Don't Go in the Woods

Don't Go in the Woods

A scene from DON'T GO IN THE WOODS, a film directed by Vincent D'Onofrio. Photo Credit: Mike Latino. Picture courtesy Tribeca Film. All rights reserved.

Don't Go in the Woods

  • Nuriya Almaya
  • Kira Gorelick
  • Alyssa Jang
  • Ali Tobia
Executive Producer:
Production Designer:
Costume Designer:
Original Score:
Songs by:
Makeup Artist:
Associate Producer:
Production Company:
  • 5 Minutes

* Most external filmography links go to The Internet Movie Database.

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Don't Go in the Woods (2010/2012)

Opened: 01/13/2012 Limited

Cinema Village...01/13/2012 - 01/19/20127 days
Music Hall 302/10/2012 - 02/16/20127 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Facebook

Genre: Horror/Music

Rated: Unrated


Don't Go in the Woods is sound advice, especially when there's a killer on the loose. First-time director Vincent D'Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent") explores love, greed and ruthlessness in this twisted musical/horror hybrid, telling the story of a young band who heads to the woods to get away from their everyday lives in order to focus on writing new songs. Hoping to walk away from the trip with new tunes that will score them their big break, they instead find themselves in the middle of a nightmare beyond comprehension.

The film cleverly walks an unusual line, maintaining genuine suspense alongside a sinister sense of dread that haunts the characters as it explores the lengths that people will go in order to make their dreams come true. Displaying the musical talents of a gifted ensemble cast as they sing songs penned by acclaimed singer-songwriter Sam Bisbee, Don't Go in the Woods unexpectedly veers from terrifying horror to musical moments that wouldn't be out of place on "Glee," truly keeping viewers captivated, terrified and entertained in equal measure.

A Conversation with the filmmakers Vincent D'Onofrio, Sam Bisbee, and Erika Hampson

What was the genesis of the project? Whose idea was it and where did the idea come from?

VD: I wanted to make a film while sorting out another project which was taking too long, called Johnny and Me. It was being held up by lawyers and such. So I thought about what and who I had that could help put together a small film quickly. I had my woods in Kingston, I had a friend Sam who is a wonderful composer and writer of music, I had Joe Vinciguerra who is a wonderful and quick writer, I had Erika who is a clever up and coming producer and I had myself. I was driving home from upstate with my wife and the idea of a musical horror with non actors came to mind.

SB: Frustrated with the wait for another movie we had written to get its financing in place, Vincent wanted to make a movie on his property in Woodstock for very little money, using all of our talents. What kind of movie? SLASHER MUSICAL, he said. I was very inspired by the way the music worked in ONCE, so Vincent, Joe and I decided it would be great to have a band go to the woods to work on songs for their new album (and then die one by one along with the groupies who follow them there), so that the musical aspects would be built in to the plot.

EH: According to folk lore, Vincent, Joe and Sam went up to Vincent's house for a weekend, hung out in the scary dark woods, and came up with this idea for a slasher musical. A few months later, we were making a movie.

Were there any particular films that inspired/influenced you in conceiving this film?

VD: A French horror film from 2003 with the English title" high tension" shows the leap of faith one has to take. The film is big yet the story still works really well. Nothing is borrowed from the film other than the big leap of faith factor.

SB: The slasher movies of the 80's were an inspiration for Joe and I while writing the screenplay, as well as modern musicals like ONCE and ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. Vincent was inspired by RIVER'S EDGE's slacker brilliance.

Was the script written around the particular band that performs in the film, or was the band chosen subsequently?

VD: The film was not written around the band. The band is an emo type iconic band. It was written to appeal to young people and their angst.

SB: The script was conceived before we found the band, but it was still being written while the cast was assembled, so there are parts of the script that became influenced by each actor's personality.

EH: Vincent, Sam and Joe wrote the script first and then cast accordingly. Vincent cast a lot of the roles off the street. He would walk into a coffee shop and ask the person if they could sing. If they said yes, we would arrange an audition. We basically cast the whole movie in that manner.

Were the songs created for the film or did they already exist?

VD: A couple of Sam's songs in the film had been written already. The rest he wrote for the film. The song Hurricane was always a favorite of mine and was an inspiration in a lot of the film's tone.

SB: A few of the songs already existed, including HURRICANE and COMING FROM THE GRAVE, which I played for Vincent when we went to his house upstate to start brainstorming on the concept. Then the other songs were written specifically for the project.

Was there any interest in having the content of the songs reflect upon the action in the film?

VD: The music works on a couple of levels in the film. One is that at times the music is directly involved in the story that's playing out in the film. Other times it's there to just scream out to the young.

SB: Since the plot of the film is about the process of trying to write great songs, we didn't think the actual content of the songs needed to comment on the action in a "musical" sort of way. But we did choose songs that were apocalyptic, dark, visions of the destructive power of love (or death).

Please discuss the stylistic device of having some of the songs performed as "soliloquies" as opposed to the majority of the music, which is simply the band being the band.

