Guest Post: Interviews….. Norbert Caoili

This guest post, kindly lent to me by Tyson from Head in a Vice, is a little different, coming in the form of an interview with Norbert Caoili, co-director of Frayed. Tyson posted this not too long ago on his site, so you may have already read it, but in case you haven’t, do take the time to give it a read before checking out his site if you’re one of the few who already hasn’t.

I am proud to share with you today an interview with Norbert Caoili. Norbert co-directed the movie Frayed (which I loved and you can see my review here) as well as being one of the writers and producers.

We got talking after he found my review, and very kindly agreed to answer a few questions about the film. He was very generous with the answers he gave, and as this was my first ever interview, I cannot thank him enough for being so patient and answering more and more questions as I thought of new ones. This was an absolute honour to do, first and foremost because I am a huge fan of the film but also because of how cool and friendly Norbert is. There are even some exclusive details and a trailer for a potential sequel, as well as an excellent behind the scenes making of video. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did, and please be sure to check out all the videos and links shown here, as well as the movie obviously!


A small town sheriff’s worst nightmare comes true when his homicidal son escapes from a psychiatric hospital. A security guard tries to stop him, only to find himself relentlessly hunted. The sheriff launches an intense manhunt to save the town and his family from his son’s violent psychosis. Their fates and the dark secret behind his son’s evil past are revealed in this stylish and suspenseful film that will leave you shocked and disturbed.

Tyson – Hi Norbert, thank you so much for giving up your time to do this. First things first, how did the title Frayed come about? It is certainly a unique name!

Norbert – That’s a great question. My co-writer & co-director, Rob Portmann actually came up with that title. For the longest time, the working title for our movie was “Alone”. In the behind the scenes shots, you can actually see us wearing “Alone” shirts and hats. Right after we were accepted to Screamfest for our premiere, we learned of a foreign horror movie called “Alone” also premiering at the festival. We decided at that point to officially change the title to our alternate title, “Frayed”. “Frayed” turned out to be a much more original title and better connected with the theme of the movie – to come apart at the edges – much like Kurt’s mind.

Tyson – How did it work out having 3 writers and 2 directors?

Norbert – Rob Portmann, Kurt Svennungsen and I were like a three-headed monster working together on the project. We were in sync for the most part with our vision of the kind of story we wanted to tell and what we wanted the movie to feel like. We had shot many short films in our childhood, but this was our first time co-writing a feature script. When it came to the actual writing, we all worked on the script separately, then came together, compared notes and picked the best from all of our ideas. It worked out pretty well. On the shoot, we leaned on each other when situations got rough on set. Since we were sleep deprived most of the shoot, Rob and I helped each other out when one of us was running out of gas. Our vision was very cohesive and Rob did such a great job storyboarding nearly every shot of the film. The biggest challenge was in the editing room. All three of us oversaw the edit, with me at the controls. We definitely had differences of opinion on cuts, pacing, etc. at times. Sometimes the only way to resolve disagreements was to vote. Majority would win.

Tyson – How long did it take from start to finish to get this project realised, and what obstacles did you meet during this time?

Norbert – In total from inception to release, it was about a 7-year process! Crazy, huh? Kurt approached Rob and I about the idea of making a movie back in 2002. We worked on the script for three years before finally finishing it in early 2005. We started pre-production in spring of 2005 then began shooting in September of that year. It was a gruelling four week shoot, 6 days/week, mostly at night. We spent most of 2006 editing, mixing and scoring the film, then submitting to festivals in 2007. We had our premiere in October ’07 at Screamfest in LA. Lionsgate approached us shortly after that and we inked a distribution deal. Dream Entertainment initially handled our international deals. Dream eventually went under and Arsenal Pictures took over. The movie was released on DVD & cable in 2009.

Some of our early challenges was simply finding time to work on the script. All three of us were married and Rob and I had young kids. That’s why it took three years to write it. Life often gets in the way of chasing dreams like this, so you have to work hard to find the time for it. During pre-pro and the shoot, the fact that we were first-time filmmakers didn’t help. Trying to hire cast and crew was an uphill battle. Fortunately, our script paved the way with getting a good casting director (Jodi Rothfield), DP (Karel Bauer) & gaffer (Neil Holcomb), and once those people were in place, the others followed. Initially on the shoot, they were all skeptical about us. As we got further into the shoot, they realized we had a strong vision and knew what we were doing and ultimately earned their respect. We were able to finish on schedule, but definitely put in some long days and nights with little sleep. Once shooting was complete, we began post-production which was the most enjoyable phase of the shoot. That’s where you finally see the movie come together. As editor, composer & sound designer, I was very busy in 2006. Mike Lorrain, our visual effects guy, did an awesome job putting the final touches on the film. The hardest part was everything AFTER the movie was completed. Festival rejection letters were brutal. You’ve put all these years of blood, sweat and tears into this film and you feel like you’ve completely failed. When we were finally accepted by Screamfest, we were elated, but all of a sudden we were ill-prepared for the barrage of offers coming from everywhere for our film. No agent, no lawyer. We were completely on our own.

Tyson – Can I ask you a little about your budget, and how you went about getting it financed?

Norbert – The budget was $200K and it was completely financed by Kurt and his wife, Dana.

Tyson – As I mentioned in my review, the scene where Kurt is killing his mother is especially disturbing and graphic. Can you talk about how you made that incredible kill-scene, and what made you go for a scene that brutal?

