Rooster Teeth wrapped last summer on its third feature film, horror comedy Blood Fest from Austin’s beloved writer director Owen Egerton. The film had its World Premiere as one of the Midnighters at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival.
Blood Fest tells the story of a horror festival where the scares and danger are more real than the attendees counted on. The new film stars Jacob Batalon (Spider-Man: Homecoming), Seychelle Gabriel (Falling Skies), Robbie Kay (Heroes Reborn), Barbara Dunkelman (RWBY), Nick Rutherford (SNL, Crunch Time), and Tate Donovan (The Man in the High Castle) as well as Egerton himself as a sadistic festival organizer, determined to bring his favorite horror tropes to terrifying life.
I visited the set last summer on two occasions, both at locations that were brilliant repurposing of local Austin buildings I would never have suspected were housing gallons and gallons of fake blood. Watching Egerton direct is both similar and different than watching him host One Page Salon or hop on stage for a Master Pancake skit.
For one thing, he’s laser focused. He has meetings as he walks between meetings. Although he’s still quick to smile, he is moving efficiently and as quickly as he can and with good reason: Blood Fest filmed in just 22 days. As with every other thing he does, Egerton gives 150% at all times. And his legendary energy and love of both horror and comedy makes him, and Blood Fest, something Rooster Teeth could really get excited about. I asked Matt Hullum, co-founder and CEO, what makes Blood Fest, and Egerton, a perfect fit for Rooster Teeth:
“They're sort of the same thing, aren't they? I love his unconventional approach, it’s a meta story and the best part is he's able to fuse real horror with real laughs but it’s not a spoof. You're going to be genuinely scared, and you're going to have genuine laughs, and neither is at the expense of the other.”
This will be Rooster Teeth’s third feature film after Lazer Team and Lazer Team 2. Diving into feature film made sense for Rooster Teeth who since their unconventional beginnings have boldly and successfully ventured into original content across genres while defying existing platforms with their own subscription service. Like Egerton, they don’t shy away from innovation and they have an uncanny sense of what’s coming next on all entertainment streams. As I told Hullum while we discussed their genre-hopping awesomeness: “If it’s cool, Rooster Teeth is probably doing it. That’s the unifying theme.”
Watching a movie being made is always inspiring. The amount of people that pour their talent into every on-screen moment is staggering. Egerton talks about the difference between Blood Fest and his previous film Follow as we walk from one part of the building to another, passing buckets of blood, a decapitated mannequin, clown wigs, and several amazing sets.
“The biggest difference is working with such huge pool of talent. There are teams to make everything I imagined as great as it can be.”
And it’s true. I saw passion and excitement equal to Egerton's at every level of production during my busy day on set. I saw it when AD Dax Stringer directed me in a battle scene as an extra, as I watched the wardrobe team dress festival extras to be perfectly Coachella-meets-Fantastic-Fest attendees, from every person adjusting lighting, checking camera frames, painting sets and bringing their best acting game. And as the makeup team transformed me into a horrifying zombie for my brief screen appearance, Anna Fugate-Downs, summed it up nicely: “Making a movie is all about the layers, just like doing fx makeup. There’s no one perfect part or layer that makes it all work. It’s all more than the sum of its parts.”
From what I could tell from my visit, every layer of Blood Fest looks gory and delicious. You’re not going to want to miss this one.