An interview with :

Jesse Holland

Yellowbrickroad, whilst may not be the newest kid on the block in terms of when it was released - is now finding it's way into the mainstream diet of 'psychological' horror lovers! 

I was lucky enough to interview writer/director Jesse Holland back in 2016 about the movie.  Enjoy!

DGE: If I can, Id like to go back to 2010 with a movie called Yellowbrickroad – a psychological kind of horror movie that seems to have caused a bit of a stir within the movie community due to its seemingly open `ending` and what the actual meaning of the movie was. There are only a few movies in recent times that have had this kind of impact so I have to ask, where did you get the idea or inspiration from and how long did it take to go from it being an idea to actual filming?

Jesse: The basic idea was, this was an evil that was so great, to know it was to know madness. We didn't know it at first, but we were getting that from Lovecraft. Our inspirations were House Of Leaves and Stephen King (who of course is a descendent of Lovecraft).

DGE: Yellowbrickroad's eerie undertones are made all the more impressive, and at times disturbing, due to the old theatre style music which is played throughout. The music alone seems to become one of the main characters or components of the movie perhaps more so than any of the actual actors. Where did this idea come from and was this always planned from the beginning?

Jesse: It was Andy's idea, and it was one of those ideas that you like because it works on a gut level but it also works on practical level. We thought that style music coming from the woods would be scary, and we also thought it would be do-able on a low budget.

DGE: I guess you get this asked all the time and I`m not overly sure if our readers will want to know (as it may spoil the movie) – but the movie does seem to mean something different for each individual watching it. Can you say what the movie was trying to teach (or tell) us? Or would you rather leave this question and let the viewer make their own interpretation?

Jesse: Every character walks their own road and comes to their own end. That, and what I said above in question 1, should cover the ending. Let me know if you want to know more and I'll check the comments!

DGE: There seemed to be great chemistry between the cast members that seemed evident in the movie. Did you know the actors before filming or did you have to spend a lengthy bit of time in auditioning to get the right people in?

Jesse: It was a mix of both, actors we had never worked with before like Anessa Ramsay who we just saw in The Signal and loved, and Cassidy and Clark, who we've worked with for years.

DGE: I believe yellowbrickroad was filmed in and around New Hampshire. What made you choose this location and where there any difficulties whilst shooting the movie due to its location (in the forest)?

Jesse: We were really in the boonies. There was no cell phone reception and the internet was satellite and spotty. It made it really hard on production but kind of amazing for me as a director because I wasn't distracted by my phone. Our thinking for shooting there - which is actually where the movie takes place, like 30 miles from Canada - was that no one would care if we shot in such a remote place. It turned out people always care, and a good rule of filmmaking is to have a locations manager.

DGE: I `ve read elsewhere that yellowbrickroad was possibly filmed on a low(ish) budget? If so, just how difficult is it to get funding in the first place and what is it like keeping to the budget given?

Jesse: The hardest thing about shooting on a low budget is that inevitably you end up paying really talented people who have worked really hard not as much money as they deserve. And then doing that again...and again...and again. I guess me and Andy just tried to be really inspiring about how cool the project could be if it came to fruition. I remember we made lots of little videos, like fake trailers, because I do motion graphics and Andy does sound design (hit us up for freelance, BTW) and these little things would help draw attention. And then I had this thing called "YellowBrickToast" where I invited everyone over to have french toast and talk about how the hell we were going to get the movie made. I think these little things helped give the whole thing momentum, and money becomes much easier to attach when a thing has momentum.

DGE: Ive watched yellowbrickroad many, many times now and I`ve commented on how cool it could be to see a `prequel`. Were we could see what actually happened to the people of Friar. Has this idea ever crossed your mind and/or would a prequel ever be made?

Jesse: That exact idea has crossed our minds. Anything is possible.

DGE: Coming away from yellowbrickroad, who influenced (or maybe still does influence) you as a writer/director?

Jesse: YellowBrickRoad was very influenced by Kubrick and the Coen Bros. Influences change and grow. Right now my favorite movie I saw in 2015 is Blue Ruin.

DGE: Looking at your CV, it seems that horror themed stories are what interests you the most. Is this something you have simply chosen to do or is it something that just comes naturally to you (writing scary stories)? Would you like to try your hand at writing/directing any other genres?

Jesse: I'm captivated by fast, good, harsh dialogue, like classic Mamet or the play/movie Carnage. I'd love to do brutal drama. Sometimes that edges into horror territory, and you get movies like Bug and Killer Joe.

DGE: Now, your buddy Andy Mitton. Where did that collaboration come from? Both of you where involved in yellowbrickroad as well as Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear and one that is in the pipeline now, We Go On.

Jesse: We worked off and on again in theatre since college, and began making movies together almost ten years ago.

DGE: Speaking of We Go On, can you give an insight into what this movie is about and can you give any updates on its release date?

Jesse: It's about a guy who puts out an ad for a thirty thousand dollar reward for proof of the afterlife , a ghost, an angel, a past-life experience, anything. And it's a "be careful what you wish for" kind of story. It's much less gory then YellowBrick, it's more a "supernatural thriller" than a straight horror.

DGE: What movies would you say have influenced you as a writer and director? If I was a betting man, I`d say perhaps Kubricks The Shining may appear on your list as it could easily be compared to yellowbrickroad in terms of psychological horror?

Jesse: You guessed it right!

DGE: Now I ask this next question to everyone who kindly agrees to do an interview and its this. If you could remake ANY movie from any period, which would it be?

Jesse: Hamlet


Yellowbrickroad (2010)

Synopsis (IMDB) : 1940: the entire population of Friar, New Hampshire walked up a winding mountain trail, leaving everything behind. 2008: the first official expedition into the wilderness attempts to solve the mystery of the lost citizens of Friar.

Directed by : Jesse Holland, Andy Mitton

Written by : Jesse Holland, Andy Mitton

Cast :  Michael Laurino, Anessa Ramsey, Alex Draper, Cassidy Freeman, Clark Freeman, Tara Giordano, Sam Elmore, Laura Heisler, Joseph Collier, Lee Wilkof

My Rating :