“The Gallows” is a new horror film opening today. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s gathered “Blair Witch”-level buzz over the past couple months and was produced, in part, by the same company that has been scaring the pants off audiences for the past decade with films like “Insidious,” “Paranormal Activity,” and “Sinister.” It also just so happens to have been shot in Fresno and written, directed and produced by two guys with local ties.
“I don’t think we could’ve made this film anywhere else.” – Chris Lofing
Filmmakers Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing came to Fresno for different reasons. Cluff moved to the area with his family before the start of his senior year of high school; Lofing came here on the hunt for cheap locations for his film school thesis and decided to stick around. Eventually the two would meet, when Cluff auditioned to be a stuntman on a film Lofing was making, and go on to form Tremendum Pictures.
A string a viral videos and short films made together would eventually lead to the pair’s first feature film, “The Gallows,” which started production back in 2012. Shot at locations around the Valley—Warnors Theatre, Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Clovis North High School, to name a few—with a four-person cast and tiny crew, Cluff and Lofing had big hopes for their indie horror film. Hollywood heavyweights like Blumhouse Productions and Warner Bros. would eventually come calling after the guys released a trailer online, helping the filmmakers see those hopes fulfilled and get this Fresno-based film international distribution
“We thought we were gonna go for the moon with this movie and we got it. And some stars. We wrangled some stars in along the way.” – Travis Cluff
“The Gallows” could likely follow in the footsteps of “The Blair Witch Project” at the box office. That film, made for $60,000, went on to gross more than $140 million in 1999. No matter how much money “The Gallows” pulls in, one thing’s for sure: it’s already a hit with locals, who now have some serious bragging rights over Hollywood. And Cluff and Lofing are likewise appreciative of the city that helped bring their film to life, saying they will continue to make Fresno their home base for future productions.
The filmmakers are even planning a “Gallows” haunted house in October at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium where much of the film was shot.
Here, Cluff and Lofing talk about where the idea for the film came from, what production was like and what they’ll be doing on the day the film opens, which, if you’re reading this on Friday, July 10, 2015, is TODAY! So go see it.