Interview with Adam Prusan
The Creator of Chuckle's Revenge Discusses The Process Of Making A Successful Interactive Horror Film
Back in 2003, several trailers were released for a forthcoming interactive film called Virtual Prey. The footage in the trailers was incredible and Virtual Prey looked like just the type of "choose-your-path" interactive film that was lacking in the horror marketplace. After many months of waiting there was...nothing. The website went down and the movie was never released.
Fortunately, all was not lost. The prototype that was Virtual Prey eventually evolved into the incredibly delightful Chuckle's Revenge and introduced us to the creepy, giggly killer clown named Chuckle. FMV World talked to Adam Prusan about Chuckle's Revenge, playing the part of a killer clown, and the long road to achieving his vision for an interactive horror film.
FMV World: How did you get involved in film?
Adam Prusan: I've been making films since I was about seven years old. I grew up in New Jersey, and when I was 7, my father brought out his 8mm camera and asked if I'd like to make a movie. I did a Dr. Jeckyll & Mr Hyde spoof. I continued making films after we moved to South Florida, and in the mid 80's, I went to LA to go to film school. I went to Columbia College in Hollywood, but actually dropped out after 6 months. I spent the next few years writing and exploring stand-up comedy .
That was a great time for stand-up. Especially in Los Angeles. What was that like?
I got involved in stand-up comedy at the start of 1986. I only did it for about 6 months, then returned to South Florida to go back to school. I sometimes regret leaving LA in '86, since it was the best time for comedy.
How did you get the idea to create an interactive film?
In 1993, I was reading about the development of DVD technology and was inspired to produce an interactive horror film. I liked the idea of making a horror film where you could tell the girl which way to run. In 1999 I was living in Los Angeles and DVD was hot. I decided to start developing this interactive horror project. I told my friend Mitch Lerman what I was interested in doing and together we started developing Virtual Prey. We worked on Virtual Prey from 1999 to 2003.
When I saw those teaser trailers for Virtual Prey I was blown away. It looked like it would really maximize on the capabilities of a standard DVD player. Why was it never released?
Unfortunately we didn't find the funds needed to make Virtual Prey. I was very disappointed. 2002 was a great time for DVD and we had Bonnie-Jill Laflin. Aside from the fact that Bonnie-Jill was perfect for the role of Raven, she had already been on the Howard Stern Show twice. In 2002, Bonnie-Jill's manager contacted me in regard to going on the Stern show. We only had a promotional trailer at the time and without a DVD, the Stern show wasn't happening.
The reasons were mostly money but also some creative differences. Mitch Lerman is my best friend to this day but when two artists work together on a creative project there are going to be differences. My vision of Virtual Prey was a kind of interactive Blair Witch Project. Very low budget. Mitch's vision was a much more Hollywood style product. I think it would have been awesome, but expensive to produce.
What did you learn from Virtual Prey that you eventually applied to Chuckle's Revenge?
With Virtual Prey, I learned about dealing with a cast and crew on a low budget production. My roles on Virtual Prey were everything from casting director to graphic designer.
Tell us about the process of creating Chuckle's Revenge.
Chuckle's Revenge took 6 years to make. There were actually 4 groups of cast and crew. The first group I assembled in 2004. We did some test shoots and experiments, but the script wasn't there. Also, the actor playing Chuckle had to resign because he was physically unable to do the part.
In 2005, I had another cast and crew, and another actor to play Chuckle. We did shoot a promotional trailer, but we didn't have a budget to continue.
In 2007, we had a rough script and some money. Another cast and crew and I really thought we were going to make it happen. My brother Richard had become involved in the project, and he made me realize the script just wasn't there yet. But mostly, not enough money.
By the fall of 2007, I had saved up enough to produce Chuckle's Revenge. The whole project had evolved and our vision of it expanded. I put ads up on Craigslist looking for a screenwriter. I received about fifty sample scenes from writers in LA, NY and other places. In the end, I chose Vicky L. Neal from Middletown, Ohio to write the screenplay. With a new cast and crew, we shot Chuckle's Revenge in the summer of 2008, and did editing and post production in 2009.
Chuckle's origin story and motivations are unique. What went into creating that character?
After returning to South Florida in fall 2003, I began creating the character of Chuckle. The story was never meant to be pure horror. I felt that the game element was a big part of the DVD, and the character should be unique.
I wanted Chuckle to be a little person, and I began casting the role. The first actor I met was named David. He was under 4' tall and motivated to do the part. I immediately offered him the part. During the test shoots, David apologized that he had to resign from the part. Because of his physical issues, he was in too much pain to continue.
In 2005, I cast another little person actor named Scott. Scott was very motivated and also physically prepared to play Chuckle. In 2008, when we were casting the fourth cast and crew, my brother convinced me to play Chuckle. Although we had a budget, it was a micro budget, and any money we could save would help. I agreed to play Chuckle. At that time, I was at my heaviest. I weighed over 240lbs. It was related to stress I was dealing with at my day job, and making Chuckle's Revenge. Ironically, it worked for the part.
Part of what's so brilliant about the premise is that your character, Chuckle, starts off as the victim of a violent crime before he goes on his killing spree. I found myself legitimately pondering, "Should I save the girls who wronged him or allow Chuckle to exact his revenge?" It makes the choices in the film so much more intriguing.
Chuckle was just a working clown. He did kids parties and struggled to survive. On that night, he agreed to do this party, not knowing it was for a group of college girls.
The violence against Chuckle probably comes from my 70's influences; Deliverance, The Exorcist, The Deer Hunter, etc. His motivation is revenge. Just think of what those girls did to him.
What's next? Are there plans for more interactive films?
I've been considering a Kickstarter campaign to finance a sequel. At this time it's in the development stage, however, two actresses from the first DVD are interested. We'll see what happens next. •
Chuckle's Revenge is available for purchase from Amazon.