Countdown to Fantastic Fest: Interview With THE INNKEEPERS’ Ti West

Director Ti West discusses his film THE INNKEEPERS, Fantastic Fest and his “disgusting” chapter in Drafthouse Films’ THE ABCs OF DEATH.

Ti West’s THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is one of my favorite horror films of the last few years, and I’m thrilled that his film THE INNKEEPERS, which was a big hit at SXSW this year, will be playing at Fantastic Fest. West will be attending the festival to support THE INNKEEPERS as well as Adam Wingard’s YOU’RE NEXT, in which he appears as an actor.

1. Can you talk a little about the hotel where you filmed THE INNKEEPERS? How did you find it and how did you decide to shoot the film there?

It’s a real hotel in Torrington, Connecticut. We stayed there when we were filming my previous film, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. It’s a charming mix of 1800’s historic architecture and bad 70’s renovations. The staff are mostly in their twenties and the whole town is convinced the place is haunted. I wrote THE INNKEEPERS based on a lot of the weird stuff that happened to us when we stayed there. It’s a kooky place.

2. Tell me about the FX you used in the film. It’s all make-up, right?

All of the FX in the film are practical. There is no CGI. I realized over the years that I have pretty traditional sensibilities and that I like the process of creating something tangible to work with on set. I’ve also always been fortunate to work with great make up FX artists. In the case of THE INNKEEPERS, it was Brian Spears.

3. The dialogue in the film reads as really authentic. Was that all scripted or was there any improvisation?

Surprisingly enough the movie is very close to the script. Realistic dialogue is something I try really hard for, and the kinds of conversations you have with your coworkers at minimum wage jobs is very particular. I have a lot of experience with that, unfortunately. The actors did add a few great improvisations here and there, all of which are gems, usually getting big laughs. So in the end it’s the collaboration that succeeds.

4. What made you decide to participate in YOU’RE NEXT as an actor?

The majority of the cast and crew are friends of mine. I’m not that comfortable as an actor, so at first I didn’t want to do it. But Adam (Wingard, director), AJ (Bowen, cast member) and Joe (Swanberg, cast member) convinced me that it would be an easy-going, improvisational set which made it more appealing. Plus I got to play Amy Seimetz‘s boyfriend. I am really looking forward to seeing how it turned out, though I don’t think I will enjoy watching myself. Thankfully I’m not in it too long…

5. Have you gotten started on your ABCs OF DEATH chapter yet? How’s that going?

Not yet. I know what I’m going to do though…It’s disgusting.

6. What are you most excited about for Fantastic Fest? Is there a film or event you’re most anticipating?