VD: I wanted the musical part of the film to start in a very low key way, with the guys just playing . Eventually the music starts to present itself in a bigger more non-realistic manner. I thought it was important to slide into the musical aspect of the film at a slow pace. We waited until later to remind the audience that, yes, they are watching a musical. By the end of the second reel or the end of the first act, we are definitely watching a full blown musical minus dance numbers of course.

SB: The soliloquies are performed by the girls, and these are interior monologues, which aren't happening in the real world. Everything the boys sing is really happening, they are writing and singing songs together and alone.

How would you describe the film, genre-wise?

SB: Its a new genre. The Slasher Musical. Once meets Friday the 13th. Or "glee on acid" as one audience member said after a screening.

EH: We have grown accustomed to referring to the film as a slasher musical.

I'm not sure that's a real genre, but we are starting the movement.

Who, exactly, is the masked killer in the woods? Why do you obscure his identity, even at the end?

VD: The masked killer in the woods is never to be revealed. The killer is only for the audience to talk about not the filmmakers. It is key.

How long did it take to shoot the film? Where was it shot?

EH: We shot it on Vincent's property in upstate New York over the span of 12 long, arduous days.

How did you approach your special effects? Who did them, where did you finds the artists?

EH: We had an amazing team of people working with us. Steve Lawrence, who is a makeup artist on Criminal Intent, helped us a lot. He created the severed arm, among other things. And we had a great bunch of ladies, nicknamed the Gore Girls, who were lead by Jennifer Suarez. I think we approached the effects with an attitude of "the gorier the better." I think the final product certainly lives up to expectation.

How would you describe the music in the film? If the band in the film were a band in real life (it is, isn't it/) who would it's audience be? Why was this music chosen as opposed to another sound?

SB: This music is acoustic/emo/indie-rock/folk, if that's a genre. 3 of the members of the band were a real band in real life called THE DIRTY DIRTY. The audience would be people of all ages, the band is young and appeals to teenagers/college kids, but the music is timeless and appeals to rock fans of all ages. The fun thing about the music is that, because the band is in the woods with acoustic guitars and battery powered instruments, the music had to all be fully acoustic, stripped down and not "produced".

Please discuss the teams previous collaboration--your Oscar-winning short--and how your work on that project led to or overlapped with this film.

SB: I had been developing THE NEW TENANTS since 2006, it was originally a script in Danish that Joachim Back asked me to co-produce for him with a Danish company (he is a commercial director at my wife's company Park Pictures). It took 2 years to get the script where Joachim wanted it (adapted by David Rakoff). When it was finally time to cast the film and make it, I suggested Erika Hampson to Joachim to help produce, since I had seen her do such an amazing job on DON'T GO IN THE WOODS, and, to really keep our new team together, I introduced Vincent to Joachim as the best person for one of the main roles. Joachim became obsessed with Vincent's acting. Next thing we knew, Erika and I were at Academy Awards®, watching our little film win an Oscar.

EH: We shot DON'T GO IN THE WOODS first, from late July through early august. A few weeks later, Sam called me and asked me to read this script called THE NEW TENANTS. I liked it and met with Sam and Joachim to discuss how quickly we could get the film off the ground. we were shooting 2 or 3 months later, surrounded by an amazing team of writers (David Rakoff), crew (including Pawel Edelman) and cast (with Vincent doing us a huge favor and coming on board to play a role). Sam, Vincent and I like making movies together, so it was just another way to keep this in the family.

Crew Biographies

Vincent D'Onofrio (Director/Story)

An extraordinarily gifted actor with talents extending into the realms of writing and producing, D'Onofrio has appeared in over 50 feature films. Born in Brooklyn, New York, D'Onofrio began studying acting at the American Stanislavsky Theatre with Sharon Chatten of the Actors Studio.

This past summer, D'Onofrio took on the formidable task of filming two movies in less than a month in Canada and Louisiana. In Canada, D'Onofrio starred in the dark film RABBIT, written by Jennifer Lynch, opposite Julia Ormond. He split his time traveling back and forth to New Orleans to work on the action thriller FIRE WITH FIRE opposite Bruce Willis, Josh Duhamel and Rosario Dawson.

Recently, D'Onofrio teamed up with long time friend Ethan Hawke and writer-producer Chris Brancato for a cop drama which was NBC bought with a production commitment. All three will executive produce. The show will star Hawke and D'Onofrio as two seasoned homicide detectives -- one married and one divorced -- as they solve cases while dealing with their wives/ex-wives and kids. D'Onofrio is also currently working on producing the Eric Boghosian play MALL which he co-wrote into a screenplay as well as stars in. The film will mark the directing debut of Linkin Park's Joe Hahn. Chelsea Handler will also play a darker role in the film.

