“The movie is just plain SCARY. It’s as simple as that.”

Late last month Horror Film Central had the chance to meet with Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing. Ahead of the release of their new film, The Gallows – which will be the latest horror entry into the “found footage” genre of scares and frights. If you’ve seen the trailer (and if you haven’t… what are you waiting for?) then you know that this movie has the potential to make you literally shit your pants.

Centered around the legend of a teenager who died during the production of a small town high school play – a group of teens venture into the school after dark only to find out that some things are better left alone (and you thought school sucked during classes, am I right?).

We spoke to them briefly about what it means to them to have their first nationwide release, their thoughts on the “found footage” genre, and how people are telling them this might be the scariest movie of the year. You can read the interview below:

First of all thank you so much for speaking to me.

Both: No problem, thanks for having us.

How’s it all been going so far?

Travis: Great, it’s been insane. You know, this is all new to us and we’re just loving it. All the stuff that we’re seeing in the production, that this is. We know it cost several times more than the budget of our movie [laughs]. We’re excited.

I saw The Gallows on Wednesday, and I really enjoyed it.

Both: Good.

If you could start off by telling me a bit about how you came up with the concept.

Chris: Absolutely. So, I grew up in Nebraska, and my dad told me this story growing up about a kid who died during the high school play – seriously, in high school. And this story always stuck with me so when it came time to make our first film, Travis and I came up with ideas and I told him about the story. It was something we both gravitated towards, as something that could be really terrifying and grounded in something we could all relate to. As well as the setting being in high school, everyone’s been to high school and everyone has friends that they recall as very rude, or relatable and having good times with those friends. We felt like our four characters would remind us of either friends that we had or who we were in high school. And really help to take us back to that. For those who are currently in high school, it would make them feel like their current days in high school. So we felt like it was something most people could relate to, and it would just be a lot of fun but also very terrifying: being in your high school on your own (or at night), when all the social chatter has died down and no one’s around – we thought that was terrifying to think of that.

Can you talk a bit about the creative freedom you gave the actors? It’s your idea, and you wrote and directed it, but how much input did you get from them during the process?

Travis: We feel strongly that a collaborative effort, especially in this film, really was helpful. Whereas Chris and I had many plot points and story guidelines that we needed to hit for the overall, we really did rely on the actors to fill in the gaps and the spaces to help make it real and natural and true to themselves. Or, to whom they believe their characters were. So we granted a lot of latitude to allow the actors to bring their talents into it. It really did serve the movie and they really did do a good job.

You both seem fairly new to the game and The Gallows is something different from what you normally do. What inspired you to step into such a project that was so different creatively?

Chris: I’m a big fan of the big classic horror movies. The John Carpenter movies, Wes Craven, and all these classic Slasher movies. And then we were obviously were heavily influenced by The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, some of these more supernatural movies as well. And so our whole thought process along this journey has been to combine those two – trying to create a hybrid of classic 80s Slasher with also that paranormal feel. And so that was something we always looked at throughout this whole process, was creating this hybrid, and also, we’re big fans of suspense and letting the audience’s imagination take them places without having to see the monster, but to imagine it and create their own nightmare. And so we try to let the suspense of the film carry those moments.

You worked with Blumhouse Productions, which has a lot of experience with this kind of formula of filmmaking. What was it like working with them?

Chris: We had a completed movie before we had met with Jason [Blum, head of Blumhouse], or even heard of him. We knew of his movies but we didn’t know the guy associated with the film. For us, it was really neat to be able to have someone who had done so many things be on board. Other than that, aside from giving advice and counsel, or providing his name, he really let us keep our vision and let us do what we wanted to do and do best. It’s as if he realized ‘hey, I want to let these guys do what they’re going to do. But we’ll give them help with resources’. It was really neat to have a guy with enough faith in us to let us to continue to enhance our original vision. So we really appreciate that about Jason Blum: He sees talent, he picks it, hones it and helps it develop – but doesn’t change the original philosophy of it to try and fit into some mold or Hollywood system style. He wants it to be unique as when it first came to him. We really appreciated that about him.

That’s wonderful for filmmakers to be given that freedom.

Travis: Yes. We were still able to maintain creative freedom and control. Ultimately, he realized that was going to be best for us and he loves this movie. Everyone involved loved it. We love the way it turned out and we just hope everyone enjoys it so much.

Check out this brand new clip from ‘The Gallows’…

What would you say makes this found footage film unique to others out there?

Chris: I don’t know if we’re the ones to say. We did the best we could to make it. We’ve had people tell us that they feel that this WILL be the scariest movie of the year. Someone even today said that this will be the first scary movie of the summer. Meaning, the others were sort of tame. Although ours doesn’t have any nudity or gore or violence or sexuality, or any of those things you would find in a R rated horror movie, It’s just scary. The movie is just plain scary. It’s as simple as that. That’s why it’s the rating that it is, and that’s what people are going to love it. The movie is just scary. In a sentence or a phrase: The Movie Is Just Scary.

So what’s next for you both? Any plans in the future?

Travis: We’re working on several of our own ideas, another feature film in the works and a TV series in a sci-fi genre. Similar to Minority Report or Inception. We’ve started those two projects already. We put everything we had into this movie, trying to make it as good as it could possibly be as a standalone film, but we would love the chance to bring Charlie back to the big screen if that chance came about. We would love to dive back in.

Chris: Fingers crossed for a good release and that everyone enjoys the movie. We hope that’s what happens.

I wish you the best of luck.

Both: Thank you.

Is there anything else you would like to say that you haven’t?

Chris: We’re really grateful for the whole experience of making this film, and we hope people come see it July 10th – we really hope people come out and see it and enjoy it.

Travis: I will tell you one thing. Not everyone has asked this question, this will be the least expensive movie ever made to go straight to a worldwide theatrical release – without festivals, without a test screening or limited screening. It’s going straight to worldwide in over 2500 theatres in the US. Not even Blair Witch did that, not even Paranormal Activity did that – they did the festivals and the limited releases. We hope to even come halfway to where those films went. But it is neat to say it’s the least expensive movie ever made to go straight to a worldwide theatrical release. We’re super happy about it, we can’t even believe it’s us that gets to say that, but we’re so happy about it.

That’s amazing. How does that make you feel?

Chris: Very overwhelming. The name of our production company is Tremendom Pictures, and the world ‘tremendom’ means ‘a feeling of awe, associated with an overwhelming experience’. And that’s exactly what this is for us. And that’s what we hope people feel from our movies.

I am so pleased you’re feeling tremendom. It seems appropriate and I wish you the best of luck with the release. You deserve it; it’s a fantastic film, and best of luck.

Both: Thank you!


The Gallows is released on July 10. Below is the trailer:



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English Journalist and Filmmaker who moved to New York, as I don't play soccer or drink tea. Sometimes I say funny or interesting things on Twitter, at @JamesSpiro.