Anthony Leonardi III (INTERVIEW)
Anthony Leonardi III is the director to newly released fightfest 'Nothing Left to Fear'. The film has gained a large reception as the first entry of guitar god Slash's production label Slasher Films and sees a family in a small town receive a welcoming like no other.
Firstly I would like to congratulate you on your directoral debut, ‘Nothing Left to Fear’, you certainly had me cowering at parts.
Thank you. You are the audience I made it for, for sure.
So how did the film come about?
The script came to me from Slash and his producing partner at the time. They’d seen a short I had been doing ('Existence' available to view on Vimeo now) and gave me the script and I kind of saw the movie I wanted to make and presented it. That’s how it came to me. The original version of the movie was much more of a slasher world and we wanted to do something a little more haunting. Something to think about after and try and go round this reality of what’s out there.
That was certainly a good move you made there. Having Slash on board did that influence the film in any way?
Probably not much at all other than getting people to know it. What was great about working with Slash is he really embraces the creative process. He’s there to make a movie, he’s really like “hey, what do you want to do, how do you want to do it?” It was probably one of the most collaborative relationships I’ve ever had, very supportive and has great ideas. There’s no ego involved. So I think as affecting it, it was only positive having him involved.
That’s refreshing to hear, the cast also did a fantastic job at bringing that fear on screen. Clancy Brown as the Pastor bought a sinister edge. How was it working with those guys as it is an eclectic mix of characters?
It was great, we had a really great cast. It was funny because how fast we shot this movie, how much of a speeding train it was, everybody survived and did an amazing job. We shot the whole thing in 19-20 days which was exceedingly fast and everyone planned this movie around them and started shooting. We didn’t have any rehearsal time or anything which made it really tough for director and actors but we just jumped into it full speed and went ahead.
Clancy was great and when we were casting, the role of Pastor Kinsman was somebody who was scared, not somebody trying to be evil. When I met him he was really sad about the character and this guilty burden that he had. He’s not a bad guy, he’s actually a good guy.
It was great to see something new and you just hit the nail on the head with that. It was fresh to see a possession film where it wasn’t just a spontaneous possession but in fact it was for a greater good. Was that something you had easy buy in with as for a horror film that is really unconventional and to have the possession being the “good guy”?
Yes, well that was the twist when I first met Slash and what I wanted to do. I’ve seen it so many times that the religious people are always the bad guy and always doing something bad. Seeing that a billion times and what if know that the Devil, they know that God exists, they would be doing this for protection and I thought that was much more interesting for character than just bringing people in to kill them. By having more of a burden that they had to do something bad than do something good was always something that would bother me if I saw that. Slash loved that idea so that is what we ran with.
I think that is the films strongest point is that twist. I’ve been doing a little research into this and it appears that there may be a little truth behind the film. Were these myths the premise for the story at any point?
Well there’s a local myth in Kansas about this gateway to Hell and that’s what they were planning the script on originally. When you look it up online though there are so many holes in all the stories. There’s like a stairway and how do you make a movie out of that? So I just chose early on to embrace the script that was given to me, and I was like “how do I make this into a movie?”
It’s like doing a Bigfoot movie. If you use everything you read about Bigfoot online it becomes diluted and muddy. This was just a simple fact of a family moving to a town that ends up being a gateway to Hell and they’re a part of this ritual, really simple. You see a lot of people criticising it for not being like the rumours online about the place but it was never… I chose to make a movie about a family, not about a town.
I know you went down the possession path with some great special effects, was it ever tempting to go full blown Linda Blair or was it always going to be that dark, harrowing and stepping away from the usual possession film?
It was always going to be that different thing of them (the townsfolk) putting that “creature” into the vessel. I wanted it to feel, I know this may sound weird, but if you went to another country and got to observe a ritual and it would seem so different to you. That kind of approach. While not really explaining everything, as it would be weird if one character explained the plot, making this more mysterious.
Where are you going to go next?
Right now I have a couple of scripts and I want to get them right before we go out. Try not to repeat myself by way of a couple of mystery thrillers and I even have a kid’s movie that I’ve been developing for a couple of years and a couple of other things. It’s about trying to find the right property and the thing about movies is you never know which one is going to go. I had a couple of other movies as well as ‘Nothing Left to Fear’ and that one magically went so you never know. It’s impossible to predict the future.
I say keep it as unpredictable as possible, it’s where the best things come from.
Absolutely, just try and find something that interests me and that’s all you can do as a director.
Well, you certainly have done a great job here and can’t wait to see what comes next and we will leave you there unless you have any questions?
No, I’m good thanks. I’ve been checking out your website and your reviews and really excited to do this interview.
Nothing Left To Fear is available now from Anchor Bay and Slasher Films
Buy now from Amazon or on demand via iTunes