Kevin Smith has started shooting horror movie “Killroy Was Here” in Florida in partnership with Ringling College of Art and Design and Semkhor Productions.
Smith has focused in recent years on horror and comedy with last year’s “Yoga Hosers,” a spinoff from 2014’s “Tusk,” and 2011’s “Red State.” “Killroy” stems from a conversation taken from one of his weekly podcasts.
The phrase “Killroy Was Here” originated in American culture as graffiti during World War II as a bald-headed man with a big nose peeking over a wall with the fingers of each hand clutching the wall. Smith said the new film will be the first installment of a horror anthology.
“This is a monster movie in the sense of a classic morality tale,” Smith said. “No one wants to see you spill the blood of innocents, but when someone crosses the line and goes bad, you get to make them pay in horrible ways, and the audience cheers. We wanted to make an anthology film in the vein of ‘Creepshow.’ Killroy is like the Golem, the Boogeyman and the Grim Reaper combined.”
Smith broke out in 1994 with the black comedy “Clerks,” made from $27,000. That led to “Mallrats,” “Chasing Amy,” “Dogma” and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” — all set in New Jersey with the stoner duo of Jay and Silent Bob, played by Jason Mewes and Smith.
Smith’s top grossing film is 2010’s action-comedy “Cop Out,” starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, with $55 million worldwide. “Yoga Hosers” starred Johnny Depp’s daughter Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith premiered at Sundance in 2016.
“I tried going to film school but quit to go make a movie,” Smith said. “If I’d had the chance to work with a real director, I probably would’ve graduated. Although I don’t consider myself a real director, but I do play one on TV and am portraying one again as we shoot Killroy in Sarasota!”
David Shapiro, Semkhor Productions founder and “Killroy” executive producer, said the movie integrates both practical and digital effects in a very short time on a very tight budget. “Our goal is to help Ringling students and local residents gain the right kind of experience to become a top tier entertainment workforce with which to attract bigger and more complex productions to Sarasota,” he said.
Producers are Andrew McElfresh, who also co-wrote the film; Tony Stopperan of Ringling College of Art and Design; Joe Restaino, owner of Character Brigade; Ringling graduate Nick Morgulis; and Smith’s producer Jordan Monsanto. The leads in the film are Azita Ghanizada (“Alphas and The Complete Unknown”) and Ryan O’Nan (“Fargo”).