Norbert – Before we even had the story, it was Kurt’s idea to start the movie with an ultra-violent kill caught on camera. We built the script around that premise. We all were fascinated with the idea of creating a voyeuristic scene where the audience feels like it’s witnessing something that’s actually happening and can’t turn away from it. Shooting it in one continuous take on a locked down video camera shot made it that much more disturbing and realistic. It was meant to pull the audience into the film right from the start and set up the premise of the movie. On the web, as well as the DVD bonus features, we have a documentary that explains exactly how that scene was shot. Make-up artists, Tim Peirson and Shelley Clark did a fantastic job on that scene, as well as the rest of the film. A very disturbing movie, “Irreversible”, has an amazing kill in it that also inspired the way we shot that scene.

Tyson – I did think of Irreversible when I saw it, was it a fire extinguisher in the club?

Norbert – Yes, the “Irreversible” fire extinguisher scene in the club was it!

Tyson – During the movie, I felt that Frayed had a Halloween-esque feel to it, mainly due to the ‘man in a mask’, but also the pacing. Were there any other influences to your movie, or did you just try to steer clear and deliver your own take on the genre?

Norbert – The original Halloween had a great impact on our childhood and we’ve always considered it the best slasher of all time. We certainly wrote in some homages to that film in the script and I snuck in some subtle nods to it in the soundtrack and the sound design. With “Frayed”, our goal was to create a slasher with a twist. We wanted that ’80′s feel in regards to pacing and suspense, but with a modern edge.

Tyson – Your cast was great. Did you have anyone in mind when casting for the film, or did you just get lucky?

Norbert – We were very lucky with the cast. When we tried to cast the film by ourselves, it was pretty much a no-show, so we approached Jodi Rothfield, our casting director for help. She really liked the script and hooked us up with some of the best talent in the Pacific Northwest. Aaron Blakely as Gary was fantastic. So were actresses Alena Dashiell (Sara) and Tasha Smith Floe (Veronica). They had limited film experience so it was very impressive how they handled themselves. They brought great emotion and terror to the screen. Tony Doupe’ (Sheriff Baker) is a veteran actor and he was the perfect choice to play the dark role of the sheriff. The cast truly exceeded our expectations in their performances.

Alena Dashiell is Sara

Aaron Blakely is Kurt

Tony Doupe’ is Sheriff Baker

Tasha Smith Floe is Veronica

Tyson – I imagine everyone always asks you what your favourite horror movie is. Instead, I would like to ask you if you have any more slightly obscure/indy favourites that you love and feel other people really should try and hunt down?

Norbert – The movie I mentioned earlier, “Irreversible” is a must-see if you want to be truly disturbed. “The Man From Nowhere” is a really beautifully shot, well acted, violent foreign action flick – a new favorite of mine. “The Others” may not be obscure, but it’s one of my top horror choices and a must see for suspense fans.

Tyson – Frayed was released by Lionsgate, and I’m guessing that getting your movie released with a company that big was very exciting, but what has your experience with them been like?

Norbert – It was hard to turn down an offer from Lionsgate, knowing that their label would be all over our film. While we haven’t had a lot of personal interaction with them, they have done a great job of getting our film out everywhere. We hope to partner with them again for our next movie. We have already written a sequel to Frayed, as well as a brand new horror film.

Tyson – Can I ask you for some details about the sequel and new film?

Norbert – We originally hadn’t planned on writing a sequel to “Frayed”, but then we realized a “Frayed” franchise would be really cool. We’ve completed the sequel script and shot a teaser trailer for it, currently titled, “Frayed: Demon Within”.

Minor Spoilers…………..

The movie continues where the first one left off, getting deeper into the Sheriff’s character and his relationship with his new son, who you see at the very last shot of “Frayed”. His real daughter, Sara, begins to uncover the truth about her father’s dark secrets and what really happened to Kurt, but realizes there is something evil hiding within her family that is more terrifying than anyone could have imagined. It’s a bloody rollercoaster thrill ride with another shocker of an ending. Just in case, we’ve already come up with the premise for both the potential third AND fourth films.

We’ve also adapted the sequel script into a completely separate, standalone film under a different title, in case a distributor likes the premise, but prefers not to go the sequel route. We’ll do whatever it takes to make another movie! Either way, they would be very suspenseful, shocking movies that would take “Frayed” to another level. We just need the money to make it.

Tyson – Would something like kickstarter or another fan funded thing be any use in trying to get financed for the next film? Lots of people seem to go down that route, and this film has to get made!

Norbert – That’s definitely something worth considering. I have not fully investigated what it takes to go down that route, but I have heard the success stories. It’s great to know we have an ally in our corner!

Frayed Official Website 

Frayed Official Facebook

DVD available on Netflix. Amazon, Blockbuster, iTunes and other retailers.

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6 thoughts on “Guest Post: Interviews….. Norbert Caoili

  1. Tyson Carter says:

    Reblogged this on Head In A Vice and commented:
    As part of his Horror Movie Month, my good friend Chris from ‘Terry Malloy’s Pigeon Coop’ has posted my interview with movie director Norb Caoili. He directed one of my favourite horror movies ‘Frayed’, and I’m proud Chris has shared this with his followers. So please, head over there and check it out 🙂

  2. Tyson Carter says:

    Thanks for sharing this buddy. Any extra help I can give this film and director makes it all worthwhile. These kind of films need peoples attention 🙂

  3. Read this a while back on Tyson’s site. Very cool that you chose this interview to share oin Horror Movie Month. It’s a great piece and perfect for the occasion.

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