Everyone I know knows I’m a huge FredHead, and A Nightmare on Elm Street has been one of my favorite franchises ever since I was a little girl. I’ve had the privilege of interviewing some of the cast of the films, and now I have the great honor to speak with Paige Troxell, the director of FredHeads: The Documentary. What a special treat for Women in Horror Month!
Paige may just be the biggest FredHead of us all, and I love it! I got a chance to talk with her about how she got involved in this industry, why she decided to create the FredHeads documentary, her favorite things about the NOES franchise, women who inspire her, and more!
PopHorror – Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Paige! How did you get involved in the horror industry or in directing in general?
Paige Troxell – I have always been into the horror genre, Nightmare and Scream specifically. I guess you can say that Wes Craven is someone I have looked up to my whole life. The way he told stories was like no other. I started in the Nightmare community by being super active on the old school chat room boards, which has now turned into The Nightmare Companion. From there, I connected with a few people – who are my best friends to this day – and we started becoming more active on social media. They inspired me to Cosplay, and that then turned into running around the halls of conventions getting eaten by a Freddy snake. I should mention that I dress up as Kristen Parker from Dream Warriors.
It wasn’t until Wes passed away and I saw my friend Nathan Thomas Milliner’s film, Confession of Fred Krueger, that I realized now was the time to make my own film. I knew that I wanted to tell stories and that I wanted to create content. I thought: what better way to start than to honor not only Wes Craven but my favorite character in history, Nancy Thompson?
I co-wrote Don’t Fall Asleep with Diandra Lazor, and I directed it as well. Its the untold story of Nancy Thompson. We were extremely lucky to have Heather Langenkamp narrate it and really pay homage to the fans, the franchise, the character, and Wes himself. I got to work with an amazing team of people, most of which are currently working on FredHeads. My assistant director, Kim Gunzinger, and our producers Diandra Lazor, Anthony Brownlee, and Taylor Burskey, were all huge parts of Don’t Fall Asleep. It was during that film that we realized how much we love working together and wanted to continue to make films.
PopHorror – That’s amazing! I didn’t realize you were involved with that project as well. I love the passion! Can you tell us a bit more about FredHeads: The Documentary?
Paige Troxell – FredHeads is about the fandom of A Nightmare on Elm Street. We are following around a group of friends – Jeremy Todd Morehead, Anthony Brownlee, Diandra Lazor, Kim Gunzinger, myself, and a few others – as they help uncover why this franchise means so much to people, and why so many of us see it as a survival story. In the documentary, it features tons of fans from all over the world telling how Nightmare has changed their lives. It also features some of the Nightmare stars as they tell how much the fans mean to them and how they have changed their lives. We have some really powerful stories… people dealing with bullying, overcoming drug addiction, or even getting over the loss of a loved one.
Everyone in their life has a Freddy, and most of us relate to that story of “we have to fight to survive.”
PopHorror – I love that – it’s so true! What inspired you to get involved with this project?
Paige Troxell – I am very fortunate that I get to travel around the country and meet so many people. This community is so tight-knit, and we really embrace everyone. I found myself making all of these friends through the connection of this film, and when we would all sit around at dinners or in the lobby of hotels, we would talk about how this film has changed our lives. People would come up to my friends and me, and they would start telling us their life stories and how they first saw Freddy at 4 years old, and how Nancy or Alice showed them the strength they never knew they had.
We heard so many stories and it was so powerful. I knew there was a film there. I knew that the world needed to hear what these fans have gone through, and they needed to see this was more than just a slasher film.
PopHorror – Yes, that’s what I’m always trying to tell people. It’s far more than a slasher film. I’m actually planning on writing an article about that soon. What is your ultimate goal for the FredHeads documentary?
Paige Troxell – My ultimate goal? I think just to tell a great story and help change the minds of some people who look down on the horror community. It’s not about money or fame for myself and my team. We just want to show love and give back to the community that has called us home for so many years.
PopHorror – I know I’m glad you decided to make it! It’s a real treat for us diehard FredHeads. When will it be out?
Paige Troxell – We are shooting for the end of 2018, beginning of 2019.
PopHorror – Eeek! I can’t freaking wait! As a huge NOES fan myself, I must ask: who is your favorite character from the franchise?
Paige Troxell – Hands down, Nancy Thompson! Her strength, beauty, and brains are unmatched with any other final girls of her time. Instead of hiding in a closet or running away from her attacker, she took charge and kicked his ass. It’s so powerful to watch.
PopHorror – I couldn’t agree more! I hope to meet Heather someday. What is your favorite kill from the franchise?
Paige Troxell – Oh, man! Do I have to choose? It’s so funny, as I have gotten closer to some of the Nightmare stars, I’ve grown to hate the death scenes (laughs). I think, “Man, you killed my friend!” I have to say my favorite death scene has to be Will from Dream Warriors. It is so dark, and Freddy still has that little element of fear. The hallway with the wheelchair and the bass in Robert’s voice… It gives me chills every time.
PopHorror – I love that one, too! I pretty much love all the kills in Dream Warriors. They’re so creative! February is Women in Horror Month. What actresses inspire you?
Paige Troxell – Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Lisa Wilcox, Toy Newkirk, Kelly Jo Minter, Tuesday Knight, and Brooke Theiss. The women of Elm St. I’m not just saying that because of our documentary. Really, each one of them are so special, and to listen to them talk is so inspiring. I’ve gotten some of my best advice from these women, including during a meeting for Don’t Fall Asleep. One of them told me, “Paige, don’t take shit from anyone…” I live by that motto now.
PopHorror – Wes had a great vision for strong, kickass women, that’s for sure. What women directors inspire you?
Paige Troxell – I really like the Soska Sisters. What they are doing for independent horror and women in horror is a great thing. Also my friend, Misty Dawn. She is a powerhouse and she inspires me daily. She had this idea for a film, wrote it, produced it, got it funded, and got the amazing Cortney Palm to star in it. If you haven’t checked out Hooker Assassin, I suggest you do, because it’s amazing!
PopHorror – I love the Soska Sisters. They have been super kind to me and have been really supportive of PopHorror. Strangely enough, I’m also friends with Misty Dawn. We live in the same town and are planning on meeting really soon! Great call on Hooker Assassin! If you could work with anyone in the industry, who would it be?
Paige Troxell – Oprah. I know that comes out of left field, but I could just see her playing an old blind gypsy woman sitting on a porch telling ghost stories.
The other person would be Amy Heckerling. It is my dream to tell an offbeat comedy, and I feel like I could learn so much from her.
PopHorror – Oprah is everything! Do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like to talk about, or anything else you’d like to share?
Paige Troxell – Currently, I am working with Christine Galbraith (Easter Sunday) and Kim Gunzinger (Don’t Fall Asleep, Easter Sunday, and FredHeads) on an anthology short film called Crushed. It tells 3 stories of breakups, all acted by the same cast. It is completely written, directed, produced, and cinematographered by women. We started filming early this year and will be done by March. I am so excited for what we have on film already. It’s super powerful.
The other project is currently in the pitch phase and it is called Harvest. It is a sexy, fun, campy, scary vampire film. It’s about one night in the Master’s Lair. We shot a teaser to pitch it to our team, and I am really excited to start working on that as well.