Interview with AJ Meadows: The Slender Man Movie
The popular online myth regarding the Slender Man is now on its way to becoming a film. Recently on Kickstarter, AJ Meadows began his campaign on Kickstarter to raise the funds necessary for production. The goal for the campaign is $10,000, but AJ hopes to raise $20,000 to ensure the movie will be top notch. Fans of this internet sensation have already pledged over $4,000 in the last three days alone. We had a chance to talk to AJ about this film and his inspirations for taking on this popular project.
Q: Where did the idea for this film come from? What is your background in film-making?
AJ: Well, I’ve always been a fan of the Slender Man mythos, and have paid close attention to the stories created and curated by the web, and I had wanted to contribute to that canon for a long while. After I graduated from college, I knew I was going to launch a Kickstarter for a film project, I just didn’t know what it was going to be about. I initially wanted to direct a documentary this summer, but the plans fell through, so my team and I brainstormed another idea. That’s when it hit me. We’d use this opportunity to make the film we’ve been dying to take on: The Slender Man. My background in film stems from my childhood. I had always loved movies, but it wasn’t until I saw a “making of” video for Jurassic Park (one of my favorite movies) that I really understood that movies were made by people. And I asked “Why can’t I make movies?”. Back in the second grade, a friend of mine (who is now our producer today) and I used to make short stop-motion movies with Legos. I grew up and proceeded on to film school, and directed a feature length documentary that goes behind the scenes at the Sundance Film Festival when I was a sophomore. My junior year I swept my school’s film festival and that’s when it all finally started to click for me. I wanted to make a career in filmmaking, and this project is the first step in that plan.
Q: How would you categorize your movie with regard to genre?
AJ: I’d say we’re taking a Horror/Thriller route. It’s going to be heavy, it’s going to be unsettling, and it’s going to scare you (no cheap jump-scares though). Our goal will be to give you goosebumps.
Q: Who do you expect your audience will be? Who are you trying to reach out to?
AJ: Well, we understand that the Slender Man fans are very protective of the source material they’ve created and consumed over the years, so we want to make sure that we provide them with a film they can enjoy and perhaps even be proud of. My team and I are big fans of the mythos ourselves and want to pay tribute to all of the Slender Man creators and media they’ve created that has inspired us (and given us nightmares… for years). But the Slender Man base isn’t just the target audience. We’re also trying to make the film accessible for non-fans as well. We want to introduce new viewers to the Slender Man in an entertaining way, which is why we’ve put together a very tightly structured plot that adheres to a more traditional narrative format. We’re confident that newcomers will get a kick out of the film’s compelling story and its definitive beginning, middle and (intense) ending. We want somebody who has never heard of the Slender Man before to hit ‘play’ and understand exactly what’s happening, and have a good time. But we’ll also be sure to please the fans by including lots of cool easter-eggs throughout.
Q: What is the draw for your audience? What makes your film unique?
AJ: I think the draw for this is that it’ll be released online, for free, on either Youtube and/or Vimeo for free. Anyone will get a chance to see this film at no cost. A few people have tried to make their own feature length Slender Man films, but one in particular will be seen by almost nobody because it’ll have a very limited theatrical run (presumably at just a local theater in the filmmakers’ area). So it’s the first Slender Man movie with any kind of budget to also be released for free. We believe that the future of indie film lies with online distribution. We want to be an example that crowd-sourced, indie films can be successful in the net-space. I think the other main draw for this film will be that it’s a totally different piece of Slender Man fiction, then what’s been released so far. Our goal is to create a rich, engrossing, intense, and above all else, entertaining film.
Q: Did you draw influences for this film from other films? Which ones? Are there any specific directors you draw inspiration from?
AJ: I’m always inspired by other works, and we’ve got a few key influences that have seeped into this film’s production. In terms of the film’s structure, we’re approaching it as an anthology. So it’ll feature three half-hour long stories about three different characters who each encounter the Slender Man in unique ways. The inspiration for our film’s structure is a movie called “Trick R Treat”, which also features a horror-themed anthology format. Our subject matter though, will be the Slender Man and the mythos surrounding him. But the film’s aesthetic will be focused through a “Paranormal Activity 2 or 3“-esque lens. I say 2 or 3 because they offer more variety in where the camera goes. The videogame “Heavy Rain” (I know, strange choice) is also a good example of how an ensemble cast with intertwining stories provide a cohesive piece of narrative fiction. Our writer Jeremy Kirk is converting our plot into a lean and mean screenplay that pulls a few of our favorite bits from our favorite movies and Slender Man stories. We’re putting in these ingredients, throwing in a bunch of our own ideas, shaking them up, and will pour out a really cool finished film. As a director, I’ve been immensely influenced by Spielberg (Jurassic Park and just about everything else) , Neil Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) and Duncan Jones (Moon). I’m a huge fan of making science-fiction and “genre-films” accessible, terrifying and fun.
Q: Are there any specific locations you want to film at or have filmed at? What makes these locations special to you and the project?
AJ: Most of my crew and I live in St. Louis, Missouri but we’re going to commute down to the (in)famous Lake of the Ozarks. It’s a very old, and interesting area filled with a lot of great, and totally spooky places to shoot. It’s a heavily wooded area, and is very conducive to creating a creepy atmosphere (even in the daylight).
If you would like to donate to AJ’s Kickstarter campaign, you can visit the official page here: http://kck.st/O1bcCS