q&A with the production team.
Head will be preceded by the short film Do Not Disturb.

DFITW Trailer

Don't Fuck In The Woods

Head Trailer

FEARnyc, which takes place at Cinema Village on 22 East 12th Street in Manhattan, NYC, will host over 65 screenings of classic and new horror films, and will include several cast appearances, special events, and a tribute to horror icon Wes Craven. Visit FEARnyc.com for the daily schedules, which runs through next Thursday, October 27, 2016. Admission is $12 for GA, $8 for seniors, and a Festival pass is only $125.

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