D'Onofrio gained attention for his intense and compelling talent on the screen in 1987 with a haunting portrayal of an unstable Vietnam War recruit in Stanley Kubrick's gritty FULL METAL JACKET. His other early film appearances include MYSTIC PIZZA and ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING. He also executive-produced and portrayed 1960s counterculture icon Abbie Hoffman in the film STEAL THIS MOVIE opposite Janeane Garofalo and starred opposite Jennifer Lopez and Vince Vaughn in the science-fiction noir film THE CELL. He worked again with Vince Vaughn for a second time in the commercially successful hit THE BREAK UP.

Other film credits include THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS opposite Jodie Foster; THE SALTON SEA, opposite Val Kilmer; IMPOSTOR with Gary Sinise; CHELSEA WALLS directed by Ethan Hawke; HAPPY ACCIDENTS co-starring Marisa Tomei; Robert Altman's THE PLAYER, Joel Schumacher's DYING YOUNG; Tim Burton's ED WOOD; Kathryn Bigalow's STRANGE DAYS opposite Ralph Fiennes and Angela Bassett; Harold Ramis' STUART SAVES HIS FAMILY, Barry Sonnenfeld's MEN IN BLACK opposite Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones; THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR opposite Craig Bierko; THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD, which he produced and starred in, opposite Renee Zellweger; and Oliver Stone's JFK. He also acted in BROOKLYN'S FINEST, starring opposite Richard Gere and Don Cheadle and STATEN ISLAND opposite Ethan Hawke.

D'Onofrio's film experience includes short films. He directed, produced and starred in a short film, FIVE MINUTES, MR. WELLES. D'Onofrio also worked on the Academy Award® winning short film THE NEW TENANTS.

Sam Bisbee (Screenplay/Executive Producer)

THE NEW TENANTS, Bisbee's film debut as a producer, won the Academy Award® in 2010 for Live Action Short. As a screenwriter, he has 4 films co-written with his writing partner Joe Vinciguerra including an adaptation of an Eric Bogosian novel Mall, two other projects to be directed by Vincent D'Onofrio, and a script in development with acclaimed cinematographer Lance Acord.

As a singer/songwriter/composer and record producer, he has recorded and released 5 critically acclaimed albums on 4 record labels, and performs regularly in New York City. Bisbee is also signed to a publishing deal by Nettwerk and has an album out by an artist he produced and wrote with named Reni Lane on Universal/Motown records. Bisbee's songs have been featured on numerous television shows: "Damages," "Private Practice" and "Life Unexpected" to name a few. Sam has composed the score for 4 feature length films and numerous shorts as well as the music for over 20 commercials, including his remake of "Hanging On The Telephone" for AT&T, which featured Cat Power.

Erika Hampson (Producer)

Erika Hampson began producing films in 2005, with the debut of the short film FIVE MINUTES, MR. WELLES starring and directed by Vincent D'Onofrio. Since then, she has gone on to produce several other projects, including the 2010 Oscar winning short THE NEW TENANTS, directed by Joachim Back. In 2009, she executive produced THE VANISHING CITY, a documentary that exposes New York City's exclusionary policies and subsidies and its far-reaching effect on the middle class and the working poor. She also served as the executive producer (along with her producing partner Vincent D'Onofrio) for the short film IPSO FACTO. She has several projects in development, including a film adaptation of Eric Bogosian's novel, Mall.

Joe Vinciguerra (Screenplay/Executive Producer)

Joe Vinciguerra is an NYU alumnus of the Rita and Burton Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing (1995) and the Maurice Kanbar Undergraduate Film Department (1991). Feature projects in development include an adaptation of Eric Bogosian's novel Mall, JOHNNY AND ME co-written with Sam Bisbee and produced by Vincent D'Onofrio and the estate of Johnny Cash, and DRIVING DIRECTIONS developed with Sam Bisbee and director Lance Acord. He has also written and developed scripts for director Tony Kaye, actress Ellen Burstyn, producers Chris Blackwell, Nick Wechsler and Steve Tisch.

Bo Boddie (Original Score/Carson)

Bo's music production career began while completing an MA in music at New York University. In top recording studios in New York and Los Angeles, Bo worked with seminal pop acts including Santana, Joss Stone, Faith Hill, Macy Gray, Korn, Nile Rogers and many more. Several of the projects Bo has worked on were nominated for Grammy Awards, as well as one Academy Award® nominated song. In 2003, Bo won a Grammy Award for his engineering work on Norman Brown's record Just Chillin'.

While continuing to maintain his production and engineering schedule, Bo has branched out into scoring of late, writing music for film, television, advertising, and the web.

Bo has scored and provided music for television shows on the CW, ABC, VH1, Starz, the Style Network, and the History Channel. He has also composed music for advertising campaigns for Motorola, CVS, Cingular, webMD, Qwest, and many others. In recent news, Bo co-produced and mixed the closing song featured in the 2010 Academy Award® winning short THE NEW TENANTS and produced songs for recently signed Universal/Motown artist Reni Lane.

Currently Bo is working with merge artist Imperial Teen, as well as playing with and producing the new band Psychic Friend with Patty Schemel (Hole), and Will Schwartz (Imperial Teen, Hey Willlpower).