Movie Interviews

Published on February 22nd, 2015 | by gareth


Michael Bartlett Talks Up His Horror Film: Treehouse

Opening in L.A theaters this week, Treehouse is the latest creepfest from up-and-coming horror moviemaker Michael Bartlett.

We spoke to Bartlett about what marks rope, bark, and a tire-swing scary.

How did you get involved in Treehouse?

I got involved in this project when Alex Child called me up in late 2011 and asked me if I would consider optioning the script from him.

I knew the script well and had even helped Alex and his co-writer, Miles Harrington, structure it. We flirted with

the idea of me developing the film back in 2010 but The Weinstein Company had just financed Zombie Diaries 2, so Alex and Miles did a deal with another producer. The other producer

struggled to get the film made. I completed Zombie Diaries 2 in

March 2011 and so the timing worked out perfectly. I remember agreeing a deal with Alex and Miles immediately and then going out location scouting in the fall that year.

Where was this shot? I know you’re originally from the UK, right?

Yep. The film was set in ‘Small Town America’ and then I moved

to an area near Branson and Forsyth, Missouri in Jan 2011. So it was like moving into the world that this film was set in.

During the location scouting in the fall of 2011 I remember Alex and Miles being blown away by the photographs of Forsyth and Hollister, Missouri.

Ever have a Treehouse as a kid? Did memories of that treehouse come back into play as you were doing the movie?

Actually I did not. It’s not as much of a ‘thing’ in England as it is in the USA. The closest I came to a treehouse was when my

best friend, Kevin, and I (Who I grew up with) used to build forts in his parents’ house. But we had a great childhoood,

never-the-less, and elements of that play into the film. I used to go on long journeys, walking up to 10 miles in the English

Countryside as a kid with my friends. It was basically just like Stand By Me but obviously without the grim element. When I

see Killian and Crawford out in the woods it reminds me of Kevin and I out for another adventure as teenagers.

How did you originally get pitched the film?

Alex pitched the film to me in a pub in London. We had met due to a mutual friend. I was in the process of trying to track

down Liam Howlett from the Prodigy, as I wanted him to score the soundtrack to a time travel movie I was developing called

TIMELESS. The mutual friend was a music publisher who put me in contact. After she met me she said: “There’s this guy named

Alex and I think you should meet him. I just have a feeling you will connect.” Well, she had a pretty darn good hunch!

Do you think there’s a message in this movie? If so, what is it?

I try not to make movies with messages. When I go to the movies I want to be entertained; not battered with messages. So I put a

lot of different elements into my films and let the audiences make up their own minds. The pictures I paint of the world

(especially with The Zombie Diaries world) are true to human nature. TREEHOUSE, if we burrow down in the social structures I

am analyzing, is about a Christian (Elizabeth) and an Atheist (Killian) who become best friends through their mutual need to

survive. Both come from broken families and really only have their siblings to cling to in this world. However there are

‘bad kids’ in the film who also come from a broken family but turn out differently. Your income bracket or hardship doesn’t

dictate the kind of person you become. We all have a choice. That is what makes the world interesting as people react to the

same situations with their own individual motivations and morals. It’s definitely a bleak world I am showing but also

one of hope. I did have a little dig at the criminal justice system but you’ll have to listen to the director’s commentary on

that for more info.

How important as a marketing tool is the internet in promoting indie movies?

It’s wonderful as it gives the filmmakers not only a lot more control, but also a way to connect directly with the fans. It

comes with its own drawbacks, obviously, but in general it has made it a lot easier to get your work noticed and be contacted

by like-minded people.

What would you say has been your biggest break? Is there a film that’s really opened doors for you?

The Zombie Diaries was the film that opened doors for me. But I hope Treehouse is the film that elevates me by showing I can do

a lot more than make cinema verite films. Time will tell. One thing I am happy to go on record as saying is that I am so happy

with Treehouse, I could live with it if I never made another movie. It’s a fitting film to go out on. But hopefully there

will be more stories to tell…

About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”. He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.

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