Jeremy Haft (Director - 'Tamara')
'Who Knew Revenge Had Such A Killer Body?!'
As a director, Jeremy Haft has just completed work on 'Tamara' for Lions Gate Pictures. 'Tamara' is a super-natural horror-thriller that will be theatrically released in February 2006.
Prior to 'Tamara,' Haft had just completed work on MTV’s "Surf Girls." Filmed all over the world: Australia, Samoa, French Polynesia and Hawaii, Haft’s directing work focused on all the big action sets, surf scenes, surf contests, and green screen work.
'Crimson Code,' Haft’s prior feature film directing effort, was released by Lions Gate Pictures. Regent Entertainment produced the drama-thriller, which stars Cathy Moriarty and Fred Ward. The film garnered Haft a best director nomination from the Premiere Awards.
'Grizzly Mountain' was Haft’s live action feature film directorial debut. Co-written by Haft, the film had a nation-wide theatrical release. 'Grizzly Mountain,' released by Artisan Entertainment and Legacy Releasing, received critical acclaim, earning: the Youth in Film Young Artists Award, a nomination for Best Family Feature Film from the Youth in Film Association, the Film Advisory Board’s Award of Excellence, and Movie Guide’s Movie Guide Award.
Jeremy Haft and his writing partner, Ed Gonzalez wrote 'Lisa Live' for Oscar winning director William Friedkin ('Exorcist'). Additionally, they recently sold their screenplay, 'HECKLED,' to New Line Cinema, with Vince Vaughn attached to star.
Chatting recently with Jeremy, I first made comment to the fact that as since 1968 there had already been four (4) other movies also named this, was this one always to be named ‘Tamara’? “Yeah. Jeffrey Reddick, the writer, called it ‘Tamara.’ And yes, there was a little bit of debate about changing the name, but everyone seemed to like it. There’s that point at the beginning of the film where they’re all chanting ‘Tam-a-ra, Tam-a-ra,’ and if her name was ‘Jen-ny, Jen-ny’ it wouldn’t have worked so well,” he laughs.
Where did the link between the occult and high school dope tests first originate? ”This was something out of Jeffrey’s imagination. But we did talk about it making sense. And as much as it was Jeffrey’s idea, you’re always reading about it at High Schools. Especially now, how all these kids are all taking steroids and performance enhancing drugs to increase their performances in High School. When I was in High School you never thought about that. You just tried to do a couple more sit-ups.”
To your mind, is ‘Tamara’ your biggest directorial claim to Hollywood fame now? “Well, I’ve directed two other feature films before this, a TV series for MTV, a lot of television commercials, and then a couple of music videos. But I think that ‘Grizzly Mountain,’ which was a family movie and a nationwide theatrical release back in ’98, would probably count as my first Hollywood step.”
On a personal note, I have to say that the ‘Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil’ scene was incredible, mesmerizing, but I still had to turn away at times! ”Oh good, well that’s the result we want! That was really fun to shoot and that was an idea that both Jeffrey and I collaborated on to get some excitement, gore, and some screams in the movie. And it turned out well, thanx. Yes, it’s getting a good amount of vibes, which is a good thing!”
That scene, to me, is the standout scene of the entire movie, but what made it so to you guys as you were filming it? ”Yeah, I would agree with you. I think it IS the standout scene for gore, but her [Jenna’s] transformation scene is also pretty good. But, in terms of pure ‘I’m-Gonna-Vomit-Watching-This, that’s probably it! That was mostly prosthetic effects. The first thing he does is cut off his ear, which was a prosthetic ear; then he cuts off his tongue, which again was a prosthetic tongue; and then when he stabs himself in the eye, which was obviously a series of cuts. That also had a little bit of digital added to it, so you can see the reflection of the knife in his eyeball.”
OK, being that I always have to find something to pick a hole in within the guts of horror movies, my question is: Why were there no staff to be found anywhere in the final chase scenes through the Hospital?! ”You know, it’s so funny, but we briefly talked about it – and I’d read on the Internet a couple of people have commented on it that they did the same in ‘Halloween II’ and that it’s some sin of the movie that it’s so obvious that there should be some hospital staff – but I’ve been in hospitals at four and five in the morning and there’s absolutely nobody around! So, that’s my first comment. It’s not like there’s fifty people running around at a hospital at that time! But, I guess people could say that maybe there should be a Nurse or two in the hallway. But, to me just to have some random Nurse walking by just seems rather silly and took you out of the story. And, what are you gonna do with her? I guess someone could have just killed her? And yes, this is a horror movie, but we were trying to also make it a supernatural thriller. We didn’t want it to be just a complete blood fest where people are getting slaughtered every ten minutes!”
One would assume that when the DVD comes out that there will be some wonderfully funny outtakes included from all of this 'bloody' filming?! ”Yeah, there’s definitely - throughout the movie - some great outtakes, like where the blood capsule doesn’t work. But, if you want to know what will be the best outtake to watch out for, it’s the scene where ‘Kisha’ [Melissa Elias] is puking in the bathroom! The visual effects guys built this whole system to get her to do the puking. The only problem was that Winnipeg is a small town and being that this was a low budget movie, people were moving to other sets for the day. AND, a bunch of people got the flu! So, our prop guy, Jason Gibbs, who’s a terrific guy, he ended up volunteering to take change and to ensure that the tubing worked out. Well, this poor girl had to do this puking thing, but it screwed up four or five times! And so, she’s there, ready to puke it all up, and all of a sudden it wouldn’t work. And then the next time it did work, but it exploded too early and exploded all over her! And this was dog food, garbage and debris from the butcher’s shop and it literally exploded all over her. She was a trooper though as we had to do it many times!”
So, and not to give anything away, but based on the ending, will there be a sequel?! ”There is a sequel in the works, yes. We’re talking about doing it, but there’s a firm possibility that it will happen. There’s so much excitement about it. Everyone is excited to potentially launch this into a series.”
Finally, tell us more about where our readers can expect to see ‘Tamara’ on the big screen? “Expect to see ‘Tamara’ on February 3rd premiering in the New York City area, including the AMC Times Square 25 and a bunch of surrounding areas. Then two weeks later on February 17th we expand into the top 20 markets. Yeah, it’s pretty exciting for a very small, low-budgeted horror movie. It’s gotten a lot of buzz, thankfully on the Internet. Which these days is where a lot of the power is!”
In addition to his film endeavors, Haft is a successful commercial and music video director. He’s currently directing a national spot for the Harlem Globetrotters and just finished helming the opening titles for a new TLC show. He previously directed a 5 spot package for Mattel Toys, filming entirely in Australia. The spots combined live-action, special effects, CGI animation and high-energy surfing scenes. This included jungle environments, underwater cameras and shooting in a number of exciting practical locations.
Also he recently completed a national television spot for the Walt Disney DVD release of the timeless classic 'Snow White.' The commercial incorporates live action, special effects, green screen and animation.
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED 'Tamara' item of memorabilia from director Jeremy Haft, just answer this easy question: After you have watched this movie, tell me which spell did 'Tamara' rip from the Occult book of spells?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win a wonderful (and AUTOGRAPHED!) 'Tamara' item of memorabilia! Just send us an e:mail here before March 1st with your answer and the subject title 'TAMARA SIGNED STUFF' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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