Fantastic Fest 2019 Interview – SCREAM, QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET director Tyler Jensen

SCREAM, QUEEN! is a documentary about the GAYEST horror movie ever made and the closeted actor who’s career it ruined. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE was supposed to be Mark Patton’s big break, but the coded gay subtext of the script brought out a secret he had been hiding from the world. No longer viable as a leading man in the homophobic and aids-phobic hollywood of the ’80s, Mark vanished as quickly as he had arrived. 30 years later, he is back to settle the score and reclaim the throne as cinema’s first Male Scream Queen! 

Congratulations on your film playing in at Fantastic Fest this year! Is your first time at FF and are you planning to attend your screenings?

Yes! My Co-director Roman Chimienti and I are so excited to be joined by Mark Patton, Kim Myers and Robert Rusler from Freddy’s Revenge as well as the horror drag after party with Peaches Christ.

So how did you get into this movie-making business? Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and what you have worked on in the past.

I have been making movies in my bedroom since I was 10 years old. My first film was a stop-animation remake of Rocky Horror Picture Show with troll dolls and happy meal toys; Frank-N-Furter was a plastic chicken McNugget with a vampire cape and a curly blonde wig. I studied film and photography in Minnesota before moving to Brooklyn to further my filmmaking options. I worked for Pitchfork.Tv and Boiler Room and edited for Dress Code while continuing to make my own shorts and music videos on the side. I met my co-director, Roman Chimienti, freelancing on a reality show he was doing sound work on. We nerded out on horror movies instantly and as soon as he said he was about to start shooting SCREAM, QUEEN! I knew I had to be a part of it. This is our first feature. 

How did this project come together for you? Give me a rundown from the preparation, to shooting, to post-production to now!

Roman and Mark had been talking on Facebook about what SCREAM, QUEEN was going to be long before I got to the party. Mark had wanted to tell his story for a while and hadn’t quite found the right way to tackle the material. I showed up on the first day of filming to shoot B-roll; I originally volunteered to edit the movie and worked my way up to shooter and finally co-director, and was blown away by Mark’s story and the response he was getting from people who came to the horror conventions he was appearing at. I knew there was a bigger story beyond the camp qualities of FREDDY’S REVENGE, and with the help of Roman and Mark, we were able to use the infamous horror sequel as a spring-board to talk about a part of history that has largely been forgotten. 

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? 

Iced coffee in the morning and sugar for late night editing sessions. It’s terrible, don’t do it. 

What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?

For a large part of the process it was just Roman, Mark and me. We had to wear as many hats on this film to get it made and get it right and keep going even when the world was changing around us. We each took turns at being comforting and consoling when the pressures got out of hand. The most rewarding moment is after the film, when people come up to us, they reach to shake our hands and say “Thank you… I didn’t know I NEEDED that! I don’t have a question or anything… just THANK YOU!”

I’m about to get technical, but I would love to know about the visual design of the movie; what camera did you film with, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed. 

This was guerilla filmmaking at its dirtiest. We borrowed any camera anyone would let us take. We shot this movie as it was happening so the visual style was definitely depending on what venue we were in that day. In preparation we watched Madonna’s Truth Or Dare to get the tone and vibe of your life accurately. 

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie to audiences here in Austin?

This is our first genre festival. We have been lucky enough to do a few special screenings at queer festivals and a few international festivals and the crowd is always a mixed bag. The gay horror fans are always there and the hardcore horror nerds are really going to experience something they’re not expecting. I’m super excited to see how they respond to it and hear the discussions afterwards.

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next? Theatrical, online, more festivals?

We are continuing a festival run for the rest of the fall Salem Horror Fest on October 6th, New Orleans Film Festival October 17th and 18th, Twin Cities Film Festival October 23rd, Newfest in NYC on October 28th and the opening night selection of Fort Lauderdale Film Festival on November 1st.  We plan to head overseas this coming winter.

If you could show your movie in any theatre outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

I’d love to have the film play in 4DX theaters, I think they make everything better. You can’t reach for your phone to text your boyfriend when you’re clinging for your life on hydraulic powered theater chairs. 

All of Fantastic Fest is taking place at the Alamo Drafthouse, which is famous for enforcing its no talking or texting policies. What would you say to someone who was being disruptive through a movie?

I’m a notorious movie shooosher and I’ve lost friends over it, NOT SORRY! I’ve always wanted to do PSA videos about movie theater etiquette. This is a sacred space. when the lights go down and the music comes on, shut the fuck up! AND YES, PREVIEWS COUNT AS PART OF THE MOVIE! The only time you’re allowed to speak in a movie theater is during dumb horror movies and you better be talking TO the screen and not each other. 

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?

Do it yourself. Make the shit you want to see that doesn’t exist yet. Make the movie you needed to see when you were coming-of-age. Make it with whatever you have. Not one person will give a shit about your production value as long as you make them feel something. Tell a good story, and spend double on your sound mix, they will save you from yourself. 

And final question: what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?

I saw STRANGER BY THE LAKE at the New York Film Festival a few years after I had moved there and it was one of my favorite movie going experiences. All the old straight couples would get up and walk out every 6-10 minutes during the graphic sex scenes and the gays were all nervously sitting on their hands. It may have been the most highbrow cruising spot I’ve ever witnessed. Hooray for cinema!

Fantastic Fest takes place from September 19th to 28th. For more information on this film and the many others playing in Austin, TX, point your browser to www.fantasticfest.com

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