#34: “It’s very easy for me to scare myself”: Director Ted Nicolaou on THE ST. FRANCISVILLE EXPERIMENT

Today’s guest is Ted Nicolaou, best known for his many collaborations with producer Charles Band, including the popular SUBSPECIES series. Ted started out as a sound recordist on Tobe Hooper’s cult classic THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and then went into editing, working on films like ROAR, TRANCERS and GHOULIES. As a director, and ofentimes as a writer, too, he made films like the offbeat horror comedy TERRORVISION, charming fantasy movies for children like DRAGONWORLD or LEAPIN’ LEPRECHAUNS, and, of course, the aforementioned SUBSPECIES films – a series of vampire horror films which made perfect use of their impressive Romanian locations and managed to mix vampire lore, dramatic horror and a dose of eroticism with just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek B-movie attitude.

Our conversation, however, revolves around a lesser-known film which Ted directed: THE ST. FRANCISVILLE EXPERIMENT – a found-footage horror film that came out shortly after THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT made its mark on the horror genre. The film tells the story of a group of filmmakers who set out to spend the night in a haunted Louisiana mansion, hoping to encounter the ghosts of the victims of Delphine LaLaurie, the real-life New Orleands socialite who brutally tortured slaves in the 1800s. Ted was brought onto the film after some elements had already been shot, and he encountered a production that wasn’t as carefully prepared as it should have been. In our interview, Ted relates how he came on board of the film, how the handled the initial shoot without much room for directorial influence, and how he and the production team then went about to restructure the film and add elements in reshoots – resulting in a horror film which wears the influence of BLAIR WITCH on its sleeve, but manages to create a chilly, atmospheric mood and several effective scare scenes of its own.

The interview was conducted in connection with our German-language podcast Lichtspielplatz, so if you speak German, please check out Lichtspielplatz episode #68, which features an in-depth discussion of THE ST. FRANCISVILLE EXPERIMENT and many other found footage horror films. Also, make sure to listen to our interviews with found footage filmmakers Dean Alioto, Brian Leslie, Stefan Avalos and Ron Bonk here on Talking Pictures.

So without any further ado, here’s director Ted Nicolaou!

The mp3 file can be downloaded HERE.

Photos courtesy of Ted Nicolaou
Editing: Christoph Schwarz
Music: Clark Kent

Christian Genzel works as a filmmaker and journalist. He has written and directed the psychological thriller DIE MUSE/The Muse plus several music videos and short films. His mystery short CINEMA DELL' OSCURITÀ was nominated for the 13th Street Shocking Short Award in 2017. He is currently working on a documentary on cult filmmaker Howard Ziehm called FINDING PLANET PORNO. As a journalist, Genzel has been published in/at Film & TV Kamera, Celluloid, 35 Millimeter, GameStar, Neon Zombie, gmx.de and the All-Music Guide. He has conducted in-depth interviews with numerous filmmakers, musicians, game designers, and others.