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In our opinion, “fan films” are respectable tributes to movie franchises that often fail to capture the quality of their respective counterparts. We have never really understood the need to create fan films that are unbearable to watch. Now many will likely defend this statement, it is hard-pressed to find a fan film that exceeds the quality of a major studio release, and perhaps one may think that it is not possible to do so. When we first discovered news of Never Hike Alone, a Friday the 13th franchise inspired “fan film,” the project seemed to be generating a great deal of groundswell hype. Lofty promises made by its production staff promised to bring to life a fitting tribute to this iconic franchise, and we were skeptical.

nha_scene_22_01.jpgFunded via Kickstarter, this film launched this past October, free for those fans that have yearned for a return of “Jason” to the big screen. With trepidation, we bought into the hype and watched Never Hike Alone. It is safe to say that the “hype” surrounding this project is more than justified and the movie captures the spirit of the franchise exceeding all expectations. Never Hike Alone on certain levels goes beyond many of the major studio releases and demonstrates that with a quality team a “fan film” can truly achieve cinematic greatness.

Never-Hike-Alone-1.jpgWomp Stomp Films has created a fitting tribute to the iconic Friday the 13th franchise, that is an exceptional movie that demonstrates that independent cinema can achieve a level of greatness on par with major studio releases. The simple story of a harmless hiker named “Kyle,” played by Andrew Leighty and his unfortunate discovery of “Camp Crystal Lake,” allows fans to experience an almost first-hand account of one’s survival against the infamous “Jason Voorhees.” Leighty’s performance allows viewers to feel the psychological impact of facing Camp Crystal Lake’s resident protector, and every single scene builds a sense of tension fueled by the ominous presence of Jason. The hour-long movie is packed with “Easter Eggs” that pay homage to prior Friday the 13th movies, and production quality itself is top-notch. Never Hike Alone is a professionally produced feature, one that is worthy of fan support and one that will hopefully pave the way for a new genre of independent, first-class franchise horror cinema.

nha_scene_21_01Never Hike Alone not only is a fitting tribute to Friday the 13th but is an adventure based movie that proves that a one-on-one encounter with “Jason” can prove to be an entertaining concept. First-class production values and quality acting bring to life a Friday the 13th film worthy of its legendary status. Never Hike Alone is an achievement in independent “fan film” horror cinema, and should be included in the canon of this legendary franchise. Every single moment of the film is a tribute to the franchise, and a shocking climax pitting “Tommy Jarvis” against “Jason” once again in a memorable cameo. Never Hike Alone is a monumental project in independent horror cinema that demonstrates that a “fan film” can reach a level of greatness that deserves to be recognized as a canonical entry into the long-gestating Friday the 13th franchise!

Electroshock Horror has been afforded the privilege of interviewing Never Hike Alone’s director and creative force, Mr. Vincente DiSanti, who generously provided his time to answer our questions regarding this must-see movie. Originally from Massachusetts, Mr. DiSanti moved to Los Angeles in 2008 after graduating college to pursue a career and film and entertainment. In Los Angeles, he has had the opportunity to work on both live action and animated feature films, provide voice acting for features and commercials, produce VFX, lead story development teams, and the list goes on. A love for working in the film industry and ability to bring stories to life is the primary focus of his work and one that has fueled the development of this incredible achievement in independent horror cinema.

Describe the process and idea to bring this picture to production. The idea first came to me when my wife and I were on a hike in Big Bear in 2013. We found a set of old cabins from the 1920’s, and I immediately thought of Friday the 13th.

After that day an idea bounced around my head “What if we had walked into the actual Camp Crystal Lake? Would we have made it back out alive?” From there the premise slowly took shape in my head, and I started writing ideas down. There have been quite a few different versions of the film down on paper and we even filmed one of them three years ago, but it didn’t turn out very good.  It wasn’t until the early winter of 2016 that this version of the project came together. I recruited a small team of friends to help me build the first mock trailer that was released on May 13, 2016. We filmed it at the same cabins my wife, and I found all those years ago.

