Spooky Movie Festival 2012: 10 Questions With “Gut” Star Sarah Schoofs

Posted by Michael Parsons on October 17, 2012 in / No Comments


(This interview was originally published on October 17, 2012 at Reel Film News)

On Tuesday night, I had a chance to sit down with Sarah Schoofs, co-star of the moody horror/thriller “Gut”, which was showcased at this year’s Spooky Movie Festival. The film, written and directed by Elias (“Dead Sucks”), explores some pretty creepy stuff, particularly the fragile boundary between curiosity and psychosis. Sarah was down from New York just long enough to attend the screening at the AFI Silver Theater and give me a little spoiler-free insight into the production.

Michael Parsons: What’s “Gut” about? At least as much as you can tell me….

Sarah Schoofs: Basically, Jason Vail plays Tom, the lead, who’s kind of bored with his life. He’s happily married, but to a point…. we have a daughter. Everybody who are horror fans have these friends – like that goofy best friend who they grew up watching horror movies with, like sleepovers. They’re still buddies, but they work at this dead-end job and it’s not very fun. His buddy Dan (Nicholas Wilder) ends up finding a video and their worlds slowly deteriorate in a downward spiral in crazy ways that I guess only the film can really divulge…. but it’s really fascinating. A lot of reviewers have described it as a slow burn film. I was amazed at how little dialogue you can use and still be gripped in a film. That’s what makes Elias brilliant. After I saw the editing, it was so much better than I thought it could’ve been.

MP: Would you call it minimalist?

SS: I would say so, yeah. It doesn’t require a lot. So much of what the actors are doing in the majority of the film is very simple. You can just read so much from them. Jason is just amazing.

MP: How did you get involved in the project?

SS: I just found it through an audition. I auditioned quite a few times. Elias brought us back – I think Jason was set to be the lead originally and I came back and read with him. He was just testing out the chemistry with different girls. This is one of my first feature-length films. It’s done really well. I like to push films that I’m proud of, ‘cause there’s great ones, and then there’s…. crap.

MP: Are you a horror buff?

SS: I wasn’t originally. It’s funny, because after this film – one of the editors that helped with “Gut” – I ended up auditioning for his film, so I ended up doing another feature-length called “Alone”. I discovered this entire underground of people who are full-fledged fans, and it’s really amazing… I’ve actually learned quite a lot. It’s an entirely different world that I was completely oblivious to. I just can’t handle the hack-into-your-spine with an axe type films….

MP: Like the “Saw” movies….

SS: ….which is funny, because I have such a ‘final destination’ brain. I always see different ways of how I’m going to potentially die on set, or any given situation.

MP: Did you like the “Final Destination” movies?

SS: I didn’t even get through the first one! (Laughing)You’d think I’d be able to. I was just on the “Noah” set, working as a refugee on the Darren Aronofsky film… and I keep thinking the light balloon is gonna break and fill up with water and drag down the crane and it’s gonna crash on us…. (laughing) that was just one scenario of how I figured out we were going to die, among like ten….

MP: Was there any notable experience while you were filming?

SS: We broke two different large mirrors during the course of filming….

MP: Are you superstitious?

SS: No, but I think some people on set were (laughing). The FX makeup was also a lot of fun, we had a great makeup artist on set. One time it was really cold – I can’t remember who it was holding the camera – but the only way we were going to make it work with the lighting, because it was dark, someone had to sit out on the little bitty room on the outside the house on the 2nd floor. Every once in a while they’d check on him and say “how’re you doing out there?”

MP: Did you film in New York?

SS: New Jersey. It’s a really good group of people. And they’re all still working like crazy.

MP: On the festival circuit?

SS: Oh, absolutely. Jason’s been to a bunch down in Georgia, because that’s where he’s based right now. Elias has been going crazy – he’s in California. Nick (Wilder) is always touring with theater. It’s funny ‘cause you’re first all together…. it’s a great crew, too. It was a lot of fun.

My thanks to Sarah Schoofs for the interview. Learn more about GUT.

Photo courtesy of the Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival.

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Michael Parsons

Father. Realtor®. Movie nut. After pestering my parents for their commentary on “Star Wars” when I was four years old, my mind went into a creative frenzy. I’d imagined something entirely different than the actual film, which I didn’t end up seeing until its 1979 re-release at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC. This was my formal introduction to the cinema.

During that long wait, which felt like an eternity to a child, my mind was being molded by more corrosive stuff like “Trilogy of Terror” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, most of which I’d conned various babysitters into letting me watch on television ( I convinced one poor lady that “Jaws” was actually “Moby Dick”).

The folks were pretty strict in that regard, so the less appropriate it was for a kid to watch, the more I was fascinated by it. Horror staples like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th”, as well as lesser-known low-budget fare like “Madman”, “Sleepaway Camp” and “Pieces” all ended up sneaking their way into the VHS on a regular basis.

Since then, I’ve developed an obsession with the entire film industry. Even though I watch and review a wide breadth of films these days, my appreciation for the campy, poorly lit micro-budgeters still lends itself to my evolving perspective on movies just as much as the summer blockbusters and Oscar contenders. As I recall my trips to the movie theater, I realize that this stuff is about much more than just a fleeting piece of entertainment.

A couple years ago, I was finally given the opportunity to lend my opinion on films to a publication, The Rogers Revue, with a subsequent run at Reel Film News. It's been both a privilege and a gateway to what we’re doing now. Most of my experience has come from interviewing independent filmmakers, who consistently promote innovation. The filmmaking process is grueling and relatively unforgiving.

Fellow film enthusiast Eddie Pasa and I have created DC Filmdom as a medium for film reviews, discussion, and (inevitably) some debate. And so, the creative frenzy continues.

(Michael is a member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association).

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