Two brothers make a pitstop in a town teeming with cannibals in Chris von Hoffmann's Drifter, and for our latest Q&A feature, we caught up with Hoffmann to discuss the making of his feature film debut.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Chris. How and when did you first come up with the idea for Drifter?
Chris von Hoffmann: I actually thought of the concept back when I was 16. It was just one of several script ideas I started putting together on paper but never saw it all the way through because of my attention span back then. However, I had the title, had written the opening scene and had the overall structure down, but it was slightly different. The original concept still centered on two brothers who wind up in a strange town, but the town was originally possessed by a supernatural force instead of inhabited by a family of cannibal savages. It wasn’t until a decade later that I ended up teaming with a writing partner friend of mine to start from scratch and fully write the script for me to helm as my first feature.
You’ve had extensive experience behind the camera making short films, but what was it like to direct your first feature?
Chris von Hoffmann: I made consistent short films of all different lengths for around six years before I jumped into prepping Drifter. It was extremely important for me to understand the craft of filmmaking, lock down my aesthetic, and truly be aware of what it
is I have to offer to films and what sort of cinematic void I’m trying to fill before I made my first feature.
Oddly enough, because of this training, I didn’t really find prepping the feature that much different. It just simply felt like a longer short film. That’s when I knew I was ready to make the transition.
Where did filming take place and what did those environments add aesthetically and atmospherically to your movie?
Chris von Hoffmann: The first four days of shooting took place all around Victorville, Lancaster, and Joshua Tree. The next five days took place in Bombay Beach and the final three nights took place in interiors located in Los Angeles.
The environments were everything. Especially in Bombay Beach considering the temperature would be around 115-120 degrees most of the time and 90% of the shooting out there was all exterior, so needless to say the environment was hugely
impactful on the aesthetic, as well as the actors.
What was the shooting schedule like for Drifter?
Chris von Hoffmann: Just shy of 13 days.
Do you have any favorite cannibal movies that influenced you while making Drifter?
Chris von Hoffmann: Tim Sullivan’s 2001 Maniacs, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, and Alexandre Aja’s remake of The Hills Have Eyes were the major cannibal influences. They’re very much up front and center in the film.
When you look back at your time on set, is there a particularly funny or memorable moment that stands out?
Chris von Hoffmann: There wasn’t much time for laughs on set because the whole schedule was very much like a race to the finish line, but I did enjoy soaking a bedroom in fake blood with my bare hands.
Is this a world you would consider returning to in a potential sequel?
Chris von Hoffmann: I have too many different stories I want to put on screen, so I wouldn’t be interested in revisiting this material, but I would love to see what another director does with a sequel if it ever happens.
With XLrator Media releasing Drifter in theaters on February 24th and on VOD and iTunes on February 28th, what projects do you have on deck that you can tease, and where can our readers find you online?
Chris von Hoffmann: I’m currently in pre-production on my second feature that we’re planning on shooting towards the end of April 2017 but unfortunately that’s the extent of what I can say about it at this point.
My main social media outlets as of now are FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM which I’m simply listed under my name, Chris von Hoffmann. And if people would care to see my short films, just look up my name on VIMEO or go to this link: