Leo Francis' Exclusive Interview with Ryan Kiser (Truth or Dare and Dead Sea)
I had the pleasure of meeting with several of the stars of the film Truth or Dare after it's premier at the Shockfest Film Festival last weekend, including the films antagonist, Ryan Kiser. Despite playing a sadistic maniac in the film, Ryan couldn't be a nicer or more warm and friendly guy. Which is only a testament to his acting chops. Ryan has many projects in the works right now including a film he is producing and acting in called Bigger Than the Beatles, Brandon Slagle's upcoming creature feature Dead Sea, and another collaboration with Brandon Slagle and Devanny Pinn called House of Manson. It should be noted that the news about Ryan working on House of Manson had yet to be announced when I submitted these questions, but I am glad he addressed it. I want to thank Ryan for taking the time to correspond with me, I appreciate it. Here is Part Two of the Truth or Dare Interviews, with Ryan Kiser.
Leo Francis: I see you just finished working with Brandon Slagle on another film called Dead Sea, and by the way, the trailer looks awesome. Clearly you two have a good working relationship. In fact, you tend to work with the same people on a regular basis, and it seems that you've found a group of like minded people to collaborate with. Do you find having a great network of friends helps push you creatively?
Ryan Kiser: It's ironic that you mention Brandon Slagle and (later) Charlie Manson. At the time you gave me these questions I was super excited to know that I was working with Brandon again on House of Manson. We just hadn't let the proverbial cat outta the bag yet ;) Yes, I do find it beneficial and fun to work with the same people over again. You find people you like working with and you just want to do it again! Also, it is helpful because as you continue to work with people you tend to get to know them and get more comfortable. This is especially helpful as an actor. It allows you to be much more open. Additionally, it is quite rewarding to be able to work with people who are talented and so motivated. My hat is off to them!
LF: You also have a non-horror film in the works right now called Bigger Than the Beatles, which you are producing as well. Your role is listed as Paul. Is that Paul McCartney? When your onscreen playing crazy you give off a little bit of a Manson vibe, not just because you look like him when he was young. Were you considered for the role of Charlie, considering you've played him before?
RK: As for Bigger than the Beatles, it is a great story and speaking of working with people again, I am once again paired up with my very talented friends Vaughn Juares, Bridget McGrath, and Joe Schneider. Also, I was able to get a few from my cast of Paper Mache involved. A fun reunion! This film originally started as a short titled LIE that we shot in 2009. Yes, I actually played Charlie in this original rendition and was considered for Charlie in the feature. The short film got a little bit of attention even though it wasn't marketed. Everyone's comment seemed to be that they loved it and they wanted to see more. So it has been in the the works since then essentially. My character "Paul" is Dennis Wilson's trusty sound engineer. I'm super excited for people to see it. I definitely have a newly found respect for Dennis Wilson and the very talented Brian Wilson.
LF: How did you get into the genre? Have you always been a fan, and if so what was the movie that got you hooked? Is it your favorite genre to work in?
RK: I got into the genre because Jess and I had worked on Potpourri together so we had continued to follow each other's work and connected when we both landed in Los Angeles. Truth or Dare was my first full on horror film. As far as favorite genre to work in I'd have to say that I love them all. I love good writing and complex characters. I do have to say though that horror fans are the best. Seriously, I so appreciate all of the support. The fans rock!
LF: How was working with Jessica Cameron? How does she compare to other directors that you've worked with? Is it nice working with a director who is also an actor?
RK: She was great to work with. She is just so motivated and that is something that I have a very high respect for. It is so easy to be complacent in a business that solely relies on you to get things done. We had a very easy time working together- she instilled a lot of confidence in me and gave me a lot of freedom to get to the character that we had discussed. Both of which were super helpful for me as an actor. Also, when describing what she wanted, it was very helpful that she could do this from an actor's point of view. She knows the language for sure.
LF: I have been telling your cast mates and I mean this as a high compliment, Truth or Dare was so extreme that I had to step out and splash a little water on my face. In fact it was the bottle scene in particular that did it. Is it emotionally draining to work on a project of that nature? Does it make it easier to be surrounded by people you've worked with before? How was filming the bottle scene, for you?
RK: Dude. You definitely have the right idea. It is so draining. Also, I'm one of those actors that really has to get there emotionally. It can actually make me sick at times because even though it is "acting" my body is quite convinced that all of these things are happening. A really weird and visceral reaction that takes me a few minutes to shake off sometimes. So yeah, haha, don't worry that's just me dry heaving in the corner. And yes, the bottle scene was quite intense although I don't remember being present for the whole thing. We may have closed the set because of the sensitive nature but I don't remember. We all knew it was going to be pretty rugged though after our first real heavy scene which was one of Shelby's scenes. Wow.
LF: I sometimes think I prefer indie-horror to major studio releases solely based on the fact that filmmakers who are working on a limited budget are forced to be more creative. I know you've made several films with extremely limited budgets, do you feel that it helps you be inspired creatively?
RK: I think working within a budget definitely requires creativity. The more money you have the more tools are available to you. With a smaller budget you really have to calculate what is most important to the production. It does inspire creativity because you know you have a problem to solve or something to accomplish and you have x amount of resources to get it done. Some great movie magic comes about through forced ingenuity. I've very often seen filmmaker versions of MacGyver with his gum and paperclip. You get things done when you need to. That certainly is the benefit of working with talented people who are comfortable working outside of the box.
LF: Horror has so many sub genres. And it seems like you've worked on many of them. Do you have a particular favorite sub genre to work on? Do you have a favorite sub genre to watch?
RK: I don't necessarily have a favorite genre to work on. I like challenging characters. Dark, dirty, characters. Although I would love to play the boyfriend. A nice easy going romcom, perhaps? My favorite horror sub genre? In general I do love a good psychological thriller. So if anyone out there has any recommendations I'd be down to here 'em!
LF: Name one movie you walked out of in the theater.
RK: I can't remember but I think I walked out of Feeling Minnesota. I know recently in New York-and I feel horrible for admitting this-I walked on a Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera. I liked it just fine and those performers were uber talented but my sister couldn't see because of two lovebirds in front of her and our other guests (who picked out Phantom) said there was too much Opera in it....um, yeah, it's called Phantom of the OPERA!! So we left at intermission.
LF: If you could punch one person in the face, who would it be?
RK: I'm definitely more of a lover than a fighter but I'm quite protective of my sister and my mom. Let's just say that nobody better ever mess with them. That or maybe a politician or two. Politics today (and many politicians) are so annoying.
LF: Has anyone ever made you feel star struck?
RK: No one has really ever made me feel star struck. I'm so bad though half the time I don't notice who is who except for the ones that are quite obvious.
LF: What is your favorite horror movie and/or the scariest movie you've ever seen?
RK: My favorite horror movie? This might sound lame but I really like and my original first favorite horror flick was Poltergeist. I mean a girl gets kidnapped by spirits and gets stuck in the TV? A dude peels his face off while a steak moves across the counter and is devoured by maggots? You only moved the headstones!!! Also, I hear it is going to be a remake victim. Tragic. As far as scary, I was scared shitless by The Mothman Prophecies. It probably didn't help that I watched it in my friend's basement.
LF: That doesn't sound lame at all.
Thanks again to Ryan for taking the time do this, I appreciate it sincerely. And coming soon Parts Three and Four of the Truth or Dare Interviews with Jonathan Scott Higgins and Jessica Cameron. And make sure to check out Truth or Dare and Dead Sea. And keep your eyes open for more news about House of Manson. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @Ryanmkiser
- Leo Francis