Interview: Todd and Ashley Nunes Make Horror Movie ‘All Through the House’ a Family AffairSeptember 24, 2015
Recently we had a chance to talk to director Todd Nunes and his sister, actress Ashley Nunes, about the movie business, horror and the film All Through the House.
How did the two of you end up in the movie making business?
Todd: I feel as if my sister and I have been making horror movies our whole lives! I moved to Los Angeles first, went to the Los Angeles Film School, studied screenwriting at UCLA, wrote a tone of screenplays and made some short films. My sister eventually followed me here and is now working on her own career in acting. It just made sense that we would end up working together. Actress Jessica Cameron calls us ‘The Brother and Sister Duo’.
Ashley: I agree. It’s seems Todd and I have been on this path to the movie business since we were kids. I have always wanted to be a ‘scream queen’ and my brother always admired Jamie Lee Curtis so that also seemed to seal our fate, so to speak, in the sense of where we wanted to go, what we wanted to do and eventually working together.
Was the horror genre something you were both interested in from the very beginning?
Todd: Oh yeah. I first saw Halloween on HBO at a very young age and it changed my life. I had never experienced a movie like that. I watched it with my cousins and we screamed, it was magical and so much fun! It was also something that I just couldn’t get out of my mind. It was then I knew that I wanted to make horror movies. I started doing original horror plays in elementary school. In junior high, I got me first 8mm camera and did a movie called ‘The Slaughter’. While in high school I got my first VHS video camera and did movies called ‘Vacation in Hell’ and ‘Babysitter Massacre’, just to name a few, as well as stage versions of both ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘Halloween’. My sister was very young during this time but I still managed to use her in many of my early productions, having her play a child demon, zombie and even a killer teddy bear. Needless to say, I passed my infatuation with the horror genre to her in no time. My parents weren’t big fans of horror movies at first but they eventually gave in to our passion and are now fans of horror themselves.
Ashley: When I came into the world, I wasn’t really sheltered from anything. I grew up watching horror movies, to the point where I can’t remember them not being a part of my life. Having my brother so immersed in the genre also, like he said, couldn’t help but rub off on me. I guess in some ways I never had a chance! (Laughs) But really, I wouldn’t change a thing, I love everything about the genre.
What is the big attraction for the two of you in horror?
Todd: I love the adrenaline rush of watching and making movies, it’s like riding a roller coaster. I often wonder why I have such a strong attraction to horror movies, especially when I can’t stand real life violence. I don’t watch boxing, I don’t believe in spanking children, I really am the biggest pacifist you’ll ever meet. However you’d never know that by watching one of my movies. I also enjoy strong female characters and horror movies are a great place to find them. I have always felt like horror movies are the ‘female action movie’ and having a strong, brave and smart heroine is always fun to write and watch.
Ashley: There is nothing like being scared, I just love that part of the horror genre so much. Growing up, I kind of took a break from acting and became a track runner. I ran for years and when I came back to acting Todd had to tell me to dial it down a bit, but I’ve always had this thing for running and chasing. When I get a great chase scene I’m in heaven, I really am. I love jumping over bushes, hurdles, everything.
So what is it like for the two of you to work together?
Todd: It’s great, it really is. I know with Ashley I don’t have to spend a lot of time explaining what I want, what I expect because she knows all that already. She is very good at what she does and takes direction well so really, it’s nothing but a plus for me.
Ashley: Todd is such a good director that he really does make things easy on set. You would think being his sister it would be easier for us to fall into some petty sibling arguments but in all honesty, we argue more in day to day things than we ever do on set.
Where did the idea for ‘All Through the House’ come from?
Todd: The idea has actually been around for a long time. It came about when I saw a poster for the movie ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’ showing Santa Clause going down a chimney with an axe. I thought it was such an amazing idea and I knew my parents were never going to take me to a movie like that and I didn’t get to see it till I was much older and saw it in a video store. That is really where the idea for ‘All Through the House’ began developing, something that really stayed with me over the years and that I thought was really scary.
What were the biggest challenges for the both of you in filming ‘All Through the House’?
Todd: The biggest challenge for me was that the majority of ‘All Through the House’ takes place at night. We filmed during summer hours and it didn’t get dark until about 9 pm, so there wasn’t a lot of night to work with. It seemed like we were constantly in a hurry to get a certain shot here or something set up just right over there just so we could beat the morning sun.
Ashley: I think a lot of people would say the long hours that we worked but I actually love that, I love working long hours, having that adrenaline rush. The biggest challenge I had during the making of this movie was I had a bad cold. It was a terrible cold so if they were filming a scene and I was in another room, I was trying so hard not to sneeze or cough so the sound crew wouldn’t pick it up.
When you’re casting a movie like this, what are you looking for in an actor and as an actor Ashley, what was the atmosphere like on set?
Ashley: I actually got along so well with the other actors. We had great chemistry, I actually knew some of them already, we were all there for each other, and everyone was really great. We were really lucky to have so many good actors in this horror movie and that fact that we all got along made it that much better.
Todd: One of the things that is really important when somebody walks into an audition is to see if they give off that vulnerable sense, it’s a horror scene, everybody should be very vulnerable. We don’t want to see people who come off as too tough. I want people that look like they’re from a regular neighborhood and I want to make sure they come off as being natural and have no inhibitions so when it’s time to do a scene they can really let loose and show a big range of emotions. When you do a horror movie, you want people who can run the gambit of emotions and we were very lucky to be able to get that from this cast of actors.
Todd: I think John Carpenter has to be my biggest influence, for sure. Halloween meant so many things to me, from the chills, the horror, music and Jamie Lee Curtis. And speaking of scream queens, we love Jessica Cameron. She is a big inspiration to me, she’s helped me out a lot, guided me and I’m just so honored that took the time to be there for me.
Ashley: When Todd casted her I knew exactly who she was. I had seen some of her movies and when I saw her head shot I said “I know her! She’s got a million movie credits!” She was so great to work with and a real inspiration to me as well as an actress. Such a wonderful woman.
What can you tell horror fans that will pique their interest in ‘All Through the House’?
Todd: Well, we have a lot of gore! We have lots of gore, great action, great violence and all of that is highlighted by a very interesting story. There is so much going on, much more than the viewer originally will think, and I am so excited at how it turned out. The actors did a phenomenal job and I can’t wait for horror fans to see it.
Ashley: As an actor in the film, I can say that there were times when I started reading the script and literally could not put it down. There are parts that made my jaw drop, both as an actor and a horror fan, and I couldn’t wait to be a part of it and see how it turned out, going from the page to film. Horror fans will be happy with this film, trust me!
Now that ‘All Through the House’ is finished, what are the two of you doing next?
Todd: First of all, ‘All Through the House’ is making its premiere at the RIP Film Festival Halloween night so we are pretty excited about that. I’m working on another film right now but I can’t reveal the title just yet. I will say it is a remake and I’m very honored and excited about that.
Ashley: I am crossing my fingers for a part in that movie! I’m out there auditioning, working hard and meeting people, trying to get out there and become better and better at what I love to do.
I want to thank Todd and Ashley for taking the time to speak with me.