Producer Anthony Masi had already gained acclaim with his Halloween retrospective 25 Years of Terror when he teamed up with Crystal Lake Memories editor Daniel Farrands to create a tribute to the most popular slasher franchise of all, the result being His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th. A true labour of love, the documentary charts the history of the legendary series and features interviews with the likes of Sean S. Cunningham, Tom Savini and Kane Hodder, amongst others.
Anthony Masi talks about his work on His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th.
How did a Black Christmas and two Halloween documentaries prepare you to tackle the Friday the 13th legacy?
Halloween: 25 Years of Terror was my training ground. From a creative perspective I learned so much about how to present information that spans twenty-five years. From a business perspective, I learned about licensing, how ego plays a big part in the Hollywood game, and so much more. I didn’t go to film school but that project certainly felt like a great substitution! The second documentary, The Shape of Horror was a fifteen-minute theatrical promo that screened before the original Halloween when it was released in 2006. I directed that, and am quite proud of it. These projects definitely primed me for His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th. Most of all, I learned what NOT to do in the production, and those things are sometimes more valuable than what TO do. Anchor Bay gave us exactly thirteen weeks to get the production shot and delivered, and to say that it was challenging would be an understatement! Producing H25 definitely gave me the experience to keep my head together, and fortunately I was working with a very skilled and dedicated team of people.
What is it about slasher movies that you find so appealing, and what kind of reaction did you when you explained your project to those who were not fans of the series?
That’s kind of like asking me why I like fast food! It’s just part of our culture, and I grew up on horror movies. You can’t really avoid them because horror movies never go out of style, and when I was a kid I was captivated by every single horror movie I saw. I had no judgment and nothing was ‘bad’ in my opinion when I was a child. So I’ve carried that love of horror movies into adulthood and I can always appreciate a horror movie, simply because it IS a horror movie. My love for Friday the 13th made it very easy to pitch His Name Was Jason. The folks at Anchor Bay have the same appreciation for these films, so it wasn’t difficult at all for them to ‘get’ the retrospective idea. By the way, the DVD comes out on Feb 3rd, and Starz is airing it on Feb 13th, the day the new movie is released.
How do you even begin to tackle such a project – having to gather together so many people who once appeared in a movie twenty-plus years ago and then have them reminisce about them? Did you find that, after already discussing their experiences in two recent books, they were any less enthusiastic?
The interviewees were very enthusiastic! You have to picture it… we did the bulk of the interviews at a soundstage in Burbank over a ten-day period. That’s ten non-stop eight-ten hour days where every hour on the hour a Friday the 13th actor or crew member walked through the door. I pretty much saw my childhood flashing before me over those ten days, and the actors coming in were bumping into each other after not seeing each other for many years, and so there was tremendous excitement to be there, and everyone recognized that this was the first epic documentary on the ENTIRE franchise.
When we started His Name Was Jason, we only had three months to work with to get it filmed and completed, so I just told everyone we had a month of pre-production, a month to film, and a month of post-production. I have to be honest and say that I was met with tremendous resistance from a few people on the crew who respectfully told me that I was nuts! Even though I agreed with them to a certain extent I told them to have faith and just go with it. I can’t say enough about the talented production crew, everyone from Vanessa our make-up professional, to Monica our editor, to Blake our co-producer, to Thommy, my writing/producing partner in crime, and everyone else in between, we pulled off a huge amount of work in a very short amount of time, and to say I’m proud of this documentary is only a fraction of how I feel about it!
Why make a documentary about Friday the 13th? What is about this particular series that made you want to study it?
I made this documentary for one reason: Everyone in the world knows who Jason is! You show a hockey mask to anyone and they’ll say something about Jason. That’s why. He’s iconic. The film series is going strong three decades after the first movie was made, that’s more than enough reason to stop and take a look back on all of the films that came before!
What kind of structure will the documentary follow? Will it follow the franchise through each film chronologically, will fans get to see deleted footage (such as the infamous alternative ending from Part 3 or The New Blood‘s graphic murder scenes) and will there be much behind-the-scenes footage?
We do not go chronologically. We did that in H25 and personally I wanted this project to have a different feel so I suggested that we address ‘topics’ or ‘chapters’… we summarize the storylines of all the movies in the first 10 minutes just to get everyone up to speed, and then from there we delve into Jason’s history, what ingredients are needed for a successful Friday the 13th movie, we get to see Jason’s ‘greatest hits’ – a compilation of Jason’s best kills with actors and crew members describing how they were done, etc. The actors who played Jason get their own chapter, the final girls get their own as well, and we even cover topics such as how Jason penetrated pop culture, and we explore the ambiguities and inconsistencies that riddle the series. The new movie gets the spotlight as well, and it’s all hosted by Tom Savini who appears between the segments to lead us out of one topic and into another. Tom was a total pro, and I was honored to meet and with with him. As all of this is happening, fans will be treated to never-before-seen photos and rare footage, and will probably have to watch it a few times to absorb the slew of information we’re crunching into ninety minutes!
Throughout the years there have been various debates with regards to the movies (who really played Jason vor the majority of Part 2, who thought of giving Jason the hockey mask). Will any of these mysterious finally be unearthed?
Yes, all of this is addressed in both the feature documentary as well as in the bonus features that will be on the DVD. Lots of questions will be answered, and lots of ‘stuff you never knew’ will be bestowed on the unexpecting viewer!
Did you find that your work on Halloween: 25 Years of Terror lent you a certain ammount of credibility as you tried to develop this project?
Yes, H25 opened a very big door for me and I am very lucky and privileged and thankful to have produced/written that project. It definitely was influential to the birth of His Name Was Jason.
What kind of special features will be in store for the fans? There are so many lost treats that should be re-discovered, such as Alice Cooper’s music video for Part VI, or Jason’s appearance on Arsenio Hall’s chat show. What are you hoping to include in the package?
We tried to include Cooper’s video but the licensing *cough cough* made it impossible. We do include the Arsenio clip as well as a bunch of others in the feature documentary, and our bonus features include extended interviews, on-location Friday the 13th tours with actors and crew members, fan films, spoofs, and other goodies. This is a DVD package that will take a lot of time getting through!
It was recently revealed that your documentary will be released on DVD the same day as the long-anticipated 3-D release of Friday the 13th Part 3. Are you concerned that this could take away some of the attention from your own feature, or do you think this will just increase the interest in all things Jason?
I don’t feel any competition at all. This is the only retrospective documentary on the entire franchise that celebrates a landmark anniversary with close to ninety interviewees… I would have to believe that any Friday fan would want to see this! Personally, I’m running out to get the 3-D release myself, and if I didn’t produce His Name Was Jason and saw it sitting on the shelf next to the 3-D movie, you’d have to physically throw me out of the store to prevent me from buying it! Hopefully other fans will feel the same way.
There are so many iconic franchises left to explore, what plans do you have for the future?
My good friend Rob Galluzzo is directing the definitive documentary on the Psycho series called The Psycho Legacy, and I am producing the project. Rob’s vision is also epic, and the project will satisfy anyone who wants to know anything about the Psycho films. I am also embarking on another project for the Nightmare on Elm Street series. I can’t say much about it but hey, it won’t be difficult for anyone to deduce what’s what after looking at my track record! I am also very excited about a trilogy I’m producing called Prank, a horror anthology series directed by scream queens. Check it out at PrankMovie.com!