The first Steven C Miller “movie” I have ever seen was his short film Granny which was a really good start and impressed me a lot (read my review here). After Granny I lost sight of Miller and his work. Although I heard of his TV movie Scream of the Banshee (2011) I have never seen it. At this time I fell deeply in love with trash and B-movies and wasn’t really interested in anything else but then, by accident I read about him doing a remake of the 1984 slasher classic SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT and he immediatly got my attention again. First of all because I am a huge fan of his very unique style with high recognition value and second of all because I just started getting into the oldschool slasher movies. After I saw SILENT NIGHT for the very first time I got the chance to do an interview with director Miller. Read on to find out what it is all about.
El Gore: Hello, thank you for agreeing to an interview. For those who don’t know you yet, could you introduce yourself?
Steven C Miller: Hey no problem! Sure. I am Steven C Miller, director of the film Silent Night.
E.G.: You are a horror movie director but also a father of a daughter. What are your thoughts on nowadays, modern, really brutal/gory horror flicks and children watching them? What is your opinion on censoring movies?
SCM: I’ve always thought horror was pretty brutal and have been very careful what my daughter sees and doesn’t see. All kids are different. Some mature faster and can handle the material at an earlier age. I think it is a parent’s job to teach their children that movies are a form of entertainment and should not be looked at as reality. Because it is the parent’s job, I feel censorship is weak and movies should not be edited for society’s sake.
E.G.: How did your most recent movie, the “remake” of Silent Night, come to be? Was it a thing you’ve always wanted to do or were you approached by a studio?
SCM: I’m a huge fan of the original, so I went after the project for a few years. It bounced around from different producers and finally ended up with Richard Saperstein. Richard happened to be at Dimension when my first film (Automaton Transfusion) was bought there. After Richard left Dimension, he took the rights to Silent Night, Deadly Night with him. He was a fan of mine and gave me a call when he got a script done. I pitched him and Shara Kay my take, then off we went.
E.G.:A question you probably can’t hear anymore but what were your experiences working with the great Malcolm McDowell (Clockwork Orange) and the wonderful Jaime King (Sin City) in Silent Night.
SCM: Both were amazing. Jaime is such a fantastic lady and always comes prepared. She loves to be as involved as she can be with the evolution of her character. It’s really great to see her get so into every emotion she has on screen. Malcolm is just a badass. He really is the nicest guy and the most professional. He gets the genre and knows how to embrace it. I love watching him work. He is an icon.
E.G.: Most of the time you can read that your flick is a remake of the 1984 Silent Night, Deadly Night but lets be honest: there is not much left besides the sadistic Santa, the title and the deer-head kill. What was your reasoning behind omitting most of the content from the original?
SCM: Well, honestly it was already like that when i got the script. But that was a huge draw for me. I didn’t want to make the same film everyone had seen or even attempt to do something that felt dated. I wanted to give the series new life and re-imagine this classic for a new audience.
E.G.: Has everything turned out exactly how you wanted it? What were the biggest challenges?
SCM: No. I think in independent film it’s close to impossible to get it exactly how you want it. We shot this film in 17 days and that was immensely challenging. The biggest would have to be the woodchipper day. I literally had 4 hours to shoot that entire chase and kill sequence. Its a massive set piece and I wanted to make sure I did it justice. Luckily I had an amazingly fast crew and great talent to keep it moving quickly!
E.G.:Before shooting, did you watch the original again?
SCM: Many times. I really do love that flick. I mostly watched Friday the 13th part 2 though. Was a huge inspiration for this film.
E.G.:I read that you wanted to do a sequel? Are there any plans yet and why do a sequel in the first place?
SCM: I would love to do a sequel. There is talk if the movie is received well and the numbers make sense. I think it would be fun to expand on the mythology and really take this Santa to a place we haven’t seen before. There is a ton of possibilities for this series and I feel it’s worth exploring.
E.G.:Silent Night had a very limited theatrical release on November 30th. Are you happy with that limited release and the fact that the movie came out on DVD pretty fast?
SCM: As a filmmaker you’re always happy your film is seeing the light of day, no matter what the size. But I will say I was disappointed because I felt the film deserved a much wider release and I thought the fans would have really turned out to see this one on the big screen.
E.G.: I noticed that you inter alia paid homage to the iconic “Garbage Day” scene from Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2. Generally speaking, is it important to you to include such little details that only fans of the originals understand?
SCM: 100%. There are many of those in the film. Including one to the original Black Christmas. I want the fans to know I’m also a fan and I’m not trying to ruin their beloved film. Im just trying to have fun and give a new generation something different.
E.G.: The colors and the light worked really well and made this film to something really special. Was this something you put a lot of focus on or rather a natural process?
SCM: Joseph White (the DP) and I really focused on colors pretty heavily in pre-production. We wanted the film to stand out from other modern slashers and have a very vibrant feel. I love color and it is apparent in this film that I feel horror films can be shot this way and still have a great creepy atmosphere. I just love cinematic movies and that was the goal on this film.
E.G.: What can you tell us about your future projects like Motel Hell?
SCM: Motel Hell is something that has been in development hell for a while. Hopefully MGM will remember it’s there and figure out what they want to do with it. Other than that my film Under the Bed will be hitting theaters summer 2013 and I’m working on a few other things that I’m hoping get green lit very shortly!
E.G.: Anything else you would like to add?
SCM: Just to thank everyone for supporting the film and indie horror. Its because of the fans that films like this will continue to be made. Really appreciate everyone!
As usual we want to thank you for spending your time answering our questions. To all the readers: If you are into oldschool horror but are open towards modern stuff, you should absolutely give Silent Night a try. Check out the trailer below and buy the movie here.