We recently ran an interview with Scott Schirmer, the director of Found (heading to DVD and VOD this fall), and now we’ve got a conversation with Todd Rigney, who wrote the novel upon which it’s based, and co-wrote the screenplay with Schirmer.
Found, the novel, is an exceptionally entertaining and quick read. Asked how long it took him to write it, Rigney tells us, “I cranked out the first draft of the book in probably about two weeks during the summer of 2004. I was working at a TV station at the time and would write chapters in my downtime. I penned the whole thing in Wordpad and would send the chapters to my wife through email to proofread. After I spent a few months editing and picking things apart before finally self-publishing it through iUniverse in October of 2004.”
I only discovered the book as the movie was in production, and Rigney was selling it at a convention in Lexington, KY. It’s hard to believe it’s been around for a decade. The novel was published together with Rigney’s short story collection Twelve (Stories Concerning Love and Death).
Asked about where fans might be able to read more of his work, Rigney tells us, “At the moment, Found and Twelve are the only projects on the market. I’m preparing to publish an old manuscript entitled Crush this October as my own way of celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Found.”
“The book is about a ‘crush’ video director who discovers he has a stalker,” he explains. “It’s a pretty dark and depraved story, which is why it’s been sitting around for several years. Since people seem to like the darker stuff I’ve released, I decided to release it as an eBook.”
Rigney tells us he’s also working on a film with Beverly Lane director Joshua Hull that’s centered around Christmas, but isn’t revealing much else about it for now. We should be hearing more in the coming months.
While on the surface, Found is a story about a serial killer, the story has a lot more layers than most works in this genre. There are heavy themes of nostalgia and an obvious love for horror, family, bullying, and even racism. After reading it, I was worried that the film would fail to deliver on all of this, though Schirmer and Rigney ended up doing a spectacular job with the adaptation.
“I did purposely tackle a lot of themes with Found, many of which I witnessed or experienced growing up,” Rigney says. “As much as I love monster movies and ghost stories, horror to me is more interesting when it’s about what people do to other people. That’s far more depraved and disturbing than anything that’s ever clawed its way out of a grave. And I think that’s what drew director Scott Schirmer to the project. Although the story is essentially a slasher told from a different perspective, it was those other themes captured his attention. And I think all of the stuff I tried to tackle thematically found its way into Scott’s movie. In fact, he did it better than me in many aspects.”
The best part about Found, in this writer’s humble opinion (both the book and the movie) is its homage to people who grew up watching VHS horror. It feels like a horror story created by a horror fan for horror fans.
We asked Rigney what other books or movies he feels pull this off well.
“There are a lot of so-called homages and throwbacks to that era, so much so that it’s almost a cottage industry unto itself,” he says. “However, for my money, Monster Squad is the film that adequately captures what it’s like to love horror as a kid. I adore that movie from front to back, and I’ve watched it countless times over the years. I can’t say that I consciously channeled that flick when I wrote Found, but I wouldn’t doubt if there’s a bit of that feeling sprinkled throughout the story. At the end of the day, I just wanted to tell a story that incorporated all the things I loved about the genre as a kid, from the thrill of the hunt in the video store to that sensation you stumbled across something truly horrifying. There was nothing like it.”
Having written about Found a few times now, I find it difficult to describe efficiently, mostly because of the themes mentioned above. Still, it’s easier to do in writing than in conversation. We asked Rigney how he describes the movie to someone who has never seen it or read the book.
“That’s a difficult question, and I’ve had to do that several times over the years,” he says. “I usually just tell them it’s about a kid who discovers that his brother is a serial killer. That’s usually enough to get them hooked, though some folks weren’t prepared for the sort of stuff that happens over the course of the story.”
It’s true. This isn’t your average Ashley Judd serial killer movie.
On seeing his book come to life, Rigney tells us, “Seeing Found come to life was beyond thrilling. I’ve tried to put the sensation into words before but there’s really no good way to describe it. The sensation was emotionally overwhelming, especially since it was something I’d dreamed of since a kid. My wife and I watched an early cut of the film before it screened publicly in Bloomington, and we were left speechless. Everyone involved with the flick took everything that was good about the book and amplified it a thousand times. All of the hiccups and problems I had with the book were hammered completely out. While I love the novel, I do think the movie is the purest form of the story.”
I’d still highly recommend reading the book.
Rigney not only wrote the book, and co-wrote the screenplay, but he even appears in a cameo.
“My first acting gig was terrifying, particularly since I was sharing the screen with two of the stars,” Rigney recalls. “I was working at a video store at the time, so it only seemed appropriate that I play the video store clerk in the movie, the guy who bursts Marty’s bubble about Headless. I obsessed with learning the lines, and was terrified that I would sound like a moron or come across bizarre. Whenever I show the film to someone or watched it at screening, I always squint so I won’t have to see myself on-screen. But it just seemed right. I call it my Stephen King moment, though I seriously doubt it will ever happen again. I’ll leave that sort of work to the professionals.”
And speaking of Headless, that’s a fictional movie that Found’s characters watch in the movie (and in the book). It just so happens that a full-length feature of that is now in the works. The producers (including Schirmer, who has handed off directorial duties on this one) currently have a Kickstarter campaign going to get it funded.
We’re hoping that someday they’ll do the same for Roach Man and Bag Lunch, the graphic novel the kids in Found work on, which also provides the visuals for Found’s amazing title sequence.