This conversation was edited and condensed for clarity.
Clay Morris: Thank you so much for speaking with me today! I’ll jump right in. When did the process for this film start? And how long have you guys been working on it?
Tyson Edwards: Well, I guess it would have started with me, because I was the writer for it. I started writing it in like, the summer last year, like so late summer 2022. And, you know, just kind of like as a creative outlet. And then I was like, oh, I guess I could probably get this made through Carolina Film Association, because I had worked with them before on a short film called pool. And so I was kind of familiar with the process. So I submitted it to them, and that’s when they got attached to Keller. And we collaborated and brought it together. The whole process has been about two semesters worth so far.
Keller Huffman: So I got matched to Tyson script as producer in late October. So our production cycle was roughly like the beginning of November till basically spring break. So March is a pretty lengthy process, but it was really fun. It was really rewarding.
Caroline Cochrane: I had been wanting to get involved with the Carolina Film Association. And I finally was able to come to the pitch party. And I saw Tyson and I was like, wait a second… Tyson and I used to train together at a place in Greensboro in middle school. So I was like, oh my gosh hi, I haven’t talked to you forever. Then I read his script and I saw all of the materials and the way he was talking about the film. It was extremely professional and he seemed very prepared. I knew that this was going to be good. I was like, I have to be part of this. Once we started filming, it was really fun.
Dillon Cavanagh: I also kind of stumbled on this because I did acting in middle school and high school. I’m from Florida, so I didn’t know like anything, any one or anything going on here. But I became good friends with the guy who directed one of Tyson’s previous films. So I wanted to get involved with CFA, but I couldn’t make it to the pitch party. So I told him I was like, anything you think I’d be good for? Just throw my name in the hat. So I get sent all the links. So I got an email for this, The Cobbler. I hadn’t met them. I knew nothing about the film. But I read through the script. And I read the scripts for 80 of the films going on. And this one was my favorite one that I read. So I sent off an audition. I hadn’t met them or didn’t know anything about their vision for it, but turned out really well.
Clay Morris: Wow! Okay, well, it sounds like serendipity. And it sounds like everyone came together that was supposed to come together. It’s fabulous that there’s a mix of prior relationships and new relationships to make the film. So my next question is why horror comedy instead of just horror or comedy?
TE: Yeah, so basically, I love genre films. And I love horror movies and I love comedies also. But a lot of my influences kind of came together in a way where I was like, some of my favorite horror movies are the ones that kind of don’t take themselves necessarily, super seriously. I think it’s always fun for the audience to interject a little bit of laughter with the stairs because I mean, you’re kind of engaging multiple aspects of their brain that way keeps them engaged. I, I also think when I was writing it, even if I sat down originally, I was like, let me make something like the scariest shit I’ve ever seen. I was like, this is kind of absurd, in a way without giving anything away, the plot takes some turns where it’s like, okay, that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s, that could be a little goofy. But I think it adds to the fun of it. And so you know, just as scary as some people might find it, I hope people are also finding it super funny, because I personally found it really fun to write in kind of a campy way.
CM: So knowing that’s why you picked that genre. Was there an overall inspiration for the film? And was there any specific cinematography or director-based inspiration that you referenced for the film?
TE: For me, the biggest influences when I was writing it were sort of like an alien kind of thing. And then, specifically, the Evil Dead series of movies. They’re done by a lovely filmmaker named Sam Raimi and his movies kind of blend together, like this really goofy kind of horror, like, gross out sort of really scary sometimes sort of movie and I just loved them so much. And I kind of wanted to do something really like that. And then I think Keller and I had collaborated on some other influences that he brought into it.
KH: Another big influence for us was the recent horror film Barbarian. The film has a very certain camera style, where the first half is a very controlled still camera. The movements are very, very much controlled, they’re exact. It’s like, on a millimeter and they put it exactly where they want it. And then shit hits the fan, the monster shows up: and the camera just goes crazy. They use shoulder cameras, shaky cam and handheld cameras. And it just completely switches the tone of the entire second half of that movie. So that did end up being a big inspiration for The Cobbler as far as once shit hits the fan. and the cobbler, you will notice a distinct change in the cinematography of the movie.
CM: Okay. And so let me ask the actors, did you guys have any specific inspirations or like Scream Queens and Kings that you thought of when you were acting in these roles? And when you heard about, you know, the producers and the writers references in their inspirations?
DC: I can’t say that I had a specific person or anything like that I emulated. But I think that they’re everything that we’re talking about is very evident in the characters and things like that. I know, we talked a lot about just like, the archetypes of the characters and what generally they’re based on. But I think all of the characters have at least two sides, which is really nice. I don’t think that there’s any flat characters, even the ones that are there for five seconds or have their own little things going on. All have some sort of complexity, some sort of deeper thought and so I think that there was a lot of work we put into that, which is nice.
CC: Yeah, I agree. And also, we talked a lot about like, like Scream or other things where the main characters. It’s kind of like a group of friends that can really exist together as like a fun, cohesive entertaining group that once things start happening it’s exciting. And you get attached to the way that the characters are together. We did a lot of that, too.
CM: Okay. So what was it like balancing school and making this? Like, how was that? That sounds like that may have been like the hardest part?
TE: Well, I’m glad I wrote it during the summer. Because I know some other of my fellow screenwriters were starting to write theirs when the semester started, and I’m kind of glad I got that off my plate. However, managing shooting during the school semester proves to be challenging at some points. But that’s par for the course, when you’re kind of stringing together a pretty low-budget movie. And considering the challenges, I think we brought it together really well. We had a lot of night shoots. Thankfully, I never shoot for super long either.
KH: Yeah, certainly. I mean, 100%. It’s a balancing act. It’s a juggling act, trying to figure out what cast and crew is available at what times because ultimately, filmmaking is super important to all of us, but so is our education. So that’s a tough balance to strike. Some of the goals for me were like, I didn’t want anybody to be on set for longer than six hours, because that’s a quarter of a day right there. And everybody has a lot on their plates as college students. Additionally, we had a lot of crew members, we had two lighting techs, we had multiple pas. So it was important for me to get different crew members on different days and to kind of cycle through different people in order to get new perspectives and so that everybody can feel like they had a valuable experience working on set with us. So while not an easy task, I’m really happy with how our scheduling and all that turned out.
DC: I’d also say, those Keller and Tyson did a fantastic job scheduling this, they were very understanding of conflicts. And like, it was truly the easiest process in terms of making sure that everyone was available, and we could get things done. They were very forward. And on top of that, I mean, it’s certainly difficult to have a lot of things going on at once. But we had some shoots that went late, late into the night. But I think that all of us actors, and a lot of the crew got so invested in the film that we were like, ‘we can just knock this out.’
CM: It’s good to hear that from the actors. That means things were definitely great on set and we’re in for a fabulous film. So I really want to know if we can have any hints about the movie, and what we can expect to see. And if the actors could give us a hint about their character using one word?
DC: I think with Jonah, which is the character that I played, everything he does: you’re going to understand it, but you’re still going to hate it. I think everything he does is like – if you were in that situation you’d get where he’s coming from. It doesn’t mean it’s not going to infuriate you to your core.
CM: Okay. Gotcha.
CC: And for Katie, I think that the way that Katie is in the film, you can kind of follow with her in trying to figure out what’s going on, and also how she’s dealing with it and interpreting things as it goes along. I think you can really relate to Katie.
TE: I know we’re kind of all being very vague,but I think I think a lot of the fun of the movie is going to be going in and being like well, what’s going on? I think we’ve shown a lot of imagery of vents and shoes. But, I don’t even think the horror aspect of it is something you need to know to have a great time. And its core for me, I think it’s also a great relationship story between Jonah and Katie. And I think audiences are going to have a fun time watching that develop and seeing how it takes turns throughout the situation.