As we were wrapping up that day, a couple who lived in one of the cabins tipped us off to an abandoned camp that was a few miles down the road. A few weeks later we found the camp, and that’s when the scope and scale of the production jumped to the level it became. It took us all summer and some of the fall to build the sets and plot out what kind of story we could tell.

We began shooting in October of 2017 and then took a pause starting in December when a large amount of snow fell on the camp. We picked back up in May of 2017 and wrapped principle photography in August.  Because we were a small team made up of people with full-time jobs, we had to break the film down into several weekends to fit into everyone’s respective schedules. It was a challenge from a logistical standpoint, but everyone was proactive in making it work, even if it meant turning down other projects with higher pay.

Did you reach out to license holders? No, we didn’t feel it was necessary. At the time, there were so many Friday fan films out on the internet, so we didn’t worry about it too much. Once we started the campaigns, we made as much noise as we could to make sure they weren’t going to step in and stop us.

What challenges do independent filmmakers like yourself face? Working on an independent production usually means there is a lot less time and resources to get your goals accomplished. However, that shouldn’t stop you from getting creative and stretching the resources you do have as far as they can go. Sometimes working in a box can push you to be more creative than having unlimited resources to do whatever you want.

What has been the overall reception to this film? We have been very fortunate in receiving such an overwhelmingly positive response to the film. Our number one goal was to make something for true fans of the series, but we also hear a lot of great things from almost anyone who watches it.

There is a quite amazing end of movie cameo. Without spoiling. How did you pull this off? It all started after our EP Barry Jay met our guest cameo at a dinner set up by mutual friends they had. Barry shared the trailer with him and asked if he would be interested in meeting me.

We met for lunch a few weeks later, and I pitched the film. He fell in love with the idea, and we worked together over the next few months to figure out how to fit him in a way that would surprise fans in the best way possible.

What are your short and long-term goals? The short-term goal was to see a bunch of Friday the 13th fans with smiles on their faces. From the very beginning we knew who we were making this film for and if they were not satisfied, then we would have failed.

In the long term, we wanted to prove two things. The first was that the Friday the 13th fans are still here and hungry for content. We’ve been waiting almost nine years for another film, and we wanted to show studios that the fans are worth the investment.

The second is a personal goal as Never Hike Alone was the first real opportunity to prove myself as a director. I have been working in support roles for most of my career and always wanted to know what I could do in the director’s chair if given the opportunity. Hopefully moving forward this project will allow me to continue down that path.

Why Friday the 13th? What is your personal history and passions associated with this iconic franchise? I have always been a huge Friday the 13th fan. I grew up on a lake in the middle of the woods, so Jason became the symbol of all the fears I had. “Was he going to attack my friends and me while we were playing out in the woods?” or “grab my foot while swimming” were always thoughts that crept into the back of my head.

If you at any point in my career someone had asked me to pick any production to work on, I would have immediately said Friday the 13th. However, as time went by, reality started to set in, and the chances of that grew more and more unlikely with each passing year. So, instead of waiting for someone to ask me, I just went out and made a Friday film of my own.

Are there any plans for a sequel? Or anthology series?  There is a sequel for Never Hike Alone. Our only issue is that film would require way more resources than the first one and is not something we could pursue without legitimate financial backing. That level of funding also disqualifies us as a fan film so we would need studio permission at that point.

Aside from the sequel, I also have an Anthology / Masters of Horror style idea which would consist of six, one-hour long episodes of Friday the 13th that would cover different moments from the films throughout the franchise. For example, one episode would completely focus on “Pamela Voorhees” and her descent into madness before her demise during the long night at camp blood.

Have you spoken to any former actors regarding this project? Any feedback? Working on Never Hike Alone has opened up a lot of opportunities for me to connect with alumni of the series. I have met Ari Lehman, Kane Hodder, Harry Manfredini, Terry Kiser, Derek Mears, Deborah Voorhees, CJ Craham, Tom Mcloughlin, and a few of the creators of the Friday the 13th video game. All of them have been very positive and encouraging throughout the entire process, and I hope to meet much more in the coming months and years.

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