Remaking “Dementia”: An Interview with Richard LeMay

richardlemay

Richard LeMay is an award winning filmmaker who has become one of indie cinema’s prolific helmers out of New York. In addition to writing, producing, and directing Naked As We Came, LeMay also produced Water, which starred Michael Shannon and Idina Menzel. LeMay has gone from indie dramas to living his dream of directing horror films with the remake of the 1963 film Dementia 13, the feature film directorial debut of cinematic legend Francis Ford Coppola. The film will be released in select theaters on October 6 followed by a VOD and Digital HD release on October 10 from Chiller Films.

World Film Geek had the chance to speak with LeMay about his love of horror and how it transitioned to remaking this classic tale of terror.

Thank you so much Richard for talking about Dementia 13. I saw the original many years ago and this was actually a pretty good remake that did have some twists, but it was actually pretty good.
Oh, thank you. I really appreciate that!

Before we get into the film, can you tell me how you got into filmmaking?
Well, believe it or not, I started out as an actor. I was just doing really bad films (laughs). I remember that I wanted to make a movie just so I can be in something better than what I was in. I ended up writing, producing, directing and starring in one and the movie sucked. But, I fell in love with the other side of the camera. And that was the end of it. I never looked back and just kept making movies after that.

Were you always a horror film fan?
Yes! I’ve been a horror film fan since I was a little kid. My brother, my two sisters, and I would jump on the couch and watch The Wolf Man. I remember as a toddler, just feeling scared and I’ve had a lot of good memories through the years with horror films.

That’s great! So, what led you to direct the remake of Dementia 13?
Well, I was approached by Dan DeFilippo, the film’s writer and producer. At the end of the conversation, he and Justin Smith had already written the script and they were getting things moving. So, I’ll be honest, I had never heard of Dementia 13, until the conversation started. So, I got to watch it a couple of times and for me, the challenge was that you’re stepping into the shoes of a legend.

So, my goal was to respect the original and just put my stamp on it. I knew that I was never going to outdo Francis Ford Coppola. But, just to be mentioned under the same breath as him that was the reason to make the movie alone. I loved the script so I thought it was really fast-paced and kept you guessing. So that was the hook.

dementia13-rose
Channing Pickett as Rose in Dementia 13 (Chiller Films)

What was it like working with the cast?
That’s one of my favorite things. I think with my background as an actor from many years ago, I have a good report. In the beginning, it’s what I brought to the table. My skill set has grown since. I always handpick my cast so I know what I’m getting into anyway. But, I couldn’t have picked a better group of people, both on and off set.

They were down to do whatever. You look at Channing Pickett, who plays Rose, you know, she’s running her face off through the film, screaming. And she screamed herself hoarse. She was down for it. So, it was a pleasure working with everybody.

Were there any difficulties that you had to endure while making the movie?
Yeah, I mean every movie does I think. I like to say every day is a [censored] fight when you’re making a film. And you just gotta keep moving forward. Like any film, we had linguistical nightmares. But at the end of the day, we were on a thousand-acre estate in the middle of nowhere, in the woods of Connecticut. So there was no cell service, we didn’t have wi-fi (laughs). So you’re pretty remote and unable to get in touch with anybody.

So we had a lot of safety concerns, and we brought people in to monitor those, because there was a tremendous amount of running. There’s stunts. There’s fights. We were taking it day-by-day, but I can’t say there was any one thing that stood out as a main problem.

This was actually quite a pretty good horror film. Would you do another film?
That’s my plan! I intentionally got into horror. Before this movie, I actually shot my first horror film, titled Blood Bound, starring Eden Brolin, Josh Brolin’s daughter and she’s going to blow people’s minds. I had just finished shooting that and begin editing when the conversation about Dementia 13 began. So, when I got the job for Dementia 13, I had to press pause on Blood Bound. I just recently finished it this summer, so you’re going to see it next year.

That’s awesome!
Yeah it is. So I really wanted to get into horror. I tend to look at horror, or pretty much anything as drama. I think you have to have your feet on the ground and whatever reality you’re creating. The horror element is just another layer to that.

It’s funny to me, because this movie is about a dysfunctional family, you know, dealing with their personal stuff. The horror element is the thing that brings them together. But, it’s a little too late (laughs).

Aside from Blood Bound, are there any other projects you are working on?
Yeah, well, I’m in the process of negotiation to shoot a new thriller in Los Angeles in the spring, but the deal is not done yet, so I can’t really talk about that. There are several things I’ve written and it’s a perfect world, I’ll be shooting a script called Dark Hallow, and that’s a supernatural horror film about witches and that’s pretty dark. So, yeah, I’m kind of excited to see where this road leads because I’ve always wanted to do horror films. So, I’m kind of living the dream right now.

Well, if this film says anything, it will be the beginning of what is an exciting road because you really brought the scares to the film.
Thank you! You know it’s funny because you spend your time editing a film like this and you have no idea how the audience is going to react. By the time you’re done, you’re like “I don’t know” (laughs). I do hope someone likes it.

Dementia 13 will be in theaters on October 6 followed by a VOD and Digital HD release on October 10. If anyone enjoyed Coppola’s original will surely like this remake with a bit of a twist to it. Thank you again Richard for talking about the film and will be looking forward to more of the scares from you!
Thank you so much!

A special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Richard LeMay for making this interview possible. For more information on Richard LeMay, you can visit his official homepage

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