CATEGORIES Movie NewsEver wonder what the kids from Home Improvement are up to these days? Well, when it comes to Zachery Ty Bryan, who played the oldest Taylor kid, Brad, the answer might surprise you. He's producing movies, including the shocking horror flick Rogue River, that hits the shelves this week.
So, how did he transition from a teen heartthrob to a behind-the-scenes dealmaker? About four years ago, he and his long-time friend Adam Targum (a writer/ producer on CSI: New York) decided they wanted to approach the entertainment industry from an entirely different angle. They figured that their diverse blend of skill sets would make them a unique team in the production realm, and set about finding scripts to bring to fruition under the banner of Vision Entertainment Group.
Thus far, their journey has been quite successful. In addition to Rogue River (which stars horror legend Bill Moseley and his longtime love Lucinda Jenney as an insane couple who hold a girl hostage in their creepy cabin), they're set to premiere a psychological thriller starring Melanie Griffith called The Grief Tourist at the New York Film Festival next month.
We caught up with Bryan and Targum to chat about everything from the shocking Rogue River script to unexpected production challenges, like noisy gangs of wild turkeys infiltrating the set.
The movie has some pretty shocking moments in it. What was your first reaction when you read the script? AT: The thing that struck us was that it was such a familiar genre and such a derivative idea, but the treatment of it was very unique. There are some pieces in there that neither Zach or I had seen before. It surprised us, and that's very hard to do in this genre.
What kind of feedback have you been getting so far? ZTB: It's been across the board. It's one of those films that you either love or hate.
AT: It's very polarizing.
ZTB: Which we liked. If we can make you feel something then we've done our job as producers. It's a great film. The character development is phenomenal and we're very excited about it coming out.
AT: We've had a lot of true horror film fans that have said, "Wow, there are some things in here we've never seen before!" And we of course have the other side saying, "Wow, we could have thought of that, or "We've seen it before." As Zach said, we cherish the fact that we've made a polarizing film.
Where was it shot? ZTB: We actually shot in southern Oregon on Rogue River. It was great. We got a helicopter one day and were able to shoot aerials and all that good stuff.
AT: We also dealt with wild turkeys.
ZTB: They were everywhere!
AT: They were really, really loud. We had some sound issues because of wild turkeys. It was a challenge.
Bill Moseley is amazing in this, as usual. How did he get involved? AT: Our director Jourdan McClure is a massive, massive fan of this genre.
ZTB: We hate the genre! [Laughs]
AT: While it's not our thing, we were certainly aware of Bill's work from all of the Rob Zombie films. We sent Bill the script, sat down with him and asked him what he thought. And he had some really twisted, amazing inspired ideas, things he wanted to bring to the character.
ZTB: The cool thing about it is that [co-star] Lucinda Jenney is his wife without being a wife. They've been together for the past 14 years.
What are some examples of things Bill brought to the role? He parades around in his tighty-whiteys a lot, was that his idea? AT: Zach, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall the character being as tongue-in-cheek on the page as Bill ultimately portrayed him. We think that added a whole lot of nuance to it. He truly was twisted, but there was a really dark, sardonic sense of humor that he brought to the role.
Zach, how does the experience of producing compare to acting? ZTB: It's very different. I always paint it as I'm the painter, not the paintbrush.
Have you found that it's been challenging getting people to take you seriously as a producer since you became famous when you were so young? ZTB: I haven't found it to be a challenge to date. What I have found is that people want to know what I'm up to these days. You always go through this dichotomy as an actor. What I've found is that if you come through very straight and honest, people actually want to help you and make sure that things happen, and that's what I'm thankful for.
Can we expect to see actors you've worked with on CSI, Adam, or Home Improvement, Zach, in future projects? [Laughter]
ZTB: That's probably a better question for you, Adam! [Laughs]
AT: We have some projects coming up and I'm not going to divulge who, but people that Zach has great long-standing working and personal relationships that are entertaining doing some material for us. Some really recognizable faces.
ZTB: It's the nature of this business. It's so collaborative and so small.
I know that you guys also have The Grief Tourist coming up... ZTB: We just found out that we are premiering at the Munich Film Festival the first week of July, which we're really excited about. [The film's star] Melanie [Griffith] will be getting the CineMerit award, which is equivalent to a lifetime achievement award. There we're going to find buyers and it's going to be a great business proposition for Vision.
AT: We're really excited about that film. It represents a lot of what we're about. It's a combination of grounded stories with great characters and a commercial element.
What was it like working with Melanie Griffith? ZTB: It was incredible. She's obviously a great actress, but when you get to know her personally she's a really great human being. Super sweet. What she says is what she does. In our business, you have a lot of people who say they're going to do something and then they don't. With her, it's always been 'I'll be there,' 'I'll do that' and she does it. As producers it's been a relief.
AT: Melanie is so reverential to the collaborative process. There is no ego there. Her performance is transcendent. It's her at her most vulnerable. It's a different side of her.
What's up next for Vision? Are you going to pursue more dramatic projects or more horror? AT: We have a big slate of projects. They really run the gamut. The next one we have is a little bit more commercial. It's a psychological thriller. Then we've got a period piece, then a biopic and a number of action pics. The only thing we're not doing right now is comedy.
One last question: who do you think Rogue River will appeal to? ZTB: I think we'll find a very niche audience. We definitely know there's a demographic out there for the horror genre.
AT: We were amazed at the scope of the subculture that exists out there around the horror genre. Bill Moseley has a massive fan base.
ZTB: He's the Tom Cruise of horror!