The Movie Waffler Interview - INVESTIGATION 13 Writer/Producer Rolando Vinas | The Movie Waffler

Interview - INVESTIGATION 13 Writer/Producer Rolando Vinas

rolando vinas
Writer/producer Rolando Vinas discusses his upcoming supernatural thriller.

Incorporating traditional narrative story-telling, as well as numerous forms of pioneering technology, including found footage, hand-held cameras, surveillance cameras, and smart glasses, Investigation 13 is a new-age fright-fest chronicling the tale of a group of college science students investigating the urban legend of The Mole Man, an ex-patient said to still be residing within the walls of the Black Grove Asylum. When members of the group start missing, they soon learn that this myth is more real than they thought, making this 13th investigation one they will come to regret.

'The Mole Man', the frightening villain at the center of September’s Investigation 13, might be one of the most fearsome movie monsters since the golden era of Freddy, Jason, Michael et al. Writer/producer Rolando Vinas explains how 'Leonard Craven' was born.

investigation 13

Now, first of all, the Mole Man. Fact or fiction?

The Mole Man, aka Leonard Craven, is pure fiction - so no research required, though we did do research about facilities from the past. For the record, Clay Smith wrote the original screenplay so it’s his creation. Our company acquired the original script and I went through approximately seven drafts myself and another five with Krisstian, the director. It’s the reason we both have shared writing credits.


Yep. And during the rewrite process, I really wanted to delve deeper into the Mole Man character. In the original script, the Mole Man was simply a guy who was killing. I wanted to explore the origins of this character, which I had to create. At least my interpretation of the origins.

What makes The Mole Man different to other frightening film figures?

Many times we just look at the monster for what they are. Something turned them into what they are. Sometimes a film will touch on the history of a killer but never truly elaborate. A part of me felt there was an opportunity to give more context to this killer. Nature vs. Nurture. As for myths, we’re suckers for them. Who doesn’t like a nice, juicy, mysterious myth that gets our imagination going?

Will we see him in the movie? How did you decide on his look?

Yes. Although we tease the audience by showing glimpses of him at first, you’ll definitely get a good look at him. As for his overall look, there were some discussions about whether to dress him up in tattered asylum garb or not. I felt it was too on the nose to do that. So he has a bit of a punk look. Wears these dark goggles to avoid the light. Disgusting rash around his mouth. Could make for a cool Halloween costume.

How would you describe the tone of the film? Based on the trailer, it seems to be an effective mix of Blair Witch Project and Freddy vs. Jason - what with the ‘asylum’ scenes and all!?

Actually, we really wanted to steer clear of the ’Found Footage’ genre since it is played out. I get the asylum angle comparison with F vs J but in truth, it’s not like it. These students are just trying to investigate this myth, not realising they’re rats in a trap.

Great. As the scriptwriter, what came first: the character of the mole man or the story itself?

I can’t speak for Clay. However, when I got my hands on the material I felt that the character is what sticks out to me. I also envision the possibility of introducing the Craven franchise spinoff that we’re developing. And we’d love for Meg Foster to continue to reprise her role as Layla Parish.

Once you knew you were making a movie set in an asylum, did you set out to scout locations?

The location we filmed in was the first option. When we scouted the location Krisstian and I fell in love with it so much that we didn’t need to keep searching for other options. Bear in mind, the facility actually used to house the criminally insane. It’s been closed down for I’d say 15 years. So it was dirty, grimy and worn. The production value was through the roof. It was perfect! There was no way we were not going to shoot there.

Any issues arise from the location you shot in?

Issues? Hell yes! For one, we shot for a couple of weeks in the summer in Miami. The building had no AC. It was really hot and humid. It was cooler outside than it was inside. We tried to get as many fans as we could get our hands on. We fed cast and crew popsicles. The crew would cool off with ice-cold towels on the back of their necks. The sound guy’s equipment would overheat so often that we had to point a fan directly onto the equipment to keep it from shutting off. Because the inside is a prison, it was disorienting and easy to get lost. We placed signs with arrows to guide everyone. We also had to warn the cast and crew to not wander off. Some didn’t heed that warning and would get locked in stairwells and cells when they’d sneak away to use their phones.

How creepy is the place though? It looks creepy to be in!

Definitely! Everyone went in already being aware of paranormal stories about the place. Members of the cast and crew experienced the feeling of being mysteriously shoved. The sound guy would hear growls over his headset. A member of the cast and crew claimed to have entities follow them home. They needed to get shamans to cleanse them. Activity definitely piqued when we were filming scenes involving blood and screams. We even discovered residual sounds of what sounded like a landline hospital phone ringing in the background in footage of a take we found in post. In that take, the phone was ringing while the actors were saying their lines. The Director would have definitely yelled 'Cut!' if they would have heard the phone but they didn’t. Let’s just say that when it came time to do reshoots, some members of the cast and crew did not want to go back in the building. Frankly, neither did I. Funny enough, when city officials came by to inspect the building during reshoots they brought two priests with them.

Is there a type of horror film you genuinely enjoy? Seen any good ones lately that you especially enjoyed?

I love contained horror. Anything with a paranormal angle plays with the imagination and can be more fun. I thought It, Sinister and Drag Me to Hell were entertaining. But I also enjoy smaller films that are different tonally such as It Follows and The Witch.

Why have audiences been so in love with horror for so long, do you think?

I believe that when we’re watching a horror movie, we want to be in the moment and feel that tension. Feel frightened. And when we release that tension it’s very satisfying. It’s why we watch them. It’s what it’s all about.

Investigation 13 is on DVD/VOD September 10th.