By Andrew Buckner
ANDREW BUCKNER: I have the distinct pleasure today of speaking with writer-director Lenny Schwartz and actress Sheri Lee. Welcome! Can you tell us a little about yourselves?
LENNY SCHWARTZ: I was born on the streets of Cranston, RI. For me, writing came at a time when I was considering joining a gang. I was a reckless, angry youth. One day after a family drive by, I started writing plays. That led into screenplays, and here we are! In all seriousness, I am just a lucky guy who has written a lot of plays. I am fortunate enough to be able to still do them. I am lucky to have written numerous screenplays and lucky to have them produced. Now I want to take all of that, and direct my first major feature film, which is something that I have never tried before.
SHERI LEE: I’m a NH based actress (and a mom of 4!) that loves all genres, but I excel in horror. I grew up on some of the greatest horror films. I’ve been dubbed New England’s scream Queen by a few directors now, haha! I’m ecstatic to be a part of Lenny’s film and always wake up feeling honored that he reached out to me that day.
LENNY: My god, it was four years ago I reached out to Sheri. I knew she was a “Scream Queen” and I wanted to deconstruct that.
Lenny, you are currently working on a script for a film you are set to direct, The Haunted and the Hunted (2022). What inspired this work?
LENNY: I always wanted to direct a feature that was unlike anything I had seen. I gave myself some parameters and huge obstacles to put myself into a really hard corner. I kept boiling the film down to essentials, and even took some of those away.
I also wanted to direct a film that was really unexpected for people who know me. I wrote plays which have a lot of dialogue. I didn’t want that. I wanted to take this to a place that is a purely cinematic experience. Something truly horrifying and beautiful.
So, what inspired me? The ambitious idea I had and the thought that this is going to be great.
Sheri, you have a role in The Haunted and the Hunted. What can you tell us about the role?
SHERI: The role in this film is seriously like no other I have taken on before. It is going to be the most challenging, the most emotional, and the most rewarding role to date. I can’t say much about her without giving some of the story away, but I can say that this character will have your attention throughout every second…. I hope I can pull that off.
Sheri, what are you doing to prepare yourself for the role?
Preparation for the role comes with really putting myself in her world. She has a lot of layers and so does the world that you’ll see in the film. Reading the script as much as I can really helps for me to dive right into the whirlwind of her beautiful chaos.
Lenny, you have a Kickstarter campaign for your upcoming film. Can you tell us about it? Also, can you please provide a link for the campaign for those of us who would like to be a part of the project?
LENNY: Yeah, we have a Kickstarter! It is at the link below. I ask that people donate or share it. If we don’t hit our goal, we will keep trying until we do. So, if you are friends with me on social media, pledge share or block me. You’re in it with us.
Lenny and Sheri, how does The Haunted and the Hunted differ from other productions with which you’ve been involved?
LENNY: I have worked consistently with some of the best people in the business. I am very lucky and fortunate and always have been. I wouldn’t even attempt this without the lessons they imparted upon me and the friendships forged. This will be a very small production with the highest quality possible. I have no other plans to direct anything after this. This is the one.
While it does have horror elements of it, it isn’t just straight up horror. If anything, it’s a deconstruction of genres in a sense and it’s about the dissolution of the American family.
SHERI: This production differs from others mainly for the reason that I’ve been involved as a producer from the start. I love seeing the other side of productions and being a part of the growth.
The atmosphere that this film upholds is amazing and everyone will be in awe. I absolutely cannot wait to bring this to life and to entertain everyone with this extremely unique story.
Lenny, what are your plans for making the film?
LENNY: The plans for making the film will be to raise the most money possible to make the best possible film. I have also been assembling the best possible team for each aspect of this film. Only then, we will make it. But this year for sure.
Lenny, you have an interesting and unique approach to the dialogue and characters in the movie which should really help the work standout from related titles. Can you tell us about these aspects?
LENNY: I don’t want to give away too much except to say that I hear those things a lot. They are my crutches. For writers and directors and even performers, good or bad, we all have our crutches. I was interested in taking those crutches away. That’s all I can say.
Lenny, you’ve directed the brilliant and endlessly relatable political drama Vote M*********** (2020) and co-directed such terrific pictures as Comic Book Junkies (2020), which I have a speaking role in, and Far from Perfect: Life Inside a Global Pandemic (2020). How will the directorial style of The Haunted and the Hunted differ from these other ventures you’ve directed? What unique challenges will the director’s chair bring forth this time around?
LENNY: Thank you for the kind words about the other projects. I think the biggest thing for me on this one is that I will be able to be on an actual, physical set for these as all of those were filmed remotely on cell phones by the performers due to pandemic. It’s going to be nice to work physically with people! But it will be a safe set, both for creating and for the pandemic we are in.
The unique challenge is that I have a clear vision for what I want to see and then realizing it the closest I can to that vision.
Lenny, what has the process of writing the script for the movie been like so far? Do you have a routine for writing you utilize when working on the screenplay?
LENNY: It’s been weird. I finished the first draft in 2015…and now coming back to it again and again over many years has been great. I never get sick of the script and it is always on my mind.
I also reached out to my female friends a ton writing this script as there are feminist themes inherent in this script. I leaned a lot onto Sheri for that as well.
This also has the most action and tension I have ever put in a script. It’s like an anxiety attack that never lets up.
That sounds terrific. I can’t wait to see it.
Lenny and Sheri, is there anything else you would like to discuss that I haven’t asked about yet?
SHERI: I want to thank everyone that has donated so far and encourage others to do so if they can.
Don’t miss out on being part of bringing a truly unique werewolf film like this to life.
LENNY: Thank you to everyone who supported us thus far. The best is yet to come.
Thank you for your time. I appreciate it. I also wish you all the best of luck on your project.
*The poster art featured above is the work of Mark Michaelson.