So who is this Vegas film director who will helm the next Eli Roth-produced ghost thriller?
To oversimplify Chandler’s young Vegas years: It once was her job to make sure Hunter S. Thompson got what he needed on set, and then Terry Gilliam talked her into dropping out of college to direct documentaries.
Starting May 5, Chandler begins principal photography on an untitled film she co-wrote with Roth (“Hostel”) and Nicolas Lopez (“Aftershock”). It’s co-produced by Roth and actress Colleen Camp.
Originally from Washington state, Chandler’s family moved here when she was 6. She went to Valley and Bishop Gormon high schools in the early ’90s, then UNLV film school.
She interned on the Vegas sets of “Taxicab Confessions” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” then became a documentary filmmaker.
“Taxicab” helped Chandler lose her inhibitions in cold-approaching people. And it taught her to respect people’s privacy even when it was her job to expose their personal lives.
Then on the set of “Fear and Loathing,” she was told to make sure Thompson got whatever he needed.
“I thought I would be really in for it, and afraid, but it was amazing.”
“Fear and Loathing” director Terry Gilliam was an inspiration.
“He could run a set without losing his temper, but always being in control and always being kind to everybody, and getting exactly what he needed,” Chandler said.
“I’ve been on other sets as a production assistant where you see (filmmakers) yelling at people.”
Gilliam asked Chandler the obvious career question.
“He said, ‘What do you want to do?’
“I said, ‘I want to direct.’
“He said, ‘What are you doing in film school then? Get some money, and direct a movie.’”
So even though she liked UNLV film school (“all the teachers were super dedicated”), she dropped out and went to work.
Chandler has been living fully. She worked on documentaries. She wrote. She got married. She had kids. She moved to Los Angeles. But now, she is back in Vegas.
It was two years ago she and her friend Roth were chatting about movies when they stumbled on the idea for this ghost thriller, which she won’t divulge too many details about, and which has no title yet.
Her film has a tight budget and a short shooting schedule of just 18 days. Casting of actors and locals is ongoing. (Email your name and new photo to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.)
This is her first narrative feature.
“I think coming from a documentary background, it helps me write better characters, because they’re based in reality,” she said. “Everybody I write is somebody I’ve met or experienced. It makes your characters more relatable.”
OK, so she has done documentary filmmaking on Hells Angels and people with multiple personalities, sooo that’s crazy.
Making documentaries was “a thousand times scarier” to her than doing this haunted film, she said.
“People’s real lives can be a lot scarier. And you become really intertwined with your subjects, so the lines between your work and your personal life are non-existent. I’m sure you know that,” she said (and yes, I do know that.)
She loved writing with Roth and Lopez for many reasons. Here are two.
First: “It’s nice to have somebody else read your stuff for the first time to let you know if it’s scary or not.
“It’s important when you write with people that you’re honest with each other. You say, ‘This scene sucks.’ And you have to not be offended and get past it, and get to a better place.”
Second: “Horror people are some of the nicest, most gentle people in the world. They’re so passive. You wouldn’t think they would be making these movies.”
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at email@example.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/entertainment/reel.