KH: I think that our story is paced in a way where the minute you get comfortable, or you get adjusted to what’s going on: you immediately just throw all of that out the window. It’s very much an unpredictable story in ways that I think are really satisfying and exciting.
CM: I’m hearing promising things. My appetite for this movie is now very, very intense. But I do want to know: is the film for the faint of heart, because personally, I do not like gore, but I do like horror movies, if that makes sense. So are we gonna see limbs flying, eyes popping out of skulls? What should we expect in terms of the fear factor?
TE: For me: that’s the kind of stuff I love to see in a movie. I think we balance showing and not showing very well, because especially with horror movies, there’s a very delicate art and sometimes when you don’t see what happens to the characters it’s scarier. We also had like a budget of $5 putting this together. And so we were really coming up with creative solutions on how to really put this together. We have some really cool makeup effects. And we had a really good makeup artist who came up with some great effects, Jenna Garland. I will say there are a couple of parts that might make you squeamish. I showed it to some people and I got “Oh hell no” at one point. And I was like, that’s what that’s what you want. That’s the ticket. Dylan and Caroline, you guys aren’t giant horror movie fans? How did you guys react to some of the more gory parts of the movie?
CC: Yeah, I’m definitely not a horror girl. I love to act in horror films because seeing them behind the scenes is a lot easier. Watching the scenes back and everything I was like this is very fun, as well as shocking. There weren’t things where, you know, you’re like, I literally can’t look at the screen. I think it’s very tasteful in a way. It won’t give you nightmares.
DC: I would say that there are jumpscares. There is Gore, but you’re never jumped scared with gore. I know. That’s an odd thing to say. But what I mean is like images that are unsettling or maybe a little sickening, they never come out of nowhere. Those are never the things that pop at you. When those things come on screen you’re expecting them.
CM: Okay, I like a good jumpscare! Okay, interesting.
KH: I will say that I have shown the film to my parents. They do not enjoy horror. And they were fine. It’s like halfway between PG-13 and rated R for me. Like if they were to make something like PG-16 or something.
TE: Probably don’t show like your young kids, though. There’s some language and there are definitely some unsettling moments.
CM: After we all see the film, what do you want viewers to take away from it? Or how do you want them to feel? And that could be a funny kind of question for a movie that’s a horror comedy, but I’m gonna ask it anyway.
TE: It’s really, it’s fun and games. And it’s really thrilling to watch and be entertained. But like I said, I think there’s a really engaging relationship story between Jonah and Katie. And it also has some subtext in there for, you know, personal struggles and maybe some of the symbolism. You know, I want people to watch it and be like, I was so entertained. But then also I would be super super interested to hear what people think about the movie on a more subtextual kind of level. Is that pretentious?
KH: I agree with everything Tyson talked about thematically and the harder hitting questions that you should leave the project with. From a purely physiological standpoint: I want people to finish it and feel energized. Like see the final shot, have the credits hit and just like need to get up and run a lap around their house or something. I want this to get people’s blood pumping.
DC: I like for a film to result in argument. I think that’s the best thing. I don’t like takeaways. My favorite thing is to walk out of a movie and have one person be like, “I’m so mad that this happened” to the other person be like, “but it had to happen because of this.”
CC: I think people will be rooting for Katie. A very important part of watching a film is being able to be immersed in the world of the film, and to really feel like this is real life. And that it’s something you could experience even though you can’t, you know? The element of being in a new world and afterwards feeling a connection to it.
CM: Precisely, that’s what it’s all about. Well I am excited for the release and congratulations on the film and all of the hard work that accompanied it.
Click here to watch the trailer for The Cobbler. The Carolina Film Association showcase screening of the movie will be on April 23. After the showcase, the film will be on the Carolina Film Association’s YouTube page as well as Tyson Edward’s YouTube page.
Click here to browse The Cobbler’s official website and learn more about the cast and crew.