Peter Herro Goes In Depth With WTF! Horror Film
Peter Herro makes his directorial debut in horror with WTF!. The film, a modernized view of traditional slasher themes released on August 1st, 2017. Herro also worked as co-writer on the motion picture. In our online dialogue, Herro discusses his film, contributing insights on production, characters, and film. According to IMDb Herro’s film career began in 2010. He held a position in the Art Department, as an Actor, and Editor.
Ken Artuz Founder and Editor for DecayMag prepared the questions. Thank you, Mr. Herro, for taking the time to complete this online interviews
DecayMag: Icebreaker question, What was the decision to go with WTF! and not opt for a full profanity laced title?
Peter Herro: Good question! Well in the original story line WTF stood not only for “What the Fuck!”, it also stood for the killers initials. This is somewhat solved in the end credits but it’s more of an easter egg now in the movie than a main driving point of the film. I also think shorter simpler titles attract more attention. I remember back in 2009 buying every version of wtfmovie.com that I could to try and secure the name the best I could so know one else dared to use it.
DecayMag: Please provide insight on WTF!’s homage to Slasher films and its modern aesthetic.
Peter Herro: I grew up with some of the classic slashers on repeat. I could never get enough of the masked killer. Movies like “Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Halloween”, and “Friday the 13th”. The classroom scene is a big call out to “Nightmare on Elm Street” and the gas station reminiscent of “Friday the 13th”.
I wanted to take the modern horror film and amplify the profanity and extreme personalities to give it a little more of a WTF! appeal.
DecayMag: The Slasher genre is a template based concept. (Characters, Setting, and Conflict). When Drafting the script for WTF! what were some unnecessary story elements that were tossed.
Peter Herro: (Herro warns of spoilers ahead) We fell in love with the two girls at the motel when writing the script. For those who haven’t watched the film yet. These were two very fun trashy girl characters looking for a good time as the group pit stops on their way to the cabin. Because Sam and the other boys were flirting it really rubs the killer the wrong way. We cut out a good portion of the script where we see the brake line to the call girls vehicle get cut, followed by the next day of them driving and throwing out cheesy dialogue before their demise. It would have been a fun scene to film but it didn’t drive the movie forward. I wanted to get the characters to the cabin faster and ultimately I cut it from the script.
DecayMag: What are your opinion on gore in Horror films? Overrated or underappreciated and how did this view transition into the film.
Peter Herro:. The original teaser poster for the film was shot a few months before shooting and I remember thinking this film would be loaded with blood so lets sell that in the poster! Budget restraints and location stopped us from going full hog but I don’t think it affected the overall film. I still think we have plenty of blood. But once again, the original thought was to over amplify it and make it feel more like a WTF moment than anything else.
I think gore helps a ton depending on the audience. I actually wanted more gore in the film
DecayMag: With advancements in technology do you foresee creating a slasher film to be more interactive with audiences. (For example the video game Dead by Daylight)
Peter Herro: Absolutely. I think as technology improves filmmaking as we know it today will not be the same. I don’t think that will be for a decade or so. But I do think that VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) filmmaking will be a new thing. Where video games and films combine in an interactive experience that put you in the film as the lead character.
Right now, however, it still feels too gimmicky. At least in my personal opinion.
DecayMag: WTF! plays with the stoner/marijuana user stereotype. With its wide and diverse usage Does these character not seem antiquated?
Peter Herro: The real idea here was to bring back an original horror film feels and amplify it a bit for today’s audiences. However, it would not have been a true homage to the classics if he was absent. And honestly, I am glad I wrote him in. He breaks up the otherwise, snarky group remarks and helps really lighten the tone with his free spirit. I am sure I could have found other ways to have executed this to get the same effect with another likable character. But honestly, I just really wanted a stoner in my movie!
Using a classic stoner in my film did worry me a bit. I know it’s overplayed but so is this whole concept.
DecayMag: For WTF! viewers will find a female protagonist torn between her past and the present. What parallels, if any does she have with similar leads in other slasher films.
Peter Herro: Surviving a massacre, not once, but twice, can really change the way you are as a person. Rachel has to really step up her game and try to lead a normal life, which is something we wanted to toy with on a film that doesn’t have sequels… Yet. You’re immediately thrown into her world, given a glimpse of her past, and hope that it doesn’t happen again. It ends up giving her a different type of strength as she’s already in a vulnerable spot. These connections are usually what make a great final girl in other horror films, the more you humanize the character, the more you respect what they’re going through or going to do.
Having to fight her past demons to stay normal, ultimately becomes a struggle, and the more you think about it, the more you realize that she’s human.
DecayMag: The antagonist is always a defining part of the Horror films. What was the concept behind the one presented in WTF!
Peter Herro: (Herro warns of spoilers ahead) Toby being the main antagonist, really was a concept of her fighting her inner demons and the struggle she has with herself. He is the main character in the film pushing her away from fully accepting the past and moving on. At least in her mind. This is why you see her sometimes ignoring Toby’s advice. She is trying to take chances and move on from him. Toby sees this as a threat and wants to stop her from getting too deep and eventually not needing him anymore. At least in her mind, that’s how it is playing out.
DecayMag: What were the lessons learned in your directorial debut in Horror?
Peter Herro: There were more lessons than I can count on both hands. But they are all valuable in their own way. I learned a lot about budgeting as I was in charge of the money. Boy does it go fast! Beginners mistake was eating into my post budget before we were out of production. Something I learned just isn’t worth it. Wearing too many hats took me away from my actors at times and I didn’t like that. I have learned what to do when it comes to hiring a good team. I now know what qualities to look for.
Overall, there are many lessons, but I am happy with what we ended up with, and I will use all of the lessons learned on my next film.
DecayMag: From the slate of genres Horror offers what was the drive to create Slasher for a debut?
Peter Herro: It all links back to my love for the classic slashers. The masked killers. The fun kills! Though my film didn’t feature a masked killer, it still had the same slasher vibe. I wanted something suspenseful and fun. Something basic yet unique in its own way. I think we accomplished that.
DecayMag: Indie Horror film making is an intense endeavor, what areas were the more complex to execute with time and/or budgetary constraints?
Peter Herro: I wore way too many hats in this film. With it being as low budget as it was it made it hard to hire enough people to fill all of the roles needed on set. We had one amazing producer on set, Kyle Zingler. There was a production manager and others but they were not there full time. Not like Kyle was. It is very difficult to run an entire production by yourself. Almost unheard of. We had to do it as a team effort. I managed the money and vendors. He managed the cast and crew. It was way too much for any one person to do. In the end, it stopped me from spending as much time with my actors as I would have liked. The stress of producing made it hard to be creative at times. So it will be a nice change on the next one!
My next film I really want to focus only on directing and be in a position to staff up an army of producers.
DecayMag: What Horror related projects do you have planned within the upcoming year?
Peter Herro: I am working on a film right now called “Locksmyth“. I can’t get too much into the whole concept at the moment. But it will be my first masked killer slasher! So I am pumped! We have a few people attached to the script and are in the final stages of funding. I am really excited to talk more about it soon.